South Austin is known as a crossroads for rednecks and hippies. While you’ll find your share of honky tonks and old Austin hangouts, the south side has much more than stereotypes to offer. South Congress and South First in particular are quintessential Austin locales, and their mishmash of food trucks, boutiques, and restaurants make them perfect for the Austin dating scene. And of course there’s the little communities easily accessible from south Austin, and all of them are jam-packed with amazing spots to discover, too.
There’s just so much to explore it’s impossible to say where anyone should begin. After all, everyone’s different! But, if you pick any spot on this list, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
10. Indulge your inner foodie
Much to Texans’ chagrin, the modern food truck craze started in California — Los Angeles to be specific. But that doesn’t mean Texas, specifically Austin, can’t do it better. The south side is densely packed with stand-alone food trucks and trailer parks serving up some amazing eats. If you want to offer your date a lot of variety, try the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery, which is anchored by Torchy’s Tacos and surrounded by other eateries. (There’s even ANOTHER trailer park right next door.) Or, if you’re the type who likes to walk after a meal, Ms P’s Electric Cock is amazing and also on South Congress. Hey Cupcake! just happens to be a few blocks away, and what better way to end a date than snacking on an adorable tiny cake?
9. Test your hand-eye coordination at Peter Pan Mini Golf
Miniature golf is a low-key activity where a couple can both perform terribly, yet still have fun. Who cares about the score when you’re making memories? Peter Pan Mini Golf is pushing three quarters of a century in business because it provides relatively inexpensive entertainment that kids from ages 9 to 99 can enjoy. A stroll through Peter Pan shows you the sculpting and painting prowess of local artist Cheryl Latimer who has rejuvenated and added to the cast of whimsical characters.
8. Catch a sugar high at Big Top Candy Shop
Big Top Candy Shop is a sweets lover’s dream. This long, narrow shop in the heart of South Congress offers up thousands of candy options and an old fashioned soda fountain. The shop is playfully decorated in circus memorabilia for you to inspect as you get your fill of candy. This, too, is within walking distance of Ms P’s Electric Cock and a number of other South Congress food trailers, but the real follow up to getting your sugar high is to pop next door to Monkey See, Monkey Do and play around with their diverse collection of toys and fun.
7. Hike through Barton Creek Greenbelt
When the weather is nice, cars line the frontage roads around South Highway 360 and MoPac. Hikers, cyclists, rock climbers, and nature lovers flock to this urban forest to experience Austin’s untouched beauty. With more than seven miles of trails, the Barton Creek Greenbelt offers plenty of mileage for avid hikers and those who just want a stroll (hand in hand, maybe?) among the foliage.
6. Ride the water at Texas Ski Ranch
Texas Ski Ranch is more of a day-trip kind of date since it is technically in New Braunfels, but well worth the short drive from South Austin. Obviously, the main attraction is water skiing, and whether you’re a beginner or showing off your aquatic skills, TSR has the equipment and open water for you to have a blast. After you’re all tuckered out, you and your date should definitely grab a bite at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, located at the main entrance to the 70-acre property.
5. Walk through Umlauf Sculpture Garden
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum displays the work of Charles Umlauf and other contemporary sculptors, and taking in a little culture is always a great date idea, especially if it’s followed by a nice picnic. Umlauf taught at the University of Texas for 40 years and remained an Austinite until his death in 1994. The vision for the garden and museum is to maintain these works of art and present them to the public in “an approachable, accessible and natural setting for the appreciation and display of sculpture.” They’re doing a great job so far.
4. Get drinks at Moontower Saloon
Moontower Saloon is a laid-back, adults only hangout at the southern end of Manchaca Road, a little past Slaughter Lane. A few years ago, business owners Josh Bumb and Richard Veregge converted a 1950s ranch house into a neighborhood bar. What they have today fulfills their vision and then some. The place is great for kicking back with an adult beverage and talking all night.
3. Try the rope swings at Wimberley’s Blue Hole
Wimberley is another of our day-trip date suggestions, since it isn’t technically South Austin — but you can get there in a little over half an hour. That’s not even as long as it takes to get to north Austin in traffic. What you must understand is that Blue Hole is a Hill Country treasure. This little swimming hole has cool water, rope swings, and ample shade. The Daytripper made sure to stop in for a dip, and you should, too. Just make sure you and your date bring swimsuits and that you plan ahead by making a reservation through their new system.
2. Take in the summer musical at Zilker Hillside Theatre
If it’s summer time, the Zilker Hillside Theatre is a perfect date destination. Pack your picnic blanket and snag your patch of lawn early. You can your date can chat before the show as daylight turns to dusk. Then, you can cuddle together as you watch a live musical. Austin is full of talented artsy people, so each production is consistently top-notch.
1. Go all fancy at Trattoria Lisina
If you need a really special place to take a certain someone, Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood is just the place. The short drive to Driftwood sets the mood, and the picturesque vineyard locks it in. The traditional Italian food will fill you up just enough to leave room for their gelato. Take a walk around the property afterward and you’re sure to get a goodnight kiss.
Featured photo: Flickr user Rob Bertholf, creative commons licensed.