Top 12 Romantic Things to Do in Austin

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Austin, Texas woos visitors with its creative spirit, live music scene, and outdoor adventures. But Texas’ capital city also makes for an ideal romantic getaway with beautiful gardens, lakeside trails, candlelit restaurants, and plenty of activities for couples to enjoy together.

ActivityDescription
Congress Avenue Bridge BatsWatch bats at dusk; enjoy picnics and lakeside drinks.
The Contemporary Austin Laguna GloriaStroll in a sculpture garden; visit at dusk for ambiance.
Barton Springs PoolSwim in a spring-fed pool; relax on grassy hillsides.
Texas State CapitolTour romantic gardens and 19th-century architecture.
Cruise Lake AustinEnjoy sightseeing or paddle boarding on Lake Austin.
Wild Basin Wilderness PreserveHike trails, enjoy picnics, and watch sunsets.
Rainey Street Historic District Bar CrawlExplore trendy bars and restaurants in historic bungalows.
Broken Spoke Dance HallDance at a legendary country music venue.
Wine Tasting at Texas Hill Country WineriesSip wine at local vineyards; enjoy scenic views.
Butler Pitch and PuttPlay mini-golf in a downtown course.
Bob Bullock Texas State History MuseumExplore Texas history and enjoy interactive exhibits.

From picnics in the park to sunset cocktails overlooking the skyline, here are suggestions for top romantic things to do in Austin.

Congress Avenue Bridge Bats

Name and Location: The Congress Avenue Bridge bats refer to the Mexican free-tailed bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas.

History and Significance: Over 1.5 million bats roost under the bridge from March to November, making it the largest urban bat colony in North America. People gather to watch them emerge at dusk.

What to Expect: Visitors can watch from the bridge, nearby trails or bat-viewing stands as the bats leave en masse at dusk to feed, swirling across the horizon in a mesmerizing display from late March through November.

Visitor Information: Free nightly bat emergence viewings downtown. Peak season is June-August. Best viewing spots on S. Congress Ave. Bridge.

Watching 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk provides a dramatic natural spectacle for couples. Arrive early to claim the best spot overlooking Lady Bird Lake then picnic while waiting for the bats to swirl out. Their nightly fly-outs from March to November create black flurries as they dart through the air gobbling up mosquitoes and other insects. Stand mesmerized by currents of tiny wings then cap off the evening holding hands over drinks at a nearby lakeside lounge.

The Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria

Name and Location: The Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria is a 14-acre art museum located in west Austin on the grounds of the 1916 Italianate-style Driscoll Villa and Laguna Gloria estate.

History and Significance: Named for the “heavenly lake” on the property, The Contemporary Austin exhibits modern and contemporary art, including sculptures around the grounds and lagoon.

What to Expect: Visitors tour the historic villa, museum galleries with rotating exhibitions, outdoor sculptures around the grounds and lagoon.

Visitor Information: Open Wednesday-Sunday. Guided tours available. Museum Store onsite.

The Contemporary Austin’s art museum at Laguna Gloria immerses visitors in 14 acres of sculpture garden paradise. Couples leisurely stroll along winding paths with striking art installations leading to cliffside views and romantic photo ops around every corner. Italianate villas, stone fountains, reflecting pools all sit upon a bluff overlooking Lake Austin. Schedule your visit during the day then return at dusk when Laguna Gloria’s grounds and architecture glow under strung lights for ideal ambiance to pop the big question or celebrate an anniversary.

Barton Springs Pool

Name and Location: Barton Springs Pool is a natural, spring-fed swimming pool located in Zilker Park along the banks of Barton Creek in Austin.

History and Significance: Barton Springs has attracted swimmers since prehistoric times. The pool features three sections fed by underground springs with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees.

What to Expect: Visitors can take a refreshing dip in the springs among picturesque hills during summer. Hiking trails surround the pool area.

Visitor Information: Open daily during summer with a small entry fee. Free parking along perimeter roads.

Take a dip in 68-degree spring-fed waters at Barton Springs Pool, a 3-acre swimming hole within bustling Zilker Park. Entry fees are affordable and the grounds stay lively during operating hours. But arrive in time for opening on a weekday morning and you might score some moments of privacy in the pool. The surrounding grassy hillsides make great sunny or shaded lounging spots for lazy afternoons spent reading together or stealing a smooch or two. After swimming, dry off and walk hand-in-hand down nearby hiking trails for intimate escapes from the city.

Texas State Capitol

Name and Location: The Texas State Capitol building is located in downtown Austin, Texas.

History and Significance: Completed in 1888, the National Historic Landmark has been restored to its original splendor. Statuary and monuments on the 22-acre grounds commemorate Texas history.

What to Expect: Free guided tours of the Capitol interior daily. Galleries overlook both chambers of the Texas Legislature if in session. Self-guided tours also available.

Visitor Information: Open Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–10 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Schedule tours online.

Trade skyscraper views for 19th century architecture and romantic gardens by touring the state capitol grounds together. Wander rose-lined pathways under oak trees before snapping photos in front of the stately red granite capitol building completed in 1888. Venture inside to glimpse towering rotundas, historical paintings and Governor’s public reception room under the dome ceiling soaring 14-feet high. Guided tours provide an educational experience while ample benches create space for quiet conversation or people-watching breaks if exploring independently.

Cruise Lake Austin

Name and Location: Lake Austin refers to the nearly 20-mile long section of the Colorado River that flows through Austin, Texas.

History and Significance: Lake Austin was created in 1939 following construction of Tom Miller Dam and is considered one of Austin’s crown jewels, attracting boaters, swimmers and lakeside viewers.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy cruises, watersports or relax at lakeside parks and restaurants. Mansions and city skyline views make memorable backdrops.

Visitor Information: Public parks allow lake access. Boat/kayak rentals available from local liveries.

Take your date night waterside with a sightseeing cruise or paddle boarding excursion along scenic Lake Austin. Glide past luxury lakeside mansions and rolling hill country with companies like Lake Austin Spa Resort or Live Love Paddle who organize scenic guided outings. Pack a bottle of wine and cheese platter then toast to spectacular sunsets from atop a paddle board or cozy canoe built for two. Not feeling that adventurous? Opt for a simple gondola ride sure to bring all the romantic vibes minus any paddle power required.

Trail Hike at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

Name and Location: Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is a 227-acre protected natural area located in southwest Austin.

History and Significance: Acquired by conservation groups in the 1970s, the preserve features rare native plants amid scenic Central Texas Hill Country terrain carved through limestone and granite.

What to Expect: Hikers enjoy over 8 miles of trails ranging from easy to challenging over streams, through woodlands abundant with wildlife like birds, deer and foxes.

Visitor Information: Free. Open daily 8am-5pm. Parking lot has trail maps.

Traverse nearly 30 miles of trails with your sweetie that weave through the Hill Country terrain of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve southwest of Austin. Follow shaded creeks, pass small waterfalls, and pose amid fields of wildflowers in this 2,500 acre nature escape. Pack a lunch to enjoy privately at a secluded picnic spot along the trail. Challenge yourselves scrambling up rocks to reach peak viewpoints then reward efforts watching the sunset before heading home.

Rainey Street Historic District Bar Crawl

Name and Location: Rainey Street Historic District is a neighborhood located near downtown Austin focused around the restored early 20th century bungalows lining Rainey Street.

History and Significance: Billed as the “Southern Gateway to Downtown,” Rainey Street since the 2010s has transformed into a lively nightlife destination with bars, restaurants and food trucks.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy bar-hopping historic bungalows and alleyways filled with nightlife vibrance, from intimate cocktails to craft beers and parties that overflow into the streets.

Visitor Information: A dynamic nightlife scene from afternoon to late evenings, especially on weekends. Rideshares and MetroRail recommended.

The Rainey Street District delivers date night drinks and food in a charming neighborhood setting. The historic 1920s era bungalows now house some of Austin’s trendiest bars and restaurants. Begin your bar crawl sipping cocktails at Lucille then window shop the boutiques on nearby South Congress before continuing your culinary quest. Snag an Aperol spritz at Craftsman then share a cheese and charcuterie board upstairs at Geraldine’s for intimate balcony seating. Finally, catch breezy views of downtown while sharing dessert at Lustre Pearl’s rooftop bar.

Broken Spoke Dance Hall

Name and Location: Broken Spoke Dance Hall is a legendary honky tonk located in South Austin near IH-35.

History and Significance: Open since 1964 in a tin roof structure, Broken Spoke has hosted country music legends from Dolly Parton to Willie Nelson and still features live acts nightly upholding Austin’s western heritage.

What to Expect: Two-step across the worn wooden dance floor or relax at tables adorned with cowboy hats, license plates, photos and memorabilia soaked in Lone Star atmosphere.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday-Saturday from 11am late into the night, with live country bands performing after 10pm for modest cover. Cash only.

Two-step back in time at the legendary Broken Spoke Dance Hall where country music legends like Willie Nelson and George Strait have graced the stage since 1964. With a generous free dance lesson on Wednesday nights, you don’t need any prior country dancing experience to tear it up on their worn wooden floors. Cozy up learning classic moves like the Texas Two-step then stay for toast-worthy margaritas and live honkey tonk music afterwards. Don’t forget to scribble your names on the walls for everlasting proof of your boot scootin’ evening.

Watch the Congress Avenue Bats

Name and Location: The Congress Avenue Bridge bats refer to the Mexican free-tailed bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas.

History and Significance: Over 1.5 million bats roost under the bridge from March to November, making it the largest urban bat colony in North America. People gather to watch them emerge at dusk.

What to Expect: Visitors can watch from the bridge, nearby trails or bat-viewing stands as the bats leave en masse at dusk to feed, swirling across the horizon in a mesmerizing display from late March through November.

Visitor Information: Free nightly bat emergence viewings downtown. Peak season June-August. Best viewing spots on S. Congress Ave Bridge.

Watching 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk provides a dramatic natural spectacle for couples. Arrive early to claim the best spot overlooking Lady Bird Lake then picnic while waiting for the bats to swirl out. Their nightly fly-outs from March to November create black flurries as they dart through the air gobbling up mosquitoes and other insects. Stand mesmerized by currents of tiny wings then cap off the evening holding hands over drinks at a nearby lakeside lounge.

Wine Tasting at Texas Hill Country Wineries

Name and Location: Texas Hill Country wineries refer to the 50+ wineries dotting the countryside surrounding Austin, most densely in Fredericksburg.

History and Significance: Texas wine production has boomed since the 1970s. The Texas Hill Country Wineries association formed in 1999, cementing the region as a premier wine destination.

What to Expect: Visitors tour charming Texas tasting rooms and vineyards producing a diverse range of award-winning wines in the countryside.

Visitor Information: The Texas Hill Country Wineries website organizes self-drive tours by region and offers a downloadable map.

The Texas Hill Country surrounding Austin lays claim to a 50-mile wine trail dotted with family-owned vineyards and lively tasting rooms. Pack your best cowboy boots and set out for the day or stay over at a countryside bed and breakfast. Sip crisp chardonnay at Spicewood Vineyards then share an olive oil and balsamic pairing over Italian eats at Duchman Family Winery nearby. Finish by catching dreamy views at sunset with award-winning tempranillo in hand at Pedernales Cellars before turning in each other’s arms under the stars.

Butler Pitch and Putt

Name and Location: Butler Pitch and Putt is a compact 9-hole golf course located in east Austin.

History and Significance: Opened in 1939, Butler Pitch and Putt claims to be the first lighted golf course venue, allowing almost 24-hour play with its slogan “Always Open.”

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy low-key, casual practice play on the compact course or revel in the old-school Austin dive bar ambiance of the 19th hole Hangar Bar overlooking the links.

Visitor Information: The course and bar are open 24/7. Nominal fees of $7-10 for club rental and all-day play.

Butler Pitch and Putt keeps date night playful at this downtown mini-golf course concealed within an old Victorian house. Navigate silly obstacles through creatively themed holes in rooms like the “Hall of Understanding” and “Garden of Earthly Delights.” The 12-hole course takes under an hour leaving time for games of giant Jenga or Connect Four. Bring your own beer and snacks to set up an indoor picnic between putts in their second floor lounge. Finish off the night over pizza as you tally final scores and crown a mini-golf champion.

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum

Name and Location: The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is located near the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin.

History and Significance: Open since 2001, the museum showcases exhibitions and artifacts chronicling the epic history of Texas, housed in a structure symbolic of the state’s economic ascendance.

What to Expect: Visitors explore the Lone Star legacy through high-tech interactive exhibits, IMAX theater, gift shop and café with impressive views of the Capitol grounds.

Visitor Information: Open 9am-5pm daily. Ticket pricing, IMAX movies and special exhibits listed on museum website.

Revisit Texas’ wild west heritage and other state history at the Bob Bullock Museum. See centuries worth of artifacts from Spanish conquistador armor to cowboy gear and oil boom memorabilia. Couples can challenge their knowledge during an Old West themed game of Two Truths and a Tall Tale. Take a silly picture behind the Republic of Texas starring in your own piece of history. After exploring 10galleries spanning 35,000 years, relax under the tree-filled plaza splitting native pecan pie from their cafe.

Conclusion

Whether you crave adventure or prefer peaceful ambiance, Austin delivers dramatic backdrops combined with southern hospitality perfect for couples getaway. Tuck yourselves away amid gorgeous gardens then two-step to live music over Texas wine. Sculpture art trails give way to bat-filled skies over the lake while secluded wilderness offers escape between sightseeing. Use this guide to customize your own unforgettable romantic itinerary in one of America’s fastest growing and welcoming cities.

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