No matter how long you’ve been together, it’s easy to get into a bit of a rut. You know what we mean — the same go-to places for grabbing a drink; the copy-paste-repeat date-night spots; and Netflix-and-chilling over and over again.
So, it’s about time to spice up the standard-issue routine with some hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path places that you and your girlfriend will love. These secret-ish, outside-the-norm spots rank high on the cool quotient where you can find fun and romance together.
And, girls, if you’re reading this, there’s no shame in forwarding it to your SO — or dropping a few hints.
Where: 1506 S. Congress Ave.
The best place for a little cosplay, this vintage and costume shop is a must. Everything can be purchased — and most things can be rented — in case you want to take the disguises elsewhere.
Where: 807 E. 4th St.
They call it a collision of music, arts, warm beds, sleepless nights, food, and spirits — all in the spirit of “fuck yes.” We call it plain cool. You don’t have to stay overnight here — but, do take your SO to the bar and kitchen or hit one of their experiential events like the vibe-y dance parties, intimate band performances, DJ spin sessions, artisan pop-up markets, Tarot readings, and decadent weekend brunch.
Where: 1207 Barton Springs Rd.
Indulge your inner kid and skip adulting for the day at this quirky, old-school place that’s quite possibly the best way to mini golf. The two 18-hole golf courses are filled with a variety of characters and surprises. It’s BYOB, FYI.
Where: 3825 Lake Austin Blvd.
Coffee shops are always so cozy — and this one comes with a romantic view of the lake that’s especially pretty at sunset. Plus, the coffee’s stellar and so are the decadent desserts.
Where: 3505 W 35th St.
Take a stroll through this enchanting park that’s filled with vibrant peacocks, koi ponds, shade trees, and more.
Where: 2211 Webberville Rd.
The chick-flick version of a patio bar, this darling Palm Springs-inspired poolside venue will be your girlfriend’s new fave place. The frozen cocktails are on point here, and the weekly events are, too — think Soul Side Wednesdays with a vinyl dance party; Hummus Among Us Mediterranean street food Thursdays; and a Cambodian soul food pop-up on the weekends.
Where: 24300 Hamilton Pool Rd., Dripping Springs
This stunning place isn’t so secret. But, the tucked-away grotto with a 45-foot-tall waterfall feels like a mini-vacation; and, the natural wonderland is only a short road trip from Austin.
Where: 1200 W. 6th St.
Oysters are aphrodisiacs. Need we say more? But, beyond that, your girlfriend will love this cute-chic little spot for its Hamptons-esque design — and the champagne and caviar.
This little slice of paradise is a beautifully serene spot to spend some time on the water with canoes, kayaks, and SUPs all available for rental.
Where: Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. MLK Jr. Blvd.
Color-blocking takes on new meaning with renowned American artist Ellsworth Kelly’s monumental work at the Blanton Museum of Art featuring a rainbow of glass windows — and all sorts of plays on light in the 2,715-square-foot building that was created as a space for joy and contemplation.
Where: 1120 S. Lamar Blvd.
An imaginative karaoke mecca — and also perfect for a double or triple date — this place has seven themed rooms where you and your SO can sing like nobody’s watching. Of course, drinks and food are readily available, too.
Where: 3800 Mount Bonnell Rd.
Romance is in the air at the top of this 775-foot-tall limestone outcrop overlooking the Colorado River — and the views are breathtaking. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic.
Where: 3755 S. Capital of Texas Hwy.
Have some parks and rec time together — think hiking, biking, swimming, cliff diving, kayaking, tubing, or all of the above. The 13-ish miles of trails boasts plenty of “water” stops for swimming and more with Twin Falls, Campbell’s Hole, and Sculpture Falls.
Where: 4422 Lareina Dr.
Some people have exchanged their vows here. No pressure. This “cathedral” is a fascinating place to explore how one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Vince Hannemann has been artfully crafting his power tower of trash since 1989 and it is a sight to behold with about 60 tons of junk.
Where: 1602 Fortview Rd.
Have an uncommon experience at this unique emporium of curiosities, antiques, and all things weird and wonderful. It’s been described as "your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids,” and that’s probably accurate (if you have an eccentric uncle with an attic).
Where: 305 W. Milton St.
Find Neverland together at this fantasy of a spot that would make Peter Pan proud. It’s actually the home and studio of its artist James Talbot. He gives tours of the imaginative wonderland, where a ping pong loft, multiple fire poles, treehouse, and an outdoor bridge make this spot a giant play place for grown-ups.
Where: 403 W. 2nd St.
Stop adulting and be kids at this nostalgic, quirky toy store that has a surreal number of toys, trinkets, and tchotchkes.
Where: 7000 Comanche Trail
If you both are free spirits, then this is just the place. Texas’ very own nude beach, this haven at Lake Travis fully upholds the skin-is-in trend. And, you better believe that many people fully comply. If bare bums don’t bother you and your GF, the quirky yet peaceful park is the place to be — especially with the scenic views of the Hill Country.
Where: Whisler’s, 1816 E. 6th St.
The “secret” back bar of Whisler’s, this rustic-cool place is fashioned after a traditional Oaxacan mezcal bar and it feels so authentic, you’ll almost think you’re in Mexico.
Where: South Congress Hotel, 1603 Congress Ave. South
You may not think about going to this all-day café, but you should. The cute space in South Congress Hotel serves up a deliciously fresh weekend brunch and 25 percent off bottles of rosé from sunup to sundown.
Where: 2207 Justin Ln.
If Christmas is your GF’s favorite time of year, you’re in luck. At Lala’s, you can deck the halls every single month of the year because Santa is always in season here.
Where: 1807 S. 1st St.
Almost impossibly charming with Pinterest-chic interiors and a lantern-strewn patio, the restaurant and wine garden is a true gem with amazing food and drink to share.
Where: 2201 Barton Springs Rd.
Chill at the pool with these three acres of water that are fed from an underground spring, so it’s always a refreshing 68 to 70 degrees.
Where: 4204 Manchaca Rd.
With specialty coffee and craft beer, and a side of unique live music (think bluegrass, French gypsy jazz, fiddler and surf guitar), this place has everything you could want for a casual date night.
Where: 4704 E. Cesar Chavez Blvd.
Get your DIY on at this adults-only creative hub for crafting, workshops, and events. Learn the skills of modern calligraphy and screenprinting, or make your own macramé plant hangers, DIY bath bombs, perfume, stamps, and more. The best part is, they clean up the mess!
Where: 13187 Fitzhugh Rd.
Carb up with Stanley’s artisanal wood-fired pizza; they’re co-located with Jester King Brewery, so you have the right beverages to match. It’s a bit out of the way, but so worth the escape to the Hill Country ranch surroundings.
Where: 616 Lavaca St.
Lighten up with lots of laughs here — and plenty of irreverence, too. The theater focuses on elevating Austin comedy through high-quality programming, with an emphasis on diversity, experimentation, and community. The “Fuck This Week” series is especially good — spinning life’s weekly straw into gold.
Where: Firehouse Hostel, 605 Brazos St.
Radiating with old-world charm and a speakeasy vibe, this lounge is located in the oldest standing fire station in Austin, built in 1885. The place celebrates the art of the cocktail with classic drinks galore along with eclectic live music. But, the best part is that the lounge is hidden behind a false bookcase in the hostel for real date-night bonus points.
Where: The Cheese House, 500 Park Blvd.
Get cheesy — in a good way — at this cheese-monger that not only proffers the good stuff, but also hosts a variety of classes and pairings sessions. Plus, they even do date-night tastings.
Where: 2713 E. 2nd St.
Foodie lovers with adventurous palates: Look no further. The casual izakaya with a tiki bar vibe serves up Japanese-meets-barbecue-meets-Tex-Mex flavors. Yes, it’s possible. And, yes, it’s quite delicious. For example, take the Chili Cheese Takoyaki — octopus fritters, topped with Texas chili, cheddar, and smoked jalapeño. They also have even weirder “chinmi” — exotics and rarities — like fries with eyes, marinated jellyfish, and monkfish liver.
Where: Alamo Drafthouse, multiple locations
Get major GF points with this bubbly film series. Alamo’s signature Champagne Cinema pairs warm-and-fizzy flicks with a signature cocktail. Or, you could always go to Terror Tuesdays — although the movies are, ahem, decidedly different.
Where: 2312 San Gabriel St.
Hit the dance floor at the weekly swing dancing parties in the ballroom of the historic Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs building. (Costumes not required.)
Where: Multiple locations
The name says it all — these one-of-a-kind, intimate cooking experiences are a delicious date-night activity and are hosted in unique locations around Austin. Often featuring artisans and chefs, Kitchen Underground also celebrates low-carb, Whole30, keto, food as medicine, and gluten-free lifestyles with classes that show you how to make healthy food delicious.
Where: Pease Park, 1100 Kingsbury St.
Get the best of both artsy and outdoorsy worlds at Pease Park, where artist Patrick Dougherty and a team of more than 200 volunteers have constructed the Yippee Ki Yay site-specific installation using all the twiggy things. The sculptural work consists of five repeated corner shapes that can be explored through maze-like passageways and multiple vantage points.