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Photo courtesy The Escape Game

The best first date ideas in Austin, Texas

Time to get mushy. Check out our collection of the best first date ideas in Austin, from candlelit concerts to markets

James Wong
Written by
James Wong
Anastacia Uriegas

Hit it off with someone on Hinge? Been set up with a mystery suitor by your best pal? Finally plucked up the courage to ask your crush out? Then you’re now probably onto date ideas. Sure, you can grab a drink at a dive bar or go to a romantic restaurant, but this city is filled with things to do that are far more adventurous. After all, the goal of the first date is a second, and chemistry is best induced by fun time activity, great conversation, and delicious accompaniments.

We’ve rounded up the best activities in Bat City to help ignite a spark no matter what your personality. Bond, laugh, and have a smashing time: here’s how to have an unforgettable first date in Austin.

Best first date ideas in Austin

There’s nothing more romantic than a historic venue, music, and candlelight. Good thing Fever delivers precisely that in Austin. The Candlelight Concert series sees a host of local musicians take to iconic venues throughout Austin, stringing together orchestral classics from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong right up to contemporary artists Adele and Taylor Swift. Not only will you have a date to remember, but also some incredible camera roll snaps.

  • Things to do
  • Congress Ave District

The Contemporary Austin consists of two museums: the Jones Center’s modern, recently-renovated digs downtown or Laguna Gloria’s sprawling grounds in West Austin. Both offer a creative, stimulating way to spend an afternoon with your new friend—and the sculpture garden at Laguna Gloria does require walking through some secluded areas (just saying). Admission to both museums is free on Thursdays.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Cat Mountain

Everyone knows about Mount Bonnell, but the 360 overlook provides an even more breathtaking view of the river, the bluffs, and the Pennybacker Bridge (more commonly known as the 360 Bridge). Watching one of Texas’s famously colorful sunsets together is a super romantic way to start a relationship, even more so when you add some Tacodeli into the mix. Really want to impress the new boo? Take it all in on the water instead—a variety of sunset boat tours operate on Lake Travis and are available to book on Viator, with the option to BYOB. Cheers to that!

OK, being locked up with a stranger may not appeal to all, but video surveillance and a potential shoe-horn into a double date should put your minds at ease. The Escape Game Austin offers a range of themed rooms such as prison break, gold rush, heist, and playground. You have an hour to unearth clues to get out—aka a test in teamwork, and no matter how seriously you take it, it’s the perfect ice breaker for first-time encounters.

  • Things to do
  • Play spaces
  • East Austin

Pretend you’re a kid again at Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex—it’s open to people of all ages. The 55,000 square-foot eastside complex houses an arcade with new and classic games (so you can impress your date with those Ms. Pacman skills), a basketball court, a movie theater, a bowling alley, and even roller skating, complete with laser lights and DJs. Plus, there is pizza in the food court, so the fun times need not end when hunger strikes.

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Hancock

Antonelli’s in Hyde Park is one of the top artisanal cheese shops in the country, sourcing from both Texas and around the world. It is also a prime date spot—you and your sweetheart can sample and learn about different styles of cheese at one of the Cheese 101 classes hosted here throughout the year. Grab a bottle of wine on the way to the shop; the classes are BYOB.

  • Nightlife
  • Travis Heights

Spend the evening at one of Austin's live music institutions: the Continental Club, open since 1955. This venue is the place to watch rock, blues, country, rockabilly, and garage bands play every night of the week—don’t miss regular appearances from Eve Monsees and Mike Buck, a dynamic duo of blues-rockers. For a more intimate experience, visit the Continental Club Gallery upstairs, with a different lineup from the original space. Looking for other places to jam with a date? Check out our list of Austin's best live music venues.

Craving dumplings, sushi, and matcha tea? Then head to the Asian food mecca in North Austin, Airport Blvd. The crossroad at North Lamar Blvd is more than just a strip mall—you’ll find here conveyor belt sushi from Japanese giants, Kura; a bakery, Sazan Ramen restaurant, 99 Ranch Asian grocery store, Daiso (the Japanese dollar store that’s way better than anything we have here) and Kinokuniya Book Store (where all your Studio Ghibli dreams come true). It’s a slice of the far east without the plane ticket.

  • Movie theaters
  • Congress Ave District

Nothing is more quintessentially Austin than Weird Wednesday. Expect kooky films from the past with “girl gangs, mutant punks, lesbian vampires, pimp ghosts, post-apocalyptic barbarian queens, and karate-chopping nuns.” i.e. a one-way ticket to the fringes of the unknown, where imagination and ambition dance on the graves of logic and reality. A date night that’ll guarantee colorful post-movie conversation. If that’s too mad for you, Alamo Drafthouse also screens mainstream blockbusters and offers excellent food and beverage service direct to your seats.

Nothing says “let’s hold hands and touch produce” like a Saturday morning stroll around the farmers' market. But the SFC Farmers’ Market at Republic Square Park, which runs on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm, offers more than just produce. Vendors are selling locally-made honey, soap, jam, cheese, bread, fresh juice, and more—plenty of ingredients to impress your date with a home-cooked meal. Grab a bite from popular food trucks after shopping for a picnic in the shaded grass.

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