Skip the five-star restaurant and have some unique fun for two.
By Jacqui Devaney
Valentine’s Day, the one day a year when Cupid pulls back his bow and showers couples with chocolates, expensive meals and precious gemstones. For the men of the world who are expected to be on their best romantic behavior, wouldn’t it be nice to do something that doesn’t involve a suit and tie? The element of surprise is the crème de la crème of wooing a mate, so skip the three-course meal at Eddie V’s this year and opt for a more unique experience.
Give love to the community. Austin has so many great organizations that always need able bodies to help out. If manual labor isn’t your thing, you could spend some time playing with puppies at the Austin Animal Center or tending the gardens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Once you live in a city, it’s easy to take touristy areas and activities for granted. Spend Valentine’s Day rediscovering Austin by visiting the Texas State Capitol (When was the last time any of us went there?) or by taking a leisurely stroll through historic downtown. Snap a photo by the “I love you so much” sign on South Congress Avenue as you sip on a cup of Joe from Jo’s. If you’re looking to stay out of the hustle and bustle of downtown, take a trip to the Austin Zoo or the George Washington Carver Museum.
Invite some friends over and hunker down for a long game of Monopoly. Not only does it take up an entire night (average game time anywhere from two to six hours), it’s easy to incorporate a drinking game in to the rules. For those of you with a limited attention span, try Apples to Apples or Scattergories. A little competition can really rev things up!
Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, so ask off of work Friday and take a break from the city. There’s Marfa, TX, a cultural hub in West Texas that is exploding with museums, art installations and live music. Plus, you can rent a luxury teepee for winding down. A little closer to home is camping at Inks Lake State Park or Enchanted Rock. As the name suggests, Inks Lake is nestled right on a lake with a water level that is always constant, so if it’s warm enough (this is Texas, after all) you could rent jet skis or kayaks.
Since most of us live within the city limits, this is a good way to get in touch with your inner rural Texan. Here’s a chance to test the theory that Call of Duty can improve your aim, but make sure your other half is cool with loud noise and firearms. If not, then there’s an alternative: archery ranges. Every girl secretly dreams of being the next Katniss Everdeen, so there will be no problem convincing her that this is her time to shine.
The Texas Hill Country loves a good hike and a sunset. A good place to start is The Greenbelt or Mount Bonnell, but if you feel like venturing into the deep country, try Pedernales State Park or Big Bend. About an hour away is the river-formed Longhorn Cavern State Park. The cave has a rich history, including a Native American dwelling area, a speakeasy bar and a Texas outlaws hiding place.