Bus dating is kinda perfect… Who knew?
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and while you could settle for your standard date night at that one restaurant you always go to or perhaps even a staycation featuring a Netflix rom-com, there is a whole city of romantic opportunity lying just beyond the edges of that Olive Garden menu.
Austin is a vibrant city brimming with art, music, nature, nightlife and various other attractions, but as we all know, it’s a hassle to travel between multiple destinations in our beloved city. Let’s face it, parking is an absolute nightmare in downtown Austin and summoning a ride share for a citywide romantic excursion would drain your wallet and leave you nothing for the dinner, movie, laser-tag night or whatever else you may have planned. (Assuming you even made that much of an effort beyond last minute CVS chocolates for Valentine’s.)
However, traveling via public transit is a cheap, efficient way to hop from destination to destination. Now I know what you’re thinking – “This is Valentine’s Day, not a Magic School Bus adventure” – but trust me on this one, destination hopping by bus for a day out could be a super fun experience to share with someone. If anything, you’ll have some interesting memories to laugh about and bond over.
It’s a no brainer – explore Austin’s most cherished attractions like a tourist, yet finesse the system like a local. Taking public transit, you can gaze into the eyes of your love without being a safety hazard to everyone else on the road, you don’t have to be assessed on your parallel parking skills and you can confidently chat with your date without being confined in a ride share where your driver is either listening to everything you are saying or interjecting personal stories.
To tour Austin like a local, it’s only natural that we start off the date at South Congress Avenue (SOCO), a popular destination featuring a variety of restaurants, quirky stores and colorful street art, all within walking distance. Among these restaurants is Home Slice Pizza, a local favorite that is a must if you like authentic New York style pizza (who doesn’t?) Home Slice has a smaller takeout restaurant located right next to it aptly named More Home Slice if you’re not in the mood to sit down at Home Slice’s rustic outdoor patio. Among other attractions are SOCO Books, a quaint bookshop boasting a number of first editions and other literary treasures that will make you appear cultured in front of your date and Monkey See, Monkey Do, a toy store featuring 80’s and 90’s childhood knick-knacks among other hilarious gag gifts guaranteed to either stir sentiments of nostalgia or make you and your date chuckle.
After taking in the sights SOCO has to offer, hop on the 801 CapMetro to head to the ever-famous 6th street. By night, 6th street is bustling with party goers and practically throbbing from the bass of so many bars and nightclubs, but it also has other attractions such as the Alamo Drafthouse, a small vintage cinema that serves food and drinks right to your seat as well as hosts a variety of fun quote-alongs and eccentrically themed events.
Next stop – West Campus! The area surrounding the University of Texas at Austin is home to museums and (as all college kids need) lots of places to eat! For the art lovers, the Blanton Museum boasts a variety of world-class exhibits year-round. If you’re looking to tickle your funny bone, hop on the 803 and head down the street to the Spider House Ballroom, an eclectic performance space and cocktail bar that hosts a multitude of comedic acts, this month…a raunchy production of Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet for all you lovers. There are also plenty of places to grab a bite along Guadalupe Street such as Kerbey Lane Café or Pizza Press.
Heading further North on the 803 CapMetro you will reach the Domain, a posh outdoor retail area for a more bougie date that has various brand name stores, restaurants and an iPic movie theater. Be sure to take a stroll through the mall and stop at Kona Grill or Maggiano’s for dinner. While one may call this destination a little less “Austin”, it really is the perfect quiet, relaxed ending to a day full of fun adventures.