Everyone has a different idea of what makes a great date, but essential ingredients have to include fun, discovery and maybe a bit of intrigue, just to keep things interesting.
Flights of Fancy
See San Antonio, the Spanish missions, the Texas Hill Country and more from your own private helicopter tour. City lights at night are an even more romantic option. Tours are available during major holidays, including Valentine’s Day.
Rock of Ages
Six hundred forty acres of pink granite rise 425 feet above ground at the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark. This astonishing site is about 90 minutes from San Antonio, but it’s certainly worth the drive. Take a picnic and hike to the top—or better yet, take a pair of kites and let the breezes fly them high. There’s not an obstacle to flight in sight.
Lost in Nature
The best fall foliage around can be found roughly 95 miles outside of San Antonio at Lost Maples State Natural Area—more than 2,000 acres of pristine country along the Sabinal River. Go for the color, the hiking, the swimming in crystal pools … or just each other. Campsites are also available.
German settlers founded Fredericksburg and the surrounding Texas Hill Country, leaving behind a trove of antiques from four-poster beds to pie safes. Soak up the gemütlichkeit (friendliness) at the many shops, stop by for locally made brew, sample wines from area wineries… or just kick back in country charm at any of a number of historic bed-and-breakfasts.
The Seduction of Snakes
We lied just a little—you won’t find snakeskin boots for him and her at legendary Lucchese Boot Company in the Quarry shopping center. But you can get fitted in alligator, ostrich and even elephant. Matching belts could also be in order. Thus attired, sashay across the parking lot to 20nine Restaurant & Wine Bar and toast your purchases with an equally impressive cabernet. Grape skins are good, too.
Arts & Culture Dates
The Play’s the Thing
Experience intimate theater at its best with performances by Trinity University’s AtticRep, Classic Theatre San Antonio, Josephine Theatre, The Playhouse and the edgy Jump-Start Performance Co., among others. Or catch a Broadway show at downtown’s historic Majestic and Empire theatres, where nearby before- and after-performance dining and drinking options abound. You can also find a wide variety of live performances, from standup comedy and live music to grand musicals and children’s theatre, at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, located next to the River Walk. To see what's playing, check the cultural affairs calendar.
Head to Southtown, the heart of San Antonio's creative class. It's an easy walk, bike or trolley ride from downtown. Have a glass piece blown just for you at Garcia Art Glass in Southtown. Then walk across the street to cozy La Frite Belgian Bistro and indulge in magnificent classic moules frites (mussels with fries).
The dramatic fountain in front of the McNay Art Museum is frequently the scene of bridal photos, a sight to inspire if ever there were one. But don’t forget to pay a visit to the intimate courtyard inside the museum; its ponds, plantings and polychromatic tile work are the stuff of sonnets.
River Walk Dates
The River Walk looks especially romantic from the vantage of a river cruiser, and the ante is upped considerably with a chartered dinner cruise. Several River Walk restaurants, including Boudro’s, Acenar and Citrus, offer community dinner barge dinners. Or, for an intimate feast, charter a private, catered barge from Rio San Antonio Cruises. Add mariachis or a string quartet and you’re all set.
Aquatic Art Walk
Take a stroll on the River Walk’s Museum Reach, north of the busy commercial downtown stretch, lined with specially commissioned artworks—giant, illuminated sunfish, for example. Sunset is a popular time to view the lighted public art installations. Stop in at the San Antonio Museum of Art overlooking the waterway.
Stroll to Your Supper
Here’s a thought for couples in search of seclusion: book a bed and breakfast or boutique hotel near the River Walk, then stroll to dinner every night. Among many possibilities, consider Arbor House Inn & Suites, the Inn on the Riverwalk and the Riverwalk Vista Inn in the historic Dullnig Building. For dining, nearby and of note are Biga on the Banks, Boudro’s and Little Rhein Steak House.
Wake up to Waffles
Bountiful breakfasts are served all day at the Guenther House Restaurant, housed in the original home (and now museum) of the family that built the adjacent Pioneer Flour Mill in 1858. Dig into buttermilk biscuits or strawberry sweet cream waffles, then take time to see how some of the city’s founders lived before you set out on a walking tour of nearby the King William neighborhood.
The ancient Romans knew it: olive oil is great for applying both externally and internally. The Texas olive oil industry is booming, and locals have been planting and cultivating orchards near San Antonio for several years. At Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, spa and skin care products include olive-leaf soaps and the 10,000-tree orchard produces culinary olive oil, too. Have Saturday lunch there, take a cooking or educational class and browse in the gift shop.
Every table has a view at Chart House atop the Tower of the Americas, and the Godiva Chocolate Lava Cake is a dessert destination in its own right. For that special occasion, consider arriving in Yellow Rose Carriage Company’s Cinderella Coach.
Figs and Fine China
French-accented restaurant, The Fig Tree, occupies one of the River Walk’s choicest locations. Book seats on the cascading outside terrace and luxuriate in fine china and equally fine foods such as the avocado stuffed with Shrimp Louis, Tournedos Rossini and flaming Baked Alaska, or tableside Bananas Foster. The restaurant’s elegant glassware is up to the award-winning wine list as well.
The Steves Homestead, a three-story Victorian home built by lumber-yard magnate Edward Steves has been a King William jewel since 1876. Daily tours allow history lovers to plumb the past at a leisurely pace and then adjourn for lunch at the Liberty Bar, a former convent that has been beautifully renovated. The combination is San Antonio at its most charming.
Legend has it that stonemason Pedro Huizar carved the elaborate rose window at Mission San José, the Queen of Missions, for his star-crossed sweetheart, Rosa. Whether fact or fantasy, the window is a perfect spot to reflect on romance in general. Find someone to take your photo—it should be easy.
Save the Last Dance
Remember those boots y’all bought at Lucchese? Put them to good use at Floore’s Country Store (a Willie Nelson favorite) in nearby Helotes, at Gruene Hall (Texas’s oldest dance hall) or at Cowboys Dance Hall where you can get boot scootin’ lessons on certain nights. Sleeker footwear is suggested for salsa, and Saturday afternoon lessons can be had at Azuca, which features live Latin sounds on Friday and Saturday nights. Latin music peppers Friday and Saturday nights at Rosario’s, too; it’s just down the street.
Settle into a clubby chair at Bohanan’s posh, street-level bar and let the bartender lead you in a tasting of their extensive single-malt collection—or, on weekends, simply sit back with glasses of your favorite libations as the four-man jazz ensemble serenades you into the wee hours.
There’s nothing like a secluded courtyard to awaken the romantic in almost anybody. Charming Charles Court has the advantage of backing up to Zinc Bistro and Wine Bar, if reinforcements are needed. The inner courtyard of the Menger Hotel works, too (there’s a balcony of many betrothals above). For courage or congratulations, head to the Menger’s historic Rough Rider bar, where Teddy Roosevelt recruited men for the Spanish-American war in 1898.
Golf & Resort Dates
Tee Off for Two
For golfing couples, the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa boasts two PGA TOUR courses. After the game, relax at the lavish spa, dine at any of its six restaurants, and retire to your luxurious room. Or enjoy some of the most scenic vistas in the Texas Hill Country at the La Cantera Resort & Spa. Another great golf option is the Hyatt Hill Country Golf Club, one of three resort courses in the city, which offers 27 holes designed by Arthur Hills and Associates.
Pamper both partners at the Mokara Hotel & Spa’s world-class facilities (think steam, sauna and the Texas Tingle Body Wrap), then take dinner at Ostra, the hotel’s acclaimed river-level restaurant specializing in seafood. Don’t miss the raw bar and be sure to consult the impressive list of high-end tequilas—some available only here. You’ll also find luxurious spa facilities at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country’s Windflower Spa, the JW Marriott Hill Country’s Lantana Spa and the soon-to-open Loma de Vida spa at La Cantera Hill Country Resort.