Our Austin Date Picks

Jared Padalecki and Genevieve Padalecki share their favorite Austin date spots

Jared and I have been together for 11 years and married for nine. Throw three kids in the mix and a career that takes him to Canada most the year, and keeping the romance alive can be hard. As boring as it sounds, we’ve found that the best way to reconnect is to schedule a date night (or day) as often as possible. Our goal is weekly, but that happens pretty much never. I’m happy if we can reconnect and do something fun together, just us, twice a month.

One of our favorite things about living in Austin is there is always so much to do—even during the steamy summer months when 100 degrees is the norm. Here are our four favorite things to do on date night (or day). Have you tried any of these fun activities with your partner? Let me know in the comments.

Get out on the water

We love kayaking and paddle boarding. Both are such easy, fun activities—we just took the kids paddleboarding last week. But when it’s just the two of us, Jared and I can relax while taking in the beautiful Austin skyline, soaking in some nature (there are swans and turtles everywhere!) and people-watching (my personal fave). We love to rent kayaks or paddleboards from the Rowing Dock. We work up a sweat while paddling over to Barton Springs, and then jump in and cool off. Pure bliss. 

Feast on new foods

The Austin food scene is booming. So many new restaurants open each month, I am constantly on Eater Austin making lists of all the places I want to check out. Jared and I love to experience new dinner spots for date night. We just ate at Suerte, recently named a Best New Restaurant in America by Food & Wine—which also happens to be next door to one of our favorite cocktail spots, Whisler. Since there are so many places to try, this is how we do it for date night: One of us offers up three spots we are interested in, and the other gets to pick his or her favorite. We alternate to keep things fair—and delicious.  

Hike it up

Since I spent so much time in Montana, Idaho and Tahoe as a kid, being in nature for me is a reset. Which is why I love the Barton Creek Greenbelt, 12 miles of gorgeous trails right in the heart of South Austin. There are multiple access points to the Greenbelt, so there is always something new and different to explore. Once inside, you’ll feel like you’re in an urban oasis, complete with flora and fauna, swimming holes (though they are usually pretty dry during the hot summer months), butterflies, birds, reptiles and insects. We’ve been known to bring a bottle of wine and metal cups with us in our backpacks to enjoy after a good hike. (Just be sure to tote along with a water bottle too, or you’ll be day drunk on your day date!)

Just add music

When we were thinking about moving to Austin eight years ago, attending a Blues on the Green concert was what sealed the deal for me.  There was music, kids, dogs, food, and booze all in one place—what more do you need? It really won me over for Austin. I loved that the sense of community was so strong, and you didn’t have to give anything up. We still love attending the free concerts at Zilker Park to this day. There is one concert left this summer, Sweet Spirit with Soul Man Sam on August 7th, so head out there for some good tunes, good food, and good fun. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see us there enjoying a date night, too.

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  • Tina

    Great ideas for keeping your marriage strong. It was the suggestions of Kayaking on Lady Bird that introduced me to Austin. I’ve been down twice now and hoping to get back. Its a fantastic city with so much to do with a wide variety for all tastes. (1500 miles away from my home but when I’m there its just as comfortable and welcoming as being home).

  • Marisol Fierro

    Love this post!!
    We are also from Austin and something my husband and I have a problem with is picking a place and always ended up at the same places, which are great but as you said. Austin is booming and so many new places to try. Sometimes I feel like we dont have enough life to try it all!! LOL
    But yes definitely Suerte is on our list and we are always down for blue on the grass as well as ACL.❤❤❤

  • Sonja Sajavaara

    Thank you for a wonderful post! Wishing you all the best❤️

  • Sophia

    Definitely will keep these in mind if I ever visit Austin! It’s on the bucket list! Any chance of a post like this but with your fave spots in Vancouver?

  • April

    This is very nice and inspiring gen! Thank you for writing this! If later i get a busy husband i’ll apply these. Anyway, so happy you finally posted. Love you!!! ❤️

  • Julie

    I can’t wait to try some of these, just moved to Austin myself and can’t wait to explore! Awesome ideas!! Thank you

  • Kennedy

    Yes Gen come through with the great ideas

  • Jacinda leal

    Sounds lovely😊😊. My boyfriend and I don’t go anywhere or do anything, and we are kind of ok with it, mostly, considering. Maybe if we lived somewhere else, I feel like this city dislikes me. Plus with him working all the time, and some other personal issues, we don’t really go anywhere. I’d like to take a road trip, but he hates driving because he drives all day, and he is scared of my driving. I could just be sitting at the stop sign and he’d probably say I was going too fast, lol. I really can’t wait for him to retire so we can move, couple more years. Maybe we’ll go out more then. I hope y’all find what you’re looking for 💕😊

  • Noelia

    I have the same problem… We never find time for ourselves and every plan includes muy two Years old baby which is very stressing for me because he’s on the tantrum age. I would like some more ideas so we don’t fall on boredom but i live really far from Austin in south chile and most of this post doesnt apply to me. Help!! Haha

    • Bethann Coonrod

      Gen that is very wonderful . In your pictures I can see you two love each other very much. I can see it in
      both of you guys eyes. I love the show so much. I was wondering will you or Jared keep putting pictures
      on Facebook. I have 17thousand pictures saved. I’m going to put them in Albums. I love you guys and seeing your pictures to watch your children grow up and you two love each other. Jared and Jensen are the same age of my nieces and nephews. So I always signed it
      Aunt Bethann best wishes

  • Sarah Scott

    Love these ideas! My husband and I have two daughters, 3 and 6, so we schedule date nights too. Sometimes we just go on a walk for an hour on one of the nearby trails we have here in Omaha. We have an amazing zoo here, so sometimes we go there and wander around at our leisure. 😊

  • Ginabean

    Love that you both enjoy nature music dining snd adventure!!! Austin sounds like a great place. I hope i get to Texas soon!!! Love you both SAM AND RUBY i mean Jared and gen! Lol

  • Jessie

    My boyfriend and I love to be outdoors too. We’ve gone kayaking, hiking, movie/dinner dates, creek swimming, mini road trips in state to places we’ve never been before. New places to eat, explore abandoned places and museums!!!

    • Shannon

      We live in upstate SC so we are only an hour from the NC Mountains so we love to get on the Harley and take off in the morning and ride. We will take back roads, go up the Blue Ridge Parkway where we will stop & take pictures and hike to explore waterfalls, and find new places to eat. We stopped in Cherokee,NC on one trip to spend a few dollars playing the slot machines at the casino on our way home. Our kids are teenagers now so it allows us to stay gone all day. I have a long list of areas in NC & TN I want to go and hope to plan an overnight at a B&B soon.

    • Sam Evans

      Thanks for mentioning my name and the band in your piece. We r also looking forward to Blues on the Green, come up and say hello. Soulman Sam Evans.

  • Ana Cláudia

    so happy you finally posted. Love you!!! ❤️

    • Gail VanHattensp

      Not much around Utica. You have beautiful options. We recently had a brainstorm….thanks to GISH…..6 kids doing pillow fort which was hilarious, not quite valid for submission, so left them to have their fun and tent sent up in back yard with pizza and snacks. They stayed outside, we stayed inside, all night, except for sneaking off to the bike trail through the woodlands, nearby.

  • Allison

    The most fun I have seen for couples is to camp in the back yard. I know you both love the outdoors due to your Twitter, so this seems like a good idea to me. It has about 5 rules. 1 no cheating. No frozen meals, no modern inventions (including internet of any kind) ect. This also means no fire starters. 2 the tent cannot be store bought. I have no clue how to build one but the internet before hand might be handy. 3 meals made must be done with fire. If something burns well it’s a good laugh. 4 no trying to be romantic. It’s camping it brings you together through laughter and a fun time! I have found the more less thought out it is the more fun it is. If it turns into a bust well guess what you can laugh about it for years to come! 5 Don’t forget that this is to grow stronger as a couple, and to have alone time. Alone time can mean anything! You never know what Jared could have under his sleeve!! Don’t forget to have fun!! If this isn’t your type of thing, hey that’s ok! Your twitter asked for our best date ideas! I’m a Texas girl too and I have found that this is the most fun. In the backyard may not seem like much, but it is! Lots of love! -A fan of you and Jared! Sam X Ruby forever!



  • Suganti

    I can relate so much! When it was just one kid we would put him to sleep and wind down and talk when we have time with some wine. My husband travels a lot so usually it’s a family hangout going to watch games, cycling, and generally all kid friendly places.

  • Laura Lucas

    Your first one was exactly what I was going to say!! We love the water and I love my kayak. So we enjoy getting out together, usually in separate boats because he likes to take his jon boat to fish while I kayak, but sometimes he will get the other kayak out with me. Either way we are together doing something we both enjoy, just in our own ways. And we are out away from all other distractions because we are generally out in the woods on a creek or a lake where there is no service!

  • Connie Smeriglio

    My husband and I are huge fans of going kayaking and hiking . Just getting out into nature. More often than not, we like it better than dinner and a movie. So many interesting places to visit, or simply just walking around a local fair seems to do it for us. Sometimes it’s even just walking around a mall a thing like kids again. We have been married for 12 years now.

  • Melissa Weber

    Hi Gen. My wife and i have just started doing date night again as she just graduated Nursing School and I have recuperated mostly from neck surgery. We do dinner and movie sometimes. We are trying to change things up so we have joined the YMCA as i also had weight loss surgery to prepare for neck surgery!! We are going to have some date mornings at ther Y swimming laps together and taking classes together. We have also discovered painting classes where you drink wine and learn to paint!!

  • Angelica Lacarra

    These are all fun and exciting things to doin my hometown you can go from the ocean to the mountains in about 45 minutes and fortunately we enjoy a walk on the pier or a stroll thro our famous Balboa Park then there’s concerts in the park which we enjoy immensely.Happy that you & Jared still find time to sneak away even if its just for a quick date.💛💙💜

  • Michelle Martin

    Hamilton’s Pool is not too far and a great way to get in a few hours alone. You have to schedule a time slot because it is limited access. We went in the late morning with a small picnic and mimosas. Have you tried the Odd Duck for dinner? It was a wonderful dining experience.

  • Karine Daoust

    Hi Gen! I Fully undetstand what your saying. I’m in a 18 years relationship with 3 kids (9-7-5) and we are both Working between 35 to 60 hours a week for my husband. Sometimes it’s hard to find time!! But when we have a chance to go out ( dînner, movies, hicking, biking,…) WE Do it!!!! It’s good for our sanity ;). When we can’t get out we put the kids to sleep and eat a special dinner at home, no phone, no tv just the 2 of us talking or playing Games.
    Have a nice evening!!
    Karine from Montreal, Canada

  • Brenda Martin

    Such a nice read! I live in Katy, just west of Houston and love the variety of activities that offers. Concerts, plays, zoo, museum district. It’s endless!! I drag my hubs everywhere and he’s always so receptive (the big bad ass Vietnam vet Marine!)

  • Monica Hall

    Me and a couple of my daughter’s love going to the Rowing dock when we visit Austin we don’t paddle quite that far but we do enjoy the scenery.

  • Nancy Calderon

    My daughter and I are going to Austin in Sept and and we were wondering what to do after going to the FBBC and Jared’s venues). Thanks for the ideas.

  • Allison Crow

    I just went to Whisler’s for the first time about a month ago, and their drinks really were fantastic. I also loved the Thai food truck parked beside the patio. I plan on exploring the green belt as soon as I can convince someone to go hike and get sweaty with me! I’m praying that I can catch the last Blues on the Green concert before ACL rolls around, and hopefully I can attend that too (for the first time!) Being a new Austinite is so exciting but also so overwhelming! I want to be in a million places at once!

  • Luie Marroquin

    My wife and I struggle with planning date nights too. I’m inspired and reminded how important it is but Sometimes we go longer than a month before we get around to doing it. Love the ideas. I’m looking forward to doing something like this on a regular schedule .

  • Gail VanHattensp

    Not much around Utica. You have beautiful options. We recently had a brainstorm….thanks to GISH…..6 kids doing pillow fort which was hilarious, not quite valid for submission, so left them to have their fun and tent sent up in back yard with pizza and snacks. They stayed outside, we stayed inside, all night, except for sneaking off to the bike trail through the woodlands, nearby.

  • Kari

    We love going to the drive-in movies. Here in Minnesota there aren’t many of them left which break my nostalgic heart, but the google tells me there are plenty around Austin. And yes, date nights get easier to make happen, but the other side of that shiny coin is it means the kids are getting older. Yes, growing up is what we want for them, but every now and then I look at my not-so-littles and wish I could turn back the clock for a day.
    And who is cutting onions in here suddenly? *ugly crying*

  • sandra livingston

    My husband and take the motorcycle out for alone time

  • Stephanie

    If y’all ever come to Fort Worth check out Magnolia Street, it’s in our cultural district and is being dubbed the “Austin of Fort Worth”. Tons of cool new restaurants, we have little festivals all the time and everything within walking distance, all on Magnolia. I work at a casual fine dinning spot there called Ellerbe Fine Foods. We’re a farm-to-table locally sourced seasonal restaurant where the menus change all the time, great date night spot! Been here for 10 years and I love it. Definitely sounds like it would be right up yalls alley!

  • Christina

    Austin sounds wonderful! I would love to go there one day!

  • Lillian Garza

    I loved this post! I’m an author who works from home so that I can care for my two little girls. Sadly, my book is not selling well, despite the fact that it is both a fantasy and a comment piece on the struggles of minority groups, pluss all who have read it have given it five stars and rave reviews. Such is the struggle of an indie author, but what makes it more frustrating is having only one full income to depend on, and my husband works 7 days a week at 5 am, so he’s beat when he gets home. We talk about going out for date nights, hikes, or creek trips (Northern Arizona boasts some gorgeous creeks and trails if you are ever in the area), but such outings, especially with just the two of us, are a rare occurrence. If we are ever in Austin, we will definitely check out some of these places! As always, thank you for your wonderful posts! They continually have something I find beautiful our useful! Hoping you and yours all the best! ❤️

  • JessicaMarie Timaeus

    Gen, you’re a life saver! We live and hour away and some of these just scream out fun! And locations neither of us have been! We have three little ines so play dates are the only we ever get out! Seeing pictures of your family inapire me to continue the fight to push for our happiness too! With my husband as my rock and #AKF as guidance and help…keep the emails coming!

  • Karina

    I totally understand. My husband and I work as audio engineers for different artists and we’re always traveling and rare the times we get to work together even worse spend time together. But Austin is my go to city whenever we have a weekend off. And I love trying new things always. I’ve tried some of the places you mentioned Gen but you gave me a couple of new that I didn’t know about. So I’m very excited to try them next month on date weekend lol. So thanks for the ideas. Blessings to you and the family. Xoxo

  • Tangee Wilspm

    I absolutely love the idea of one picking three options and the other picking one! We get in a rut (Married 12 years together 13) of “how about this”? “How about that”? And it goes back and forth till one of us agrees. I’m going to try your list of 3 idea. Brilliant! We are in our 50s raising two of our grandchildren. It’s easier now that they are 4 and 6 but oh so rough when they were babies.

  • Serena

    “People watching” love it favourite past time ever, but!!! If you guys are ever in England make sure you visit a small village called Blakeney on the north Norfolk coast we have the most amazing coastline home to one of largest grey seal colonies and voted the most top secret natural hideaways again this year 😘

  • Erica

    Most recent movie we saw was Daniel Tigers Family Trip. Don’t live in TX but I can use general ideas in my state. Thx much appreciated.

  • Nora Shay

    My husband and kids and I are gonna plan a trip to Austin next week so this is a good thing to know! Thank you!

  • Lynn

    Recently I’ve found 5ks that my husband can walk while I run (friends join us too, but it still feels like a date). And this past weekend we did our first joint cycling tour (and my first ever) and had a blast so we’ll be doing that again (plus doing more riding together locally). We love finding new places to eat too, though we do tend to stick to faves while home. But on vacations, we have a rule of only eating at places that we can’t find near home. We’ve discovered so many great restaurants that way!

  • Ejurewa

    Thank you for such a wonderful post!

  • kim bowers

    Been married for 20 years, we go out every friday night….same routine but it works.

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