Austin, Texas is a city that thrives in the sun, and I enjoy nothing more than spending a day out on the town. But being thrifty is a MUST in the age of $7 cartons of eggs. Since summer and even early fall in Austin, Texas comes with 90+ degree temperatures nearly every day, the utility bills creep upwards as well. If the sun is shining and your AC system and wallet could both use a break, stepping out on the town more often is a great idea to save some cash and make the most out of this beautiful city.
If you didn’t know – Austin, Texas is a great place for a budget-friendly date night with an overwhelming selection of things to do almost every night of the week. From outdoor experiences to delicious dining options, Austin has no lack of ways for you to occupy your summer days. Here are some Austin-centric date ideas to impress your sweetheart this summer for under $50.
First things first, we all know it’s hot outside, so before you step out of your Camden apartment, bump the A/C up to 78 and close your blinds to prevent your HVAC system from working harder than it needs to. Next, select from this list for a pre-made perfect day or night on the town!
Austin skyline views from Zilker Park - Photo courtesy of Camden Gaines Ranch Apartments
1. Picnic at Zilker Park
Zilker Park is one of the best spots in town to relax and enjoy panoramic city views, located only a 10-minute drive from Camden Gaines Ranch. I highly recommend stopping by the new Lake Austin H-E-B location beforehand to grab a pie from South Flo Pizza, located inside the store, with pizzas starting at around $10 for a 16-inch. You’ll have a few spare dollars to run upstairs for additional snacks and beverages in the market. If you’re in a pinch and need a cooler, H-E-B offers coolers near the checkout.
Next, you’ll want to head to Zilker Park’s free parking area (2040 Lou Neff Rd, Austin, TX 78746) and head towards the park's center for a great skyline view. Set up your picnic area with your assortment of snacks and some activities like card games to enjoy while you are out there.
Photo courtesy of Camden Rainey Street Apartments
2. Visit the Bat Bridge on South Congress
Located within walking distance of Camden Rainey Street, the view of the city, accompanied by the bats, is a unique and romantic evening spent in Austin, and it’s totally free! This date is an excellent idea if your date is passionate about "Keeping Austin Weird."
Summer is the best time to visit one of Austin’s famous tourist attractions, watching the Mexican free-tailed bats fly out from under the South Congress Bridge. Visit Austin’s local ice cream parlor Amy’s Ice Cream (1301 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704), for a few cold scoops.
Amy’s was established in 1984 and is a tried-and-true Austin favorite. Though I am certainly biased toward a banana split, you’ll want to try the famous Mexican vanilla ice cream.
After you select your scoops, head down on South Congress for a 15-minute walk to the Austin American Statesman parking lot (305 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704). There, you can walk downstairs to find a seat under the bridge (I highly recommend bringing a towel or blanket to sit on) and wait.
You’ll want to arrive around 30 minutes to an hour before sunset to get a good spot and hang out for a while since the bats are on no tight schedule. There are plenty of buskers and performers who take to this area to keep folks entertained through the wait.
Photo courtesy of blogger Mackenzie Ventura
3. Swim at Barton Springs and grab a bite from Sandy’s Hamburgers
There’s nothing more romantic and timeless than enjoying a pleasant swim in Austin’s gorgeous Barton Springs Pool. A portion of Barton Springs renovated into a public swimming area, Barton Springs has been an Austinite favorite since the late 1800s. You’ll want to grab a blanket to put down your items while you swim, and make sure to bring a towel since the pool stays between 68- 70 degrees year-round!
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to Sandy’s Hamburgers (603 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704) for a classic and affordable Austin drive-through experience.
Sandy’s was opened in the summer of 1946 and has remained in the same location on 1st Street and Lamar since, just 5 miles from Camden Lamar Heights. Famous for its modestly priced menu, you’ll have more than a few options to choose from that won’t break the bank. Any of these options are sure to make for a sweet and inexpensive date. After a day of playing tourist in your town, you can get home, crank the A/C down and enjoy a cool evening back at home.