At Home in Austin: 6 Valentine’s Day Activities

Re-imagine Austin as the most romantic city on Earth with these Valentine’s Day activities

Valentine’s Day might be one of the most divisive holidays in existence. You either love it, or you hate it. If you fall into the “loving it” category, you might still be loving it a bit less this year. After all, let’s face the facts. A pandemic isn’t the best setting for a romantic Valentine’s Day. 

Luckily, you can still enjoy many Valentine’s Day activities and stay relatively safe with the proper precautions. After all, romance is not in quarantine. 

Let’s countdown our favorite Valentine’s Day activities for love in the time of coronavirus, Austin style!

Forget roses. Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center instead.

Founded by former first lady Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes, this botanical garden is an Austin favorite for a good reason. Featuring over 900 species of plants native to Texas, it is considered the best place in this area to view wildflowers. But the garden offers much more than that, from educational programs to charming artwork and even a whimsical dragonfly sculpture. As a chef, I love learning about the garden’s culinary aspects, which are so vast that they even offer guided herb and cooking tours from time to time! 

This is the kind of place to aimlessly wander and enjoy breathtaking views and quiet, peaceful moments. Make sure you set up reservations ahead of time, as the gardens are carefully following recommended social distancing protocols. There is so much to explore, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a wonderland of sights, sounds, and smells. 

The perfect Valentine’s Day activity? A romantic dinner prepared by your own private chef. 

Did anyone just say dinner for two? How about dinner for a few, made by your own private chef? There is nothing more romantic than a once-in-a-lifetime gourmet experience that will have even Cupid green with envy. Here at The Austin Artisan we decided to make 2021 a Valentine’s Day to remember. We’ve opened up 5 private dinner party reservations just for you, your valentine, and your favorite double dates! 

 

We are whipping up a tantalizing feast for the affair, and believe us when we say it’s designed to indulge all of the senses. We’re talking a 6-course meal plus hors d’oeuvres, amuse, intermezzo, and mignardise, all prepared in your own kitchen by one of our artisan chefs. We promise not to look if you are inspired to spoon-feed each other a dollop of the Chocolate Panna Cotta with Vanilla Cream Anglaise. At the time of this posting, we only have 5 reservations available. Call us today at (512) 436-2401 to book your dinner party.

Book a Valentine’s Day dinner hosted by your own private chef.

Spend Valentine’s Day exploring Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake offers a variety of Valentine’s Day activities to suit just about any taste. A sunset walk along the boardwalk is almost as good as Paris for offering a city of lights, sights, and soundscapes. You could stroll down one of the many hiking and biking trails taking in the charming stops along the way, such as the Barton Creek pedestrian bridge, one of my personal favorites. If you want to include Fido in your Valentine’s Day activities, you can always stop at the dog park. Feeling more adventurous? There’s always taking a boat paddling on the lake itself, which is the perfect pairing for a romantic sunset kiss if you ask me. 

Take a Romantic Picture at the “I Love You So Much” Mural

In a world of influencers and instant Instagram fame, it might be easy to label a photo stop in front of a mural that says “I Love You So Much” as just flat out predictable. But while it might seem a bit weird to stand with your valentine in front of a spray-painted wall, there’s something to be said for cheesy Valentine’s Day activities, and besides, as we like to say here in Austin, #KeepAustinWeird. The site is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. It’s even garnered the attention of TripAdvisor, who gave it the coveted Traveler’s Choice Award. You can check out some of the other incredible murals in the area with this free guide to Austin’s Most Famous South Congress Murals

Take in the Views at Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnel has been a favorite for young lovers as far back as the 1800s when youngsters would bring their picnic blankets and their would-be romances for an alfresco meal here. The site continues to attract tourists willing to climb the approximately 100 steps to reach the top. Why someone would make such an effort is no longer a mystery once you see the view. On a clear day, you can see the majesty of Austin, the Colorado River, and the Hill Country. It is one of the best places to view starry-skies and a few of those storied constellations at night. 

Take a romantic stroll through Austin’s fascinating history. 

From the Driskill Hotel to the Rainy Street Historic District, Austin has a lot of local favorites, and many are oozing with history. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to take a romantic stroll with your honey bun and discover the cultural and architectural offerings that are uniquely Austin. You can use free guides such as this self-guided walking tour of Austin or use paid services, apps, or historical societies to find the tour that works best for your interests. 

Austin, Texas, USA downtown cityscape at dusk.

Paris? We’ve got our own urban landscape of city lights. Venice? Austin has its own lake to explore. And the greatest culinary wizardry on Earth? Austin’s dining scene is one to be envied. At The Austin Artisan, we think some of the best food on Earth is to be found here; from Tex-Mex tacos to devilishly delightful queso, there are so many flavors that are uniquely Austin. 

Sure, those other cities are romantic. But with these Valentine’s Day activities,  you’ll discover that Austin has its unique charms, even in a pandemic. 

Why We Give Back to the Austin Community (and a Personal Story from Chef Wards)

This post may be a little different than what you’re used to seeing on The Austin Artisan blog.

As a small business owner, I believe it is my duty to be a responsible steward of the Austin community. Since I started my business, I have been committed to helping those who are less fortunate, particularly kids.

I’d like to share a personal story with you that explains why I’m so passionate about giving back.

When I was 7 years old, my mother was killed. Her death and the aftermath, including court testimony, was traumatic and left me feeling scared, lonely and confused. It was a horrific event that I didn’t quite understand. The rest of my family was largely distracted by their own shock and grief.

My greatest wish now is to be of service to kids who may be going through their own trauma.

There is a story about a starfish that always reminds me why I do what I do. A man was walking on the beach and saw thousands of starfish washed ashore. Not far away, a boy picked up one starfish after another and tossed it back to sea.

“You’ll never save them all, so what difference does it make?” The man asked the boy.

The boy picked up a starfish and threw it in the ocean.

“It made a difference to that one,” the boy said.

If I can prevent even one less child from experiencing that fear, loneliness and confusion I once felt, I consider my work a success.

Building my own business has enabled me and the rest of the team here at The Austin Artisan to do good in the Austin community and make a difference in children’s lives.

Here are some organizations we’ve donated our services to:

By supporting The Austin Artisan, you are supporting a mission very near and dear to my heart: a mission to make the world a better place for kids and people in need. Thank you for your patronage. We couldn’t do it without you.