Valentine’s Day 2014 is just a few short weeks away, as if the massive amount of candy, cards, flowers, gifts, etc. in all the stores around town wasn’t enough of a reminder already! However, if you’re on a budget and spending lots of money isn’t in the ‘card’ for Valentine’s Day this year, here’s a list of five either free or cheap ‘in town getaway’ things (except for #5) to do for your loved one and still come out a winner!
- Mount Bonell – Price = Free:
Mount Bonell is by far one of the most amazing views in all of Austin! It’s a full panoramic view of downtown Austin and part of Town Lake. There are four picnic tables atop Mount Bonell, which serves nicely as a place to have a sweet Valentine’s Day picnic. Get up there about 2 hours before dusk and watch the sun go down. It’s simply breathtaking. The only downside to this amazing view is the staircase to get to the top. Don’t wear open toed shoes/high heels and take a flash light to get back down. It’s not well lit up in the evening/after dark. Also, there have been reports of people breaking into cars, so don’t leave anything valuable in your vehicle and make sure to lock your doors. Please click on the Mt. Bonell link above for park hours and information.
- Literal Star Gazing – Price = Free
“Every Wednesday night while UT is in session the astronomy department sponsors free public star parties on the top roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall, which is located at the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Once you reach RLM, take the elevators to the 17th floor and then follow the signs to the stairs up to the telescope” (para. 1). “A typical night will include a planet or two, binary stars, star clusters and maybe one of the brighter nebulae. Because of the location of the building, it is difficult to see many of the fainter objects” (para. 3). However, the cost is free and the view of the ancient heavens above is simply out of this world. Start with a picnic at one of the many downtown Austin parks nearby and then head on over to the University for some Star gazing! Please click on the link above for visitation times and availability.
- Amy’s Ice Cream Factory Tour – Price = Free (Ice Cream = Fair)!
Do you or your love have a sweet tooth? What a great place to go then for Valentine’s Day on a dime. Also, if you’re a nerdy couple who enjoys figuring out how things work, you can take a tour of ice cream factory. “The tour itself is free. However, the tour is finished off with a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream with M&Ms as a topping for $2 per scoop. A non-dairy option is available with prior notice. Exact change, credit card or checks are accepted as there is no access to a cash register” (para. 4). “Tours are scheduled a month in advance (i.e.: January for February, June for July, etc.), reservations are first come first served. Booking for a month begins at midnight on the first day of the prior month (e.g.: midnight on August 1st the whole month of September is available for scheduling)” (para. 5). Click on the link above for additional information.
- Foodie Love – Price is Fair to Midland
Valentine’s Day usually includes a romantic lunch or dinner. How expensive you want to go or how far you want to drive is entirely up to your pocket book. However, About.com (see attached link above) has a list of the some of the most romantic and rather tasty restaurants in all of Austin. My personal favorite is the Driskill Grill; however I personally haven’t been to all of the other restaurants on the list. An additional favorite of mine, if you’re willing to take the short drive out to Lake Travis, is the Oasis. It too boasts a beautiful sunset. However, there’s usually a crowd and since the menu isn’t extensive or expensive. Depending on the amount of people, sometimes a couple has to speak above a conversational level. Click on the links for both the Oasis and the Driskill if you would like to make a Valentine’s Day reservation.
- Cinderella Lovers – Die Gelbe Carriage Ride – Price = $80.00:
The most expensive of all the romantic things (on this list) to do on Valentine’s Day, Die Gelbe Rose Carriages offers a “30 minute ride through down town Austin on one of our face to face carriages” for just you and your sweetie. Currently on their website (click on the link above), they are running a special offer you for Valentine’s Day where the purchaser receives the 30 minute ride plus a special rose for the special lady. I guess they assume that the gentleman will be paying for the ride. However, they do drive past some of the prettier sites in downtown Austin, such as the capital and Town Lake. Perhaps after a nice dinner at one of the hundreds of restaurants in or near the downtown Austin area, a peaceful carriage ride may be in order. Some say, that proposals happen often on Die Gelbe Carriage Rides. So, if a Valentine’s Day marriage proposal is on the agenda ladies/gents, perhaps this might be a way to do it!