By Emma Balter
Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, making it the perfect occasion for couples to skip town and celebrate over a long weekend. There are plenty of things to do in Texas to get your romantic juices flowing while also taking in some culture or nature. Here are six inspiring destinations across the state.
1. Escape to Fredericksburg
Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is full of charm. The town settled by German immigrants features bucolic architecture and many shops, restaurants and bars that cater to thousands of tourists every year—Texas Monthly recently called it the “new Aspen.” Get a table at Otto’s German Bistro to wine and dine your date, and stay at Hoffman Haus, which has a collection of quaint cottages.
2. Bring your valentine to Valentine
Yep, there’s an actual town in Texas called Valentine (with a population of 125, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates). It apparently got its name when railroad workers were laying tracks in 1882. When they got to the point where a fuel depot was needed, it was Valentine’s Day, so they named the gas station Valentine. The town hosts a Valentine’s Day celebration every year, but if you can’t make it in person, you can send your sweetheart’s card there to be re-mailed with a Valentine postmark.
3. Go stargazing at Big Bend National Park
Big Bend, established in 1944, is the crown jewel of national parks in Texas. It also happens to be an incredible place for stargazing. In 2012, it was designated a Dark Sky Park, a title reserved for sites that have an exceptional level of sky brightness. Take a hike, pack a picnic, and gaze into your loved one’s eyes as well as the stars above.
4. Ride in a hot air balloon
Why admire the sky from the ground when you could be in the sky? Rohr Balloons is a family-owned business that has been flying hot air balloons over North Texas since 1972. The balloons take off near Allen, and you can choose from a variety of packages, from flights shared with other passengers to private couple rides. Champagne and hors d’oeuvres are included! If you want to propose on Valentine’s Day, this could be the way to go because Rohr has a special engagement package.
5. Indulge in a dinner cruise on Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Johnson was a beloved figure in Texas and U.S. politics. It’s only natural that one of Austin’s major lakes is named after her, and basically just as natural that you take a cruise on it this Valentine’s Day. Capital Cruises is offering a special couples package on its Public Moonlight Cruise, complete with complimentary wine and treats. You can also rent a private electric boat for two for extra privacy.
6. Stay at home and drink Texas wine
You can’t always go big every Valentine’s Day, but if you decide to cozy up at home, this doesn’t mean you can’t make it special. Support the amazing work Texas winemakers are doing by drinking local this Feb. 14. William Chris Vineyards has two Valentine’s Day specials: a three-pack of red blends and a case of rosé. Other great wine producers in the state include Southold, Lewis, Lost Draw, McPherson, and many more.