By Denise Decker
Admit it: there are few things you’d rather do than hit the road on a sunny day. And what better way to do it than on a bicycle? Sunshine, fresh air, exercise and your favorite person at your side — riding through the highways of life. Austin is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Whether you own one or prefer to rent bicycles in Austin, romance on two wheels is definitely in the air.
Romantic day and evening rides are easy to plan and don’t have to cost a lot. Here are a few ideas to consider.
Food Truck Tour
You have to eat. While trekking through the city, you’ll find as many food trucks in Austin as there are bike trails. Food truck owners are required to meet specific requirements for cooking and selling their goods, and managers must display their certificates in prominent areas.
Some food trucks wander the city, and you’ll just happen upon them. But food trucks have become such a thing in Austin that they have congregated into well-established semi-permanent parks. You’ll find them on South Congress, 5000 Burnet, on Barton Springs Road, near the University of Texas, and on South 1st Street. Parking is scarce at many of the locations, so taking a bike is not only cool, but more convenient.
Picnic at Auditorium Shores
A romantic setting without cellphones and computer tablets is a great way to communicate with your date while enjoying Austin’s abundant natural wonders. Sandwiches are easiest to carry but if you really want to impress your guy or girl, fill a backpack with apples, cheeses, cured meats, breadsticks, nuts and maybe a bottle of wine. (Check the rules about drinking alcoholic beverages on public property.) Bicycle baskets are available at your favorite sporting goods retailer.
Don't feel like packing a lunch? If you're biking to Auditorium Shores on a weekend, chances are there's a festival or concert to enjoy and plenty of food options. If crowds aren't your thing, just ride down the trail and find a secluded spot for your picnic.
Any time of year in Austin is perfect for outdoor concerts, and there's no shortage of them here. Performances range from oldies, jazz, acoustic favorites and classic rock to theater presentations. By riding your bike, you won't have to fight the traffic!
Scenic Bike Tour
Planning a scenic bike tour is a romantic way to explore a city or natural area together. A GPS can help if you get lost. Before deciding on where to go, be sure you’re both up to the task. Hilly areas can be hard on the stamina … especially for those who don’t ride for miles every day. Pack extra water and energy bars and don’t feel shy about saying you want to take a break! (Pro tip: Calling 911 because of heat exhaustion is not romantic.) Enjoying natural scenery is a nice way to connect with your special friend and determine how he or she reacts to the simpler things in life.
Guided Tour Circuit
A guided tour with experienced locals is an excellent way to learn about the scenery and history of Austin, even if you're a native. People who are trapped in their car miss the iconic beauty of the Lady Bird Lake Pedestrian Bridge or the Treaty Oak. You'll ride under the famous Congress Avenue Bridge bat colony and along Barton Springs Road. Break off from the group and go for a swim in the springs (another great date idea!).
Exercise doesn’t have to be hard work. Hitting the bike trails is a nice way to strengthen your couple’s relationship while shaping up your body. Make a plan and get cycling!
Denise Decker is an avid hiker, cyclist, and runner who travels around the country, taking part in triathlons. When she’s not writing about her races or travels, you’ll find her biking along the trails in Austin.