This year, think “outside the box” of chocolates when planning your Valentine’s Day! We took our inspiration from messages on candy hearts to come up with some fun “Choose Your Own Adventures.” Celebrate the day (or month) with your sweetie, the kids, or the whole family!


Head to South Congress Avenue to take a selfie in front of the iconic “i love you so much” mural at Jo’s Coffee or the Heart Wall behind TOMS.


Choose Your Own Adventure:

  • Grab a cup of joe from Jo’s Coffee along with breakfast tacos or muffins to picnic at a park. Nearby Little Stacy Park and Ricky Guerrero Park are both great spots.
  • Head up South Congress to Big Top Candy Shop to goggle over the candy selection.
  • Try the walk-up window at Amy’s Ice Creams, the Hey Cupcake! trailer or the newly-opened Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to get your chocolate fix.



Some local bakeries go all out for this holiday. It can be a treat just to peek into the glass cases and admire the beautifully-decorated cupcakes, cookies and cakes. Many offer curbside pickup or delivery too. Try one of the calorie-rich and calorie-burning pairings below, so you can have your cake and eat it too! 


Choose Your Own Adventure:

  • Visit Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery in Hyde Park, then stroll over to play at Shipe Park or the grounds of the Elisabet Ney Museum.
  • Check out Lady Quackenbush’s Cakery in Mueller where you can party on the patio or head to Lake Park to picnic. On Sunday, wander the farmers market for goodies. You can also picnic at the new Andrews Park, guarded by a giant octopus sculpture!
  • Sugar Mama’s on South First Street makes beautiful, award-winning cupcakes and treats. Pick up a DIY cookie kit to throw your own Valentine’s Day party at home. Or order curbside and burn off those sugar highs at Butler Park (and take a peek at the new Children’s Garden, coming soon!).


Celebrate the day with flowers! Stop and smell the roses at the Zilker Botanical Garden.


Choose Your Own Adventure:

  • Perfect for choosing your own adventure, the trails here loop through Japanese gardens, along koi ponds, over bridges, past rose and butterfly gardens and into prehistoric times where you can do a scavenger hunt for dinosaurs.
  • Do a photo shoot. Bring hearts and props to make fun Valentine’s Day photo cards, or simply take advantage of the gorgeous backdrops for family pictures.



Did you know that the Main Building of St. Edward’s University sits atop an extinct volcano? Hike Blunn Creek Trail to see if for yourself! Kids will enjoy walking forested paths, beneath bluffs and along the creek as they watch for trail markers. Follow the signs for the Volcanic Overlook. (Leave the pups at home for this protected nature preserve.)



Good for date nights or outdoor family fun, visit Vista Brewing for live music and libations.

Choose Your Own Adventure:

  • Reserve a spot at Vista Brewing where you can hear live music on Fridays and Sundays from their outdoor stage set under beautiful live oaks. For their “Driftwood Nights,” a voluntary $5 donation supports local musicians and the Health Alliance for Musicians (HAAM). Socially-distanced picnic tables and room for kids to play make this family- and dog-friendly venue a great outing any day, especially at sunset.
  • Bring a blanket or chairs on Saturday evenings for “Live on the Lawn” at Vista Brewing’s pop-up beer garden in Bee Cave. Pick up snacks and drinks for a picnic on the lawn at the Hill Country Galleria’s Central Plaza where you can dance the night away!



Have you ever wondered how to rent the swan pedal boats that float on Lady Bird Lake?

Choose Your Own Adventure:

  • Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to take one of these boats-built-for-two out on the water! Make a reservation with Capital Cruises to pedal your way around the city together.
  • Or go early in the month and take photos. You can make “Swan-of-a-Kind” cards to send on Valentine’s Day. Then make it a birding adventure – bring your binoculars — as you pedal along the shore and look for other love birds!


Annette Lucksinger is a mom of two who loves Austin adventures. She is also author of the local family guidebook, Exploring Austin with Kids.

Cupcakes by Sugar Mama’s Bakery.

Mural photos by Melanie Wright Photography.

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