By Kelly Howard
You are lucky in love if you have someone special who shares your out-of-doors interests & adventures. Are you an outdoor neophyte? You’ll look like a Houstonian green space guru with our list! If you are currently flying solo, remember: get out there and do all the things that make you happy. There’s no better way to meet that someone special then shared interests.
Here’s a list of our 9 Favorite Outdoor Romantic Activities right here in Houston.
Farm to Spoke to Table: Join us for the Farmer’s Market Bike Ride on Saturday, February 13, and then come up with a romantic dinner based on the fresh produce and other foodie delights you find at the market stalls. Bring your dinner date on the morning ride too!
Get Ready to Garden: February in Houston is a good time to prepare for spring gardening and it’s very romantic to plan for this with a partner. I was just at the nursery picking out seed packets for holly hocks and watermelon, fennel and daisies, and overheard one lady say to another, “hey honey, what about this?” Planning how to bring more beauty into your life together instills gratitude and shared joy into a relationship. You’ll have many evenings in your future to admire the results in the garden. Late afternoon to twilight is an especially lovely time to sit in a Houston garden, pick your own herbs and, yes, smell the roses. (Just wear mosquito repellent. There are some essential oil-based ones that won’t repel your date too.)
Go Shopping for the Outdoors: Not a lot of guys like shopping, unless they are gear heads and especially if it is gear for the great outdoors. Do you ride bikes together? Head to Bike Barn, Sun & Ski or one of the other local bike shops to check out dream bikes, gear, clothes, accessories and sundries. I knew my relationship was getting serious when my man and I would hang out before dinner on a Saturday night at Gander Mtn. to browse paddling and camping gear. (When he told me he had spotted the perfect sit-on-top kayak for me on sale at Academy Sports+Outdoors, I considered that really thoughtful!) Take your date to Bass Pro Shops, Whole Earth Provision Co., REI, etc. and see what things might just inspire an amazing adventure together.
Go Paddling/Tour a Bayou: If this is a first date, a tandem boat might be too much (your discretion is advised). I once observed a couple on a first date in a tandem kayak on Armand Bayou and their discussion covered everything from religion to divorce. Perhaps that was an efficient discourse for them to sort through as they sized each other up, but you may want to paddle in your own respective boats if you are just getting to know each other. On an early date with my boyfriend, we paddled up a branch north of Lake Conroe deep into Sam Houston National Forest and the array of wildlife was astounding, including turtles, wood ducks and deer. We moved gently past the woods in silence for a couple of hours and it was definitely one of the best dates ever. Inside the Loop, Buffalo Bayou offers great views of River Oaks, Memorial Park and the downtown skyline. Local outfitters are promoting Valentine’s tours of Buffalo Bayou, either by kayak (http://bayoucityadventures.org/paddling/tours/index.htm) or as a passenger on the Spirit of the Bayou (http://buffalobayou.org/boat-tours/).
Go Cycling on White Oak Trail: This is one of the most accessible and easy to ride bike trails that Houston has to offer. On it’s southern end, the trail begins at 11th Street at T.C. Jester. The main trail is 7.4 miles and this trail connects with others (http://www.traillink.com/trail/west-white-oak-bayou-trail.aspx). The trail is also near Garden Oaks and the Heights, which have wonderful post-ride date places with good eats. If you want to stay outdoors, bring a picnic.
Eat with the Arts: Bring a picnic to Smither Park, which is sponsored by and down the street from The Orange Show art installation (http://orangeshow.org/smitherpark/). The folk art is enveloping as you can walk around and experience it. Or just sit and take it in.
Hike and Picnic at Memorial Park: Memorial Park is right here and has a lot to offer besides the jogging loop. Take a hike with a date and enjoy a picnic afterward. Bring a cooler packed with crudités and hummus, a baguette and cheese, wine and water to rehydrate after the hike.
Horseback riding at Cypress Creek: Ride for an hour or more with Cypress Trails (http://www.horseridingfun.com/). A wooded trail, a river, beautiful animals, peace and quiet with someone you really like. What could be more romantic?
Take Brunch Outdoors: Just want to relax and chat with your date? There are plenty of restaurants that offer patio dining. Brunch is a low-key way to enjoy someone’s company, whether he or she is a recent acquaintance or long-time steady. Plus, some patios are dog friendly, if you to bring Fido along to sniff out this person.
For more ideas on fun events, check out Bayou City Outdoors.