Forget flowers and chocolates. This is Texas, with its great outdoors and mild winter weather. Not to mention awesome state parks offering cool events for you to share with that special someone. We recommend these seven ways to celebrate Valentine's Day in the park. Bonus: Buy your adventuresome valentine a state parks pass and get into all state parks free for a year.
CCC Sweetheart Dance, Meridian State Park, February 11
Bring a partner and your dancing shoes for a blast from the past: a dance at the park’s CCC-built refectory, featuring the B&B band. Even better, the park has waived entrance fees for the event. Screened shelters and campsites available if you want to make a night of it. Meridian State Park is located about an hour from Waco.
Dutch Oven Cooking Class, Inks Lake State Park, February 11
Learn the basics of cooking in a Dutch oven at the park’s amphitheater, 11 am to 1 pm, free and open to all ages. Cast iron, lidded Dutch ovens can be used for cooking while camping or to make your valentine a special treat. Bring a spoon and a plate to sample some goodies and take home some recipes. Inks Lake State Park is located 70 miles from Austin.
Hearts in Nature Walk, Mother Neff State Park, February 11
Walk trails through the park to hunt for and photograph heart shapes in nature — flowers, cactus pads, rocks, and more. Walk starts at 2 pm. Program is free, but entrance fees apply. Mother Neff State Park is located 30 minutes from Temple.
Nature Program, Goliad State Park and Historic Site, February 11, 12, 18
Program runs from 10-11 am and topics may include plants of the Mission (flowers from nature), nature hike (feel free to get lost in the woods), tracks and scat (so romantic!), and geocaching. The park also offers tours of Mission Espirtu Santo from 2-3 pm. The beautiful, historic chapel is, conveniently, available for weddings (or proposals). Goliad State Park is located 90 miles from San Antonio.
Night Sky Party, Inks Lake, February 11
What could be more romantic than a sky full of stars? From 7-9 pm, rangers will use telescopes and laser pointers to show off extraordinary things in the night sky. Bring blankets and chairs and, if you have them, binoculars or your own optics. Weather permitting, meet near the playground in the central park area. Program is free, but park entrance fees apply.
Sweetheart Hike, Garner State Park, February 11
Join this guided hike to explore the natural and historical features of one of the most popular parks in the state. Friendly dogs on a leash are welcome. Hike takes place from 10 am to 12 pm, meet at The Pavilion in the Oakmont Camping Area. Then share the view from the top of Old Baldy, another great spot to pop the question. Garner State Park is located 90 miles from San Antonio.
History of Pedernales Falls Hike, Pedernales Falls State Park, February 11
Most lists of romantic spots include waterfalls, and this one is a Texas icon. On a 1-mile hike down to the falls, the ranger guide discusses history of the falls, wildlife, plants, and geology, ending with a mysterious discovery in the rocks. From 2-3 pm. Stop by park headquarters to see a wood carving and scroll saw demonstration. The area’s first settlers used these tools to make fancy designs in wood, including, you guessed it, hearts. Pedernales Falls is located one hour from Austin.