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Austin Date Ideas from Love & Relationship Coach Ashley Kelsch

The perfect date doesn’t have to be elaborate and filled with activities

Remember when I decided to not date and to give celibacy a try for 90 days? Well, I don’t regret to inform you it only lasted 18 days. I won’t bore you with all the details, but some emotions surfaced, and clarity followed. That’s when I realized I don’t need to challenge myself by not engaging in my love life. In many ways, I was avoiding things (emotions, vulnerability that comes with intimate relationship) that I needed to face. A better option is to lean in to love and the hot mess I am when dating.

However, I do believe my decision works in our favor. Yes, yours and mine. This is a dating and relationship advice column, after all! I write about dating, sex and love, not not dating and celibacy. What was I thinking?

Now that I’m back in action, I decided I’d bring some, ahem, unique dating options. I’m not just a dinner-and-drinks kind of dater:

Photo by Alex George

Barton Springs or Deep Eddy

There is something about lounging on a blanket in the sun, with cold water nearby, sweaty skin and being surrounded by people enjoying the same that feels incredibly nostalgic. With a book, someone by my side, a bit of overheating followed by a cold plunge, I am living my best life. It reminds me that dating — life for that matter — doesn’t have to be full of “things to do.” Too much activity can be a bit distracting from the entire point of a date: being present and connecting to someone. A great date allows for intimacy.

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Protip: Be mindful of what you decide to wear in case the pool day goes well, and you decide to stop for dinner or a drink. I like a one-piece, a sarong or shorts and big straw hat. You could find yourself at Pool Burger, Alma’s, Casa de Luz or…

Photo by Sarah Frankie Linder


I’ve been having a little love affair with this spot over the last few months and don’t know where to begin. The owner has managed to create a space that is sexy with its velvet seating, rich floral wallpaper and colors of plum, lit by chandeliers, while still unpretentious with a ‘90s hip-hop playlist, great outdoor seating and a very clever food and bar menu. Nightcap has a way of mirroring your vibe. Sit at the curved bar to socialize with others or get cozy in a couch for a more intimate experience.

The menu offers shareable items like the 69 Skrimps and Arroz con Pollo that will have you drooling for more. Savory entrees, including the best burger I’ve yet to find, are so delicious that I’m not usually willing to share.

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Photo by Clay Grier

Shopping for Sex Toys

I’ll never forget the days and nights when couples came into Teddies for Bettys as part of their date night. Talk about admiring and finding inspiration from couples who value pleasure — their intention to plan and create an experience together always gave me life and reminded me why I loved having a lingerie/well-being store.

With the opening of Elle’s Boutique, we now have a luxurious space to eye the objects rather than merely hoping our screens will doing them justice. Their collection, albeit limited, is stocked with a few of the most mind-bending, orgasm-producing products on the market. Trust me … I know. The staff is warm, ready to help and great at educating about lubrication, cleaning and other essential information.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend Package Menswear on 5th Street. My date and I had the so much fun perusing their displays, asking questions and discovering new and different ways to enhance our pleasure together. They have a wide variety of novelty options, including a petite section that is geared toward female bodies. You know what I loved the most? Having a man share his expertise and experience and inform me about what he liked and what he didn’t.

Photo courtesy of Sustainable Food Center

A Farmers’ Market

While I was pondering all the wonderful date options in Austin, I recalled a recent Saturday morning that was so perfect it was like a scene from a movie. There was something so subtle that created contentment and joy about strolling through the market after yoga with my date. We tried samples, discussed what we wanted to purchase and cook later and counted all the Frenchies that passed. After we made our purchases, we sat in the grass, pulled out our baguette, thinly sliced prosciutto and arugula and sipped Kombucha while taking in the scene and conversing about how great it is to live in Austin. The date lasted until the evening, when we took our ripe peaches to the grill, made salsa with our fresh tomatoes, jalapeño and bell peppers and shared a dinner by the pool.

This right here my friends, is love in the moment.

Ashley Kelsch is Austin’s top certified, professional dating and relationship coach and former owner of Teddies for Betty’s, the lingerie boutique on 2nd Street that she ran for a decade. She offers one-on-one life-coaching programs to help clients acknowledge and understand limiting beliefs, to set boundaries and to learn how to change mindsets so they can get what they want in their romantic lives and feel empowered. Ashley helps men and women of all ages, single and married. She has a weekly podcast called Modern Renegadesand you can follow her on Instagram @AshleyMKelsch. Read more of her Tribeza columns here.