Day Dates Around San Antonio (for Parents Who Can’t Escape at Night)

Once upon a glorious time, grandparents came to visit.

Wait—just let me take a minute and reflect on being ultra-excited about visits from in-laws and/or parents. A couple of years ago, a visit from either set would have meant mad-dash, throw-everything-in-a-closet housecleaning, grocery shopping, and activity planning. We’d put the perfect host/hostess pressure on ourselves to present that good front of, “Oh, yeah, nothing to see here. It’s always this clean and sparkly around this house.”

Fast-forward to the advent of perfect daughter/baby-person, and now…ta-da! Visits are so much easier and more highly anticipated because:

  1. We make a half-hearted shove in the direction of the pending toy avalanche, say a prayer that it doesn’t collapse…and, well, that basically comprises our pre-visit cleaning efforts.
  2. Grandparents show up with groceries in tow. Seriously, you guys, the last time my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law were here, they brought Lockhart barbecue for dinner and she made pancakes for breakfast. My own parents, not to be outdone on the next visit, made enough steak and chicken salad to feed us for a week. After both visits, we basically had the calendar out, looking like crazed Beliebers outside a concert circa 2011, begging for autographs, or in this case, for them to pencil in their next missions of mercy.
  3. We totally take advantage of any and all help that guests might offer. My husband is extra-gentlemanly about it and demurs things like, “You guys are here to play with the baby; don’t worry about that.” I say things like, “Hey Mom—you know, last time Will’s dad was here, he rented a carpet cleaner and steamed both the living room and the den for us. Do you think you can match that?”

Seriously, I am not shying away from any help I can get—coerced or not. But anyway, I digress.

For the first year of our daughter’s life we had the most amazing nanny who would watch her for date nights. However, after our nanny headed off to New Zealand to tend gardens and meet Hobbits and whatever else is done there (copious amounts of Flight of the Conchords watching, I assume), our date nights became more scarce. So, when grandparents come, that’s usually our signal to head out and do something fun together. When Papa and DeeDee came to visit, we went out and they engaged in all the bath time fun, bed-jumping, storybook-reading, and other baby-style shenanigans that are near and dear to grandparents’ hearts. We didn’t have to be asked twice, and we booked it to The Pearl to be grownups for a while. And then around 8:30, we got a text that said:

“We did the full bedtime routine and walked and walked and walked and she was almost asleep but wouldn’t stop crying and then we tried to restart the routine, but nothing is working, so we might need Mommy and Daddy.”

So, we finished our drinks (very tasty—shout out to Blue Box Bar, by the way) and headed back home to a happy but wide-awake girl.

OK, fair enough. First time going to bed with grandparents is a little difficult.

Three weeks later, Grandmomma and Granddaddy came, and we had the opportunity to meet up with some friends and watch the Fighting Steph Currys take on the Durantulas (that’s Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder in the vernacular of normal humans). We stayed for the whole game and arrived home at 11:00 P.M. to a happy, easygoing, STILL AWAKE baby, which just throws off the mojo of the entire weekend.

So, this is the point where we determined we need to come up with some more day dates: things we can do to get out, spend some time together, and be adults, that also preclude baby humans staying up all night and then still being up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll at 6:30 A.M. the next day. These are a handful of my favorite around-San-Antonio day date ideas for parents who want to get out but can’t always make night-time dates happen:

Tour the Ranger Creek Brewstillery (4834 Whirlwind Dr., San Antonio, TX 78217; tours on Saturdays from 2:00–4:00 P.M.): My first brewery tour was in London, and it was something on my husband’s beer-aficionado wish list. I honestly wasn’t sure I’d like it. Seriously, except for being able to listen to our excellent tour guide talk in a British accent for an hour (which, to my unconquerable anglophilia, was time well-spent on its own), I wasn’t too stoked at wandering around looking at machinery. The bright yellow safety vest was just an added bonus, obvi.

At the end of the trip though, I was really glad we went. Why? The free samples lifelong memories, of course. The free samples at Ranger Creek really are cool, though, because you can try three of their beers or two beers and a whiskey. You get this nice convenient taste of San Antonio culture, craft brewing, and distilling, all in one nice pint-sized package (see what I did there?).

Visit the Pearl Farmers’ Market (Saturdays, 9:00 A.M.–1:00 P.M. and Sundays, 10:00 A.M.–2:00 P.M.): I know, I know, everyone’s who’s anyone has been to the Pearl by now. The thing is, it doesn’t get old. What’s not to like about fresh vegetables, quirky shopping opportunities, and free jam and bread samples? While there are approximately 17 million billion wonderful farmers’ markets all around San Antonio, the Pearl is my favorite for a day-date because you can also plan to brunch or lunch at one of the fab restaurants there. And, not to necessarily make things all about presents (but seriously, who doesn’t love presents?), on our last day date at the Pearl, we happened upon the International Artisans Mini-Fair and my hot date bought me a Namibian hand-crafted ostrich shell bracelet. Bonus!

Hand-crafted jewelry on date day FTW.

Hand-crafted jewelry on date day FTW!

Rent a bike at BCycle San Antonio (stations throughout San Antonio; $10 for a 24-hour pass): Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be good at biking to rent a bicycle. The next-to-last time I rode a bike was probably when I was about 12, but we rented bikes one day at the B-Cycle station near King William and rode along the Mission Reach. I seriously felt like a cartoon character, pedaling super-hard and making zero progress. Plus, it was hot. Plus, I may or may not have crashed. This is totally selling you on the idea of bike rentals as a date, right? That said, though, I would absolutely do it again. This was an awesome date because I can remember so much of it so vividly, from the beauty of being outdoors to the feeling of accomplishment finishing the ride to the moment my tire turned and snagged for a second on a railroad track and I saw my life flash before me. Kidding. Don’t worry—I survived, and I’m totally a stronger person because of it.

Bcycle station near Grayson

Soak in the scenery at the Japanese Tea Garden (3853 N. St. Mary’s St., San Antonio, TX 78212; open dawn to dusk; Jingu House Cafe open March–October, every day from 10:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M., and November–February, Tuesday–Friday, 11:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M., and Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M): I lived in San Antonio for six-and-a-half years before hearing about the Japanese Tea Gardens, and for a little longer than that before I actually visited, but now I’m totally hooked. It’s so tucked away and beautiful—just this little blossom-filled nook in the middle of our city. If you’re a native San Antonian, you’ve probably had graduation, prom, maternity, or engagement photos taken here, but have you ever just sat down on the café patio, had some tea, and feasted your eyes on waterfalls and plants and all that good stuff? Oh, don’t forget to direct some of those awe-filled gazes at your significant other during the trip, too—after all, you’re on a day-date, people. (Note: My only photos from the Japanese Tea Gardens all contain baby-person cuteness because I never remember to photo-document dates, only baby time!)

Scenery from Japanese Tea Gardens in San Antonio, Texas

Shake up your going-out-to-lunch routine: We’re all guilty of having our favorite it’s-close-to-my-house-and-I-know-what-I-like places on our list of restaurants, but going somewhere new that’s not on your usual list can give you and your partner something new to talk about and somewhere new to try. Go outside your corner of the city and venture somewhere interesting. Some places also have a different vibe during the day: relaxed for lunch and buzzy for dinner/drinks. My favorites as far as unique-ness goes are:

Four Kings Cafe (northeast—2047 Universal City Blvd., Universal City, TX 78148; Monday–Friday, 10:30 A.M.–4:00 P.M.; and Saturday, 9:30 A.M.–2:00 P.M.): The atmosphere is nothing to write home about, but get the Butterfinger Butter Bar—you will not regret it!

Hills and Dales Ice House (northwest—15403 White Fawn Drive [west of Babcock Road, outside North Loop 1604 West]; Monday–Friday, 3:00 P.M.–midnight; and Saturday & Sunday, 11:00 A.M.–midnight): It has a Friendly Spot feel and a great beer selection, and you can grab a requisite banh mi from Singh’s Vietnamese food truck next door.

Ocho (downtown—1015 Navarro St., San Antonio, TX 78205; Sunday–Thursday, 7:00 A.M.–10:00 P.M.; and Friday & Saturday, 7:00 A.M.–midnight; Saturday & Sunday brunch, 7:00 A.M.–1:00 P.M.): The patio is perfection for feeling like you’re “away from it all” and being able to chat and reconnect, which is what a date night/day date is all about.

A few last nuggets of day-date advice to leave you with:

  • Don’t be afraid to go to the same places you might take your kids. A Missions game, a bowling outing, or a snowcone stand can be a totally different experience when you get to hang with your significant other instead of worrying about keeping your kids alive and tracking the whereabouts of Ballapeno (OK, who am I kidding? He’s totally the love of my life and the only reason I go to games).
  • Use naptime to get ready/head out. It’s so much easier for us when we plan to have a babysitter come mid-nap, so our daughter is rested and ready to play with the sitter when she wakes instead of clingy and sleepy and crying for us not to leave.
  • Have fun! Dates—whether they’re days, nights, or long weekends—are about remembering how much you enjoy the time you get to spend together, not for hashing out things like budgetary concerns or next week’s grocery list. Make sure, however cliché it sounds, that you’re savoring the time you have together, and you’ll come back more refreshed.
  • Don’t worry—I have it on good authority that at some point, maybe around age 22, your kids will give you the chance to go on regular evening dates again. I’m just not sure if that’s 22 months or 22 years.

Where are some of your favorite day date spots in the Alamo City?
Leave your faves in the comments!

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4 Responses to Day Dates Around San Antonio (for Parents Who Can’t Escape at Night)

  1. Amanda R Reyna June 24, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    THANK YOU for this. On the odd occasion I have time off as the same time as my spouse, we don’t know what to do other than see a movie.

    • Natalie
      Natalie June 24, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

      You’re welcome – a movie is a fun date too. I am desperate to see Me Before You, so that should be on the date list soon probably!

  2. Beth June 24, 2016 at 6:57 am #

    We enjoyed a matinee and beer/snacks at the Alamo Drafthouse!

    • Natalie
      Natalie June 24, 2016 at 10:53 pm #

      Alamo Drafthouse is great – such a good way to relax and get away. Thanks for reading!