Best of Houston

The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Romantic Spots

We asked our friends and co-workers for some suggestions as to Houston's most romantic spots. We got a few helpful answers (the James Turrell Skyspace, Rainbow Lodge) and then we got some not so helpful answers. One co-worker suggested Treasures Houston. He didn't specify as to a VIP booth or a dark corner table, just Treasures. Further exploration established that even the Treasures parking lot was acceptable, so long as titties were flying everywhere. Ah, no. Next we got the center of the ice rink at the Galleria at midnight on New Year's Eve. Okay, from too general to too specific. We're not even sure the Galleria or the ice rink are open at midnight on New Year's Eve. Visions of elegantly dressed couples elbowing each other for space, not to mention, the spectacular falls New Year's Eve champagne was sure to promote, flashed before our eyes as we thought about it. Ah, another no. Our favorite rejected suggestion was the exit ramp at the Harris County Jail. True, anyone exiting the jail is going to see his or her waiting significant other with loving tenderness and appreciation ... until the bails bondsman gets the paperwork filed.Then it's back to business as usual. Ah, sadly, yet another no.

Here's the real deal:

10. The Reflection Pond at the Houston Zoo 6200 Hermann Park Dr.

You'll have to be a little careful with any PDAs as highly impressionable kids are sure to running around, but the Reflection Pond at the Houston Zoo (seen above) makes our list of top romantic spots for its "secret garden" feel. We suggest you try the pond at dusk on a cool fall evening; it's magical.

9. Williams Tower Waterwall 2800 Post Oak Boulevard.

Suffering from a slight case of over-exposoure, the Williams Tower Waterwall nonetheless makes a wonderful setting for a first kiss. Again, we suggest dusk as the optimum time to visit. Chances are another couple or two will also be visiting at the same time as you, so don't expect total privacy.

8. Hotel Sorrela's Monalisa Lounge 800 Sorella Court

We admit the Monalisa appeals to the failed socialite in us - but the vision of sitting in our own draped cabana having drinks by the pool and overlooking the hotel's plaza screams romance. (Those drapes come in handy when you want to turn a PDA into something more private.) Great drinks and good food add to the allure - as does knowing a hotel room is just a few steps away for complete privacy.

7. Kemah Boardwalk 215 Kipp Avenue

Yes, the Kemah Boardwalk tends to bustle with families and tourists during its frequent festivals, but even that can't mar the boardwalk's appeal. The quite water, wide walkways, beautiful sunsets - and a whole bunch of places to get a drink and dinner nearby push the boardwalk into our No. 7 spot.

6. Horse Drawn Carriage Ride Downtown

We don't suggest sharing a carriage ride like the couples seen to the right are doing, but every couple should take a ride in one of the Theater District's horse drawn carriages. Be prepared for your driver to want to play tour guide, but a firm "You don't need to show us the sights, we really just want to look at each other," should get your point across. Also, depending on what time it is, throngs of theater goers may be flooding the streets in a mad dash to get back to their cars, so you might have a little company on the street. (Just wave and get back to canoodling.)

5. Sambuca's Restaurant 909 Texas Avenue

Love isn't always quiet. When romance requires a party, we suggest Sambuca's Restaurant. Located on the first floor of the old Rice Hotel, the place has live music seven days a week, no cover and lots of dark corners. Great food and good drinks add to the appeal.

4. Brenner's on the Bayou 1 Birdsall Street

Long time Houstonians might have a twinge of regret at Brenner's on the Bayou, the former site of the Rainbow Lodge, but Brenner's has done a good job of restyling things its own way and offering a casual, but chic spot for dinner and a few drinks.

3. James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace

Ah, the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace structure on the campus of Rice University - what a wonder. It should appeal to art lovers and lovers who want a magnificent, constantly changing backdrop to a kiss. Expect a crowd during the scheduled "performances" (check the schedule), but you'll quickly have it to yourself once the show's over.

2. Houstonian Hotel 111 N. Post Oak Ln.

Houston has plenty of high-end hotels, but our favorite by far is the Houstonian. With a first class spa, fitness center and luxury accommodations, it draws plenty of locals looking for some privacy or pampering. The grounds are lush and while there's lots to the hotel (bars, restaurants, rooms, etc.) it manages to feel very, very private even in the public spaces.

1. The Rainbow Lodge 2011 Ella Boulevard

It's no surprise that the Rainbow Lodge takes our No. 1 spot. The place is pure class, with great food and impeccable service (including waitstaff that know when to make themselves scarce so as not to ruin the mood). Generations of Houstonians have fallen in love while sitting in the Lodge's dining rooms, some going on to get married there. If you're thinking about Valentine's Day dinner at the Lodge, be ready to reserve your table a full year in advance. The secret's out - the Rainbow Lodge is the place for grown-ups to celebrate.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez