Date Night on the Cheap shares inexpensive outings in Houston that will impress your date without breaking the bank, thanks to our partnership with Trip Chandler. Their service creates customized guides to Houston for visitors and residents.

Graze and Gaze at the Menil – Grazin’ in the Grass Edition

Make the Menil Campus your next date destination. The inviting grounds and the cozy collection of art nestled in a quiet stretch of Montrose — bordered by the signature Menil gray bungalows — is perfect for a rendezvous of explorations.

Starting Point

The Menil Collection was founded by Dominique and John de Menil, a couple who dug their well-oiled heels into Houston via France and gifted the city with an array of art ranging from antiquities to the surreal in a building which was the first American commission for the Italian architect Renzo Piano, who would later win the Pritzker Prize (think Pulitzer Prize for architects).

Menil Collection

With the generous free admission, it’s easy to become a regular at the Menil and get to know the diverse selection of paintings, sculpture, and relics. Collection highlights include the arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands contained in an atrium-like setting and the permanent Room of Wonders displaying exotic curiosities that inspired the surrealist artists. The Menil is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am-7 pm.

Trip Chandler Tip: No photography is allowed inside the Menil, so silence your phone and your selfies upon entry.

The Menil also hosts a variety of free public programs, which often feature music inspired by current exhibitions. Plan your date night around a few of these upcoming events:

Meditative Meanderings

For a splash of color on giant canvases, check out the Cy Twombly Gallery just across from the street from the main collection. Take a seat on the benches and let the starburst-like scribbles lower your blood pressure! Open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am-7 pm.

Enjoy a moment of zen after art-gazing at the Rothko Chapel. Cherished by many Houstonians as a positive vortex for meditation, the chapel houses Mark Rothko’s deep purple canvases inside. If you prefer to get into your zen outside, pause on the benches around the reflection pool. The Chapel is open daily 10 am-6 pm.

Rothko

Trip Chandler Tip: Plan your date for one of the Thursday evening tai chi sessions or Saturday morning yoga classes offered on the plaza. (Suggested donation of $10).

Make your way to view The Infinity Machine, filling the space of the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, for an entrancing meditation. The mood of the room, going from dark to light with a soundtrack reminiscent of a train, instantly transports you away. The rotating sculpture of mirrors of all shapes and sizes pulls you in – teasing you with a momentary glimpse of your own reflection. The dark windows of Richmond Hall hide the colorful, fluorescent light-filled interior designed by Dan Flavin, whose work transforms ordinary office space lighting into a setting that feels like a rainbow bright roller disco.

Picnic in the Park

Set up under the shade of the live oak trees and stage your own Luncheon on the Grass in the loungey atmosphere of Menil Park, where a drum circle or guitar jam session might provide background music for your meal. Take turns on the red swing next to the newly installed Jukebox created by local artist Jacob Calle, created to foster an exchange of homemade mixtape/CDs.

Menil Collection

Menil

Trip Chandler Tip: Hit the nearby H-E-B Montrose Market for snacks and drinks or for a picnic-free option, head to the Menil Bistro’s happy hour, featuring light bites and $5 glasses of wine and craft beer, Wednesday through Sunday, 2 pm – 6:30 pm.

Happy Gazing!

Your Trip Chandlers,

Joni & Dana

Trip ChandlersJoni is a Houston transplant via Kansas, North Carolina, Scotland and New Orleans. Dana is a native Texan who grew up in Houston but considers New Orleans a second home. They have joined forces as Trip Chandler to personalize the city whether you’re here for a short stay or a permanent move.