14 last-minute Valentine's Day date ideas near Tampa Bay that won't disappoint your bae
The holiday all about woo-ing your boo is just around the corner, so you may have already planned an adorable date, maybe even made a reservation at your S.O's favorite place? But if you've been slacking or bored with your usual stops and simply just don't know how to switch things up this year, don't worry, we've got you! With no shortage of waterfront, sunset views, unique eateries, and other exciting experiences speckled across The Sunshine State, there are plenty of places to ensure that your date has a Valentine's Day they won't forget.
It's okay to admit it if it's true: that you forgot about Valentines Day — we certainly know that the days have all seemed to blend together for us since basically 2020, anyway, and 2023 seems to be going way too fast. Don't worry though, we're in this sinking relation-ship with you. Which is why we decided to help you out with this list of 14 last-minute Valentine's Day date ideas in Florida, focusing in on some of the best things to do in and near Tampa for the holiday!
Whether your date has an adventurous spirit and seeks the unique or likes to keep things a little more romantic and low-key, this list has a little bit for every personality. Surprise your long-time bae, impress a first date, make it a special Galentine's Day outing, or treat yourself solo, however you go, whoever your date is will not likely leave disappointed!
Keep It Simple with a Sunset Beach Picnic
An almost obvious option for the last-minute date planner, spend a little time putting together a picnic complete with finger sandwiches, chocolate-covered strawberries, sparkling wine or rosé, and a few of their favorite snacks before exchanging gifts, flowers, or cards.
Pack sunscreen, an umbrella for a little shade, a blanket or fitted sheet and other comfort items, a cooler for the noms, as well as suits and towels if you are off work for the holiday to turn it into an all-afternoon affair, ending off the evening with a walk on the beach or a short drive to watch the sun go down from the top of the Skyway Bridge before heading home — even if it's a little out of the way.
You'd be surprised how a little extra effort on something seemingly so simple can create a lasting impact.
How Much: Price will vary depending on what you pack for your picnic, as well as travel distance and other additions you may add onto your experience. However, most beaches are free to visit save for a small parking fee, which could help those on a tight budget keep date costs low.
Where: Any beach along the Gulf Coast that speaks to your soul, but try to look for westward-facing shorelines to ensure optimal sunset viewing.
Kayak Through A Portal of Magical Mangroves at Weedon Island Preserve
If you don't want to do all the work planning a kayak rental or purchasing one outright, mapping out the watery trails, and lining up all the other logistics associated with a paddle-date, booking a tour through a kayak tour service will still make for an awesome experience that your date will always remember.
Ecomersion offers approximately 2.5 hour tours that will wind you through the tunnels of Weedon Island Preserve, giving you a unique perspective of Florida's coastal ecosystems from the water. Even better if you can get a tandem kayak, it'll only add onto the intimacy factor.
If your date is afraid of spiders, you may want to skip paddling, as they tend to make webs up in the crooks of branches overhead. There's always a potential for snakes, gators, and other wildlife too, but they usually keep to themselves. If that's still a HARD nope for you, the preserve has plenty of other nature views worth checking out, including about 2 miles of boardwalk trail that leads to sky-high sights of Tampa Bay atop a 45-foot tall observation tour.
These tours can be pretty popular and are known to sell out, but they have multiple experiences available at additional locations if you're open to exploring somewhere else. If you don't happen to snag a tour on V-Day, consider making this experience your gift to them — setting aside a whole weekend to explore everything the preserve has to offer.
How Much: $45 for a single kayak, $75 for a tandem. Admission to the preserve is free, though donations towards keeping it beautiful for years to come are greatly appreciated.
Where: 1800 Weedon Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702
Craft a Killer Charcuterie Board, Drink Wine, & Watch the Tampa Bay Lightning Face-off Against the Colorado Avalanche at Home
What adult doesn't love stuffing their face with copious amounts of meat and cheese while sipping on a good wine, on the couch in their pajamas, all while rooting for the home team? Especially after a long day at work. You don't have to go out and blow a load of cash to have a romantic Valentine's Day, but this idea also has the potential to be extravagantly priced if you really want to impress your partner (and their friends) with an Insta-worthy spread and romantic night in.
Go the extra mile to make it a little more cozy by cooking dinner, buying chocolates or flowers, decorating, and lighting a good candle to accent some mood lighting. Turn on the musical ambiance if you're looking for something that feels a little more intimate, while still keeping things low-key.
Partner not a sports fan? Switch it up and rent a movie you both haven't seen and a new super-soft blanket, find a new show to watch together on your favorite streaming service, or draw them up a bath with a new self-care item from Lush before starting to work on the board.
You could even swap out the board for customized pub-subs if you're really on a budget, kick-up at the table to solve a new puzzle, or do a cute couple's arts and crafts project together while listening to moody music before exchanging cards and gifts. Get creative — the variations are almost endless!
How Much: Price will vary depending on how big or small you go with your wine, meat, cheese, nut, other finger food selections, set up, gifts, or other extras. Our Tips for keeping the cost down, peep your local Publix's weekly ads on their website, as well as scouring through the digital coupons to see if they have any deals on what you may need for your Valentine's Date, as well as checking for coupon codes for gifts when purchasing online. Always check the clearance areas at your local stores for cute discounted decorations, puzzles, and simple gifts like mugs or throw blankets. You'd be surprised what ends up on the rack!
When: The Lightning game will start Tuesday, February 14 at 7:30 pm. Though if you're looking to switch it up, your date starts when you're ready for it to! You could even suggest pushing your V-Day celebration to the weekend to not have your celebration follow a long Tuesday work day, which also buys you more time to plan when wanting to go big.
Where: At home, whether that be at the dining table, on the couch, or even the back yard!
Feel Like Teenagers Again at The Florida State Fair
If there's one-thing that is nostalgia-fuel, it's attending a local carnival. Whether you chase thrills on every single ride, share all the fried Oreos, caramel and powdered sugar-covered elephant ears, and cotton candy buckets you can stomach, catch a performance from a variety of live entertainment, check out an array of exhibits, attempt to win them a prize that's bigger than them, or hunt for quirky gifts being sold around the fairgrounds, this is a date that's sure to be fun, memorable, and make you feel young again.
For an added sweet surprise, pack a bag with water and a small secret gift, then hop on the 90-foot-tall Giant Wheel and surprise your date with it at the top. You may even get yourself a kiss and a second date if you haven't gotten one already.
Check out the visitor's guide before you go if you want to do a little bit of planning, and impress your date by mapping out the best experiences for you guys to hit.
How Much: Admission for adult tickets are running at $12 to go on a weekday or $15 if you want to be able to go on any day between February 9 and 20. If you have a family and want to make it a day with the whole crew, children's tickets are $6 and $10 respectively. Any extra cash you spend will be on eat, drink, and other experiences that have a fee.
Where: 4800 US Hwy. 301 North, Tampa FL 33610
Sip Complex Cocktails Off the Libations of Love Menu Over Dinner at The Library
Self-proclaimed liquor connoisseurs looking for something specially-themed around the romance holiday, look no further than The Library in St. Petersburg. The Libations of Love menu features three options, going for $14 a pop — and the cocktails appear to have a complex concoction of ingredients meant to evoke sweet, warm, and cozy feelings as you sip.
The Drunk in Love is a smooth, rich, deep, and sweet blend of banana-infused buffalo trace bourbon, strawberry-infused Campari, and cacao-infused Vermouth. The Besamé cocktail features a more berry and fruity-forward flavor profile, a combination of Corazon Blanco tequila, passionfruit, raspberries, lime, and sparkling wine.
Lastly, the She Loves Me (Or Not) takes a uniquely sophisticated and sweet approach that would be good for the men, women, and non-binaries in the relationship alike. The drink combines your choice of Wheatly Vodka or old St. Pete Gin, a vanilla-blackberry syrup, mascarpone, and aquafaba.
What the HECK is aquafaba? We'd never heard of it either, but apparently it's the viscous liquid left over from cooking chickpeas or other edible seeds from various leguminous plants, such as beans or lentils. It's often used as a vegan substitute for egg whites in cooking and baking, such as in merengues and marshmallows. Certainly sounds interesting and worth the try for adventurous palates.
A wide-range of eats across their breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desert menus will tie the whole dining experience together, with upscale flairs on familiar meals including, chicken, burgers, prime strip steaks, curry, seafoods, and much more.
And if you happen to have a pink-drink addict in your life, they're offering 15% off of still and sparkling Rosé all day on Valentine's Day.
How Much: Cocktails off the Libation of Love menu go for $14 each, with eats ranging in price between $8 and $38 a plate.
Where: 600 5th Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Explore What's Possible with Glass at The Chihuly Collection & Morean Arts Center
A wonderfully wild world of kaleidoscopic color and glass sculpture work , the creative finesse Dale Chihuly possesses over the fragile medium continues to amaze visitors that wander the collection's rows. Take in sights of unique shape, color, and composition that push the boundaries of what's possible when crafting with something that could easily shatter into a thousand pieces with the wrong nudge.
After exploring the main exhibit, wander across the street to the Morean Arts Center & Glass Studio for more to admire. You can even pop in and watch glass crafters at work during a live-demonstration. Demonstrations start at 1, 2, 3, and 4 pm daily.
Glass art not your thing? There are plenty of other museums in the area worth checking out too, including wonderfully wild worlds on canvas at The Dali.
How Much: Tickets are $20 for adults, but you can save a few bucks if find yourself a frequent goer with a membership, getting in for free for an annual fee instead. Students aged 6 to 18 can also get in at a discounted rate of $14 by presenting a valid school ID. If you have to bring the littles with you, children under 5 are always free.
Where: 720 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Take a Romantic Sunset Cruise On an Electric Boat Through Tampa Bay
While this will require at least one person 25 or older to drive, you and your boo can sail around Tampa Bay's waterways in an electric boat for 1, 2 or 3 hours, and even bring along your own eat and drink for the ride.
Go the extra mile to make a cute picnic or brunch and sail under the sun, or pack the chocolate-covered berries and wine and wait until sunset to bump up the romance. They even offer a complimentary cooler for guest use, especially convenient if you're making last-minute plans or don't have one of your own. While alcohol is allowed, your driver must be sober, so do keep that in mind when planning your date.
The boat has a canopy top to shade you from direct sunlight, with open windows to still give you beautiful wrap-around ocean views. The windows can be rolled down too if an evening ocean breeze proves to be a bit chillier than expected.
With limo-style bench seating surrounding a table and a Bluetooth speaker, this date idea has the potential to really be a vibe. Bring your own blankets and pillows, throw on romantic tunes, and watch a cream-sickle sunset over the horizon as you exchange cards and gifts.
Though EBoats Tampa recommends booking a reservation online at least 24 hours in advance, they do take walk-ups on a first-come, first served basis. Convenient for all of us procrastinators!
How Much: $89/hour for a standard boat that seats 10 — more than enough room for you and boo. But if you want to go a little bigger, a standard boat with sundeck, as well as premium boat various are also available for a larger cost.
Where: The Tampa Convention Center Marina on the Tampa Riverwalk. They're nestled next to the Sail Plaza and Big Ray’s Fish Camp.
Enjoy Non-Alcoholic Spirits Over Brunch in a Haunted Speakeasy and its "Catacombs"
While most might be more likely seek out this spot around spooky season, it's the perfect place to take a partner with an affinity for everything eerie and Insta-worthy.
Hidden behind the black bookcase on the upper level within their sister location, The Catacombs, The Spookeasy's secret space has a mostly red and black palette, with décor that gives off a vampire castle meets elegant VIP lounge vibe fit for The Addams Family.
A fun touch, they have some clear skull glasses that you can pretend to sip the spirit of your crappy exes from. Between The Spookeasy and it's sister location, you have an array of drink options to enjoy, including botanical teas, coffees, delta 8 lemonades, kava, other seasonal specialty beverages, and more — even a few alcoholic spirits if that's your jam.
On the food menu at The Catacombs, you'll find brunchy bites, as well as alcoholic beverages. Breakfast menu options include The House of 1000 Waffles — three waffle tacos filled with eggs, bacon, and a served side of maple syrup, The Texas Sandwich Massacre — Scrambled or over-hard eggs with your choice from three cheese, ham, and bacon, all on sourdough or gluten free bread, and a Breakfast BOOrito stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon, your choice of cheese, pico de gallo, with a side of spicy ranch for a little kick.
If you'd rather go at night, know that you can still get breakfast later in the day. Their breakfast menu is available from 9 am to 10 pm Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Though they do have additional lunch and dinner option if you'd rather transform it into a moody dinner date. They even have a little bit of a baked-goods menu to top the night off sharing a sweet treat with your sweetie.
How Much: Items on the food menu are fairly reasonably priced, averaging around $11 to $13 per plate, though there are baked goodies that go for $1 each. Drinks range between $4 and $14, with bottle service also available for $100 at The Catacombs.
Where: Tucked away behind the black bookshelf above The Catacombs — 1909 N 15th St, Tampa, FL 33605
Go Swimming with the Manatees in Crystal River
While you'll have to road trip about an hour and a half outside of Tampa for this experience, there's something about the cutely chubby and aloof faces of sea cows that would make just about anyone squeal if they were surprised with a date that let them get within feet of the gentile giants.
The price of your approximately 3-hour experience is all inclusive, meaning you won't be forced to pay any inflated fees to rent individual equipment needed for your swim or ferrying fees for the boat ride. Fun 2 Dive provides the snorkels, masks, and wetsuits, and an in-water guide will accompany you for the trip, taking photos that are available for purchase back at the dock for you to take the memory of your unique date with you forever.
While they still have plenty of last-minute reservations available for each tour option, they're known to sell out fast, so try to book your excursion online as soon as possible.
If you don't think your boo would feel comfortable being that close with wildlife, let alone hopping in the water alongside them and other potential lurkers of the deep, you could opt to take the 1.5 hour ride across the Florida backcountry at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge instead — or even scrap it all-together and venture through the refuge by foot instead, stopping to take cute couple's hiking pics in the wilderness.
How Much: The classic manatee tour starts at $59.95 per person, with different tour variations offering perks that increase the per person price point. If you don't want to share your tour with strangers, private swims are available for anywhere between $425 and $600, depending on total passenger count and tour type selection. Airboat tours will run you $60 each.
Where: 135 NE 3rd St. Crystal River, FL 34429
Get 360-Degree Views of St. Pete Beach Above the Ocean While Dining in a Spinning Rooftop Restaurant
While you might think spinning 12-floors over St. Pete Beach would make you dizzy, don't worry, the spin at is super slow and designed to give diners the most unique 360-view of the local horizon. But if you don't think you want to sit and spin, Spinner's does have stationary balcony seating with views that are almost as good.
Eats on the menu feature a little bit of everything from succulent seafoods to charred chops, steaks, pastas and more, all with upscale twists. They also have a pretty decent selection of classic cocktails, wines, and beers.
Of course the best time to go for a romantic Valentine's Day date is just before sunset so you can watch the skyline paint its signatures shades of peach while sharing a slice of key-lime pie. Top off the night with a walk on the beach to really seal the deal as a date to remember.
The good thing about Spinner's, they take same-day reservations, and smaller parties are easier to squeeze in even during peak hours. You just have to book your reservation through their online portal before showing up for a romantic evening above St. Pete Beach.
How Much: You're going to be dropping a pretty penny for a date this memorable, with the entrees alone averaging between $30 and $50 per plate, and shareable appetizers hovering around the $10 to $20 mark. While it may sound like a lot, Valentine's Day is always the perfect excuse to treat you and your boo to the finer things in life.
Where: 5250 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706
Walk with the Fishes at the Florida Aquarium
There's something so classic and simple about walking around the cool blue hues of the Florida Aquarium. The shadows dancing on the floor beneath your feet as lights refract through the gentle bubbling of the tanks. You can forgo all the fancy-frills and enjoy some quality time learning new things together as you wander exhibits about sea life and the importance of taking care of their home.
They also offer a few cool experiences if you wanted to step up the fun-factor of the date. Take to the pontoon for a dolphin-spotting cruise or slip into a wetsuit and explore the coral caves on the bottom of their 15-foot deep sea habitat among sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, bonnethead sharks, and hundreds of other fish.
If you fancy yourself a comedian and your partner has a good sense of humor, you can prank your s.o. by naming a Hissing Madagascar Cockroach at The Florida Aquarium after them for a $10 donation — and even get a picture of your roach and a special certificate to commemorate the occasion.
How Much: Prices fluctuate depending on capacity, with Valentine's Day currently showing general admission at $32 per adult.
Where: 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, Florida 33602
Chow Down on Modern Takes on Cubano Classics at a Perfectly Pink Restaurant
The modern-spin on classic Cubano flavors in the perfectly-pink space at Luv Child just SCREAMS the Valentine's date night for the blush-babe in your life. Not only is their food delicious, featuring bites like elevated Cuban and grilled cheese sandwiches, chimichurri sliced steaks, tacos, burritos, chips n' dip, and much more, but the vibe is impeccable.
Chic floral wallpaper and green, plant-y features wrap and frame the interior walls, pale-pink art-deco style bar stools sit at a long sleek white table, with lots of gold, bronze, pink and retro accents speckled throughout — even a disco ball. It feels really old-school Cuba meets upscale Hollywood diner with it's own eclectic style that just works.
If you prefer to sit outside to watch the sunset over your meal, their outside patio is strung up with colored string lights. It'll cast an extra intimate aura over your table set the mood while you sip from the cocktail, beer, or wine menu or split a sweet treat — though I always have to get an iced horchata latte when I go and HIGHLY recommend!
How Much: Prices are pretty average around here, despite being on the slightly higher end of that window. Shareable plates and apps hover around $8 to $13, while mains on the menu sit right around $11 and $15. Desserts drinks, and extras range between $2 and $13.
Where: 516 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Explore Everything at the St. Pete Pier by Day, Lounge Beneath A Neon-Wonderland in the Evening
From modern takes on tiki-themed bars with rooftop ocean views, to upscale dining and casual faire, there's certainly no shortage of options for your day of exploration along the 26-acre waterfront park that is the St. Pete Pier.
If you plan your trip a little in advance, you can a tandem bike from MoMo Co. Bike Rentals to peddle the pier for easy exploration and add an extra layer of old-school romance to the date, or bring your own.
After you've gotten your lunch on, cruise the paths looking for all the awesome public-art installations, including a suspended twine sculpture that transforms into an enchanting neon wonderland once the sun has gone down. It's certain to impress the artsy partner in your life.
An outdoorsy type that likes to fish? Pack your tackle boxes and rods to hit the fishing pier, or even play volleyball, launch your a kayak and paddleboards off of Spa Beach, or simply lounge around and enjoy the views and good conversation.
Your date more the intellectual type? Wander through the St. Peterburg Museum of Natural History and learn something new while exploring interactive exhibits at the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center. There's so much to choose from, you have plenty of different combinations to create a one-of-a-kind Valentine's Day.
How Much: Cost will vary depending on what all you decide to do. While there's no admission fee to enjoy wandering the pier, parking on-site will cost you $2 an hour for the first 4 hours, with the price increasing the longer you stay. Off-site parking rates will vary.
Where: 600 2nd Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Soar Over The Bay Under the Moonlight on an Empower Adventures Zipline Tour
Empower Adventures day tours will have you swinging through the trees of Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve by way of zipline, giving you a sky-high view of nature that's worth checking out at least once in your life.
With over 3000 feet of zipline, a 200 foot suspended extension bridge, and 4 different obstacles courses, Empower has experiences for both novice and advanced explorers. But for extra romance factor, snag a sunset or moonlight tour and get the added bonus of seeing Tampa Bay from new heights with natural mood-lighting that is sure to impress your boo and stick with them forever.
Tours last between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, depending on which experience you decide to book. While cameras and GoPros are allowed, they must be secured to you with a strap or otherwise for the safety of workers and others traveling beneath the zip courses and platforms.
A few more things you'll need to know: there is a maximum weight restriction of 270 lbs., wear closed toe shoes only, dress for comfort and mobility, tie back long hair, don't wear or bring loose or dangly jewelry and items, or bring anything you wouldn't be okay accidentally falling into the forest or water below. Oh, and don't forget a water bottle!
How Much: Prices fluctuate depending on availability. Standard Zip tours start at $74h per person, with Sunset Tours starting at $79 each. Moonlight Tours will run you at least $84 each.
Where: 423 Lafayette Blvd Oldsmar, FL 34677
Did our list save you a night on the couch? Let us know in the comments!
Article by Rachael Volpe
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