Our everyday lives have changed drastically over the past few months, and talk has been mostly about the things we can’t do. But as things gradually begin to reopen throughout the Tampa Bay area and Florida, I’m here today to tell you what you can do while still social distancing. If you’re feeling ready to begin leaving your house again, slowly and safely of course, here are some ideas for your next date night.
If you’re not quite ready to leave home, check out these stay-at-home date ideas:
- Local Restaurants Offering Delivery and Take-Out Options
- Stay at Home Date Ideas
- “Instead of Netflix” Jar
- Tampa Theatre Virtual Cinema: Ticketed Streaming Shows Offer Exclusive Content!
Sunflower season is in full swing throughout Central Florida, and heading to a local farm to pick your own makes for a dreamy date day. Get lost in 6 acres of sunflowers at Sweetfields Farm in Brooksville, about 45 minutes from downtown Tampa. In order to visit the farm this season, you must reserve a ticket in advance for a designated 3-hour time slot. Tickets, which sell out incredibly fast (so stay on top of social media updates!) are $8. Stroll through the sunflower maze, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy, snap sunflower selfies and pick your own sunflowers to take home for $2 each. The season lasts through Memorial Day. Check out available dates and purchase tickets here.
Other nearby farms offering sunflower u-pick include HarvestMoon Fun Farm (advance online reservations required; bring a face mask) and Hunsader Farms (also has u-pick veggies!). Many farms are cash only, so plan accordingly.
Get some exercise while paddling and social distancing outdoors in a kayak. Many of our local rental companies and tour operators are back open for business. If you feel like joining an organized tour, you can cruise alongside dolphins and visit a sandbar at Shell Key Preserve with Get Up and Go Kayaking Tampa Bay. The kayaks are 100% clear giving you an amazing view of the water around and below you. Or, rent kayaks from Sail Honeymoon along the Dunedin Causeway to paddle out paradise (aka Caladesi Island) or visit Sweetwater Kayaks to explore Weedon Island Preserve on a self-guided adventure. Read our post on 10 Great Spots to Go Kayaking in Tampa for more local ideas.
Take a Mural Tour
Your favorite art museum may be closed, but Tampa’s murals are always open and accessible to all. The Tampa Downtown Partnership has created a virtual mural tour of the city with photos, listing the mural location and artist for each featured piece. Follow along in person on a self-guided tour to see them all. Downtown St. Pete is also full of colorful murals to explore on your own or on a guided tour. Go on a self-guided adventure with this handy mural map or wait until mid-June and join an organized walking mural tour of the area.
Spend the day with animal friends
Tampa Bay area attractions are beginning to announce reopening dates and introducing new procedures to keep you safe during your visit. As of May 15, The Florida Aquarium is open by reservation only. FYI: you’re required to wear a face mask during your visit. Reservations are available online in 30-minute time slots. ZooTampa will be reopening its doors beginning May 29. Visits will be limited to half of normal capacity and you’ll be encouraged (but not required) to wear a mask.
The ultimate social distancing animal experience, however, is visiting a drive-through safari park. Safari Wilderness in Lakeland is offering temporary guided drive-through safari tours you can enjoy from your own car. Traverse through the scenic 260-acre park while spotting its exotic residents. Tours are $125 on weekend days and $100 on weekdays.
Visit a Florida State Park
Nearly all Florida State Parks are now open for day use with only a few parks throughout the state remaining closed. While capacity is reduced and some park amenities aren’t available, you can at least get out for a refreshing hike or paddle in the outdoors before summer temperatures arrive. For a contactless visit, pay park admission online in advance. Bring exact change if paying in cash upon arrival. Here are a few of our favorite parks near Tampa:
- Honeymoon Island State Park
- Caladesi Island State Park
- Egmont Key State Park
- Myakka River State Park
- Hillsborough River State Park
- Anclote Key Preserve State Park (accessible only by boat or ferry service)
Visit individual park pages for details on what amenities are currently available.
Hit the beach
Having the beaches closed so long was a painful, but necessary, safety measure. Now that things are gradually reopening, the beaches are again welcoming visitors to lounge in the sand and stroll along the shore. Fort De Soto Park, Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi Island State Park, Madiera Beach and Indian Rocks Beach are just a few favorites you can visit again. To help you plan your trip, check out this beach capacity page from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office which provides realtime beach capacity updates on Fridays beginning at 1pm.
If you don’t mind driving a bit further, Anna Maria Island is a fantastic beach to visit during the month of May and the public beach parking lots are open for visitors. Parking is not allowed at Bayfront Park at this time.
For details on more beaches throughout the area that are currently open, refer to our post on Tampa Area Beaches You Can Enjoy While Social Distancing.
Bike (or hike) a local trail
Discover Tampa on two wheels or on your own two feet by biking a local trail or hiking at a nearby preserve. You can bike or walk the Riverwalk (go at sunset for romantic vibes and a takeout picnic) or venture to Downtown Dunedin to bike the Pinellas Trail. Bike rentals are available from Kafe Racer for $24/day. If hiking is more your speed, spend an afternoon walking the trails and boardwalks at Weedon Island Preserve. As an added bonus, admission is free!
See a movie at the Drive-In
Drive-in movie theaters offer the perfect way to get out and see your favorite flicks while still practicing social distancing. Tampa’s closest drive-in movie theater is Funlan Swap Shop & Drive In. Tickets are an affordable $6/person for the nightly double feature. Other favorites include Silvermoon Drive-In (Lakeland), Joy-Lan Drive-In (Dade City) and Ruskin Family Drive-In.
Here are a few upcoming highlights for date night:
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off / Forrest Gump: through May 21 at Silvermoon Drive-In
- Footloose / Grease: through May 28 at Joy-Lan Drive-In
- The Goonies / Wizard of Oz: beginning May 29 at Joy-Lan Drive-In
- Land Before Time / Cry Baby: beginning May 29 at Silvermoon Drive-In
- Psycho (1960) / The Birds (1963): beginning May 29 at Silvermoon Drive-In
Get the full scoop on Tampa Bay area drive-in movie theaters in our guide to Drive-In Movie Theaters in Tampa Bay.
Cruise the Tampa Bay waterways
Soak up scenic views of the Tampa skyline from the water! Hopping on a boat offers a unique vantage point of the city, and it’s also loads of fun. Our favorite mode of transportation, the Pirate Water Taxi, has resumed operations with a revised schedule and stops as of May 15. If you get tired of walking along the Tampa Riverwalk (it’s open!), just hop on this water taxi to get to fun stops like The Florida Aquarium, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Armature Works (many vendors are open for takeout) and more.
You can also rent your own two-seater mini powerboat from Riverwalk Boating Company to explore at your leisure.
Visit the Farmer’s Market
The grocery store isn’t the only place to stock up on delicious produce. Make the shopping experience a tad more enjoyable and support our local farmers in the process by hitting a farmer’s market instead. St. Pete’s beloved Saturday Morning Market has turned into a drive-through market, offering online ordering for curbside pickup each Saturday. If you’d like the traditional open market shopping experience, he Temple Terrace Farmer’s Market is open Saturdays from 9am-2pm. And, on weekends from 9am-6pm, you can visit Parkesdale Farm Market to stock up on plants and produce while sipping one of the market’s infamous strawberry milkshakes (the milkshake alone is worth the drive!).
Read our guide to Tampa Bay Farmers Markets + Local Farms with Pickup and Delivery for more ideas.
Feature image credit: Pirate Water Taxi