How to Plan the Perfect French Date Night in Tampa Bay

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How to Plan the Perfect French Date Night in Tampa Bay

From wine country to beaches and strolling the Seine, a trip to France sounds incredible right about now. But if that’s not in your plans any time soon, we have a few ideas on how to bring the French spirit to Tampa Bay for your next date night. Check out our recommendations below to plan the perfect French date night in Tampa.

Dining at the Perfect French Restaurant in Tampa Bay

Treat the Francophile in your life to a date night dinner at Mise en Place. This incredibly romantic restaurant features modern cuisine with a French twist and the vibe is upscale and contemporary, perfect for a romantic date night on the town. If you love a good cocktail, check out the cocktail menu to sip on a selection of classics plus modern offerings.

Located in a beautiful former Federal courthouse building in downtown Tampa, Bizou Brasserie is a gorgeous spot to enjoy a French-inspired meal. The location lends itself to exploring all that downtown Tampa has to offer to cap off your evening. Stroll the Tampa Riverwalk, catch a show at the Straz, visit the Tampa Museum of Art. Make a weekend of it and stay at the attached hotel, Le Meridien.

Image credit: Bizou Brasserie

Sweet or savory? Crepes are such a delicious, casual french fare. Try out La Creperia Cafe in bustling Ybor City, then continue the evening by strolling the brick lined streets and exploring the rich history of one of Tampa’s oldest neighborhoods.

For classic French-Vietnamese cuisine with a modern twist, Restaurant BT is a South Tampa staple. Enjoy traditional French dishes like Coq Au Vin and foie gras, along with dishes with distinct Vietnamese flair.

A decades-old Madeira Beach institution, Gulf Bistro is a great spot for authentic French cuisine. With a location steps from the beach, you can pretend you’re strolling along the beaches of the French Riviera, instead of minutes from home.

The Nest at Caracara is a French colonial themed cocktail bar that celebrates a love for French cuisine with Asian influences. Bar snacks include puff pastry escargot, and the wine list is made up exclusively of French wines. Cocktails feature French spirits. Located in the heart of downtown Dunedin, behind sister restaurant Caracara, The Nest is the perfect stop on an evening strolling the waterfront and popping into Dunedin’s shops.

Treat Yourself to Something Sweet

After running a bakery in France for more than a decade, the owners of Cafe de Paris Bakery packed up and moved their business to Indian Rocks Beach. Enjoy a casual date here complete with croissants, crepes, salads, sandwiches and charcuterie.

Additionally, Sucré Table is an incredible bakery located in South Tampa. You truly cannot go wrong with any of their confections, but their funky flavored macarons cannot be missed. Chocolate and almond croissants also offer plenty of French flavors.

French croissants from Sucré Table
Image credit: Sucré Table

Experience Local Art and Culture

Lingering in art museums and soaking up the local culture is part of the French way of live. Take time to explore a local art gallery or museum to mimic this experience right here in Tampa Bay. At the Dalí Museum in St. Pete, traveling exhibits featuring world-renowned artists (including the recent Van Gogh Alive immersive experience) compliment the impressive permanent collection of Salvador Dalí's iconic surrealist works. And, the glass ceiling may even call to mind The Louvre in Paris.

For film, head to Tampa's historic Tampa Theatre. It's one of the only remaining movie palaces that has the ability to revive its original programming by screening a silent movie with live musical accompaniment.

Other arts and culture events include monthly art walks in St. Pete (second Saturday of each month) and Gulfport (first Friday of each month), and free outdoor concerts on the Riverwalk. Catch free concerts once a month at Curtis Hixon Park, and listen to performances from local artists as part of the ongoing Live & Local series at The Straz.

Dalí Museum staircase St. Pete
Image credit: Stephanie Patterson

Take a French Cooking Class

Sur la Table in Tampa’s Hyde Park Village offers an array of french-themed cooking classes, with themes like French Pastry Shop, Parisian Bistro and a Classic Croissant workshop. Bring the skills you learn back to your own kitchen for continued travels to France via your tastebuds. Classes sell out quickly, so you will want to plan ahead on this one. The schedule lists class about six weeks out, so check back for the French cooking class of your dreams.

Stroll through Local Gardens

Pretend your visiting one of France's iconic gardens without leaving Tampa Bay. At St. Pete's Sunken Gardens, explore winding pathways lush with tropical plants, waterfalls and even resident flamingoes. To take the experience to the next level, book a decadent picnic experience in the gardens. Local companies Gather ‘Round & Graze and St. Pete Picnic Co. have teamed up to offer couples beautiful picnics in a variety of customizable themes. Picnics start at $165 and can be booked via email by contacting [email protected]

Other notable gardens to explore include Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. Or, plan a day trip to the serene and scenic Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.

French date night in Tampa - Picnic at Sunken Gardens
Image credit: St. Pete Picnic Co.

Savor a Wine and Cheese Tasting

Wine and cheese feel like the heart of Parisian romance. Snag a seat at the bar at South Tampa’s Cheese Please and choose from their expertly crafted selection of wines and cheeses, or plan ahead for a tasting event with an eight course cheese menu with wine and condiment pairings ($40 per person from 7-8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays).

Cru Cellars, with three locations in Tampa, has a great selection of cheeses and even better wine selection. They also host private events and wine tastings with cheese boards for a fun group date. SoHo’s Haven is a personal favorite, with a truly spectacular cheese selection and great wines available by the glass, on draft and by the bottle. Head to Lolita’s Wine Market in St. Pete to build your own cheese board to go along with your glass(es) of wine.

Take a Road Trip to Paris in Orlando

Make your way to Epcot to explore a miniature Paris right here in Central Florida. The France Pavilion at Walt Disney World's Epcot boasts a replica of the Eiffel Tower, a traditional bistro, patisserie, and so much more. Not to mention the countless photo ops! While you're in town, experience even more French-inspired experience with our guide to savoring a French-inspired date night in Orlando.

French date night in Tampa - France Pavilion at Epcot
Image credit: Beth Bell @adventurethegreatwidesomewhere

Feature image credit: Sucré Table


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