A local guide to the most romantic experiences in Tampa Bay for couples
From sunset tours and horseback riding on the beach to beautiful gardens and intimate dining, the Bay is full of romantic escapades for couples. Need a little help planning an enchanting date? Here’s our guide to the most romantic experiences in Tampa Bay.
Horseback riding on the beach
Wade into the water and trot along the beach on horseback with your love in Bradenton. Florida Beach Horses offers this unique beachfront experience for horse lovers. Tours last just over an hour and the cost is $140 – $150/person depending on the tour you pick. For extra romance, opt for a sunset tour. The Real BeachHorses also offers beachfront rides in the same area.
Full Moon Kayaking
The Little Manatee River is one of the best kayaking spots in Tampa Bay. Travel just 30 minutes outside of downtown to the Canoe Outpost – Little Manatee River for a totally different paddling experience: full moon kayaking. These monthly trips begin after dark and will take you on a 4-hour adventure. After paddling for just over an hour, stop for live music and snacks around a campfire. You’ll then hop back in your kayak to continue the journey, enjoying the serene sounds of the river at night. The cost for this trip is $75/couple and reservations are required in advance.
Note: Moonlight paddles are temporarily unavailable. Stay tuned for updates on when they resume!
Private beach dinners on Honeymoon Island
While it’s difficult to find a truly secluded beach in Florida, Honeymoon Island tends to be less crowded than most. And, because it’s located in a state park, there are no high rises or hotels in sight. After renting bikes or kayaks, hopping on the ferry to the neighboring Caladesi Island and lazing in the sun, end your day with a private beachfront dinner for two. Romantic Honeymoon Island offers this service to couples for $160/person. Dinner includes a private tent and table on the beach, dedicated server, multi-course meal, champagne and strawberries.
Drive-in movie date
For a nostalgic date, pack snacks and park the car to snuggle up at the local drive-in. Multiple drive-in move theaters are accessible from Tampa including Funlan Drive-In, Ruskin Family Drive-In, and the Silver Moon Drive-In in Lakeland, just 30 minutes away. Admission is affordable at $6-$7/adult for both movies being screened that evening. And, for a limited time, check out The Drive-In At Armature Works for a classic movie date with beautiful views of the Tampa skyline as your backdrop.
Dinner + Dessert at Bern’s Steak House
Bern’s Steak House is legendary for a reason, and it’s also one of Tampa’s most notable romantic eateries. Reservations are typically needed at least a few weeks in advance, but it’s worth the extra effort. The service is attentive, the wine list extensive, and the food indulgent. But our absolute favorite part of the Bern’s experience is heading upstairs after dinner to the sultry and romantic dessert room. You’re guaranteed a table with your dinner reservation. Listen to live piano music while snuggled in a private booth, treating yourselves to one of dozens of the available desserts.
Hot air balloon ride
Float above the treetops on a bucket list adventure with your love when you book a local hot air balloon ride. While the early wakeup call may be a little rough (most balloon tours begin just before sunrise), it’ll be worth it once you’re in the air taking in the beautiful sights and peaceful atmosphere. Big Red Balloon offers flights around the Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills area, where there’s ample open space for the hot air balloons to land. Flights are $185/person including a post-flight champagne toast and breakfast. Or, opt for the private Sweetheart Flight for $500/couple and have the balloon all to yourselves (besides your pilot, of course!). American Balloons also offers rides ($199/person) in the Wesley Chapel area.
Listen to live jazz
From the stylish Lakeland Loft jazz club just 40 minutes outside of Tampa, to downtown favorites like Jazz House Supper Club in Ybor, exploring Tampa Bay’s jazz scene together makes for a great date. Here’s a list of our go-to spots for live jazz.
You’ve likely appreciated the sparkling waters of Clearwater from the beach, but how about from the air? Tampa Bay Aviation offers helicopter tours throughout Tampa Bay perfect for celebrating a special occasion. Or, just go all out with a surprise date just because. Flights depart from Clearwater and St. Pete and will give you a unique vantage point of your favorite local beaches and attractions. You can even upgrade your flight to include chocolate covered strawberries, champagne and roses for an additional fee (sounds perfect if you’re planning to propose, wink wink).
Tour options and prices vary, but begin at $98/couple for a short flight. The romantic add-on is an additional $99.
Take a step back in time to the roaring twenties at Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club. You won’t find the venue easily, but here’s a tip: the speakeasy is tucked inside the historic Bayshore Royal building. True to speakeasy form, you’ll need to knock — and offer up the daily password — to get in. Private booths are available, too!
Visit a Romantic garden
Meander flower-lined pathways and pack a picnic to enjoy at one of Tampa Bay’s scenic and romantic gardens. You’ll find flora and flamingoes at St. Pete’s Sunken Gardens, a host of tropical palms and zen vibes at Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum, and spacious themed gardens at Florida Botanical Gardens. Or, make the trek over to Sarasota to wander through the waterfront Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
Sunset boat tours and cruises
One of the major perks of living close to the coastline is the abundance of sunset tours and cruises available. Pretend you’re on vacation by reserving a spot on a local sunset dolphin watching cruise, dinner cruise or sunset sailboat tour. A few of our favorite local options are the Yacht Starship (includes dinner and dancing), the ParrotDise Express (sunset dolphin watching from Indian Rocks Beach), and the St. Pete Beach Sunset Cruise. The latter is limited to just 6 passengers lending a more intimate vibe.
For more recommendations, refer to our post on Sunset Cruises and Tours for a Romantic Night Out.
Patio and Courtyard Dining
Take your food, drinks and conversation outside with this guide to outdoor dining in Tampa Bay. A few of our personal favorites include Ulele, Pia’s Trattoria, and Red Mesa Cantina.
If you’re in search of a dining spot with an extra romantic setting, head to a local restaurant that has garden or courtyard seating. Our guide to Gardens & Courtyards: Tampa’s Prettiest Dining Spots includes several options.
See a show at The Straz
Impress your date with tickets to see a Broadway production at The Straz Center. Tampa’s top performing arts center features an annual Broadway season plus a lineup of stand-up comedy performances, concerts, opera, and more each season. Lately, there have been a host of outdoor performances. Check out what’s on the calendar.
Bianchi’s Wine Bar + Kitchen
Bianchi’s Wine Bar + Kitchen has been a hidden gem of “in-the-know” Tampa foodies and wine-ies for the past decade. Bianchi’s has one of the Tampa Bay area’s best wine, Champagne and caviar selections, with a constantly changing menu of fresh, local, made-in-house foods. And while their wines and foods are pretty amazing, Bianchi’s might be the most laid back, non-pretentious and down-to-earth friendly wine bar as ever existed – it’s not at all fancy, and it prides itself on being “not trendy” – and it doesn’t need to pretend and look fancy because the wines and foods are the star, and they speak for themselves. Almost all of their 5 dozen or so wines and champagnes (the owners call the wine list a “living, breathing creation – because it’s constantly changing, evolving, growing”) are available by the glass, and the fun and friendly servers will happily help walk and taste you through the different selections and choices to find exactly what you’re looking for – or maybe something new you never knew existed – without making you feel intimidated or using fancy wine terms. Food menus (which change multiple times a week depending on what ingredients are fresh and interesting) include eye-popping goodies like Tater-Tot Waffles served with toppings like thinly sliced prosciutto or house-made salmon lox or even one of a dozen imported caviars, to fresh pastas made by hand daily, to their famous “Deconstructed Caesar” and dozens of gourmet cheeses and charcuterie selections from small local farms and creameries throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Riverwalk power boat rentals
Did you know you can rent a mini powerboat for two to cruise Tampa’s waterways? Riverwalk Boating Company rents these cute two-seaters which start at $40 for a half hour up to $90 for two hours. Pick up your rental along the Riverwalk and then head out on a self-guided adventure in any direction you choose. The boats go between 10-20mph, so plan for a relaxed trip on the water with your love.
ZooTampa animal encounter experiences
ZooTampa isn’t just for the kiddos, it makes for a super date day as well. Couples can enhance the experience by booking an animal encounter. Get up close and personal with elephants, penguins, giraffes, Aldabra tortoises, koalas, manatees and more. This is the perfect surprise for the animal lover in your life. Check out all of the available animal encounters here.
Book a Private cabana at a local resort
Have you heard of ResortPass? This website allows you to book day passes to visit local hotels and resorts without an overnight stay. For a more romantic experience, spring for a private cabana rental. You can lounge poolside with views of Tampa Bay at The Godfrey Hotel & Cabanas, switch between the pool and the beach at Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach, hang out on the rooftop pool at Art Ovation Hotel and more. Cabana rentals range in price depending on the property.
Couples massages at a local spa
Several Tampa Bay area spas offer luxurious and unique options for couples. Book wine-inspired treatments at Spa Evangeline, unwind with a custom playlist and feel the bass through the massage table at The Rock Spa & Salon, or release stress together side by side in a spa suite at Spa Jardin.
Take in scenic views of the Tampa skyline or toast to a beach sunset at a local rooftop bar. We’ve got quite the assortment to choose from in the Tampa Bay area, from swanky beachfront bars to downtown terraces and cocktail lounges. Try the brand new Pier Teaki if you’re in the mood for something tropical, M. Bird for sunset and skyline views, and Armani’s Lounge when you’re feeling extra fancy.
Book a staycation
The Tampa area is home to plenty of great hotel options with a smaller, boutique feel that will set your stay apart from the big chains and their hundreds of rooms. Typically, boutique hotels are hotels with 10-100 rooms with a unique atmosphere. Check out our personal favorites in our Guide to the Best Boutique Hotels Across Tampa Bay.
Thanks to the plethora of nearby beaches, we’ve also got tons of resorts to choose from for a beachfront staycation. A few of our go-tos are the luxurious Don CeSar, the cozy Postcard Inn and the sprawling Tradewinds Island Grand Resort, all located along St. Pete Beach. Plan your next getaway with our comprehensive Guide to Tampa Bay Getaways.
Lastly, our Three Perfect Days getaway series is a resource for full itineraries, lodging recommendations, and tips on where to stay, plan and dine at multiple locales throughout Florida. We’ve covered Anna Maria Island, St. Pete and Boca Grande, among others.
Or book a mini getaway
Need to get away from it all without traveling far from home? Orlando, and its many luxurious resorts, are just a short drive away. Just an hour from downtown Tampa, Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is a Four Diamond resort known for leisure and fun with endless activities for a romantic weekend. Plunge into the resort pool with fountains, a water tower and slide or relax by the adults-only pool. Don’t forget to hop into the signature wave pool, and the 850-foot lazy river for extra rest and relaxation. This sprawling resort is also home to the full-service Mokara Spa, multiple restaurants for a romantic dinner including Zen and David’s Club, two championship 18-hole golf courses and so much more. Florida residents can score 20% off the best available rates seven days a week.
Wine and dine your date, literally, by hitting up a cozy local wine bar for your next night out. Sip on a glass of your favorite red or white wine while sharing a cheeseboard and indulging in light bites. Get inspired with our list of 10+ Wine Bars in the Tampa Bay Area.
Sunset dining + drinks
Want to dine with spectacular sunset views? Located at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, Oystercatchers makes for a romantic date to dine and watch the sunset. This upscale restaurant features a dockside lounge, outdoor deck & seating, a private beach and an interior that is framed by large windows.
Other local spots with sunset views include M. Bird, Armani’s (also at the Grand Hyatt; temporarily closed), and Rusty Pelican.
Looking for more romantic experiences in Tampa Bay? Check out the Best Places to Watch a Tampa Bay Sunset Together or Our Guide to Must-Visit Romantic Restaurants in Tampa.
Feature image credit: Get Up and Go Kayaking Tampa Bay