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Four last-minute Valentine's Day date night ideas in Tampa Bay

Barenaked Ladies are playing for free at Universal Studios as a part of the park’s annual Mardi Gras concert series.

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Barenaked Ladies are playing for free at Universal Studios as a part of the park’s annual Mardi Gras concert series.

For the first time since 2003, Valentine's Day falls on Friday. It's a gift and a curse. Sure, there's a whole week to think up something spectacular, but this year's idea has to be bigger, as per the unwritten rule that anything celebrated on Friday must become a multiday endeavor.

Fear not, procrastinators. Tbt* knows how to set the mood at the very last minute. If you're reading this on Friday morning, you've still got a shot at not pissing off your honey and totally fooling them into thinking you're awesome.

You're welcome.

Barenaked fun

If a getaway is what you had in mind, consider making the hour-and-change drive to Orlando after work and grabbing dinner at one of the several restaurants at Universal Orlando's CityWalk. Just when your partner thinks it's time to head back, head over to your hotel room. If you don't have the scratch to stay on the resort (the cheapest room we found was $339 at the Loews Royal Pacific), try the discount hotels right across Kirkman Road (like the Hyatt Place Orlando Universal for $189 a night; DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance of Universal Orlando for $129; or the Days Inn Orlando Universal Maingate starting at $101.19). Unpack your romantic accoutrements and secretly stowed clothing for tomorrow and make a night of it. After checking out on Saturday, head over to Universal Studios for a free Barenaked Ladies concert as a part of the park's annual Mardi Gras concert series.

Trip to your heart

If going out of town seems like a hassle, perhaps an unusual staycation is in order. Tampa International Airport is continuing its free Friday night concert series, Friday Flight, with the Oceans Eleven Jazz Band from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Valentine's Day. Cigar City Brewing will offer beer selections, and promoters promise surprises. After the show, catch dinner at the airport's Carrabba's Italian Grill and have a glass of vino at First Flight Wine Bar by Mise En Place. Just when your partner thinks the nice night is over, BAM! You whip out a room key for the Tampa Airport Marriott (starting at $209) and make the short trip to Lover's Lane.

Rub your love down

Overnight stays aren't always an option. For busy folks, a couple hours' commitment is more than enough to make a lasting romantic impact. Consider picking your partner up from work and whisking them over to the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa for couple's massage action. Appointments book up fast, so call early Friday morning to grab an afternoon/evening slot for the house favorite, Love Bird's Escape ($259), which includes a 50-minute couple's Swedish massage and a spa lunch for two. If the rubdown isn't your bag, there is always the resort's romantic dinner for two ($75) which includes a four-course dinner in the Fountain Grille restaurant with a champagne cocktail. For more information, call (727) 724-7725, ext. 5526.

For two, the cheap way

And if the reason you haven't planned anything is because you're flat broke, consider the time-honored tradition of a picnic in the park. Make sandwiches, order takeout or just grab something sweet (it's strawberry season) and head out to a park near you to be romantic under the night sky. Cue up you favorite Pandora station on your cell phone and pick a cozy spot. Or check out one of this weekend's free romantic movies in the park, including The Notebook at Largo Central Park (5 p.m.) or Enchanted at Dunedin's Highlander Park (7 p.m.). Friday is supposed to be colder, with lows of 55 degrees in Tampa and 58 degrees in St. Petersburg, so make sure to pack a blanket to beat the chill and bring you closer together.

Can you still

get a ticket?

Want a shot at something mainstream but waited until the very last minute? Here a few options that may still have a few seats available for you and your honey.

Schooner Lynx: Spend Valentine's Day on the water and enjoy champagne and roses courtesy of the Schooner Lynx. The replica tall ship of a War of 1812 privateer will depart from Harborage Marina at Bayboro, 1110 Third St. S, St. Petersburg, at 4 p.m. and return at 6 p.m. The few remaining tickets are $68.50 apiece and can be snapped up at

Once or Disenchanted!: As of Thursday, the romantic musical Once and the comedy Disenchanted! both had a few tickets remaining for their Valentine's night shows at the Straz Center, so act fast. Once, the story of an Irish musician ready to give up on his dream until he falls in love, still had orchestra level seats ($99), while Disenchanted!, a play about how fairytale princesses really feel about their fame, has balcony seats available ($40). Both shows start at 7:30 p.m. Visit for info.

John Witherspoon: Known as Pops from The Wayans Brothers and Ice Cube's dad from Friday, John Witherspoon brings his stand-up stylings to the Tampa Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave. in Ybor City, for their annual Valentine's Day Dinner Show. The venue still has dinner buffet packages available for the 7:30 p.m. show ($49 per person). Visit to buy tickets.

Four last-minute Valentine's Day date night ideas in Tampa Bay 02/12/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 12:21pm]
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