5 unusual date ideas in Tampa Bay

From restaurant-hopping at the airport to a scavenger hunt on the beach, try a new romantic idea.
Bartender Rikki Nestle works on charbroiled oysters at Ulele Bar inside Tampa International Airport's Airside C terminal Tuesday, April 17, 2018 in Tampa. CHRIS URSO | Times
Bartender Rikki Nestle works on charbroiled oysters at Ulele Bar inside Tampa International Airport's Airside C terminal Tuesday, April 17, 2018 in Tampa. CHRIS URSO | Times
Published February 12

Sick of the same old thing? Didn’t have time to plan something special? If Valentine’s Day has you feeling less than inspired, try one of these unexpected date ideas on Thursday or throughout the weekend.

GO TO THE AIRPORT: There is something inherently romantic about airports, the loved ones helloing and goodbyeing, the fact that you could go anywhere at any moment. Even the airport thinks so. Tampa International Airport is holding an event just a couple of days after Valentine’s Day, on Feb. 16, with “music, food samples, character actors, performers and more” to celebrate the opening of more than 60 new shops and restaurants. They encourage folks who don’t even have flights to come and peruse. It’s from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday on the third floor of the airport’s Main Terminal; you can park for free for an hour in the Short Term Garage. tampaairport.com. GET ATHLETIC: Get your hearts pumping with a physical activity. You could go the golf or baseball route at places like TopGolf or a batting cage. But we’d suggest something slightly less expected: rock climbing. Wear comfy clothes and hit up an indoor rock climbing spot like Vertical Ventures (locations throughout Tampa Bay; verticalventures.com), strap on a harness and see who can make it up the wall first.

TRY TO ESCAPE: No, not the date. Hopefully things aren’t going that bad already. Take your sweetie to an escape room, where the two of you can bond over trying to figure out the code that unlocks the chest that contains a key to the next room. It’s a high-stakes, high-reward environment, having to work together to free yourselves. Great way to test for compatibility.

HUNT FOR TREASURE: “The scooter rental place on St. Pete Beach has a scavenger hunt every Friday through Sunday” is something a colleague messaged our department one day, and you should know that information, too. The place in question is Beachfront Buggies and Scooters, from which you can rent a scooter for two for $29. You can also just rent the scooter and cruise around in the kitschy beach town. The scavenger hunts are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays to Sundays. Before you head home, stop at La Casa del Pane (7110 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach) for some exquisite Italian pastries.

CROSS THE BAY: Allow the Cross Bay Ferry to shuttle you around for the evening. You can board in either St. Petersburg or Tampa and ride round-trip without getting off, or you can disembark and explore the opposite county. The Tampa dropoff is right near the new Sparkman Wharf, an outdoor food court featuring some of Tampa Bay’s most renowned chefs. Impressive but casual — perfect date fodder. We recommend choosing a trip time that will allow you to view a Tampa Bay sunset in all its glory. Tickets are just $8. Find a schedule and dropoff locations at thecrossbayferry.com.

Contact Michelle Stark at mstark@tampabay.com. Follow @mstark17.

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