Advertisement

5 last-minute date ideas for Valentine’s Day in Tampa Bay

Here are ways to celebrate on the fly.
 
Ian Sowell and Jenna Menn dance during RELPro Dance Promotion's salsa class and social on Saturday, July 1, 2023, at the St. Pete Pier in St. Petersburg.
Ian Sowell and Jenna Menn dance during RELPro Dance Promotion's salsa class and social on Saturday, July 1, 2023, at the St. Pete Pier in St. Petersburg. [ CHLOE TROFATTER | Times ]
Published Feb. 8|Updated Feb. 9

Romantic gestures don’t have to involve weeks of planning or expensive gifts. For those of you who lack the time or will to think about these things in advance, here are five ways you can have a special Valentine’s Day the day of — no reservations required.

The flavors of gourmet popsicles at Hyppo can include, from left, pineapple cilantro, bourbon peach and ginger dragonfruit.
The flavors of gourmet popsicles at Hyppo can include, from left, pineapple cilantro, bourbon peach and ginger dragonfruit.

Get ice pops and stroll downtown St. Pete: The Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops location in downtown St. Petersburg is a whimsical spot to start or end an evening out, with a wide array of colorful pops in flavors like Pistachio Rosewater and Peanut Butter Pie. And from Feb. 12-16, the store is celebrating its merger with Mayday Ice Cream, an ice cream company with locations around Florida. Stop by 627 Central Ave. that week and get 50% off the entire ice cream and pops menu. Eat your sweets at one of the window seats and watch the Central Avenue passersby, or take them to go and head east on Central Avenue for a stroll that ends at St. Pete’s majestic waterfront.

Luv Child is at 516 S. Howard Ave. in Tampa.
Luv Child is at 516 S. Howard Ave. in Tampa. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]

Have a South Tampa takeout picnic: If all your favorite spots are too crowded, consider takeout and a scenic setting. South Tampa has lots of order-head options, from the sandwiches and small plates at iconic spot Pane Rustica (3225 S. MacDill Ave.) to the Vietnamese fare at chef BT Nyugen’s BT To Go (3215 S. MacDill Ave.) to the Latin fare at the Ciccio Restaurant Group’s kitschy Luv Child (516 S. Howard Ave.). Take your food to one of the lovely parks along Bayshore Boulevard, like Fred Ball Park or Ballast Point Park, and soak in the waterfront views of Tampa Bay. Coming from St. Pete? Check the Cross Bay Ferry website thecrossbayferry.com and see if there are tickets available for its Feb. 14 trip, which departs at 4:45 p.m.

Tito Lara, a local bachata and salsa instructor, teaches Kaitlyn Miller during RELPro Dance Promotion's salsa class and social on Saturday, July 1, 2023, at the St. Pete Pier in St. Petersburg.
Tito Lara, a local bachata and salsa instructor, teaches Kaitlyn Miller during RELPro Dance Promotion's salsa class and social on Saturday, July 1, 2023, at the St. Pete Pier in St. Petersburg. [ CHLOE TROFATTER | Times ]

Drinks and dancing, anyone? One of the most timeless date-night ideas can also be pretty low key: drinks and dancing. There are lots of ways to get your groove on in Tampa Bay, but on Wednesdays, two of our favorite options are the Latin Nights at Dirty Laundry (1742 Central Ave., St. Petersburg), where couples sway to sensual beats starting at 9 p.m., and the weekly Swing Dancing nights at the Gulfport Casino (5500 Shore Blvd. S., Gulfport), which start at 7 p.m. with a swing lesson. Before Dirty Laundry, grab a drink at Trophy Fish (2060 Central Ave., St. Petersburg), an all-outdoor spot that boasts a killer cocktail list and nautical ambience. In Gulfport, it doesn’t get more romantic than Pia’s Trattoria (3054 Beach Blvd. S.), where you should try to snag a seat on the patio and split a bottle of wine.

Dig in to Tampa Bay’s food and drink scenes

Dig in to Tampa Bay’s food and drink scenes

Subscribe to our free Taste newsletter

Get the restaurant and bar news, insights and reviews you crave from food and dining critic Helen Freund every Thursday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options
Visitors walk along the winding path while viewing the various flora and fauna at the Florida Botanical Gardens.
Visitors walk along the winding path while viewing the various flora and fauna at the Florida Botanical Gardens. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

Smell the flowers at the Florida Botanical Gardens: One of Pinellas County’s underrated gems is the free Florida Botanical Gardens (12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo), 150 acres of gardens, scenic landscapes and native habitats that make for a pleasant way to spend an hour or so. The gardens are open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and you can bring your beloved pets, too. The gardens even host a special tradition every Feb. 14: This year marks the 18th annual Valentine’s Day Wedding Ceremony hosted by the Pinellas County Clerk of the Court’s office. From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., couples can join a “single group ceremony uniting multiple couples in marriage.” Find more information at flbgfoundation.org.

A fully stocked wine rack at Book and Bottle in St. Petersburg.
A fully stocked wine rack at Book and Bottle in St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Stock up on wine and watch the sunset: Raise your hand if you rarely go to the beach, despite living less than 30 minutes from a beach. Yeah, we can relate. A special occasion like Valentine’s Day is the time to remember one of Tampa Bay’s cheapest date ideas: watching a sunset. Stop by one of Pinellas County’s many wine bars, grab a bottle and make your way to the coast. (If your chosen beach doesn’t allow alcohol, save the bottle for when you get home.) In St. Petersburg, try CellarMasters, a bottle shop with a fun selection and employees who are eager to recommend your perfect pour. There’s also Hawthorne Bottle Shop, which stocks wine and also single beers, and Book and Bottle, where you can pick up snacks and a book in addition to a bottle of bubbly. The sun sets around 6 p.m. this time of year, so plan to be beachside by 5:15 to watch the progression of hues. You’ll still have time for a low-key dinner after.