Spark Romance At These Florida Destinations
Florida’s sun-washed shores, stunning sunsets and historic ambiance set the stage for romantic retreats from the bustle of daily life. Whether it’s a day escape or weekend vacay, couple time in Florida offers budget-friendly options to enjoy throughout the seasons.
Keep the Honeymoon Alive
Adventurous couples find that Honeymoon Island State Park (1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin, FL) has all the ingredients for a romantic day escape. Swim, snorkel and surf in the warm Gulf waters. Pack a picnic for two or stop by Cafe Honeymoon for a light bite of beach fare. The cafe also rents umbrellas, chairs, kayaks and beach cruisers. The 4-mile beach, populated with shorebirds, is a bountiful site for shelling. Stroll the quiet white sands hand-in-hand as nature provides a stunning sunset to close the day. The park is open year-round. There’s a minimal entrance fee, so you’ll have money to spare for babysitting services.
Cuddle Up in St. Augustine
Settled in 1565, St. Augustine’s Old World ambiance creates a romantic backdrop for a couple’s getaway. Spanish-influenced architecture and cobblestone streets sweep you away into another era. Get cozy on an hour-long horse and buggy ride through the city's historic downtown. From April through November, book passage on the tall ship Freedom (111 Avenida Mendendez St., St. Augustine, FL) for a romantic two-hour sunset sail or a moonlit cruise with live music. Wine and dine your way through the city via tours to match your taste, budget and sense of adventure. Visit Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park (11 Magnolia Ave., St. Augustine, FL) at St. Augustine’s original site to explore exhibits and reconstructed buildings. Share a drink from Ponce's Spring of Eternal Hope. It won’t add years to your life, but it might help keep the spark young.
Relive a Great Love Story
In 1951, Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn starred in the film "The African Queen.” The love story featured a steamboat by the same name, and has been the vessel’s home port in Key Largo since 2012. Restored for an authentic look and sound, it’s now a floating National Historic Site providing daily cruises. Couples can choose from five 90-minute cruises that run daily, departing from Marina Del Mar (527 Caribbean Drive, Key Largo, FL). Cruises travel the Port Largo Canals to the Atlantic Ocean. A two-hour dinner cruise stops at a local restaurant for a three-course meal. Cruises sell out quickly, so it’s a good idea to make reservations as early as you can.
In bygone days, the Lovers Key (8700 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, FL) remote and secluded location was known by locals as a favorite spot for romantic trysts. One of the four barrier islands making up the modern Lovers Key State Park, it continues to provide a haven for couples. This slice of Florida paradise has 2.5 miles of pristine beach along the Gulf coast for sunning, swimming and shelling. There are manatees, dolphins and eagles to observe. Rent canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at the concession center to explore the estuary and other waterways. It’s all about the sand and sun here, so be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen. Because thunderstorms are known to pop up during summer months, make note of places to take shelter. The entrance fee to this quiet isle is minimal, so a grown-up-only day here won’t break the bank.
Where Love Blooms
Tranquil and artistic, the Modern Romantic Garden at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach, FL) offers a day escape into a fascinating culture. One of six gardens, it captures the Japanese spirit with an open design, a hidden waterfall and plants mimicking the koto, a Japanese stringed instrument. The entire collection known as Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew is considered a living exhibit created to complement the museum’s collection of 7,000 Japanese works of art and cultural artifacts. Resting places offer opportunity for putting life on pause to share the peaceful beauty. Traditional tea ceremonies held on select Saturdays at the authentic Tea House, and the cafe’s Asian-inspired menu, add to the sights, sounds and fragrances cultivating romance. Closed only on Mondays, college students, seniors and active military receive admission discounts.
- Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens: Historical Gardens
- Florida State Parks: Welcome to Lovers Key State Park
- TripAdvisor: African Queen Canal Cruise
- African Queen: Home
- Fountain of Youth Properties: Visit the Original 1565 Site of St. Augustine
- Florida State Parks: Welcome to Honeymoon Island State Park
- TripAdvisor: Honeymoon Island State Park
- Simply St. Augustine: Carriage Rides in St. Augustine
- Schooner Freedom Charters: Sunset Sail
Sally Barber is a 20-year veteran of the publishing industry. A specialist in business, travel, sustainable tourism and the environment, she has written for Virgin Atlantic Airways, the "Detroit Free Press," "Great Lakes Seaway Review" and various websites. Barber is also the author of three books.