Here's a romantic view: the lighthouse at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
By Kara Franker and Lauren Tjaden
Ready to let sparks fly? Florida is for lovers.
Loads of sunshine, luxurious hotels, the freshest seafood, year-round perfect weather and 825 miles of beaches combine to make a potent romantic elixir.
Against the Sunshine State’s dreamy backdrops, here are 12 great ideas for romantic getaways for couples in Florida.
1. Watch the Sunset on St. Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach is a sunset connoisseur’s paradise. And there are no shortage of romantic places in this couples’ escape to sit and enjoy the show. For views that will take your breath away and cold cocktails to go along with it, head to the rooftop of the Hurricane on the Pass-a-Grille section of the beach. Or park your toes in the sand and listen to live music while the sun bids farewell at the Paradise Grille.
Where to Stay
Not only does the Don CeSar Hotel look like a sandcastle, it has a fairytale ambiance that will make you and your partner feel like royalty. Nicknamed the "Pink Palace," this legendary resort is nestled directly on the glistening, white sands of the Gulf of Mexico. Couples can enjoy a barefoot stroll on the beach together and then cool off with a shared ice cream cone from Uncle Andy's Ice Cream Parlor.
When dinnertime rolls around, the Don’s award-winning Maritana Restaurant delivers a romantic place to celebrate your amor, with modern dishes crafted from fresh ingredients sourced from local farms and fishermen. For the ultimate splurge – perhaps if you plan to ask your partner a very special question-- reserve the private dining room.
For an unforgettable date night under the stars and moon, explore St. Pete Beach at night in a glass-bottom, LED lighted kayak made for two on a tour with Sharkey’s. You’ll stop at a mangrove island to bird watch; paddle close to the Pinellas Bayway Bridge lit up at night (the ideal photo op); see fish underwater and even feed them.
2. Climb the Lighthouse on Key Biscayne
There's nothing more romantic than ascending a spiral staircase and climbing 109 steps in the heart of a historic lighthouse, especially when you're greeted with stunning panoramic ocean views at the top. Built in 1825, the lighthouse at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park offers free tours Thursday – Monday, offering a romantic place for your anniversary, or to get down on one knee as a starting point for all the anniversaries to come. Don’t be in a hurry to leave when you’ve finished exploring the lighthouse—the sunsets over the bay are spectacular affairs, perfect for watching while snuggled close to your significant other.
Where to Stay
The Ritz-Carlton, stretched along the shimmering, golden-hued sands of the Atlantic on Key Biscayne, is just seven miles from downtown Miami but seems a world away. Soak up the laid-back island vibe, excellent service and delicious waterfront dining options such as Dune Burgers on the Beach, sited near the adult tranquility pool; or Cantina Beach, a spacious, thatched- roofed restaurant, constructed by the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians. Set against the ocean and complete with plush lounges, tiki torches and a fire pit, the Cantina serves up Mexican fare and promises a selection of 110 premium tequilas.
Climb on a Jet Ski with your honey and hold on tight for a thrilling, guided, one-hour tour along Biscayne Bay. On the Biscayne Bay Jet Ski Tour, you’ll navigate the area’s crystalline waters while taking in expansive views of Miami’s breathtaking waterfront, including the downtown Miami skyline; mansions of the rich and famous; the Venetian Islands; the Port of Miami; and Miami Beach. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, manatees and other ocean wildlife. A variety of departure times are available.
3. Kiss Underwater in the Florida Keys
The 120-mile island chain is home to the continental United States’ only living-coral barrier reef, and offers unparalleled diving and snorkeling experiences. In Key Largo, snorkel your way through schools of brightly colored fish at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and visit the Spiegel Grove, a sunken U.S. Navy ship that’s home to its own thriving underwater ecosystem. Go ahead and give her a smooch, the fish won't tell anyone. It's one of the most romantic getaways in Florida.
Where to Stay
For a steamy destination, you can’t do better than America’s only private island resort, the adults-only paradise known as Little Palm Island Resort and Spa. Spanning four acres on Little Torch Key and accessible only by boat or seaplane, this resort features Robinson Crusoe-style thatched roofs; luxurious suites with private outdoor hot tubs and decks; World-class cuisine; and an indoor/outdoor spa. You and your beloved will truly unplug: you won’t find televisions or telephones in the guest rooms and public areas. While WiFi is available, ringing phones are taboo here. It’s all about you and your partner.
Embark on an utterly unique, one-and-a-half-hour sightseeing cruise aboard the iconic century-old steam-powered vessel from Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn’s epic film, "The African Queen," a boat christened with the same name as the movie. The African Queen departs from the Marina Del Mar and travels down the Port Largo Canals to the Atlantic Ocean before turning around to return. If you’re looking for a sizzling-hot amorous experience, the Queen is available for private cruises.
The Most Romantic Hotel in America: Henderson Park Inn
4. Stay in Destin at America's Most Romantic Inn
Voted the #1 Most Romantic Hotel in North America, the adults-only Henderson Park Inn lives up to its reputation with a secluded getaway made for two. The service is outstanding and the views of the Emerald Coast from the sunset deck are spectacular—as they are from the rooms, which feature floor-to-ceiling windows. The BeachWalk Café serves up concoctions like Apalachicola Blackened Shrimp Fettuccini and Blue Crab & Corn Bisque with the Gulf of Mexico as a stunning backdrop—and if that’s not romantic enough, reserve a VIP Toes in the Sand dining experience for the date of a lifetime. You’ll be seated at a private table directly on the sand to savor dinner, dessert, and drinks in true barefoot luxury. With amenities like a daily happy hour, complimentary beach cruiser bicycles, and a spa that vows to spoil you, love is always in the Henderson’s clean ocean breeze.
A moonlight walk on the beach is simple, free, and perfect for connecting with your significant other. Let the surf serenade you and admire the stars and planets, vivid in the dark skies, as you stroll hand in hand. Even better, bring a blanket and some wine, and enjoy the best nature has to offer.
5. Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride in St. Augustine
Located on Florida's Historic Coast, St. Augustine is the nation's oldest city. What better way to explore the city than by a horse-drawn carriage? Country Carriages will introduce you to centuries-old architecture and rustic cobblestone streets—and yes, you can book a private ride, sure to kindle the flames of passion. Of all the romantic getaways in Florida, this one offers you a step back in time and a memory that will last forever.
Where to Stay
Featuring Spanish-influenced architecture and lavishly appointed rooms, Casa Monica offers couples opportunity to rekindle romance in the heart of historic St. Augustine. Amenities include champagne at check-in; an outdoor heated pool and hot tub; the Artful Wellness Center, which features free weights and cardio machines; and exclusive access to Serenata Beach Club on Ponte Vedra Beach.
The resort’s onsite restaurant, Costa Brava, incorporates Mediterranean flavors with Spanish tapas-style dining on its enticing menu and promises an impressive collection of premium wines.
Visit Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, where you can experience the oldest continuous European settlement in the U.S.; take a sip of the magic elixir at The Spring House, home to Ponce de Leon’s Spring of Eternal Hope, flowing forth for centuries; and even hold your wedding there, harmonizing your love story with the Fountain of Youth’s legend… a supreme match.
6. Eat Oysters on St. George Island
Remote St. George Island is a 28-mile, unspoiled Florida barrier island, a serene and pet-friendly vacation paradise perfect for couples who love nature and the best that it offers—award winning beaches, ocean breezes and star-gazing without the glare of the city lights. Located just 20 minutes from Apalachicola, you'll find these tasty little aphrodisiacs at eclectic oyster shacks throughout the island, including Paddy’s Raw Bar, Harry A’s on the Bay, and the Beach Pit.
Where to Stay
Rent your own romantic (and private) beach house in this secluded part of Florida, also known as The Forgotten Coast. Check out options from the area’s visitors services.
Treat your beloved to an epic sunset dolphin cruise with Journeys of St. George. In this romantic rendezvous, guides take travelers out on a small boat, which carries no more than six people, to watch dolphins frolic in the waves created by the Journeys powerboats. Often, bald eagles, ospreys, herons, and jumping fish make appearances as well. And get this! Guests have the opportunity to swim with the dolphins within the wake of the boat.
7. Explore the Florida Everglades
If your idea of a romantic getaway in Florida includes becoming one with nature, then the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge is an amazingly romantic place to visit. Located between Marco Island and Everglades City, the 35,000-acre refuge is home to immense mangrove forests, some 200 species of fish and 189 bird species, plus a diverse array of mammals, from river otters to bottle-nosed dolphins.
Where to Stay
The definitive romantic escape for outdoor lovers is the Rod & Gun Club in Everglades City, once a playground for some of the world’s wealthiest and most influential people. Step into a time-warp with a visit to the historic, white lodge, with the ambience – and all the furniture –from the turn of the century. Couples can enjoy fishing in the Everglades or in the Barron River; indulge in top-class meals in the dining room or on the porch, which delivers panoramic views of the sunrise and sunset; or experience eco-tours; airboat rides; and guided canoe and kayak excursions into the deep Everglades.
Get away from it all by camping in an Everglades chickee hut, something that will make your sweetie want to snuggle close to you. Chickee huts are sheltered camping platforms standing in the water, man-made miniature islands rising above a mangrove swamp. Open on all sides, the huts invite breezes to flow through them, making them cooler and discouraging insects.
The Pearl Bay Chickee experience is ideal for wilderness camping newbies, and its "outhouse" restroom between the camping platforms makes roughing it not as rough.
Kick back, revel in the watery wonderland sunset, and drift off to sleep with the lullaby of lapping water, singing frogs and an ensemble of swamp music, all with your significant other’s arms wrapped around you.
8. Buy Your Significant Other Something in Palm Beach
Often referred to as the "Rodeo Drive of the East Coast" Palm Beach's Worth Avenue is brimming with upscale retail brands and one-of-a-kind boutiques, tempting visitors with the ultimate in art, apparel, home furnishings and accessories, all amid Old World decor and lush landscaping. Luxury brands include Chanel, Armani, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Co. -- just to name a few. The latter of which could come in very handy for ring shopping.
Where to Stay
Romantic places to stay include the Brazilian Court Hotel, a private, secluded getaway infused with Roaring Twenties glamour, all located within walking distance to both the shops and the shore. For a date night to go down in the history books, dine at the Brazilian’s Café Boulud, situated in a verdant garden setting at the hotel and owned by French celebrity chef Daniel Boulud. Plan ahead for this one: reservations are recommended up to one month in advance.
Another luxe place to stay is The Breakers Palm Beach Resort, beckoning the glitterati to Palm Beach since the early 20th-century. Let your worries melt away with a couples massage in the resort’s exquisite indoor-outdoor spa; indulge in superb dining; and make some waves with your partner in the infinity-style adult’s only pool.
Kick back with your paramour on a boat tour with PonTiki Boat Cruises, a party barge complete with a chipping green and tiki bar. Choose from an evening inlet cruise, a private charter – and if you get the timing right—a full moon cruise.
You've Gotta Try: Beach Horseback Riding in Amelia Island
9. Go Horseback Riding on Amelia Island
On unspoiled Amelia Island, explore nature trails and experience a sunrise horseback ride on the golden sand beach. Mother’s Nature’s brilliant sunrise show, the fresh, salt air, and your horse’s hooves in the surf are a surefire aphrodisiac—and a surefire way to work up an appetite. To satisfy your hunger, dine at Salt, a AAA 5-Diamond restaurant that pays tribute to the rich bounty of fresh foods harvested from the ocean and marshes on the island. This romantic eatery earns its name from the salts it employs from around the world -- over 40 of them-- that add intensity to each dish.
Where to Stay
Located right on the beach—a generous, secluded affair that stretches as far as the eye can see in both directions-- The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island offers an elegant combination of Southern charm and five-star service. Ocean-inspired spa services, including the signature ‘Heaven in a Hammock massage’; indoor and outdoor pools with direct beach access; and oh-so-private cabanas deliver romance for couples searching for the perfect place to reconnect and indulge.
Date night with your significant other is a sure winner at Le Clos, sited in Fernandina Beach’s Historic District. The acclaimed restaurant delivers mouth-watering Provençal dishes by candlelight in a charming, intimate 1906 cottage. Local fresh seafood and eclectic wines take center stage: the perfect way to celebrate your love.
10. Hunt for Seashells on Sanibel Island
Formed in an unusual east-west curve along the coast, Sanibel’s tranquil shores scoop up abundant seashells from the Gulf, making this barrier island the best place on earth to search for shells. Kick off your sandals, let the salt air work its magic, and stroll out to the beach with your beloved to discover shells with names like angel wings, golden olives, prickly cockles, rusty doves and jewel boxes. Sanibel’s visitors services point out the area boasts ‘15 miles of beaches, 25 miles of bike paths, 50 kinds of fish, 230 kinds of birds, 250 kinds of shells and zero traffic lights,’ and that adds up to just what the love doctor ordered.
Where to Stay
Sanibel’s Casa Ybel encompasses 23 gloriously pristine acres set against the Gulf of Mexico, delivering indulgent, Gulf-facing suites with balconies, private entrances and equally private white-sand paths that lead to the beach.
It’s a retreat made for romance: this boutique resort has bikes available for use; sunrise and sunset yoga on the Gulf Lawn; and a spa that offers couples massages.
When evening rolls around, make the best of the sunset over the waves to help fuel the mood at the resort’s award-winning Thistle Lodge restaurant—or if you want something more casual, Coconut’s Bar and Grill, where you’ll have a front row seat for the sunset, served up with tropical drinks.
Make a day trip to Lovers Key State Park, a renowned romantic destination that often hosts picturesque weddings on the pristine shores of the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re already married, you and your beloved can renew your vows. Or you can just cement your connection by enjoying the adventures of this barrier island park, which include paddling; hiking; biking; picnicking and shelling.
11. Embark on a Hot Air Balloon Flight over Orlando
Orlando is nicknamed ‘the City Beautiful,’ and it lives up to the moniker in an epic way on a hot air balloon flight. Your romance will soar as you and your partner take to the skies in a colorful balloon, drifting over hidden lakes and fragrant orange groves, an adventure where you might have the chance to pluck a pinecone from the tiptop of a tree. Local balloon ride operators offer customized flights, with aphrodisiac options like post-flight brunches, champagne toasts and commemorative photos. And if you want to pop the question, proposing from as high as 2,500 feet up will make it the flight of a lifetime.
Where to Stay
So close to Magic Kingdom Park it’s connected by a walking path, Disney’s oh-so-lavish, Victorian-style Grand Floridian Resort & Spa promises to cast a love-spell over couples with indulgent massages; a beach pool complete with a 181-foot-long waterslide; and views of the nightly fireworks that light up the sky over Cinderella Castle.
For a sip of enchantment, couples can savor cocktails under the stars on the outdoor patio of the resort’s Enchanted Rose. The lounge, inspired by Beauty and the Beast, serves up appetizers like White Sturgeon Caviar and Truffle Fries.
A fairytale dining experience awaits you and your significant other at Cinderella’s Royal Table, snuggled inside Disney’s legendary Cinderella Castle. The steamy mood is set as couples enter the majestic Grand Hall, ascending a spiral staircase that winds to the banquet hall above (a gilded elevator is also available). The romantic, storybook setting includes towering stone archways, imposing medieval flags and dazzling stained-glass windows overlooking Fantasyland. Dinner entrees include ‘Magic Carpet Ride,’ a spiced-crusted pork tenderloin and pork belly with curry couscous; Sustainable Catch En Papillote, and Tenderloin of Beef.
12. Get Snuggly on a Gondola Tour in Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale is known as ‘the Venice of America,’ with 300 miles of canals curving through the greater area, weaving past sumptuous mansions and gardens. The ultimate romantic way to explore the waterways is with Las Olas Gondola Tours. On 75-minute-long ride, the gondolier is seated in the rear, while couples have their own private cabin in the center. The tour company provides music, as well as ice, glasses, and plates, so you can bring your fav libations and finger foods to enjoy—over-the-top amorous.
The ‘message in a bottle,’ set with a silky rose, is a must-do way to surprise your beloved. Your own romantic message is inserted into the bottle, and the gondolier will find it “along the way in the river.”
Where to Stay
Hugged against the Atlantic and sited mere minutes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades, and downtown Las Olas Boulevard, the iconic B Ocean Resort delivers a getaway steeped in romance. Couples can splash in the beachfront infinity pool; get spoiled at the luxe spa; and catch some rays on the private beach. To add some sizzle, The Wreck Bar has just the ticket, offering seductive Mermaid and Aquamen shows--underwater, adult-only burlesque shows.
Date night is special on Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, an award-winning, brick-paved thoroughfare that parallels the ocean for 2.5 miles, well employed by pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, and millions of visitors. The Broadwalk is home to countless eateries, bars, shops and hotels—and also, the Hollywood Beach Theatre, an outdoor, beachside venue featuring musical entertainment five nights a week, where you and your main squeeze can dance under the starry skies.