St. Pete/Clearwater’s Gulf sunsets are an obvious element of a romantic weekend getaway. But the area gives subtle suggestions for romance, too. Discover cozy communities together. Let art museums inspire your imaginations. Enjoy dinner or a cruise beneath the stars. At night’s end, steal away to an intimate bed-and-breakfast.
Museums and Martinis in Downtown St. Pete
A walk around downtown St. Pete reveals the landmark Dali Museum, which holds more works by the surrealist painter than any other museum outside of his native Spain. The museum recently re-opened in a spectacular new building, representing the artist’s blend of classical and fantastical styles. High-profile architect Yann Weymouth (who worked with I.M. Pei on the Louvre’s glass pyramid) created the design to pay homage to Dali’s free-flowing imagination, making it an ideal spot to fuel your fancy.
Spend the afternoon slowly wandering the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), set right on Beach Drive overlooking Tampa Bay. There’s always a thoughtfully curated exhibit breezing through, and you can stay on theme by eyeing provocative pieces from the permanent collection, including Georgia O’Keeffe’s Poppy painting and the marble Torso of Aphrodite from MFA’s Greek and Roman Antiquities cache.
For dinner, tuck into the banyan tree-cloaked courtyard of The Garden Restaurant, once the 19th-century Detroit Hotel. Flavorful dishes such as filet and gourmet pasta taste delicious, and live music (including jazz on Friday nights) completes the ambience. After dinner, follow the stairs up to The Lobby for martinis and live DJ music.
Sailboat Cruise from St. Pete Beach
A short drive from downtown St. Pete, St. Pete Beach beckons you to walk along its shores or forget your cares at a beachy bar or restaurant. (The beach was voted TripAdvisor's No. 1 Beach Destination in the U.S., and No. 5 in the world, for 2012.)
Plan ahead to board a sailboat cruise out of Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Center (begin by contacting Dolphin Landings to confirm cruise availability; then purchase your own wine or beer to take aboard). The two-hour cruise can bring you within a few feet of dolphins – look for them cresting in the boat’s wake; listen for them in the absence of a motor. If you cruise in winter, the crew will provide you with a blanket to snuggle beneath.
Flirt with Culture in Dunedin and Tarpon Springs
Drive north to the Scottish- and Greek-influenced towns of Dunedin and Tarpon Springs. In Dunedin, navigate the tree-lined sidewalks hand-in-hand to art galleries, antiques shops and restaurants. On Sunday afternoons from 2 to 4 pm, join the free tour of Andrews Memorial Chapel – its 1888 construction reveals romantic details like Gothic archways, stained glass and hand-carved wood.
In Tarpon Springs, visit the historic Sponge Docks. The smells of strong Greek coffee and afternoon sweets pouring out of the village surrounding the docks have the power to transport you to Greece’s amorous islands – no passport required.
Back in downtown St. Pete, the main shopping and dining district sits just a few blocks away from the northeastern section of the city, where you’ll find a handful of bed-and-breakfasts. Watergarden Inn at the Bay, as one example, offers 14 rooms and suites across two buildings (one, a home that dates to 1910). Request the Sunrise Room for a luxurious king bed, roomy bathtub and views of the pool and garden.