Five romantic things to do in Florida’s outdoors

There is nothing more romantic than exploring a beautiful spot with someone who shares your love of nature and the outdoors.

Here are five Florida Rambler ideas for romantic places to help you celebrate Valentine’s Day.

A walk on the beach at Lovers Key State Park

Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach.
Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach.

For years, this barrier-island beach in Fort Myers Beach was accessible only by boat, so only lovers seeking solitude went to the trouble to reach it. Today, it’s more accessible, but it’s still easy to get away from people and enjoy its hard-packed white sand, shells and birds. It’s no surprise it is also a popular wedding site.

A visit to Lovers Key can be more active than just beachcombing. A concessionaire offers a wide range of rentals — stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, paddle boats and bicycles. The company, Lovers Key Adventures and Events,also sells bait, ice cream and runs a variety of kayak tours, including one to Mound Key, an island whose shell mound was built by Calusa indians 2,000 years ago.

More about Lovers Key State Park.

Get away on the African Queen inKey Largo

Key Largo movie poster
Key Largo movie poster

Who represents Hollywood’s most classic image of romantic lovers? Bogie and Bacall.

That’s why, after the 1948 film noir movie Key Largo was a hit, the island decided to make the most of it, even though the movie was filmed at Warner Brothers Burbank Studios. The island’s post office had been known as Rock Harbor, but after the movie, area businesses started a petition drive to change the post office name to Key Largo.

Later, further securing a Bogie connection, an entrepreneur brought the original African Queen river boat from Bogart’s 1952 movie with Katherine Hepburn to Key Largo. For a romantic ride, tour Key Largo waterways aboard the African Queen for $49 per person.

To complete your romantic flashback, wrap up your day at the world-famous Caribbean Club, which was used for many of the Key Largo’s exterior shots, and the club also provided inspiration for the story. There is no shortage of memorabilia decorating this classic Keys dive bar.

Here’s our trip report on 36 hours in Key Largo.

More about Humphrey Bogart and Key Largo and tours on the African Queen.

Solitude at Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island, Dunedin, beach
The northern tip of Honeymoon Island is a sand spit reachable via a 3 mile walk.

With a name like that, it has to be romantic. And it is.

This state park north of Tampa originally had a most un-romantic name: Hog Island. But a 1930s Florida marketing genius re-named it Honeymoon Island and teamed up with Life Magazine to hold a contest for newlyweds to win free honeymoons in rustic little beachfront cabins here.

Today, what’s romantic about Honeymoon Island is the magnificent sandspit beach that extends three miles into the Gulf of Mexico. Keep walking along this beach and you’ll soon feel like the only people in the world.

More about Honeymoon Island State Park.

A night in a special B&B

A bedroom in the Herlong Mansion,
A bedroom in the Herlong Mansion

A charming bed and breakfast sure beats your basic hotel for a romantic weekend. We have many favorite B&Bs in Florida, but one that is especially romantic is the Herlong Mansion in tiny Micanopy, near Gainesville.

While many B&Bs were once just houses, theHerlong Mansiondoes indeed feel like a mansion. It is best viewed from the street, where it is meant to wow you. Set back from a road, you see a landscaped walkway to the front door framed by elaborate Corinthian columns. It’s the Hollywood vision of a southern mansion — Tara, but with fancier columns.

More about the Herlong Mansion in Florida Rambler story about Micanopy.

A cabin or camping on Hontoon Island State Park

Rustic cabins at Hontoon State Park provide a more camping-like experience
Rustic cabins at Hontoon State Park provide a more camping-like experience

A far cry from European linens and spa baths, this state park near Deland is an island in the St. Johns River that offers a different kind of romantic experience.

Here, what’s romantic are the cute little rustic cabins, the isolation from the world and its technology and the opportunity to hike and kayak in natural beauty where you will never find a crowd.

Because the island has no cars or roads, the camping and cabin sites are among the prettiest anywhere, situated in a shady hammock secluded from the busy waterfront.

More about visiting Hontoon Island State Park.

Updated January 2019

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