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Five romantic things to do in Florida while sharing your love of nature

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

While this story was written for Valentine’s Day, any time it a good time to find romantic things to do in Florida. And there are plenty. 

Tree at Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale with a heart formed by a strangler fig. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
A tree at Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale where a strangler fig has formed a heart. I have long admired this tree, which is well known among locals for it’s heart-shaped tangle of roots. (I do wish that tree had a less creepy name than strangler fig!) (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Here are five ideas about especially romantic places.

1. A walk on the beach at Honeymoon Island State Park

Just the two of you at Honeymoon Island State Park: 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.

Honeymoon Island, Dunedin, beach swing
Romantic things to do in Florida: Honeymoon Island State Park is a popular beach but you can stroll to the northern tip, a sand spit reachable via a three mile walk, and find lots of space to be alone together. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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.

2. Steam away on the African Queen in Key Largo

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.

Romantic things to do in Florida: Visit Key Largo ane celebrate Bogie and Ball. Here's the Key Largo movie poster.
Romantic things to do in Florida: Visit Key Largo and be like Bogie and Ball. Here’s the Key Largo movie poster.

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.

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.

3. Spoil yourself at a historic hotel

Fenway Hotel in Dunedin
The Fenway Hotel in Dunedin. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Most places you stay when traveling are interchangeable look-alikes, hotels that could be anywhere.

You can have a more romantic experience, however, with a historic hotel, with its own unique magic and place in Florida’s history.

You can sleep in a room once occupied by Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald; drink at a bar that once fortified Clark Gable, and admire the same waterfront viewed by US presidents.

Here are 14 historic hotels in Florida.

4. Turn off your phones in a glamping tent

In 12 state and national parks in Florida, you can rent a “luxury” tent in a beautiful location. These glamping accommodations let you experience a natural environment with fewer discomforts. Yes, you have to walk to the bathrooms, but when I stayed in a glamping tent in Flamingo in Everglades National Park recently, I realized this can be wonderful, because in the middle of the night I saw the star-filled skies. More on glamping in Florida.

romantic things to do in florida glamping at lake kissimmee state park 1 Five romantic things to do in Florida while sharing your love of nature
Romantic things to do in Florida: Glamping in a Florida park.

5. Go horseback riding on the beach

Is there any image that better captures a romantic fantasy of a Florida getaway? Riding a horse along a pristine beach, waves lapping at its feet, wind blowing through your hair, beautiful views in every direction? It’s a scene from the movies – or your dreams.

Beach horseback riding.
Beach horseback riding.

It’s not easy to find spots where you can arrange for horseback riding on the beach in Florida; it requires beaches with minimal crowds and development. But there are a few spots where you can ride horses on the beach, and some go beyond just riding.

More about horseback riding on a Florida beach.

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