A picnic on Siesta offers the best possible mood lighting.
The Urban Affair: Now that downtown Sarasota has come into its own, there’s a slew of romantic dinner options. In fact, put 20 Sarasota restaurants into a hat and pick one randomly—you’re guaranteed an incredible date. Still, my daydreams center on wine at Ca’Rina, lobster at the Melting Pot, and the unbeatable city view as you stroll around Bayfront Park—during which, a stop to snuggle on one of the bench swings would, y’know, not be a bad idea.
Downtown’s Bayfront Park has some of the most romantic views in town.
(Also, having just read Judi Gallagher’s Valentine’s blog, I realize that the Melting Pot, with its customized fondue-stove tables, can’t add extra two-tops come the 14th, so overcrowding isn’t such a worry. Getting a reservation, on the other hand...)
The Melting Pot serves bite-size pieces of Valentine’s Day heaven.
Dinner and a Movie: It must be my childhood days spent romping through the Ringling grounds, but banyan trees make me happy—one of the many reasons to love shady 5-One-6 Burns. And for dessert? A couple of glasses of wine and a popcorn for two in front of an independent film at adjacent Burns Court Cinema.
The shady banyans set the mood during dinner at 5-One-6 Burns and a movie next door at Burns Court Cinema.
The Beach Bum: Of course, for that special vibe of paradise, you can take the casual thing to the Sarasota extreme. Get an early start on the evening and spend some time on Lido Beach—heck, it might even be warm enough for a swim. Whatever the weather, wear your comfy sandals and knock the sand off your feet as you stroll to Cha Cha Coconuts for a laid-back island-y meal and their special Horny Margarita (with Midori—yum). After that, window-shop the circle and wind your way around to Kilwin’s for dessert. I’m a big fan of Bayfront Park, but St. Armands rivals it for the most romantic walk in Sarasota.
The All-Out: But I do enjoy an excuse to get fancy. And there’s no better excuse for fancy than the Ritz, where even if I’m in my best outfit, the windows are still dressed better than me. Still, the Ca d’Zan Lounge terrace, complete with a cool breeze, great view and attentive wait staff, remains one of my favorite spots in town. Besides, what’s more romantic than a chocolate martini? So those are my ideas. And I have total faith in CCB—I’m sure my first real Valentine’s celebration will not disappoint—but I still have no idea what to expect. I’ll let you know how it goes.