Valentine’s Day can be a tricky day to observe properly. Flowers and candy? Candlelight dinners? A romantic getaway? Luckily, the Tampa Bay area has plenty of options to please everyone, whether they prefer a quiet time in the country or a few nights in the middle of Tampa’s lively Ybor City or even the full-tilt party mode of Florida’s largest casino.
Don Vicente De Ybor Historic Inn
1915 Republica de Cuba
Tampa, FL 33605
Located in the heart of Tampa’s famous Latin district, this boutique hotel dates back to 1895 when Ybor City’s founder Don Vicente Ybor built it as a planning and development office. A few years later, it became a healthcare clinic that helped Tampa residents until it closed in 1980 and sat empty (except for pigeons and an occasional vagrant) until developer Jack Shiver took it over in 1998. After two years and two million dollars worth of work, the old clinic became a unique boutique hotel. With only 16 rooms, the Don Vicente is all about quality over quantity and substance to back up its style.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
5223 N. Orient Road
Tampa, FL 33610
Located on a tiny piece of property owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Seminole Hard Rock proudly lays claim to being Florida’s best casino. With the state-of-the-art gaming facilities such as slot machines, blackjack and electronic versions of roulette, the Hard Rock has enough action to keep anyone happy. There’s also plenty to choose from when it comes to food and drink from the fine dining of Council Oaks Steaks and Seafood to the casual dining of the Hard Rock Cafe to the convenience of the food court, which offers a wide variety of fast food choices. All of that is built around the luxurious hotel rooms designed to meet Triple A’s Four Diamond standards.
335 8th Ave. N.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
www.dickenshouse.comAfter making their fortune in the early 1900s, Henry and Sadie Dickens built their dream house in 1912. In 1995, new owner Ed Caldwell started what became a four-year reconstruction that kept the original arts-and-craft styling while being mindful of the needs of today’s modern travelers and guests. Rooms range in size (and price) from the Dickens Suite which includes a two-person shower and spa that might be the perfect amenity for celebrating Valentine’s Day to the intimate Orange Belt room. All rooms include TV and refrigerators. If you’re the kind of person who can’t bear to be “disconnected,” high-speed internet access is available in each room along with a fax machine. An elegant full breakfast will be a highlight of every stay.
1223 Blvd. of the Arts
Sarasota, FL 34236
Located in the heart of Sarasota’s waterfront district, Hotel Indigo is a great spot for playing tourist around one of Florida’s most beautiful and culturally diverse areas. If the three keys to real estate are “location, location, location,” then this boutique hotel has it in spades. Hotel Indigo is within walking distance from the famous Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Sarasota’s charming downtown. The spectacular beauty of Siesta Key Beach, the world-renowned treasures of the Ringling Museum of Arts and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are all just a short drive away. The hotel itself offers top-notch accommodations and a friendly, attentive staff ready to make your stay a special one.
9301 County Road 44
Crystal River, FL 34429
www.plantationoncrystalriver.comIf you’re the kind of person who feels that “getting away from it all” requires some physical distance as well as psychological space, Crystal River’s Plantation is a great getaway less than a two hours’ drive from downtown Tampa. Starting on the Suncoast Parkway and continuing on the combined U.S. 19 and 98, the Plantation gives patrons a sense of old, rustic Florida with its moss-covered trees and easy access to sparkling clear freshwater springs. However, it also has all the modern amenities needed for a romantic getaway including spacious rooms, swimming pool and golf courses as well as on-campus dining and nearby restaurants. Crystal River might not have the electric atmosphere of Ybor City, but for some people that’s the biggest draw.Related: Getaway Guide: Weekend Trip to Sanibel Island
Mike Hennessy is a veteran news man who has won Florida AP awards for feature reporting and covered almost every kind of story imaginable from on-the-scene coverage of Hurricane Andrew, to some of the highest profile murder and corruption trials in Florida history. Mike is versatile and has the curiosity it takes to get to the bottom line of any story. His work can be found at Examiner.com.