Impress your Love on Valentine’s Day on any Budget

Valentine’s Day. The day Hallmark says you must be romantic to prove you love your girl. The day the pressure is on to turn coal in to a diamond.

I kid, I kid. I don’t think you are a lump of coal. But seriously, greeting card companies, flower shops, social media, and your girl’s girlfriends all expect you to be Romeo one day a year. How are you expected to all of a sudden know how to turn the romance on? You can’t and you won’t. Not without help anyway. But in this age of Google, blog posts, and social media, you don’t have to.  You just have to be smart enough to research and plan ahead.  And I’m here to help you.

Money Doesn’t Buy Love

So what if you don’t have a million dollars to impress your gal? Or maybe you do, but you want to save it for something else. You can easily woo your woman with little cash.

  • Head to the beach. Yea, it’s a little cliché but there’s a reason and a time for romantic clichés. And VDay is one of them. Pack a picnic or pick up some takeout from a place like Doormet. Stop at Trader Joe’s for a $4 flower bouquet and a bottle of 3 buck Chuck. Really, it’s  called Charles Shaw wine and delicious for the mere price of $2.99 a bottle. If you decide to bring alcohol, make sure you go to Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, or Treasure Island, since those are the only Tampa Bay beaches that don’t prohibit alcohol. Just be sure to pour it in to a plastic container first. Bring a large blanket or a small folding table and chairs. No one finds having sand in their food romantic and all that sand in your teeth makes for awkward sounding kisses.
  • Anxious to celebrate VDay and don’t want to wait until dinner? Well, lucky for you it’s on a Saturday. Head to Pinky’s for a reasonably priced yet amazing brunch. Be prepared for a wait, but you can use it to your advantage. Browse Pinky’s Annex next door while you wait, and let your leading lady pick out her own gift. They have adorable, unique gifts, most under $15. I’d say that’s a win win for you.
  • Don’t wait to go out for a full meal? There are lots of places to go for tea. Head to the Oxford Exchange, where you can choose from lots of different kinds of tea, as well as scones. They have many different levels of afternoon tea, so you can spend as little or as much as you wish.


All You Need is Love

Not too concerned about money but don’t want to spend a fortune? There are tons of amazing places in Tampa that fall right in the middle. Many may not have reservations available for VDay, so call ahead and save this list for next year.

  • Roux, Datz new Creole child, is one of the best new restaurants in Tampa. The great drink list, romantic gas lamps, and charming little tables make it a great spot to celebrate love. But most of Tampa probably feels the same, so good luck getting a table. But miracles do happen so I say give it try.
  • Is your girl a wino lover of wines? Try the Wine Exchange in Hyde Park. The outdoor tables are romantic and provide great people watching and the wine list is quite good.  Share a bowl of pasta and have a Lady and the Tramp moment, if that’s your thing.
  • I’m sure you think your lover is perfect just how she is, but if she doesn’t, she’s probably always on diet. If so, head to Season’s 52. Nothing on the menu is more than 475 calories and it’s always delicious. They also have the cutest little desserts that are just begging to be ordered in bulk and shared.
  • Piquant is a tres chic restaurant in Hyde Park. Being French alone makes it romantic. But the lovely food and the gorgeous décor takes it up a notch. Make a reservation if you still can, and ask for one of the big, cozy leather booths.
  • Want to wow your lady with your worldly palate? Try to get a reservation at Restaurant BT, a Vietnamese French fusion restaurant with a clean white and natural wood design scheme and delicious food. Order the Pho for some of the best Vietnamese food in Tampa, but be sure to pronounce it correctly (fuuh, like the first syllable of, well, you know) or your girl won’t believe you’re worldly at all.

The Grand Gesture

Want to go all out for Valentine’s Day? Do you have a lot of money to spend or a girl who expects only the best? These are for you.

  • Make a reservation at Elevage at the Epicurean. After dinner, head upstairs to Edge, the rooftop bar, for an after dinner drink. Then surprise her by leading her to the room you booked there for the night, where there will be macarons you ordered from Chocolate Pi waiting for you. The next morning, have a couples massage booked at the Evangeline Spa. Your wallet may regret it, but you won’t. She’ll brag to all of her friends, and their men will hate you for a while. The bar will be set high for next year but hey, carpe diem right?
  • Want to enjoy a four course meals with breathtaking views of the Bay? Head to Armani’s at the Grand Hyatt for their Valentine’s Day menu. $125 per person will get you a great view and “a romantic night that you and your sweetheart won’t forget!”
  • If it’s beach that you’re feeling, make a reservation for the Maritana Grille at the Loews Don Cesar. Nothing says romance like the pink palace on the beach. Enjoy the $130 per person Valentine’s Day menu and ask for a seat by the fish tank if you’re lucky enough to still make reservation. Check in to the Don and ask for room 611. It’s my favorite room and has a fabulous view of the Gulf. The next morning head to yoga on the beach then Spa Oceana for a couples massage. Choose from the moderately priced in spa massage or really splurge and book the $3,500 couples massage on the beach.
  • And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Tampa grand gesture list if Bern’s Steakhouse wasn’t on it. Great wine list, great steak, great desserts. It really doesn’t get much more romantic, or sexy, than that.

I hope this list helps relieve some of the pressure I know you’re feeling to perform perfectly on Valentine’s Day. It’s obviously not all inclusive, nor is it specific to guys trying to romance their ladies. Anyone would be impressed by this list. If you take my advice, let me know how it goes. Good luck and happy Valentine’s Day!