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Romance for all styles

If the dinner and movie combo isn’t cutting it anymore for that romantic date with that special someone, then take a look at some of these spots in the area where lovers can canoodle to their heart’s content.

When it comes to dining out, shelling out a few bucks in the name of romance is not a high price to pay. Ordering an extra value meal instead of something off the dollar menu is not going to score any points with your mate.

A place to try is the Ashley Street Grille. Dinner is not too ridiculously priced, with main courses from $12-$28. The ambiance is worth it, providing dim lights and light jazz music playing in the background.

Assistant manager Michael Andrade describes Ashley Street Grille as “pretty upscale.” The menu will be getting a facelift soon, as the restaurant will be adding quail and sea bass to the menu, Andrade added, but the price changes will be “nothing drastic.”

The restaurant is located at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk, which is in the process of being remodeled, so parking may be difficult to access. It is worth it, though, because you are treated to a view of the Hillsborough River while dining, adding to the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant.To take a step further to an extravagant dinner in which eating is the main event, Six Tables would be an ideal way to spoil your sweetheart.

The Web site, www.sixtablestampa.com, recommends that reservations be made well in advance, as the restaurant is small and intimate — hence why the restaurant is called Six Tables. Meals are quite expensive at $70 a person, but for that price each person gets a six-course meal.

“Chef de Cuisine Richard Bottini presents a verbal menu offering a selection of six entrees nightly. Specialties of the house include duckling, roasted rack of lamb, Chateaubriand, venison, seafood and other game meats,” according to the Web site.

“After choosing the main course, diners will enjoy courses of soup and salad,” the Web site continued. “The entrees are then followed by a fine array of cheeses and fruits, and we conclude the evening with one of our specialty desserts.”

If the thought of eating in front of each other is still out of the question, an art museum may be a romantic way to break the ice.

The Tampa Museum of Art, just a few doors down from the Ashley Street Grille, may be the ticket to get to know one another and nurture some romance. Admission to the museum won’t break the bank, either, as tickets are $3 for students with their school IDs.

Located along the Hillsborough River, the museum has a variety of art to offer to its visitors.

“The Museum collection includes 20th century and contemporary art and a renowned collection of Greek and Roman antiquities,” stated www.tampagov.net. “A changing special exhibitions program provides a lively mix of classical and contemporary shows.”

An exhibition is on display at the Tampa Museum of Art called From Myth to Life: Images of Women from the Classical World.

The exhibition “features objects portraying images of women, or objects that were used by women, in ancient times,” the Web site stated. “Among the 44 exquisite works of art are Greek vases, terracotta and bronze statuettes, gold jewelry and household objects from the ancient civilizations of Greece, Phoenicia, Etruria and Rome.”

For a more eccentric look at the art world, the Salvador Dalí Museum will provide thought-provoking conversation.

Admission is $9 for students with their IDs, and a discounted price of $5 is offered after 5 on Thursday nights when the museum is open until 8.

“The Dalí Museum’s newest acquisition, ‘Gala contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at 20 meters becomes a Portrait of Abraham Lincoln’ – is currently on view,” museum director Hank Hine said on www.salvadordalímuseum.org.

“This painting expresses his fascination with America and with its spirit of inventiveness,” the Web site continued. “The painting is based on – discoveries, which prompted Dalí to convert the image of Abraham Lincoln found on the American five dollar bill into a painted portrait using only a few discrete painted pixels.”

For those who are into more adventurous dates and don’t mind a bit of a drive out of Tampa, a trip to the Crystal River area for diving might be the desired outing.

“At Crystal River, manatees are in year round. During the season, Oct. 15 to March 30, there are at least 350 or more manatees in the river. During the summer months, as few as 30 to 75 remain in the river,” Captain John’s Scuba Tampa dive site, www.scubatampa.com, said.

“We snorkel with the manatees all year. Crystal River has unusual sea life from both salt and fresh water, making it a great snorkeling experience. There is a small cavern at 50 feet that is fun to explore and six other springs to dive and snorkel in,” the Web site continued.

The fee is $30 per person, and scuba gear is available to rent if needed, the Web site stated. Captain John’s recommends that spots be reserved well in advance.

A primitive back-to-nature experience can be found by visiting Anclote Key Preserve State Park in Pasco County, which is part of the Florida State Parks system.

“Located three miles off the coast of Tarpon Springs, this park is accessible only by private boat. Visitors must bring water and supplies; there are no provisions on the island,” www.floridastateparks.org stated.

“There is excellent fishing from our shores, and a picturesque 19th century lighthouse stands sentry on the southern portion of the island — but please observe this from a distance,” the Web site continued. “There is primitive camping available on most of the island as well as picnic pavilions and grills, but please carry out what you carry in.”

Whether looking for a full-scale dinner or an intimate picnic, romance is available to all those who open their eyes and hearts.