Inspired ideas for romance

Valentine’s Day is traditionally a celebration full of heart-shaped candies and roses. For a holiday that’s supposed to celebrate the unique traits that make you love someone, it sure doesn’t have any of its own.

This year, skip the flower cart and candy shop, and try a date or gift requiring a little more thought. In case you’re dry on ideas, The Oracle has a few suggestions.


Pier 60

Sunsets and beaches go hand-in-hand in romantic clichs, making the colorful sunsets at Pier 60 in Clearwater an ideal backdrop for a Valentine’s date.

The area offers free entertainment and a romantic environment. Since 2005, it’s held nightly concerts – weather permitting – and street performers.

Nightly performances usually begin two hours before sunset and last several hours – anywhere from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. – allowing enough time to relax and enjoy a picnic dinner.

– Issa Luckett

Thought jar

A thought jar is a unique idea that works for both men and women, especially for college couples who may not frequently see each other.

All you need is a large empty glass or plastic jar — like the barrel tub some pretzels come in – and enough slips of paper to fill it. Decorate the different slips – which can be multicolored or patterned – with doodles, romantic sayings, things you love about the person, jokes and famous quotes.

Next time your significant other is having a bad day or feeling lonely, they can reach into the jar and be reminded of your affection. For extra sweetness, attach each slip of paper to a Hershey’s kiss.

– Emily Handy

Guy date

Switch it up this Valentine’s Day by participating in a guy-friendly activity like go-kart racing. A little healthy competition is the perfect icebreaker for new couples. A guy will be proud when his Valentine’s date drives him into a wall.

Maybe you would be more comfortable going to a sporting event or playing laser tag. If you’re really brave, try paintballing. Nothing says “I love you” like welted skin.

Whatever you do, try to make the holiday something he won’t dread, and you’ll find yourself having fun, too.

– Joe Polito

Sunken Gardens

The Gardens, located in the heart of St. Petersburg, is truly one of Florida’s most beautiful landmarks. It’s the city’s oldest living museum and it holds some of the oldest tropical plants in the region.

The 100-year-old botanical paradise has waterfalls, koi ponds and a butterfly house, as well as more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers.

With Sunday approaching, couples can arrange a guided tour or attend one of the many workshops. Walking through the lush and exotic flowers is a sight every couple should witness. Adult tickets cost $8.

– Issa Luckett


Getting a couple of cute pictures or new Facebook photos is free and is a fun idea. Skip out on professionals, and set up your own studio in your dorm or living room.

Hang a solid colored sheet or find a blank wall, and choose some props or funky outfits. Turn on all the lights or take the shade off a bright lamp, and set it up for lighting. Set your point and shoot on a tall chair, desk or stack of textbooks, and use the timer setting.

Plan a few quick shots, press the shutter and go crazy. Buy each other different frames,
and have a photo-printing studio, like the ones at Wal-Mart, print high-quality versions of your favorites.

– Emily Handy

Mix tape

For couples that love nothing more than sharing a pair of headphones and listening to favorite records, there are numerous ways to incorporate music into Valentine’s Day.

A well-thought-out playlist on a CD or mix tape – laboriously recorded off an old-school tape recorder – makes a romantic, handmade gift. If you feel a traditional mix tape is too old school, buy a decorative flash drive and fill it with your favorite MP3s.

Tampa is also hosting several live shows this weekend: Evan Dando of the ‘90s alternative band, Lemonheads, will perform at Ybor City’s Crowbar on Friday, and ska-synth-punk act Bomb the Music Industry! play Valentine’s Day at Transitions Art Gallery.

Both shows cost less than $15 and create a great soundtrack for a night on the town.

– James Geurts

Minute dates

Limiting your dates to five, 10 or 15 minutes forces you to be creative.

Set a timer and take your date on a quick spin to dinner, dessert and a movie, all within the comfort of your living area. Have dinner already set out, and eat fast; move to dessert, which might be a bowl of ice cream left in the freezer; and end with a movie, like a short YouTube video.

Feel like the date was too short? Do it all over again until he or she is convinced you’re the most fun and spontaneous person they’ve met.

– Emily Handy