Hearts are aflutter about now at the thought of Valentine’s Day coming up on February 14. Imagine finding romance in Fort Myers—a beautiful location in southwestern Florida where snow is only in the imagination and where warm temperatures reign supreme. The only thing that melts here are hearts upon seeing puppies, newborn babies and sweethearts holding hands in out-of-the way restaurants and aboard gently moving trains.
For a great escape and relaxing meal or night, step back in time for a little romance at Cabbage Key off Pine Island. Cabbage Key oozes idyllic charm on this car-free island dotted with winding nature trails, panoramic views of Pine Island Sound and tranquility. At the top of a 38-foot Indian shell mound sits an open-air restaurant that is part of Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant. Cabbage Key is accessible only by boat. The Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant, built in the 1930s, is a unique hideaway and harks back to the days of historic old-Florida resorts. For a Valentine’s Day evening or the entire weekend, activities include nature walks, fishing, shelling, relaxing on deserted beaches and boating all nestled in the quiet and tranquility of nature without the sound of passing motorists anywhere on this island retreat. The front room of the Restaurant is an old porch with a view of the marina and Sound. Inside, you will find antique fishing gear, sepia-toned photos and replicas of game fish side-by-side with fireplaces and a bar.
A favorite date night, whether Valentine’s Day or another occasion, for locals and tourists is a unique Murder Mystery Train Dinner. A “Sweetheart Express” will leave the Colonial Station in Fort Myers from February 11-14 at 6:30 PM. Especially for Valentine’s Day, a strolling violinist will come aboard each evening. The train is also known as the Seminole Gulf Railway that rides through the countryside hosting the nightly Murder Mystery Train, crossing the Caloosahatchee River while you and your date enjoy a 5-course meal. As you dine, actors perform a murder mystery in the aisle, and roam from car to car, revealing clues about the alleged murder. The 3½-hour trip ranks on USA Today’s 10Best.com list for Florida destinations.
For a romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day, the Mad Hatter Restaurant is one of Sanibel’s best choices. The Gulf-front restaurant features American contemporary cuisine as you dine and enjoy a view of the beach that’s spectacular at sunset. The eclectic menu changes with the seasons reflecting flavors from around the world. The cozy romantic restaurant serves fresh seafood, filet mignon, spiced watermelon salads and a chocolate truffle terrine for dessert, among other items.