Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Nothing kills romance like being in a rut. So, if you've met the person of your dreams, or would like to re-ignite an old flame, you may want to dispose of the standard date fare and go for something extraordinary, or at least different. Even if you're happily married, you and your spouse might be at the point where a trip to the movies seems adventurous. Maybe all you need is a change of perspective, a chance to get out and do something unique or even a little daredevil.
If your goal is to be alone with the one you love (or someone you would like to love) the great outdoors are always a terrific place to start. There's no need to load up on expensive gear or book a cabin in the mountains of western North Carolina – Wekiwa Springs State Park is close by and an excellent place to look at wildflowers, hug trees, or enjoy a scenic picnic. Start with a swim at the enormous headspring, and then head out for a hike along one of the nature trails. Since water is your thing, rent a canoe and paddle the spring run to the confluence of Rock Springs Run, or hike to one of the riverside camps to enjoy a skinny dip followed by a shaded riverside picnic.
A short drive south will take you to the town of Winter Park. Take a walk down beautiful Park Avenue for some excellent window-shopping or just grab a chair and a cup of coffee at one of the many outdoor cafes. Every Saturday there is a wonderful farmers’ market just a block off Park Avenue at the old train station. This market has the usual fresh produce and gourmet snacks and also offers unique orchids, exotic plants, and cut flowers for your special someone. Eventually you will want to find your way to the boat dock at the east end of Morse Blvd. This is the home to a romantic tradition that dates back to 1938, the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour (407.644.4056). The boat tour offers hour-long, guided cruises through three of the seven lakes and two, narrow manmade canals on the tranquil Winter Park chain.
On any given tour, couples may observe large cranes swooping waterside to snag a fish or a lazy alligator languishing on a nearby bank. An occasional water skier or racing shell full of crewmembers from the area’s private liberal arts college, Rollins, may also provide an enjoyable sideshow for voyagers.
Every tour, however, guarantees plenty of swaying palms, towering cypress trees, lush ferns, and a variety of flourishing sub-tropical flowers. Breathtaking views of opulent private homes and exquisite estates sprawling along the shores are also a key feature of the scenic cruise.
As evening approaches find your way to Kraft Azalea Gardens. This is the place for lovers, with romantic flowered paths and a beautiful lakeside view. For most couples this would mark the end of a great date, but for outdoors folk it’s just getting started.
You’ll need some serious food done right to keep going, so head over to Antonio’s in Maitland (611 Orlando Ave., reservations 407.645.1035). I could go on for hours about the food, charm, and incredible service, so just take my word on this one. Make sure to purchase a great bottle of wine from downstairs to go, and finish up by sunset – again, trust me.
Now that a walk is in order, head across 17-92(Orlando Ave) to Fort Maitland Park, between Lake Avenue and Maitland Avenue. Join up with Adventures in Florida (407.924.3375) and enjoy a Full Moon Paddle. There is nothing more enchanting than being on the water watching the sunset and then the full moon rise. After an hour of easy paddling the group pulls up to the very private Dog Island beach. The first thing you’ll see is the white sand lit by tiki torches; then the smell of chardonnay, fresh cut fruit, and maybe roasting garlic will overtake you. You’re powerless. Enjoy a swim under the stars; warm your toes by the fire, some folks have even been known to howl.
Now, if it’s summertime, and you’re looking for a coastal fantasy, contact Adventures in Florida (407.924.3375) and sign up for their Bioluminescence Kayak Trip. Bioluminescence is living light that occurs only in the summer months. It’s hard to explain, but just imagine anything that moves in the water brightly glowing and leaving a light trail. Mullet shoot around your boat like rockets, stingray glide like glowing butterflies under your boat, and the dolphin and manatee will amaze you. Want more romance? Imagine skinny-dipping and watching each other’s bodies glow!!! Adventures in Florida provides the guides, kayaks or canoes, and a light snack. What ever happens after the tour is up to you. ENJOY!
ADVENTURES IN FLORIDA
Full moon paddling trips, Bioluminescence Kayak Tours, and day trips.
Dinner at Antonios www.antoniosonline.com
Scenic Winter Park Boat Tour www.scenicboattour.com