Harry P Leu Gardens is a 50-acre botanical oasis just minutes from downtown Orlando. It's peaceful, relaxing and of course beautiful. A stroll through this haven is ideal for date day, but you may want to mark your calendar for the first Friday night of each month and a special showing on Valentine's Day. That's when outdoor movies are shown at 7:30 p.m. Alcohol is permitted so stock up that picnic basket with a bottle of wine, some cheese and chocolates and enjoy an evening outside. Admission is $6 for adults. If you want to make it family date night, the little ones will cost $3. You will need to buy your tickets online (starting Feb. 1) as they will not be sold at the event and capacity is limited. Social distancing is enforced and groups cannot be more than 10 people. Masks also are required.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The gardens are a perfect escape from the city life.
Michelle's expert tip: Check the website for special events and the Friday night movie schedule.
Who knew central Florida was in the wine-making business? The Lakeridge Winery produces 50,000 gallons of wine each year. While clanking wine glasses with your love, you'll also be able to get some amazingly romantic photos. The sunshine state is 99.9 percent flat, but this quaint, family-run winery is situated on basically as high elevation as you'll find in Florida. The spot provides sweeping views that will make you feel like you're transported to a California vineyard rather than a winery not far from some of the largest tourist destinations in the world. Weekends at the winery are extra special with live entertainment, food trucks and of course plenty of wine to purchase.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: This is a picturesque spot that lets you escape the city life and relax with some good vino.
Michelle's expert tip: Check the website because they often have special events going on throughout the year.
Pack a picnic and park yourself on the grounds of Lake Eola Park to enjoy the delightful Florida winter weather. Take a sweet stroll around this scenic park and you can even enjoy the lake from a swan boat. Have your camera ready because you'll likely see some real swans on the water as well. The park also hosts a farmer's market every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Located in downtown Orlando, this is a popular spot for the working crowd to escape for a break. Because of COVID, there is a limit to how many people can do certain activities, such as boat rentals. You may want to call ahead for the most up-to-date information.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: A peaceful outing on a lake in a boat shaped like a swan, hello romance.
Michelle's expert tip: Peek over the rail into the lakeside plants across from Relax Grill and you may be treated to a "bird's eye" view of a duck or goose nest.
There are few things more romantic than a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Your ride will be 45 - 60 minutes, but plan about 3.5 hours for the entire excursion. Flights are $169 for adults and $125 for children ages 6 - 14. There is a 10 percent discount offered for military, police, fire and EMT. Each ride allows 16 passengers, but be prepared to adhere to COVID guidelines. Temperatures will be taken for all pilots, crew and guests. Everyone on board must wear a mask. When the ride concludes, you'll enjoy a champagne/sparkling cider toast and light refreshments. Rides happen every morning, weather permitting.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: A hot air balloon ride is a scene straight out of a romance movie.
Michelle's expert tip: It will be an early day. You have to arrive on site well before the balloon takes flight.
Indulge your cultural and culinary cravings with a pseudo trip around the world. The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts runs through Feb. 21. More than 100 Disney and visiting artists will have their works on display, and some will even be creating before your eyes. You can even show off your artistic side with interactive experiences like a massive paint-by-numbers mural and learning to draw Disney characters. Your palate will also be pleased with art-inspired dishes. Food studios set up around World Showcase will have you indulging in food that looks (almost) too pretty to eat. The setting only adds to the ambiance. While enjoying the art and snacking on a chocolate taco, brie in a bread bowl or lobster ravioli, take a stroll past the Eiffel Tower, Epcot style.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Art, food and as much travel as you can achieve these days.
Michelle's expert tip: Be sure you make your EPCOT reservation online in advance of the day you want to go.
How about a fishing date? Hear us out. This isn't your typical fishing excursion. Picture you and your sweetheart casting your lines near Cinderella's Castle. How's that for a backdrop? If EPCOT is more your speed, you can fish with Spaceship Earth in the background. Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground also is an option if you want more natural-type atmosphere or do not want to go into one of the parks. You have the option to do dockside fishing or excursions from a number of resorts. You can select from boats that accommodate up to 21 people or ones that are fit for just two. To reserve an excursion, call 407-939-2277.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Whoever said fishing isn't romantic never did it with Cinderella's Castle as a backdrop.
Michelle's expert tip: Most trips net between five to 10 fish.
Take your love to new heights, literally. You and your sweetheart can take a spin on The Wheel, which includes a ride in a climate-controlled capsule and takes guests 400 feet in the air. Instead of sharing the capsule with others, rent it out for a romantic date. The "I'm Sweet on You Package" for $110 includes two rotations on The Wheel, a box of chocolates and a bottle of sparkling wine. A complete spin on The Wheel takes about 23 minutes. Guests can make reservations, but they are not required. When you're done, walk around ICON Park and enjoy the outdoor entertainment complex that has restaurants and shops.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: A private, spectacular view high above Orlando with your sweetheart at your side and a glass of wine in your hand.
Michelle's expert tip: Time your visit around sunset for an even more spectacular view!
Wekiwa Springs State Park is the perfect escape for all you nature lovers. Take your time exploring Florida's natural beauty, paddle along the famous Wekiwa River and even horseback along the trails. There's plenty to explore in this 7,000-square foot state just north of Orlando. Take a dip in the Wekiwa Springs swimming area, which remains 72 degrees year round. You can even reserve one of 60 campsites to spend the night under the stars. Face coverings or masks are required in various areas of the park, including buildings. Arrive early because the park closes when it reaches capacity of 150 cars. Cost of admission is $6 per vehicle.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: This diverse state park is an excellent break from the manufactured delights of the city. Come see what real Florida looks like.
Michelle's expert tip: Leashed pets are welcome on the trails, so bring Fido along for the hike.
Romance is dripping all over this gorgeous resort. Start your day in a private cabana at the only adult-only pool within the Walt Disney World Resort. You can relax in the infinity-edge pool while enjoying food and beverages delivered right to you. When the pool gets too exhausting, head to the spa, which includes outdoor relaxation lounges and of course, heavenly spa-treatments. If you're looking for a little activity, you can take a couples tennis or golf lesson. Cooking more your speed? Enjoy a private cooking class at the Ravello Demonstration Kitchen. Or you can simply stay holed up in your room, enjoying a glass of wine from the in-room wine fridge while relaxing on your personal balcony.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: You'll understand why this made the list the moment you step foot on the grounds.
Michelle's expert tip: Check the website for specials.
A cruise to an exotic location likely isn't happening these days, but you can recreate the tropical destination right here in Orlando. The all-inclusive Discovery Cove has four romance packages that combine park admission and an overnight stay at one of four hotels. Pick between Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld or the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld. Spend the day relaxing in the lazy river designed to look like a lagoon among a rainforest with waterfalls, go snorkeling with thousands of tropical fish and of course, swim with the dolphins. If you're planning a proposal, you can even arrange one of the dolphins to assist in popping the question! Up the romance level by renting a private cabana. We guarantee you will feel transported to a romantic island and forget you're in the middle of theme park central.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: You'll feel like you've been whisked away to an exotic location.
Michelle's expert tip: You can pack light. The experience includes food, drinks, towels and even sunscreen.