A romantic night out with someone you love is something most of us squeeze in once a month, if we’re lucky. But if your “date nights” are anything like mine, half of the evening is consumed with discussing schedules, family and to-do lists. Romance needs time to bloom, and a few hours over a bottle of wine at a favorite restaurant doesn’t always provide the connection sought. Instead of giving yourselves a few hours to enjoy each other, why not enjoy a day or two of time together? People travel to the First Coast from all over the world to celebrate weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries. Why let them have all the fun?
The Casa Monica is a gorgeous historic boutique hotel nestled in the heart of St. Augustine and offers a variety of couples packages.
Old World Glamour at Casa Monica Hotel
If you are looking for a weekend of iconic, glamorous photo-ops, the Casa Monica Hotel is perfection. Built in 1888, transformed by Henry Flagler in the 1900s and now part of the Kessler Autograph Collection of hotels, this property can be summed up in one word: fabulous. Throughout the year there are a variety of food festivals in the Ancient City that could be inspiration for a romantic foodie getaway, but The Casa Monica offers a few different packages year-round that are sure to make you feel ultra special. Here are our two top picks:
Love, St. Augustine Style: When you walk into your room, you will find a bottle of bubbly ready to crack, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a bouquet of fresh flowers. You start your day with a breakfast at the award-winning restaurant Costa Brava (cost included up to $50), and wrap up your evenings with a carriage ride through historic St. Augustine.
Sip, Sleep and Sail: A cold bottle of champagne will be delivered to your room upon arrival to help set the mood for a relaxing weekend on the water. This package includes a 2-hour sightseeing sailing excursion on the 72-foot schooner Freedom.
Champagne awaits in your room upon arrival if you sign up for one of the signature romantic getaways.
Costa Brava, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, has a meze-style menu celebrating the best of Mediterranean cuisine perfect to pair with a bottle of wine.
For more information visit casamonica.com
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort offers not only a series of signature getaway foodie weekends throughout the year, but also has a regular line up of locavore inspired activities centered around Chef Daven Wardynski’s Sprouting Project.
Lovely Locavore Leisure at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
This expansive resort has everything you would want from a premiere multi-tiered oceanfront property. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation boasts a beautiful spa, wide stretches of open beaches and activities like golf, tennis, kayaking and horseback riding. You will also want to explore the seven miles of paved trails that wind through the grounds. The resort offers a variety of foodie programming such as the Sprouting Project, where Chef Daven Wardynski and his team give Saturday tours of the aquaponic greenhouse, apiaries and barrel room. Here you will find fermented hot sauces, infused seasonal balsamic vinegars and barrel-aged cocktail concoctions. In addition there are monthly theme dinners centered around specific ingredients, and the Rum + Tequila experience, during the warm season, features flights from a selection of over 100 spirits that are served poolside. The following annual signature events can also make for a mouthwatering getaway:
Fish to Fork: A-list chefs travel to Amelia Island for this culinary weekend centered around the bounty of our local waters. The chefs go fishing, and then compete against each other in a grand battle staged at an outdoor dining event. The VIP 3-night guest package includes an oceanfront room, the choice between fishing with the chefs or a wine pairing and lunch on the beach; a wine pairing and dinner at the Sunrise Café with an ocean vista, a lunch in the greenhouse and two tickets to the main event.
Cocktails + Canvases: Just launched in 2016, this fall weekend is designed to inspire imagination and leisure. In partnership with the Cummer Museum & Gardens, the Cocktails + Canvases VIP weekend includes either an oceanfront room, art activities and craft cocktail workshop and an art and cocktail paired dinner.
For more information visit omnihotels.com
What was once a retreat for the Carnegie family, the Greyfield Inn epitomizes rustic elegance.
Exclusive Sea Island Escape at Greyfield Inn
Cumberland Island, GA
A stay at the all-inclusive Greyfield Inn is a singular experience that will no doubt leave you in a state of wonder. Wild horses and deer wander the 200-acre property of this 1900 Carnegie retreat that is now run as an inn by their descendants. Towering oaks weeping with Spanish moss, miles of golden marshes and quiet beaches on an island where few cars have access makes for a truly magical escape from the rest of the world. Guests catch a private ferry from Fernandina Beach and arrive at the inn by boat, setting the tone of the stay: exclusive relaxation. Chefs Whitney Otawka and Ben Wheatley build exquisite meals from the on-sight garden with the freshest ingredients. Otawka describes the menu as “Southern coastal with a sustainable mindset.” Cocktails on the porch served with heavy h’dourves start at 6 p.m., then dinner is served family style on century-old wooden tables seated with Chippendale chairs. Tables for two are available on request, if you are looking for something more intimate. Signature events happen throughout the year, but here are a few regular idyllic activities unique to this extraordinary coastal hideaway:
• A team of naturalists offer a variety of excursions on the island for you and your partner to explore. From kayaking through the marshes to bike rides to historic ruins, a gourmet picnic lunch will travel with you on any adventure you choose. Wrap up a long day of adventuring with cocktails on the porch to toast the last rays of daylight.
• If you love to fish, poles and bait are on hand for you to try your luck catching redtail in the creek behind the inn, and your catch can be prepared for your dining pleasure later that evening. Dinner at the inn is a communal experience, and given the exclusivity of this unique hideaway, you never know with whom you will be breaking bread.
For more information visit greyfieldinn.com
Chef Whitney Otawka uses local fare to create the sustainable southern coastal menu.
Every Saturday night is an oyster roast for guests.