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Valentine's Day in Jacksonville

Romantic dining, spots and getaways

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Friendship Fountain
Photo by Edward R. Jenkins

On Valentine's Day, those of us with someone special generally try to opt for something a bit more romantic than the usual fare. In 2012, V-Day falls on a Tuesday, which may make it hard for some couples to celebrate around a work schedule. Still, even the busiest of couples can surely find some time together, so there are no excuses for not spending quality time with your special someone.

Restaurants

Most restaurants in Jacksonville will be open on Valentine's Day; however, the day should be one of the busiest of the year for many. To ensure you and your guest will be able to have dinner, call ahead and make reservations.

Here are a few restaurants urbanspoon.com lists as the most romantic in Jacksonville: Blue Bamboo Restaurant and Wine Bar, 13 Gypsies, Orsay, Chart House, Morton's - the Steakhouse, The Patio / Pastiche, Matthew's and the Wine Cellar. The list is good, but I'd like to point our one small shop downtown that was left out: La Cena Ristorante on Laura St., right next to Chamblin's Uptown. Intimate is the best word to describe the tiny restaurant.

Blue Bamboo will be serving up Asian cuisine from its regular menu, as well as a four-course meal package that includes beverages.

13 Gypsies, a small bistro in Riverside, was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The Spanish restaurant is tiny, offering only seven tables.

Orsay is one of Jacksonville's premium restaurants. Located in historic Avondale, the bistro serves up authentic, exquisite French cuisine.

Romantic Spots

You really can't go wrong with water, particularly if the weather's nice. Jacksonville's proximity to the beach, as well as the St. John's River, makes this feasible. If you're looking for a quiet, romantic spot for Valentine's Day, stay away from popular riverfront spots like the Jacksonville Landing, as it's likely to be packed. Instead, opt for a trip to Memorial Park in Riverside. The ledge overlooking the river gives you a fantastic view of the city's skyline, and the park's usually fairly quiet.

As for the beach, Jacksonville Beach tends to be noisy and crowded. This will likely be the case on Valentine's Day. For a bit more privacy, visit Hanna Park or Huguenot Memorial Park. Atlantic Beach generally offers a more peaceful environment than Jacksonville Beach, but there's no guarantee on Valentine's Day.

Friendship Fountain is another option, and it also offers a beautiful river view. The newly renovated fountain has been the meeting place for many couples over the years. Some locals believe the fountain has mystical powers.

Miscellaneous

Omni Hotel in Downtown Jacksonville offers a Romance Package starting at less than $200 per night. It features a bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and a full American breakfast at Juliette's. Best Western in Jacksonville Beach also offers a romance package on the edge of the beach, featuring the hotel's whirpool suite, champagne or cider, chocolate covered strawberries and fragrant rose petals.

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