How to plan the perfect French night out in Tampa Bay
From the wine region to the beaches to the walks on the Seine, a trip to France seems incredible right now. But if that’s not in your plans anytime soon, we’ve got a few ideas on how to bring the French spirit to Tampa Bay for your next date. Check out our recommendations below for planning the perfect French night out in Tampa.
Dine at the Perfect French Restaurant in Tampa Bay
Treat the Francophile in your life to a romantic dinner at Mise en Place. This incredibly romantic restaurant offers modern cuisine with a French twist and the ambiance is upscale and contemporary, perfect for a romantic evening on the town. If you like a good cocktail, check out the cocktail menu to sip a selection of classics and modern dishes.
Located in a beautiful former Federal Courthouse in downtown Tampa, Bizou Brasserie is a stunning place to enjoy a French-inspired meal. The location lends itself to exploring all that downtown Tampa has to offer to top off your evening. Stroll the Tampa Riverwalk, watch a show at the Straz, visit the Tampa Museum of Art. Make it a weekend and stay at the adjoining hotel, Le MÃ©ridien.
Sweet or salty ? Crepes are such a delicious and relaxed French dish. Try La Creperia Cafe in bustling Ybor, then continue the evening by strolling the brick-lined streets and exploring the rich history of one of Tampa’s oldest neighborhoods.
For classic Franco-Vietnamese cuisine with a modern twist, BT Restaurant is a South Tampa staple. Sample traditional French dishes like Coq Au Vin and foie gras, as well as dishes with distinct Vietnamese accents.
A decades-old Madeira Beach institution, Gulf Bistro is a great place for authentic French cuisine. With a location just steps from the beach, you can pretend you’re strolling along the beaches of the French Riviera, instead of just minutes from home.
The Nest at Caracara is a French colonial-themed cocktail bar that celebrates the love of French cuisine with Asian influences. Snacks at the bar include puff pastry snails and the wine list is made up exclusively of French wines. The cocktails are made with French spirits. Located in the heart of downtown Dunedin, behind partner restaurant Caracara, The Nest is the perfect stop for an evening strolling by the water and popping into Dunedin’s shops.
Treat yourself to something sweet
After running a bakery in France for over a decade, the owners of Cafe de Paris Bakery packed their bags and moved their business to Indian Rocks Beach. Enjoy a casual date here with croissants, pancakes, salads, sandwiches and cold cuts.
Plus, SucrÃ© Table is an amazing bakery located in South Tampa. You really can’t go wrong with any of their confections, but their funky flavored macarons can’t be missed. The chocolate and almond croissants also offer a lot of French flavor.
Discover local art and culture
Lingering in art museums and soaking up the local culture is part of the French way of life. Take the time to explore a local art gallery or museum to emulate this experience right here in Tampa Bay. At St. Pete’s DalÃ Museum, traveling exhibitions featuring world-renowned artists (including the recent immersive Van Gogh Alive) complete the impressive permanent collection of iconic surrealist works by Salvador DalÃ. And, the glass ceiling can even recall the Louvre in Paris.
For a movie, head to the historic Tampa Theater in Tampa. It is one of the only remaining film palaces that has the capacity to revive its original programming by showing a silent film with live musical accompaniment.
Other arts and culture events include monthly art walks in St. Pete (second Saturday of each month) and Gulfport (first Friday of each month) and free outdoor concerts on the Riverwalk. Attend free concerts once a month at Curtis Hixon Park and listen to performances by local artists as part of the ongoing Live & Local series at the Straz.
Take a French cooking class
Sur la Table at Hyde Park Village in Tampa offers a range of French-themed cooking classes, with themes like French pastry, Parisian bistro, and a classic croissant workshop. Bring the skills you’ve learned into your own kitchen for on-going trips to France via your taste buds. Classes sell out quickly, so you’ll want to plan this one in advance. The schedule lists classes for around six weeks, so come back for the French cooking class of your dreams.
Stroll through the local gardens
Imagine visiting one of France’s iconic gardens without leaving Tampa Bay. At St. Pete’s Sunken Gardens, explore winding paths teeming with tropical plants, waterfalls, and even flamingos. To take the experience to the next level, book a decadent picnic in the gardens. Local businesses Gather ‘Round & Graze and St. Pete Picnic Co. have teamed up to provide couples with gorgeous picnics in a variety of customizable themes. Picnics start at $ 165 and can be booked by email by contacting [emailÂ protected]
Other notable gardens to explore include the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. Or, plan a day trip to the serene and picturesque gardens of Bok Tower in Lake Wales.
Savor a wine and cheese tasting
Wine and cheese are at the heart of Parisian romance. Take a seat at South Tampa’s Cheese Please bar and choose from their selection of expertly crafted wines and cheeses, or plan ahead for a tasting with an eight-course cheese menu with wine and condiment pairings ($ 40 per person from 7 to 8:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).
Cru Cellars, with three locations in Tampa, offers a great selection of cheeses and an even better wine selection. They also organize private events and wine tastings with cheese platters for a fun group date. SoHo’s Haven is a personal favorite, with a truly spectacular cheese selection and excellent wines available by the glass, on tap and by the bottle. Head to the Lolita Wine Market in St. Pete to create your own cheese board to accompany your wine glass (s).
Take a road trip from Paris to Orlando
Head to Epcot to explore miniature Paris right here in Central Florida. The France Pavilion at Epcot at Walt Disney World is home to a replica of the Eiffel Tower, a traditional bistro, a pastry shop and more. Not to mention the countless photo ops! While in town, enjoy an even more French-inspired experience with our guide to savor a French-inspired evening in Orlando.
Feature image credit: Sweet Table