Winter may usher in snowy or freezing weather to many U.S. locales. However, the picturesque Florida Keys island chain provides visitors with subtropical warmth and a variety of outdoor (i.e. social-distancing-friendly) and cultural activities that easily outdo mainland offerings up north.

Casa Marina Resort water walk

Couples can savor a romantic “toes in the sand” meal at the lovely oceanfront Casa Marina Resort.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, couples might be daydreaming about escaping to the Florida Keys for a romantic getaway. We have some of the warmest winter temps in the nation, and there’s nothing better than snuggling up with your sweetheart and rejuvenating your soul in our welcoming sunshine.

Here are some of my recommendations for romantic Keys delights you can share with your favorite Valentine.

ONE: Enjoy a Key West Lighthouse Sunset Experience. Recently launched by the Key West Art & Historical Society, it includes 90 minutes of exclusive access to the historic lighthouse, keeper’s quarters and grounds. First operated in 1848, the lighthouse features a winding 88-step staircase to the top, where you’ll get 360-degree views of Key West’s historic district, Hemingway Home, Southernmost Point and shimmering ocean — making it one of the most romantic spots to take in the island’s captivating sunsets.

Designed for small intimate groups, the experience includes a complimentary bottle of wine or Prosecco and artisanal meats, cheeses, or sweets (vegan and vegetarian options are available) from the UVA Wine Shoppe. Bookings are required at least 24 hours in advance.

TWO: Savor a romantic oceanfront dinner at the elegant Casa Marina Key West, a Waldorf Astoria Resort.The sprawling historic property, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary, offers a signature “Toes in the Sand” dining experience. A table for two will be set up on the private beach, where you can enjoy an over-the-top four-course culinary experience surrounded by balmy breezes and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Key West Lighthouse

The 110-foot Key West Lighthouse is majestic by day … and as dusk approaches, it’s the site of the romantic private Sunset Experience. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)

For the ultimate dining experience, I recommend reserving your table for a seating at least 30 minutes before our iconic Key West sunset. Advance reservations are required.

THREE: Book a couples treatment at Sunset Key Cottages’ luxurious Spa. The spa’s “Duet” experience includes a 50-minute couples massage for $260. The secluded island treatment suites are SO tranquil and surrounded by gorgeous tropical foliage and colorful orchids.

If you decide you’d rather indulge in a massage on the property’s lovely white-sand beach, no problem; the accommodating staff can arrange that for you as well. Please note the resort and spa lie on a 27-acre island and can only be accessed by ferry — a seven-minute trip that departs from Key West’s Opal Key Resort & Marina.

FOUR: Plan a date night at Better Than Sex, a Dessert Restaurant located at 926 Simonton St. If you’re in the mood for something sweet after dinner, visit Better Than Sex (yes, that’s actually its name!). Velvety curtains and candlelight lighting create a truly romance-filled setting in the intimate dining areas. The bistro is both romantic and yummy, but please note the largest table you can reserve is for a party of four.

The owners describe their offerings as “the best desserts in a speakeasy-like atmosphere.” The unique spot is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 6  to 11 p.m. (midnight on weekends). The menu’s decadent and mouthwatering desserts and drinks will make you wish you’d skipped dinner and could order seconds.

BONUS TIP: When choosing your favorite LGBTQ accommodations, please don’t forget to ask if the property has any special Valentine’s Day packages. Packages might include anything from dinner for two to flowers, chocolates or champagne waiting for you and that special someone upon your arrival.

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