Ekim’s Lakeland Guide to Date Night

COVID flipped everything upside down. Everything. We were forced to find new ways to do life as we knew it, including keeping our relationships with our significant others alive. After a full year of wearing pajamas and only getting dressed up a handful of times, it’s time to shake out those fancy pants and get creative.

Some people think restaurants are a boring date night but it’s my all-time favorite! I love food. I love real food made from real ingredients in genius ways to create a truly delectable experience. I love trying new food and learning about new flavors. I love tasting the love people pour into their food. The only way I truly find that is at a locally-owned restaurant. I am always on the lookout for new ones, and I am *always* game to go to any local restaurant in town. Although Mike and I have different tastes, he is always game to give things a try at least once and usually finds some meat and potatoes to satisfy the Irishman inside.

Restaurants give me a reason to dress up, I get to enjoy really good food without having to prepare anything, and I get to talk and relax the whole time. While I wouldn’t recommend this for a first date, it’s an easy and satisfying time. Below is a list of some of my favorite locally owned restaurants in Lakeland that offer outdoor seating and, of course, great food.

Another great idea for a date night during COVID is a park! Lakeland has tons of amazing parks open for all types of activities. You can bring a picnic and have a romantic meal, go on a hike along the many trails offered, play a game of frisbee or catch, set up a treasure hunt prior to (so much fun!), or stroll through a beautiful garden. I’ve put together a list of parks from the Southside to the Northside that offer space for whatever your romantic heart can imagine. 

  • Loyce E. Harpe (Carter Road) Park

  • Lakeland Highlands Scrub

  • Peterson Park

  • Holloway Park

  • Circle B Reserve

  • Dobbins Park

  • Hollis Gardens

  • Lake Parker

Date night is just another way of saying, “I’m making some special time for you.” While doing my research for this I came across an article that suggested alternating the planning for the date. Person A plans the first date and Person B doesn’t know anything about the date until the day of. Then Person B does the planning and Person A gets to be surprised. I think it’s a great idea to keep things balanced and fresh.

You cannot keep sitting at a computer next to your SO in pajamas for eternity. Stand up, stretch those legs, shave those body parts, dust off the cobwebs and take a look into your lover’s eyes for a minute. Remember why you love them. Now plan a sweet little outing at a local place and start a new tradition. A little bit of effort will make a huge impact.

Arts & leisure