Say "I Do" to a romantic getaway for two


Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:17 p.m.

Imagine the two of you strolling along a windswept beach, sharing breakfast in bed in a majestic mansion overlooking the ocean, or cuddling up in a quaint bed-and-breakfast that's steeped in history.

Can't manage to steal away for a romantic fling in a far-flung place? Relax. Sue Boate and the travel agents at AAA Auto Club South culled through their collective experience to recommend six spectacular romantic hot spots all within a day's drive of Gainesville.

Casa Monica Hotel

95 Cordova Street, St. Augustine

(904-827-1888),www.casamonica.com

Immerse yourselves in Old World grandeur at the historic Casa Monica Hotel in downtown St. Augustine. This 1888 historic landmark overlooking the Matanzas Bay has the look and feel of a Spanish castle inside and out. Fully restored in 1999, the hotel's 138 guest rooms and suites offer a blend of Old World style and modern comfort. Dine at the 95 Cordova restaurant, which offers a blend of American, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Check out the hotel's antique car collection, stroll over to the city's historic district or take a complimentary evening carriage ride along the streets of St. Augustine. Hotel guests are also invited to enjoy the nearby Serenata Beach Club overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel's Romance Package includes its signature Lovers Libation cocktails, strawberries with dipping sauces served in your room, and a Moroccan Fantasy Footbath. Proposal and honeymoon packages available, as well.

Elizabeth Pointe Lodge

98 South Fletcher Avenue, Fernandina Beach

(904-277-4851); www.elizabethpointelodge.com

This luxurious oceanfront bed and breakfast on Amelia Island provides the perfect backdrop for a weekend escape. Snuggle up in one of the 20 guest rooms in the Main House, which has the maritime look and feel of a late 19th century Nantucket-style mansion. Each of the rooms is decorated in a unique turn-of-the-century style. Or choose one of the larger suites in the nearby Ocean House, outfitted in a West Indies decor. Stroll along the island's 13 miles of pristine beaches, or spend the afternoon relaxing in rockers on the Lodge's wrap-around veranda. The B&B's two-night Rendezvous Package for two includes strawberries and Champagne when you check in, dinner for two at a nearby Fernandina Beach restaurant, an oversize marble Jacuzzi tub and bubble bath, wine and hors d'oevres in the evening, and late-night desserts for the duration of your stay. Honeymoon packages available as well, including the B&B's one-of-a-kind 7-day Honeymoon in a Lighthouse package.

The Jekyll IslandClub Hotel

371 Riverview Drive, Jekyll Island, Georgia

(800 535-9547); (912 635-2600); www.jekyllclub.com

You'll feel as rich and pampered as a Rockefeller when you check in for a weekend of romance at the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Georgia, about a three-hour drive from Gainesville. Among the tycoons, politicians and socialites who summered on the island and frequented the exclusive enclave: J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Vincent Astor, Joseph Pulizer and William K. Vanderbilt. The majestic Victorian-style clubhouse is now one of the finest luxury resort hotels in America, with 157 luxurious guest rooms and suites, all upgraded with modern amenities. The hotel's two-night Romantic Fantasy package includes king-sized accommodations, a Jacuzzi tub, gourmet chocolates upon arrival, two full breakfasts served in the club's Grand Dining Room, a picnic lunch, and one-day bicycle rentals for two.

The Gastonian Bedand Breakfast

220 East Gaston Street, Savannah, Georgia

(912-232-2869); (800-322-6603); www.gastonian.com

The Gastonian Bed and Breakfast in the heart of historic Savannah is bound to capture your hearts. The intimate setting of the luxury inn earned it the distinction as one of the city's most romantic bed and breakfast hotels in 2007. The Gastonian, which consists of two adjoining Regency-Italianate-style mansions built in 1868, has 17 guest rooms decorated with period furnishings and authentic antiques. Each guest room has a working fireplace to help set the mood. The inn is located in a residential neighborhood, just two blocks from Forsyth Park and an easy walk to a number of city squares. The Romance Package includes such amenities as chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne in your room at check-in, a turn-down service that leaves your bed covered with rose petals and a gourmet breakfast served in your room on a silver tray. Driving time to Savannah: about 3-1/2 hours.

The Herlong Mansion

402 NE Cholokka Blvd, Micanopy

(352-466-3322); www.herlong.com

One of Florida's most elegant bed and breakfast retreats is just 10 minutes away, at the Herlong Mansion in nearby Micanopy. Built in 1845 as a pine farm home, the majestic Victorian style mansion has six guest rooms along with three suites and three guest cottages, each exquisitely decorated with period furnishings. Spend the day strolling the mansion's meticulously maintained grounds. Or take a walk along the quiet streets of Micanopy, visit its quaint antique shops and eateries and enjoy the town's unique Southern charm. Romantic touches include a candle-lit dinner for two in the mansion's dining room and in-room private therapeutic massages.

SteinhatcheeLanding Resort

203 Ryland Circle, Steinhatchee

(352-498-3513); www.steinhatcheelanding.com

Looking for a secluded spot where you can truly get away from it all? Try Steinhatchee Landing, a Gulf coast resort on 35 acres of pristine natural habitat in the fishing village of Steinhatchee. The resort about a 45 minute drive from Gainesville is home to a collection of quaint Cracker- and Victorian-style cottages, including two honeymoon cottages that are ideal for an intimate romantic interlude. The honeymoon cottages have separate sleeping and eating facilities, a double fireplace and a large hydrotherapy tub. Enjoy all of the other amenities of the resort, as well, including a complimentary continental breakfast served in the resort's Welcome Center, a brand new swimming pool and pavilion, and such outdoor activities as canoeing and kayaking in the unspoiled beauty of Old Florida.

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