Place Matters! Pick A Cool Spot In Tampa When It's Time To Pop The Question

Editor's Note: Summertime tends to bring out the romantic side of relationships as people search for new opportunities to show their love and affection. So we reprint here a story that first ran in 83 Degrees in June 2010 as inspiration for those who need some creative ideas for where to pop the big question.

Asking for someone's hand in marriage is truly one of the bravest moves that any person can make. Which words to use? What date to choose? But perhaps the most daunting decision of all is location.

Where do you ask someone to share the rest of his or her life with you? In Tampa, take your pick -- a little history, a little nature, a little something different. The area's teeming with cool places to get engaged that are uniquely Tampa.

#1 – Proposing Bench, Tampa Riverwalk, Downtown

On Valentine's Day 2010, the City of Tampa unveiled its first-ever proposing bench, located along the Tampa Riverwalk halfway down the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park lawn. "Every city has unique qualities and certainly the fact that we have a beautiful waterfront that people enjoy on a daily basis is one of them," says Elizabeth Kurz, co-director for Friends of the Riverwalk, a nonprofit group that partners with the city to support the Riverwalk. While she can't confirm if the proposing bench and nearby paver etched with the words "Will You Marry Me?" have inspired anyone yet, Kurz says the Riverwalk has several customized pavers commemorating local engagements.

#2 – Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, Seminole Heights

Maybe animal magnetism will win her or him over, or perhaps the proposer could use a little help from the charming residents at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. The zoo's outreach education team even helped one guest coordinate his own special animal show featuring a ring-bearing angora rabbit. Staff members also have served as accomplices along with Santa and Mrs. Claus for a Wild Wonderland holiday proposal and a pair of impromptu Valentine's engagements during its annual Wild at Heart celebration.

#3 – Ballast Point Pier, South Tampa

After a memorable journey along scenic Bayshore Boulevard by foot, car, bicycle or rollerblades, a couple can take a romantic jaunt along this Tampa pier, popular with fishing enthusiasts and daily strollers. The pier, flanked by Ballast Point Park, underwent nearly $1 million in renovations, including the replacement of boardwalk planks and railings and is a unique way to take those first few steps together as bride-and-groom-to-be.

#4 – Stage/Balcony, Tampa Theatre, Downtown

A little piece of cinematic history in the heart of downtown Tampa, the 1926 movie palace offers one of the more lavish and romantic backdrops for the "big night.'' Meet Danielle Reynolds and Joshua Saavedra. Their love story is like something out of a movie: first loves who dated at 14, and then not again until 10 years later, when they realized they were the "ones that got away.''  So when Saavedra invited Reynolds onstage in an empty Tampa Theatre to dance under dim lights and glistening stars, it could lead to only one thing: y-e-s. "Girls want classic romance," says Reynolds. "The theater has this gorgeous history and gives you that feeling that you're back in a different, much more romantic time. There's nowhere else like it."

#5 – Saunders Planetarium, MOSI, Tampa

For those who think their love is written in the stars, it can be: at MOSI and its Saunders Planetarium. Show her that she's out of this world by telling her under MOSI's new dome and sophisticated GOTO Space Simulator Chronos projection system capturing any part of the universe at any time in history or the future. Ask for her hand in July under the exact same September sky from two years ago when you first met!

#6 – Plant Park, University of Tampa, Downtown

The University of Tampa has plenty of striking locations to sneak away for a memorable proposal – beautiful gardens, a conversation-starting sculpture Sticks of Fire and romantic Plant Park. UT alum April (Gillespie) Jones remembers when now-hubby Adam popped the question one January evening when they stopped by to see a friend on campus. "We started walking back through the park near the bench where we shared our first kiss. And that's where he proposed," she says. "It's such a pretty place, and you're somewhere that means something to you -- it's where we met, where we spent four years of our lives. It was absolutely the perfect place." The two celebrate their second wedding anniversary this summer.

#7 – Union Station, Tampa

Tampa Union Station
sits on the edge of Ybor City and has witnessed great moments in history. "Where else in Tampa can you walk in the footprints of World War I 'doughboys,' actors Gary Cooper and Lupe Velez, and baseball greats like Mickey Mantle? They all arrived or departed from Tampa Union Station -- just like over 100,000 people a year still do," says Jackson McQuigg, president for Friends of Tampa Union Station, an all-volunteer organization that supports the station's endowment fund. As McQuigg points out, a relationship is certainly a journey and what better place to embark than at this landmark station?

#8 – USF Botanical Gardens, Tampa

Cradled within the arms of the Botanical Gardens at the University of South Florida lie vast collections of plants, trees and flowers, from mallows, palms and ferns to orchids, begonias and bromeliads. Stroll through the home of over 3,000 plant types and 60 species of birds while planting the seeds for your relationship's next blissful season.

#9 – Dessert Room, Bern's, South Tampa

As former manager of the acclaimed Harry Waugh Dessert Room at Bern's Steakhouse, Laura Christy has seen it all -- presentations of the ring from a crystal sugar bowl, serenades in the piano room before the proposal and even requests for server poetry readings! But for those wanting to cap off a sumptuous meal with a bejeweled dessert, the restaurant's group sales manager offers some advice. "I don't personally recommend putting the ring in a dessert or beverage. It can get sticky or accidentally swallowed. But a glass of champagne or sparkling wine to celebrate with is always enjoyable," she says.

#10 – Top of Sheikra, Busch Gardens, Tampa

If outdoor beauty or significant landmarks don't really capture your beating heart, why not pop the question from 200 feet above the ground at Busch Gardens Tampa? Granted, with a rollercoaster proposal, there's only a four-second hang-time to toss out the suggestion (but hopefully not your cookies). After that, it's all downhill from there on Sheikra (and at a 90-degree angle). This is one proposal that's sure to leave your beloved breathless so you may have to wait a few minutes for a response.

Chris Kuhn is a freelance writer who lives and works in the 'burbs of Tampa with her husband and her assistant, a 12-year-old dachshund-Chihuahua. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

Read more articles by Chris Kuhn.

Chris Kuhn is a freelance writer, editor and blogger who resides in the northern ‘burbs of Tampa with her husband and a rambunctious Shih Tzu. She is a frequent contributor to area print and online publications and previously served as editor for a local women’s publication. A graduate of Florida State University, Chris has been published nationally and written two books, her most recent, an anthology celebrating public art as a central focal point for storytelling across various Florida communities, including Tampa. When she is not writing, Chris loves checking out art, movies and museums, and discovering new Thai restaurants.