Tired of the dinner-and-movie routine, I cooked up a plan for an exciting weekend getaway for me and my husband after I read a feature filled with out-of-the-ordinary itineraries in the Visit Tampa Bay Official Visitors Guide. I looked forward to the adventure I had planned all week, and when Saturday rolled around, we got dressed up and headed toward the bright lights of downtown Tampa.
We strolled hand in hand along the Tampa Riverwalk, a beautiful waterfront path in the heart of downtown. A friendly couple took our photo in front of the river, with the University of Tampa’s striking silver minarets behind us. As we walked, the lights along the path sparkled on the water and we were mesmerized by the rhythm of the LED light installation on the façade of the Tampa Museum of Art. But we couldn’t stay all night, as we had an appointment to make with the Great Escape Room–Tampa.
At the Great Escape Room, the goal is to get out of a themed, locked room in less than an hour by solving a series of puzzles. Teamwork and problem solving are required, and I was ready for the challenge. We were paired with a few other couples and swept into the world of Sherlock Holmes as soon as we entered the waiting room.
The room was decorated in the Victorian-era style, and suspenseful music piped in through an electric gramophone that looked straight out of the late 1800s. Before we started, an employee explained the premise and rules, and we rushed to gather clues as soon as she hit the timer. Sealed in our room, the hour flew by as we worked together to hunt for clues and solve the various word games and number puzzles. I was so impressed to see my husband figure out one of the toughest puzzles, and it felt pretty good when I found the last clue. It was difficult, but we managed to escape in the nick of time!
Feeling quite proud of ourselves, and still buzzed from chasing the clock, we posed for funny photos afterward (Sherlock hat for my husband, fake pipe for me). We were told many groups don’t escape, but I imagine it’d be just as fun regardless. The rush of the challenge was the highlight, and we planned to go back to try the other rooms.
Our night wasn’t over yet. I made reservations at Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club, in Tampa Bay’s tree-lined Hyde Park neighborhood to continue our adventurous night of mystery.
“Stagecoach,” I whispered through the small opening in the front door. Luckily, I remembered the correct password I got when I made the reservation, so we were granted entrance into an elegant candlelight space filled with plush couches, velvet pillows and a gorgeous aquarium set into one of the walls. Ciro’s is true to form—down to the upscale dress code, the waiters donning Prohibition-era fashions and the password-needed-at-the-door detail. I felt like I was in the 1920s as our dapperly dressed waiter led us to our private booth, filled with candles and surrounded by luxurious curtains, which made for an intimate dining experience.
My husband and I were still reveling in our great escape as we perused the cocktail list that included time-tested favorites—gin rickeys, old fashioneds and daiquiris. Ciro’s is known for its exceptional cocktails and everything looked incredible. Our waiter knew his stuff, so with his help I settled on the Gin Daisy, a refreshing and herbal drink topped with lemon and mint. My husband chose a spiced tequila drink that went down smooth. As we sipped our cocktails, we sat side-by-side in our private booth—much more romantic than the typical table and booth set-up of most restaurants—exchanging whispers, sweet kisses and lots of giggles. We had made another escape, but this time, into our own world where it was just the two of us.
For dinner, we started with Ciro’s duck-fat French fries, a richer version of typical fries, sprinkled with cheese and a pinch of coarse sea salt. Then we devoured amazing oyster shooters. Our waiter suggested the scallops, which were gigantic and perfectly cooked, placed on a bed of polenta with blistered grape tomatoes and green beans. My husband ordered the burger, which he declared one of the best he’d ever eaten.
We enjoyed two full hours in our private booth, never feeling rushed, ending with a toast to our night of adventure with a little bubbly.
Perfect evening? Better than any movie.Start planning your night out in Tampa Bay.