Find Your Valentine: Where to meet singles in Southwest Florida
Fox 4 is showing the you the best & worst local places to get a date
WFTX - No date for Valentine's day? No sweat!
Fox 4 is showing you some of the best (and some the worst) places to meet your match in Southwest Florida.
To get you the list, we've been talking to one of the area's most active social butterflies - Gina Burch.
Gina's position as a writer for Gulf & Main magazine takes her to social events all over the region.
Her former gig as one of Southwest Florida's most popular radio DJ's also gave access and insight into some of the surprising places singles gather.
At the top of her list are local coffee shops.
"Coffee shops are casual, " she says.
"Everybody wants or needs caffeine at some point in their life."
She says, if you see someone you like, you should take a little extra time at the counter after placing your order - so you check out who's around.
"It's very easy for people to put their coffee or purse on counter and pretend they're re-arranging," she says.
The key, she says, is to make contact with who catches your eye, without thinking too much about.
"You have to be relaxed and confident and that's hard," she says.
"You have to be not be attached to the end result."
"Just think 'I'm getting coffee, I'm going to say hi to this person, if they don't say hi back, I'll come back to tomorrow and say hi to someone else.'"
If you decide to sit for coffee instead of getting it to go, she says the key is in choosing your seat.
"It's strategic in where you sit," she says.
"You've got to sit at the counter where can watch people come and watch 'em go."
"You make friends with the people who work at Bennett's (coffee shop in downtown Fort Myers) or whatever coffee shop you're in, and they can give you the scoop."
She suggests chatting up folks about the delectable doughnuts or sweets inside the dessert cases at the coffee shop.
And if sweets aren't your thing, we're told Brooke's Cafe on Boy Scout Drive in Fort Myers is the place to meet healthy singles.
"If you're an active environment or active lifestyle, you'd probably meet the right match here," one Brooke's customer tells us.
In Cape Coral, we're told the Saturday morning Farmer's Market on 47th Terrace is the place to be.
"You can dress down," says Gina.
"You can go around and strike up conversations over the melons."
But don't try too hard, she advises.
"When you're buying something and you meet someone, don't say 'Can you come and cook for me?'"
"That's not a good thing," she says.
"That's a flag."
She suggests a different approach like, "'Would you like to come to my house and cook"' or 'Why don't we meet over there and have some coffee and we can talk about recipes or cooking?'"
"You can got to the hot dog or falafel booth and have a little lunch together and history might be made!" she says enthusiastically.
If you'd rather meet your match indoors, your local library may surprise you.
"Everybody comes to the library, regardless of age, or anything," says Lee County Library System director Sheldon Kaye.
"It would be an ideal place," says Kaye who adds, contrary to what many people think, you don't have to whisper in the library - meaning you can chat up someone who may appear to share your interests.
That said, Kaye made a point to tell Fox 4 your local library is no singles bar.
"I wouldn't want people to think of the library as a place to pick up people," he says.
"I want to be clear about that."
If you're more into barks than books, your local dog park may have just the date you've been looking for.
And Gina says there's a special event that can be especially good for looking potential dates.
"Yappy hour at the Bell Tower shops," she says.
Bell Tower Shops are on Daniels Parkway & US 41 in South Fort Myers.
"It happens the second Friday of every month," she says.
"If you've got a dog, if you're animal lover, this is the place," she says.
"Because you're going to find someone who is like minded."
"Maybe you don't have a dog, but you can go anyway," she says.
Or you can leave the leash and at home one weekend and visit something that's very common in Southwest Florida this time of year.
"Art shows!" says Gina.
"They're all over the place, there's Art Walk in downtown Fort Myers, you don't have to like art," she says.
"You just look at (the art) and say (to an attractive person nearby) 'Do you like it or do you not like it?'"
If art isn't your thing, you can also spend a little more time at a place where you might not expect to meet other singles - your local car wash!
"And you can also check out the person's wheels," says Gina.
"But don't be judgmental because it might be the company car," she says with a laugh.
Gina says even the place where you get your hair cut can pay off in the search for a date.
"Hair salons are good because you're not quite looking your best, so people could see the transformation - the bad and good - and you've got it over with, " she says with a smile.
If your prefer to a slightly more festive atmosphere, Gina says "gender dominant" events can be real finds.
She points to cocktail parties for charity events like "Love That Dress."
"It is a gold mine," says Gina who says the events are loaded with single, attractive women.
"You don't have to say, 'I'm here for the dress party,'" says Gina who says guys can strike an attitude that says, "I'm here to have a drink with my buddies and check it out."
"I mean if you can't get a number or least say hi or strike up a conversation..." she says with a smile.
Gina admits it may intimidating for a guy to walk into an event with that many women.
So she suggests taking a "wing man."
"Take a big breath and walk in," she says.
"And you never know what will happen."
Gina says the same can work for women.
"Go to place or activity - if you're a girl - that's focused on the man - cigar tasting, car shows that kind of thing," she says.
Gina also has some advice for you if you're hoping to land a match with money.
"When you say, 'I only go to Ritz-Carlton because that's where people with money are going to hang out,' that's not the case," she says.
"They might be at World of Beer watching football," she says with a laugh.
"There are a lot of people who have wealth and disguise it very well," she adds.
Fox 4 also asked Gina if there's a list of places where you should NOT meet your match.
"Going to a bar at closing time is not a good idea," she says.
"Sure some people let down their inhibitions," Gina admits.
"But I would say 9 times out of 10, it doesn't work."
She also suggests avoiding meeting someone at your kids' school because, if and when you break up, your kids and the other person's kids may still want to hang out - making things awkward for both of you.
Another dicey spot is the gym according to Gina.
"If you meet someone at the gym and you break up, it's 'Who gets custody of the membership?' you know?"
She says some people may be like, "I don't want to go there every morning and see your face!"
Overall, Gina says there are plenty of options for singles in Southwest Florida - as long as you're creative and optimistic.
"I hear people say all the time 'There's nobody around here, I can't meet anybody," she says.
"Well, I've got friends in Manhattan telling me the same thing," she says with a laugh.
"It's not about quantity," she says.
"Sometimes, it's about quality," adds Gina.
"All you need to do is meet that one."