Whether you’re new to Toronto or just out of ideas, here are some fun date suggestions for couples in the T-Dot. (Or T.O. Or Hogtown. Take your pick.)
Dating in Toronto: Ditch the Car
Parking, especially on a Friday night, is an expensive hassle in downtown Toronto. Ditch the car and take the subway (or bus or streetcar) to your destination of choice. Besides having a decent transit system, Toronto is a fairly walkable city. Plus, a car-less date means you won’t make the mistake of getting behind the wheel after too many drinks.
Bonus: Toronto taxi drivers are pretty friendly, too.
Dating in Toronto: Enjoy the Great Outdoors
If the weather permits it, date outdoors. There’s plenty of green space in Canada’s largest city. (One of its other nicknames is “The City Within a Park.”) Explore the bluffs, stroll by the lake, take a ferry to the islands, or picnic in High Park. In the summer, High Park hosts “Dream in High Park,” its annual al fresco pay-what-you-can Shakespearean production.
One of Toronto’s best first-date options is its world-class zoo. The 710-acre Toronto Zoo is home to over 491 species. Stroll through the zoogeographic regions — take a break on the benches by the orangutans — pet the manatees, visit with the kangaroos, and swoon over the baby polar bear.
Dating in Toronto: …Even in the Winter
It’s a Toronto tradition worth embracing. Bundle up and ice-skate outside city hall at Nathan Phillips Square before heading indoors for a warm beverage, perhaps at The Drake Hotel of Ceili Cottage: both bars have year-round patios, complete with bonfires and roasted marshmallows. (Ceili Cottage has an ice rink of its own in colder months.)
Dating in Toronto: Be a Grown-Up Kid
When you were a kid, game night, bowling and ping-pong were all viable options when it came to entertainment. Keep the inner child alive with an adult spin on these childhood faves.
Snakes and Lattes is a licensed board-games-for-everyone café in Toronto’s west end. Start with coffee, end with something stronger, and show off your Monopoly skills in the process. Revisiting the classics — When was the last time you played Guess Who? — is sure to break the ice on a first date. (It’s also a great double-date spot, as four-player games are often the most fun.)
The Ballroom is a one-stop date spot: bowling, dinner and drinks in one. Located downtown in Toronto’s club district, this is upscale, grown-up fun with a nostalgic twist. Expect to spend like a grownup here, too.
Located on King West, SPiN Toronto is Toronto’s only ping-pong bar. Challenge your date to a game, then sip on specialty cocktails, or, for another adult twist on a kid favorite, share some sweet-potato ice cream.
Dating in Toronto: Movie Night
Sure, “dinner and a movie” might be the cliché date choice, but in Toronto, that “movie” makes for a memorable evening. In the summer months, catch outdoor screenings of classics on the Harbourfront. In September, line up for a star-studded premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. See what series is currently showing at Bell Lightbox — it recently held a Grace Kelly retrospective — or catch a quirky documentary at Hot Docs. Low on cash? The National Film Board has free viewings of Canadian films, with small screens designed for two.
For a bit of a kitsch factor, Toronto Underground Cinema screens Rocky Horror Picture Show once a month. Also once a month, people line up for the “worst film ever” cult hit The Room at The Royal on College. (Bring plastic forks. You’ll quickly discover why.)
Dating in Toronto: Explore New Neighborhoods — and Eat There
Toronto is one of the world’s most diverse cities. Explore it. Not sure where to go for dinner? Pick a neighborhood and you’re sure to find something. Check out one of Toronto’s two Chinatowns, Little Italy, Portugal Village, Little India, Greektown, or Kensington Market for starters.
Great first date idea: Try a cuisine neither of you are familiar with. Whether its Hungarian, Ethiopian or Peruvian, you’ll like discover a new favorite. If not, at least you’ll have a story to tell!
Dating in Toronto: Do Something Touristy
It’s easy to overlook tourist attractions in your own city. Don’t. When was the last time you ascended the CN Tower? Take your date — and an extra dose of courage — and splurge on Edge Walk, the world’s highest hands-free full-circle walk at 1,168 feet above the ground.
If you prefer your feet on solid ground, get a history lesson at Casa Loma, Fort York or the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The Bata Shoe Museum is fun for the shoe-obsessed, and a tour of Steam Whistle Brewery is perfect for beer-lovers. (Maybe combine the two for a his-and-hers-friendly date?)
Dating in Toronto: Cook Together
Toronto has countless restaurants, sure, but it also has specialty food shops in every neighborhood, and farmers’ markets spread throughout the city. Shop for ingredients together, then spend the night in and cook your own romantic meal.
If you’re not super-confident in the kitchen, take a cooking class together. Once a month, the St. Lawrence Market Kitchen offers its Cruda Café Cooking Class. Other local cooking classes worth investigating include ones held at The Healthy Butcher, The Good Egg, Culinarium, and the LCBO.
Dating in Toronto: Go, Jays, Go!
Sporting events are always fun date ideas. In Toronto, it’s nearly impossible to snag Maple Leafs tickets — despite going without a Stanley Cup in most of its fans’ lifetimes, it’s the most profitable team in the NHL — so stick to sports bars for your hockey fix and shell out a few bucks for the Toronto Blue Jays when baseball season comes around.
The Raptors, Argonauts and Marlins are also wallet-friendly. Toronto FC tickets are a little harder to come by.
Dating in Toronto: Do Your Research
Bookmark BlogTO and the Torontoist. Read NOW Magazine. Skim the Toronto Star. Toronto hosts comedy shows — it’s home to world-famous comedy troupe Second City — poetry slams, concerts, touring Broadway shows, operas, one-act plays, seminars, festivals and galas on a weekly basis. The arts scene in Toronto is alive and well; be on the lookout for unique date ideas at both hole-in-the-wall venues and concert halls alike.