Dating can be rather daunting for many people, especially if there isn’t a ridiculous amount of cash to throw around on fancy meals and extravagant outings. Though some people may wish to spoil their dates with a night out on the town and dinner at a five-star restaurant, certain budgets may not quite live up to daydreams. This is, of course, a perfect opportunity to be creative and imaginative when it comes to spending time with someone special, and that can be a bit more challenging in wintertime: in the warmer months, you can easily arrange a picnic in the park or a frisbee-tossing session on the beach, but when the mercury drops, what’s there to do?
For those who have an adventurous heart and few qualms about a bit of silliness with their partner, there’s a wealth of delight to be found in ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square. For just $10 each, you and your date can rent a pair of skates and glide around for hours beneath the glittering archways, and then nurse your bruises with hot chocolate (at a small additional cost) nearby. The rink is open until 10pm from late December until early March, so there’s plenty of time for skating fun beneath the stars.
Taking a stroll through one of the city’s historic neighbourhoods can be fun, especially if your date has an interest in architecture. Cabbagetown, Roncesvalles Village, and the Distillery District all have great places to check out, and stopping for a coffee at one of the little specialty cafes won’t break one’s bank account. Try Balzac’s Coffee Roasters in the Distillery, located in a converted 1890’s pump house.
Speaking of history, if all things ancient pique your interest and curiosity, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is only $9 after 4:30pm on Friday evenings. This discount doesn’t get you into the special exhibitions, but you can explore the rest of the museum for almost half-off the normal ticket price. Another low-cost cultural delight is the Canadian Opera Company: if you and your partner can both score a day off at the same time, you can also try to catch one of the COC’s free shows, held at noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For the folks who hate the cold and can’t wait for springtime, a visit to Toronto’s Allan Gardens can be a gorgeous respite from the chill. Its many greenhouses contain tropical plants and flowers, waterfalls, ponds, and fruit trees, and a short visit can lift one’s spirits even in the dead of winter. Admission is free, and a couple can easily find a secluded nook somewhere within.
If you and your date have been together for a while and don’t mind a simple night in, there’s always the option to build a blanket-fort in your living room, make some hot chocolate, put together a puzzle, or play a ridiculous board game that will have both of you laughing for hours. It doesn’t cost much (unless you put really gourmet marshmallows in that cocoa), and the simplest joys are often the sweetest ones.