It’s easy to get in a date night rut. Even when we attempt to diversify ourselves, maybe by venturing out to new restaurants or attending a bar opening, it still ends up feeling like instead of eating and drinking being a byproduct of an activity, it IS the activity.
Below is a list of fun, unique things you can do that will not only impress your date, but will get you out of that carb and vodka rut that you’ve been in with your significant other. They do almost all involve eating and drinking, but getting boozed up on the regular is so much more fun when you add the word, “festival" to it.
1. Watch A Classic Movie Under The Open Sky
Outdoor summer movie festivals are 2015’s acid washed demin: they are ALL the rage this year. They are so trendy in fact, that Toronto has a multitude to choose from. Whether you want to hit up TIFF in the Park, or the City Cinema at Yonge-Dundas Square, or catch a flick on a damn FLOATING SCREEN at the Sail-In Cinema at Cherry Beach, I can’t imagine someone who wouldn’t enjoy this little twist on your classic dinner-and-a-movie date.
2. Catch Live Soul Music Every Tuesday At Casa Loma
Sometimes fellas, all you have to do is pick a good location and let someone else do the hard work for you. In this case, that person is soul singer Sean Jones, ex-member of the Canadian R&B group In Essence. Soul in the City takes place every Monday evening at 7:30pm from July 6th to the 27th. Take one part handsome soul singer, one part romantically lit glass pavilion, and one part castle and you’ve got yourself the recipe for one seriously noteworthy date night.
3. A Molson Amphitheatre Concert
Toronto is a city driven by live music. We attract almost all the major acts, and we are lucky enough to have venues loaded with history and great acoustics. There are few things more prototypical of a Toronto summer than watching an outdoor concert from the lawn of the Molson Amphitheatre, and it makes for the easiest and most perfect of date nights. It requires little to no effort on the part of either party, you get a wicked city scape as your background and the people watching potential is out of control.
My personal recommendation: hit up a country concert. Whether you like country music or not, the whole shirts-off, pants-off, shoes-off is a spectacle worth seeing.
4. Listen To Summer Music In The Garden At Harbourfront Centre
I know I know, this sounds like something your parents would tell you they did that one time they went out past 8pm. Classical music isn’t most people’s go-to music genre to ignite a date’s burning loins, but if you can successfully smile and nod like the violin is an instrument that makes sense to you, then you’ll have your date thinking you are damn fancy and wordly. They probably won’t suspect for at least another three months that you spend most of your evenings swearing belligerently at a game of Grand Theft Auto, or creating drinking games around new episodes of the Bachelorette. Summer Music in the Garden takes place at Harbourfront Centre on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons from July 2 to September 13.
Photo Cred - A Baked Creation
5. Get Your Inner Foodie On At Summerlicious
Summerlicious is a festival that puts eating and drinking in Toronto at the forefront, AND you don’t even have to feel guilty because everyone is doing it. Running from July 3 to the 26, 210 restaurants in the city offer three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus, at way lower than normal prices. It’s a way to get the full gamut of the dining experience for significantly less dough than you’d usually drop.
6. Summer Music In Yorkville Park
Taking place on Fridays from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and Saturdays from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm, from June 5 to September 12, this is the perfect, chill day date if you're still suffering from last nights hangover but don't want to waste the day. Or perhaps you’re trying to transition that one-night stand into a day-hang? Sure 90% of Yorkville is horribly pretentious, largely intimidating and makes you feel like you live in a Shanty town by comparison, but some worthy afternoon music may just make that $13 Greek Yogurt parfait almost worth it.
7. Pretend You're Actually cultured With A Little Shakespeare In High Park
Are 16th century plays something you’ll actually like? Maybe, maybe not. Is this something you’ll claim to have LOVED over and over again all summer to overcompensate for your guilt at doing 90% of your daily reading off of cereal boxes? You bet. Plus, it’s High Park, so you can feed the ducks, enjoy some greenery, and make a brief stop to visit the bison at the Zoo. It's a classic date trifecta! I mean, who doesn’t get a riled-up after a good jaunt through the foliage, some duck quacking and a little, “To be or not to be?” That is the question.
8. Impress Each Other With Your Knowledge Of Obscure Beer Brands
Much like outdoor film festivals, craft beer is so hip-and-now in 2015. Does anyone even drink Bud Light anymore? Now at bars when you ask for anything less than a 7-word beer brand, like Okanogan Spring Tread Southern Hops IPA, servers look at you like you’re an impoverished, uneducated squire from the 1600s. You can take your pick of the Toronto Festival of Beer, the Summer Craft Beer Fest, or the Roundhouse Craft Beer Fest.
9. Get Your Geek On With Atomic Lollipop At The Ontario Science Centre
Atomic Lollipop is a festival celebrating classic geek culture. And sure, at first that may not sound like it’s for everyone, but the events going on this year seem like some of the most ridiculous, joyous, don’t-take-life-so-seriously productions to have happened in Toronto in ages. Hosted at the Ontario Science Centre from July 17th to 19th, you can get your dance on at the Glitter Ball Fake Prom, enter a ramen eating contest, play in a dodgeball tournament, or take a Hogwarts For Muggles class to learn all about charms and potions. Oh, and there's a Super Belligerent Disney Karaoke Funtime that involves, “Making lewd gestures to the music of Phil Collins.” Sounds like my version of heaven.
10. Dancing On The Pier At Harbourfront Centre
Not to confine us all to a stereotype or anything, but it's a simple fact: Girls LOVE dancing. Even when they claim to hate it, they love it. And even if you’re absolutely damn awful at it, they'll still dig it. So go ahead, drag her down to the pier and give her a good spin-around. Step on her feet, and laugh when she steps on yours. Then find an older lady and ask her to dance and we promise your date will watch and find it secretly adorable.
11. Grab Some Delicious Food At The Toronto Food Truck Festival
The premise behind the food truck revolution in Toronto over the last five years is as simple as it is genius: Take talented Toronto chef’s and make their food readily available to diverse communities in any park-able city location. The Toronto Food Truck Festival at Woodbine Park offers a multitude of food truck choices, all in one convenient location. Taking place on the weekend of August 1 and 2, the festival has fan-favourites like Hank Daddy’s Barbeque, Toronto’s first mobile smokehouse, Buster’s Sea Cove, serving up critically acclaimed lobster rolls, as well as some old school favorite like Beavertails and Tiny Tom Doughnuts. It's a picnic that you don't have to pack. Date perfection.
12. Look At Each Other And Wonder, “How is THIS a thing?!” At The Kingston Sheepdog Trials
This is the best thing ever, just by virtue of being THE most ridiculous thing ever. If you feel like venturing out of the downtown core for the day, this makes a perfect date for two people who don’t take themselves too seriously. You do have to be respectful of the sport (is this a sport?), but can still take pleasure in how absurd and hilarious this is. Side note: you can also sheer a sheep. That alone makes the road trip worth it. I can guarantee one thing: no one will have ever brought a first date to one of these things. You’ll live on in date infamy as the most original of individuals.
13. Classic Bumper Cars At The Canadian National Exhibition
Sure, the Ex is a little bit cheesy, but its also just so prototypical Toronto it has to be done. You have to see the baby piglets at the petting zoo and eat way too many cinnamon sugar Tiny Tim doughnuts. You've also got to cheat death at least once on the Polar Bear Express, which was definitely manufactured in the same era as the atomic bomb. And you have to stare in complete mystified revulsion at the butter sculptures. Be warned: this is not the date that’s going to lead to sexy times. You will both walk away from it feeling vaguely sick to your stomach from all the carnival food, and dirty in a way you can’t quite describe.
Photo Cred - synestheticsrings
14. Get Her Thinking Your Cultured As F*@k At The Beaches International Jazz Festival
This is a big one in Toronto. Running for a whopping three weekends across July 10 to the 26 at Woodbine Park, The Jazz Festival has plenty of noteworthy acts to accompany a little afternoon or evening date. StreetFest is the festival's signature event, taking place on the final weekend, with a 2.5 km stretch of Queen East getting shut down and taken over by more than 40 different bands. So grab a beautiful human and take a trafficless walk through the city while enjoying a little Funk, Fusion, Ska R&B and Soul music.