Dating can be expensive, so it’s understandable if you want to stick to a budget for your next night out. But no matter how little your evening costs, you don’t want it to feel—or even appear—like you’re being cheap. The good news is, it doesn’t have to.
Here are 10 affordable ideas that will woo your date and keep your bank account in the black.
Dance the night away at the Harbour front
It can be tough to find a good dance party without any cover, and after a few drinks the evening can start to get pricey. For something a little more affordable (and unique) head to the Harbourfront.
On Thursdays throughout the summer, they host Dancing on the Pier, where you can learn to move to live bands along the city’s waterfront. In the winter, strap on your skates and dance to local and international DJs at the lakeside Natrel Rink. Both events are free, which means you’ll have lots of cash leftover for late-night eats.
See a movie at a small theatre
It’s not hard to spend more than $50 if you head to a major theatre and order a snack while you’re there. If you don’t want to settle for an over-crowded Cineplex on “cheap night,” throw a few snacks into your bag and head to one of the city’s smaller theatres like downtown’s Carlton Cinema. Adult admission is only $10, and because this cozy location also tends to be less busy, it also feels more romantic than a typical theatre.
See a show at The Second City
Everyone knows that laughter is good for the soul, and studies have shown that sharing a giggle with your partner can actually strengthen your relationship. According to one study, how often two people laugh together is also a good indication of how long things will last, which is why a comedy show is a great date option, whether you’re in a long-term relationship or just getting to know someone.
As the city’s premiere comedy theatre, The Second City is the perfect place to find out if you and your date share the same sense of humour. They host shows every night of the week, and general admission is only $14 per person on Mondays and $25 all other days.
Head to High Park
Now Magazine readers recently voted High Park Toronto’s number one park. It also made runner-up for the city’s best public space. Anyone who’s lived in Toronto for a reasonable amount of time knows what a gem High Park is, but if you don’t, it’s about time you head to the city’s west end to find out what all the fuss is about.
It’s not only a gorgeous setting for an affordable first date, but there are a ton of activities to take part in, no matter what the season—walk the trails, visit the petting zoo, have a picnic, or grab lunch at the park’s Grenadier Restaurant.
Play board games at Snakes and Lattes
Simply grabbing a coffee can get a little dull after a while. To keep your mind busy, and the conversation going, head to a cafe like Snakes and Lattes, now on Bloor and College Streets. Both locations are stocked with board games with entertaining names like Dead Last and Saloon Tycoon. It’s not just a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening, it’s also a great way to find out how competitive your partner is, how they handle stress, or even how they problem-solve.
Go on a walking tour
Best reserved for fair-weather days, a walking tour of Toronto is a great way to get to know the city together. WalkTO, for example, hosts four different educational tours of the city, exploring media, art, architecture, the environment, and social issues.
You’ll be surprised by what you didn’t know, and there’s nothing more fun than pretending to be a tourist in your own city.
Visit the AGO on a Wednesday
It’s easy to lose track of time in a place like the AGO. Browsing between Dutch paintings from the 1600s and present-day photography can serve as an excellent conversation starter, but it’s an even better excuse to keep silent if you’re having trouble coming up with words.
General admission to the AGO is only $19.50, but if you want to grab a bite to eat or tag some drinks onto the end of your evening, head to the gallery on Wednesdays, when entry to the permanent collection is free from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Strap on a harness
If you’re feeling more adventurous, climbing is the perfect activity for pairs. It’s also a great way to establish a level of trust between you and your date. Boulderz Climbing Centre, which has locations in Etobicoke and The Junction Triangle, offers adult day passes for $13.95 and shoe and harness rentals for $7.96. That means you and your climbing partner can spend hours scrambling up the walls for just a little more than $20 per person.
Indulge in a brewery tour
A brewery tour is the perfect option for a couple of beer lovers on a budget. If you don’t have the funds to spend hours at a bar, but you want to get out of your cramped apartment, head to one of Toronto’s breweries to get a taste of their latest brews and maybe even learn something about the beer-making process.
Mill Street Brewery charges $10 for a tour, while smaller breweries, like Henderson Brewing in the Junction Triangle and Etobicoke’s Black Oak Brewing, will only set you back $5 for some sampling and education.
Stargaze at the David Dunlap Observatory
If you’ve ever looked up in downtown Toronto, you probably know how difficult it is to catch a glimpse of even one star in the city’s light-polluted skies. If you and your date are craving the romance that comes from late-night summer stargazing on the dock, head to the David Dunlap Observatory, just north of the city in Richmond Hill. It may seem far at first, but when you look at the stars through the observatory’s 74-inch telescope, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled all the way to cottage country.
Did we miss of your favourite date spots? Let us know in the comments below!