Planning fun dates can get quite expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! Whether you are planning your first date or 500th one, here are a list of cheap date ideas in the city of Toronto. Prices range anywhere from FREE to around $75 per person on each of these ideas. Also, don’t worry if you aren’t from Toronto, a lot of these carry over from city to city. Here is a list of fun things to do in Toronto that work well as cheap date ideas:
UPDATE: With Valentine’s Day just a few days away I have added a new post with some cheap Valentines Day ideas.
Bowling – *Cheap Tip* – Many bowling alleys offer reduced rates from Sunday to Wednesday so check out the website of the bowling alley closest to you before heading out to save a few bucks when planning the date.
Sporting Event – *Cheap Tip* – Toronto sports teams have really struggled over the last few years at the gates which has brought down the cost of tickets. Many are offering group buy deals on sites like Groupon. Also, with some investigation you can often pick up a pair of tickets to either a TFC, Raptors or Leafs game for under $30 either from scalpers or on sites like StubHub.com, Kijiji or Craigslist.
Concert/Live Music – The best site for information about concerts going on around the city is Now Magazine’s Music Listings.
Comedy Club / Improv – *Cheap Tip* – Comedy clubs typically offer reduced cover Sunday to Wednesday and have special nights like Amateur Night which can be lots of fun too. For example, Absolute Comedy is only $6.00 on Wednesdays which is their Amateur night.
Cooking Class – *Cheap Tip* – Several Longos grocery stores offer cooking classes which are usually very affordable in the Longos Loft. Also, the LCBO offers a variety of inexpensive classes at certain locations as well.
Outdoor Festival – More often during summer months, there are various outdoor festivals going on around the city. The best places to find out what is going on are the City of Toronto Events page, their Festival index or by searching on Google and finding listings like this one from CityTV.
Bookstore – Pick out your favourite books and tell each other about them
Bingo – Get your own dabbers and try to win some money!
TV Show Audience – Most TV shows are free to attend live if they have a live studio audience. Try to find a good one filmed in Toronto for a cool date idea that doesn’t cost a dime!
Go for a Run – Assuming this is a common interest between you, otherwise it might not be such a great idea.
Bet on Horses – Either make your way up to Woodbine Racetrack for a day at the track, or hit up an offtrack betting place like Wegz or Turf Lounge.
Be a tourist in your own city! – Visit popular sites like the CN Tower, Casa Loma, Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto Zoo, Science Center, etc.
Brewery Tour – Take a tour and get samples at Mill St., SteamWhistle & Amsterdam Brewery. Most tours are very inexpensive and sometimes free. *Cheap Tip* – Steamwhistle offers their tour for free if you check-in on Foursquare.
Shopping – Walk around and pick out your favourite outfits for one another.
People Watching – Some great places include Yorkville, Harbourfront, Distillery District & Kensington
Hit Up Some Dive Bars – Make your own tour of Toronto dive bars and look for places that offer great drink specials. *Cheap Tip* – Toronto Drinks Weekly is a great site to find drink specials.
Test Drive a Car – Make up an elaborate story and pretend you are really interested and take a car for a test drive.
Haunted House – Typically around Halloween Screemers comes to Toronto.
Kensington Market – So many cool shops and interesting food spots to try.
Hang out in the Park – Some great parks include Trinity Bellwoods, High Park and Riverdale Park (as they have a farm).
Visit a Secret Bar – Cold Tea, Toronto Temperance Society & Goodnight are all cool bars that require you to either be a member or are somewhat hidden away from the regular bar scene.
Visit a Market – During the summer there are lots of outdoor markets around the city but there is also the year-round St. Lawrence Market. You can either walk around and pick up items to make a dinner or snack on items for sale.
Pool Hall – Play some pool at a cool pool hall.
Ping Pong – Spin Toronto is a cool place where you can go to play ping pong on your date.
Medieval Times – I finally did Medieval Times for the first time about 3 years ago on a date and it was amazing! Eat with your hands, cheer on your knight and have some drinks. Very entertaining and often they post coupon deals for 2 for 1 tickets if you look hard enough.
Toronto Island – Take the ferry over and spend the day exploring the island. You can visit Centreville, do the maze, rent bikes, have a picnic or just walk around exploring.
Play a Sport – From Basketball to Tennis to Hockey there are lots of options here.
Take A Class – Dance Lessons, Yoga, Cooking, Photography, Rock Climbing, Pottery, etc. *Cheap Tip* – Check group deal sites as many offer deals on all kinds of classes and workshops.
Arcade – Pretend you are a kid again and play some video games.
Train Ride in High Park – Explore the park on this 30-minute trackless train ride.
Volunteer – Find a cause you are both passionate about and donate your time together.
Play with Pets – You can either play with your own or visit an Animal Shelter and play with the animals looking for homes.
Rent a Canoe or Kayak (Summer Months) – There are a few places where you can rent a canoe or kayak near the waterfront. Here is one place.
Theme Date – Set a theme for your date (ie. 1960’s) and try to visit places related to the theme.
Golf / Mini Golf / Driving Range – Either visit a city course like Dentonia where you can play a 9 holes on their par-3 course, play mini-golf or head to a driving range and hit some balls.
Polson Pier – There are lots of fun things to do here, such as Drive-in Movies, Mini Golf, Go Karting & more all of which are inexpensive!
Museums / Art Galleries – *Cheap Tip* – Many of the galleries or museums around the city offer nights that are reduced admission or even free. For example the ROM is free on Friday nights until 9pm.
Murder Mystery Dinner – I’ve always wanted to try one of these as I have heard great things. One place that does Murder Mystery Dinners is Mysteriously Yours and prices range from $40-$70 per person.
Karaoke – Many bars offer Kareoke nights or you can head down to Korea Town where Karaoke happens every day!
Skating (Winter) – Lace up your skates and visit one of the many
Play Board Games – Snakes & Lattes is a cool coffee shop where you can play board games while enjoying a coffee or snack.
Food Hopping – Kinda like Bar Hopping but instead drop into a bunch of different restaurants and try 1 or 2 small dishes from each of their menus.
Bike Ride (Summer Months) – Either use your own. or grab a couple of Bixi bikes. Just be sure not to have the Bixi bikes out for more than 30 minutes at a time as it can get quite expensive!
Rollerblade – If you both have them, head to a park or by the waterfront and rollerblade along.
Cheap Wine Tasting – Grab a bunch of really cheap wines and host your own wine tasting.
Have a Picnic – Either make some food beforehand or head to the markets and grab some stuff for your picnic. Some great spots are anywhere by the water and over on Toronto Island.
Cook Together – Show off your culinary skills to one another and make a delicious feast.
Sun Tan at the Beach (Summer Months) – Grab a couple of towels, your bathing suits and a cooler and head to one of Toronto’s beaches.
Go Swimming – There are lots of public pools where you can go for a swim or if you are feeling adventurous take a dip in Lake Ontario.
Hit a Patio – Toronto loves their patios, so grab a pitcher and find a patio with a great view (ie. Black Bull on Queen St.) and sit back and relax!
Outdoor Film Screenings – Last summer there were many outdoor film screenings held weekly around the city at places like Yonge-Dundas Square, Downsview Park, Harbourfront and a few others. Schedules should be posted soon so try to Google “outdoor film screenings Toronto 2012” in a few weeks. (Thanks Danielle for the suggestion)
LESS CHEAP DATING IDEAS
Drive to Niagara Falls for Gambling, Niagara on the Lake, Clifton Hill and Wineries – One of my favourite date ideas but requires a good time commitment as you are looking at around 2.5hrs of driving time. There are lots of things to do in Niagara Falls.
Catch a Musical – Toronto is home to many great musicals and as the shows are out for longer periods the prices of the tickets tend to drop.
Amusement Park – The 2 biggest are Canada’s Wonderland and the CNE but occassionally there are other events around the city with smaller carnivals and rides.
Thanks for reading and if you have any other great date ideas leave them in the comments section below.