If the last time you can remember picking up a paintbrush was elementary school, it is time to dust off those art supplies. Paintlounge is a full experience of art, with easels, paint splatters, paint and no judgment. Play around with colours and lines and be walked through the whole process. At the end of the night, you will have a masterpiece and/or a conversation starter. Some events have wine, others allow you to BYOB with a permit (and a $30 fee) and there is always tea at the ready. If date night has looked like same old, same old, this is the place to go.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Nothing stokes romance as much as novelty, and Paintlounge allows for plenty of creative date nights.
Courtney's expert tip: Wear clothes that you don't care too much about in case you get exuberant with your showpiece.
It is not exactly surprising that we put a hotel under the umbrella of romantic things to do. Turndown service, plush linens and a room that has a bed as a centrepiece are surefire ways to keep things spicy. However, we included this hotel because of the sublime rooftop lounge. A day spent by the pool (which during the summer can be from 7am to 7pm) is a day well spent, provided that you bring enough sunblock and remember that early cocktails need to be paced. The view from this hotel of the city is grandiose, sweeping from skyscraper to skyscraper. Of course, you and your sweetie get to look down on it all. How sweet it is to be in love.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Even honeymooners have to get out of bed every once in awhile. This rooftop lounge is the perfect place to toast your relationship.
Courtney's expert tip: After the pool closes and you rinse the chlorine off your skin, stay a moment longer. The lounge is open until 2am and Toronto with the lights off never looks better.
Ping pong used to be about as cool as shuffleboard. Well, we better keep our eye out for a shuffleboard resurgence, because Susan Sarandon made ping pong hot. The SPIN clubs have popped up around the US and now Toronto to bring a little friendly competition to cocktail hour. This 12,000 foot space has 12 ping pong tables, 2 fully licensed bars, a cocktail menu, a full food menu and a private party room. If you have no idea what you are doing, lessons are available. If you definitely know what you are doing, you may want to consider a membership. Refuel with their "elevated street style" snacks, which change seasonally.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Adult fun with a kid-at-heart mentality. Save your date from a flying ping pong ball and gain knight of shining armour status.
Courtney's expert tip: Go on a Tuesday night, and try glow in the dark ping pong. With black lights, $5 gin and tonics and old school hip hop, it doesn't even really matter if you have mad skills.
For an "out of the box" romantic date idea, consider breaking out the board games. Snakes and Lattes has over 1000 board games with an alphabetical menu to help you to decide which game you want to use to stimulate healthy relationship competition. Games range from retro classics like Battleship to modern favourites like Cards Against Humanity. This quirky cafe is open late most dates of the week in case you become invested in a long playing game like Monopoly. Wash it all down with a hot drink, like their infamous Nutella Latte or a tall can of draft beer.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: An inexpensive yet incredibly fun date night. Nothing is sexier than laughing together.
Courtney's expert tip: Schedule a time slot online. If you go without a reservation, be prepared to wait, as $8 entertainment doesn't come around very often in Toronto. If you don't know your date very well, play Cards Against Humanity. You will learn more about them than you probably wish to.
Toronto's Distillery Historic District began in 1859 as the site of the Gooderham and Worts whiskey distillery. 100 years later, the distillery was producing nearly half of the total volume of spirits in the province of Ontario, making it one of the country's most important manufacturing facilities (people like their spirits!). This historic district got its second chance and today is a charming pedestrian-only village. This area of Toronto is like no other, with cobblestone pathways and Victorian-era buildings housing restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. There is also a big red heart sculpture to kiss underneath, if you want to go totally cheesy with your beloved.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Cobblestone paths? A giant heart? What more do you want?
Courtney's expert tip: There are a ton of romantic restaurants in this district. Make a reservation at Cluny for any meal of the day, which has the ambience of love.
Whether you are a former Toronto Maple Leaf or more like Bambi on the ice, it is always a romantic choice to hold hands and attempt to stay upright on skates. Nathan Phillips Square is the perfect place to wile away a romantic hour or two. Located right in front of City Hall and around the corner from the Eaton's Centre and popular restaurants, it is a great activity to sandwich between other downtown pursuits. Bring your own skates for free exercise or rent skates for $10 or less (they even sharpen skates!). During the holidays, the rink sparkles with lights and displays a large holiday tree for Toronto's version of the Rockefeller Centre. Nothing says Canadian romance like holding cold hands.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: A quintessential Toronto landmark becomes a romantic destination when you add ice and a pair of skates.
Courtney's expert tip: The rink is open 24/7, so if you can do a really late night (or early morning) date, you will have the rink to yourselves (skate rentals are only open until 10pm, however). This is ideal if at least one of you has no idea what you are doing on skates.
The picture we have chosen for ONoir is deceiving. It makes you believe that soft candlelight flickers across the restaurant. Indeed, you will be eating in the darkest room you have ever been in. This restaurant is no gimmick. It is meant to make you understand what it is like to be blind, if only for an hour or two. It will be hard to find your fork, and your voice will sound different. Why is this romantic? Because it will make you focus on your partner in an entirely different way. Without the scene of sight, your other senses immediately become heightened. You will smell and taste the food you eat with renewed passion. You will hear the words your partner says with fascination, rather than expectation. Mains include filet mignon with roasted vegetables, or marinated shrimp with risotto. Expect lots of giggles.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: This restaurant will get you to see your partner in a new light (or darkness, as it were).
Courtney's expert tip: Try their surprise menu. After all, it's not like you will be able to see the food you ordered.
What a little moonlight can do (and a little candlelight). If you need a place to talk and listen and enjoy the finer things in life, Jazz Bistro is for you and your beloved. Jazz musician J. J. Johnson once said, "Jazz is restless. It won't stay put and it never will." For the foreseeable future, Jazz Bistro is staying put to give Toronto a jazz club with style. From hot music to spectacular food, it entertains on all levels. The stage is visible from all angles and the neon red cursive sign makes sure that your attention is pointed in the right direction. Whether you are going to fill your ears with a new and startlingly talented musician, or you are reminding yourself of the soft spot you hold for a revered artist, the music circulates around the room beautifully. That's jazz, man.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Jazz works to bring beautifully disjointed notes together, if not in harmony, then in respect. It works as a metaphor for the best relationships.
Courtney's expert tip: Don't worry if you don't get a seat right at the front. Even if you are facing your date, there are clever mirrors set up so that you can watch the show while appearing to look in your lover's eyes. It is multitasking at its finest.
It is one thing to connect with your romantic partner. It is quite another to feel more connected with the universe. Just a 30 minute drive out of Toronto offers you access to a world beyond the city. The David Dunlap Observatory is a large astronomical observatory managed by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. It houses a 74 inch telescope which also happens to be the largest in Canada. There are public viewing nights that enable you to really see Orion's belt, as opposed to trying to peer through light pollution. Come during a meteor shower night for a special treat, watching meteors streak across the sky. Everyone has a little astronomy awe in them somewhere.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: When you see the vastness of the universe up close, it becomes even more astounding that you have found each other.
Courtney's expert tip: Stargazing nights aren't often and there are only a limited number of tickets. Check on the website and plan that date in advance for major brownie points with your significant other.
The Canadian Opera Company unveiled its amazing building in 2006 in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. With majestic staircases, grandiose ceilings and pitch-perfect acoustics, going to the opera quickly became a dream of an evening in the heart of downtown Toronto. This is Canada's first and only custom built opera house and it has a European vibe that beckons you to put on your best ballgown or bow tie. Sets and costumes display the romantic themes behind classics such as La Boheme and Aida. Whether you decide to put on your white satin gloves and get swept up by soprano, or you wish to take a breakfast backstage tour of the nooks and crannies of the magnificent building, visiting the COC is an amazing experience.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Operas still focus heavily on romantic love, and they remind you that (often) drama is best left on stage.
Courtney's expert tip: If you are under 30, this can be an very inexpensive date with a fancy tone. Tickets for under 30s can be as low as $22. If you are unlucky enough to be as elderly as 31, you are not out of luck. There is a free concert series, with vocal, instrumental and dance performances at lunchtime on many weekdays.