Winter has arrived in Toronto, and with the holidays quickly approaching, there’s no better time to take that special someone out
To help get you past those boring coffee meetups and overdone movie dates, here are five cute and budget-friendly winter holiday date ideas that are all accessible by the TTC.
Explore the Distillery District’s Christmas Market
This list wouldn’t be complete without this Toronto Christmastime favourite. The Distillery District’s Christmas Market returns once again, featuring over 30 vendors, a massive Christmas tree and many live performances from carollers to Canadian musicians.
Take your Santa baby to visit Santa’s house and take photos with St. Nicholas himself, walk under the sparkling lights or cement your date night with a photo op under Studio Rosenblatt’s heart sculpture.
The Christmas Market is open now from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays and is open from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s closed on Mondays.
Admission is free from Tuesday to Thursday, but is $12 on weekends, starting at 6 p.m. on Fridays. However, if you purchase tickets in advance online, they are just $8.
The Distillery District is just a short TTC ride from Ryerson University. Take the Yonge line from Dundas Station to King Station and hop on the 504A Distillery loop streetcar.
Skate for hours on the Bentway Skating Trail
Skating on Nathan Phillips Square’s small ice rink is overrated, so why not grab your special someone and a fresh pair of skates and try skating under a highway?
The Bentway is a figure-eight-shaped skating trail located underneath the Gardiner Expressway, just east of the Fort York Visitor Centre at 250 Fort York Blvd. This 220-metre skating trail gives you ample room to hold hands as you skate outdoors with your date.
During the holidays, the trail turns into a winter wonderland, complete with lights, decorations and an on-site winter village. The village includes warming stations, hot chocolate and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The skating trail opens on Dec. 20 and will stay open until Jan. 5. You can visit it from 12 p.m. until 9 p.m. daily. Can’t make it during that time frame? Don’t fret, as the trail will continue to be open until Feb. 17, 2020, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.
Admission to the Bentway is free. You can bring your own skates and enjoy the trail. Rentals are also available for $10.
Free lessons are offered for those who don’t know how to skate. The Bentway is accessible via the 511 Bathurst streetcar or the 509 streetcar from Union Station.
Experience Canada’s Wonderland’s New WinterFest
We’ve all heard of Halloween Haunt, Canada’s Wonderland’s halloween event where the park is turned into a monstrous fright fest. But new for 2019 is WinterFest, an event that turns Canada’s Wonderland into a holiday-themed winter wonderland.
Wonderland’s new winter festival lets guests walk through eight themed areas, with more than five million holiday lights and three 15-metre Christmas trees.
You can also take your Santa baby to experience ice skating on Snow Flake Lake in front of Wonder Mountain, nightly tree-lighting ceremonies and live holiday shows. Not to mention, there’s plenty of interactive attractions for you and your date to do together, like cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, writing letters to Santa and creating take-home crafts.
WinterFest opens on Nov. 22 for the holiday season and takes place on select dates until Dec. 31. Tickets are only $21.99 if purchased online, $20 if you’re a season pass holder and free if you are a gold pass member.
If you’re looking to avoid crowds, a guest services representative from Wonderland recommends avoiding opening weekend and Christmas week. Instead, visiting around 4 p.m. on a Sunday would be the least busy time, giving you easier access to most attractions.
Getting to Wonderland is now easier than ever as well. From Ryerson, students can just take the Yonge-University line up to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.
Make it an evening at the Aurora Winter Festival
Returning for 2019 is the Aurora Winter Festival on the grounds of Ontario Place. The Aurora Winter Festival opens on Nov. 22 and runs until Jan. 5, 2020.
The festival features dozens of winter-themed activities, including walks through themed mystical worlds and photo opportunities with mystical characters. Rides and games are also available, like the popular tube slide park, a frozen pond to skate on and the North Pole. Not to mention, dozens of food vendors present to keep you and your date fed through it all.
Tickets are $17.99 and you can stay as long as you want. However, if you have a PRESTO card, you’ll get 15 per cent off your ticket.
Just hop on the Yonge-University train to Union and then get on the GO Lakeshore West train to Exhibition. The grounds are then just a 10 minute walk away!
Test your problem-solving skills together with a Christmas-themed escape room
What better way to test the boundaries of a relationship than being trapped in a room and having to work together to get out? If you and your date have been together for a while or are just feeling up for a challenge, you can test your problem-solving skills as a couple by taking on Mysterious Minds’ Christmas-themed escape room.
Mysterious Minds have put together a special escape room titled, “The Quest to Save Christmas.” According to their website, your job in this escape room is to take on the role of Santa’s Chief of Security, who needs to figure out how to make the Magical Reindeer Dust after Santa’s head elf was kidnapped by the Grinch. The escape room comes in three difficulties, giving you several options depending on your familiarity with these puzzling rooms.
Mysterious Minds is located on the third floor of 322 Bloor St. W. Admission to do an escape room for an hour is just $25 per person, but book early to ensure you get the time you prefer. Mysterious Minds is easily accessed by taking the 300B Bloor-Danforth streetcar to Kipling Station from Bloor-Yonge Station.