City Living: Best date spots

Now that
it’s March and the first signs of spring are waking up our hibernated libidos,
we find ourselves longing for romance. In a time when love letters no longer look like
this,
and tend to resemble this:



It is hard not to think that maybe the grand gestures of love are long
gone.  We’re not asking to be whisked
away to Paris on a whim (though,
we wouldn’t be mad) but something a little
more imaginative than take out and Netflix would be nice. Whether you’ve been
together for 30 years or three days, taking the time to go on dates keeps
that spark between you a burning, passionate fire of love. There is no excuse
for being in a couples’ rut when there is something for everyone in the Big
Smoke.

The New Couple


As awesome as
it is to sit fidgeting across the table from an almost-stranger that you have
definitely at least imagined making out with,
Toronto singles breathed a sigh of relief when Snakes and Lattes came on the scene to put an end to awkward first date silences. You still get the barfy stomach new-love-interest interaction, but with the built in conversation starter
of over 2500 board games. The playful buffer (also, beer) takes the pressure
off, enabling new couples to test out their chemistry with a game of Alchemy or
play doctor with a round of Operation.
Also, you get to see whether your potential partner is a graceful winner or a sore loser.  

The Frugal Couple


There are
plenty of date opportunities in Toronto for a baller on a budget. High Park is
one of Toronto’s most scenic parks and only a subway ride away.  Pack a picnic and enjoy the fresh air (tip: the
Cherry Blossoms
bloom in late April/early May for an incredibly beautiful and sweet smelling
display = instant spring fever and romance). You can stroll around the pond and
laugh at goats yelling like humans at the zoo,
all at no charge. Plan your day date on a Wednesday and if all goes well, head
back downtown and check out the permanent collection at the AGO, where admittance is free from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The Active Couple



This lucky
city is home to the number one date destination where you can work up a sweat
with balls and paddles. We are of course
talking about
SPiN Toronto, King
West’s hip ping pong social club (what did you think we meant?). With 12 ping
pong tables, a deliciously inventive food menu and seasonal twists on classic
cocktails, you’ll always have something to occupy those busy hands (if you can
keep them off each other, that is).
Resident DJs, tournaments,
art shows and glow in the dark Tuesdays ensure the place is always bumpin, and
with co-owner
Susan Sarandon in the mix and a steadfast celeb following, you never know who you’ll
run into next.

The Culinary Couple


Food is love,
people. Couples with full hearts and empty bellies can book classes at Calphalon Culinary Center, for interactive hands-on and instructional learning. The calendar offers evening and weekend
classes for everything from the basics like Chicken 101, to more sophisticated cuisine like
Parisian Pleasures or Beer and Nibbles for those who like to keep it casual. Couples classes will
generally run you $300 for the pair, but some classes at the center can start
as low as $20.

The Adventurous Couple


You don’t
have to go too far to get out of your city bubble. The Toronto Islands are a sweet
local getaway for the adventuresome twosome. Bring your bikes (or rent them on site) to cruise around and see the city skyline from just a short
ferry ride away. Lay out on one of the
many beaches, or go off on your own for an out-of-Toronto experience.
Can-Pop superfans can recreate this video by the Moffatts, which was shot
on the Island. We won’t even think it’s weird.
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City Living: High Park Cherry Blossom Walk

Toronto has a lot of great (and free) nature activities in the spring, including one of our favourite things to do – head to High Park to check out the blooming Sakura trees.

Sakura trees bloom with flowers that are nearly pure white with just a hint of pink near the stem, but they only last for about a week before the leaves come out – fleeting beauty. This season, the flowers first bloomed around April 11 because of our early spring. We recommend going at off-peak times when there are less people around to really experience the serenity this natural phenomenon offers.


Sakura is the Japanese name for flowering cherry trees and their flowers, often referred to as cherry blossoms. There is a Japanese legend that each spring, a fairy maiden hovers low in the warm sky, awakening the sleeping cherry trees with her delicate breath. How romantic!

In 1959, the Japanese ambassador to Canada, Toru-Hagiwara, presented 2000 Japanese Somei-Yoshino Sakura trees to Toronto on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo. The trees were planted in appreciation of Toronto accepting re-located Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War. Over the years, many of these trees were donated to High Park.

 


It is a truly beautiful thing to witness, but they only last two or three weeks before falling off. Hurry and get to High Park to catch them before they’re gone.


Facebook: High Park Nature Centre
Twitter: @
HighParkNC

Fave Five: Toronto Running Routes

With spring finally here (was it ever really winter, though?), it’s time to jump off the treadmill and take our cardio out-of-doors. There are so many great spots to run – or walk, if that’s your thing – in Toronto, but we’ve highlighted our favourite five 5k routes in the city:

Lakeshore: Summertime Run 

Toronto has a beautiful lakeshore to run along (and let’s hope that’s never marred by a casino, Mayor Ford). Start at the base of Lower Spadina and run past the marina, lusting over the beautiful boats docked there. Continue west through Coronation Park until you join up with Lake Shore Blvd. W. Cross the foot bridge (bonus points if you sprint up the steps) and Exhibition Place. Loop east to Strachan, cross at the lights and follow your route back to the marina. Enjoy the sound of seagulls and refreshing lake breeze.

High Park: City Escape Trail 

High Park is ideal for running – not just because it brings us closer to nature, but because the hilly routes are challenging, so you can really gain endurance by sticking with this route for a few weeks or so. Starting at Bloor and Clendenan Ave. run east and enter the park at High Park Ave. Stick right along W. Rd. until it meets up with Colbourne Lodge Dr. Head north for a hot minute until you turn onto Centre Rd. Hang a Louie onto Spring Rd. and high-tail it back to your starting point. Or collapse on an inviting patch of grass for some sun salutations or a quick cat nap before heading back.

Cabbagetown: Wishful Thinking Route 

Ah, Cabbagetown. What was once a low-income neighbourhood back in the day is now full of beautiful, fully-restored heritage homes (read: out of your budget). See how the 1% live by following this lovely route. Beginning just north of College on Bleeker, run straight until you reach Howard St. Then turn right and head towards Parliament, where you’ll change direction southward.  Once you reach the cemetery entrance, head inside and do a loop of the perimeter. Exit the same way you went in and continue down Parliament, hanging a left onto Wellesley St. E. Run until you hit Sumach St. Wonder how little Cabbagetown homes  cost 25 years ago. Curse your bank account and lack of foresight. Head west along Winchester St. until you return to your starting point. Shuffle dejectedly back to your rented apartment. Thank the higher powers for that natural runner’s high that will eventually boost your spirits.

Toronto Island: Adventure Run 

Use the Centre Island ferry ride over to warm up and stretch so you’re ready to run as soon as the platform lowers. Take off down the Avenue of the Island (romantic) all the way until you hit Lakeshore and then head left towards Ward’s Island. Careful on the boardwalk (it can be a little uneven). This side of the island is usually not that busy, so feel free to sing along with your iPod. Keep wrapping around the point and cut back through the residential area of the island. Wish that you, too, lived on the island upon seeing the idyllic little homes. Connect back to Cibola Ave. and finish in front of the Rectory. Grab an iced tea and wait for the Ward Island Ferry to take you back to the Big Smoke.

Financial District: Ghost-town Sprint 

Save this run for a morning on Saturday or Sunday for full effect. Start off at Victoria Memorial Park and run east on Wellington, straight past all the empty office towers. Keep going until you hit Church then loop up and back via King St. Imagine you’re in The Walking Dead and there are zombies hiding in the eerily quiet buildings. Run faster. Keep sprinting until you start to see city life again. Whip down Portland, back to the park. You survived!