By: Chantel Ouellet
Valentine’s Day can seem depressing if you are not in a lovey-dovey relationship place. It may often feel like Feb. 14 is only for celebrating couples that are in love with each other—couples that kiss, hold hands, and do all those other couple-y things. I hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong. Valentine’s Day isn’t about celebrating couples, it’s about celebrating love. Love can be between a couple, between a family, or even platonically between friends. Friend-love is a very real yet underappreciated form of admiration. People often take their friends for granted by not expressing how much they mean to them or not exploring their relationships with acquaintances and turning them into close friends. The best way to get to know your friends better and show you how much you appreciate your mutual friend-love is to take them on a friend-date.
These dates are essentially just regular dates minus the awkward sexual tension and “do-you-like-me?” undertones. The best part about friend-dates is that there is no pressure to impress, you can talk about whatever, wear whatever, and you still get to experience all the fun date opportunities the city has to offer.
So get out this February, grab some of your close or not so close friends, and let them know how much you appreciate them. These fourteen friend-date ideas are sure to get you exploring the city and spending time with friends.
Grab Crepes at Crêpes à GoGo on Spadina. This cute and tiny crepe restaurant is tucked in among a few grab-and-go restaurants on the corner of Spadina and Bloor. Don’t be fooled by its exterior, though. Inside is a tiny Parisian-themed café with delicious crepes. Try getting two different types and splitting with your friend.
The Allan Gardens are a classic date spot in Toronto. They provide a lush escape from the cold, grey city. Be sure to bring a camera or your phone to get the perfect new profile picture. One of the perks of going with a friend is that you won’t be ashamed to ask them to snap one, or five, or 50 photos. Making this date even better, entry to the Allan Gardens is free.
If you’ve ever watched any indie movie you’ve probably dreamed of checking out a record store with your cute hipster SO. You picture yourself sharing your taste in music and laughing at the vintage record art. Fun fact: You can do this with a friend. We recommend checking out Sonic Boom on Spadina. They have a great selection of vinyl, band t-shirts, and CDs. The upstairs also features lots of fun books and home items. Be sure to find I Think I’m In Friend-Love With You by Yumi Sakugawa and perform a dramatic reading, professing your friend-love.
Kensington Market tends to draw less people in the winter months, but be sure to check out Moonbeam Coffee for a warm pick-me-up. If you want to try a new and exciting coffee-based beverage, we recommend their Macchiato Breve. It is an espresso shot topped with a tiny bit of super-rich frothed cream.
Spend an afternoon exploring Queen West’s Graffiti Alley. Even if you’ve already been, it’s important to appreciate the cool things the city has to offer as often as possible. After, you can continue down Queen West and go to Java House for a quick bite to eat in the colourful café.
We challenge you and your friends to try and get from one point to another only using the PATH system. This may seem kind of strange, but there is a plethora of stores and restaurants hidden below the city. It might sound easy but the underground walkways are extremely difficult to navigate so you are sure to get lost and happen upon something new.
Make some hot chocolate, grab some blankets, and hang out on your fire escape or balcony. We challenge you to try and count stars, or maybe spot a constellation or two. If you are surrounded by high-rises then just accept your fate of living in the city and count the office windows that remain lit. Maybe they’ll form a sort of shape, high-rise constellations if you will: the astrology of the future.
This winter is unseasonably warm, so grab a friend and take advantage of the warm weather. Toronto has a wonderful bike-share program and they are located all over the city. The bikes cost seven dollars for 24 hours. With the TTC’s recent price increase, it costs only 50 cents more than a TTC round trip, and you can make more than one stop. So get out and go to all those places you’ve wanted to explore.
Support University of Toronto artists and go see a couple of one-act original plays at U of T’s Drama Festival. It is being held at Hart House theatre on Feb. 10 through Feb. 13. Tickets are $10 for students. If you miss that, be sure to check out Hart House’s production of Boeing Boeing, running from Feb. 26 to March 5. Student tickets are $15 and are discounted to $12 on Wednesdays.
Cliché dates become cliché because they are overdone. However, if a date is overdone it could just be because it’s great!That is exactly what happened to ice skating. We recommend heading down to Harbourfront and taking advantage of the lakeside Natrel Rink. Skating is free and rentals are just $8 a person.
It is natural to assume that clubs are not ideal for a friend-date because so many people go to them just to hook up. Dance Cave is the complete opposite. They play a fun mix of indie rock and top 40 music and are located on Bloor St W above Lee’s Palace. This dance club is free for students if you show your student ID and it is perfect for just getting silly and dancing like you’re in your bedroom. You won’t stand out one bit, seeing as everyone goes there just to have a great time with great friends.
If dancing isn’t really your scene, enjoy a quieter night out by indulging in a pint and some poutine at Poutineville. This build-your-own-poutine place offers an eclectic selection of not only poutine toppings but cocktails as well.
Try and convince your friend to wake up a little earlier than usual for a Saturday and head over to St. Lawrence Market for a fresh farmers markets, running from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. The earlier you arrive the better your chances of excitement, and a wider selection of produce. This is one of those must-have Toronto experiences, so it is worth sacrificing the sleep. Since it’s on a Saturday, the early rise sets you up for a relaxing nap in the afternoon. We do not recommend attempting this the morning after friend-date #11 or #12.
Finally, challenge yourself a little and spend a day grocery shopping in Chinatown. Split on some different looking fruits or try some new vegetables. You will quickly see there are many great deals hidden in the grocery stores along Spadina. Don’t be afraid to ask the storekeepers which fruit or vegetable is in season, what they recommend, or how they recommend you cook it. If you’re a little shy, you can always google it when you get home. Take your findings home and attempt to make a meal or at least some snacks with all your findings.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-inside/14-friend-dates-valentines/.