Summer seems like it would be the optimal dating season: great weather, lots of sunshine hours and long weekends. But it can be hard to break the habit of just hitting an outdoor movie or street festival with your partner. As fun as those are, it's nice to break out of the mold once in a while.
Fortunately, in Canada, there is no shortage of creative summer date options available from coast to coast to coast, indoor and out. You can try a new sport. You can use your brains together to get out of a tricky situation. You can enjoy the long daylight hours in more ways than one, or you can head inside to escape the heat without visiting your local theatre.
Here are 11 fun summer date ideas that don't have to break the bank, and won't feel like the same old routine. We've offered a few specific suggestions to get you started, but you'll find these options — or ones very similar — in cities and towns all across the country this summer.
1. Visit a farmers' market
Across Canada, you'll find great farmers' markets running this summer, any day of the week. Stop at one for a fun twist on a lunch or dinner date: grab your meal there and picnic together on the grass. These days, even small towns are likely to have a weekly market with prepared foods; if you're in a big city check out a premiere Canadian market like Fredericton Boyce Market in New Brunswick or Saskatoon Farmers' Market in Saskatchewan.
2. Hit the beach
You don't have to live by the ocean to enjoy a long walk on the beach. There are great beaches across this country thanks to Canada's long coastline and many lakes. And most of these beaches don't require you to go swimming, if that's not your jam. You can grab an ice cream and stroll the boardwalk at Winnipeg Beach, take photos of the sculptural umbrellas at Cherry Beach in Toronto, or watch the surfers at Long Beach in Tofino.
3. Throw some axes
Axe throwing might not sound like a great date-night activity, but it's a fun way to do something indoors while still being active when it's either too hot or too rainy to consider an evening outside. You'll find axe-throwing locations in many cities, and many of them are licensed. Jack Axes in St. John's met Jason Momoa's approval, Rage in Montreal specifically bills itself as a great date option, and BATL has several locations in Ontario.
4. Visit a distillery
Breweries are cool, but a visit to a distillery has a similar vibe while also being somewhat less expected. Whatever spirits you prefer, you can find a distillery to match your tastes: Liberty Distillery in Vancouver has pink gin, IZUMI in Toronto brews sake, Halifax Distilling Co. specializes in rum, and the Newfoundland Distillery Co. makes gin with local botanicals.
5. Go for a hike
A leisurely day hike is a great way to spend time outdoors with your date — pack a light picnic to eat along your way and stick to well-maintained, mapped trails so you don't get lost. If you're lucky enough to be up north, say in the Yukon, you can hike in the evening and enjoy the midnight sun.
6. Check out a night market
Take advantage of the warm weather and the longer days by hitting up a local night market. The Richmond Night Market in Vancouver is huge, but there are local variations across the country. Just A Little Night Market in Edmonton runs out of the aviation museum, and Winnipeg's First Friday events involve both an outdoor market and a variety of participating nearby stores, restaurants and galleries.
7. Solve a problem together
If you and your date are both competitive sorts — and please make sure they're into this before you book it — a visit to an escape room can make for a fun evening. These rooms have a ton of fun themes to fit a variety of interests. You can escape from a Klondike-era cabin in Whitehorse, a murderous man's wine cellar in Regina, or a pixelated video-game world in Saint John.
8. Go mini-golfing
Get in touch with your playful side and bring a bit of friendly competition into the relationship by hitting a mini-golf course together. If the weather is great, try an outdoor course like Pebble Beach in Calgary or Darnley Greens in P.E.I. Or if it's raining or too humid to consider doing anything outside, head indoors to a kitschy spot like Monster Mini Golf in Calgary or Putting Edge in Halifax.
9. Visit an outdoor spa
Sometimes a day of relaxation together is just what a couple needs. If that sounds about right to you, head to an outdoor spa for the day and spend quality time together without saying a word (well, until you've gone into the cafe for lunch). Thermea in Winnipeg and Nordik in Chelsea, Que. both offer a Scandinavian-style experience with saunas, ice-cold cool-down pools, and a quiet atmosphere. And Takini Hot Pools in Whitehorse and Temple Gardens in Moose Jaw offer natural hot springs.
No spa nearby? Hit up an outdoor pool and alternate between the hot tub and the cool pool water, or check out a natural swimming hole, like Elora Quarry, which is an hour from Toronto.
10. Tour a brewery
Okay, we know we said earlier that brewery tours are a somewhat expected date option now, but that doesn't mean they aren't still great. The beer scene is booming across Canada, which means there's probably a quality brewery not far from you, likely even in your own town. You could check out Alley Kat in Edmonton, NWT Brewing Co. in Yellowknife, Port Rexton Brewing near Bonavista, N.L., or any of the dozens of other great spots in both rural and urban locations across the country.
11. Visit a historic site
Canadian history goes back well over the 150 years since Confederation, and we've got the historic sites to prove it. Taking in a bit of local history is a fun way to spend time on a date. You could hike up to Signal Hill in St. John's and look for whales together, for example. Or visit Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish home in P.E.I., or explore the Halifax Citadel in Nova Scotia.
Bonus: admission is free for all Parks Canada sites in 2017.
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