Romantic Toronto

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Romantic Toronto
Billed as Canada’s cultural capital, Toronto also has a romantic side that's  sometimes overlooked. The city’s sweetest spots are some of its best-kept secrets.

With additional copy by Karolyne Ellacott.
By Flash Parker, AFAR Ambassador
Photo by Flash Parker
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    Offbeat and All-Day Romance
    You could spring for dinner and a movie, or you could indulge in a bit of homegrown Canadian romance instead. The Scarborough Bluffs are just east of Toronto's downtown core, but the rocky headlands, open panoramas, and dramatic cliffs can make you feel like you and your beloved are completely alone together in the wilderness. End the day with a candlelit dinner—the authentic French cuisine of Chabrol reveals Toronto’s softer side.
    Photo by Flash Parker
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    Toronto Islands: Escape the City
    Toronto’s waterfront affords ample opportunity to escape the city’s incessant hum. Expansive views of downtown from the Toronto Islands could inspire a poem or two and ferry rides, bike trips, and nature walks along the quaint pathways make the network of islands feel like a faraway place. St. Andrew-by-the-Lake, built on Centre Island in 1884, is arguably Ontario’s most picturesque church. The Island Princess offers afternoon cruises that serve lunch, though locals tend to eat at the low-key Island Café or on the lovely patio of the Rectory Café.
    Photo by Roderick Chen/age fotostock
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    Where to Take Photos with Your Partner
    Photo opportunities happen when you least expect them, but you can improve your chances by heading to the Port Lands or Polson Pier at sunrise, when you’ll have the glowing city skyline to yourself. Creative types are often found taking photographs in Graffiti Alley, a stretch of Queen Street West near Spadina and Bathurst that has become a gallery of street art. Finally, the steps at Casa Loma are a perennial favorite, and those looking for the Instagram shot should head to Sugar Beach or the TORONTO sign.
    Photo by Flash Parker
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    Tie the Knot in Toronto
    If you're interested in getting married, Toronto offers a variety of venue options. Tie the knot at Casa Loma, the city’s famed Gothic Revival castle (or simply wander through the rooms, hallways, and gardens for the enchanting atmosphere). The Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery is an in-demand venue that can host up to 700 revelers in the heart of one of Toronto’s most romantic districts. Skyloft Ski Resort in Uxbridge, on the outskirts of the city, has a casual-country vibe due to its surrounding fields of wheat, corn, and hay.
    Photo by Flash Parker
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    Make Your Own Entertainment
    If you want to make beautiful music together, BMB Karaoke in Koreatown features private rooms for a little heartfelt serenade. Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, and John Candy all got their start at Second City, an improv comedy club that consistently puts on great shows. The Tarragon Theatre debuts original material from some of the brightest playwrights in Canada, and Cherry Cola’s cabaret lounge, a performance venue lined with enough red velvet to renovate the inside of Dracula’s coffin, can keep you entertained with live music and go-go dancers.
    Photo by Flash Parker
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    Channel Your Inner Child

    It's hard not to smile while at the immersive Toronto Zoo, where pandas, polar bears, and peccaries (piglike mammals) play. And don’t forget about the dreamy underwater scene at Ripley’s Aquarium, where sea creatures rule the day. An afternoon at the Ontario Science Centre will elicit wonder of a different sort: Its giant static globe is sure to get sparks flying, and David Rokeby’s kinetic installation, Cloud, is marvelous. For a romantic day outside, take a ferry to Centre Island and then ride the miniature railway around Centreville Amusement Park. Centreville has an early-20th-century feel; its 1907 carousel might be the city’s best place to steal a kiss.

    Photo Courtesy Toronto Zoo
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    Couples That Seek Thrills Together...
    Toronto’s biggest thrills are sure to get your heart thumping. The EdgeWalk allows brave souls to tiptoe around the roof of the CN Tower’s restaurant, 1,168 feet above the city. Wonderland, the country’s largest amusement park, is home to 16 roller coasters, including Leviathan—both the fastest (92 miles per hour) and the tallest (306 feet) coaster in Canada. Wonderland also offers a plethora of carnival-style games, which should provide ample chances for you to win a giant stuffed teddy bear.
    Photo by Flash Parker