February 14 is a day for people to celebrate all kinds of love — well, it would be, if inflation wasn’t an issue. According to a 2019 article by EliteSingles, an average date night in Toronto costs $150. Considering the rising cost of living, that would amount to $168.37 today. Amidst the inflation, we as university students are trying to budget our finances to accommodate for essentials and to purchase the required school supplies and materials for the whole year. However, that shouldn’t hinder us from having fun, falling in love, and living our lives as young adults. 

If you want to go on a date this Valentine’s Day — or during the month of February — without having to break the bank or go to a restaurant, here are some options for you besides your traditional dinners, movie dates, and study dates at Robarts.

Outdoor ice skating 

From December 17, 2022 till February 20, 2023, The Bentway is an option for ice skating. On Mondays, they serve free hot chocolate from 5:00–9:00 pm, as well as free skate rentals on Fridays between the same times. To rent skates, an ID is required, and customers must pay through credit or debit card on days other than Friday. The adult skates are $10, helmets are $5, and skate sharpening is $6.


For all bookworms or couples who want a date resembling a Pinterest mood board, visiting independent bookstores with your significant other is a great way to learn more about them and find texts that you both might like. There are books for less than $20, and you don’t have to deal with the cold climate. 

Some bookstores downtown are:

  • Doug Miller Books on 650 Bloor St W: It sells used books ranging from recent novels to classic texts. 
  • Thunderstruck Bookstore on 386 Bloor St W: It has comic books, graphic novels, mangas, and artbooks. 
  • Balfour Books on 468 College St: It has second-hand books on art, photography, architecture, fashion, and more. 
  • Bakka-Phoenix Books on 84 Harbord St: This is Canada’s oldest science fiction and fantasy bookstore, and they hosted George R.R. Martin and the cast of Star Wars. 

Visit museums for free

The countless assignments and the never-ending academic workload kills the fun of college life. However, one of the perks of being a university student is that you can use your student ID to get into select museums for free. 

To enter the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), you don’t have to be a student; you just have to be 25 or younger to get a ticket or an annual pass. The AGO is home to classical and contemporary artworks from the country and the world. The featured works of Leonard Cohen and Denyse Thomasos are currently being exhibited, and past exhibitions at the museum include world-renowned artists Picasso and Andy Warhol. 

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) has an array of exhibitions and houses historical artifacts and evidence from around the world. It is located outside of U of T’s campus , near Museum station. The ROM offers free general admission for post-secondary students on Tuesdays. All you have to do is show your TCard at the admissions desk when you arrive at the museum.

 If you would like to visit another museum, the Gardiner Museum is within walking distance from both the ROM and UTSG. The museum showcases clay and ceramic pieces from Canada and has special clay exhibitions including Karine Giboulo’s Housewarming, which has miniature sculptures conveying stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students with valid IDs can enter the Gardiner Museum free of charge. 

Bakeries and snacks

Although a dinner date is a go-to idea, it is getting more expensive. Bakeries and sandwich shops offer cost-effective choices that can satisfy your cravings. If you’re satisfied with an appetizer or pastries, here are a few places in Downtown Toronto that are less than $10 for both parties.

Located at 322 Spadina Ave, Banh Mi Nguyen Huong sells their signature large Banh Mi for five dollars, along with other Vietnamese products and appetizers. Meanwhile, at 248 Spadina Ave, Hong Kong Island Dim Sum House sells pastries for less than two dollars each. Remember to bring some cash in case that’s all they take the day of your date!