Here’s how to do romance for under 20 bucks:

1. Bag some popcorn, fill a flask and hit a FREE outdoor movie screening at TIFF in the park.

2. Spend a weekday evening roaming around Honest Ed’s. Dress each other in $2 shirts, get lost and snap pics by the hair salon that looks like a 1960s movie set.

3. After work, get on your bike and meet by the ferry docks for a sunset ride on Toronto Island. Pack a light picnic in your knapsack, find a grassy knoll and smooch as the sun goes down.

4. AGO Wednesday! A visit through AGO’s permanent collection is FREE Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8:30 pm. Go see some art and then grab a beer on Ronnie’s patio in Kensington.

5. Frisbee at The Beach. Go eastbound and bring a Frisbee, devil sticks, or whatever weird hand game thing you can find in your junky basement. Change into your bather, dip your toes in the water and have an afternoon of fun in the sun. Walk along the beach and then head to Queen for an ice cream scoop. That was easy.

6. Coxwell and Gerrard at night is bustling. From street-stand corn on the cob, to busy outdoor patios and music blaring from inside the many sari shops, go explore the neighbourhood and share some tasty dal or dosa.

7. Take the elevator up to the Park Hyatt roof. It’s a sexy view looking south and although this fancy establishment is expensive, you can do it on the cheap and you’ll still be served a bowl of complimentary seasoned nuts. Go up and have one drink each. Ask for a blankie, and fondle a little under the table and play the game, “If you won the lottery… what would you do?”

8. An evening stroll through Philosopher’s Walk is close to Harry Potter magical. You can often hear students rehearsing at the Royal Conservatory….a cello scale can be totally romantic/haunting. Bring a herbal tea and continue meandering until you are in the middle of UofT’s King College Circle. Lie down on the grass, hold hands and look up at the stars. You are a scene in a movie!

9. Hit up Baskin Robbins at Christie and Bloor for a double decker treat and following, spend thirty minutes rolling down the hills of Christie Pitts Park, Raggedy Anne styles. Actually, do this in the reverse order so that you don’t upchuck all over your date.

10. Head north to sedated Yonge and Lawrence. Walk through the maze of roses and secret paths in the well groomed Alexander Muir Gardens. Make out in hidden nooks and then follow the trail all the way to Sherwood Park. When no one is watching, uncork the wine.

11. Change a twenty dollar bill into loonies and toonies and play in the photobooth at Yonge and Bloor.

12. Don’t forget! We do have a waterfront! Whether you attend one of the many Harbourfront food fests this summer for some cheap and tasty grub or just sit on a bench and gaze at a tall ship, the lakefront is a nice change from downtown; even to just walk and feel a breeze is nice.

13. At Come As You Are on Queen, you can buy mini samples of various lubricants and condoms. Fill a paper bag with some stuff to test out, and then go home and start the testing.

14. Harrison Pool is located on Stephanie Street between Queen and OCAD. It’s an underutilized space that has a pleasing retro feel. From 2-7pm on weekdays, meet your partner for a swim. You’ll likely have the pool to your self. Naked Marco Polo?

15. Who says romance can’t happen at your local public library? Dress up. Role play. Put the spectacles on, pair it with some pumps and have some eye contact foreplay in the ancient Greek section. Or, actually decide to just spend a couple hours there together, quietly sharing a table while your read or peruse National Geographics from the 70s. Then go home and do it.

16. Make a meal together with a $20 budget. Meet at St. Lawrence market, or your local farmer’s market, after work and decide on a meal for the evening that won’t go over $20. Fiddleheads, asparagus, raspberries: talk to the farmers and get what’s seasonal for an added depth to this experience.

This stuff isn’t revolutionary but it is easy summertime fun. If you happen to shag at Honest Ed’s, please get in touch.

~ Jen McNeely