Today marks nine years of my husband and I dating! We met on a bus (more on that some other time!) while in our second year of university, and I’ll admit that at first I played hard to get.
I had just recently gotten out of a relationship that unfortunately ended way past its expiration date, and was resolved to a year of being single and finding myself. I am so grateful he respected my wishes to be friends first and get to know each other. It was so refreshing to meet someone I could completely be myself with, weird moments and all.
The friends phase might have only lasted two months before we shared our first kiss and became a couple, but now I can happily say he is my best friend; my confider; my travel partner; my “pio”; my husband; and an amazing dad to our wonderful little boy.
The past nine years have seen us supporting and cheering each other through university and teachers college, through the long drought of trying to find a decent job, to amazing trips to Europe, to plenty of dates, to getting married!
Nowadays, the term “dating” is used a bit loosely as parents of a six-month old. Truth is, we’ve never had anyone watch Vince in the evening when my husband is off work so any dates are done as a family. We know that’ll change this summer and as much as we love our little guy, we’re looking forward to a date night!
For now, let me daydream and list some ideas for local and not-so-local dates you can have with your loved one!
(1) Satisfy that Sweet Tooth
One of our favourite things to do in Europe is get ice cream – they specialize in gelato and unique flavours that tickle our tastebuds. Amo Gelato Caffe brings that flavour to Hamilton. They make all their gelato in-house and are always playing with new flavours, like “bottom of the cereal bowl”, “matcha green tea latte”, and “charcoal coconut ash”, though my tried and true flavour is lemon and the rare strawberry-kiwi. Their place has plenty of seating but fills up quick; if so, do not fear, for a stroll up and down Locke Street is a perfect accompaniment to the date!
(2) A Walk Along the Bayfront
Turn this into a picnic, go rollerblading outdoors or indulge in ice cream waffles and coffee from Williams; either way, there are plenty of piers and paths to stroll along at the Hamilton Bayfront, and we’ve watched at least a dozen sunsets there in our last nine years together.
(3) Take a Hike
Breathing in fresh air, taking in that vitamin D, and sharing good conversation. Simple, but such a good date. There are plenty of places to hike in and around Hamilton that reward you with pretty sights of waterfalls and panoramic views – our favourites are Mount Nemo and the hike that leads you to Dundas Peak, with an easy walk and drive to Tew’s Falls and Webster’s Falls.
(4) Take a Swim
We are serious water rats. Whether it’s fishing, swimming, or skipping stones, we love being in or by the water – something that seriously influenced where our wedding reception was! This one might involve a bit of a road trip, but two of our favourite spots are Knight’s Beach at Lake Erie and Tobermory at Lake Huron (pictured above). The water is usually cold at the latter, but it’s so picturesque and also has tourist attractions like Flower Pot Island and a glass bottom boat cruise to look at famous shipwrecks.
(5) Pizza & A Movie
This one is tried and true and a staple in our datebook. Mix it up – order a chicken shawarma from Original Pizza in Hamilton (the best!) and do Netflix, buy or make your own dough and have a cooking night together at home (and do Netflix, LOL!), or splurge on some delicious deep dish pizza from Chicago Style Pizza on the mountain and then go to the Starlite drive-in theatre for a night under the stars!
(6) Make it a Gaming Night
Perfect for those rainy evenings, a board game or video game night is easy to have at home and also a great idea for double or group dates (much better than the awkwardness of going to a movie theatre and then not talking the whole time). If you savvy a bit more of a date vibe, go to Mancala Monk Board Game Cafe. Not only do they have bubble tea and great snacks, but they have shelves and shelves of board games, ranging from popular to the unique.
(7) Bring the Outside In
If the weathers really not cooperating but you still want a taste of the great wide world out there, check out a show at McMaster University’s planetarium! I’ll admit this is something we haven’t tried yet but I’m eager to! The shows are live with presenters and limited seating, and is sure to be a great way to start a date if you wanted to follow up with food!
(8) Get Away from the City… to another City!
Sometimes it’s great to just hop in the car and drive, but if a longer road trip isn’t possible, make it a day trip! Take a look at Google Maps, see which cities and towns are nearby, and what attractions or restaurants are worth hitting up! For us, we love excursions to Niagara-on-the-Lake or Paris (Ontario, haha, pictured above), to check out the quaint local businesses. Or if we’re feeling adventurous we’ll go to Toronto – Ripley’s Aquarium is a great place to go for a date, even if it’s more touristy.
(9) “What do you want to eat?”
If all else fails, going out to eat is a safe bet… though it becomes infinitely more tricky when trying to find out WHAT you want to eat. Places like Earth to Table: Bread Bar, Brux House or Matson & Co., all on Locke Street, are great ideas for their seasonal and diverse menus. But if you’re in the mood for something more specific, I’d recommend Mezcal on James Street S for some amazing tacos, or Black Forest Inn on King Street for some European fare.
Tonight, we’re keeping it simple, but I gotta ask: