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- Tamar Nalbandian
Weekends in Toronto are full of opportunities to unwind from the long week left behind. The usual suspects are always there for the taking: a dinner out with friends, followed by drinks, dancing the night away, or perhaps a movie. These all hold the potential for a good night out, but what do you do when things start to get a bit repetitive? Fortunately for Torontonians, there are lots of alternatives.
Ping Pong at SPiN
Remember playing round after round of table tennis in your parents’ basement? If you’ve been longing for the good old days before cubicles and bills, SPiN gets you. Welcome to teenage good times with all the benefits of adulthood (read: alcohol). Twelve ping pong tables, two fully licensed bars, and a food & drinks menu all within a sleek, 12,000 square foot space – sounds like the rec room of your dreams. With nightly events and tourneys, SPiN brings back the retro fun and offers it up with a side of bumping beats, tasty snacks, and, of course, those tasty tipples.
Rates start at $10 per hour for members and $22.12 per hour for non-members.
SPiN, 461 King St. West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 416 599 7746
Spirits & Splatters
You’ve seen them all over Instagram and Facebook. Paint nights have been all the rage for the last two years, but with a tagline like ‘The Art of Drinking Creatively,’ you know you’re bound to have a boozy good time. No matter if your experience is with the old brush and canvas or plain old finger painting, paint nights are for all levels of artistic ability. Hosted at various locations around the city (and beyond), Spirits & Splatters helps you channel your inner Jackson Pollock with a paint brush, canvas, and wine glass in your artistic arsenal.
$45 per person. Various locations around the Greater Toronto Area.
Axe-throwing at BATL Grounds
Target throwing with an axe is like the medieval version of darts. There’s a circular target with a bulls-eye in the middle, of course, but that’s where the similarities end. Swap the tiny, winged dart for a hulking, wooden axe, and there you have it. Get in touch with the primitive hunter within by way of the top-heavy weapon at the BATL Grounds. Grunting is optional.
$39.82 per person plus tax. Various locations around the GTA.
BATL Grounds, 213 Sterling Road #105, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 647 793 6410
Archery Tag at Archery District
Imagine you’re in a post-apocalyptic Toronto (in the current borough of Scarborough) ridden with an airborne pathogen outbreak. You’re left to fight for your life, a la Hunger Games. Tap into your Katniss Everdeen and Legolas skills at this dystopic spin on tag at The Archery District. It’s not quite the free-for-all you remember from yesteryear. The rules are mostly the same, but there’s a whole lot more strategy about who to pick off. With a bow and foam-tipped arrows, all you need is a group of friends and decent aim to have a dismally good time.
$25 per person per hour.
Indoor Lawn Games at Track & Field
Bocce and shuffleboard may be associated with the Golden Years set, but Track & Field bridges the age gap by bringing lawn games indoors where the beer flows freely (well, for a modest fee anyway) and the cocktails are shaken, not stirred. If the games aren’t old-timey enough for you, there are crokinole boards, which a quick Google search will show you is from the 1800s. This isn’t retro or vintage, it’s positively antique, in the best way possible. Get ready to party like it’s 1899!
$40 per hour per lane.
Who doesn’t love a good battle of wits? With the steady popularity of trivia nights, you can enter the arena (or bar, whatever) of your choice and duke it out with strangers and friends alike for the top prize of random knowledge! For the TV buff, the Gladstone Hotel hosts a 90s-themed challenge once a month, while foodies are invited to a figurative food fight at Cheesewerks on Tuesdays (or Wednesdays) on alternating weeks. If it’s general domination you’re seeking, you have your pick of the litter at The Drake Hotel, County General, Cardinal Rule, 3030, The Ossington, and many others around town.
Prices range from free to $10, so check the websites, grab a drink and some snacks, and prepare for battle.
Coloring Nights at the Gladstone Hotel
The latest in artistic crazes to sweep the globe, adults everywhere are grabbing their colored pencils and Sharpies and exploring the world they left behind in kindergarten. Touted for its meditative qualities, coloring also taps into the creative side that some adults haven’t lost and others have long buried under piles of files. You can certainly grab a coloring book at Indigo and rock the creativity at home, but we prefer the community of side-by-side, drink-in-hand, yummy-snack-fuelled coloring nights like at The Gladstone on Thursdays. Don’t forget to color outside the lines.
Price for coloring is included with a drink or meal.
The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 416 531 4635 x 0
Arcades at Get Well Bar
Good old arcades… where have you been the last 20 years? Is it even longer? It sadly might be, since Toronto traded in the pinball machines and Donkey Kong for virtual reality booths at Playdiums across the city. Get Well bar invites you to kick it old school (kicking machines: not encouraged) with the arcade games of your youth, placing them exactly where they should be, within steps of a cool and dark bar.
Pinball machines are $0.25, and all other games are free.
Get Well, 1181 Dundas St. West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 647 351 2337
Board Games at Snakes & Lattes
It can be argued that there is a board game for everyone. At least that’s what Snakes & Lattes would like to do. With over 1,000 board games organized in categories like strategy, party, and RPG (that’s ‘role-playing game,’ for all the gaming noobs), the gaming establishment has set up a space with knowledgeable staff, food, and, most importantly, drinks to encourage an all-out laughfest over a round of Cards Against Humanity. Speaking of, you can get the ‘game for horrible people’ at both locations and on the website. Have a friend that needs convincing? Check out the podcast, show, and send out the guru. They’ll know what to recommend.
$5 per person.
Snakes & Lattes, 488 College St., Toronto, ON, Canada +1 647 342 9229
Escape Games at Casa Loma
While most escape room games will require some amount of imagination, Casa Loma puts you right in the middle of Toronto’s very own castle and takes you back in time for their two escape games. The first, Escape the Tower, is set in 1941 and comes complete with a history lesson on the castle itself and its ties to World War II. The second, King of the Bootleggers, goes back to the Prohibition Era 1920s. Both games take you through areas of Casa Loma that the public does not have access to, adding to its cool cred. Needless to say, you need to reserve early for these very popular escape games.
Prices start at $36 + tax.
Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 416 923 1171