Alternatives to Hanging Out in Bars in Toronto

Venues, events and activities for an atypical night out in Toronto

Skyline of Toronto at night

TripSavvy / Brakethrough Media

Getting together with friends in any city often means meeting up at bars, which are great places to catch up over drinks, but sometimes going to yet another bar can start to feel tedious. Luckily, there are many options for spending time with friends that don’t involve just heading to the local watering hole. Toronto is getting more and more venues and regularly recurring events that make for unique things to do whether you’re meeting one friend or six. Here are seven ideas for what to do the next time you want to go out – that aren’t your typical night out.

Adult Coloring Nights

Adult colouring books have taken off in popularity over the past few years – why should kids have all the fun? Known to be a stress reliever, more and more grownups are warming to the art of taking pencil crayon to picture and now you can do it in a group setting. Every Thursday from 5 p.m. to close the Gladstone hosts an ongoing adult coloring night where you and your friends can go, sip a drink (pints are only $5 from 5 to 8 p.m.) and color the night away. There’s also live music from 7 to 10 p.m

Adult Lego Nights

Like colouring, Lego is known as an activity for kids – but it doesn’t have to be. The Gladstone also hosts a weekly adult Lego-filled night at the Melody Bar known as Lego and Lagers and it’s just what it sounds like. They’ve got boxes of Lego ready for people to grab and get creative with over a beer or two.  Lego and Lagers runs every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and it’s totally free. Gather up some friends, head to the Gladstone and channel your inner kid to see who can create the coolest Lego structures.

Hang out With Cats at a Cat Café​

Regular coffee shops make fine venues for catch-up sessions or meet-ups with groups of friends, but why not make things more interesting by incorporating cats? Toronto now has its very own cat café, a phenomenon that has been hugely popular across Asia. If you’re not familiar with the concept, there's an area to hang with the cats that's separated from where you order and sip your beverages. You book time with the cats, who are all looking for their forever homes. It's a fun and relaxing way to catch up with a friend (assuming you both like cats).

Board Games and Beer (Or Coffee)​

Head to a board game cafe with your game-loving friends for a night of some serious (or not-so-serious) competition. In addition to several other board game cafes, you have your pick of two locations of Snakes and Lattes – one in the Annex and one in Little Italy – where you can hunker down with your game of choice over a pint or coffee or tea.

Or Play Other Games With a Side of Beer​

OK, so this list was supposed to contain alternatives to bars, but there are several drinking establishments in Toronto where the objective goes beyond simply sitting with a beer in hand. For example, recently opened Night Owl serves up reasonably priced food and drink, but also has several classic arcade games on offer for people who want to be a bit more active while sipping their beverage of choice. Track and Field Bar has your game-craving needs covered with 1000 square feet of game space including two lanes of bocce ball and two lanes of deck shuffleboard. You’ll find vintage arcade games at Get Well, play a few games of ping pong at SPiN and find Fooseball, shuffleboard, pool, and pinball at The Dock Ellis.

A crowd cheering as a woman throws an axe
 Courtesy of Backyard Axe Throwing League

Practice Your Axe Throwing Skills​

Brush up on your aim among friends with a night out learning how to toss an axe to hit a target. Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL), with three locations in Toronto, is one such place where you can hang out and throw an axe around. Reserve a spot online for a group of friends and have fun learning a new skill. Sessions run for around two and a half hours and are hosted by BATL coaches who offer instruction before any tournament play gets started.


Dive Into Some DIY

Something that’s always fun to do with friends, especially if you’re up for doing something a little different is to learn something new as a duo or group. Whether it’s loom weaving, sewing, knitting, woodworking or pottery, there’s a place in Toronto where you can try out some DIY, get creative with some friends and come away with a new skill or potential hobby.

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