Where to shop for thoughtful Valentine's gifts in Toronto

Valentine's Day shouldn't be stressful. But, it's time to stop relying on the typical box of chocolates, teddy bears and bouquet of flowers. Seriously. It's time, instead, to appreciate the moments spent together. When it comes to this so-called Hallmark holiday, it really is the thought that counts. Here are some thoughtful gift ideas that’ll make the day special for the both of you. (Photo taken at Crown Flora Studio)

Le Dolci

1
1006 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1W6

If you both have a sweet tooth, why not try baking up something delicious? And it’s fine if you’re no pro, either; Le Dolci, a beautiful bakeshop and culinary studio located at the corner of Dundas and Montrose, has special baking classes running during Valentine’s Day weekend. In two hours, you and your bae can bake-up some fresh, delicious treats together. Costs of the classes are from $150 to $180 for two and options include pies, cupcake decorating, doughnuts, macaroons, and chocolate truffles. Visit their website to book a class in advance and secure a spot before it’s sold out!

Crown Flora Studio

2
1233 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1L5

Over-priced V-day rose bouquets are so overrated. Davis Khounnoraj and Adam Mallory, owners of Crown Flora Studio, are floral design geniuses. They create arrangements for weddings and events, and for the home. But, what’s truly special about Crown Flora is their terrariums plants and their workshops, where you can create your own. For $195, you get all the materials needed and an instructor to guide you in designing two terrariums you can surprise your lover with. Book your spot for the February 7, 10am to 12pm workshop through their website. Their next one is on February 21st.

ZANE

3
753 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G1

Whether you’re in a new relationship or in it for the long haul, accessories are always a safe bet. And ZANE – a go-to for Toronto’s fashion savvy – is the place to shop for both men and women. Peruse the sleek collection of premium watches by Daniel Wellington, Mondaine, and Larsson & Jennings, and earrings, bracelets and rings ranging from $20 to $600. Zane also carries classic and trendy bags by Mackage, Côte&Ciel, and Rebecca Minkoff. Plus, they’ve got the hottest sunglass brands, like Illesteva, Le Specs, Steven Alan, and Karen Walker.

The Bra Bar

4
15 Hazelton Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 2E1

Bra Bar is a hot option for intimate gifts. While this Yorkville lingerie boutique has sports, maternity and nursing bras, you’ll want to head for either the selection of basic or fashion-forward styles. Basics are for everyday comfort, but offer luxe touches like lace detailing. Fashion bras have patterns, are colourful, and/or have lots of lace, and for most, add or show more cleavage. They carry brands like the fun and feminine Antigel by Lise Charmel, and larger-cup-size specialist Fantasie. Their sizes run 30 to 54 waist and AA to I cups.

MoRoCo Chocolat

5
215 Madison Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 2S6

You’ll never fail with chocolate. But, instead of opting for the typical box of Valentine’s Day chocolates, why not try something a tad more creative and romantic? Take your sweet to MoRoCo Chocolat, a chocolate boutique and lounge restaurant. Have her, or him, choose from loads of chocolate and macaroon flavours (think chocolate marzipan truffles or salted caramel macaroons). Or, dine-in at their chic French resto. You’ll definitely want to try a treat off their First Temptation of Cocoa menu, but they also have savoury stunners (think: soup to start and mains like zucchini spaghetti or truffle mac and cheese).

Elmwood Spa

6
18 Elm St, Toronto, ON M4Y 2E2

Who says you can’t relax in your own city? While Toronto may not have year-round hot weather and your home isn’t steps away from the beach, there are always the spas. At Elmwood Spa, you can plan a couples retreat from packages designed for a twosome: the Exotic Escape ($299 for 3.5 hours), the Euphoria ($429 for 4.5 hours) and the Spa Date ($629 for 5.5 hours). Each contains water therapies, massages and eating at one of Elm’s luxurious restaurants. Plus, depending on the package you choose, there are extras like manicures and pedicures, facials, or take-home gifts.

The Garrison

7
1197 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X3

If you’re both fans of music, then you’ll want to take advantage of the Wavelength Music Festival that’s running from February 12 to 14. It’s three nights of live performances by new Canadian independent musicians at The Garrison. This live music venue in Beaconsfield Village also has a bar and offers Mexican food, like tacos, fritas, churros, and more. During the festival, you can discover new sounds by artists like Montreal’s Swedish-Canadian folktronica duo Thus Owl, Toronto’s soul-pop sensation Calvin Love, and Sackville’s queer neo-grunge duo Partner. Tickets are $12 in advance and $16 at the door.

Tasty Tours

8
178B Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T 1L8

If you’re an adventurous foodie and your favourite meal is dessert, then Tasty Tours is the Valentine’s Day activity for you. They’re a touring company that will walk you through a Toronto neighbourhood, where you’ll visit bakeries and chocolatiers, receive sweet lessons, and get to sample at each location. The Sweets & Chocolates Tour runs on February 13, 14 and 15 in Kensington Market. The Chocolate Workshop, a lesson in truffle making, takes place on February 13 from 6 to 7:30pm at Odile Chocolat on Dundas and Bathurst. Tip: Book your spot quick; they’re sure to sell out fast!

Colonel Samuel Smith Park

9
3131 Lake Shore Blvd W, Etobicoke, ON M8V 1L4

Fact: You don’t have to go spend-crazy on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes the best gifts are the times you spend together. Head over to Colonel Samuel Smith Park for a day of ice-skating on their figure-eight trail and enjoy winter outdoors. This park is known for its scenic view of sunrises, and is the designated spot in Toronto to spot birds (like winter waterfowl, or spring Whimbrel) and for going fishing. If you’re feeling famished, you can always head to a nearby restaurant. Some top-notch options are Mexican resto Huevos Gourmet, neighbourhood bistro Goodlake, or Italian ristorante Cellar Door.

Formula Kartways

10
79 Bramsteele Rd, Brampton, ON L6W 3K6

Valentine’s Day doesn’t always have to be serious and romantic – if anything, it should be fun. So, if you’re seeking a day of trill, then head to Formula Kartways, the city’s go-to spot for indoor go-kart racing. The cars are fast and you don’t need a license to drive. Prices are $22 for 15 laps, $33 for 30 laps and $44 for 40 laps. If you’ve got four coupled-up friends, call in advance and reserve the tracks for a few hours for you and your pals to enjoy, all to yourselves. They also have an arcade, so bring change.

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