Time for a mild confession: I've given up drinking alcohol.
Surprising, I know, especially coming from the guy most people have pegged as some sort of frat bro weed-smoking party monster (at least I like to think that's how the public perceives me), but it's true. I've given up alcohol, a lifestyle change I enacted in November and plan to continue to March (and beyond?).
This wasn't some health-related thing, nor was it inspired by a drinking binge, I just realized I hadn't gone without alcohol for an extended period of time since I was 16, and it was about time. The thing is, even though you might not think it, but your life changes when you give up the hooch.
Affected the most is your list of nightlife and date-night options. Almost every standard date venue is centered on (or at least serves) alcohol, and when you're trying not to drink, being around a bunch of beer isn't the easiest thing.
But that isn't to say there isn't a lot you can do in Montreal without imbibing. Even this February alone will see tons of events and festivals that are equally fun for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. Check 'em out below.
Indulge at the Quebec Cheese Festival
In a contest between cheese and alcohol, cheese wins every time. Sure, a little wine can ameliorate almost any cheesy situation, but even without a glass of anything, cheese is just fine on its own.
That's why the Quebec “Festival of Our Cheeses” is one of the best non-drinking dates to attend this February. You and your SO can discover tons of tasty new kinds of fromage at Complexe Desjardins at the festival, then get some to take home for a more intimate journey through cheesy flavours.
Head To The Pompeii Exhibit At Musuem of Fine Arts
Always a solid non-alcoholic date spot, the Musuem of Fine Arts gets a boost in the date department with the opening of the special Pompeii exhibit.
Sure, the exhibit isn't free like the other areas of the musuem, but it's well worth the price. I had the pleasure of attending the Pompeii exhibit when it was at the ROM over the holidays, and even as someone who isn't the biggest fan of musuem excursions, I can confidently say the Pompeii exhibit will be educational and entertaining. Actually.
Go Cross Country Skiing At The Montreal Botanical Garden
If you're going to fully embrace the fun of winter, you kind of need to go cross country skiing. And there's no better spot than the Montreal Botanical Garden, which lets you don some skis and glide through the area all winter long.
Granted, the weather isn't exactly skiing-conducive right now, but once some snow falls (and it will) you can officially put this on your date list.
Gorge Out At The Je t’aime en Chocolat Festival
Equal parts sensuous and delicious (even without alcohol), few foods are perfectly suited for a date like chocolate.
And since a night at Juliette et Chocolat is beyond played out, Je t’aime en chocolat is your perfect chocolate-centric alcohol-free date idea.
To be held this weekend at Marché Bonsecours, you can find more details in the link below.
Photo cred - hotelbonaventure
Relax & Chill At Montreal's Secret Heated Winter Rooftop Pool
Since you need to rent out a room at Hotel Bonaventure to capitilize on the magical heated winter rooftop pool, this makes for a good double date idea. Grab another couple and the whole excursion will only cost you $25 each.
Not a bad price to be able to relax like its summer, a pleasure even better than a beer.
Check Out the Free Black Muses Exhibit at Place Des Arts
Part of the many events going on this February for Black History Month, this special exhibition at Place des Arts will highlight the accomplishments of twelve women who have shaped the history of Canadian music.
Discover Montreal’s Secret Mount Royal Snowshoe Adventure
Another staple of winter-y physical activity is snowshoeing, and you can make it way more date-tastic by going on a City Lights Snowshoeing Excursion on Mount Royal by les ami de la montagne.
Promised to be an entirely new way to discover Mount Royal, with hot chocolate included, you'll be having so much fun with your date you won't even miss alcohol.
Experience the Virtual Reality Garden at the Phi Centre
A new permanent exhibition at the Phi Centre, the Virtual Reality Garden combines technological innovation with modern art. Not only will you and your date be treated to a sensory experience even beer can't provide, but it's entirely free, too.
Get Your Game On At Montreal's New Pinball Bar
Say what? A bar is on a list for things to do when you're not/don't want to drink? Sounds blasphemous, I know, but this is one bar you don't have to drink at to have fun.
Open since January, North Star is Montreal's first pinball bar, meaning it has tons of classic pinball machines that are just begging for you and your date to play. Add in a selection of delectable pub grub and you have a magical bar night out where you won't even be tempted to buy a pint.
Go On The Saint Laurent "D'art en art" Tour
For this year's edition of Nuit Blanche, Boulevard Saint Laurent is hosting a special tour that combines history and art in a captivating tour through the iconic Montreal street, titled "D'art en art."
Beginning at Station 16, tours will head out at several different times, with expert guides taking you through the historical stories and murals to be discovered all along Saint Laurent.
Do Any And Everything At Montréal En Lumière + Nuit Blanche
The list of attractions at this year's edition of Montréal En Lumière is expansive, to say the least, meaning there will definitely be something for you and your SO to check out once you head to the festival grounds for all the free outdoor things going on.
Of course, the many things to do at Montreal En Lumière increases exponentially on the eve of Nuit Blanche on February 27th, when the rest of the city partakes in hosting events for the all-night jamboree. And everything is so fun (and mostly free) that alcohol is barely even present at most events.