Chicago, otherwise known as The Windy City, offers an extensive list of activities that would make for amazing first dates. However, some of the dates would essentially cost the equivalent of a down payment on a car. On the other hand, you don’t really want to take your date through the drive through of Carl’s Jr. or Golden Corral and call it a night.
Luckily, there is some middle ground where you can have an amazing first date without completely emptying out your wallet. After all, you want to have some money left for date number two (hopefully)! Here are a few of my favorite first date ideas:
1. Lincoln Park Zoo
Forget about movies– animals are a hilarious source of entertainment. I mean, have you ever seen monkeys interact with each other? Classic comedy at its finest. You and your date can wander around Lincoln Park Zoo and checkout out all of your favorite exhibits.
The best part about this option? The zoo is free to enter. That means you’ll have money leftover for dinner and drinks later.
2. Millennium Park
Whether it’s the middle of summer or the dead of winter, Millennium Park is always a wonderful first date option. When it’s warm out, take pictures in the reflection of the bean and stroll through the green grass.
Or you could take part in one of my personal favorite activities: people watching. Just choose a bench, sit back and enjoy. When that fierce Chicago winter turns its head, you can show off your ice skating skills (or lack of skills). Of course living in Chicago means that you’ll have to be prepared to brave the temperatures.
3. Headquarters Beercade
This has to be one of my favorite first date ideas. Headquarters Beercade is far from your typical bar. Located in the city’s Lakeview neighborhood, Headquarters offers you and your date wall-to-wall retro video games. Don’t worry, you don’t have to show up with a jar full of quarters– the games are free to play.
Get ready to jump back in time with these game options, some of which include NBA Jam, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, NFL Blitz, Frogger, Donkey Kong and more. Chances are, you and your date might never leave this place.
With all of the fun games available, you won’t be left trying to fill an awkward lull in the conversation. Headquarters’ craft beer and cocktails are totally reasonable and can range from $4-$10.
4. Bottle & Bottega
Show off your creative side by scheduling your first date at this chic art studio. You can create your own art while sipping on a glass of wine. And if you’re not confident in your artistic abilities, well hey, that’s what the wine is there for.
You’ll walk into Bottle & Bottega and instantly feel comfortable because it mimics a cozy living room. The studio provides you and your date with hands-on instruction to create your very own masterpiece. You might be surprised at what you’re able to make– and you may even impress your date in the process.
5. Adler Planetarium
Looking for a romantic first-date setting? Then head over to the Adler Planetarium. While it’s a great place to visit during the day, it’s even better at night. In fact, Adler After Dark is one of the planetarium’s many programs, and this one is aimed at the 21 and over crowd.
You and your date can sip on your choice of cocktails as you take in the view of the incredible Chicago skyline seen from Adler. Each month, the themes of this event change, so there’s always something new and exciting to experience.
6. Bang Bang Pie Shop
Dinner and a movie is your typical formal date night idea. But for those people who want a more casual spin on the first date, meeting at a coffee shop is a better option. But I have something better than coffee– pie.
Located in the bike-friendly, Logan Square neighborhood, Bang Bang Pie Shop offers so many unique flavors– get ready to stay awhile because you’ll want to try them all. The establishment only uses seasonal fruit and produce to bake their pies so they’re as fresh as can be.
If you love fall favors, order the caramel apple crumble pie, which consists of apples in a caramel sauce with a cinnamon brown sugar crumble on top. If your date is more of a chocolate lover, get the chocolate mud pie– a creation that’s made up of graham cracker crust, dark chocolate pudding, peanut butter, pretzel puppy chow, and fresh whipped cream. Brb, going to get that.
7. Navy Pier
Alright, I know this is a classic touristy spot, but it’s popular for a reason. You and your date can stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy a bite of food and a drink. If you’re really looking to create a romantic setting, ride the iconic Ferris Wheel while you watch fireworks shoot off the pier.