Save your cash for the sitter and enjoy one of these cheap date ideas around Chicago. Because you shouldn't have to spend a lot of money to enjoy some quality time with your partner, especially in a city that offers so many inexpensive or free things to do! Bookmark more unique date ideas, too.
Promontory Point at Burnham Park
Yoli B: Promontory Point is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and is a great place to take a swim, picnic or read a book. The park is quiet and quaint with a breathtaking view of the Chicago skyline in the background! With free parking and year-round restrooms it's a great place to spend the afternoon with your date.
Movies in the Parks
June - September, see site for full line up and locations
Gina I.: Grab a blanket, pack a picnic, and head to your local Chicago area park for Movies in the Parks! From old Hollywood classics and family friendly films to recent box office favorites, you're sure to find the perfect flick for your next date night. In fact, Movies in the Parks are have showings in dozens of Chicago area parks, so there is something almost every night of the week. Best of all, it's free!
Ice Skating at Millennium Park
Ice skating is available November - March
Kelly R.: Skating at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park is a winter tradition, and it is free and open to the public. After skating, warm up with a spiked hot chocolate at the Park Grill Cafe.
Cost: skate rental is available for $12 - $14
Chicago Summer Dance
Vanessa M.: Forget the cover fees! The City of Chicago hosts Chicago Summer Dance for free each summer. Live bands ranging from reggae to rock transform the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park into a happening urban dance space. Pack a picnic or grab some takeout and enjoy a lovely summer evening together. Get there early for free dance lessons!
Millennium Park Summer Music Series
Most Mondays & Thursdays during the summer, 6:30 pm - 9 pm
Kelly R.: The Millennium Park Summer Music Series offers a lineup of free outdoor concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, held most Mondays and Thursdays throughout the Summer. The series features a wide variety of music from local, national and international artists. Bring along a picnic and a bottle of wine to enjoy.
Free Thursday Evenings at The Art Institute of Chicago
Thursdays, 5 pm - 8 pm
Kelly R.: Spend a few hours wandering around The Art Institute of Chicago. General admission is free to Illinois residents every Thursday from 5 - 8 pm.
Maker Lab - Harold Washington Library Center
Kelly R.: Located on the 3rd floor of Harold Washington Library Center, the Maker Lab features free introductory workshops where you can make a cool project with high-tech and hands-on resources like digital design software, 3D printers, laser cutters, and electronic cutters.
Divvy Bike Ride
Headquarters Beercade - River North
Yoli B: Who doesn't love a good arcade? Headquarters Beercade is like your old-school neighborhood arcade on steroids! The carefully crafted cocktails and food are the perfect accompaniment to the arcade games! Some games are free so stick with those and a cocktail! As a bonus, the 80's music overhead is the perfect soundtrack for a great Chicago date night.
The iO Theater
Kelly R.: Every Wednesday night, iO offers a free night of improv comedy featuring the all-female Virgin Daiquiri team and two different opening teams every week. Check the schedule on their web site for plenty of $5 show options, too.
Brew & View at The Vic Theatre
Kelly R.: The Vic theatre transforms from live music venue to movie house with its Brew & View offering. Admission to most movies is just $5, and the atmosphere is fun and lively with bars open throughout the films.
Cost: $5 plus optional drinks
Happy Village Ping Pong & Beer Garden
This dive bar is a hidden gem and a great place for a fun, inexpensive date night. Their beer garden is a well-known local haunt, their drink specials are legendary, and their ping pong tables are a fun way to stir up a little friendly competition with your partner. The food menu is typical bar food but this bar is anything but typical.
The Green Mill
Yoli B: Want to take a trip to "old " Chicago, then go to Green Mill in Uptown! Green Mill is a jazz club that's had the likes of Al Capone in the building. Chicago is a jazz city and you will feel like you have gone back in time. Drinks are affordable and the cover at Green Mill is never over $15 (cash only!). Go dressed up or casual, but just go! Check out the calendar here!
Cost: up to $15 per person for cover
Lagunitas Brewing Company Chicago
Gina I.: Enjoy an authentic brewery experience at Lagunitas! The tap room overlooks the brewery, and it's fun and funky, mismatched decor feels like something out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! Not only do they offer delicious pub fare and assorted Lagunitas beers, but the tour is free!
Revolution Brewing Tour
Kelly R.: Revolution Brewing is Illinois' largest independent craft brewery. They offer free tours at their Kedzie Production Facility on a first come, first serve basis. Space is limited to 30 people and they fill up quickly, so come early! Stop by early, sign up with a bartender, and grab a pint while you wait. Tours last about 30 minutes and include a tasting.
Baha'i House of Worship
Yoli B: If you haven't taken a peek at the Baha'i Temple now is the time. The Baha'i temple in Wilmette is the United States headquarters of the religion and the grounds are breathtaking. Touring the building will keep you occupied for hours and the best part is that you are only a few steps from the lakeshore!
Yoli B: Let me just say "I am not good at pool", but I talk a great game! Going to a pool hall is a great date because you communicate the entire time, and the beer is usually cheap. Tables are typically rented by the hour and between games you can work on your trick shots. Chris's Billiards is located in Jefferson Park and was featured in the movie, "The Color of Money" which makes it even cooler!
Chicago Botanic Garden
Gina I.: Pack a picnic lunch and head to the Chicago Botanic Garden, featuring 27 gardens and 4 natural areas on 385 acres. They are open 365 days a year, and there are lots of great indoor spaces and greenhouses to explore on colder days. Beautiful in every season, the Chicago Botanic Garden is the perfect place to spend the day or take a romantic stroll.
Cost: admission is free, parking is $25 - $30
Busse Forest Elk Pasture
Yoli B: When you head out to Busse Forest Elk Pasture chances are pretty high that you will see the elk playing, eating, or taking a nap. The small elk herd inhabits a 17 acre pasture adjacent to 10.8 miles of bicycling and hiking trails. There is something serene about watching the elks, so why not pack a snack and stay a few hours!
Twin Lakes Recreation Area
Yoli B: Twin Lakes Recreation Center is conveniently located off of Route 53 in Palatine. Couples can rent paddle boats, or hit balls at the driving range. When you are all done playing, pull out your picnic basket, or take advantage of the adventure/lunch packages the recreation center has to offer!
Primary photo: Crew on Unsplash
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