Cheap Chicago Dates

Sunday, 08 January 2012 23:51 Written by  Mariah Craddick

With the economy not looking its best and job security becoming less stable, it may be safe to say that "dating" has become a toilsome and infrequent task among young adults. And while we all surely appreciate being "wined and dined," sometimes dates can be too expensive for the struggling, part-time job working, full-time college going, student loan owing man. So, us ladies at GlossMagazineOnline have come up with a list of some of the best, cheap--and sometimes free--dates around town.

(In no particular order)

10.) Take a walk on the lakefront: Sure, it may sound dull, but this is a great opportunity for two people to walk, talk, and get to know each other better. The view of the Chicago skyline from the lake is absolutely breath-taking. It also just feels good to walk hand-in-hand with someone sometimes.

9.) Volunteer at a local animal shelter: Animal shelters around the city like PAWS Chicago and C.A.R.E. are always looking for extra help. This is a great way not only to do something beneficial for the community but will also allow you to see your date actually care for another living thing. Who knows, maybe you can even adopt a puppy or a kitten together.

8.) Go for a scenic bike ride: Hop on your bikes and hit up some bike trails or just ride around the city. If you don't own a bike, there are plenty of places to rent from throughout the city--some as cheap as $10 an hour! It's a great way to spend time together and get a good workout while you're at it.

7.) Go to a local theater/improv show: Places like The Playground Theater on North Halsted have plenty of free improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy shows that could be the quintessential scene for a date. Also, other places, like iO Chicago Theater offers free shows to those that take improv classes. A good laugh is always a good "ice breaker" for first dates, too.

6.) Create a home spa: Stay at home and pamper each other. Take turns giving each other foot massages or facials. This is a sure way to heat things up, but we'd save it for maybe the third or fourth date.

5.) Navy Pier Ferris wheel: Take a ride on Navy Pier's famed 150-foot Ferris wheel and get one of the best views of the Chicago skyline and lakefront. It's only $6 a person for a seven-minute ride. And as long as your date isn't afraid of heights––it's the picture perfect thing to do.

4.) Netflix movies: Staying at home is not always the "ideal" location for a date, but the intimate setting gives you the ability to focus all of your attention on your date. So cuddle up and choose a few good movies you might not have seen.

3.) Ice skating rink at Millennium Park: It's only $10 for ice skate rental and free if you bring your own, so go be adventurous. Whether you're a pro or a newbie, it's always good fun--until you bust your butt on the ice.

2.) UIC Bowling Alley: The University of Illinois at Chicago has a Student Games and Bowling Center on South Halsted that is open to the public for extra cheap. It's  $3 for the general public ($2 for UIC students) and $1.75 for shoe rental. This hidden gem is a great place for a date and a little friendly competition.

1.) Free nights at the local museums: The Adler Planetarium,  the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art and many others all offer free general admission on certain days throughout the year.

Check out for more information.

See! It's not impossible to go on a nice date with a tight budget. In fact, your date probably won't even know you're on a budget with these creative things to do.

Have any ideas of your own? Leave them in the comments below!

Mariah Craddick

Mariah Craddick

Mariah Craddick hails from the city of Atlanta and is currently a junior studying in the magazine journalism program at Columbia College Chicago. In addition to contributing to GMO, she is also the President/Editor-in-Chief of HerCampus for Columbia College Chicago and is a "Style Guru" intern for

She can be contacted at