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Chicago is home to many industries that offer countless options for date-night destinations. This includes restaurants, museums, and themed attractions that can make for an exciting and fun night out. There are also several local landmarks in Chicago that you can visit free of charge, many of which are outdoors, including zoos, nature walks, and art installations across the city. Whatever the weather or time of year, you’ll find endless opportunities to have a great date night in Chicago. Here are a few date night ideas that both locals and tourists might love.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is located in Lincoln Park and houses a wide variety of wildlife. The zoo is free for all guests, which can make it the ideal place for an affordable date night. Lincoln Park Zoo also sometimes offers special events, such as Zoo Lights during the winter months and themed nights that keep the zoo open after regular business hours. These events can offer exciting opportunities to explore the exhibits and have great conversations while walking around the park. Lincoln Park Zoo also has lily ponds and a nature trail where you can view diverse species of plants.

Art Installations

Image via Flickr by Bert Kaufmann

Chicago has several art installations that the public can view outdoors. One of the most popular pieces to visit is Cloudgate, which is a large mirrored bean located in Millennium Park. Another picturesque place to walk on a date in Millennium Park is Crown Fountain, which displays video footage of faces that belong to Chicago locals. You can also visit Agora in Grant Park, a collection of large statues shaped like sets of legs walking around the area. Any of these destinations can be wonderful places for an outdoor date night walking or having a picnic in the park.

Goose Island Brewery

Goose Island Brewery is a Chicago-based company that brews and sells its own beer. The company also operates a brewery in the city that can be a fun place to have a date, especially if you take the brewery tour. The Goose Island Brewery tour involves exploring the brewery’s various rooms and getting an inside look at the brewing process. You’ll also receive samples of Goose Island’s brews in each area. After, you and your date can share a meal at the Clybourn Brewhouse, which is attached to the brewery and offers a variety of food and drinks.

Eataly

If you enjoy trying new foods and drinks, Eataly Chicago might be the ideal date-night spot for you. Eataly is a multi-story market that contains grocery stores, restaurants, and cafes that allow visitors to take part in authentic Italian dining. Many people enjoy visiting Eataly to browse the specialty grocery items and eat a high-quality meal. Many of Eataly’s dining areas also have a fun and engaging atmosphere that can create the perfect setting for a quiet date night. You can also purchase fine food items to continue your date at home, such as meats, cheeses, and wines.

Theatre District

Chicago also has an extensive theatre district that hosts countless plays, musicals, and other types of performances. Some of Chicago’s most famous venues in the theatre district are The Chicago Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, and James M. Nederlander Theatre. For an excellent date night, you might bring a guest to watch a musical that’s visiting on tour from Broadway or to attend a concert or comedy show. There are also various restaurants and cafes in the theatre district where you can share a meal and talk about the shows you see.

Museums

Chicago contains several interesting museums that showcase exhibits about history, art, and science.   For example, you might visit the Field Museum to explore artifacts from various cultures and time periods, including mummies and dinosaur fossils. Another popular date destination is the Adler Planetarium, which allows visitors to learn about space and the universe through interactive exhibits and observation decks.

Many museums in Chicago, such as the Art Institute and the Shedd Aquarium, host events year-round that keep the facilities open after hours and provide drinks, food, and musical entertainment, which can make for the perfect date night.

Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalk is a walking path that borders the Chicago River and lasts for over a full mile. The Riverwalk is home to several restaurants, bars, and cafes that can provide the perfect place to bring a date after a nighttime stroll next to the river. During warm seasons, you can also board architectural boat tours and find opportunities to rent kayaks and canoes on the riverwalk. While strolling along or taking a boat tour, you can enjoy the scenic views of downtown Chicago, including the city’s historical architecture and highly decorative buildings.

Outdoor Igloos

During Chicago’s winter months, many of the city’s restaurants and hotels set up igloos that allow customers to enjoy outdoor dining, even in the snow. These igloos often contain a small table and two chairs or sofas, which can create the perfect atmosphere for a cozy date night. For example, the Kennedy Rooftop offers igloos on its rooftop that are heated and decorated for the holidays. You can find a similar experience at the I|O Godfrey Roofscape.

Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory is a botanical garden located on the west side of Chicago. While admission is free, the conservatory asks guests to make reservations in advance, which allows them to reduce crowdedness and create a calm atmosphere. At the Garfield Park Conservatory, you can explore several collections of local and exotic plants, kept in climate-controlled areas that protect them in all weather. This can be a great date night for couples who enjoy nature but want to remain within the city.

These are a few of the most popular locations and experiences for date nights in Chicago. Which do you think you’ll try first? Do you have a favorite date spot in the city? Let us know, and we’ll keep it in mind for our next list.