Stuck in a rut on date night? Try these unique ideas for adding some romance and fun
By Nicole Weddington
Winter is a great time to get romantic and step outside the box when looking for fun things to do on date night. Read on for some interesting alternatives to dinner and a movie for you and that special someone.
Taking a cooking class is the perfect way to spice up date night (pun intended) and make a few new friends along the way. You and your date will prepare a meal and take those learned techniques home to try out for yourself. “Couples cooking and date-night classes are typically people looking to have a good time but also interested in learning how to cook a meal together at home,” The Chopping Block’s Andrea Miller says. “It’s less expensive and healthier than going out. Plus, you get to spend quality time with a loved one.” Among the city’s many cooking schools, The Wooden Spoon and The Chopping Block, in particular, offer a variety of classes ranging from detailed demonstrations to a heavier hands-on approach. Some classes, especially those sponsored by restaurants, even include wine and beer tastings.
Dancing not only is a great way to feel closer to your significant other, it’s also a fantastic workout, not to mention helpful in terms of increasing confidence and reducing stress. This is a combination that naturally makes people feel sexy. Whether you’re practicing for your first dance as a married couple or are part of a fledgling relationship in search of a hip-shaking salsa session, a dance class will get the passion lit. “What’s more romantic than dancing in your partner’s arms?” asks Alesha Bales of Chicago Dance. “Not to mention, if you are angry with each other, you can take your anger out in a sassy tango and feel better.”
Laughter increases the release of endorphins, paving the way for romance and creating positive bonds between people that protect against stress. What better way can you think of to enjoy a night out with your loved one than eating, drinking and laughing your faces off at a comedy show? It’s time to snuggle up in the ambient lighting and giggle your way out of those winter blues. Second City’s new Up Comedy Club in Old Town offers live comedy shows seven days a week. “The best way to take the nerves out of a first date is to laugh,” says Up comedian Carisa Barreca. “I am in a new sketch show called “What the Tour Guide Didn’t Tell You.” It’s a great way to share a laugh with your sweetie and celebrate Chicago!”
Sometimes doing something as simple as getting away from home for the night is enough to spice up the most mundane relationship. Leave the laptops, the bills and the kids (if you have them) at home and enjoy a relaxing evening at one of the magnificent hotels our city has to offer. If you’re worried about the budget, Groupon and various travel sites (Kayak, Travelzoo, etc.) are great sources for exceptional offers on discounted rates and specials for couples. It’s cheaper than you think. “Sometimes it’s good to get away so you can relax from the everyday, normal routine and let someone cater to you,” says Tim Anderson, concierge at the Dana Hotel and Spa. “Just getting away from home, even if it’s in your own town, can be fun. You’re worth the money!”
See a play
With more than 200 critically acclaimed theater companies in the city, you’re bound to find something of interest on the stage. Many small neighborhood theaters produce world-class plays, and some of the troupes perform in non-traditional spaces like storefronts and bars. “I think the best dates are adventures where you discover and experience something together, something exciting and unknown,” says Ryan Martin, artistic director of The Den Theatre. So grab your honey and take them on an impromptu date to experience the arts. You’ll score brownie points for spontaneity and uniqueness. A cocktail and post-play conversation will keep the date going afterward.
Bundle up and relive the nostalgia of your youth by taking your loved one ice skating this season. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park is open through mid-March and free to the public (skate rentals are $10). Grab a hot chocolate from the Park Grill restaurant, spike it with your favorite spirit and take a hand-held skate with your significant other. “The falling snowflakes, the backdrop of the gorgeous Chicago skyline and the snow-covered bean made for a beautiful and warm experience,” says Brian Goldfine of Logan Square. “It reminded me of why I love Chicago.” The Rink at Wrigley will also be set up in the Cubs parking lot at the corner of Clark and Waveland this winter, as well as an indoor skating option at Navy Pier.