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Shedd Aquarium

After Dark: 10 Chicago Date Night Destinations

Sep 20, 2018 Arts, Culture & History

Couple staring at a painting

Kiss under the stars, play ping ping or retro arcade games, or watch a professional feed sharks.

Have a fun night out in the Windy City with these date-night destinations.

Twist on Table Tennis


SPiNor AceBounce? Or both? The two ping pong bars sit less than a half mile apart. SPiN on State Street gives off a club vibe with a perennial ping pong tournament feel. Celeb Susan Sarandon began the whole concept a decade ago in NYC. You can grab a table (ping pong) for half-hour slots. Across the river, AceBounce is a relaxed, subterranean space with food and cocktails, but still a bar built around ping pong. If you’re walk-ins without a waiting line, you can rent a table and do that Forest Gump thing.

Good to know: Same rates for both venues: half hour for $22 during peak hours 4–10 p.m., Mon–Fri.

Inside a building with planets hanging from the roof

See the Stars


Special couples’ enticements include Adler After Dark at the Adler Planetarium. Every third Thursday the Planetarium offers full admission to galleries and exhibits along with unique entertainment for the over 21 crowd. From themed events: Planetary Prom (prom-style dress code) to Geek Chic (trivia games and scavenger hunts), evenings under the stars are never the same. Unpredictable stress-free fun. Cocktails and appetizers available at Café Galileo’s.

Good to know: Order tickets online as events tend to sell out. General admission is $20 Between 6:00–10:00 p.m., general admission is $20, but does not include tours of the Doane Observatory ($8).

Get Curious


Get your creepy on while touring the newest mummy exhibit at the Field Museum. Descend into the tomb and learn more than you ever wanted to know about the art of mummification. Then head to the Weather Mark Tavern for a drink to steady your nerves. Celebrating 12 years, its open-air nautical vibe is a perfect contrast to an ancient tomb.

People staring at a painting

Carve Out Your Art Time


The best things in life are free! Art Institute of Chicago hosts Free Thursday Evenings to Illinois residents. Show your ID and enjoy the exhibitions. Stay for dinner at Terzo Piano, the CAI’s on-site restaurant and bar for a drink. Exhibitions include medieval illuminated manuscripts to 20th- and 21st-century architecture designs. It’s the best place to hold hands or just sit and drink in all the beauty and creativity.

Good to know: Free general admission to Illinois residents Thursdays from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. If your beloved is only free on Fridays, admission costs $30 per person.

Game for Pac-Man


Game with your date on oldies but goodies like Frogger, TRON and Pac-Man at the Uptown Arcade. The place is perfect for when you and yours want a decidedly fun atmosphere. Never taking it itself too seriously, Uptown offers a unique selection of beers like Pinball Ale and hundreds of video games to tempt your inner child. Even better, you can morph into sophisticated adult as you can toast to each other with craft whiskeys.

Replay Lincoln Park, a cool arcade, has a funky vibe and vintage atmosphere. There’s beer, bourbon and Donkey Kong — with many of the games free to play.

FTW (For The Win) is a steampunk-styled arcade located within an indoor entertainment complex in downtown Chicago. It boasts 130 games, plus, a 6-hole mini golf course, with a restaurant and bar. 

In Logan Square, Logan Arcade pairs a great selection of craft beer with an ever-rotating selection of pinball machines and classic games. There's even a Killer Queen cabinet, one of only a few dozen versions of the game in the entire United States.

Fall in Love with Mondays

It doesn’t matter if you can’t make toast or boil water, Chef Dan Bocik (of a tavola) offers nearly fool-proof cooking classes once a month on Mondays (usually the first of the month) at the restaurant. These events are a fun way to learn how to make true Italian food—a tavola’s own menu items. Bonus: You can surprise your sweetheart by making these masterpieces at home. And should everything fall through—a tavola to the rescue with its gnocchi to-go take out.

Good to know: Cost $65 per person for 2–3 hours, not including alcohol, tax, gratuity.

A shark swimming

Make a Playdate with Fish

This table for two is for the fish. The Shedd Aquarium has shark feedings on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so make it an early day with your sole, uh, soul mate. The Shark Feeding Tour: Behind the Scenes in Wild Reef begins with an hour-long behind-the-scenes tour to the galleries then culminates with a shark feeding. As you stroll through your own private reef, watch the watery citizens of Shedd swim around and watch your blood pressure go down. 

Then dry off at the Chicago’s ultra-modern outdoor structure, Horizon Pavilion, for the best morning skyline selfies on the planet.

Good to know: Tours require reservations, cost $90 per person.

Practice at Bat

If it’s been a tough week for you and yours do something physical. Release your stress at the batting cages at Sluggers Bar or Stella’s. Here you can safely connect a bat to a ball and afterwards grab a beer and a burger. Rumor has it that couples who bat together, stay together.

Good to know: It costs about a $1 a ball.

Ice cream and Frank Lloyd Wright

In the movie, The Lake House, two lovers (a doctor and a builder) are separated by time. They connect through a lake house and a walking tour of his favorite structures in Chicago. Create your own couples’ walking tour starting in Oak Park. First, meet for a cone at Petersen’s Ice Cream, preferably at the same time. And together with waffle cones in hand, follow the Illinois' Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, starting with his home and studio.

Did You Know: Petersen’s opened about 5 years after Wright finished the Emil Bach House? See the streets through the architecture lover’s eyes.

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