6 budget-friendly fall date nights

We all know how essential date nights are for parents, but with bills to pay and little mouths to feed, a fancy candlelit dinner is not always in the cards. Not to worry, however, since Chicago still has plenty of fun to offer on the cheap. The next time you’re in need of a little one-on-one time with your partner, consider one of these thrifty dates.

BYOB restaurant

I have recently discovered the wonders of bring-your-own-bottle restaurants. Instead of forking over $12 for a cocktail, you can enjoy an entire bottle of wine (or two) without worrying about the cost of drinks taking up half of your bill. Chicago and the suburbs are full of BYOB places, and some don’t even charge a corking fee. 

A few BYOB faves in the area:

Ora Sushi, Andersonville (no corkage fee!)

The Bristol, Bucktown (no corkage fee on Tuesday nights)

Boltwood, Evanston (no corkage fee on Sunday nights)

Go on a Groupon date

I’m way past the point in my relationship where my husband finds my penchant for couponing tacky. In fact, he encourages it, since I’ve found such awesome discounts in the past. Groupon and other coupon sites have deals on Chicago boat tours, couple’s massages, distillery tours and even hotel stays if you need a little staycation.

Happy hour

Who says you have to stay out late to have a fun night? I’m a big fan of grabbing early drinks and apps with my husband at a local happy hour. It’s way less expensive than a full dinner, but you still feel like you’re treating yourself. And having a relaxed, kid-free conversation? Priceless.

A few of my fave happy hours around the city:

Bar Roma, Andersonville

Half priced meatballs and appetizers, $6 glass of wine every Monday-Thursday from 5-6:30 p.m. and 9-10 p.m.

The Izakaya at Momotaro, Fulton Market

Deals on two and three-course pairings and drink specials every Wednesday and Thursday from 6-8 p.m.

Hub 51, River North

Half-priced sushi every day from 3-6 p.m. and 11 p.m. to close.

Visit the Garfield Park Conservatory

There’s no better way to escape the chilly fall weather than to visit a place where it’s basically summer year ‘round. Spend an afternoon strolling through lush plant life with your main squeeze or check out one of the conservatory’s free events, like yoga, on a Saturday morning. The conservatory does not charge admission, but donations are always appreciated.

Check out live music or sing karaoke

Whether its a cover band or dueling pianos, listening to live music is always a good time. You don’t have to go to a swanky lounge to enjoy yourself either. A dive bar with cheap beers, darts and no cover charge will take you back to your college days for a few hours. (Just remember, hangovers hurt much worse these days.) Feeling a bit more adventurous? Find a place that offers karaoke and make fools of yourselves.


The city has so much to offer, and now’s the time to take it all in before it gets too chilly outside. Get outside your comfort zone and check out a neighborhood or town you haven’t spent much time in. Peruse antiques and book stores, grab a coffee and maybe even get a little bit lost. After all, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing as long as you’re with someone you love.

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