Skip the sitter: 14 great family date night ideas



While date nights are typically considered special time for mom and dad, bringing along the whole gang can make for a super memorable evening. Skip the sitter and try these fun family date nights.


1. Make like spies and escape.


If your mission is a meal with a whole lot of excitement, than SafeHouse Chicago is the place that will ignite your secret agent imaginations. Cracking codes, finding secret doors and climbing through laser beams are all part of the experience. Plus, they serve good food too! Just a few doors down, EscapeHouse Chicago offers family escape room missions for junior spies ages 8 and up. Just make sure to reserve a Family Mission time slot (regular escape room experiences are geared towards ages 14 and up).


SafeHouse Chicago: 60 E. Ontario St. Chicago; EscapeHouse Chicago: 54 E. Ontario St., Chicago



2. Try your hand at some magic.


Watch the kids’ eyes pop out as family-friendly magicians wow them during the Sunday matinee family shows at the Chicago Magic Lounge (recommended for ages 5 and up). Sleight of hand, disappearing acts and a whole lot of jokes ensure endless giggles. Plus, there’s food and drinks too, all behind a secret laundromat door.


5050 N. Clark St., Chicago


3. Splash into a water-riffic day.


Just because it’s currently cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t get your swim on. The Water Works in Schaumburg is an awesome indoor water park with slides, diving boards and a rapid water channel that will have the kids chasing each other in circles. Family open swim is available on winter evenings and weekend afternoons.


Another fantastic option is to get a day pass at Great Wolf Lodge. Located in Gurnee, day pass options are now available online when booked in advance. Your wolf pack can have the pleasure of splashing from 10 a.m. until the water park’s close, then snuggle up in your own beds for the evening.


The Water Works: 505 N. Springinsguth Road, Schaumburg, Great Wolf Lodge: 1700 Nations Drive, Gurnee



4. Bounce energy out at a trampoline park.


Make like Mila Kunis in Bad Moms Christmas and try your hand at dodgeball with the kids at Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park. You can also jump, slam dunk a basketball or climb like a ninja warrior. What kids don’t like to conquer obstacles with mom and dad?


Various locations in Chicagoland



5. Strike it big bowling.


Bowlero is an awesome, modern and sleek bowling alley. Some locations also include laser tag and other fun activities. Roll out some strikes and spares, then enjoy some tasty eats. Pinstripes and Kings Dining & Entertainment are other great bowling alleys.


Various locations in Chicagoland

Sky Zone, Photo Credit: Cortney Fries


6. Tip your pinkies during tea.


Prince & Princess Afternoon Tea is served between 1-5 p.m. in the Palm Court of the Drake Hotel. Put your pinkies up for this fabulous experience where you’ll all delight over finger sandwiches and fresh scones with luscious lemon curd while you listen to harp music softly strummed in the background.


140 E Walton Place, Chicago


7. Tilt out over Chicago.


See Chicago from a new angle when you tilt 30 degrees out of 360 Chicago. On the uplifting, but not too scary, TILT, grab onto the handles as a moving platform angles you out over Michigan Avenue. View the skyline and Lake Michigan from 94 floors above. This moving experience will have your whole family falling in love with Chicago all over again.


875 N. Michigan Ave.


8. Snap some snazzy photos at wndr museum.  


Light up your Instagram feed with cool pics of you and the kids at wndr museum, where you can immerse yourself in art and interesting backgrounds. Game night, Valentine’s specials and Sunday Morning Cartoons are some of the events you might not want to miss with your crew.


1130 W. Monroe St., Chicago


9. Dine with all your girls (dolls included) at American Girl.


American Girl has an adorable cafe where youngsters can bring their dolls and dine together at the table. The last Saturday reservation is at 6:30 p.m., so grab your kids for an early dinner they won’t soon forget. Dolls get a seat at the table and their own dinnerware while your little one is treated to an entree they’ll enjoy, often accompanied by cute sides like a flower-shaped fruit kabob. The icing on the cake is that your kid gets a delicious dessert, plus the doll tableware to take home to relive their evening out. Adults will find plenty of options to please their palates as well.


835 Michigan Ave., Chicago


10. Paint pottery together. 


It can be a whole lot of fun to get messy in some one else’s creative studio! Try your hand at painting pottery like piggy banks and serving platters. Color Me Mine in Glenview is open until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings. Pick your treasures, paint as a family and watch the good times flow.


1855 Tower Drive, Glenview

Tilt at 360 Chicago


11. Cook up something tasty.


Cooking classes are a great way to spend your time doing something productive like cooking creations they’ll actually eat. Taste Buds Kitchen in Bannockburn features family classes on Sunday evenings, such as the Sliders & Shakes class on March 15 for ages 9-17 with their families or the Handmade Pasta class on April 19.


2521 Waukegan Road, Bannockburn


12. Take in a hockey or basketball game.


There’s still time left to watch a hockey match. The Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Wolves offer fun family experiences you’ll be bouncing in your seats over. Or snag tickets to the Chicago Bulls or the Windy City Bulls. You can even book exclusive experiences to make your evening even more memorable.


Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls play at United Center in Chicago, Chicago Wolves play at Allstate Arena in Rosemont and the Windy City Bulls play in Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates


13. Ice skate at Maggie Daley Park.


Glide around the skating ribbon at beautiful Maggie Daley Park for free if you bring your own skates. Let the excitement of the city surround you as you soak up this magical winter activity. Renting skates costs $15 per pair on weekends and holidays. There’s also a fast pass to avoid the wait. Warm up with cocoa or snap photos of yourselves by the Bean afterwards.


337 E. Randolph St.


14. Savor an interactive dinner.


Sushi served on conveyor belts or rotating boats can light up kids’ eyes to trying something new. Sushi + Rotary Sushi Bar has locations in Chicago and Aurora and serves kids’ meals on cool little cars. Taste of Tokyo features floating boats that diners love sampling dishes off of. If pizza is more your family’s speed, Stella Barra Pizzeria features kids’ pizza making Monday- Friday 4-6pm.


Follow Chicago Parent on Instagram.


This article originally published on June 26, 2015. It has been updated with the most recent information.


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