Our Favorite (Frugal) Date Ideas

John turns 30 in two weeks, I can hardly believe it.  I wanted to mark the occasion on the blog in some way, but I already did facts about him for his last birthday, so I decided instead to list some of our favorite ways to spend time together when we actively plan for a date night.  John is a typical 'guy's guy' so a lot of things on the suggested date night lists floating around the internet get major eye rolls from him - dance class?  art gallery?  scrapbook together?  yoga?  Nope.  I mean, to be perfectly honest, those things get an eye roll from me too.  Fancy girly girl I am not.  So if you're anything like us, read on for some of our favorite and relatively inexpensive dates.

Mini-Golf.  Probably only because I can't play the real kind.  We get really competitive (even though I kind of suck) and bet on our game.  Like loser buys ice cream after.  Mini-golf can be pretty cheap.  Not the one that's on Navy Pier, but over by our house?  Just $8 to $10 per person, and you can play a second game at a discount.  It'd be even cheaper if we drove further out of the city.  We also really love the glow in the dark mini golf, like children.  It's fun!

Bowling.  This is more John's thing than it is mine.  You know what I like about bowling?  Cheap beer.  The actual bowling part hasn't been my forte since they stopped letting me have bumpers.  But John loves this one and they always have discounted days.

Arcades.  Chicago actually has a few of these, they are so fun.  We love spending hours at Logan's Arcade and Emporium playing all sorts of pinball and old school video games like Ninja Turtles and Pacman, and I love consistently winning at air hockey.

Lincoln Park Zoo.  The zoo in Chicago is totally free.  I love that.  Free is definitely my favorite price.  It's really good exercise because it involves tons of walking, and we try to go when it's cooler weather to avoid kids and crowds.

Watching Cubs games in Wrigley.  Actually attending the game used to be dirt cheap - just wait til the 3rd inning and scalpers would practically give away their bleacher seat tickets.  We could go for just $5 each.  That'll be over since they finally won a World Series for the first time in most fans' lifetimes.  But we can still have a fun date just watching the game at a bar in Wrigleyville.  They have game day food and drink specials and you can hear the cheers from the stadium before you see what happens on TV, so that's always fun.  We can hang out for the day at someplace like Sluggers, which has batting cages and other games upstairs (skeeball!) and bring a deck of cards for between innings, or just hop from bar to bar down Clark Street.  The idea of this applies to Blackhawks games too, just swap Wrigleyville/Clark Street for West Loop/Madison Street.

Walk the dog to get ice cream.  We're a couple blocks from an ice cream place, so when we feel like indulging we justify it by walking to get it instead of driving or ordering.  We put Hawkeye's leash on and head out, which gives us lots of time to talk and hang out.  Hawkeye likes these dates too, because obviously we get her her own little cup.

Hang out at Navy Pier.  Navy Pier is free, which I really love.  And there's a lot of places inside for cheap food and snacks.  The drinks are outrageous but you know how I feel about bringing my own anyway.  We like to head to Navy Pier when the weather is nice since it's fun just to walk around and enjoy the views.  Some of the boat tours are super cheap and at the end of the pier is where they have bands play and you can just sit and listen.  Plus when we stick it out until after sundown, there's free fireworks on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Dive Bars and trivia.  Probably one of the things we do most often!  We love dive bars.  Even better if they allow dogs.  Everything is always super cheap, it's casual and relaxed, and generally I can put whatever music I want on the jukebox.  Some of our favorite places even have free food for events (like Sundays for football) and weekday trivia nights.  I love trivia night, I get very competitive.  There's a whole bunch of these bars along the strip from my train stop to home (Northside, down Pulaski) and John will come meet me at the train after I get off work on Fridays and we slowly make our way home, hitting the dives on the way.  It's a great time.

What are some of your go to date ideas that don't cost much?

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