Cheap Summer Date Ideas

There’s something extra fun about going out for a date with your significant other in the summer. The gorgeous sunshine, not needing to carry around a bulky coat, being able to sit outside on a patio—what’s not to love? But going out all the time can start to break the bank if you’re not careful.

Luckily, there are so many great ways in Chicago to go out and have a romantic date without having to spend a fortune.

Need a little inspiration? Here are my five favorite cheap date ideas for a gorgeous Chicago:

Movies in the Park
Cost: free to attend
All throughout the week different parks host movies in the park. I love showing up with a picnic dinner (I opt for pre-made salads from Trader Joe’s, a cheese plate, and some fresh fruit) and a big blanket and posting up for the night. The movies vary from park to park, so you can find a cheap date in any neighborhood. A full list of all movies in the park is available here.

Navy Pier
Cost: free
I may be in the minority amongst Chicagoans (I know it’s known as a touristy spot), but I LOVE going to Navy Pier. I’m not a Navy Pier on the weekends kind of girl, but there are few things I enjoy doing with my boyfriend more after work than heading over to Navy Pier, walking down the pier, and catching the sunset over the city. Some nights they have bands playing outside and you can grab a beer and listen to some music. Others we just like to go sit at the edge and watch the boats. And, one day, I’ll get him to ride the ferris wheel with me. They also have free fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday nights – though the Saturday nights get extra busy with so many tourists visiting. I try to stick to off nights when there are few others out.

Neighborhood festivals
Cost: $5 suggested donation (for most)
If there’s one thing Chicago has an abundance of its festivals. It seems like very weekend there’s at least two happening in different neighborhoods throughout the city. For just a $5 donation, you can walk around and see gorgeous art, local vendors, and listen to amazing bands. They also have no shortage of food trucks. I love the empanadas from the 5411 Empanada truck. Some of my favorite fests include Wicker Park Fest, Taste of Greektown, and the West Loop Art Fest. A full festival lineup is available online here.

Millennium Park Summer Music Series
Cost: free to attend
Tourists and locals alike flock to Millennium Park, and for good reason. The Bean is a must-see for everyone who visits and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion invites people in for all occasions. One of my favorite reasons to head to the pavilion is the summer music series. On Mondays and Thursdays you can head over after work for a night music al fresco. And, on the Summer Music Series nights you are allowed to bring alcohol into the pavilion, so you can bring a bottle of wine to pair with your picnic. Don’t forget to swing by the bean before the music starts to get your token reflection photo. See the full schedule here.

Wandering the Lakefront Path
Cost: free
I say wandering because there are truly so many ways to enjoy the lakefront. Whether running, biking, rollerblading, skateboarding or just going for a nice long walk, the lakefront is a great place to spend a hot day. My personal favorite way to explore the lakefront is on my bike. Nothing is cuter than a couple with helmet hair. And, if you go at sunset, you get a gorgeous view of the city as the sun goes down.

What are some of your favorite cheap dates ideas? Share your ideas in the comments!

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