If you're one of the few people at the U of C who actually goes out on first dates, then we at Carbon Copy have a few suggestions for you. We know there are a zillion great date ideas, but we're cheap and so are our suggestions.
It's always a good idea to have some sort of activity on first dates because if you realize within the first 15 minutes that you don't want to talk to this person that much, you have an excuse not to. Also, if you don't know each other that well then activities give you something to talk about. It's a win-win kind of deal. All of these suggestions are designed not to require a full day, but if your date's going well, go to more than one place and drag it out. The point is to have fun and not try too hard to be impressive or exciting, but just to enjoy each other's company.
#1: Go to a lesser-known museum. The Museum of Contemporary Art is a great one. It's quirky, and free on Tuesdays. MCA is located at 220 East Chicago Avenue, just a block away from Water Tower. Or, even lesser known is The International Museum of Surgical Science. It's inside of a great mansion at 1524 North Lake Shore Drive (call 312-642-6502). You two can compare notes on your mutual disgust, fascination, and make geeky U of C conversation. It's $3 with a UCID and is open Tuesday-Saturday.
#2: It's winter. Grab a hot chocolate and dessert at the Moonstruck Chocolate Café at 320 North Michigan Avenue. Stop in on your way to somewhere else or sit and enjoy a dessert and drink and get to know each other. They offer 40 different varieties of truffle, tarts, mousses, and shakes. I suggest trying the Mexican hot chocolate. So good.
#3: Go to a bookstore. I admit my bias; I'm a U of C geek and I love bookstores. There are tons of fantastic ones in the city that have different focuses and they provide ample conversation material and are free to play in. For the child in you go to Children in Paradise at 909 North Rush Street. This bookstore is guaranteed good for the soul and they even have a little reading room. It's also conveniently located for all the Rush Street restaurants. For the zine/comicbook lover in you go to Quimby's at 1854 West North Avenue. It's located near Sweet Thang where you can get pastries and bistro style snacks. And lastly, there's the Selected Works Bookstore that carries a vast selection of academic books with tons of book nooks and crannies. (3510 North Broadway Street 773-975-0002).
#4: Dinner: Lao Szechwan/Old Szechwan is one of my favorite places to eat, date or no date. I go there for the hot pot, which after tax and tip will be about $12 per person. Here's the beauty of it all: Hot pot can be spicy or mild, or half-spicy and half-mild. It's all you can eat for $9.50 and it gives you something to do while you're getting to know each other, not to mention it's delicious. After go to Joy Yee's or Sweet House for a post-dinner treat. Lao Szechwan is located in the new mall area at 2172 South Archer Avenue. 312-326-5040. Just take the Redline to the Chinatown stop.