Autumn Adventures

Autumn Adventures: 4 Fun Things To Do In Chicago This Fall

Autumn Adventures

It’s time for pumpkin-themed everything. Though this fall may not look like previous falls, there’s still plenty to do while remaining safe and practicing social distancing. Check out this list of local activities if you’re looking for a way to spend a crisp, golden weekend.

Indulge your inner adventurer

The Forge: Lemont Quarries opened up in July. This enormous new destination includes the world’s largest aerial challenge course, complete with two miles of ziplines, rappelling and rock climbing walls. If that’s not your thing, you can go mountain biking or paddling in a canoe or kayak. The tech-minded might enjoy the laser tag or augmented reality outdoor escape games. There is also a smaller adventure course geared towards kids. The park is cashless for COVID-19 prevention, and has implemented strict social distancing guidelines so that guests can enjoy the facilities while staying safe.

Enjoy autumn’s brilliance

If you can’t imagine fall without a healthy dose of leaf peeping, look no further than the Morton Arboretum. Take in the colors while enjoying 16 miles of hiking trails. Entry is allowed via timed passes only, ensuring the ability to social distance while on the grounds. So plan ahead to enjoy this 1,700-acre “outdoor museum” of plants and trees.

Get your groove on

The Hyde Park Jazz Fest is still on for Sept. 26-27. The festival will feature a main virtual concert streamed from the Logan Center for the Arts on the 26th. To retain the energy of the event, organizers are planning live, mobile performances on the 27th. These performances will last roughly half an hour each and be held at different locations around town to reduce congregating. Whether you choose the tune into the streamed concert or attend one of the live ones, you’ll still be able to enjoy live jazz music this fall.

Grab a cold one

The Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer is going virtual this November, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get to sample the brews. The organizers will proceed with the competition and awards ceremony. Though the details haven’t been made public yet, they’re also working on ways for to get the beer to enthusiasts.

Enjoy and make the most of those autumn weekends while staying safe.

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Keeping Connections Strong

Keeping Connections Strong: 5 Ways to Socialize from a Distance

Keeping Connections Strong: 5 Ways to Socialize from a Distance

Social distancing. It’s a phrase we’re all sick of, but it doesn’t seem like it will be going away anytime soon.

You may be ready to resume your normal social life. After all, there’s been quite a bit of discussion about how social distancing impacts mental health, and how to balance the risks with your emotional well-being. But your friends or your family may be taking a more conservative approach. Or maybe you’re not ready to reenter society, and your friends are. Whatever your comfort level, we have a few ideas for socializing and staying connected while maintaining those six feet of distance.

  1. Have a pod picnic with your friends or family. Members of the same household can sit in “pods” spaced six feet from other pods. Being outdoors and bringing your own food will help you and your loved ones feel safe, while still being able to spend time together and catch up.red meal
  2. Go hiking. Again, being outdoors lessens any risks you may be worried about, and hiking six feet apart is not difficult to maintain. Plus, being outside and getting some exercise will lift your mood.
  3. Start a book club. This is a great way to socialize with people whose comfort level differs from your own. People who want to meet in person can do so, and those who prefer to stay virtual can join via video chat. Need an idea for the first read? Check out this list.Keeping Connections Strong
  4. Start a neighborhood activity. A Chicagoland mom came up with the idea of a shamrock hunt for kids back in March. The post went viral and inspired people in other communities, as well. If you don’t know your neighbors, this is a great way to meet them. Try starting a non-holiday version of the popular “You’ve been Boo’d” Halloween game where people leave mystery packages for neighbors, with a note to do the same for the next person.
  5. Run a trivia night. This is also an activity that can be done both in-person and virtually, depending on people’s comfort levels. Don’t know how to start a trivia night? Check out this guide.

We hope that you find an activity to suit your comfort level and allow you to stay connected to friends and loved ones. Stay safe!

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Strengthening Bonds: Volunteer with Friends

Strengthening Bonds

If you’re looking to strengthen your relationships, or even forge new ones, there’s really no better bond than legitimately saving the world together. With dozens of volunteering opportunities (right now and year-around), Chicago has no shortage of options for friends to come together, roll up their sleeves, and help save the world. 

Think about it, chances are some of your fondest memories go back to when you’ve been part of a team. Whether that was part of a sport or a cause or even a job, working with your friends for a bigger cause is a guaranteed way to feed your soul while also having tangible ways to give back to your community and build each other’s self-confidence. 

If volunteering is something that you’ve always felt you were called to do, but thought of as a loner activity, ditch that mentality and ask your special other and friends to join you. Not only can the added support for what can turn out to be a mentally exhausting activity come in handy, but together, you can play on each other’s strengths to tackle tough situations. 

Where can I sign up?

There are different ways of finding the right fit. You can go to the soup kitchens’ direct website by either yelping your nearest soup kitchen and then signing up directly through their website, or by signing up for a volunteer match website like volunteermatch.org where you can literally choose to be volunteered for anything from a crisis counselor to finding support for putting a nonprofit event together. 

If weather permits, you can even choose to have a “Beach Clean-Up Day” that can end in a bonfire to reward yourselves for your hard work. 

The list is endless. If being a part of a group that helps strengthen each other’s value system sounds like your cup of tea (or coffee, no judgment), making a difference is only a signup sheet away. 

If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities specifically geared towards a cause as a result of the current coronavirus emergency, please refer to local hospital, clinic, school, and restaurant websites. Many neighborhoods, towns, cities, and organizations are organizing a variety of volunteering efforts to help support essential workers in the community as well as healthcare workers. Don’t forget to support your local small businesses at this time, many of whom may not survive this crisis.

To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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COVID-19 Boredom: Keeping in Touch with Loved Ones

COVID-19 Boredom

The subject on everyone’s mind — boredom. It only took a global pandemic, but if this current state of affairs has taught us anything, it is to never take for granted our social gatherings (especially with friends and family) ever again. Humans need human interactions, and when we’re lucky enough to have them, we need to nurture them. This is imperative even from a distance! Below we’ve put together a list of a few social distancing ideas to help you and your special other connect with your friends and/or family from afar.

Zoom Out

Zoom isn’t just for work meetings. Use it to connect with friends/family and make the most of it by trying some of the following ideas:

  • Covid-19 BoredomStart a Book Club – Use an app like kindle to download the same murder mystery, then have a meeting to see who cracked the case first.
  • Use Social Media – In a bizarre twist of events, the social media apps that we once used to disconnect, can now be used for their intended purpose – to connect. Use fun filters, post your favorite recipes, and show off your current hobby on your favorite social platform!
  • Synchronized Show Watching – Pick a show you all agree on and binge it at the same time. Then, meet on zoom to let your emotions flow.
  • Play Virtual Games – Now is a good time to show off those charade and pictionary skills! Our personal fave is scribbl.io 🙂

Find a Way to Help Together

From sewing up face masks to donating canned goods, there is an outpouring of love, support, and community service from entire communities, without ever even seeing each other! Make a plan to donate or safely work together to help others get through this tough time. Even a simple hello can make someone’s day!

Go for a Walk (Apart)

If you live close enough, you can arrange to walk together on opposite ends of a street, or you can do a virtual walk and facetime/chat at the same time. Staying fit AND connected — multitasking at its finest!

These tips are great to help you through this time of isolation, but keep them in mind when your schedules get crazy again and life gets in the way again of you physically seeing your friends/friends. Stay safe everyone, and remember, we’re all in this together!

To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

COVID-19: Improve Your Relationship with Your Partner While You Practice Social Distancing

COVID-19: Improve Your Relationship with Your Partner

Social distancing is HARD, especially as the flowers are starting to bloom and the sun is starting to come out. We get it. But it’s the right thing to do right now. Between the start of spring, longer days, new sports seasons, and the desire to spend more time outdoors, finding the motivation to stay indoors and away from people is difficult. This is especially harder for those in relationships, as the lack of excitement can leave the relationship feeling like hitting a wall. After navigating this phenomenon for the past few weeks, we want to share with you a few ways to improve your relationship with your partner in this time for self-care! Fortunately, there are so many activities couples can do indoors to keep the spark alive.

Cook together!

Find a website and/or app in which you pick a meal and the company sends you the ingredients needed to make that meal! Cooking together is a great way to try something new, while growing your relationship with each other.

Cook together Covid-19

Practice self-care

Some of our favorite solo self-care activities include reading, journaling, and planning. As a couple, we take this time to talk through the relationship. A great way to do this is saying things we love about the relationship, as well as things we can do to improve together. Having these conversations is so important to keeping the relationship prosperous.

Practice self-care

Play a new board game

There’s ALWAYS a new game on the market you’ve been wanting to try. Why not now? When else do you have countless hours on your hands to actually experiment with a new game?! Find it online, order it, and spend a few hours learning how to play it. Who knows – maybe you’ll become masters at it!

board game Covid-19

Catch up on your movie list!

We’ve all got that never-ending “to-watch” list. What a perfect time to binge watch them all! Especially if the wait has been due to conflicting schedules with your partner. You just HAVE to watch them together, right? Well, pull out that list and start watching!

Catch up on your movie list! We’ve all got that never-ending “to-watch” list. What a perfect time to binge watch them all! Especially if the wait has been due to conflicting schedules with your partner. You just HAVE to watch them together, right? Well, pull out that list and start watching!

Finish those side projects

How many separate lists of home projects and side projects do you have? Maybe a list of gifts to buy for upcoming birthdays and weddings? How about a DIY project you’ve been holding off on? Might be a good time to finish painting that wall you’ve been putting off. Or maybe finally clean out that kitchen pantry that’s been piling up expired foods that you didn’t realize. It’s a great time to cross off a bunch of items on your to-do lists!

Finish those side projects

To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

Waiting for Spring: Indoor Date Ideas for When You’re Over the Chill

Indoor Date Ideas

Spring is coming, but someone forgot to tell the wind. You want to go out but you’re over the cold weather. We hear you. Here are some great indoor date ideas for your next double date in March or April.

Musical Theatre

A night of musical theater is sure to pull you out of any lingering end-of-winter blues. My Fair Lady is playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre from March 24 to April 12. Get dressed up and enjoy a classy night out with your love and your friends.

Musical Theater

Comedy

Check out Second City for side-splitting laughs. If you are an aspiring comedian yourself, you can even take improv classes through the organization.

Adler Planetarium

A few times this year, the Adler Planetarium will open up in the evening for the over-21 crowd. The next event will be on April 16, and the price of admission ($12.50-$30) includes access to all exhibits, unlimited sky shows in the planetarium’s theaters, lectures, educational programs, live entertainment and a killer view of the Chicago skyline. Bars will also have alcohol available for purchase.

Retro Evening

Who knew there were still piano bars? For a retro evening of classy drinks and live music, check out Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret in Wicker Park. The front of the house is a casual piano bar (if you like to sing, come on Open Mic Mondays). In the back is a full cabaret. No talking is allowed there and you have to make a reservation and order at least two drinks. For cabaret show listings, check http://davenportspianobar.com/show-listings/.

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

Double Trouble: Why Engaging with Other Couples is Important

Engaging with Other Couples

If you’re like most long-term couples, you are probably well past the honeymoon phase of your relationship and thus have experienced the unavoidable “married life” rut. The good news is there are many ways to keep it alive and thriving, with one of them being…you guessed it! Double Dating.

According to a study in Science Daily, double dating can be a great way to reignite passion for your significant other. Having another couple to share personal details with has been proven to help make you feel closer to your partner. 

Let’s face it, passion is one of the first things to go in a long-term relationship. It takes a lot of work to keep the passion train going and not surprisingly, the antidote to breaking that “dry spell” is introducing new options. 

So how exactly can you strengthen the bond with your partner via double dating? Glad you asked. See below for two expert tips.

Play the question game

This tactic has the power to solidify a couple’s unity and increase partners attraction to one another. In your next date night ask everyone in your group questions like… “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” or “If you could go back in your life and change any one experience, what would it be and why?” If you would rather stick to small talk you can try questions like “When was the last time you walked for more than an hour?”.

Get Out

The typical couple spends their free time “staying in” which can get pretty boring. Setting the commitment and feeling the pressure to make a “night out” worthwhile pushes you to try things outside your comfort zone which most of the time ends in you having a genuinely good time. Not only will you get to reconnect with old friends or make new ones, but it may be good for your relationship!

Introducing new experiences with another couple not only breaks the every-day mold, but such interactions have been proven to help us perceive our relationship in a whole new light.

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Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

Double couple competition: How to put on a cooking challenge evening

Double couple competition

Do you and your partner love to cook? If you and your couple friends are foodies, or just enjoy watching any of the myriad cooking shows on television these days, why not throw a mystery ingredient cooking challenge party?

Cooking challenge shows vary in their rules and complexity, so if there is a particular program that you love, feel free to adapt it to your liking. The plan laid out below allows for some friendly, mild competition for a group of four. If you prefer your competition a little more cutthroat, invite a few more friends over to serve as judges.

The rules

Each person is responsible for one dish: appetizer, entrée, side dish, dessert. Depending on the size and functionality of your kitchen, you can either all cook at the same time, two at a time, or one at a time.

The catch

Each individual will need to use a provided set of mystery ingredients to make their dish. You and your friends can decide how best to do this – will one person do all the shopping, or will each person create a mystery ingredient bag for a particular course?

To keep it fun and manageable for everyone, don’t make your mystery ingredients too outlandish, or too disparate. A combination of shrimp, navel oranges, cocoa power and bok choy? Challenging but doable. Rocky road ice cream, anchovies, turnips and eggs? Maybe not so much. 

Tips for success

Make sure your kitchen is well-stocked.  You’ll want a good selection of cookware as well as butter, oil, salt, pepper and spices. You may want to have staples on hand like Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, flour, corn starch and lemons. The more you have to work with, the more creative you can be! And don’t forget to plan for some fun cocktails or mocktails. You’ll need something to wash down the culinary masterpieces! 

Don’t forget to plate your dishes – after all, cooking show judges never fail to penalize bad presentation.  Then sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labors while you make your critiques (gently, now!). Since this is all for fun, the losers need not pack their knives and go. But you might want to make them do the dishes!

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Brewing with your besties

Brewing with your besties: Take your next double date to a beer brewing class!

When winter just won’t go away, and spring seems just a distant dream, it can be hard to drag yourself and your significant other out of the doldrums. You may find yourself hibernating indoors, doing the same old things. But that’s no way to spend the prime years of your life!

Beer brewing class

If you’re looking to shake things up, we recommend taking your next double date to a beer brewing class. Learn something new, and a few weeks later, you can open up a bottle of home brew and toast to your friendship – and your new hobby.

Beer brewing class

There are several options for brewing classes in the Chicago area.

The Pursuit Supply Company

The Pursuit Supply Company at 4316 W. Irving Park Road stocks supplies for all your quirky food-related DIY hobbies, and they also offer classes. In addition to beer brewing, you can take classes in photography, wine-making and coffee roasting!

Brew & Grow

Brew & Grow (3625 N. Kedzie Avenue) offers both beginning home brewer classes and advanced classes, should you decide this is a pastime you’d like to get explore further.

Gnome Brew

At Gnome Brew, 2026 W. Montrose Avenue, you can learn to brew your own beer in just one hour. If you really want to geek out on home brewing, you can also keep your eye on the shop’s events calendar for free public lectures or other events, such as the home brew bottle share meet-ups they host on the second Thursday of every month.

Make It The Best

If you’re looking for a memorable and light-hearted Valentine’s Day double date, Make It The Best at 9030 S. Hermitage Avenue has you covered with an evening of winemaking, dinner and dancing on February 14. The shop also offers beer brewing and wine-making classes throughout the year.

Enjoy a great activity with friends and stock your fridge with drinks for the next get-together at the same time!

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Fun, free, and frigid: Double date ideas for the upcoming brutal winter months

Double date ideas for the brutal winter

Grab another couple or two and head over to the ice skating rink at Millennium Park! Along with ice skating, you can sing-along to the holiday music and take in the view of the beautiful Chicago Christmas Tree. Don’t feel comfortable showing off your amateur ice skating skills? Worry not–they offer free skating lessons on Fridays at 11am and both weekend days at 9am! We bet there are others like you out there!

Chicago Christmas Tree

Chicago Christmas Tree 2019-2020
Chicago Christmas Tree 2019-2020 | Shot on iPhone

Holiday lighting decorations at a zoo

Who doesn’t like a great mix of animals and holiday lights?! Grab some friends and head over to see the Lincoln Park Zoolights Festival! You can take in a perfect array of lights dancing to holiday music while sipping on some delicious hot cocoa. (lpzoo.org)

Couple activities
Holiday lighting decorations at a zoo | Courtesy of pixabay

Snowball fights

If we’ve got snow, and you’ve got kids (or not), grab some sleds (or trash can lids, we won’t judge) and head over to a hilly neighborhood park with another couple and their kids (or not) to have some fun in the snow! You never know when it can turn into a snowball fight, though, so make sure you’re bundled up! 

Double date ideas for the brutal winter: Couple snowball fights
Snowball fights are more fun with other people! | Courtesy of pixabay

Christkindle Markets

What’s better than an absolutely adorable little market filled with holiday spirit?! If you haven’t checked out the Christkindle Markets yet (yes, there are two!), it’s time to grab some friends and have yourself some hot spiced apple cider, booze, or hot cocoa in their very own branded cups! They make for great souvenirs as well as annual traditions. Here’s a photo of us enjoying the tradition this year!

Christkindle Market 2019-2020
Christkindle Market 2019-2020 | Shot on Pixel 3

Bulls game

If you’re not into the holiday spirit this year (or ever, really), we’re grateful to the Windy City’s never-ending love for its sports teams. Grab some friends and catch a holiday game to cheer on the Bulls or the Bears (depending on how cold you want to be!). They also make the perfect presents!

Bulls game
We prefer to stay warmer, so here’s a shot from a Bulls game we went to this season! | Shot on iPhone

Heated Igloos

Missing those summer spots by the river?! Us too. Heated igloos are scattered across the city, and perfect for double dates (or even quadruple dates) as most seat 6-10 people! It’s the perfect way to feel like you’re outside but not be freezing! Reservations are required at most locations.

Double date ideas for the brutal winter: Heated Igloos for couples

Heated Igloos at City Winery on the Chicago Riverwalk | © 2017 Paul Crisanti

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