75 Champaign-Urbana DATE NIGHT IDEAS
Whether you have a hard time getting away, or you have a regularly scheduled date night, sometimes coming up with something to do that night is difficult. (We seem to fall into the trap of just going out to eat, but not really DOING something, together.)
We’re here to save you! Grab lunch or dinner and then choose an adventure from below. Or, in some cases, pack a picnic of your own. A few notes:
- SPONTANEOUS OR PLANNED?: Some of these require some planning; others you can do on the fly.
- LOCATION: Many fun Champaign-Urbana date night opportunities are seasonal, but we have ideas for any time of the year, indoors and outdoors. Also, date night is not even always at NIGHT.
- COST: Some of these ideas are free. Some have minimal cost. Others can get pricey. There’s something for everyone.
- HOW TO CHOOSE: If choosing just one is difficult, write your favorites on slips of paper or craft sticks and pick them from a jar.
- DISCLAIMER: Please note that while we do our best to keep the information on this list updated, anything is subject to change without notice.
- NEED CHILDCARE?: Check out our guide on how to find a babysitter and our article about parents nights out.
Chambanamoms thanks Rector Construction for presenting this list.
Rector Construction is a locally owned Champaign-based exterior construction company. Services include custom decks, roofing, siding, gutters, crawlspace encapsulations, and more. Rector is dedicated to giving back to the community by partnering with organizations and individuals who are making an impact in Champaign County.
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75 Champaign-Urbana Date Night Ideas
CATCH A SHOW
1 | Of course there is nothing like the variety of ARTS ON STAGE at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. All genres of music, dance, and other performing arts have a home here. And there is something for every budget.
2 | If it’s BIG NAMES you crave in a classic, beautiful venue, then don’t forget to peruse the calendar of events at The Virginia Theatre.
3 | ARENA SHOWS, along with BROADWAY TOURING PERFORMANCES, can be found once again at the State Farm Center.
4 | Enjoy LOCAL THEATRE. Don’t miss the Station Theatre in Urbana, a unique, intimate theater with a wide range of shows from serious plays to musicals; Parkland College Theatre is a hidden gem, too.
5 | The Virginia Theatre is also a great source for VINTAGE MOVIES, at vintage prices.
6 | Go back in time and enjoy a DRIVE-IN MOVIE at Harvest Moon Drive-In in Gibson City. Shows typically run from April to October. (Just don’t tell the kids you went without them.)
7 | Catch an outdoor MOVIE IN THE PARK. Check our calendar for free/cheap movie ideas. Some are even in the pool!
8 | Solve the case at a MURDER MYSTERY DINNER SHOW. There are multiple locations where you can find these special events, often put on by CUTC’s Seven Corpse Murder Mystery Dinners. You can find them hosted by Alto Vineyards, Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Allerton Mansion, Jupiter’s at the Crossing and more. These often sell out FAST.
9 | Go STAR GAZING (indoors) at the Planetarium in Champaign. Shows are generally on Friday and Saturday nights.
10 | Laugh together while taking in a COMEDY SHOW – lots of talent coming in and out of town. Find out where at Champaign-Urbana Comedy, as locations and dates vary.
LISTEN TO SWEET SOUNDS
11 | Enjoy LIVE MUSIC. Seriously people, performances from all genres can be found all week long. Head to CU Bands and Fans, which compiles concert info for Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas. One of our favorite venues is the Rose Bowl in Urbana, which has leveled up to have live music every. single. night!
12 | JAZZ it up. CU Jazz boasts a calendar featuring acts all across Champaign-Urbana.
13 | Love to hear a concert, but on a tight budget? There are many FREE RECITALS performed by University of Illinois School of Music students and guests, mostly during the school year (between the end of August and early May). Check the schedule HERE.
14 | Find MUSIC AL FRESCO all summer long. Find a great list of outdoor music events in our Guide to Summer Outdoor Concerts.
15 | Pack a picnic basket and head to Alto Vineyards in Champaign — a best kept secret — for its MUSIC AMONG THE VINES series. Most of them are Saturday nights, from mid-May to mid-September.
16 | Attend a local FESTIVAL. Summer is prime festival season, but they happen all year long. Some favorite music festivals: Pygmalion, Folk & Roots, Sleepy Creek Vineyards Art and Music, and the Mahomet Music Fest. We typically add these to our calendar.
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY
17 | Always dreamed of learning the TANGO? You don’t have to be a University of Illinois student to be part of the Dancing Illini, with informal lessons at the Illini Union. Or keep up with local weekday (evening) tango pop-ups online.
18 | Check out the weekly social BALLROOM dance at Regency Ballroom in Savoy, offered Friday evenings. Admission is $12 per person at the door — no membership required! The Regency also offers many different classes including ballroom, West Coast Swing, and the hustle.
19 | Explore the exciting world of SALSA at the Axe Bar, or take a class at Urbana Dance Company.
20 | Get a free lesson in BLUES DANCING every Monday night at Guido’s. Stick around to dance with no cover.
21 | Learn to SWING DANCE! The Illini Swing Society offers lessons and sometimes they are free; after a COVID pause the group is ramping back up.
22 | We all know about painting pottery — how about THROWING pottery? The Champaign Park District offers a unique date night opportunity for couples who want to have some fun with the pottery wheel but don’t have time to commit to a long series of classes.
23 | We profiled FIRE DOLL STUDIO, the new candle shop in downtown Champaign, last year. Did you know it has a candlemaking happy hour? Schedule it online.
24 | Check out scheduled Date Night paint and sip events, group events or OPEN PAINTING sessions. An artist will lead you step-by-step through an acrylic painting. Canvas and Corks in Monticello as well as Yellow Company in Mahomet are two local favorites.
25 | PAINT POTTERY together at one of our local studios including The Pottery Place (open until 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday).
26 | If you love KARAOKE, we have plenty of it in Champaign-Urbana. One favorite bar for karaoke is Senator’s Pub in Savoy. If you don’t want to sing in public, you can rent a private Karaoke room at Star Karaoke in Savoy, starting from $20 per hour.
27 | Schedule a date on a Thursday night and peruse the ART GALLERIES at Krannert Art Museum. Open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays when classes are in session. (Bonus: start your date with wine tasting at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’s Uncorked event, every Thursday starting at 5 p.m.)
28 | Go to the LIBRARY. It’s a whole different experience going to the library without kids. Many libraries, including Champaign, Urbana, Mahomet, Tolono and Rantoul offer some adult-centric programming as well. In addition to good reads, libraries offer a variety of programs including game nights, author talks and more. Champaign and Urbana are both open until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
29 | Find a quaint shop and enjoy COFFEE (or some other hot beverage) together. Some of our favorites: Cafe Kopi in downtown Champaign, Avionics in midtown Champaign, or Caffe Paradiso in Urbana. Get a cultural experience by going to Caffe Bene on campus. Some have live music.
30 | Get ZEN and learn about Japanese culture — sign up for a tea ceremony at the Japan House in Urbana.
31 | STAR WATCH at the historic University of Illinois Observatory. The telescopes are open to the public generally on the second Friday of the month on campus. During the spring, summer, and fall months observing usually takes place between 9-11 p.m. During the winter months observing usually takes place between 7-9 p.m. Best part? It’s free.
32 | VOLUNTEER together. Find a cause you’re passionate about; area organizations are always looking for volunteers, especially in the summer when fewer students are on campus.
33 | Relax and rejuvenate with a COUPLES MASSAGE. Our readers recommend their favorite massage locales in Champaign-Urbana (note: not all offer couples massage).
34 | Indulge in DESSERT. We have a whole list of our favorites.
35 | Take on the Chambanamoms.com ICE CREAM TRAIL Challenge. Tick off our list. We’re already working on a second ice cream trail.
36 | Have a PICNIC in the park. We have a list of our favorite places for picnicking in the Champaign-Urbana area.
37 | Go BREWERY HOPPING. Head to Blind Pig in downtown Champaign; Riggs in Urbana; or Tryptych in Savoy. All offer tastings and flights so you can get your taste on. You can also take a BREWERY TOUR at Riggs.
38 | Do a WINE TASTING. Sleepy Creek Vineyards offers wine tastings daily. Closer to home, find them at Art Mart and Sun Singer (often on Saturday afternoons). Or look out for special Wine Tasting events.
TAKE A TOUR
39 | Take a SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR OF CAMPUS. Maybe you aren’t as familiar with the University of Illinois campus, or maybe you want to relive the glory days. It doesn’t matter. The University of Illinois Admissions team has put together two self-guided tours you can do on your phone: the Quad and the Engineering campus. Free.
40 | Take a DRIVE and explore one of our area’s great small towns – Monticello, Paxton, Tuscola, Mahomet, just to name a few.
41 | Take in the sights of the city in a HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGE. Somewhat new to Champaign, a very romantic trip.
42 | RIDE CHAMPAIGN ON A PEDAL BIKE. Did you know Champaign is the only city in Illinois with pedal bikes? Illini Pub Cycle offers seats for individuals on Friday night rides, meaning it’s possible to get on when it’s just the two of you.
TAKE A CLASS
43 | Spice up your life with a COOKING CLASS. Keep your eye on the Common Ground Food Co-Op calendar, as classes happen on evenings and weekends. Campus Rec offers very reasonable classes, and they are open to the public. Parkland College also offers some cooking/baking classes, but plan way ahead; sources tell us they fill up quickly.
44 | Want to learn a new skill and perhaps new technology? Sign up for a WORKSHOP together at the CU Fab Lab. Past workshops have included laser cutting, etching, and animation. Or check out Makerspace Urbana on Wednesday nights.
45 | Go to a LECTURE on campus. This is a university town, after all; there are lots of smart people flowing in and out of our campus all the time. Check out the Illini Union calendar, for one; there are other places to look. Note: some events may be explicitly for students only.
46 | GO ILLINI. There are always plenty of opportunities to see Illinois in action, and even if you aren’t a big fan, games are FUN. For the schedule, visit fightingillini.com. And this can be a cheap date, too; events other than basketball (men’s and women’s), volleyball, or football are free.
47 | Watch HOCKEY in action at several different locations. We list teams in Champaign (Illini Club Hockey) to Springfield to Danville to Peoria.
48 | Cheer on FAST CARS at the Farmer City Raceway.
49 | There are few things more charming in the summer than going to the ballpark. After the Illini leave town, there are BASEBALL teams to watch all over Central Illinois. Our favorite: journeying to old Danville Stadium and seeing the Danville Dans.
50 | Go BOWLING! Of course, our favorite local bowl might be the most unique — in the basement at the Illini Union.
51 | Compete in a friendly game of LASER TAG at Skateland in Savoy.
52 | Try your hand at THROWING AXES. The first-ever axe bar in Champaign opened during the pandemic. It’s not easy to master, although some get lucky on the first try. Note: you must be 18 to throw an axe. Reservations for axe lanes aren’t required, but are recommended.
53 | If you’re into PAINT BALL or want to try it, we hear Salt Fork is the place to go.
54 | Shoot some POOL. Jupiter’s (two Champaign locations) is well known for pool leagues; the Illini Union also has a pool hall. There are also tables at Esquire (Champaign).
55 | Compete with others in TRIVIA or BINGO. You can find events at numerous locations around Champaign-Urbana, mainly at bars in downtown Champaign (Collective Pour and Pour Bros. host regularly). More options here.
56 | Get out your frustrations at the RAGE ROOM in west Champaign. Different packages are available depending on your need to smash things. Yes, we said smash things!
57 | If you enjoy solving puzzles, ESCAPE ROOMS are all the rage, and there’s at least two different escape rooms in Champaign-Urbana.
58 | Check out a YOGA CLASS together. Level up the romance with the candelight yoga at Hatha Yoga and Fitness in Champaign. Many local yoga studios offer evening classes and drop-ins are typically welcome. Prices vary.
59 | Try ICE SKATING at the UI Ice Arena.
60 | Play MINI-GOLF without the kids (okay, without your kids) at Old Orchard in Savoy or The Fringe in Rantoul.
61 | Lace up and ROLLER SKATE! Relive those high school memories at Skateland.
62 | Grab a frisbee and try DISC GOLF at Dodds Park in Champaign or Brent Johnson Park in Mahomet.
63 | Try your hand at ROCK CLIMBING. Urbana Boulders is open until 10 p.m. during the week, 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
64 | Shoot some ARCHERY at Hunter’s Haven in Champaign; indoor range is open during business hours. Ask about equipment rentals.
65 | Go FOOT GOLF. Yes, Foot Golf! Combining soccer and golf, this is a fun and relatively easy way to have an active date. At Lake of the Woods in Mahomet.
66 | Go SWIMMING. Again, it’s a totally different experience to go swimming without the kids. If it’s outdoor swimming, Crystal Lake Family Aquatic Center is open until 8 p.m., the latest of the area public pools; check out its annual ADULTS ONLY swim nights. The Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center has open swim hours until 9 p.m.
67 | Go GEOCACHING OR LETTERBOXING! Free and easy, both can lead to quite an outdoor adventure.
68 | Take advantage of the many Champaign-Urbana area greens and go GOLFING. Legends in Southwest Champaign is manageable for date night at 9 holes (open until 7:30 p.m. many nights).
69 | Go BOATING. Pedal boats, canoes, kayaks; even pontoon rentals. For a place without a lot of water, you can rent all kinds of boats in and around Champaign-Urbana (seasonally). Most are during the day, for an evening date, try Crystal Lake in Urbana (rentals until 7 p.m.) This is seasonal, of course; prime boating season is Memorial Day- Labor Day.
70 | Check out our Fun on the Farm guide and visit a local FARM for flower picking, fruit picking, traverse a corn maze, and more.
71 | Make the trip west and explore the beauty of ALLERTON PARK. Enjoy the various gardens, trails and more. It’s one of the seven wonders of Illinois for a reason.
72 | Take a stroll and enjoy NATURE and ART in harmony at the Meadowbrook Park sculpture garden. There is plenty of public art in West Side Park, too.
73 | Break out YOUR BIKES AND HELMETS. One idea is to check out the still newish Kickapoo Rail Trail bike trail.
74 | Find a local watering hole and go FISHING. Be sure to bring your own gear (lots of big box stores will sell starter kits if you don’t have any). Be aware that adults fishing in Illinois need to have a license ($15 for a year, per adult).
75 | Hit one of our many awesome urban trails and depending on the weather – WALK, HIKE, SNOWSHOE or BLADE.
76 | STARGAZE at one of the most unique venues in the nation — an internationally certified Dark Sky Park located right here in Champaign County. Head to the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve for a romantic evening.
What date night ideas would you add? Email us – email@example.com.