By Jacqueline Runice
Once you're out of school, you have to rely on a lot of swiping right to meet potential love interests and where in the world do you go to unearth new friends of either sex for dinners out, heartfelt discussions, advice and general camaraderie? If you want to find people who are more interested in what's in your head than what's under your clothes, Chicago offers a profusion of fine options for sociable encounters that may lead to new running partners, drinking buddies, confidantes and playmates.
Museum Of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
One of the largest contemporary art venues on the planet is also a mecca of meet-up possibilities. Tuesdays on the Terrace is a free outdoor jazz concert with food and beverages for purchase, plus the museum stays open until 9 pm (and admission is free for Illinois residents). There are also talks and screenings on Tuesday nights to coincide with "free day" when MCA witnesses the greatest number of visitors. Free daily curator tours are a great way to meet other people interested in art and there are a variety from touch tours and ASL tours to stroller tours for parents to meet other parents. Purchase a ticket to Prime Time (because they sell out) for an after-hours museum event with curated food and music, interactive art pieces and pop-up exhibits and performances. University Nights are free admission evenings to meet and mingle with drinks, tours, music and all galleries are open so you can sidle up to someone to get their take on the art.
1300 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
As long as you don't open with, "Hey there, you with the stars in your eyes," you're liable to meet some fun loving Neil deGrasse Tyson types at the monthly "Adler After Dark" events. The 21+ events happen on the third Thursday of every month and themes change. For example, Total Eclipse of the Heart on Aug. 17 is an 80s- themed party to celebrate the upcoming total solar eclipse (happening Aug. 21). Your ticket snags full access and admission to museum exhibits and galleries; live entertainment; interactive educational programs; special experts; unlimited sky shows in any of the three state-of-the-art theaters; and access to the Doane Observatory so you can gaze at galaxies far, far away.
Must love dogs? There's no easier way to break the ice than having a cute wingman with a wagging tail. SIT Social in Lakeview, the city's first dog lounge, hosts a variety of themed evenings for pups and their owners such as doggie singles nights, yappy hours with humans as well as paint your pet's portrait classes. There's always Grant Park Dog Park, Wiggly Field on Sheffield and Wicker Park Dog Park, among others. Filini restaurant (at Radisson Blu Chicago) offers a new "Bring Your Own Dog" happy hour menu on Wednesdays when pups enjoy their own menu on the patio from 4 to 6 p.m. Other eateries welcoming pooches and opportunities for human interaction include: Harry Caray's Tavern with a licensed dog friendly patio on Navy Pier; outdoor seating at The Promontory; and the backyard patio at Sportsman's Club.
Related: Best Improv Comedy Nights In Chicago
Classes at some of the the city's best restaurants attract food lovers who want to hone home cooking chops and mingle simultaneously. Sunda, offering some of the most inventive Pan Asian food in Chicago, presents a monthly "Maki Monday" so you can sip sake while learning how to roll your own in a casual setting led by the eatery's award-winning team of chefs. Serious carnivores should skedaddle to Butcher & the Burger for butchering classes and Chicago's Eataly outpost seems to supply a cooking class or tasting event every other day - learn to toss pizza dough, make your own cheese and pasta and cook for crowd.
Chicago Sport And Social Club
If you settle for watching sports at a bar, you're likely to meet many armchair experts whose opinions are more robust than they are. Why not play yourself, meeting fine friends along the way via Chicago Sport and Social Club? More than 100,000 a year people participate in everything from the the world's largest beach volleyball league to stand up paddle boarding and dodgeball. No friends? No prob. Sign up and CSSC places you on a team. In addition, there are festivals, concerts and special events to attend like rooftop and patio parties, holiday get-togethers and bar tournaments. Signing up is free.
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