Several family members and close friends of mine have been to Chicago, and I was always super jealous of their trips. They’ve been to Wrigley Field, Lollapalooza, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, Stephanie Izard and Rick Bayless’ restaurants, comedy shows, breweries — the list is forever long. I can tell it’s an amazing city just by the stories I hear. As a single myself, I can also tell by their stories that Chicago can be an amazing place to find a date or find love.
According to BestPlaces.net, more than 35% of the 2.7 million people in Chicago are single, and our experts are here offering 10 ways to help them get out there and meet new people.
Chicago Dating Sites
Online dating came about in the 1990s, and it was a taboo thing because people weren’t used to meeting that way. They’d usually met through friends, family, and co-workers, through personal ads in the newspaper, or while out and about. Today, though, online dating is the number one way for singles to come together because it’s easy, quick, and works wonderfully. Below are some of our top choices for Chicago singles.
Best Singles Site
For the best overall online dating experience, it’s got to be Match. You’ve probably heard that Match is responsible for the most romantic connections of any dating site around, and it’s for good reason. It’s the most established, having been founded in 1995, it’s one of the largest with 30 million members, and it has all the features you need to find a match, including filters that allow you to search by location (e.g., city and even mile range).
Best Site for Professionals
The world is a busy place, and it’s only getting busier. When we’re so focused on career, family, and life commitments, how are we supposed to find time to date?
That’s where Elite Singles comes in. This dating site is specifically for busy single professionals who want to meet like-minded people. About 82% of its members have a bachelor’s, master’s, and/or doctorate degree, and about 90% are aged 30 or older.
Elite Singles is the premier dating site for educated professionals. Most members are upper-income with college degrees, and its impressive Fraud Detection system ensures no-nonsense dating. Full Review »
|Gender Ratio||M: 43% | F: 57%*|
Over 50 & Senior Site
Most of us are looking for someone who’s at a similar place in life, and our go-to recommendation for mature singles who feel this way is OurTime. The site is dedicated to men and women who are at least 50 years old and who want friendship, dates, or a relationship. OurTime has one of the simplest signup, browsing, and messaging processes as well, so you can still pick up on it even if you’re not the most tech-savvy person.
For Black Men & Women Only
As you can tell by the name, BlackPeopleMeet is a dating site meant for black and biracial singles, and it’s a popular one at that. More than 1.4 million people visit the site every month, and new members can create a profile, add photos, search for and receive matches, and communicate (sending virtual winks, liking members, adding people to their Favorite list, etc.) without having to pay anything.
Hookup & Sex Site
It’s no secret that some people just want to hook up, and that’s why Adult Friend Finder was created. At 77 million members and growing, this is the largest online sex and swingers community, and the site will show you how many people in your area are logged in at the same time. Once someone catches your eye, you can get to know each other via email, video, audio, and group forums, among other things.
Popular Dating Apps
Mobile apps have totally transformed the way people date — instead of being stuck at home in front of a desktop, they can now look for compatible dates and partners anywhere in the world. A big thing with dating apps is location-based matching, so Chicago singles can narrow down the options (it’s a big city, after all) to even the exact neighborhood they prefer.
Zoosk is the number one app for finding dates, and if you sync up your Google+ or Facebook account, you can have a profile in seconds. The app has 38 million members and will deliver matches to your inbox on a daily basis based on your behavior such as who you search for, like or don't like, and message. The Carousel is another section for matching (tap the heart if it's a yes and the X if it's a no).
|Gender Ratio||M: 48% | F: 52%*|
|Available On||iOS, Android|
Available via the App Store and Google Play, Match is a fantastic app for dates and relationships. With a user base of 30 million singles, Match is where you'll have a high chance of success. It's free to download, create a profile, search for and receive matches around the corner and across the world, find missed connections, "like" people, as well as send and receive winks.
|Gender Ratio||M: 49% | F: 51%*|
|Available On||iOS, Android|
Commitment-minded, professional daters will feel at home with Elite Singles, which can be downloaded for free in the App Store or Google Play. Not only is everyone looking for a long-term partner, but 80% of members hold a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree. Elite Singles sees 210,000 visitors and 2,500 users finding love every month, so it's one of the fastest growing and most reputable apps.
|Gender Ratio||M: 43% | F: 57%*|
|Available On||iOS, Android|
Chicago Singles Bars
Sometimes there’s nothing better than locking eyes with someone across a room and feeling the instant chemistry, and that’s what bars are best for. Plus, if you have your friends around, starting that conversation shouldn’t be as nerve-wracking. We kept our list of the best singles bars in Chicago to 10 to be concise, but, to be honest, we could’ve kept going and going because there were so many good choices.
Bar DeVille can be found in Chicago's West Town neighborhood at the corner of Damn and Huron, and renowned bartender Brad Bolt runs the ship. The atmosphere is cozy, and the drinks are old school. Whether you're a regular or are checking things out for the first time, you'll love Bar DeVille, which Food and Wine Magazine said was among the Top 100 Bars in 2011 and 2012.
2ESTATE Ultra Bar
ESTATE Ultra Bar calls itself a "social dining and drinking destination whose menus celebrate seasonal American cuisine and classic cocktails but with a fun, contemporary take. You'll find offerings that include Huitlacoche tacos and herb fries (which are meant for sharing) and the Estate (which is made with Ketel One, pom-berry syrup, mint, orange, lemon, and soda). The bar is broken up into about five rooms, including the StarDeck, Chicago's largest open air rooftop restaurant and lounge.
"It's a party every night in Logan Square," says Slippery Slope. From draft beer to cocktails in bottles and "cheap hooch," you won't run out of libations, But perhaps what people love most about the bar is the skee ball and its cabin-themed dance floor for rocking out to DJs and live bands. Fun Fact: Andre the Giant, of "The Princess Bride" fame, was a famous patron of Slippery Slope.
4The Berkshire Room
You'll find more than just straightforward gin and tonics at the Berkshire Room. This bar provides what it calls "Dealer's Choice," barrel-finished, and craft cocktails — like a 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and a Double Entendre that showcases the flavors of cognac, rye, gingembre, and masala. But the Berkshire Room is far from pretentious. You can also get wines by the bottle and glass, beers on tap, and snacks and desserts such as mixed nuts and salted caramels.
Awesome drinks? Check! Delicious food? Check! Fun games? Check! Headquarters Beercade has practically everything you could need. It doesn't matter if you're a fan of pinball, Pac Man, Galaga, Mortal Kombat, or pinball — you'll feel at home here. HQ Beercade's motto is, "Don't grow up. It's a trap," so whatever you do, don't take yourself too seriously when you're at this bar.
6Rockit Bar & Grill
Chicagoans flock to Rockit Bar & Grill for the food just as much as they flock to it for the drinks. The menu specializes in the usual bar fare, but it's all made by gourmet chefs (e.g., mac and cheese with black truffles and a lamb burger with fried saganaki). Downstairs has a dual-facing counter for premium interaction, while upstairs is where patrons go to watch games, dance, and listen to acoustic performances, among other things.
With two locations, one in Wicker Park and one in Logan Square, Innjoy offers "double the fun." The casual dining and entertainment venue is open seven days a week: Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Friday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. So you can pretty much get your food and drink on anytime. Innjoy says it's a genuine Chicago hangout spot that locals and visitors will both appreciate.
"Strong, weak, bitter, sour, and sweet," Punch House hits all the right notes. Thrillist named Punch House one of the 33 Best New Bars in America, and Chicago Magazine calls its space "cozy" and "bohemian" and its drinks "quaffable originals alongside classics." Punch House also hosts numerous events throughout the year like punch making classes and Valentine's Day celebrations for singles and couples alike.
9Nick's Beer Garden
When it was founded in 1977, Nick's Beer Garden was at the intersection of Halsted and Armitage, and it moved to Wicker Park in 1994. But the bar has always been a Chicago favorite. Nick's has some of the latest nights around (open until 4 a.m. Sunday through Friday and 5 a.m. Saturday) and offers pool, shuffleboard, a jukebox, and weekly karaoke dance parties. In terms of drinks, there are beers in bottles and cans and on draft specials such as a $7 Chicago Handshake (Old Style Tallboy and Malört Shot) and $1-off well cocktails.
WestEnd is a great place for singles to mingle over a local Goose Island Green Line, a Buffalo chicken pizza, and a Hawks or Bulls game. The space is large (5,000 square feet, to be exact), the staff is extremely accommodating , the actual bar is a cool U shape made for talking with neighbors, and the 33 plasma TVs are all over the place so you won't miss a thing.
Chicago Speed Dating
Speed dating events are great alternatives for people who don’t really like online dating or going to bars and clubs. It can also be a great tool for people who do like those things to add to their dating tool belt. Everything is organized for you — just show up to the location and tell your dates a little about yourself. And not all events are formal sit-downs. Some include icebreaker games and forms of entertainment to make everyone feel more comfortable.
Chicago Singles Events
Singles events are somewhat different than speed dating events in that anything goes — it could be a cooking class, a basketball game, a happy hour, a cruise, or a live show. Whatever your interest, you’re sure to find one that meets your needs. The one thing all of these events have in common, though, is everyone is single and looking!
Chicago Singles Clubs
Do your Saturdays consist of dancing the night away until 2 a.m. (or later)? Do you wish you could meet someone while doing that? Well, that’s what these singles clubs are for! Sometimes no words need to be said between two people — the music just takes over and they connect. No matter if your genre is pop, rock, reggae, techno, funk, disco, or anything else, Chicago has a club for you.
Chicago Chat Rooms
Perhaps one of the biggest pros of using a chat room to come together with other singles is that it often provides themed rooms (such as politics, sports, entertainment, religion, sex, or just what’s happening that day). Getting that banter going with someone should be a cinch because you know you already have a least one thing in common with them.
Personals sites are pretty comparable to dating sites — you’re basically placing an online ad about your personality, life goals, hobbies, and what you desire in someone else. We’re fans of the five personals sites below for many reasons — not only are they free and not only do they have large user bases, but they also have pages just for singles living in Chicago.
Take Part in Community Activities
A fun and meaningful way to meet singles is to get involved in the Chicago community if you aren’t already. Volunteering allows you to make a difference with others who want to do the same. For example, there’s Open Books, Howard Area Community Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, and the Night Ministry. Or search for “Chicago volunteer” on Google to see what you find.
If you’re passionate about activism, Chicago Activism has a calendar full of events (including Equal Means Equal Film Screening, Rally for Health Care, and Fracking Disasters in Illinois) you can participate in to meet people who have the same beliefs and values.
What about taking an adult class with people who also want to learn something new? We’ve seen all kinds of options, including Botanical Drawing at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Brew Camp Brew Crew, Intro to Swing through Big City Swing, Beginning Italian via Casa Italia, and SNL Sketch Packet put on by the iO Theater.
If You're Religious or Spiritual, Attend Worship Services
Religion or spirituality are common qualifiers singles don’t want to budge on, and it makes sense, especially if they’re commitment-minded. They want someone who’s on the same page and can spend their life and raise children with. Chicago is a city rich with religious and spiritual opportunities. Some of the top suggestions we’ve seen are the Zen Buddhist Temple, the Unity Church in Chicago, ISKCON Chicago, and the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center. But you should definitely do some research of your own to see which place is the best fit for you.
Chicago Singles, Get Ready to Mingle!
Chicago is definitely on my bucket list of cities to visit, and I can’t wait to one day share my own stories with my family and friends (or rub my Chicago stories in their faces, however you want to put it). If you’re a single in Chicago, you should know how lucky you are to live in such an awesome place. There’s always something to do and someone to meet, and we’ve showcased some of the best ways to do so in this article. Good luck!
Photo sources: heislerhospitality.com, danblackman.com, chicagoreader.com, zagat.com, towntalk.co.uk, chicagonow.com, bbbschgo.org