The Most Memorable Mother-Daughter Dates

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She loves brushing your hair. You know what silly expression will elicit a giggle fit. And nothing beats your afternoon dance parties. Treat your little girl to a solo outing with her best pal — mom. Whether you enjoy being on the go or kicking back in nature, there’s a mother-daughter date that’s tailor-made for your twosome.


Nature excursion: Jackson Park
The details: While you might be fascinated by Jackson Park’s history (it was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Daniel H. Burnham, and was the site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition) your daughter just wants to skip across the Osaka Garden bridge on Wooded Island, get up close to the waterfall and step on the rocks overlooking the lagoon. Admit it: Mom does, too.

Perfect for: Budding bird watchers and their birds-of-a-feather moms.

Good to know: Pack a picnic lunch — a bento box would complement the Japanese theme — and spread out your blanket in the historic teahouse in Osaka Garden.

Cost: Free

Jackson Park
6401 S. Stony Island Ave.


Spa date: King Spa & Sauna
The details: Soak up quality time at this family-friendly Korean bathhouse in the ’burbs. Dip your toes in the heated spa tubs or alternate among nine ornate therapy rooms, including the gold-coated Pyramid Room sauna and the chilly Ice Room. Then rehydrate with a sikhye, a Korean cold drink made with rice and malt powder. Less adventurous palates can indulge in a banana shake or strawberry smoothie. Have another hour or two? Kick back in the movie room in adjacent recliners.

Perfect for: Older girls and their stressed-out moms.

Good to know: Patrons go nude in the women-only wet room — where you find the showers and spa tubs — so make sure everyone’s on board with wearing their birthday suit. (For the coed sauna rooms, you get a pink cotton T-shirt-and-shorts outfit to wear.) Show her you’re comfortable with your body, and with luck she’ll feel the same way about hers.

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 kids under 12

King Spa & Sauna
809 Civic Center Dr.


Afternoon tea: The Drake Hotel
The details: Introduce your daughter to a Chicago tradition: afternoon tea at The Drake. You’ll relish the three-tiered tray stacked with dainty finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones served with jam, lemon curd and double Devon cream. Grownup treats lean toward roast beef on an Asiago-pepper roll and poached chicken with lemon-tarragon mayo on wheat. The Little Princess (or Prince) menu has kid-friendly fare like PB&J and egg salad sandwiches. China plates, sterling silver tea strainers and live harp music will make you both feel like royalty.

Perfect for: Girls aged 4 to 12 and their Anglophile moms.

Good to know: The dress code is “smart casual” — no ripped jeans, shorts or flip-flops — so break out the party dresses and pretend you have a date with the Queen. Offered from 1:00 pm-5:00 pm daily in Palm Court, tea services takes about an hour and a half. They’re happy to accommodate food allergies and special diets.

Cost: $38 for adults, $20 kids 4 to 12

The Drake Hotel
140 E. Walton Pl.
Gold Coast


A play date: “The Coral King” at DePaul’s Merle Reskin Theatre
The details: Through May 25, the talented students at DePaul University’s Theatre School mount an original fairy tale centered on the adventures of Pierre, the Majesty of the Ocean. Fun details like an acrobatic octopus, mermaids and a blue cat enchant younger viewers, while older ones will appreciate the message of environmental stewardship. It’s produced by DePaul’s Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences. 

Perfect for: Aspiring actresses of all ages and their patron-of-the-arts mothers.

Good to know: Merle Reskin prides itself on accessibility. Discounted tickets are available for guests with disabilities or issues with vision or hearing, and a handful of performances are interpreted in American Sign Language. Call for details.

Cost: $10

“The Coral King”
DePaul’s Merle Reskin Theatre
60 E. Balbo Dr.
South Loop


Active endeavor: Waveland Bowl
The details: Let the good times roll on a mother-daughter date at this classic Chicago bowling alley, open since 1959. Automatic scoring lets you focus on bonding (not figuring out how to add up a spare), and programmable bumpers on every lane let the littlest ones in on the action. Afterward, take your sweetie next door to Alley Dogs for cheese fries.

Perfect for: Active kiddos (who can hoist an eight-pound ball) and their adventurous mamas. 

Good to know: Go for Cozmic Kidz bowling (Fri., 3:00 pm-5:00 pm; Sat. & Sun., 1:00 pm-3:00 pm), where the black lights and fog machines will take mom back to her clubbing days.

Cost: $1-$5 per person per game, depending on time of day. Shoe rental is $3.50 a pair.

Waveland Bowl
3700 N. Western Ave.
North Center

What would be your dream mother-daughter date? Tell us in the Comments section below.

–Heidi Moore

Photo: Courtesy of Chicago Park District, King Spa & Sauna, The Drake Hotel, DePaul’s Merle Reskin Theatre (by Michael Brosilow) and Waveland Bowl