Forgot what it’s like to stare into the eyes of your partner without hearing screams for more mac ‘n’ cheese? Yeah, us too. That’s why it’s great to take advantage of date-night drop-offs — which some call Parents Night Out programs. While parents skedaddle (where’s the nearest brewery?!) the kids enjoy a few hours of themed play, dinner and movies. Sign up early; these nights can be harder to book than a reservation at Next.


photo: Wonderland Activities Center

Wonderland Activities Center
Based on the principals of their toddler class program, Wonderland Activities hosts date-night drop-offs that are perfect for the younger set. Available the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month; the ratio is six-to-one and takes place in their fun-filled daytime classroom. Laid back and completely play-based, each night starts with a theme (winter wonderland, snow days and race cars are current favorites) and includes Lego play, a sand table, art and music. Healthy fare is served; the cheese and crackers, sandwiches, fruit and veggies are included in the price.

Available the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month
Time: 4-7 p.m.
Cost: $30/child
Ages: 2-6 years
1927 W. Belmont Ave.
Roscoe Village


Little Beans Café
Kids arrive at 5 p.m. and are ushered into the open play area where they can put out fires, dress up as princesses and change tires at a make-believe gas station. The camp staff — well versed in games and interactive play — then rally the troops for pizza and finish off with a movie screening. Past features have included “Charlie Brown” and “Frozen.” LBC caps their reservation at 15 kids so with the holidays coming it’d be wise to register early.

Held on occasional Fridays, once a month
Time: 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Cost: $25/the first child; $15/each additional sibling
Ages: 3-7 years
1809 W. Webster St.
Lincoln Park

The Little Gym

 photo: The Little Gym

The Little Gym
A popular favorite for Lakeview parents, The Little Gym hosts a Parent’s Survival Night for ages 3-12 years old. The service includes class favorites like running the air track — a long inflatable track with bouncing capabilities — and full use of the gymnastics facility. Expect themes like “animal hunt,” interactive games and music-filled revelry. Kids are led by experienced staff and encouraged to tumble and roll until they’re literally wiped out. Pizza is served halfway through with a wind-down movie like “The Jungle Book” or “Cinderella.”

Held every other Friday
Time: 5:45-9:15 p.m.
Cost: $35/one child, $20/each additional sibling
Ages: 3-12 years
3216 N. Lincoln Ave.


Wishcraft Workshop
Here’s a new twist on date-night drop-off: At the craft studio’s “Sleepunder” events, kids show up wearing their favorite PJs and slippers. A chance to hang out sans TV (or any media, for that matter), this service is geared toward the creative set with cool crafts tailored to various ages like hand-sewn bags, plush piggy banks and even a custom-bound book written in their voice. No dinner is served, but organic healthy snacks are provided and pair perfectly with their cozy story hour.

Held on select Fridays; the next is Dec. 12 (Nov. 14 event is sold out)
Time: 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Cost: $35/child; email for sibling discounts
Ages: K-5
3907 N. Damen Ave.


photo: tinkerbrad via flickr

The Joy of the Game
The supervised rec night accommodates kids that are a little older (ages 4-13) and includes a variety of hits like a DJ spinning pop music, basketball, football, dodgeball, capture the flag, and board and card games. Contests encourage group participation and entertainment is provided via sports shows and movies on a large screen projector. Expect Sarpino’s pizza, water, soft drinks and Gatorade along with a 1-8 ratio of kids to coaches.

Held on select Fridays and Saturdays
Time: 6:30-10:30 p.m.
Cost: $30/first child, $25/each additional sibling
Ages: 4-13 years
158 S. Waukegan Rd.


Fitness Formula Club Oak Park
Kids can run free (and chill out) at FFC’s parent’s night out, held every 4th Friday of the month. You’ll hit the town while they’ll participate in individual or group games — favorites include a climbing wall and group play on the basketball court — pizza, drinks, a movie (G-rated of course) and a class. Special themes occur once a quarter and include Zumba instruction, a swimming lesson or an Easter egg hunt. From now until January, the parent’s night out is taking place on Saturdays, from 1-4 p.m. for holiday shopping.

Every 4th Friday of each month (November & December’s are on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.)
Time: 5:45-9:00 p.m.
Cost: Members/$30; non-members/$35
Ages: 8 months-13 years
1114 Lake St.
Oak Park

What is your favorite Parents’ Night Out Program? Let us know in the Comments!

— Taryn Bickley