Treat Yourselves to a Romantic Time on the Water or on the Docks

Photo of a couple sitting and embracing at the end of some lake docks.

Looking for a great date spot? The Chain O’Lakes has hundreds.

The great thing about the Chain O’Lakes is that there’s something for everyone. With so many lakes and parks to choose from and a climate that provides a complete range of seasonal activities, you can find something to fulfill whatever vibe you’re looking for. Whether out on the water or on the surrounding docks, you can find something thrilling, something relaxing… or something romantic.

Here are a few fun date ideas you can enjoy on any of the 15 lakes in the region, whether you have a boat or not!

Pack Yourselves a Picnic

The lakes are a great place to enjoy nature, and what better way to relax in nature than with a picnic? There are all sorts of great scenic spots you can enjoy all around the Chain O’Lakes. You can eat your picnic on a boat gently floating on the lake, sitting on the docks together at the edge of the lake, or at any of the countless spots set aside specifically as picnic areas. Chain O’Lakes State Park alone has seven picnic areas along four trail systems, giving you plenty of options you can reach fairly easily.

There are few things you should keep in mind when preparing for a picnic, though. Here are some tips:

Photo of a couple enjoying a picnic on a lakeside beach.

Beaches and docks around the lakes make for great picnic spots.

  • Keep it simple. Prepare just a few different things but do them well, or get some food from a deli or farm shop and top it off with a homemade good or two.
  • Think about weight. You’ll have to carry your picnic to your picnic site, and carry back whatever you don’t finish. Consider how much you think you’ll eat, and try not to overpack.
  • Avoid stickiness. Sticky fingers are annoying, especially when the sugar attracts wasps and other bugs. Don’t bring creamy and sugary cakes, puddings, etc, and be sure to pack some moist hand wipes so you can clean yourself off before you leave.
  • Don’t let your food get crushed. Your picnic will be bumping around during your whole walk to the picnic site. It’s probably a good idea to avoid goods that are fragile and which could leak or get smushed, unless you use containers to keep them intact.
  • Keep your food cool. It’s a good idea to keep perishable foods cold, and it’s also nice to have a cool refreshing drink on hand. You can carry your picnic in a cooler instead of a basket, use ice packs, or chill your drinks for a couple hours ahead of time to add some extra pockets of coldness among the food.

Watch a Beautiful Lakeside Sunset from the Docks

Photo of a couple watching a sunset on the lake while holding hands.

It’s hard to beat the view you get watching a sunset from the docks.

Everyone knows sunsets are beautiful and romantic. However, the best sunsets are the ones over large bodies of water, reflecting the sunlight and casting a warm, shimmering, orange glow over the entire surrounding area.

The sun setting over the ocean is an iconic romantic image that we see in movies so much that it’s almost synonymous with “…and they lived happily ever after”. We may not have an ocean nearby, but watching the sunset reflected off a lake, lined with trees and full of wildlife settling in for the evening, is just as good (maybe even better)!

You can combine this idea with the picnic, too. Alternatively, this is a good one for the fall, when it starts to get a little chilly. You can bring a thermos of hot cocoa and a blanket and keep warm together while watching.

Just make sure you’ll be able to find your way back once the sun has set!

Go Ice Skating Together

Photo of a couple holding ice skates while walking together in a forest in winter.

Winter in the Chain O’Lakes offers its own unique options for dates.

Winter means you can’t do a lot of the cute summer lake activities you love, but there are still definitely fun date ideas out there. One of our favorites is ice skating.

Sure, there are plenty of ice rinks throughout the region. However, there are also plenty of spots in the Chain O’Lakes, including in Chain O’Lakes State Park, where you can go ice skating on an actual lake when the ice is thick enough. Whether you’re both experienced skaters, or one of you is helping the other one learn how to skate, skating is a fun way to spend time together.

So, grab your skates—even if you fall down, you’ll fall together!

Try Some Late-Night Stargazing

With Lake Michigan nearby, it’s not unusual for many boaters to take long, overnight voyages across the lake to ports on the opposite shore. Here and on some other larger lakes like Fox Lake, the wide open space gives you a great view of the night sky. If you have a boat, why not take your date on a late-night stargazing voyage?

Choose a spot without much light pollution, check the rules on when you can be on the water, and wait for a night without too much cloud cover or moonlight. Ideally, you’ll have plenty of blankets to keep warm and dry on deck, supplies to hold you over, and maybe a telescope and a stargazing app so you can spot and identify different points of interest.

Even if you don’t have a boat, a lake is a great place for stargazing, away from the light pollution of cities and the tree cover of the surrounding forest preserves. Sitting on the docks in the starlight is the perfect way to end a date. Just make sure to choose a lake that isn’t in a park which closes at night.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these date ideas, and maybe gotten some ideas of your own. You can even mix and match these ideas—a picnic in front of a sunset can transition right into some stargazing!

Of course, it’s even easier to do these sorts of cute lake dates when you have your very own dock. If you own some lakeside property and want to make it more welcoming for guests, call Captain Rod’s Boat Lift & Pier Services at (815) 759-9134. We’ll fill you in on everything you need to know, and help design and install a custom dock that suits your needs and sets the right mood!