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13 ways to make friends as an adult in Chicago

Written by
Laura Rote

Maybe you’re new to the city, or maybe it’s just time to expand those horizons a bit. It can be hard to make new friends as an adult in general—you can’t just go up to someone at the park and say “I like your shirt” like you did as a kid. (Well, you can, but that person will likely think you’re a creep.) Instead of waiting for someone to magically befriend you as you sit alone at the bar staring at your phone, try one of these great ways to make friends as an adult in Chicago.

Take an art class. Lillstreet Art Center in Ravenswood offers classes like digital photography, ceramics and printmaking, among others. Or check out Hyde Park Art Center for more classes and workshops—you can learn about many of the fine arts with upcoming sessions from January 11 to March 20, 2016.

Volunteer. Donating your time to a good cause can be a great way to meet like-minded people. If you love reading and writing, nonprofit group 826CHI is often looking for committed volunteers to help students ages 6 to 18 with creative writing. And anyone can give back at one of the food co-ops or organizations around town. Pilsen-based Edible Alchemy is just one of the many co-ops where you can do everything from organize produce to update a website.

Join a running club. Popular group Three Run Two runs weekly in neighborhoods like Logan Square and Little Italy, or try one of Fleet Feet’s many fun runs like the Monday Night Fun Run in South Loop or one of the Chicks’ Night Fun Runs across the city.

Enroll in a comedy class. Meet people with a similar sense of humor at one of the writing or performing classes at Second City, iO or Annoyance.

Try a cooking class, like one of the ones at Wooden Spoon or Chopping Block. Learning something new can also mean bonding with others over a great success—or even a kitchen nightmare. 

Attend one of Chicago’s best trivia nights. Even if you arrive solo, you’re likely to get absorbed into a trivia team. Hello, smart new friends!

Give neighborhood meetups a shot. You might have to go more than once, but don’t be afraid to be a familiar face. And hey, these events are almost always free, so why not? Check in with your alderman or chamber of commerce to find out about upcoming get-togethers.

Dance parties. Some say the best way to communicate with strangers is through nonverbal gyrations of the body at a local dance club. At least you’re likely to make a few new Facebook friends. 

Support stand-up at an open mic night. Cole’s Comedy Open Mic in Logan Square offers a packed house every Wednesday night, whether you want to try out a few lines yourself or just offer encouragement.

Play a little music. The Old Town School of Folk Music offers all kinds of chances to jam. All are welcome—just bring your instrument and pop in during one of the many community sessions.

Join a book club, but not any old book club. Empty Bottle's monthly literary meetup is just plain cool. Start 2016 off right as the group discusses Citizen by Claudia Rankine.  

Find friends on Instagram. Follow people in the city on Twitter and Instagram with similar interests, and you might be surprised how many friends you make.

Drink and discover. Goose Island hosts a monthly beer academy complete with communal tables, making it easy to strike up a conversation with someone new. 

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