Dating in Columbus doesn’t have to be expensive. Plan a cheap date or fun with friends with these great options for free and cheap dates in Columbus. These dates may be cheap, but the quality is high and you’ll get bonus points for being creative and exploring the city.
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Find fun and cheap events around the city on our calendar pages
Cheap Dates in Columbus: Attractions and Museums
Stroll through the Columbus Zoo! The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium offers free and discounted days through the year, like President’s Day and other free days at the Zoo that will be announced through the year.
Wexner Center for the Arts offers FREE admission for exhibitions for everyone on Thursdays from 4 -8 p.m., as well as on the first Sunday of every month.
Columbus Museum of Art offers free admission on Sunday and pay-what-you-want on Thursdays from 5-9 pm.
Warm up with the stunning Blooms and Butterflies exhibit and catch a butterfly release at Franklin Park Conservatory. Don’t forget to leave time to explore the other amazing exhibits.
Factory tour at Anthony Thomas Chocolates: The tour lasts about an hour, where you’ll experience candy making from start to finish from the glass-enclosed suspended “Cat-Walk”. You’ll see 9 lines producing 30,000 pounds of chocolates per shift. Children under 2 are free, ages 3 to 18 are $1 per person, and ages 19 and over are $2 per person. Admission fee may be used towards a candy purchase when the tour ends in the 2,500 square-foot retail shoppe. No appointments needed for tour hours; September-May, Tues & Thurs, 9am to 3pm. June-August, Tues, Weds & Thurs, 9am to 3pm
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State has exhibits and programming that comic book and cartoon fans will love. It’s always free!
Bank of America customers get a Free Museum Pass on the first weekend of each month.
Play like a kid at LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Easton! Once a month, they host monthly Adult Nights where the grown-ups have the run of the place! Adult guests can enjoy all aspects of the 36,000 sq. ft indoor attraction, including the two rides, 4D Cinema and MINILAND. (typically the 1st Thursday of the month)
COSI offers a once a month option for grownup fun! COSI After Dark give you the run of the place with themed-activities – and NO KIDS! Less than $20 to get in, and it’ll fill your evening with child-like fun! (typically the 2nd Thursday of the month)
Columbus Metropolitan Main Library is an attraction you could get lost in. Explore the building, check out the amazing views of Topiary Park from the reading room and the views of Downtown Columbus, or grab a coffee or bite to eat at the Cafe. If the weather is good, sit in the outside “Reading Room” and take a stroll through Topiary Park.
Check out these other Cheap or Free Museum options in Columbus.
Cheap Dates in Columbus: Food and Drink
Happy Hours are the ultimate cheap restaurant experience! Dine early on tasty appetizers, have a drink or two, and head home to catch a movie on the couch! This happy hour list around Columbus is constantly being added to, and you can try a new place each week!
Tour the Butler County Donut Trail at your leisure and earn a tshirt if you complete all of the stops – attempt it in a day (start early!) or head out over a period of weekends or months.
Columbus Ale Trail: Travel the Ale Trail through Central Ohio and find a new favorite craft beer.
Coffee shops make GREAT dates! Warm beverages, sweets, and cozy seating makes for a perfect cheap date! Complete the Columbus Coffee Trail by having a date at each place, and earn prizes!
Whether it’s Tuesday or not, Tacos make the perfect cheap date! The Columbus Taco Trail will take you to new and old taco stops, as well as the best taco trucks in the city. With 11 options on this trail, you’ll probably need a couple of days to hit all of the stops, or explore a new one each Tuesday for Taco Tuesday.
Looking for more spice? Columbus Tikka Trail featured the best Indian food in Columbus. This list was compiled based on the locations chicken tikka masala, but there are so many delicious options.
Need something sweet? Go on the Ohio Buckeye Candy Trail. Enjoy Ohio’s state candy – the buckeye! It’s peanut butter chocolate perfection. You’re going to have to drive a bit further to catch all 31 (!) stops on this trail that stretches throughout the entire state, but isn’t it worth it?! Who makes the best buckeye? Who cares?! Enjoy them all! There are enough stops near Columbus to do a mini tour.
Take a short drive east of Columbus to the Licking County Wine Trail. Visit the 6 wineries and collect a stamp from each winery, bring your book to the Explore Licking County office to claim wine trail t-shirt (while supplies last). As a bonus, you’ll pass through the charming towns of Granville, Johnstown, revitalized downtown of Newark, and picturesque country outside of Heath.
Want to drive a little further? These food and adventures trails in Ohio will keep you busy and give you lots of time to talk on your drives.
Find new favorite wines or beer varieties at the Hill’s Market 10 for $10 Wine Tastings on the first Saturday evening of the month.
Explore Whole Foods while you enjoy $5 after 5 Wine Tastings with wine (or beer) samples and small plates. Pick up something from the prepared food section and head home early for an evening cuddling on the couch.
Meza Wine Shop in Westerville hosts inexpensive wine tastings and other events each week.
The North Market is an amazing place to spend a day or evening exploring. There are so many great food options, you can grab a drink at The Barrel and Bottle. Pick a few food items from various merchants and share in the upstairs seating area or on one of the patios.
$10 for $10 Wine and Bourbon Tastings at locations all over the city on select Monday-Thursdays!
Cheap Dates in Columbus: Movies and Music
Drexel Theatre hosts Free Screenings of America’s Greatest Films on the first Tuesday of each month
AMC CLASSIC Grove City 14 has movie tickets starting at $4.49 before 4pm, and just $6.49 after 4 pm.
Stream free movies using Kanopy with your library card
Rocky Horror Picture Show at Studio 35 – 1st Saturday of every month
Cheap Dates in Columbus: Fitness and Fun
It’s said that couples who sweat together, stay together. Get physical with these free and cheap fitness date options.
Got snow? Go sledding! It’s fun for all ages, and you’ll love the snuggle time to warm up afterwards!
Ice skating is great exercise! There are several options for Indoor and Outdoor Ice Skating in Columbus
Columbus Metro Parks Winter Hike Series: Take guided hikes of 1-7 miles in different Metro parks each weekend in January and February.
Yoga on High Karma Yoga Donation Classes: Every Friday from 3 – 4 p.m. they offer a community yoga class that includes stretching, breath awareness, yoga postures and relaxation. Donations accepted.
lululemon at Easton and Polaris: Join them every Sunday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. for an hour long sweat-fest! Check out the calendar for details.
Free Fitness Classes at Athleta Easton: Athleta offers free fitness classes and events throughout the month; check calendar for details.
Go on a 2 wheeled ride if the weather is nice! You can rent bikes by the hour in Downtown Columbus with COGO Bike Share and hop on the Olentangy Bike Trail or other trails in the area. Or take your own bikes to any park or trail and cruise around for a bit. Or grab a Lime scooter and zip around town on it. Whether you are riding a bike or a scooter, be sure to wear a helmet, and follow rules and traffic laws – many drivers aren’t used to expecting other types of vehicles and may not be on the lookout for you.
Roller Skating: You probably did a lot of roller skating while you were a kid – and for good reason…it’s tons of fun!
- Skate America in Grove City: Great pricing and plenty of discounts through the year
- Skate Zone 71 near Morse Rd: Tons of skate parties with character visits. Little kids skate is on Saturday mornings. There are also discounted days, young teen nights, and adult nights. Teachers and a guest skate free in December and January with I.D.
- United Skates of America on Refugee Rd: Lots of family skate and discount days.
Go swimming no matter the weather at these indoor community center pools. Some feature hot tubs, lazy rivers, and other fun features that are just for kids!
- Dublin Community Recreation Center ($5-$15 for daily admission) 5600 Post Road, Dublin. Lazy river, hot tub, waterslides, and more. Check link for leisure pool hours.
- Worthington Community Center ($5-$8, free under 3) 345 E. Wilson Bridge Rd., Worthington, OH 43085, Ph: (614) 436-2743. Lazy river and vortex and larger slides. Check link for leisure pool hours.
- Westerville Community Center ($4.50-$7.50) Westerville Community Center also has a climbing wall (fees required), and a great, free indoor playground for kids off of the lobby. 350 N. Cleveland Ave., Westerville, OH 43082, Phone: (614) 901-6500. Pool features shallow area, lazy river, fountains, slides, and more. Check link for leisure pool hours. NOTE: Leisure pool is still under construction and is not open as of October 2019.
Cheap Dates in Columbus: Other activities
Indoor Farmer’s Markets are a great play to wander, find some local goodies, and listen to music or check out other entertainment.
Shop a Vintage Market or Barn Sale and discover a “new” old find!
Short North Gallery Hop celebrates art, local shops, good food, and great people watching on the 1st Saturday of each month!
Check out this revitalized neighborhood during Franklinton Fridays on the 2nd Friday of each month
Check out the Book Loft in German Village! It has 32 different rooms; you’ll love getting lost together while you explore.
It’s no secret that Columbus is FULL of amazing local businesses, restaurants, shopping, attractions, and makers, and the Made in CBUS Trail is a great way to experience some of the best! Pick up a passport at any of the locations, and purchase something at four or more of the locations to get your passport stamped. Redeem your passport at an Experience Columbus Visitor Center for a free Made in CBUS T-Shirt!
Volunteer together! You’ll feel good and will make a difference in the lives of others. There are unlimited volunteer opportunities, so pick your interests and get involved.
Plan an escape with Breakout games! This fun, fast-paced adventure will have you working together to solve a challenge! Check Groupon for discounts.
Going out for a birthday? Check out over 160 Birthday freebies and discounts in Columbus. Many require advanced signup for email clubs, so consider that in advance.
Last minute planning for a cheap date in Columbus? Find something free or cheap to do today! This list is all about what’s going on TODAY in Columbus!
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