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. Through March 11, the Zoo offers 1/2 price Winter Admission!
Wexner Center for the Arts offers FREE admission for exhibitions for everyone on Thursdays from 4 -8 p.m., as well as every Sunday. You’ll find art exhibitions, film, performing arts and more; some activities may require separate admission.
Columbus Museum of Art offers free admission on Sunday and pay-what-you-want on Thursdays from 5-9 pm. Grab brunch or coffee on Sunday, or hit up a happy hour on Thursday before you go, and you’ll have a creative date you can afford.
Franklin Park Conservatory always has something fun to explore. From seasonal displays, extensive indoor and outdoor gardens, water features, and art, to special after-hours events like Chihuly Nights. Late winter features Orchids exhibits, and Blooms and Butterflies and Spring Blooms usually follows in Spring/Summer. After-hours events always require separate admission.
While the Conservatory can be pricey, they offer multiple discounts, such as monthly community day (free for Franklin County residents) and FREE passes you can pick up at select libraries near the Conservatory – best deal ever!! See all of the deals and details here.
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! They host Adult Nights throughout the year where 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.
COSI offers fun date nights 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 – with a cash bar!
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 otherCheap or Free Museum options in Columbus for lots of other museum discounts and specials.
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 t-shirt 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.
Route 33 Brew Trail takes you south of Columbus to check out the breweries along Route 33 from Columbus through Lancaster. Pick up a trail guide at one of the participating breweries, and make a purchase at a listed brewery to get a stamp and earn free swag when you complete the Brew Trail.
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!
If cocktails are more your style, we have 2 options for you! Go on the Gahanna Herbal Cocktail Trail for herb-infused cocktails, or the Dublin Celtic Cocktail Trail for Irish-inspired drinks! Don’t attempt to complete these in one day – they’ll give you several easy dates to plan!
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 Beverage Trail. Take a short drive east of Columbus to explore the Licking County Beverage Trail. The trail includes breweries, wineries, coffee, and soda shops. Pick up or print your guidebook, and when you visit a location, collect your stamp. Get 10 stamps and win a prize. Complete an entire category and you will have a chance at winning a special prize. When you have collected enough stamps, bring your book to the Explore Licking County office to claim your prize!
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.
Wyandotte Winery hosts Fabulous Fridays to celebrate the weekend! Enjoy live music outside, plus a feature food truck!
House Wine Thursday Night Tastings are typically just $15, including flatbreads and cheese, and will get you ready for the weekend.
The North Market Downtown and Bridge Park are amazing places to spend a day or evening exploring. There are so many great food options, and you can grab a drink while you’re there. Pick a few food items from various merchants and share in a seating area or on one of the patios.
Food and Drink specials in Columbus See what deals you can get right now!
Cheap Dates in Columbus: Movies and Music
Rocky Horror Picture Show at Studio 35 – THIS would be such a fun late night date night!!! On the 1st Saturday of every month, the Fishnet Mafia performs a shadowcast in from of cult-classic Rocky Horror Picture Show. Props available and costumes welcome!!
AMC Theatres offers matinee discounts and a discount day.
Discounts at Cinemark Theatres include matinee and discount deals such as student, senior, military, and more.
Marcus Theatres discounts and special offered throughout the week
Grandview Theatre and Studio 35 are amazing independent theatres in Columbus. They both offer independent films, Movie beer tastings, and other fun events. If you haven’t been there yet – make a date ASAP! .
Studio 35 offers Saturday Cinema Classics through Jan/Feb at 1:30 for a fun weekend day date!
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.
Get outside and enjoy some fresh air together with these recommended Nature walks and scenic hiking trails in Columbus,
Go for a float! Find places Best Places for Canoeing and Kayaking in Columbus, and the places to rent boats.
Try a new sport! Disc Golf is easy and cheap to play – plus, you don’t have to be athletic to get sweaty (unless it’s super hot). Get started with Disc Golf in Columbus at these great courses
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 hikes in different Metro parks each weekend in the winter.
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.
Don’t want to pedal and sweat? Grab Lime scooters 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.
- 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.
Rather swim outside this summer? See a list of public pools that offer day passes.
Cheap Dates in Columbus: Other activities
Explore a public garden! Check out our great list of gardens to explore through the year.
Spot some stars! Check out astronomy programming, as well as some of the best places to see the stars (and upcoming celestial events).
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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Looking for more fun events for adults?
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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. NOTE: TOURS ARE CURRENTLY ON HOLD
Find new favorite wines or beer varieties at the Hill’s Market 10 for $20 Wine Tastings on the first Saturday evening of the month. Currently on hold
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. Currently on hold
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. ON HOLD
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. ON HOLD
Free Fitness Classes at Athleta Easton: Athleta offers free fitness classes and events throughout the month; check calendar for details. ON HOLD