Whether its your first date or you’ve been together for 40 years, you can have an awesome date night in Columbus on the cheap.
Skip your standard go-to date and do something fun, romantic, or unique in our city with these inexpensive date ideas around Columbus.
Many of these can be used as nights out with friends too, so don’t skip this page if you aren’t dating!
Columbus Attractions and Museums
Discounted and Free Museum Days in Columbus: Check out this whole list of free and check museum days and explore the arts in the city.
Columbus is a festival town. There are over 325 festivals around Columbus this year. The list is constantly being updated as new festivals are added. Enjoy a yearly favorite, or find a new one!
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a great place to walk, talk, and explore.
Don’t forget if you take the COTA Zoo Bus from Downtown Columbus or a park and ride this summer, you’ll enjoy a huge discount on admission for the Zoo.
Play all day at Zoombezi Bay or stay late for Family Nights, which are included with admission on select evenings.
Get $10 off admission to Zoombezi Bay by taking the COTA Zoo Bus from Downtown Columbus or a park and ride. We suggest going in the late afternoon when its less crowded.
Croctail Creek & The Sandbar is an adult-only feature that includes a brand new walk-up and swim-up bar, and featuring a heated lounge pool complete with in-water seating, and heated lazy river.
Water Park After Dark on June 23, August 18, and September 1, 2023. Open 8 pm – 11 pm for guests 21+ only! Enjoy the slides and water rides without the kids running around! Admission is $35 and includes 2 drinks, live music, and more.
Franklin Park Conservatory
Franklin Park Conservatory has so much to explore with permanent and seasonal gardens and biomes. Chihuly Nights and Cocktails at the Conservatory after hours are perfect for date nights.
These nights out are an amazing way to see the conservatory after hours in a new light. Tickets should be purchased in advance.
Columbus Museum of Art
Everyone gets free Sunday admission at Columbus Museum of Art. You can also pay just $5 on Thursdays from 5-9 pm. BAM Thursday Nights feature Bar, Music, and Art.
COSI After Dark is COSI fun for grown-ups only! These themed events feature COSI exhibits (without all the kids), activities, food, and drink.
Wexner Center for the Arts
FREE admission for exhibitions at the Wexner Center for everyone on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m., as well as on the first Sunday of every month.
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
The Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State has exhibits and programming that comic book and cartoon fans will love.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus hosts Adult Nights on the 1st Thursday of each month to give LEGO fans ages 18+ a chance to play without kids!
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!
Columbus Ale Trail
Check out breweries around Central Ohio by following the Columbus Ale Trail. Earn prizes by filling up your passport book. There are so many stops on the Trail that you’ll fill up plenty of date nights at you visit stops on the trail over the next year!
Route 33 Brew Trail
You can also head down the Route 33 Brew Trail from Columbus through Lancaster to visit 8 breweries including RockMill Brewery, Combustion, BrewDog DogTap, and more.
Columbus Coffee Trail
Catch a caffeine buzz with the Columbus Coffee Trail. After four stops, you earn a free Columbus coffee experience t-shirt and after all 19 stops, you earn a prize
Butler County Donut Trail
Everyone loves fresh donuts! 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.
Celtic Cocktail Trail
Celtic Cocktail Trail in Dublin: Enjoy a delicious beverage at each of these uniquely Dublin Celtic Cocktail destinations and redeem great prizes! Complete 5 trail stops and redeem a commemorative koozie.
Complete all the stops and score an exclusive Celtic Cocktail t-shirt! Take your time completing this trail – no need to complete in one day!
Gahanna Herbal Cocktail Trail
Gahanna Herbal Cocktail Trail: The Herb Capital of Ohio is Gahanna, and local restaurants, pubs, and distilleries have created some special herbal-based recipes. Collect 6 stamps along this herb-inspired beverage trail and earn a prize!
Pick your adventure Trail
Check out these other Fun and Tasty Adventure Trails, including Columbus Taco Trail, Ohio Buckeye Trail, and more!
Head to The Hills!
Weekday Breakfast or Lunch date
Go on a Thursday lunch date to Food Truck Food Court at Columbus Commons. Pick 2 things and share!
Wine Tasting Date
House Wine Thursday Night Tastings are just $15, including flatbreads and cheese, and will get you ready for the weekend.
North Market Downtown and Bridge Park
The North Markets are amazing places to spend a day or evening exploring. There are so many great food options, you can grab a drink. Pick a few food items from various merchants and share in the upstairs seating area or on one of the patios.
They also host Happy Hours and Farmer’s Markets and more.
Movies, Theatre, and Music
Movies under the stars
Pack a picnic and enjoy free movies under the stars at 15+ locations around the Columbus this summer – there’s definitely something playing near you! Perfect cuddle opportunity!
Outdoor Concerts in Columbus
Listen to some tunes at outdoor concerts around the city at over 17 locations nearly every night of the week.
Nightlight 614 movie series for grown ups
Most outdoor movies will attract lots of kids (which is fine, if you don’t mind), but the Nightlight 614 outdoor movie series is for grown-ups only!
Go old school with Drive-in Movies
Go on a movie date like your parents probably did – at the Drive-In! Catch a double feature at the South Drive-in Theatre or Skyview Drive-in in Lancaster. We visited Skyview Drive-in and were impressed with how nice and clean it was.
Theatre in the Park
Head to Schiller Park for live plays with The Actors’ Theatre, Thursdays through Sundays, starting May 25. Pack a picnic and enjoy some the theatre under the stars.
CAPA Summer Movies
There’s something charming about watching old movies in a beautiful old theatre for the CAPA Summer Movies Series. Tickets are cheap and the movies are fantastic!
Picnic with the Pops
Tickets for Picnic with the Pops Concert Series at Columbus Commons are $30-35, but you can bring your food and drink (alcohol included) and enjoy a picnic while listening to national acts performing with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
Concerts at Columbus Commons
There are other concerts throughout the season at Columbus Commons as well – both free and ticketed.
Active Fun and Sporting Events
Hop on a bike
Ride the Olentangy Bike Trail! If you don’t already have a bike, you can rent a bike from COGO Bike Share for $8 per day.
Take a Hike
Take a hike! There are lots of hikes and activities at Columbus Metro Parks
Hike at Hocking Hills: So much to explore, with trails, waterfalls, caves, and more. Book a cabin or take a day trip!
Get fit for fun
There are plenty of free fitness activities in Columbus to try, both indoor and outdoor – take one together!
Run or Walk a race for a favorite charity or to just challenge yourself.
Catch a game at Huntington Park
Columbus Clippers have awesome promotions, a fun atmosphere and admission is cheap!
Kick it with the Crew
Cheer on our local MLS soccer team at the Columbus Crew SC games at the new Downtown Lower.com field!
Disc golf is for everyone
Play Disc Golf together. Disc golf is a fun way to get out in nature and enjoy safe competition. Start-up costs are minimal and there are free courses in parks all over Columbus.
Canoeing and Kayaking in Columbus! We’ve gathered a list of places to rent kayaks, canoes, SUP in Columbus. Get on the water and have fun together!
Explore different communities in Columbus with these Monthly Neighborhood Hops and Walks. You’ll find entertainment, vendors, sales at local shops, and great eats.
Explore over 20 farmers markets around Columbus – grab some ingredients and go home and make something tasty.
4th Fridays in Westerville
Stroll through Westerville, grab some food and drink, and pop into some shops on 4th Fridays in Uptown Westerville.
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. There’s so much to do and eat in this district. If you haven’t been there recently, you’ll be surprised!
Columbus Moonlight Market
Shops, restaurants, entertainment, and sidewalk vendors are open late for the Columbus Moonlight Market on the 2nd Saturday of the month.
Sunday Sunlight Market
Enjoy brunch, shopping, and entertainment during the Sunday Sunlight Market on Gay Street on the 3rd Sunday of the month between 10 am – 3 pm.
Nature and Outdoor Date Ideas in Columbus
Go on a nature date
Meet at the dog park
Have a dog? Head to one of 15 dog parks in Columbus with your pooch! Dog parks are social for the dogs and the humans, and is a great place to hang out and talk while your pup plays.
Sunflower Fields in Ohio
Sunflower fields are a top date option for August and September. Wander through the sunflower fields around Central Ohio, take tons of pictures, and enjoy the outdoors. This is a date you don’t want to skip this year!
Some fields offer food trucks, live music, or allow picnics, so read the details. Check here to see what fields are opening this year, and when,
Head to the Hills! So much to explore, with trails, waterfalls, caves, and more at Hocking Hills. Book a cabin or take a day trip! Most cabins are booked up for the summer, but there are always last minute cancellations, or you can still book for Fall for many! Here’s a list of rentals around Hocking Hills.
Go berry picking
Pick berries and other fruit at a u-pick farm near Columbus. Drive into the country and enjoy the outdoors together with a sweet treat at the end (berries!). Don’t care about berries? It’s all about the pics anyway…
Go peach and apple picking
Go apple or peach picking! Pick your own apples and peaches in beautiful orchards throughout Central Ohio. It’s a great date for photo ops and memories. U-pick farms for peaches and apples start in late July and go through the fall for apples.
Picnic in Topiary Park and check out all of the amazing sculptures (or any park near you!)
Other unique options
Hunt for treasures
Go treasure hunting together and search for treasures at garage sales in Columbus. Look for something specific that you need, or pick out something wacky for each other!
Visit the giant rambling bookstore
Check out the iconic Book Loft in German Village! It has 32 different rooms; you’ll love getting lost together while you explore. Grab coffee at Stauf’s afterwards, or head into German Village or Brewery District for food or drinks.
Try an escape room
Plan an escape with Breakout games! This fun, fast-paced adventure will have you working together to solve a challenge!
Get creative at Studio 614 – whether it’s a first date or 400th. This BYOB Paint and Sip company (and venue rental) offers more than just painting!
Pick from lots of fun DIY projects such as making soy candles, goats milk soap bars, concrete coasters, mala bead bracelets, macramé plant hangers, and “Paint Your Pet” class and more fun options. Bring some beverages and pick a project to make together or to exchange!
Other cheap date options
What would you add to the list?
If you have kids and you are looking to take them on a little date, check out this Bucket List of Free and Cheap fun for Kids in Columbus!
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Check out our day-by-day recommendations for great dates in Columbus!
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Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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