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.
Columbus Attractions and Museums
- 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 is a great place to walk, talk, and explore. Don’t forget if you take the COTA Zoo Bus, you’ll enjoy a huge discount on admission for the Zoo.
- Play all day at Zoombezi Bay or catch Summer Nights at Zoombezi Bay, which are included with admission on select evenings. Get $10 off admission to Zoombezi Bay by taking the COTA Zoo Bus
- 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.
- Catch a butterfly release at Franklin Park Conservatory or explore the other amazing exhibits
- Everyone gets free Sunday admission at Columbus Museum of Art
- Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State has exhibits and programming that comic book and cartoon fans will love.
- Bank of America customers get a Free Museum Pass on the first weekend of each month
- COSI After Dark is the first Thursday evening of the month and is for grown-ups only! These themed events feature COSI exhibits (without all the kids), activities, food, and drink.
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!
- 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!
- 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 free travel mug, presented by AT&T.
- 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.
- 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 11 stops and score an exclusive Celtic Celtic Cocktail t-shirt! Take your time completing this trail – no need to complete in one day!
- Ice Cream for Dinner! The Hilliard Ice Cream Trail has lots of great stops to explore!
- Hang out at CityView Patio at COSI before or after enjoying enjoying the Scioto Mile’s 33 acres of parkland and 1.5 miles of multi-use trails on Friday and Saturday evenings (check schedule before planning). Beer, wine, and appetizers are available for purchase. COSI admission is not required to enjoy the CityView Patio.
- Wyandotte Winery hosts Happy Hour Hump Day on Wednesdays and Fabulous Fridays to celebrate the weekend!
- 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. Or hit up Charity Happy Hours at The Hill’s on Wednesdays or Sundays for pizza and drinks. A great breakfast bargain date are The Hills Market $5 Pancake Breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays!
- 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.
- Go on a Thursday lunch date to Food Truck Food Court at Columbus Commons. Pick 2 things and share!
- House Wine Thursday Night Tastings are just $15, including flatbreads and cheese, and will get you ready for the weekend.
- Kingsdale Market District Friday Night Flights feature 4 wines and paired samples for just $8 from 6-8 pm.
- Make a date Sunday – Thursdays for CBC Pizza and Pint Night, or catch their happy hour!
- Go out for dessert, or stop of the way home from an earlier event for SONIC half-price shakes and ice cream slushes after 8 pm
- Love appetizers? Get Endless Appetizers for $10 at TGI Friday’s
- 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. They also host Sip and Stroll Happy Hours, Farmer’s Markets every Saturday morning, and the Peddler’s Picnic on Sundays.
Movies, Theatre, and Music
- 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!
- Listen to some tunes at outdoor concerts around the city at over 17 locations nearly every night of the week
- 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! Only $6 in advance – shows will sell out, so purchase passes for your favorites now!
- Wexner Center Drive-in Movies are screened in 35mm; food and adult beverages are available for purchase.
- Go on a movie date like your parents probably did – at the Drive-In! Catch a double feature at the South Drive-in Theatre!
- Head to Schiller Park for live plays with The Actors’ Theatre, Thursdays through Sundays. Pack a picnic and enjoy some the theatre under the stars.
- 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!
- Tickets for Picnic with the Pops Concert Series are $25, 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.
Active Fun and Sporting Events
- Ride the Olentangy Bike Trail
- 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!
- Explore the Dawes Arboretum in Newark features miles of beautiful landscaping and trails.
- 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.
- Watch Ohio Roller Derby in fast-action, family-friendly sporting event
- Columbus Clippers have awesome promotions, a fun atmosphere and admission is cheap!
- Cheer on our local MLS soccer team at the Columbus Crew SC games
- Explore over 20 farmers markets around Columbus
- 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
- Shops, restaurants, entertainment, and sidewalk vendors are open late for the Columbus Moonlight Market on the 2nd Saturday of the month
- The Irish Fairy Doors of Dublin Trail: Pick up your Trail Guide at the Irish Fairy Garden in the Dublin Visitor & Information Center (9 South High Street) and follow the path on your trail guide through Historic Dublin to 8 different businesses to find tiny magical fairy doors. Find the name of each resident fairy, fill in your passport and return your completed passport to the Visitor’s Center for a FREE Fairy Doors of Dublin t-shirt.
- 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
- Take your pups to Paws in the Plaza in Downtown Olde Gahanna on first Thursday of every month
- Short North Arts District Art Trail: Enjoying arts and culture in the Short North Arts District is easy and rewarding with the Short North Arts District Art Trail. Navigate the trail and gain access to a series of exciting offers and deals from businesses in the Short North area! From iconic permanent murals to colorful Short North Arches and the Six in the Short North temporary mural series, the streets in the District are filled with enlightening and oft-unexpected works of art. Pricing: Free; access the trail app at arttrail.shortnorth.org.
- 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!).
- 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!
- Picnic in Topiary Park and check out all of the amazing sculptures (or any park near you!)
- Check out the Book Loft in German Village! It has 32 different rooms; you’ll love getting lost together while you explore
- Plan an escape with Breakout games! This fun, fast-paced adventure will have you working together to solve a challenge!
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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