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.
Dating is a little different this summer with restrictions and health concerns, so we focused on safer activities for this year. Many of these are great with friends and family too, so don’t skip this page if you aren’t dating!
Nature and Outdoor Date Ideas in Columbus
Visit Dublin, choose a “Picnic Pack”, and head to one of the 60 (yes – 60!) parks and green spaces in Dublin to enjoy your picnic! Twenty-five Dublin restaurants have suggested their best picnic-friendly food for you to enjoy outdoors. Order your meal to-go and pick a dining areas in downtown Dublin or set up in a scenic picnic at a Dublin-area park. Don’t want an entire meal? You can grab drinks, baked goods, or whatever sounds good. Check out the Picnic Pack menu suggestions, plus downtown dining areas and amazing parks.
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.
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 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! There are changes for the 2020 season, and some fields require advanced reservations to prevent crowding, so make sure you plan ahead. 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 (note: the field in Yellow Springs is NOT planted for this year).
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 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 over 20 farmers markets around Columbus.
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 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!)
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.
Columbus Attractions and Museums
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, you’ll enjoy a huge discount on admission for the Zoo. Advance reservations are required for 2020, though members can visit the Zoo after 3 pm without a reservation. We suggest going in the late afternoon when the Zoo is less crowded.
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. Advance reservations are required for 2020, though members can visit the Zoombezi after 3 pm without a reservation. We suggest going in the late afternoon when its less crowded. Tickets after 4 pm are just $12.99! The all-new Croctail Creek & The Sandbar is NOW OPEN. This adult-only feature 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.
Franklin Park Conservatory has so much to explore with permanent and seasonal gardens and biomes. Chihuly Nights are perfect for date nights on the 2nd Saturday of July, August, September and October from 7 pm – 10 pm. Chihuly Nights are an amazing way to see the conservatory after hours in a new light. Tickets must be reserved in advance for regular visits and Chihuly Nights.
Everyone gets free Sunday admission at Columbus Museum of Art. You can also pay just $5 on Thursdays from 5-9 pm. Reservations are require for all visitors. Masks must be worn inside.
Discounted and Free Museum Days in Columbus: Check out this whole list of free and check museum days and explore the arts in Columbus! Note: some of the museums remain closed or have restrictions, so make sure you click through the links to see the most current details.
Food and Drink
We’d normally recommend our happy hour list, but dining in is more risky than we’d recommend. Many restaurants have changed or eliminated their happy hours because the industry has struggled with closures and capacity restrictions. So instead, we recommend you grab food and drinks to-go and have a picnic at a local park or at home! Remember, you can get cocktails, beer, and wine to-go now (but it’s illegal to consume them in parks and other public property.
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!
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.
Looking for more great beverages? Conquer the Licking County Beverage Trail featuring breweries, wineries, coffee, and soda shops to win prizes for making stops and completing categories.
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!
Check out these other Fun and Tasty Adventure Trails, including Gahanna’s Herbal Cocktail Trail, Columbus Taco Trail, Ohio Buckeye Trail, and more!
Play like a kid at a game-based bar like Pins Mechanical or 16-Bit Bar + Arcade. If you’re going to be inside, please be extra cautious about hygiene and health precautions. They do have sanitation and safety procedures in place, but this may be higher risk than many are willing to take right now. Masks are required when not sitting and eating/drinking, and bars close at 10 pm. now
Go on a Thursday lunch date to Food Truck Food Court at Columbus Commons. Pick 2 things and share!
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. Don’t miss the Night Market on the 3rd Friday of each month for an outdoor open-air market from July – October. These markets feature independent makers, music, and sip & stroll with The Barrel & Bottle.
Movies, Theatre, and Music
Pack a picnic and enjoy free movies under the stars at select locations around the Columbus this summer. Most have switched to drive-in format for 2020, but you can sit outside your car. Perfect cuddle opportunity!
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 recently visited Skyview Drive-in and were impressed with how nice and clean it was.
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
Explore different communities in Columbus with these Monthly Neighborhood Hops and Walks. You’ll find entertainment, vendors, sales at local shops, and great eats. Several of these are cancelled, so check each month.
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!
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Friday, July 30, 2021
Saturday, July 31, 2021
Sunday, August 1, 2021
Monday, August 2, 2021
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Thursday, August 5, 2021
Friday, August 6, 2021
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