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The Short Version: As the capital of Ohio, Columbus supports a vibrant community of foodies, artists, animal lovers, and tech-savvy professionals. The city boasts many trendsetting restaurants, museums, theaters, and gardens to explore, and its affordable prices make it a fantastic destination for a romantic getaway or date outing. Columbus tourism experts can create custom travel itineraries based on particular budgets and interests, and they’ve helped us pinpoint a few stellar date activities for couples in the Buckeye City.
In 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus voyaged across the Atlantic Ocean in search of India, and he found notoriety as one of the first Europeans to set foot in the Americas. His name is known throughout the world, and dozens of cities, streets, provinces, and even a couple countries have been named in his honor.
Columbus, Ohio, was founded and named after Christopher Columbus in 1812. At the time, the city had about 3,500 residents. Today, Columbus is the state capital and the most populous city in Ohio with roughly 892,000 residents.
Despite its size and diversity, Columbus has the reputation as “the biggest small town in America” because the people are so friendly. It’s the kind of place where strangers stop to help each other, and visitors receive a warm welcome.
“Columbus is known for being a smart and open community,” said Lexi Sweet, Public Relations Manager at Experience Columbus. “You’ll see people like you wherever you go. It’s diverse, friendly, and more affordable than other big cities.”
If you’re looking for a romantic place for a date, Columbus has many wonderful social spots and attractions to explore. Couples can head to the city’s theater district, restaurant scene, or green spaces to enjoy a lovely, budget-friendly date on the town. Here are three reasons why daters of all backgrounds are flocking to Columbus, Ohio, on their weekend getaways.
Food is central to any date activity. Couples often plan dates revolving around dinner, brunch, or other mealtimes because it’s something they can share and savor together. Whether you’re digging into street food or sharing an upscale dessert, you can find plenty of unique cuisines represented in Columbus.
Columbus is a food lovers’ paradise with many trendy restaurants and bars to delight the taste buds. Restaurateur Cameron Mitchell has opened dozens of steakhouses, Asian bistros, Italian restaurants, and other fine dining establishments that would make lovely date spots, particularly for a special occasion. These high-end locations serve top-notch cuisine while also providing an undeniably romantic atmosphere for couples.
Lincoln Social Rooftop invites diners to elevate their evenings with a classy cosmos on an outdoor patio nine stories up.
You can enjoy a stunning view of the city while munching on shareable bar bites, including caramel popcorn, caviar twice-baked potatoes, and lobster corn dogs with pomegranate mustard. Such innovative dishes get people talking, while the delicious drinks help them relax after a long day.
Speaking of relaxing, the happy hours at 101 Beer Kitchen are always good for a laugh and a low-priced drink. From 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., the bar serves half-priced drafts and discounted wine, mead, sangria, and growlers.
If you want to get a little taste of everything, you can treat yourself to a Columbus Food Adventures tour. These well-organized excursions take groups of locals and tourists to beloved eateries, food trucks, coffee shops, and bars. You can explore certain areas or cuisines thanks to the tours, and you can even go on a scavenger hunt to discover unique taste combinations.
Columbus is home to many creative types who work hard to create art for the public’s enjoyment and education. Arts in Ohio keeps track of the latest and greatest art exhibits in Columbus, and it offers its members exclusive opportunities for thought-provoking experiences in the city.
The Columbus Museum of Art is a terrific out-of-the-box date spot where couples are surrounded by deep conversation starters. You can see the works of Elijah Piece, Lynn Robinson, and other artists, and talk about how the artwork makes you feel. The museum also hosts special programs and exhibits to engage the senses and give people something new to ponder on and discuss. For example, the Art Book Club brings together readers who want to appreciate art by reading about it.
Founded in 1988 as a rock opera theater, Shadowbox Live! is currently the largest resident ensemble theater company in the U.S. The troupe wows audiences with comedy sketches, rock concerts, dance performances, musicals, and other theatrical displays. Shadowbox Live! typically puts on 19 original productions a year, and its shows often sell out, so get your tickets early.
In addition to its performances, Shadowbox Live! also hosts adult improv classes. These engaging, side-splitting evenings would be perfect for couples with a healthy sense of humor, and it’s an opportunity to let loose in a group setting.
Every June, the Columbus Arts Festival attracts over 280 nationally acclaimed artists as well as thousands of art enthusiasts. People collect on the riverfront streets to support local artists and celebrate the diversity of the Columbus art scene.
“This event is not to be missed,” said Shelia F. in a Facebook review. “Go early and stay late. Talk with the artists, buy their work, purchase a cool adult beverage, and enjoy music or poetry from a number of venues on the grounds. The Columbus Arts Festival is a great way to kick off summer!”
While Columbus has embraced technology and urban development, the city planners have also maintained the natural beauty of the area and kept its rivers, fields, and green spaces for people to enjoy.
Located just east of downtown Columbus, Franklin Park is a 100-acre park with lots to see and do. It’s a lovely spot to just sit and be. You’ll often find couples meandering along the walking trails or picnicking in the grass at Franklin Park. Sometimes it even provides a lush backdrop for a wedding ceremony or proposal.
This beautiful outdoor space also includes the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which houses over 400 plant species. Since 1993, the Conservatory has brought people together through a love of nature. Its lively exhibitions tend to attract a colorful crowd and offer sights you won’t typically see in Ohio. Throughout the summer and fall, the Conservatory will display a mini-forest of bonsai trees and a butterfly garden.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium offers a wild date spot for animal lovers of all stripes. You can see over 9,000 animals representing over 650 species from African leopards to zebra sharks.
The zoo has established habitats that support the health and safety of animals from around the world. Many couples and families line up to feed the giraffes and have an up-close encounter unlike any other. This memorable date activity can keep you talking and laughing for hours on end.
A local named Chaz B. called the Columbus Zoo “one of the best my wife and I have ever been to. Kids loved it. We can’t wait to go back!”
Whether you’re watching polar bears swim around or listening to a symphony in the park, you can take advantage of everything Columbus has to offer by stepping outside with a date.
Since its founding, Columbus, Ohio, has invoked the spirit of exploration and united diverse groups of people in the Midwest. Though it has grown by leaps and bounds, this prosperous big city retains that small-town feel, and it offers many low-key date spots for locals and visitors.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy yourself in Columbus. Simply grab a seat at a local bar, attend a cultural festival, or head to a public park, and you can experience the many different sights, sounds, and tastes of Columbus. Such date activities can help couples slow down and appreciate those special moments that become special memories.
“Besides all the great things to do and experience, we’re so affordable,” Lexi said. “That’s what makes Columbus a great destination for a weekend getaway.”