Dating in Columbus is quite a challenge nowadays, and it doesn't get any easier anywhere else in the rest of the Midwest either. There’s always an opportunity to find a relationship when meeting someone new. However, meeting new people and having successful dates has only become more competitive in the post-pandemic Columbus dating scene.
Is there hope? There is. With some due diligence, finding a date in Columbus is substantially easier than in other mid-size cities. Although you may have to go beyond your usual spots and explore different neighborhoods. We guarantee that the results will surprise you after reading this guide.
In this in-depth guide, we'll give you some of our best recommendations on where to meet Columbus singles, a couple of ideas for dates, and our favorite spots around Columbus that set the scene for successful dates.
Table of Contents
What Dating in Columbus Is Like Right Now
The dating scene in Columbus has always been pretty great but as with all things, the pandemic made things worse. Many young singles choose Columbus for its excellent nightlife, a diverse set of industries that makes the city a great way to start a career, and quality of life that’s above comparable cities in Ohio, like Cleveland or Cincinnati. With so many big businesses here like JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide, and Honda, new people are constantly moving to Columbus.
The options for potential dates in Ohio are certainly abundant and quite diverse as well. Finding exactly what you’re looking for can be easy if you do your research, and put some effort in.
Currently, Columbus has 154,000 single women and 146,000 single men, accounting for nearly 34% of the total population. That's a LOT of singles out there!
Take note that although there are a lot of singles in Columbus it doesn’t necessarily mean that finding a date is that simple. But if you keep a positive and realistic outlook, you will certainly land a couple of dates. Read on to learn more about the dating scene in Columbus.
Where to Meet Someone to Date in Columbus
To be upfront, it's nearly impossible to compile a comprehensive list of the best places in Columbus that give you better odds of finding someone to date. Columbus is a fairly large city with HUNDREDS of great spots. Plus, you should do some exploring and experimenting on your own to find out where you’re most comfortable.
Instead, I'll share some starting points that make it much simpler to meet Columbus singles out looking for romance (we have a comprehensive list of suggestions on where to find Columbus hookups if you’re curious). These date spots tend to have the following criteria in common for finding serious relationships:
- Lots of available singles
- Fun atmosphere and inviting ambiance
- Easy to mix and mingle with new people
- Quiet enough to have a normal conversation
- Serves alcohol
- Relatively inexpensive
In my honest opinion, these six (6) characteristics form a useful rubric when it comes to meeting up with other available Columbus singles. Before we get into some specific recommendations, let's turn our attention to apps:
Why you should be using at least one app
You should really be on at least one dating app, it will be a crime on your dating life if you’re not. Since the start of the Pandemic, a lot more people are relying on dating apps to meet people, and this is also the case in Columbus. If you want to maximize your dating potential then do yourself a favor and give dating apps a try.
If you're struggling with choosing which app works for you, check out our rankings of the best dating apps in Columbus to help you get a sense of what apps will be right for you. Some apps are good for career-oriented individuals, whereas others emphasize shared interests and compatibility.
If you're too busy to read the full article, there are two apps that generally give the best results:
- eHarmony (which you can try free) is the best option for relationships (they have the best track record of all apps)
- AFF is best for more casual fun (unless you are incredibly attractive) - free trial, too!
After trying out dozens of dating sites and apps, it’s pretty clear that we have a pretty decent idea of what's working out in the “real” world. Check out our full rankings above to get you started on what’s good in Columbus.
Now, let's talk about our favorite spots around town.
The best singles bars in Columbus
We have narrowed the best bars in Columbus for singles. These bars are in our opinion the best in offering singles the best chances to meet, have a drink, and enjoy the atmosphere while chatting up singles:
- Char Bar in Flytown - 439 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
- Local Bar Short North in Short North - 913 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
- Terrace Bar in Short North - 1079 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
- The Library Bar in Indianola Forest - 2169 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
- Canabar in King-Lincoln Bronzeville - 859 E Long St, Columbus, OH 43203
- Club 185 in the Brewery District - 185 E Livingston Ave, Columbus, OH 43215
- Hofbräuhaus Columbus if you want to meet a Columbus cougar - 800 Goodale Blvd, Columbus, OH 43212
Give these bars a try and do give them a visit on different days and times. Some bars operate differently than others, so it’s best to know what each bar offers. (If you have any suggestions about the best singles bars in Columbus, leave them in the comments below.)
A few other great places to find a date in Columbus
Not everyone is a big drinker - and some singles find it a turn-off. Luckily, there are plenty of places where the focus isn’t on getting inebriated. While Columbus has quite the drinking culture (go Buckeyes!), you can still get great results outside of a bar - even during the sweltering summers and the frigid winter months.
Being open to new things can lead to opportunities that you would otherwise miss. After all, if the tried-and-true actually worked as it did in the past, you wouldn’t be reading this article in the first place! Above all, strive to have fun - a truly attractive quality that men and women adore.
The following are a few more options that have helped men and women in Columbus get to know each other and find their next exciting date:
- Bottoms Up Coffee in Franklinton - 1069 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43222
- Stauf’s Coffee in Dennison Place - 1334 Neil Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
- Coffee Underground in Indianola Forest - 2141 Indianola Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
- Kafe Kerouac in North Campus - 2250 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
- The Roosevelt Coffeehouse in Downtown Columbus - 300 E Long St, Columbus, OH 43215
- Explore the aisles of Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme Market, or Trader Joe’s - Trust us, attractive people shop upscale and organic!
- Meetup groups - There are tons of groups that are full of eager singles looking to share their interests, including music, tech, sports, and even singles mixers
- Again, apps and sites are a good option for just about anyone (check out the best dating sites in Columbus here)
The Apps Dating Coaches Recommend Most For Dating in Columbus
If your dating life needs a boost, but you can’t seem to meet any more women when you go out, dating apps are the solution. Plenty of women prefer dating apps because it helps them filter out creeps and get to know some really good guys like you. So use at least one of the options below to meet lots of single women!
Site Our Experience Our Rating Free Trial Link Experience Highlights Try eHarmony Experience Highlights Try AFF For Free Tinder Highlights Try Tinder
What about speed dating in Columbus
If you're busy and have some spare cash (events usually cost about $40 - $80 to attend), speed dating can be a very effective way to meet between 15 to 20 other singles in a short amount of time. For many of those who are still spooked by the pandemic, virtual speed dating also might be the best way to meet the most people in the shortest amount of time.
Most speed dating events follow the same pattern. First, you show up and go on a bunch of "mini-dates" where you chat with another participant for five minutes. Once five minutes have elapsed, the men get up and move to the next table where a woman remains seated for the next conversation. Here making a good first impression is king.
As the event progresses, you continue to make a list of the people you want to see again. Once the event is over, the event organization collects the lists from all the participants and lets you exchange each other’s info if you both indicated that you’d want to see each other again.
If this sounds like a fun and efficient way to meet new singles in the city besides hitting up bars and hoping you’ll meet someone available, then the following are the best Columbus speed dating groups worth checking out:
If you’ve read up to this point, all of the suggestions we’ve covered above should give you a great start for finding someone interesting and available to date in Columbus.
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let's jump into how to have a great date!
Our Best Date Ideas in Columbus - and Why They’re So Great
If there’s one piece of advice we can give you for your first bunch of dates, it is to avoid the “dinner and a movie” date. A dinner date between two people who are still unfamiliar with each other often turns into some kind of pseudo-interview, where even the best conversations can just seem like applying for a position at a new company. Yuck!
Instead of this type of date, we have established some ground rules that all of our date ideas generally follow. You can use these as a benchmark to come up with some of your own date ideas for yourself - or at least avoid boring dates. A great date idea tends to be one that:
- Has a fun and upbeat energy
- Things are going on around you that you can talk about
- Doesn't involve you sitting face-to-face for long periods of time
- Has you both moving around a bit
- Isn't too expensive
- Doesn't last for hours and hours so you can cut it short if there isn't any chemistry
- Allows both of you to feel comfortable
- Has a little friendly competition
Pro tip: It certainly helps to know what your date likes and dislikes beforehand or what you’ve already experienced beforehand. For example, if you’re date likes music, you can take her to a concert or a music festival. That’s a sure-fire way to jumpstart some fun times.
Trying something new is quite exciting and it’s more special if you’re sharing the experience with someone. To get you started, here are a few dating ideas in Columbus for you to try:
- Ice skating
- Take a dance class together
- Shoot some arrows at an archery range
- Go to the driving range
- Hit up the zoo or wildlife refuge
- Check out a street fair (Columbus has tons)
- Going to a farmer’s market
- Explore the parks and wildlife along the Scioto River
- Explore art fairs
- Escape rooms
- Scavenger hunts
- Take a walk with your dog somewhere fun (if you have one)
- Painting class (preferably with some adult beverages)
- Axe throwing
- Botanical garden
This is a short list, so feel free to use your imagination. All of these activities are fun, enjoyable, and pretty easy to do. Just remember to keep things light and pleasant.
The first date idea that we always recommend
The ideas above can be great first dates but we have a better idea. When people ask our team what the best first date in Columbus is we always tell them the same thing, meet up at a laid-back lounge or coffee shop and get to know each other a bit.
A full-blown date is a lot of pressure and isn't cheap. It takes time to plan and might involve you taking a bus around town to get there. Before you make that kind of investment you want to know that you and your interest have at least some level of compatibility. The last thing you want is to get stuck for hours on a date that you knew 10 minutes in, wasn't going anywhere.
Instead, tell them that you're really busy but would love to meet up for a drink to get to know each other a bit. If things go well you can always extend the date to one of the activities above. If it doesn't, you haven't lost much. This also takes a lot of pressure off both of you so you can both relax and be yourselves.
Best Date Bars in Columbus (Especially for Fun First Dates)
Going out to bars is a great way for people to get some rest and relaxation, so it makes sense that you’d want to select a bar that’s most conducive to having a successful date (especially first dates).
Finding a great date bar in and around Columbus is pretty easy when you consider how many options you have to choose from (or you can be completely overwhelmed by a (paradox of choice”). Whether you’re looking for a familiar dive bar, a fun arcade-style bar, or a roof-top atmosphere with attention to detail, Columbus has an abundance of great settings for your next date.
To help you find these bars, let’s look at a list of great bars that offer a fun atmosphere and won’t put a hole in your pocket:
- 16-Bit Bar+Arcade in Downtown Columbus - 254 S 4th St, Columbus, OH 43215
- Hey Hey Bar & Grill in Merion Village - 361 E Whittier St, Columbus, OH 43206
- ML Lounge in Downtown Columbus - 39 E Gay St, Columbus, OH 43215
- HYER Hookah Lounge in Italian Village - 1020 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43201
- The Torpedo Room in Weinland Park - 1550 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
- The Alibi Bourbon & Cocktail Lounge in Victorian Village - 843 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
- St James Tavern in Weinland Park - 1057 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43201
- Rehab Tavern in Franklinton - 456 W Town St, Columbus, OH 43215
If you want your date to be a memorable one, these places are great starters. Keep in mind that every neighborhood in Columbus has a spot that only locals know. It’s ideal to explore and try other spots as the date progresses, to keep things adventurous and exciting.
Best Date Night Restaurants in Columbus that Should Be Your First Choice
When it comes to the first few dates, we typically tend to recommend avoiding a dinner date until you’ve known your date a little more. Dinner dates tend to be pretty boring and difficult to establish a real connection with a relative stranger over the clanging of dishes, live entertainment, or just the people around eavesdropping. Plus, you're locked in a face-to-face conversation for two hours - plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong!
However, if you’re ready for a romantic dinner date in a nice restaurant in Columbus, we've got some excellent choices for you that break the bank. After all, there are plenty of expensive and overpriced restaurants in Columbus that are easy enough to find on your own!
Let’s look at date night restaurants in Columbus that offer food and an atmosphere that’s the perfect backdrop for your new romance:
- The Market: Food & Drink in Italian Village - 1022 Summit St, Columbus, OH 43201
- Hubbard Grille in Short North - 793 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
- Hot Chicken Takeover in Flytown - 59 Spruce St, Columbus, OH 43215
- The Old Mohawk in Brewery District - 819 Mohawk St, Columbus, OH 43206
- Brassica in Bexley - 2212 E Main St, Bexley, OH 43209
- Lavash Cafe in Indianola Forest - 2985 N High St #1103, Columbus, OH 43202
- La Tavola in Grandview Heights - 1664 W 1st Ave, Grandview Heights, OH 43212
- The Crest in Glen Echo - 2855 Indianola Ave, Columbus, OH 43202
More Date Spots in Columbus We Love
It’s pretty obvious to say this, but the quality of your date involves more than just eating and drinking (even for foodies). With all that Columbus has to offer, there’s no shortage of activities that will deepen the connection with your date. Lots of people have great dates at the places we’ve mentioned, so we’re confident that you will too.
One quick warning: The time of year will certainly make a difference with some of these recommendations (being outside for hours in the humid summer heat and chilling winter months doesn't always make for a great date), so you've been warned!
- Go ice skating at OhioHealth Ice Haus
- Watch the Columbus Clippers play at Huntington Park
- The Columbus Museum of Art and the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) offer day and night events for adults
- Check out some fascinating wildlife at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
- Try a group dance lesson together at Ballroom Dance Experience of Ohio
- Shoot some targets together at Scioto Grove Park Archery Range
- Stroll through vendor booths at the many art fairs throughout Columbus
- Shop for fresh groceries and taste homemade food at numerous farmer's markets throughout Columbus
- Solve a puzzle at Breakout Games Columbus
- Catch live music, ballet, and more at The Summit Musical Hall