The dining room at Orchids at Palm Court (photo courtesy of Orchids at Palm Court)

19 Great Ohio Date Nights

From elegant meals to cool classes and retro arcade games to classical music, amp up your next evening out together with one of these great ideas. 

Making time for one another is important, and the date night is the perfect vehicle for rekindling romance and having fun together.

Whether you want to enjoy an elegant meal in a dining room that sits over the age of Lake Erie at Cleveland’s Pier W or take in the art deco ambiance of Cincinnati’s Orchids at Palm Court, memorable meals await you.

For those who want to try their hand at something new, a wealth of couples classes ranging from cooking to glassblowing to ballroom dancing promise the opportunity to make great memories and expand their horizons.

Couples who want to embrace art and culture have access to a wealth of museums (some with special evening hours), music performances, a cozy downtown Akron movie house (with just 46 seats) and places to step back in time with vintage arcade fun from Galaga to Ms. Pac-Man.  


Enjoy a Romantic Dinner

The fireplace in the dining room of Gideon Owen Wine Co. sets a perfect scene for sharing a bottle of wine over dinner. Nestled in a wooded area off one of Lake Erie’s inlets, the limestone-block winery exudes romance. The winery offers Midweek Mixers each Wednesday, where a cocktail-making demonstration is paired with appetizers. Dinner is offered Tuesday through Sunday and brunch is served on Sunday mornings. 3845 E. Wine Cellar Rd., Port Clinton 43452, 419/797-4445,

Primavista's view of the Cincinnati skyline (photo courtesy of Primavista)
Cincinnati’s Primavista has a long tradition of house-made stocks and sauces as well as hand-cut beef tenderloin, veal, fresh fish and time-honored Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs. The menu has been the work of executive chef Chris Prince since 1992, but the view is just as attractive as the kitchen’s specialties. Because Primavista sits along Price Hill, most tables in the room offer a look out over downtown Cincinnati and the Ohio River. 810 Matson Place, Cincinnati 45204, 513/251-6467,

Serenity is plentiful at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, and its secluded location in the heart of the Hocking Hills is why people seek it out. It’s also the home of Kindred Spirits restaurant. Couples may ask for one of the cozy window seats inside the original 1840s log cabin that houses part of the restaurant or opt for a more private experience in the back dining room. 21190 St. Rte. 374, Logan 43138, 740/385-7489,

The dining room at Orchids at Palm Court (photo courtesy of Orchids at Palm Court)
Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt and Elvis Presley are among the 20th-century icons who visited the Netherland Plaza Hotel. What was once the lobby of downtown Cincinnati’s landmark hotel (now the Hilton Cincinnati at Netherland Plaza) today houses Orchids at Palm Court, a restaurant that is as elegant and romantic now as the historic property was in its past life. Low lighting, dark woods and candles on each table make for a romantic ambiance. 35 W. Fifth St., Cincinnati 45202, 513/564-6465,

Nestled in a 1900s carriage house in Columbus’ Victorian Village neighborhood, Basi Italia is filled with Old World-inspired stone floors, a slate patio that’s heated in the winter and an open kitchen that lets guests look in on chef John Dornback at work. He opened the place with his wife, Trish Gentile, in 2003 to create what Dornback calls “a special moment in time” for a romantic evening out. 811 Highland St., Columbus 43215, 614/294-7383,

The dining room at Pier W in Lakewood (photo by Todd Sheppard)
Since 1965, Lakewood’s Pier W has been one of Cleveland’s premier dining destinations and the only one to have a cantilevered dining room that sits out over the edge of Lake Erie, providing incredible views of the downtown skyline. The restaurant specializes in seafood dishes from executive chef Regan Reik. Diners are treated to incredible views, from the moon reflecting off the lake to summer storms that light up the sky. Winton Place, 12700 Lake Ave., Lakewood 44107, 216/228-2250,

Gervasi Vineyard Resort & Spa in Canton has multiple food-and-drink spots on-site and knows how to spark romance year-round. The Bistro, housed inside a beautifully repurposed barn, offers a menu that spans pastas, steaks and entrees like the Salmon Rustico that all pair well with the vineyard’s wines. The Crush House offers a contemporary wine bar experience, while The Still House makes for a great place to stop off for cocktail or coffee after dinner. 1700 55th St. NE, Canton 44721, 330/497-1000,

Take a Couples Class

Couple working at the Idea Foundry in Columbus (photo courtesy of the Idea Foundry)
Taking on a woodworking, welding or blacksmithing project with your partner is an unorthodox night out, but the Columbus Idea Foundry allows couples to embrace working together while learning a new hands-on skill. This “community of makers” provides a one-stop shop for those who want to unleash their passion to create things. It’s a way to have a shared experience you’re not likely to have anywhere else. 421 W. State St., Columbus 43215, 614/653-8068,

Think of it as a chance to canoodle over strudel — strudel that you’ve made yourself. Ohio’s Loretta Paganini School of Cooking offers instruction to both amateur and professional cooks through a variety of classes year-round, but it also offers classes geared toward couples as part of its schedule, particularly during February. Couples create a memory together but also learn how to make a meal that they can try again at home. 8613 Mayfield Rd., Chesterland 44026, 440/729-1110,

Macarons are light and luscious meringue-based confections filled with ganache or jam. They can also be fiendishly difficult to make at home. But all the mysteries of preparation of the French favorite are revealed in classes held regularly at Cincinnati’s Macaron Bar. Popular with couples is the Champagne and Macaron Pairing Night, during which four sparkling wines from around the world are each perfectly paired with a macaron. 1206 Main St., Cincinnati 45202,

Toledo Museum of Art glass workshop (photo courtesy of Toledo Museum of Art)
Get an introduction to the art of glassblowing during regularly scheduled workshops at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion. Glass-studio artists help participants through the process of firing the glass and molding it into shape. This unique date-night option allows couples to be learn about a unique art form together and, to top it off, you get to take home a memento of your special night together. 2445 Monroe St., Toledo 43620, 419/255-8000,

Nearly every Monday year-round, the Dayton Ballroom Dance Club offers group lessons for couples (and singles) wanting to improve their dancing skills. The club has instructors to teach at four different levels, ranging from Beginner to Silver (a class that focuses on the most complex and challenging steps). Each Monday class is followed by a Social Dance Party that’s included in the cost of the lesson, making every week’s sessions an event. Arbor Hall, 2150 Arbor Blvd., Dayton 45439757/773-5949,

Music, Museums, Movies and Games

The Cleveland Orchestra on stage at Severance Hall (photo by Roger Mastroianni)
The Cleveland Orchestra has a lineup of classic musical programs throughout its Severance Hall season. The grandiose and historic music venue features intricate art deco adornments and warm lighting that provides the perfect ambiance for a romantic night out. In the summer, the orchestra makes its summer home at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, offering a program that spans classical music, patriotic concerts and films during which the movie score is performed live on-stage. Cleveland 44106, 216/231-1111,

Music Box Supper Club along the west bank of the Cuyahoga River is a reminder of a time when dinner was the opening act to a musical performance. Concerts are held upstairs or down, and each space has a separate menu. The club also hosts themed multiple-course dinners and music-filled brunches. Keep an eye on the Music Box Supper Club schedule to see what’s coming up. 1148 Main Ave., Cleveland 44113, 216/242-1250,

The Nightlight Cinema (photo courtesy of The Nightlight Cinema)
The Nightlight Cinema, a 46-seat move house in downtown Akron has been screening new releases of independent films and older movies of note since 2014. Before the lights go down, couples can order craft cocktails, local beer or a glass of wine at the bar as well as popcorn and candy. For those who want to make an entire date night in the area, Blu Jazz+ and Akronym Brewing are on the block too. 30 N. High St., Akron 44308, 330/252-5782,

Things of beauty can be found within every gallery at the Cleveland Museum of Art, making for a perfect day or evening outing (the museum is open until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays). The expansive permanent collection is available to explore free of charge, and special exhibitions are scheduled throughout the year. The museum also offers a ticketed monthly MIX event, a Friday-evening party where cocktails, music and art merge around a specific theme. 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland 44106, 216/421-7350,

Visitors exploring the cave at the Cincinnati Museum Center (photo by Erin Amtulis)
The Cincinnati Museum Center is the perfect place to geek out for an afternoon with that special someone in your life. The city’s landmark Union Terminal building houses the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Cincinnati History Museum, an Omnimax theater and a vintage ice cream parlor. Start at The Cave, a two-level, 500-foot-long reproduction of a limestone cave complete with waterfalls, stalagmites and stalactites and plenty of nooks and crannies to get lost in. 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati 45203, 513/287-7000,

The Columbus Museum of Art, located in our capital city’s Discovery District, offers a world of art to explore, including “Encounters: Reframing the Contemporary Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art,” the first comprehensive reinstallation of its contemporary galleries since the opening of the museum’s Margaret M. Walter Wing in 2015. Open late for exploration on Thursday evenings until 9 p.m., the museum provides a great place to get lost in beauty together. 480 E. Broad St., Columbus 43215, 614/221-6801,
16-Bit Bar + Arcade games (photo courtesy of 16-Bit Bar + Arcade)
If you want to impress your sweetie with your mad retro video-game skills, 16-Bit Bar + Arcade is the place to do it. Each of 16-Bit’s Ohio locations have more than 40 classic games, a lineup of 1980s and ’90s-themed cocktails and a laid-back vibe. Bringing a date to 16-Bit offers one-on-one interaction — it’s fun, flirty, and you get to talk with them. Visit website for information on Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dublin and Columbus locations.

This article was created from stories that ran in our February 2018, February 2020 and January/February 2023 issues. Information contained within has been updated.