Proposal at Toledo Museum of Art

Fun Loving: 10 Ohio Date Nights

Put a spark in your next evening out with your sweetie. These Ohio destinations offer fun and romance.

Art, Music & Games 

The fine art of romance is on display at the Toledo Museum of Art. Couples can pick up a copy of “My Guide: Date Night” to see the amorous works highlighted in the museum’s pamphlet, including "Plate with Pyramus and Thisbe." The Cloister Gallery, filled with lights simulating a twilit sky, is a popular place to pop the question. (A docent even worked with a prospective groom on the perfect proposal during a tour — she said, ‘Yes!’) Workshops make for an extra fun outing, and events such as glass flameworking and blacksmithing workshops are scheduled select dates throughout February and March. 2445 Monroe St., Toledo 43620, 419/255-8000, 

It’s always a good time to rock out on a classic Donkey Kong arcade console, and if you really 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 ’80s 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. Even better, all games are free as long as you have a drink in hand. Visit website for information on Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dublin and Columbus locations.
The revelry of The Flats nightlife district along Cleveland’s riverfront has a softer side. You just have to know where to look. 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. For February 2023, look out for fun events such as the Patsy Cline Brunch: Valentine’s Day Edition on Feb. 12, Bootlegger’s Ball: A Roaring ’20s Murder Mystery Dinner Party on Feb. 18 and more. 1148 Main Ave., Cleveland 44113, 216/242-1250,

Romantic Restaurants

Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt and Elvis Presley are among the 20th-century elite who visited the Netherland Plaza Hotel. What once served as the lobby of the downtown Cincinnati landmark is now home to Orchids at Palm Court, a restaurant that is as elegant and romantic today as the historic property was in its past life. Dimmer lighting, beautiful candle centerpieces, a piano player and even a jazz quartet on select nights add to the ambiance. Much of the space’s original 1931 French art deco splendor remains, including a half acre of rich Brazilian rosewood and ceiling murals depicting the theme of outdoor recreation. Visit the Bar and Lounge at Palm Court seven days a week to enjoy cocktails and an expanded bar food menu, with live jazz on Fridays and Saturdays. 35 W. Fifth St., Cincinnati 45202, 513/421-9100,

Seclusion and serenity are plentiful at Kindred Spirits at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls, making it easier than ever to spend some quality time with that special someone in your life. In fact, the restaurant’s remote location in the heart of Ohio’s Hocking Hills region is why people seek the place out. Couples may want to ask for one of the cozy window seats inside the original 1840s log cabin the restaurant calls home or opt for a more private experience in the quaint back dining room. 21190 St. Rte. 374, Logan 43138, 740/385-7489,

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. Over the years, it's been the site of many proposals and even more guests who return each year to celebrate their wedding anniversaries. “They tell us this is the place where it all started,” Dornback says. 811 Highland St., Columbus 43215, 614/294-7383,

Whether its butternut squash soup for a couple to enjoy in a cozy nook or a decadent dessert for a pair to share as they sit beside a spring-fed lake, Gervasi Vineyard knows how to spark romance year-round. The Bistro — named one of America’s 100 Most Romantic Restaurants by OpenTable — offers a delectable seasonal menu, which ranges from Angus rib-eye paired with house-made gnocchi to special share-a-plate dessert trios that pair easily with the vineyard’s wines. Tuscany and California meet Canton, Ohio, at this destination that offers multiple food and drink spots. 1700 55th St. NE, Canton 44721, 330/497-1000,

Couples Classes

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 in its Valentine’s Day Date Nights on Feb. 10 and 11. They’re among the 30 monthly classes at this self-described “community of makers” that 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 — build something to take home, and build your relationship at the same time. 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. During February, northeast Ohio’s Loretta Paganini School of Cooking ramps up its courses designed for couples with offerings like “Date Night That's Amore,” “Cooking Together: Be My Valentine” and “A Chocolate Lovers Dream.” For Stefanie Paganini, director of professional programs, learning and working together is sexy. Couples create a memory together and also a meal they can make again at home. (But here, they don’t have to do the dishes!) 8613 Mayfield Rd., Chesterland 44026, 440/729-1110,

Purists insist that swing music should be danced to tunes of the ’30s and ’40s, the period when the genre was most in vogue, but such fine points don’t prevail at the classes offered at Swing Out Dayton. The classes alternate between the Lindy Hop, Charleston and East Coast Swing, and couples are encouraged to continuously rotate to new partners for better learning. Learn a step or two, then get back to cutting the rug. 8967 Kingsridge Dr., Dayton 45458, 937/751-7581,

A version of this article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Ohio Magazine.