The Cheap Issue: Cheap dates

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Memorable dates aren't always expensive. They aren't always flashy. The best ones let your sweetheart know you're thinking - and willing to pony up at least $10 for a good time. Here are three suggestions for evenings under $50.

$10: A Walk in the Woods

Creativity: ***

Romance: ***

Location: Westerville

When to go: Weekend afternoons

Offering free admission to pretty places, the Metro Parks are the perfect starting point for those after lasting interaction on the cheap. Westerville's Sharon Woods, 6911 Cleveland Ave., is an easy introduction, with three trails shorter than two miles.

Before that lone Hamilton burns a hole in your pocket, hit the city's historic district for a seasonal specialty beverage from Heavenly Cup Espresso, 25 N. State St. Once you've warmed up with a Creme Brulee Latte, stroll past lovely storefronts decorated for Christmas. (I pioneered this date 11 months ago, and my girlfriend and I are still going strong.)

Why it works: Mixing the great outdoors with creature comforts

Other advice: Bring an extra layer and warm gloves to offer in the cold

$30: In the Swing of Things

Creativity: *****

Romance: ***

Location: Gahanna

When to go: 6 p.m. daily

For breaking the ice, a little first-time fun almost always trumps a five-course meal. Enjoy a dose of hilarity at Glow Putt Mini Golf, 161 Granville St., Ohio's largest indoor, glow-in-the-dark putt-putt course. Sparks are likely to fly amid the neon safari theme, complete with glowing balls, clubs and scorecard. It's $7 per person for 18 holes.

Keep the mood loose at The Wine Guy Wine Shop, 500 Creekside Plaza, a charming shop in the city's Creekside development. After grabbing one of eight four-selection flights available for $13, check out the lights of Winter Wonderland in the adjacent park space.

Why it works: Because everything's more fun beneath black light

Other advice: Call the wine shop in advance for the skinny on featured selections

$50: Dinner and Flowers

Creativity: ***

Romance: *****

Location: Near East Side

When to go: 5 p.m. Wednesdays

Starting this month, the Franklin Park Conservatory, 1777 E. Broad St., will offer a full slate of yuletide activities. The most romantic is Candlelight Nights, running 5-8 p.m. Wednesdays from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23. For $10 apiece, you and your beau will find live music, glass-blowing demonstrations and hundreds of votive candles illuminating work by Dale Chihuly.

After walking through the numerous indoor ecosystems, head a few blocks over to the Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern, 2158 E. Main St. in Bexley. A hefty selection of sandwiches, salads and draft beer should keep your tab around the $30 remainder.

Why it works: Seeing more flowers than you could ever buy

Other advice: Research key facts about jazz, biomes