Whether you’re looking to have some fun with your long-term partner, a new flame, or are just testing the waters, downtown Akron is full of unique experiences, out-of-this-world food, and entertainment for every taste—ingredients to make the most of your next date night. Read on for 6 date night ideas you can have here in your own backyard.
1. The Classic Dinner & Show Date
There are several fantastic options for romantic dinners in downtown Akron. With 50 and counting downtown restaurants to choose from, there’s sure to be something that suits your taste, budget, and schedule.
For some traditionally romantic date night options, you can never go wrong with one of downtown’s fine-dining establishments—a warm Thai curry from Cilantro, a perfectly cooked and plated steak from DBA, flavor-packed tacos from El Patrón, gourmet chicken and waffles or vegan pavé from Crave, jumbo lump crab cakes from DeJuan's, or a comforting flatbread from The 1: Food and Spirits. These restaurants each offer a selection of sensuous signature drinks to pair with your meal, like El Patrón’s craft margaritas, handcrafted cocktails from The 1, and tropical martinis from Cilantro.
Check our events calendar for a schedule of upcoming music and other entertainment in downtown Akron.
2. The Quirky & Unique Date
What better way to discover things you didn’t know about someone than by sharing a cool experience? Luckily, there’s much to be experienced in downtown Akron—much of which is fairly new and incredibly unique.
Start by thinking outside the box! The board game box, that is. At the Green Dragon Inn Board Games Bar & Cafe, you can unbox any of over 750 available board games and play them with your date in a medieval castle–themed setting, all while munching on appetizers and sipping on libations with names like “Wizard’s Tea” and “Dwarven Forge.”
If you're looking for something quirky, unique, and also a little intellectual, allow us to recommend the National Museum of Psychology. Museum highlights include interactive exhibits on memory, intelligence, and personality; home movies of Sigmund Freud; the simulated shock generator from Stanley Milgram's obedience studies; and artifacts from the Stanford Prison Experiment. They also feature rotating exhibits, so there's always something new, and definitely quirky, to experience.
And finally, you can’t go wrong putting your heads together at the Great Escape Room, which offers several immersive escape room experiences ranging from 60 to 120 minutes in length. No matter which one you choose, you'll be sure to have a great time (and a great date!).
3. The Active Date
It’s easy to get your heart pumping when you’re downtown—and not just from love—mainly thanks to the presence of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail that runs through and provides ample opportunity for movement.
Did you know you can borrow a bike completely free through Summit Bike Share and explore the Towpath for up to three hours? All you need is a photo ID. Bring your date and borrow a bike from the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in the Northside District, Lock 3, or the Richard Howe House, and explore away! If biking isn’t really your thing, the Towpath is great for long, romantic walks along the canal. Depending on how far you’d like to go, you can get to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to the north and Summit Lake to the south.
Bonus: In the springtime, the trail downtown is alive with over 400 cherry blossom trees, planted in 2011 by the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio (JANO) in partnership with the city of Akron. Although they bloom for only a short period of time, it’s a positively dreamy sight to behold. It could even be a lovely backdrop for a proposal, if you catch our drift.
During the summer months, DAP holds free wellness classes that include yoga, Pilates, bootcamp, DrumHIIT, Zumba, and line dancing. Join us on Cascade Plaza several days a week to be part of this fun, free fitness—the perfect start to an active evening.
4. The Back-in-Time Date
Are you an old-fashioned romantic? If you’re the type who prefers your movies without color and who dreams of a love accompanied by the sizzling sound of jazz, you’d love the ambiance of the Northside Speakeasy, an intimate cocktail bar that’ll take you straight back to the 1920s, and BLU Jazz+, another club with sensual speakeasy vibes that’s located in the basement of the Hermes building. It’s a pretty ideal spot for ordering a martini or highball, listening to some music, and whispering sweet nothings into your companion’s ear.
You might also consider dining at The 1: Food & Spirits or even turning your date night into an overnight stay at the BLU-Tique Hotel. Their mid-century atmosphere with rooms overlooking the city leave little to be desired.
For something a little more casually retro, you can also join us on Cascade Plaza for roller skate nights, which happen every other Saturday during the summer months. They’re decades themed, sure to take you back to the ‘70s, ‘80’s, and ‘90s. Skates are only $2 per pair to rent, and since there aren’t substantial handrails on Cascade Plaza, you might just have to hold hands with your date.
5. The Artsy Date
You’re cool, you’re urban, a connoisseur of art, a lover of culture—and you want your date night to reflect that. We get you. Downtown does, too.
After dinner, visit one of downtown’s several art galleries. The Akron Art Museum, Summit Artspace, Akron Soul Train Galleries, and Zeber-Martell Clay Studio & Gallery are all great options. Curated Storefront’s Main Street windows and Outside the Box Gallery in the Northside District are perfect choices for warmer weather, too, when you just want to be outside. You could even hit all these galleries in one go—and enjoy live music, library programming, and food vendors—during ArtWalk, downtown Akron’s quarterly celebration of the arts. Each ArtWalk has a different theme, which means you can come back again and again with your partner, and it’ll still give you a sense of novelty and fun.
Other public art to explore with your date: The Axis Mundi and Iris, Aster, Lotus, and Ragwort murals on either side of the Akron Civic Theatre, the Roots of Rubber Installation on the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM Plaza, the Dale Chihuly rock candy sculpture on University Avenue, and Jessica Lofthus’s unnamed colorful mural on the Quaker Street side of the Cascade Parking Deck.
Bonus: Grab yourselves some DORA beverages from a participating establishment and enjoy them while you go on an art tour of downtown.
If you’re looking for opportunities to create art downtown instead of merely looking at it, we highly recommend stopping into Street Craftery for a DIY project, signing up for a Paint & Sip event at Missing Falls Brewery, or if you're the musical type, even performing at an open mic night at one of downtown's many music venues.
6. The Budget Friendly Date
Let’s face it: sometimes you really need to save your pennies, but still want to have a great time outside the house with the one you love. If this is you right now, fret not. We’ve got you covered!
Did you know the Akron Art Museum is free and open to the public every single Thursday? They’re also open late on Thursdays, so you can enjoy their galleries until 8 p.m. Right across the street is the Main Branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, which holds their Movies@Main events on Thursdays and Sundays. Catch old classics and contemporary blockbusters completely free of charge in their 400-person auditorium.
Other budget friendly date options include packing a picnic and enjoying it at Lock 4, Cascade Plaza, the North High Parklet, or the Northside Green; playing board games at Lock 2; or simply taking each other by the hand and meandering through the streets of downtown Akron without a care in the world or destination in mind.