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7 Outdoor Romantic Places in Columbus

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Let nature provide the backdrop to a cozy date around town. Romance in Columbus is not just hitting a restaurant and making eyes over wine. Getting outdoors is a wonderful way to connect, no servers, no bustle, just you and your date.

1. Whetstone Park of Roses

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The Whetstone Park of Roses is a beautiful place to visit anytime of the year. It is most popular during the spring and summer months as the rose gardens begin their full bloom, but it's worth noting that in the fall, the trees are a riot of color and the winter brings a special kind of stillness to the beautifully maintained gardens. It's also a birdwatcher's paradise.

With multiple gardens, a fountain, lake and other points of interest, this is the type of spot where a couple can spend an entire afternoon exploring the grounds, having a picnic or even fishing. In another area of the park there are full tennis and basketball courts for a little 1 on 1 competition.

Fair warning, the park is also a favorite spot for wedding ceremonies in the warmer months so there are times when it can become very crowded.

2. Mirror Lake - The Ohio State University

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When most people think of The Ohio State University, they think of classes, books, thousands of students slogging their way across campus and of course rabid fans roaming the streets during football Saturdays. It may surprise the casual observer to learn that the university has many areas for those with romance in their hearts. Mirror Lake is one of those outdoor areas.

For the majority of the year, Mirror Lake is a tranquil area of campus nestled among trees away from the hubbub of campus life. Students are often found studying under the plentiful trees or feeding the friendly ducks with leftovers from picnic lunches. The main fountain is a big draw and is often the subject of photographers who wish to capture the beauty of campus. A smaller lesser-known fountain is located at one end of the lake and is surrounded by a stone bench. A perfect place for a smooch.

This idyllic scene is especially romantic during the weekend and at night. A quick bike ride from Columbus' main bike trails gets you to the lake for a cozy picnic for two or a quick drive at night shows off the lake's beauty under well-placed lighting. During the holiday season, the "Light the Lake" event places thousands of white lights throughout the trees surrounding the lake for an extra-special holiday touch.

A couple things to note - the week before the Ohio State versus Michigan University game, the lake should be avoided. The Mirror Lake jump normally takes place the Thursday before The Game and sees thousands of students jumping into the lake. The day may permanently move to Tuesday because of the scheduling of the game for Thanksgiving weekend. Another thing to note - parking is notoriously difficult on campus. There are garages available for parking and those are visitors' best bet. Most parking around the area are for registered students with passes only and there is efficient, around-the-clock enforcement.

Central Ohio Summer Festivals

3. Franklin Park Conservatory

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The Franklin Park Conservatory has both an indoor and outdoor component which makes it a great place for a date anytime of the year. The park grounds has a small pond, stream, wooden bridge, meticulously kept grounds and even stage area for shows and concerts set on 88 acres. There are pathways that connect all areas of the park to each other which makes for a nice little walk.

Inside the conservatory are 400 species of plants from all over the world. The Victorian Palm House has more than 40 species of palms. And while the famed Chihuly exhibit has ended, the Conservatory still has several pieces of its own collection on display.

CAPA Summer Movie Series

4. Creekside at Gahanna

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With long trails, centrally located in Gahanna to shops and eateries and waterfall, Creekside at Gahanna is worth the drive. You can't go wrong with the natural beauty of the area and depending on the season, fantastic light displays or ghoulish Halloween fun.

No matter when you go, be sure to take a walk along creekside.

Location: 123 Mill St., Gahanna Ohio

North Market Review"

5. Topiary Park - Deaf School Park

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An example of 'living art' the Topiary Park located in downtown Columbus is a sculptural intepretation of Georges Seurat’s Post-Impressionist Painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte. While the topiaries - 54 humans figures, 8 boats, three dogs, one monkey and one cat - are the main attraction, the grounds outside the painting are simply beautiful.

Parking around the site is plentiful and there is also a small gift shop on the premises for souvenirs.

Location: Town Street and Washington Avenue

Time: Sunrise to Sunset

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6. Scioto Mile

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Located downtown Columbus, the Scioto Mile has more than 145 acres of greenspace. Stretching along riverfront from the Arena District to the Whittier Peninsula, the Mile connects downtown to the Scioto River through a system of seven parks, boulevards, bikeways and pedestrian paths.

Couples can experience the Mile via bike or foot and visit some of the new and fun areas of downtown including the Scioto Mile Fountain, Scioto Greenway Recreational Trails and more! There are always events centered around the area including open air movies and concerts. And at night? The riverview, cityview and lights all make it a fantastic place for a night out.

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7. The Long Walk - The Ohio State University

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Another OSU romantic hotspot. The Long Walk is steeped in tradition and should only be used by the most serious of romantics. Those wishing to get married. Still reading? Okay great.

The Long Walk is located on the Oval at OSU and is the sidewalk that runs the length of the Oval from William Thompson Library to the Ohio State University Seal at College Road. The tradition behind the walk is a couple must begin the walk, hand in hand at the statue of former OSU president William Oxely Thompson and walk the entire length of the sidewalk until they reach the seal where they kiss. If a couple does this they are destined to stay in love forever, get married or whichever version of the legend you like. This is not a first date kind of thing.

Once again - keep in mind parking is difficult in the area so don't ruin a wonderful time by getting a big fat ticket, or in some areas towed. Also, be careful taking the walk in inclement weather. The seal is notoriously slippery if it or has snow on it.

Side note: I took the walk with my now husband in 1999 and was engaged in October of that year. We've been married 11 years now and have three kids! The walk, works!

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