Date Night In Columbia

Ah, May. It’s that time of the year when everything is abloom, the evening breezes are gentle, and the constellations twinkle overhead in the night sky. Combine this lovely season with the most romantic things to do in Columbia, and you’ve got a recipe for some fantastic springtime dates.

Whether you’re looking to impress that new person who makes your heart thump or slow things down with your regular honey, these ideas will set the tone for one sweet summer.

The Wallet-Friendly Date

A great evening out together doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, sometimes it’s the simpler things in life that prove to be the most enjoyable. This date night is easy on the pocketbook and full of lighthearted fun.

For Dinner:

  • Mugs Up Drive-In: Take full advantage of the warmer season at this old Columbia favorite. You can’t beat the Zip Burger or a chili cheese dog, both the restaurant’s own recipes. When it comes to beverages, make yours a root beer float: Mugs Up brews its own delicious root beer and serves it with Central Dairy ice cream.

For Fun:

  • Perche Creek Golf Club: Treat your sweetheart to 18 holes of miniature golf at Perche Creek, where each hole is modeled off well-known challenges at famous golf courses. True golf fan or not, your date will enjoy this friendly competition.

Or Try This:

  • An old-fashioned chocolate malt at Steak & Shake and bowling at Town & Country Lanes

* Don’t forget to bring socks!

The Romantic Date

Dinner and a movie: a timeless combination. Break bread together at a candlelit Italian restaurant before heading off to catch a film at Ragtag Cinema. A stop at Uprise Bakery adjoining the movie theater will end the night on a delicious note.

For Dinner:

  • The Pasta Factory: Request a table out on the brick-lined courtyard to transport you both to a little café in Italy. To heighten this feeling, order Chicken Marsala, a chicken and mushroom dish simmered in sweet Marsala wine, served with your choice of side dish and a salad. Fruity white Kris Pinot Grigio provides the perfect complement to your meal.

For Fun:

  • Ragtag Cinema: Ragtag’s movie listings include beautiful, independent films your date won’t have seen elsewhere. Curl up on one of the theater’s couches to watch something whimsical, haunting or inspiring.

For Dessert:

  • Uprise Bakery: Indulge your inner child with a gourmet cupcake. Flavors range from traditional chocolate-on-chocolate to the unusual blueberry cupcake topped with a light lemon icing; we recommend the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of pecans.

Or Try This:

  • Dinner at Chris McD’s and a movie at Forum 8

* Be sweet: Tell your date when she gets icing on her nose.

The Green Date

Show some love for your date and the planet at the same time. This daytime outing will give you the opportunity to be kind to the Earth and get out and appreciate its beauty.

For Lunch:

  • Main Squeeze Natural Foods Café: This vegetarian restaurant is known for being environmentally friendly. Try the popular Buddha Bowl, a hot dish filled with brown rice, scallions, veggies and tofu in a sesame ginger sauce. This entrée is seriously filling, so choose a lighter drink from the juice bar to quench your thirst. Staffers recommend The Ring of Fire, a concoction made with apple, orange and beet juices with ginger.

For Fun:

  • Rock Bridge Memorial State Park: Go exploring together! With more than 15 miles of trails, it’s easy to find a hike that has the intensity and distance you’re looking for. Check out the map on the park’s Web site to choose a route that passes near caves or other natural landmarks.

Or Try This:

  • Go shopping at the Columbia Farmers Market. Mark your calendar for May 7 for some Q&A with gardening experts who will give you the lowdown on starting or enhancing your very own home garden, yet another activity the two of you can enjoy together.

*Visit the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park Web site at

*The Farmers Market (at the intersection of Clinkscales and Ash) is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and Monday through Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Party-Like-You’re-Still-In-College Date

Just because you don’t have the luxury of those three-month vacations anymore doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a night reminiscent of your college days. Relive the excitement with a downtown dinner and a concert followed by a late-night drink.

For Dinner:

  • Tellers Gallery & Bar: The restaurant’s cool downtown vibe will set the mood for the rest of the night. Go with lighter fare such as the Blackened Salmon served over your choice of Caesar or Creole salad. It’s a perfect match for a crisp white wine like Tamas Pinot Grigio.

For Fun:

  • Ninth Street Summerfest: The free show in front of The Blue Note on May 26 features indie pop rock band Montreal, a group that’s been a music industry fixture for the past 10 years and counting. They perform with funk band Noot d’ Noot and indie rocker James Husband while in Columbia. Gates open at 6 p.m.

For Drinks:

  • Shiloh Bar & Grill: Unwind after the show with a pitcher of your favorite beer on the patio. If you could use a midnight nibble, go for the chicken quesadilla filled with peppers, onions and cheese.

Or Try This:

  • Dinner and margaritas at El Maguey followed by a comedy show at Déjà Vu. Stick around after the show for bottomless cup specials and dancing in the nightclub. Or have a slice of pizza at Shakespeare’s before walking around the Mizzou campus and going for ice cream.

The Downtown Progressive Date

Make it a night out on the town with a progressive dinner date in The District. With so many restaurants and hotspots within walking distance of one another, you can ditch the car and take a series of short evening strolls from one venue to the next.

For Appetizers:

  • Room 38 Restaurant & Lounge: This trendy spot is complete with a backlit bar and plenty of lounge and table seating. Diners’ favorites include the Spicy Chicken Queso Dip, a generous bowl of rich, creamy cheese dip served with tortilla chips, fresh carrots and celery. Pair with the Peach Pear Mojito, which surprises the palate without being overly sweet.

For Dinner:

  • Addison’s: Try Sesame Seared Tuna, a colorfully seasoned entrée served over ginger rice and asparagus. Sip Castle Rock Pinot Noir with dinner; it’s a mild wine with cherry and herbal spice flavors.

For Dessert:

  • Encore Wine & Dessert Bar: Treat your taste buds to Chocolate Decadence, a flourless chocolate cake topped with chocolate ganache and garnished with chocolate lattices, all accompanied by a bit of whipped topping and strawberries. Great with Bartenura Moscato D’Asti, a sweet, fruity white wine.

For Fun:

  • Shake your groove thing at The Lounge, a Fridays-only nightclub located off the alley between The Rome and Tiger Barber Shop on Ninth Street.

The Mother’s Day Brunch

Bring the kids for a Mother’s Day date with the entire family. A tasty mid-morning or afternoon brunch is a delightful way to begin the day; follow with a leisurely walk and a low-key family photo op at the park.

For Brunch:

  • Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar: A true crowd-pleaser, this brunch offers something for everyone. Try the Smoked Salmon Lox Benedict made with salmon, poached eggs, crème fraîche and hollandaise sauce served on toasted Jewish rye bread. Pair with a refreshing mimosa.

For Fun:

  • Stephens Lake Park: The gazebos, boardwalk and ample greenery at Stephens Lake Park are the ideal backdrop for some pretty cute family photos, a nice memento of the occasion.

Or Try This:

  • Pick up all the ingredients you’ll need to serve Mom a pancake breakfast in bed, and let the kids help sprinkle in blueberries or flip the cakes. In the afternoon, go to The Mud Room together and let everyone paint his or her own piece of pottery to be fired.

The All-American Date

Plan an evening with your better half that’s as American as a slice of apple pie. Go out for juicy steaks before settling in for a good old ball game, and let the sights and sounds out on the mound remind you: There’s no place like home.

For Dinner:

  • CC’s City Broiler: Special order the 16-ounce bone-in filet, a flavorful steak with all the savory juices captured inside. The cola, cherry and blackberry aromas of Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon will serve as an excellent accompaniment to the steak.

For Fun:

  • MU Baseball Game: Cheer the Tigers on to a victory together. This month MU takes on Missouri State, Nebraska and Texas; watch it all unfold at Taylor Stadium.

Or Try This:

  • Beer and burgers at Booche’s Billiard Hall

The Gourmet Date

From a dramatic French ballet at ornate Jesse Auditorium down to the last delectable forkful of a triple-chocolate dessert, this night is all about the best high-class entertainment Columbia has to offer.

For Fun:

  • The Moscow Festival Ballet’s “Giselle”: The dance company puts on one matinee performance of “Giselle” at Jesse Auditorium at 2 p.m. on May 2. This French ballet follows the tale of Giselle, a peasant girl who becomes enamored with a betrothed nobleman in disguise and whose capacity for love saves the nobleman and gives her peace.

For Dinner:

  • Sycamore: Share the Artisanal Goatsbeard Farm Cheese Platter served with homemade crackers and date jam while your dinner is being prepared. The Special, a flavorful beef tenderloin served with potato gallete, shallots and a sherry vinegar sauce, goes well with a glass of savory Brewer-Clifton 2006 Lindsay’s Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills. Save some room for dessert, because the layered, white wine caramel-drizzled Triple Chocolate Terrine is to-die-for.

Or Try This:

  • Have dinner at the Wine Cellar & Bistro followed by a show at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. Or go stargazing at Laws Observatory on the University of Missouri campus, open Wednesdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

*Ballet tickets cost $18-$31; MU student discounts are available. For ticket information, visit or call 573-882-3781.

*Visit the Laws Observatory Web site at

The Beer Crawl Date

As temperatures steadily rise, a date arranged around cold beer becomes more and more appealing. Chill out with a grown-up beer crawl that emphasizes great food to go with those foamy beverages.

For Appetizers (And Beer):

  • Flat Branch Pub & Brewing: Get a spicy start to the evening with a pint of Green Chili Beer and the Spicy Spinach Dip. The light-bodied beer has a kick provided by Anaheim peppers, and the cheesy spinach dip comes with an order of chips and veggies.

For Dinner (And Beer):

  • Broadway Brewery: Try any one of the four to seven rotating beers on tap to go with the Kansas City Strip Steak, a free-range beef dish that comes with a choice of two locally grown fruits or vegetables.

For Beer (And More Beer):

  • Tin Can Tavern and Grille: Part beer, part dessert, you won’t be disappointed by Young’s Chocolate Stout at the Tin Can. Chocolate has actually been added to this smooth brew, which boasts cream and vanilla flavors followed by a slightly bitter chocolaty finish.

Or Try This:

  • Beer and dinner at The Heidelberg followed by beers at Quinton’s Deli & Bar and Harpo’s

The Adventure Date

If the two of you are outdoorsy types, consider making the 22.3-mile Katy Trail bike ride from McBaine to Hotel Frederick in Boonville. Stop to stretch your legs and refuel before hittin’ the trails again for home.

For Fun:

  • Katy Trail: Air up those tires, pick your Columbia starting point and head out on the open trail.

For Dinner:

  • Glenn’s Café in Boonville’s Hotel Frederick: To start, share the Shrimp Ceviche, a Central American dish cooked in limejuice and tossed with chilies, cilantro, mango, avocado and cucumber. Then feast on Trout Sombart, a Missouri-raised trout stuffed with lemon and herbs and topped with bacon, pecans, green onions and local mushrooms.

Or Try This:

  • Take a few swings in the batting cages at Perche Creek Golf Club before dining at the Midway Backdoor Lounge. Or register for the Starlight Bike Ramble on May 8 by visiting

MU Home Baseball Schedule

  • May 4, 6 p.m.: MU vs. Missouri State
  • May 14, 7 p.m.: MU vs. Nebraska
  • May 15, 7 p.m.: MU vs. Nebraska
  • May 16, 12 p.m.: MU vs. Nebraska
  • May 21, 6 p.m.: MU vs. Texas
  • May 22, 2 p.m.: MU vs. Texas
  • May 23, 1 p.m.: MU vs. Texas

Just The Two Of Us: Finding Someone To Watch The Kids

Craving some alone time for the two of you, but not sure who to put in charge of the little ones? With a bit of creativity, you’ll find there are several options for child care during dates and any other times you need a sitter:

  • If you have friends or neighbors who also have young children, consider striking a deal with them. Offer to watch their children once a month so they get a chance to have some grown-up time, and ask if they’d be willing to do the same. They’re probably in the same boat as you.
  • Feeling a little guilty about asking Grandma and Grandpa to babysit again? Reciprocate by giving them a gift card to a restaurant or movie theater so they can enjoy a date of their own. Offer to do a little housework while they’re out and about.
  • Contact Sitter Solutions, a Columbia babysitting and nanny service. All babysitters and nannies hired by Sitter Solutions have undergone extensive screening and training and must be at least 18 years of age. To find out more, visit

Do-Gooder Dates

What could feel better than spending time with your main squeeze while giving back to the community? These date night ideas will reward you with fun and warm fuzzies.

  • Whether you’re repackaging bulk food into family-size portions or sorting donated goods, your help will be appreciated at The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. Visit to fill out a volunteer request form.
  • Help mind the shop at Mustard Seed Fair Trade, a nonprofit fair trade retail store that works to alleviate extreme poverty and gain fair wages for artisans across the world. Call 573-449-6166 to learn about volunteer opportunities.
  • Build a home for a Columbia family by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Visit for more information about the organization and volunteer opportunities.
  • Give your love at the Central Missouri Humane Society, where volunteers can walk dogs and socialize with animals to give them better lives. Visit for additional information.