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The Big Night Out

The Big Night Out

Jeni Ruisch

As you prepare for your Big Day, your friends are hopefully planning your ceremonial last night out with the guys or gals. Traditionally, the evening revolves around fun, food and booze. We want to tick off all those boxes for you, and maybe avoid the plastic penis bead necklaces and nightclub shitshows that are becoming increasingly passé in the capital city. Much like at weddings, good things come in twos. So we’ve included a group activity where you can cut loose, and then a nearby spot to cool your heels and whet your whistle. Whether the bride and groom are out partying separately, or they’ve decided on one big joint bash, you’ll want an evening of fun and bonding with your besties.

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We created pairings around the city, so you’re always an uber-able ride from your final destination. 

Since the low head dams were removed from the Olentangy and Scioto rivers, you can take a kayak or canoe uninterrupted from Dodridge up in Clintonville, all the way down to Greenlawn on the south side of the city. Rent some kayaks from Olentangy Paddle, and head south on your vessels. You can float through secluded wooded areas that make you feel like you’ve left the city for a while. You’ll flow right past the ’Shoe and into downtown, where you can pull in right behind Huntington Park to catch a game and a Dime-a-Dog night. Then off into the Arena District for a night of fun following your river adventure. If you’re really trying to sink all that money you saved on travel into going all-out, book a night at the historic Hotel LeVeque.

Hotel Leveque (Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard)

Throughout the year, COSI hosts their “After Dark” series, where adults 21 and up have their run of the place. There are refreshments and special guests putting on cool science-y shows. (Last time I went, I got to freeze stuff with liquid nitrogen and then smash it, and I got to pet an opossum. All in all, I’d call it a successful evening.)

After that, it’s a quick walk east through downtown to Pins Mechanical Co. You can bowl, get some good food truck eats, and play their other big kid games while you celebrate your friend’s upcoming nuptials.

There are plenty of options for adventure and a bite on the south east side. LVL UP Sports Park is a sprawling area focused on paintballing. You can re-enact all your favorite video game moves in real life while you work out all that wedding stress. There’s a castle, woods, and even a post-apocalyptic yard full of cars, piles of tires, and shipping containers to sneak around for cover. LVL UP has complete equipment rentals, or you can bring your own gear if this ain’t your first rodeo.

Olentangy Paddle (Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard)

Once you’re done sniping your pals, get yourselves all cleaned up and head over to Cimi’s Bistro at Pinnacle Golf Club. They’ve got a killer wine list, and everything from steak to pizza. It’s just the right amount of fancy to class up your evening after rolling around in the dirt for a few hours.

If you want to see how your friends operate under pressure, an escape room is a great low-stakes way to get them primed for the pressure of the Big Day. You can choose from three themed rooms to escape from at Lockology, and the clock will count down while you and your pals think fast to solve the puzzles and win your freedom. Conveniently located right down the street is one of the best hidden gems in Columbus: Alegria’s Seafood. This colorful little spot has some of the best west coast Mexican fare around, plus gigantic margaritas that you can share with your wedding party. Or not.

Nothing will push the thoughts of matching chair sashes to the back of your mind quite like zipping around an indoor track, inches from the ground at over 30 miles an hour. With helmets and neck support, and soft walls of tires to soften your crash landing, you can live out all your racecar fantasies at Grand Prix Karting—and still be in mint condition for your wedding photos. After you’re done playing speed demon, gather the goons and head to The Top Steakhouse. Hands down one of the best steakhouses in the city, the mod atmosphere is largely unchanged since the days when the Goodfellas of the city would meet there. 

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