The 30 Most Popular Date Spots In the Triangle
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The 30 Most Popular Date Spots In the Triangle

By Avivah Furman
Wednesday, Nov 14 2018

We crunched the numbers, analyzed the data and got super nerdy with it. The result? A comprehensive, mathematically-proven list of this year's most popular, tried and true date spots around the Triangle. While there were definitely a few expected trends (breweries, cocktail bars and indie theatres continue to be solid go-tos), you'll also find a few surprises on this list—everything from a tropical butterfly house to ultra-contemporary art. So whether you're new to the dating scene, bored with your typical haunts or simply want to know where all the cool couples hang out, you're sure find some romantic inspo here (presented in no particular order BTW).


WINE + DINE

Soak Up Downtown Views on The Dillon Sky Terrace at The Dillon
Photo by @flyboyaerial

1. The Dillon Sky Terrace

Not only can you get some of the best views of DTR from The Dillon's gorgeous rooftop park, but it's also BYOB, making it a great budget-friendly and awe-inspiring date. It won't be open to the public forever, so enjoy it while you can!

Soak Up Downtown Views on The Dillon Sky Terrace
Free   .  The Dillon   .  Raleigh
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NOW OPEN: Junction West Bar & Event Space at Junction West
Photo by @welcometoraleighwood

2. Junction West

Junction West, a massive (not to mention drop-dead gorgeous) bar and event space recently opened in Raleigh's Warehouse District and it's quickly become our go-to happy hour hangout. Swing by for a rotating selection of seasonal, hand-crafted cocktails, local brews and curated vino served in a dreamy, Pinterest-worthy space.

NOW OPEN: Junction West Bar & Event Space
-   .  Junction West   .  Raleigh
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Sip On a Beer Slushie at Barrel Culture Brewery at Barrel Culture Brewing and Blending
Photo by @barrelculture

3. Barrel Culture Brewery

Durham's Barrel Culture is dishin' out beer slushies that would make the rainbow jealous—these babies BLEW UP on Insta this past summer for good reason. Made by infusing Barrel Culture's base beer, barrel aged golden sour, with fruit (mostly local or from NC), these slushies are well-balanced and just boozy enough. The flavors switch up every week so feel free to go ahead and make this a regular date spot—you're always guaranteed something cold, colorful and cheers-worthy.

Sip On a Beer Slushie at Barrel Culture Brewery
$7   .  Barrel Culture Brewing and Blending   .  Durham
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Get Smashed at Smashed Waffles at Smashed Waffles
Photo by @pamelaine923

4. Smashed Waffles

Two NC bros have brought some super crazy waffles to Hillsborough Street. In addition to an impressive lineup of coffee drinks, the menu is boasts a drool-worthy selection of savory waffle-wiches, candy covered waffles, ice cream waffle-wiches and a rotating "WOW" (waffle of the week) that's bound to impress. It'll be worth the sugar crash, we promise.

Get Smashed at Smashed Waffles
$   .  Smashed Waffles   .  Raleigh
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NOW OPEN: A 3,200 Sqft Renovated Car Dealership-Turned-Pizza Joint, Hutchins Garage at Hutchins Garage
Photo by @hutchinsgarage

5. Hutchins Garage

Hutchins Garage, the newest addition to Durham's DIY/Warehouse District, serves beer, wine and pizza out of a 3,200 sq ft renovated car dealership. Come to check out the transformation, stay for the kickass pizza.

PS: this joint is open late-night so schedule that date anytime before 2am and you're golden.

NOW OPEN: A 3,200 Sqft Renovated Car Dealership-Turned-Pizza Joint, Hutchins Garage
-   .  Hutchins Garage   .  Durham
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Savor the Beauty of Brewery Bhavana at Brewery Bhavana
Photo by @ksphotos

6. Brewery Bhavana

Named one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in America by Bon Appétit in 2017, Brewery Bhavana combines craft beer, dim sum, a bookstore, and a flower shop into an unmatched aesthetic experience. Saunter up to the bar, snag a few shareable plates and peruse the shop—it's unlike anything else you've ever seen.

Savor the Beauty of Brewery Bhavana
$$   .  Brewery Bhavana   .  Raleigh
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NOW OPEN: Seoul 116 at Seoul 116
Photo by @seoul116

7. Seoul 116

This year, City Market Sushi opened a new sister restaurant on N. West Street in DTR. Seoul 116 is focused on Korean fare and the menu is filled with fun twists on Korean classics. Don't miss their boozy, sake-filled Capri Suns!

NOW OPEN: Seoul 116
$$   .  Seoul 116   .  Raleigh
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Taste American Beers at Bond Brothers at Bond Brothers Beer Company
Photo by @n_dillman

8. Bond Brothers

This brewery in downtown Cary is bringing back pre-prohibition style, easily drinkable ales to the scene. Pair that with a beautiful patio and you've got yourself a new favorite watering hole.

Taste American Beers at Bond Brothers
$   .  Bond Brothers Beer Company   .  Cary
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NOW OPEN: Bartaco at bartaco North Hills
Photo by @visitnorthhills

9. bartaco

bartaco's cuisine is inspired by the beach culture of Southern California and South America. Known for its upscale street tacos, fresh-made guacamole and vibrant drinks, you'll feel as if you've been transported to a beach as you bite into your meal. Just don't forget to order the churros for dessert.

The space is full of white-washed bricks and plants, with a very laid-back SoCal vibe, including a lovely patio primed for people-watching. Order a couple margs, mix-n-match some tacos and enjoy.

NOW OPEN: Bartaco
$   .  bartaco North Hills   .  Raleigh
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Savor Tasty Coffee & Mini Donuts at Sola at Sola Coffee Cafe
Photo by @SOLACOFFEE

10. Sola

Whether your speed is coffee date, casual breakfast, lunch or popping a bottle of bubbly, Sola's gotcha covered. Their menu transitions from day to night effortlessly, and their vibe is trendy yet super approachable. Full of handcrafted drinks and artisanal eats, this neighborhood cafe makes everyone feel at home—say goodbye first date jitters!

Our personal recommendation? Go for the toast bar (it goes way beyond basic avocado) or get a dozen of their hot mini donuts to share. In a variety of flavors, these babies get served up fresh and in an adorable coffee filter. And since they're itty bitty, you can easily house a half-dozen without feeling bad.

Also be sure to keep an eye out for their curated pop-up markets and live music nights!

Savor Tasty Coffee & Mini Donuts at Sola
$   .  Sola Coffee Cafe   .  Raleigh
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Sip on NC Plow-to-Pint Craft Brews at Fullsteam at Fullsteam Brewery
Photo by @meganhauver

11. Fullsteam Brewery

Inspired by the food and farm traditions of the South, Fullsteam is arguably Durham's most iconic brewery. It's technically a 'production brewery' whose product focuses on Southern ingredients, served inside an awesome, airy communal space. With board games on hand and a solid daytime crowd, it's the perfect spot for a date that's laid back and local.

Sip on NC Plow-to-Pint Craft Brews at Fullsteam
$   .  Fullsteam Brewery   .  Durham
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Go Belgian at Neuse River Brewing at Neuse River Brewing Company
Photo by @gingerunicorn

12. Neuse River Brewing

Neuse River Brewing brings Belgian-style craft brews to Raleigh's Five Points neighborhood. Head over to enjoy quality sips in their tap house or take it outside to drink up views of the Raleigh skyline.

Go Belgian at Neuse River Brewing
$   .  Neuse River Brewing Company   .  Raleigh
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Sip in Secret at Raleigh's Hidden Bar at Greenlight
Photo by @mynameis_shoe

13. The Green Light

Impress your date with this insider-only spot. Stashed behind a
vintage bookshelf, Raleigh's hidden bar, The Green Light, nods back to the era of speakeasies and simpler times. It's an oasis for imbibing craft cocktails and beer with a classy and cozy ambiance. Find your way in—but don't tell anyone!

Pro tip? Call ahead to reserve your spot. After working so hard to track this place down, you'd hate to get turned away at the door.

Sip in Secret at Raleigh's Hidden Bar
$$   .  Greenlight   .  Raleigh
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Do a Night at The Durham  at The Durham Hotel
Photo by @thedurhamhotel

14. The Durham Hotel

If you're ready for a romantic staycation, The Durham hotel is where it's at. With rooftop yoga, trendy restaurant eats, bike rentals and farm fresh breakfast, this place lives up to its name as the place for a true Bull City stay.

You and bae not at staycation-status yet? No worries—The Durham is also the perfect spot to get to know each other better over craft cocktails. Head up to their gorgeous rooftop and kick things up a notch by splurging on something from their raw bar—that, paired with these picturesque skyline views and you've got your self a grade-A recipe for romance.

Do a Night at The Durham
$$   .  The Durham Hotel   .  Durham
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Cheers at the Beer Garden at Raleigh Beer Garden
Photo by @elleclarity

15. Raleigh Beer Garden

Prost! Salut! Cheers! Whatever salutation you use to commence the sipping of cold beer, you can use 'em all (and maybe learn a few) at the largest addition to Glenwood South's beer scene, the Raleigh Beer Garden. The boast a casual 350 beers and a European style drinking hall that'll put an end to all your Oktoberfest daydreams. The interior is rustic, with a lot of nods to nature—there's even a massive Oak tree inside (yes, we said inside).

Cheers at the Beer Garden
$   .  Raleigh Beer Garden   .  Raleigh
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Go Underground for Craft Cocktails at Watts & Ward at Watts & Ward
Photo by @wattsandward

16. Watts & Ward

Watts & Ward is a craft cocktail paradise in downtown Raleigh that's hidden in plain view. Find them underground and you'll be rewarded with on-point speakeasy vibes and an inimitable cocktail list.

Need a breath of fresh air? Head outside to their string-light lit courtyard, where you'll also find their fourth (yes, fourth) full-service bar.

Go Underground for Craft Cocktails at Watts & Ward
$$   .  Watts & Ward   .  Raleigh
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Giddyup at Ponysaurus at Ponysaurus Brewing Company
Photo by @ponysaurusbrewing

17. Ponysaurus

After years of pop-ups, Ponysaurus' delicious brews and ridiculous looking mascot finally have a pet-friendly home in a taproom on Hood Street—double-decker patio included (plus DIY grills, food trucks and snacks by the palmful FTW).

Giddyup at Ponysaurus
$   .  Ponysaurus Brewing Company   .  Durham
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Grab a Tasty Treat from Lucettegrace Patisserie  at lucettegrace
Photo by @labellavida122

18. lucettegrace

lucettegrace brings macarons, eclairs, and delicious delights to downtown Raleigh. Split a tasty treat but be warned: They're almost too pretty to eat...almost.

Grab a Tasty Treat from Lucettegrace Patisserie
$   .  lucettegrace   .  Raleigh
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GO NATURAL

See the City from Dorothea Dix  at Flowers Field at Dorothea Dix Park
Photo by @sandbox22

19. Dorothea Dix Park

Dorothea Dix Park is a natural gem in downtown Raleigh. You'll come back again and again to keep enjoying the way this park's green beauty is contrasted against the city's skyline!

Keep an eye out for specialty pop-ups, festivals, yoga, outdoor movies, and more.

See the City from Dorothea Dix
Free   .  Flowers Field at Dorothea Dix Park   .  Raleigh
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Explore the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Photo by @estlinhaiss

20. Sarah P. Duke Gardens +247 fire icon

Often spoken of as "the crown jewel of Duke University," Sarah P. Duke Gardens are pure, natural bliss. Come to take a stroll, revel in its beauty, and appreciate gorgeous grounds. Picnics are optional but highly recommended.

Explore the Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Free   .  Sarah P. Duke Gardens   .  Durham
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Explore the Magic Wings Butterfly House at Museum of Life and Science
Photo by @museumoflifeandscience

21. The Magic Wings Butterfly House at The Museum of Life & Science

Experience the beauty of nature in one of the largest butterfly houses in the world. Walk through an indoor rainforest as you're surrounded by 1,000 tropical butterflies. Magical doesn't even come close to describing it.

Explore the Magic Wings Butterfly House
$15+   .  Museum of Life and Science   .  Durham
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Tour Duke Lemur Center & Ponder Animal Antiquities at Duke Lemur Center
Photo by @durhamnc

22. The Duke Lemur Center

Did you know that Durham is home to the largest populations of lemurs, outside of Madagascar? It's true. Pay our exotic neighbors a visit and find yourself entranced by their adorably human-like behavior. There are over ten different species on site, best observed up close and personal on a private tour. Public tours are also available (and far more budget-friendly)—just don't forget to call ahead and reserve your spot!

Tour Duke Lemur Center & Ponder Animal Antiquities
$12   .  Duke Lemur Center   .  Durham
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Escape into Nature at the JC Raulston Arboretum at JC Raulston Arboretum
Photo by @maxilillian

23. The JC Raulston Arboretum

Visit one of NC State University's most treasured spots: The JC Raulston Arboretum. Stroll through the beautiful gardens, escape into nature and prepare to learn about plants from all over the world.

Escape into Nature at the JC Raulston Arboretum
Free   .  JC Raulston Arboretum   .  Raleigh
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BE ENTERTAINED

Go to a Show at Carolina Theatre at The Carolina Theatre
Photo by @bianca_marie31

24. Carolina Theatre

Grab your boo, order a beer and kick back for a night of indie entertainment. Whether you catch a live show, festival or limited-release film, you're sure to have an awesome evening out at one of Durham's most beloved theatres.

Go to a Show at Carolina Theatre
-   .  The Carolina Theatre   .  Durham
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Check Out the Triangle's First Virtual Reality Arcade at Augmentality Labs | Virtual Reality Arcade
Photo by @kellygwatson

25. Augmentality Labs

Check out the Triangle's first virtual reality arcade: Augmentality Labs. They feature six fully-immersive virtual reality stations, retro games, and plenty of space to host an out-of-this-world shindig.

Check Out the Triangle's First Virtual Reality Arcade
$$   .  Augmentality Labs | Virtual Reality Arcade   .  Durham
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Visit the Museum of Natural Sciences at North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Photo by @naturalsciences

26. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences

The NCMNS gets museum go-ers up close and personal with science and nature through their creative exhibits, programs and field experiences. They've got everything from live animals to fossils (and a whole a bunch in between), in addition to special Adult Night programming where you can get boozy and embrace your inner nerd. Trust us, these make for pretty epic nights—no bones about it.

Visit the Museum of Natural Sciences
Free   .  North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences   .  Raleigh
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Catch an Indie Film at the Rialto at The Rialto Theatre
Photo by @rialtoraleigh

27. The Rialto

If you think Wes Anderson films are indie, think again. Raleigh's Rialto Theater hosts an eclectic list of movies that will attract even the savviest of independent film gourmands.

Catch an Indie Film at the Rialto
$   .  The Rialto Theatre   .  Raleigh
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Immerse Yourself in Contemporary Art at 21c at 21c Museum Hotel Durham
Photo by @21chotels

28. 21c

Downtown Durham hosts space where visitors can meander through endless galleries packed to the brim with a rotating selection of edgy modern art, culture, cocktails and fine dining. Counting sheep? The galleries are open 24/7!

Immerse Yourself in Contemporary Art at 21c
Free   .  21c Museum Hotel Durham   .  Durham
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Catch a Flick and Grab a Bite at Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Raleigh
Photo by @drafthouse

29. Alamo Drafthouse +423 fire icon

The Alamo Drafthouse is serious about offering the best films, food and drinks—all in one seat! Keep an eye out for special events (think: music video dance parties, cult classics quote-alongs, advance screenings and more).

Catch a Flick and Grab a Bite at Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh
$   .  Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Raleigh   .  Raleigh
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Visit the NC Museum of Art’s Masterworks at North Carolina Museum of Art
Photo by @khiaraaa

30. NC Museum of Art

It's no secret that NCMA is home to some serious art; check out their Masterwork Collection, which includes Monet, Cassatt, Giotto and Rodin. Wander the galleries to visit some of these famous works of art—and discover new favorites as well.

Beyond their impressive collection of mainstays, they also have a roster of compelling exhibitions and surprisingly hip special events (all-night silent disco, anyone?).

Situated on acres upon acres of land, NCMA is also home to the country's largest outdoor art exhibit. Make your way across the grounds and through the woods—you never know what masterpiece you might stumble upon next.

Visit the NC Museum of Art’s Masterworks
Free   .  North Carolina Museum of Art   .  Raleigh
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The 30 Most Popular Date Spots In the Triangle
The 30 Most Popular Date Spots In the Triangle +790 fire icon