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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
Psst! Looking for even more ideas? We've always got your back: