Are you tired of the ol’ dinner-and-a-movie date? Well, you’re in luck. Raleigh, Durham and the Greater Triangle offers a wide range of activities for couples to experience together. We’ve rounded up seven of our top picks. Whether it’s your first date or 413th, you can’t go wrong with these. (Pro tip: Shower, show up on time, put your phone away and don’t be rude).
1. Geek out at Boxcar Bar + Arcade.
330 W. Davie Street
Pinball and Donkey Kong and skee-ball, oh my! Most games at this retro arcade are a quarter a piece (hey, cheap date!) Check in on Yelp to get free tokens, and enjoy complimentary popcorn all night while you play. The bar is fully stocked and carries a vast craft beer selection. And—you can bring your pup. Two things to note—parking is sparse and there’s no food, so grab a bite before you come. And if you want to dodge the crowds and day-dates are your thing, come on a Sunday afternoon. You’ll have your first pick of machines and enjoy $1 mimosas all day long.
2. Get some grub at Gonza Tacos y Tequila.
604 Fernway Ave., Durham
Funk it up at Gonza—an eclectic and hip eatery nestled among old tobacco’s West Village luxury apartments. Gonza was voted Best Latin Restaurant in the Triangle by Wake County Living Magazine. Enjoy Columbian-Mexican cuisine, handcrafted Latin cocktails, a carefully selected list of Latin wine and beers, and of course—Tequila! The patio—with its romantic string lights—is the perfect spot for a first (or 100th) kiss. Bonus: Sola Coffee is located next door if you need some caffeine to balance out the liquor.
3. Grab coffee and sweets at Videri Chocolate Factory.
327 W. Davie Street, Sweet 100 (see what they did there—clever)
Housed in the historical Raleigh Depot building, this place just reeks of love. Seriously, the smells. Mmmmm. (And did I mention it’s right across the street from Boxcar Bar + Arcade?) Enjoy organic chocolate—even vegan chocolate—on the outdoor patio. Grab coffee from the counter or BYOB—it’s allowed! Read your way through a self-guided tour of the factory where you can witness the chocolate-making magic from beginning to end. Then eat your way through the free samples before you settle on “the one.” And if things go well, you can buy her a 6-month chocolate subscription to remind her of your first date. (They have 12-month packages, too, if you’re ready for that sort of commitment).
4. Jazz it up at C Grace Cocktail Bar.
407 Glenwood Ave.
Class it up with cocktails and jazz at C Grace—a great pick if you enjoy an underground, speakeasy sort of ambience. You won’t find any pre-selected fru-fru drinks here—just a list of liquors and their prices. If you don’t already have a classic go-to cocktail, let the bartender surprise you. There’s a $5 cover on Fridays and Saturdays. Music starts around 9 p.m. And if you go on the first Friday of the month between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., you and your date can sketch Sprinkles, C Grace’s resident bobcat, in an adventure chosen from the suggestion box. Why, you say? To win $100! Bring your own supplies and call ahead to reserve a spot with a good view of Sprinkles!
5. Swing from the trees at Go Ape.
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Is your date adventurous? Swing like Tarzan and Jane through the trees on this 2-3 hour journey. The Go Ape Blue Jay Point course features five action-packed treetop obstacle courses, leading you and your special someone higher into the forest canopy. For $120 per couple, you’ll have an adrenaline-packed outdoor adventure worth remembering.
6. Ride that pony, er, horse.
704 Dogwood Hill Lane, Wake Forest
Located just north of Raleigh in Wake Forest, Happy Trails Farm offers guided horseback trail rides. Schedule a private ride for $75 per person per hour. Never ridden? No problem. Trained guides will help you every step of the way.
7. Drive-in movie? Yes, please!
336 Raleigh Road, Henderson
Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre is one of only six drive-in theatres operating in the state today. Channel your inner Danny and Sandy and catch a movie under the stars. Open weekends March through December, Raleigh Road screens current and older films. Bring pillows and a blanket and snuggle up for an intimate evening. (Don’t forget the bug spray!)
Other places to try:
- Rialto Theater—cash-only indie film theater
- Back Porch Music on the Lawn—free concerts from May-September at the American Tobacco Campus
- Dashi—Japanese ramen shop and pub
- Lantern—award-winning restaurant that combines Asian flavors with locally-sourced North Carolina ingredients.
- Millstone Creek Orchards—pick your own in-season fruits!
Have another suggestion for a great date spot? Comment below.