Skip to Main Content

Downtown Raleigh Romance: Eight Fun Date Ideas

Downtown Raleigh Romance: Eight Fun Date Ideas

Article provided by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau/

Plan a memorable and romantic date for your someone special, or simply celebrate with your closest friends. Here are eight date ideas in downtown Raleigh!

Drinks at rooftop, hidden and underground bars

Seek out the downtown bars on this list with your someone special. These bars, all with unique features and their own character, are some of the most popular, most loved-by-locals and sometimes most hidden-from-visitors places to grab a drink.

On the list: 10th & Terrace at downtown Raleigh's new Residence Inn Raleigh Downtown hotel, The Green Light (tucked away behind a secret bookshelf in a local-favorite bar), passionate mind Niall Hanley's recently-opened Watts & Ward and more!

Classy Capitol date

For a sophisticated date night, get all dressed up for dinner at Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern, combining an atmosphere of classical history and elegance with a selection of cuisine that's as exquisitely unique as it is delicious. This white tablecloth dining experience will be a night to remember. After enjoying a delicious meal, take a stroll around the North Carolina State Capitol grounds and admire the city lights in downtown Raleigh.

An artful date

Seek out the art galleries in downtown Raleigh for plenty of conversation and connection. Two highlights are CAM Raleigh and Artspace!

Smart, modern and a little unexpected, CAM Raleigh is hands down a favorite among locals, and for good reason. This striking, non-collecting contemporary art museum, located in downtown Raleigh's rapidly-growing Warehouse District, displays new and emerging work by local and national living artists. Every exhibition is unique, bold, highly memorable and designed to be thought-provoking and transformative.

Artspace can be defined as a thriving visual arts center offering provocative exhibitions, inspiring hands-on education programs and a dynamic environment for more than 35 established and emerging studio artists as well as nationally acclaimed exhibitions. It’s a great cultural experience for all ages and tastes. Enjoy challenging exhibits of regional, national and international artists’ works. And while you’re there, visit the artists in their studios to fully interact with and observe creativity in action.

Delicious downtown dining

Dine at one of the nationally-acclaimed restaurants in downtown Raleigh, including Bida Manda, Brewery Bhavana (one of the top new restaurants in the country!), chef Ashley Christensen's restaurants, passionate mind Cheetie Kumar's Garland or Scott Crawford's Crawford and Son. Then, head underground to Watts & Ward to cozy up with your someone special to enjoy handcrafted cocktails. Watts & Ward offers a dimly-lit, romantic setting perfect for after-dinner libations.

A night of performing arts

Dress your best and make an evening out of the performing arts at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Catch shows from Carolina Ballet, the North Carolina Symphony, North Carolina Theatre, North Carolina Opera and way more. Afterwards, take a quick walk to The Haymaker for drinks at a speakeasy-style cocktail bar.

An afternoon at downtown state museums

Take your special someone on a walk through 14,000 years of N.C. history at the North Carolina Museum of History. Step back in time as you visit a few highlights like the re-created 1920s drugstore, a reproduction 1903 Wright Flyer from the Wright Brothers and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Continue on to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. This museum is the Southeast’s largest natural history museum, complete with its Nature Exploration Center and Nature Research Center. Admire four floors of exhibits and live animals, and make sure to view the world’s most complete Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur, the “Terror of the South.” Afterwards, stop in at the gift shop and then enjoy a beer and bite to eat at The Daily Planet Cafe.

Warehouse District date

Characterized by six blocks of iconic, red-brick, former-industrial buildings, the Warehouse District in downtown Raleigh is a growing concentration of galleries, studios, restaurants, nightlife and more, making it a perfect place for multiple fun things to do on one date. Work in a meal at the legendary barbecue spot The Pit, farm-to-table contemporary Mexican cuisine at Jose and Sons or vegetarian fare at Fiction Kitchen.

Some great spots for date activities include a tour and chocolate tasting at Videri Chocolate Factory and fun games and delicious beer at Boxcar Bar + Arcade—compete for bragging rights with a round of ski ball! And CAM Raleigh is a great place to start conversation with ever-changing art experiences. Thirsty? Grab a beer at Crank Arm Brewing. See our guide to the district here.

Dinner and an IMAX movie

Dinner and a movie is always a good idea. And in downtown Raleigh, you can take the movie to the next level with the Marbles IMAX boasting N.C.’s only 3D-capable giant screen. From inspiring educational documentary films to Hollywood’s biggest feature films, the theater makes you feel as if you are in the movie.

Planning a dinner? Some of the best downtown dining mentioned above is just steps away from the theater, including Brewery Bhavana and Bida Manda in the Moore Square district. A lot of the rooftop, underground and hidden bars (mentioned in the article linked above) are also right across the street or around the corner as well.  


See more articles like this on!