Here’s the deal: The dating scene in Raleigh can be frustrating. Whether you’re out looking for a date in Raleigh or around the suburbs, many singles often ask themselves “How can I find a good partner in Raleigh?”
It’s going to seem counterintuitive, but the reality is that singles in Raleigh have an abundance of choices for finding available partners. The only problem is that finding singles around the city is a challenge thanks to the effects of the pandemic and the new habits of people that are adjusting to the new normal.
Is there a solution to this common problem that Raleigh singles face? Of course, there is and BeyondAges is here to lead you to success. With some minor planning and effort on your part, finding a date in Raleigh is actually much easier than in similarly-sized cities. The catch? You will have to explore the Raleigh dating scene and make it happen. You will be surprised at what changing your entire approach and outlook can mean for boosting your dating life!
Continue reading this entire article to learn the most proven suggestions on where to meet Raleigh singles, great Raleigh date ideas to build rapport, Raleigh dating apps to boost your odds, and some of our favorite date spots around Raleigh.
Table of Contents
What Dating in Raleigh Is Like Right Now
Let's start by looking at what the Raleigh dating scene is like these days:
First, many singles choose Raleigh for its great year-round climate, incredibly affordable standard of living, and livability index higher than other cities in North Carolina. With access to good schools and healthcare like Duke University and Duke Health Systems, and more, singles are making Raleigh their home for its economic opportunities.
Second, there’s also quite a bit of diversity in the type of partners you can find in Raleigh, especially when compared to North Carolina.
Here’s a breakdown of what Raleigh’s demographics look like:
- Total population: 476,746
- Percentage: 29.10%
- Total singles: 138,733
- Single men: 67,313
- Single women: 71,420
Almost 30% of the total population looking for a partner means you’ve got decent odds of realistically finding a partner in Raleigh. That being said, we know what you’re probably thinking:
If there are so many singles out there in Raleigh, why am I still single?
Having plenty of dating options doesn't necessarily mean that dating in Raleigh is going to be a walk in the park (literally and figuratively). In fact, it might be even harder with all the intense competition and the restrictions that come from the pandemic. However, a realistic outlook should be encouraging. Now, let’s look at where you can actually find someone to date in Raleigh.
Where to Meet Someone to Date in Raleigh
To start, making a list of the best places to find someone to date in Raleigh is a near-impossible task. There’s simply too much going on in Raleigh to choose from!
Instead, we’ll share some of the best places that make it much simpler to meet Raleigh singles that are looking for more than just some casual fun (we have a comprehensive article on where to find Raleigh hookups if that’s your end-game). These are places that tend to have the following criteria in common when you’re on the lookout for candidates for serious relationships:
- Lots of available singles
- Lively atmosphere where fun is encouraged
- Easy to rub elbows with new people
- A quiet environment to have a normal conversation
- Alcohol is always welcome and appreciated
- Isn’t too pricey
Now, before we get into some specific recommendations, let's briefly turn our attention to Raleigh dating apps:
Why you should be using at least one app
You should really be on at least one dating app. If not, you might be missing out on what Raleigh’s dating scene is offering.
With the pandemic’s social-distancing guidelines still in effect for many people and those who have chosen to work from home (WFH), more Raleigh singles are relying on apps to meet new people at their convenience - and screen out those they’d rather not cross paths with. For better or worse, dating apps are here to stay.
Does this mean that dating apps in Raleigh are the only way to go? Of course not, but it can be a struggle if you only have a limited amount of free time, and want to save on spending your hard-earned cash.
If you've struggled in the past with choosing which app works for you, check out our rankings of the best dating apps in Raleigh to find out which apps best fit the type of relationship and partner you’re looking for. If you're pressed for time and don’t want to read the full article, these Raleigh dating apps are your best options:
- eHarmony makes finding long-term relationships in Raleigh a breeze and features the best track record among all Raleigh dating apps. If you really want to find someone for something real it's the first app you should try. You can check out their trial here and see why they have such a high success rate.
- AFF is the best option if you want something casual or physical. There are a lot of apps and sites that claim to make it easy to find something casual but AFF is the option that we've seen deliver best, especially for regular guys. Check out AFF’s free trial and see what we're talking about.
At Beyond Ages, we’ve tried out dozens of popular dating apps in Raleigh and determined what actually works out in the real dating world. Be sure to check out our rankings above for more info. Now, let's talk about our favorite singles bars and more around Raleigh.
The best singles bars in Raleigh
With the criteria, we listed in the previous section, BeyondAges narrowed down a list of the best singles bars in Raleigh that are worth checking out. These drinking establishments offer the best chances for single people in Raleigh to meet up, have a drink or two, and enjoy a comfortable ambiance that’s compatible with meeting new people:
- Lucky B's in Glenwood South - 609 Tucker St, Raleigh, NC 27603
- C.Grace in Glenwood South - 407 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606
- Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in Depot Historic District - 328 W Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27601
- Fox Liquor Bar in Downtown Raleigh - 237 South Wilmington Street Entrance on, E Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27601
- Watts & Ward in Downtown Raleigh - 200 S Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601
- The Haymaker in Fayetteville Street - 555 Fayetteville St #115, Raleigh, NC 27601
- Visit Vidrio if you want to meet a Raleigh cougar -500 Glenwood Ave #100, Raleigh, NC 27603
From choosing the right time of day to whether there’s live entertainment, your mileage will vary when selecting the right bar. So, don’t be afraid to try a place several times to get a feel for it. (If you have any suggestions about the best singles bars in Raleigh, drop a comment below.)
A few other great places to find a date in Raleigh
Not much into drinking? There are still plenty of other options for finding a date that don’t rely on alcohol so much - even during Raleigh’s humid summers and colder winter months.
Take a look at a few more options below that have gotten great results for Raleigh singles. As with anything dating-related in the city, it’s best to search in as many places as possible. Don't take things too seriously, and instead simply focus on having a good time. With this mindset, you’re more likely to find someone that you might not have run into elsewhere!
- Benchwarmers Bagels in Patterson Green - 500 E Davie St STE 107, Raleigh, NC 27601
- Crema on Fayetteville Street - 421 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601
- Morning Times in Downtown Raleigh - 10 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601
- Berkeley Cafe by Nash Square - 217 W Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27601
- Iris Coffee Lab in Glenwood South - 725 Tucker St, Raleigh, NC 27603
- Meetup groups - There are tons of groups throughout Raleigh to share your interests, including music, hobbies, the outdoors, and even singles mixer events for finding your next match
- Again, apps and Raleigh dating sites are a good option for just about anyone (check out the best dating sites in Raleigh here)
The Apps Dating Coaches Recommend Most For Dating in Raleigh
Using a dating app might just be the best thing you can do for your dating life. Not only do these apps attract lots of beautiful single women, but they’re also convenient to use. Of all the dating apps we’ve used over the years, these are the ones where we’ve found the most success.
Site Our Experience Our Rating Free Trial Link Experience Highlights Try eHarmony Experience Highlights Try AFF For Free Tinder Highlights Try Tinder
What about speed dating in Raleigh
Speed dating has gained popularity due to the pandemic, and it’s popular in Raleigh singles too. With virtual speed dating now also an option, speed dating can help you meet plenty of singles in a relatively short amount of time without wasting money hopping from place to place.
If you're short on free time and have a little spare cash on hand, speed dating in Raleigh is perhaps the most efficient way to meet a handful of single people in the space of an hour-plus. Events typically cost anywhere from $30 - $100+ to attend, with the pricier events yielding better clientele and more amenities (like refreshments). And because the time is guaranteed for each conversation, you’ll at least know you have some sort of shot (as compared to getting ignored in one of Raleigh’s more competitive bars, for example).
Here’s how most speed dating events in Raleigh go:
- First, pre-register online. You’ll receive the list of what to expect, as well as what you should expect.
- On the day of the event, you show up at the venue. Many bars rent out rooms for speed dating events so there’s some expectation of privacy (or at least minimize distractions).
- With everyone arriving and getting comfortable, the host makes a short announcement about the rules of conduct and starts the process of "mini-dates" each lasting approximately 5 minutes, where participants make conversation. The idea is that first impressions tend to be a good indicator of whether there’s any chemistry for compatibility. (Don’t worry if you don’t get a positive reaction each time; people are choosier than ever!).
- Once 5 minutes is over, a bell sounds indicating the men to move to the next table where a woman remains seated (sometimes women swap seats just so they don’t get tired).
- This 5-minute process repeats until the entire event elapses or until everyone gets a chance to meet one another.
As the event progresses, both participants make a list of the people they want to see again. If both singles want to see each other again, the speed dating organizer gives you the other match’s contact info (usually by the next day). Simple, no?
If this sounds like a fun, efficient way to meet available singles in Raleigh, the following are the best Raleigh speed dating groups worth your time and hard-earned money:
Now that we’ve covered the basics about finding a date, let's shift our focus on how to have a great date in Raleigh!
Our Best Date Ideas in Raleigh - and Why They’re Great
After you've set up a time for a date, it’s time to plan what you’re going to do to develop a relationship to see whether the two of you are a match. Many people who feel they want a safe choice when dealing with a new person romantically often default to the supposedly tried-and-true “dinner and a movie”. Big mistake for dating in Raleigh!
- A dinner date between two relative strangers more often than not turns into a pseudo-interview. Plus, eating makes people lethargic, and don’t even get us started on what happens when it’s time to decide who has to pay the bill!
- A movie is a passive activity and doesn’t involve any conversation until afterward. You’ll have to sit still for 90 minutes or more, which can be awkward if both of you don’t feel comfortable with one another yet. And if the movie stinks or one person doesn’t enjoy it, it’ll feel like a waste of time.
Instead, we have some simple rules that all of our date ideas in Raleigh follow - or at least the trappings of a boring date (avoid that outcome at all costs!). A great date idea in Raleigh tends to be one that:
- Doesn’t require traveling far distances across town or between venues
- Focuses on new, fun, and interesting experiences
- Things are happening around you that make great conversation topics
- Doesn't involve sitting for prolonged periods of time
- Requires some physical activity or movement
- Isn't too expensive or requires expensive equipment to participate
- Doesn't last for hours (you can bail if things aren’t working out)
- Enables you both to feel completely at ease and comfortable
- Involves a little friendly competition
Here’s a great tip for dating success in Raleigh: Try to get an idea of what your date likes beforehand. For example, if you know your date loves the outdoors, going for a hike is probably a solid choice.
Also, keep in mind to do activities that can potentially create a memorable experience that you both share (even if it goes poorly and you can laugh about it later). To get started, here are some great dating ideas in Raleigh:
- Cool off and go ice skating
- Have fun with a few competitive rounds of miniature golf
- Cut a rug at a beginner’s group dance class
- Work on your skills at an archery range
- Work on your golf swing at a driving range
- Hit up the wildlife refuge or zoo
- Check out a street fair during the warmer months
- Explore the many booths at a local farmer's market
- Try your hand at ax throwing
- Test your quick-thinking skills in an escape room
- Go rollerskating to show off your moves
- Bring your dog along for a walk
- Take a painting or drawing class
- Explore museums and botanical gardens
Use this list to plan a date in Raleigh or at least get an idea of what other singles in Raleigh are actually doing on their dates. Each of the listed activities only requires minimal skills to enjoy (or at least attempt), so there’s basically no pressure to be good at any of them. Instead, just focus on having the best time possible!
The first date idea that we always recommend
The ideas above can be great first dates but we have a better idea. When people ask our team what the best first date in Raleigh is we always tell them the same thing, meet up at a laid-back lounge or coffee shop and get to know each other a bit.
A full-blown date is a lot of pressure and isn't cheap. It takes time to plan and might involve you taking a bus around town to get there. Before you make that kind of investment you want to know that you and your interest have at least some level of compatibility. The last thing you want is to get stuck for hours on a date that you knew 10 minutes in, wasn't going anywhere.
Instead, tell them that you're really busy but would love to meet up for a drink to get to know each other a bit. If things go well you can always extend the date to one of the activities above. If it doesn't, you haven't lost much. This also takes a lot of pressure off both of you so you can both relax and be yourselves.
Best Date Bars in Raleigh (Especially for Fun First Dates)
Raleigh has one of the best bar scenes in the US. With something for every person’s tastes, choosing a bar in Raleigh is a good pick for a memorable date. Whether you want to spend some time in a lounge or enjoy a live band in an open-air setting, Raleigh’s bar scene offers a lot of options for planning your next date.
With this in mind, finding a great date bar in Raleigh simply comes down to what type of night you’re looking to have. Whether you hit up a dive bar to let your hair down, or an elegant cocktail lounge for intimate conversation, Raleigh has plenty of variety to impress your date.
Take a look at the list below, as we’ll focus on Raleigh bars with the best drink specials, live events, and more:
- Boxcar Bar + Arcade in Depot Historic District - 330 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601
- HALCYON Bar + Lounge in Glenwood South - 517 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27603
- The Willard Rooftop Lounge in AC Hotel by Marriott Raleigh Downtown - 9 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603
- Empress Room in Glenwood South - 407 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603
- Peace & Saint in Glenwood South - 616 St Marys St, Raleigh, NC 27605
- Atlantic Lounge in the Capitol District - 620 N Person St, Raleigh, NC 27604
- Person Street Bar in the Capitol District - 805 N Person St, Raleigh, NC 27604
Raleigh’s incredible bar scene and city layout means that you’ll find plenty of bars within walking distance to one another. If you want to find a different vibe to shake things up, don’t be afraid to bar hop or take a Lyft/Uber to another side of town. Your date will enjoy the spontaneity and adventure of it all!
Best Date Night Restaurants in Raleigh that Should Be Your First Choice
Here’s a secret for dating success in Raleigh: Skip the traditional “dinner date” until you’ve had a few successful dates.
As we mentioned earlier, dinner dates have the potential to be pretty dull and uninspiring. Plus, there’s always the dicey issue of who pays for the check - something you probably want to avoid until you get to know each other.
Nevertheless, if you’ve got a decent rapport going and are already having a blast, we've got some solid restaurant choices in Raleigh that offer great ambiance and affordable plates:
- The Station at Person Street in the Capitol District - 701 N Person St, Raleigh, NC 27604
- Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar in Glenwood South - 309 N Dawson St #1313, Raleigh, NC 27603
- Gravy in Downtown Raleigh - 135 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601
- Jimmy V's Osteria & Bar in Downtown Raleigh - 420 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601
- Humble Pie in Depot Historic District - 317 S Harrington St, Raleigh, NC 27603
- Good Day Good Night in Glenwood South - 603 W Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27603
More Date Spots in Raleigh We Love
Just about everyone knows that dating today is more than just eating food, and imbibing some adult beverages. Successful dating in Raleigh means enjoying each other’s company in all the hotspots that the city has to offer. Based on our experience and in-depth research, singles in Raleigh have had great dates at the following date spots in Raleigh - and we're confident you can enjoy the same results:
- Go ice skating at Polar Ice Raleigh
- Watch the Carolina Mudcats play at Five County Stadium
- Visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Pope House Museum for one-of-a-kind exhibits and events
- Check out some fascinating plants at the WRAL Azalea Garden
- Try a group dance lesson at Triangle Ballroom Dance Center
- Shoot some targets together at Lifetime Archery
- Stroll through vendor booths at the many art fairs throughout Raleigh
- Shop for fresh groceries and taste homemade food at many of Raleigh’s Farmers Markets
- Solve a puzzle at All In Adventures Escape Rooms
- Catch live music and more at The Red Hat Amphitheater
Note: Because of Raleigh’s ever-changing climate and four distinct seasons, make sure to take a look at weather forecasts before plotting your next date. No one likes getting heat stroke and sunburnt on their next date, nor do they enjoy driving out in the snow.