This story is proudly presented by Shop Durham. Get the most out of Durham with a Shop Durham card with discounts and deals at hundreds of independent, locally owned spots.

Wondering where you should plan your next date night in Durham? Good news: we’ve got you covered with some cool date ideas in Durham you’ll actually want to go on.

Free & Cheap Dates

Low-pressure, budget-friendly experiences that are ideal for first dates

Cheer on the Durham Bulls– Or, you know, stand around and drink like you’re at a big outdoor bar like everyone else. Tickets start at $8. Don’t forget Afford-a-Bull Eats on Thursday or Friday night fireworks. 

Do a coffee tasting at Counter CultureEvery Friday at 10am Counter Culture hosts a free tasting at their headquarters on Mallard Ave. It’s a lot of fun to learn about their process and be guided through different coffees and brewing methods. If you’re both coffee lovers this is a must.

4th Dimension coffee cupping

Cocoa Cinnamon Coffee Cupping- Cocoa Cinnamon also offers cupping classes for their 4th Dimension coffee occasionally. There’s not set dates, so be sure to sign up for their newsletter here to get alerts when they’re happening- usually on Saturday mornings.

Share a $15 cheese board at Bar Brunello – Grab a couple of glasses of wine and share the cheese board in this intimate wine bar. 

Explore the Museum of Life and Science on a Free Durham Community DayIt’s not just for kids. The Museum of Life and Science is a great interactive science park on 84 acres. It includes a two-story science center, a large butterfly conservatory, and 60 species of live animals in its outdoor exhibits.

Go on a Preservation Durham TourWant to learn more about Durham? Preservation Durham offers free walking and bike tours that introduce downtown Durham’s history and architecture! Tours are Saturdays, April through November at 10am.

Scroll through American Tobacco CampusOnce a tobacco factory, the American Tobacco Campus is home to the famous Lucky Strike Tower so many identify with Durham. It’s truly beautiful with a river running throughout the campus and a large green space. Play a game of Bull City chess, lounge in hammocks, check out the Burt’s Bees house, relax in the rocking chairs under the Lucky Strike Tower. 

American Tobacco Campus

Play games, drink beer, and eat pizza at Boxcar– With a space spanning over 10,000 square feet, Boxcar Bar + Arcade includes a full bar (including 24 American craft drafts), 70+ arcade games, and a pizza kitchen. Draft beers are plentiful, and regular drink specials mean you’ll always have spare change for the arcade games. Forewarning, it is loud in there so that could work in your favor if you’re short on conversation topics. Note: The space is dog-friendly and kids are allowed until 9pm

Catch a free summer concert– Check American Tobacco Campus, Brightleaf Square, or Durham Central Park for free outdoor concerts in the summer. Check out our guide to all of them here.

Experiential and Adventure Dates

Get out of your comfort zone and try something new with these hands-on, immersive adventures

Go on a Bull City Laughs Tour- This is a one of a kind comedy tour of Durham that features the city’s history, and yep, it’s on a renovated, open-air school bus. The tour is BYOB (Beer or wine, no hard liquor) so feel free to grab something from Beer Durham ahead of time. Buy 2 tickets or more and get one free using your Shop Durham card!

Try your hand at an Escape Room- Play detective at an escape room in Durham like Bull City Escape or NC Escape. Save 10-20% off games with your Shop Durham card.

Take a hike at Eno River State Park – Everyone claims hiking as an interest in their dating app bios. Put it to the test. The Eno is definitely your no-fail classic, convenient Durham hike.

Eno River State Park

Throw Axes at Urban Axes– Ah yes, the timeless tale of two young lovers hurling axes at a target to win each other’s praise and affection. It’s a fun, out-of-the-box activity where it’s unlikely either partner has previous experience so you can learn together. Durham’s first indoor axe-throwing facility lets you throw axes and drink beer. Pro Tip: If you’re struggling, use throw with both hands from over your head. There are walk-in hours or you can book a group. 

Get your yoga on together– There are so many great yoga studios in Durham like Community Power Yoga, Global Breath, Yoga off East, or warm up with hot yoga at Arrichion. We love doing yoga with La Vita Yoga at Bull City Ciderworks on Sunday mornings. Bonus: your class includes a cider afterward.

Go on a bike ride on the American Tobacco Trail- Hop on American Tobacco Trail for 22+ uninterrupted miles (not necessarily all of them). It was once a railroad track that was converted into a beautiful trail for biking, walking, and running. You can even ride horses on the trail! See more about American Tobacco Trail here.

Dinner & Drinks/Dessert Dates

No-fail combos for two-part dates when you’re not ready to go home yet.

The Durham Hotel

Dinner and/or cocktails at Alley Twenty Six then ice cream at the ParlourYou come here for the unique cocktails and stay for the food. It feels special anytime we come here and the bartenders are some of the best anywhere. The service and atmosphere are welcoming and cozy without feeling pretentious. The Parlour is just a short walk away, so grab some dessert afterwards.

Blue Note Grill and Durham Distillery Tour- Feast on some BBQ from Blue Note Grill then head next door for a tour of Durham Distillery. Tours are perfect for date nights to break the ice. You get to see how their award-winning Conniption gins, cold distilled cucumber vodka, and decadent Damn Fine liqueurs are made plus you get to sample all of them.

Bull City Ciderworks– Tired of the predictable “Let’s grab a drink” date invite? Mix it up at Bull City Ciderworks and challenge them to a board game along with some cider. Maybe skip the monopoly because that can get serious way too fast, amiright? Plus they usually have food trucks parked outside so you can grab dinner.

counting house durham nc date restaurants
Photo: @sreepattabiraman

Dinner at the Counting House then art- Located in the 21c Hotel, we love Counting House for a few reasons- the atmosphere is unique and romantic and their creative food dishes. We also love that you can order drinks and browse the museum that is within 21c. The art is pretty unusual and a conversation starter. Head downstairs to check out the old bank valet. (This building was home to Suntrust at one time)

Watch the sunset from the rooftop of The Durham Hotel then M SushiBlink and you’ll miss this spot tucked away beside the Durham Hotel. We frequently hear that this is the best spot to get sushi in Durham. Reservations are available and recommended.

Dinner at Viceroy then cocktails poolside at UnscriptedBy far, voted the top pick for a date night restaurant by our readers, Viceroy is classic Indian cuisine meets a British pub. The atmosphere is definitely English Pub with dark wood, high ceilings, and an intimate feel that’s perfect for date night. Then walk over to Unscripted’s rooftop for some cocktails poolside.

Looking for more date ideas? Check out 16 of the Best Free Date Ideas in Durham23 Indoor Date Ideas (relevant for when it’s too hot or too cold out), 13 of the Best Date Night Restaurants in Durhamand 35 Date Ideas in Durham: $25 and Under.

Join our mailing list to get the inside scoop on the
best things to do in Durham and a guide to Durham’s top monthly events

Haven’t got your Shop Durham card yet? You’re missing out!
Gets freebies, discounts, and deals at hundreds of locally owned Durham businesses– all year long!
Grab yours here!

Best of the Bull Staff
Author: Best of the Bull Staff

We’re here to make your life a little easier by bringing you the best things to do, places to eat, drink, and see in Durham.