Maybe you’re a long-term couple and you’re saving up to buy Hopscotch tickets together. Maybe you’re single, mingling, and don’t want to shell out too much cash on a first Tinder date. Or you’re a student and you want to go out, but you’d also like to, y’know, eat food this month. Any way you slice it, we all want maximum romance at a minimum cost — so The Triangle Guide presents the “Dates on a Shoestring” series. Up next, I hunt down Raleigh’s best affordable dates. Frugal flirtation, here you come.
Chocolate at Videri
As ubiquitous as the pairing of chocolate and romance is in American culture, unfortunately the chocolate in question is often chewy, flavorless, and in a sad sampler box. Give your chocolate experience a serious upgrade at Videri Chocolate Factory on West Davie Street.
Take a self-guided tour of the factory through the viewing area, where you can peer through the glass windows at the artisans making chocolate, working Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 3 PM. Next stop? The Videri retail counter, to pick up a sinfully delicious chocolate bar or other confection of your choosing. Then, sidle up to the coffee bar and enjoy your treats over coffee in the charming cafe or on their patio.
Sustainable purchasing standards, superior ingredients, no fillers, allergy friendly, and vegan options- this is chocolate you can feel good about, and an experience to savor. Dump that pathetic grocery store chocolate sampler and hit up Videri for all your romance/chocolate needs. They’re even open until 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, so you can get your chocolate fix into the evening.
Unique Art at VAE
If you’re looking for some of the most unique art in Raleigh with no entrance fee, it’s time to hit up VAE Raleigh on West Martin. VAE Raleigh (the nonprofit force behind SPARKcon) boasts a 4,000 square foot gallery space that exhibits a host of rotating visionary artwork. Experimental, eclectic, politically relevant- the art on display here is sure to inspire conversation.
Check out their calendar for events- VAE Raleigh often hosts artist talks, summits, and happy hours in the gallery space and around Raleigh. You’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for VAE Raleigh’s hours- they’re closed on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays. (Hours are 11 AM to 6 PM Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and from 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturdays.)
Arepas and the NC Museum of Art
A fast food date? Blah, right? Think again.
Take it from me; meet up with your date at the original Guasaca location on Lake Boone Trail. This cheerful counter-serve restaurant makes the most delicious, fresh fast food you’ve ever had- arepas. (If you’re not familiar, arepas are corn cakes popular in Venezuela and Colombia). Guasaca stuffs each fresh-baked corn cake pocket with delicious ingredients, and serves them wrapped in paper with an accompanying sauce.
Order to go. Get a signature arepa each, and chips and guasaca (Guasaca’s take on guacamole) to split. The signature arepas start at $3.95, and chips and guasaca go for $2.65.
Resist the urge to devour your bounty immediately, and drive to the NC Art Museum for a picnic. Enjoy your meal on the museum’s sculpted, sprawling grounds, and hit up the free, permanent collection afterwards. A delicious, uniquely Raleigh date- and all for a modest price.
Coffee at 42 & Lawrence
Between the bowler hat light fixtures, the understated jazz, and the monochrome aesthetic (down to the mugs!) I’m calling it now- 42 & Lawrence on East Martin is Raleigh’s most atmospheric coffee date.
Whether you’re a pair of potential lovebirds or a couple looking to reconnect, you’ll find a delicious cuppa on the curated, creative menu, and a unique ambiance for your caffeinated rendezvous.
The Farmers’ Market and Dix Park
For a perfect weekend date, explore the State Farmers’ Market with your beau. Peruse the fresh produce, plants (perhaps present a bouquet to a special someone?) and specialty items under cover of the shelters.
After exploring the Farmers’ Market, take the short drive over to Dix Park to enjoy Raleigh’s largest city park. You can end your day with a monthly yoga session at Williams Field (dates here.)
Check out cheap dates in Durham here!
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