With the pandemic winding down (we hope), many people are re-entering the dating scene and meeting new people in person again. Dating can always be a challenge, and only more so as we come out of a year without much socializing at all, but it can be even more difficult for those that don’t drink. Why? Because just like most social situations in our culture, dates are often lubricated with alcohol, and often, “Do you want to grab a drink?” is the default first date suggestion. So what about alcohol-free dates in Charlotte?
As the founder of an alcohol-free social club in Charlotte called Counterculture Club, I like to challenge the idea that you need alcohol to have fun on dates. Believe it or not, you can go anywhere and do anything without alcohol, so while you can still meet up for a drink and have something non-alcoholic, why not get a bit more creative with your dates?
With a little help from the Counterculture Club Instagram audience, I put together a list of creative, alcohol-free dates in the Charlotte area. You’ll be having so much fun it won’t matter what’s in your glass.
Break Some Stuff at Grievous Gallery
111 W. Bank Street, Salisbury
After the year we’ve had, I think a lot of us could benefit from a trip to Grievous Gallery, where it’s not only OK but encouraged to break stuff. At Grievous Gallery, you can wear comfortable clothes, bring your own playlist, put on some safety glasses and just straight up shatter some dishes. Be sure to put the exact address into GPS including zip code, or you and your date may end up in a granite quarry (consider this date idea 1a).
Walk on a Local Greenway
Some of us still live in Zoomland, where every day we’re making direct eye contact with coworkers through a screen. Taking a walk outdoors with a date is a way to get outside, get your cortisol levels down and get some exercise in. You can also have a quality conversation without distractions, and you don’t have to stare intensely into the other person’s eyes — unless you like to walk college tour guide style (not recommended if you’d like a second date).
Visit the U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
There is something for everyone at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. You can grab a bite at River’s Edge and take a hike through the park’s 48 miles of hiking and biking trails, or do some whitewater rafting, ziplining, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, and/or stand-up paddle boarding. If you’re not feeling active there’s also River Jam, the free concert series that takes place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from May to September.
Go Skating at Kate’s Skating Rinks
If you’re a Charlotte native, you’ve likely been to many birthday parties at Kate’s Skating Rinks, but maybe not in 20 years. Regardless of whether you’ve let this childhood memory fall by the wayside, Kate’s is still alive and well, and even offers adult nights with live DJs.
Shop Together at White Rabbit
920 Central Ave.
This might not be a first date option, but who knows maybe it is for you and your date. White Rabbit is an LGBTQ+-centric store that sells quirky gifts including books, cards, jewelry, adult toys and other novelties. Have fun together perusing the shelves. Afterwards you can stroll around Plaza Midwood, grab a coffee nearby at Central Coffee Co. or head straight home to test out your new merchandise.
Share a Meal at Kabab-Je
Sycamore Commons and Stonecrest shopping centers
Kabab-Je is a casual Mediterranean restaurant with two locations and offers some of the best Mediterranean cuisine in Charlotte. Neither location serves alcohol, so it’s the perfect meal option if you want to eat delicious food together and leave booze out of the picture.
Catch a Movie at Hounds Drive-In Theater
114 Raven Drive, Kings Mountain
Drive-in movie theaters had a renaissance during the pandemic, and they’re still a great option for a date night. Hounds Drive-In is a favorite of mine for the menu alone, which features everything from fried pickles and burgers to funnel cakes, along with the usual movie theater fare. Everything on the menu is priced below $10, so you won’t have to take out a small loan to buy your date a large popcorn.
Go to an Escape Room
An escape room might be the only time when figuring out an exit strategy is actually a sign of a good date. This interactive experience gives you the chance to combine your problem-solving skills and work together to achieve a common goal. Escape rooms are also timed at around an hour, so based on how well it goes, you can either continue the date or implement your true exit strategy. There are multiple escape rooms in Charlotte including Timed Out Escape, The Box Escape Room, Exit Strategy, and more.
Picnic at Freedom Park
1908 East Blvd.
Pack a meal for two, pick up sandwiches at a local restaurant along East Boulevard, or if you really want to impress your date, work with a locally-owned luxury picnic designer like Alchemy Events to create the ultimate romantic picnic experience. If you want a quieter vibe, go at dusk and take a stroll around the pond following your meal.
Get Some Culture with a Museum Hop
Uptown Charlotte offers a wealth of museums all within walking (or scootering) distance from each other. You can purchase a Levine Center for the Arts Pass for $20, which gives you 48-hour access to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center and both of The Mint Museum locations.
So next time your Bumble/Hinge/dating-app match asks what you should do on your date, consider going for an option that’s outside of the box — and the glass.
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