To begin this topic I’ll introduce myself a little. My name is Jacqueline and I run a group in Raleigh called Zero Proof, which provides alcohol-free social events. I’ve lived in Raleigh for about eight years, and ever since early March of 2020 I’ve been alcohol-free. It wasn’t until later on that year that I decided I was ready to jump back into the dating pool and give online dating a shot. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Lee

I played around with setting my profile to say “non-drinker” on Bumble then removing it. I sometimes put a filter on the matches to show me people who also don’t drink. What ended up happening was I matched with my current boyfriend, Matthew, who I’ve been dating for a year now. Matthew also doesn’t drink, and hasn’t for over five years. During the year that we’ve dated, we’ve been on all kinds of creative sober dates that I’ve loved. And I’ve found that going on dates and not drinking is an incredible experience for truly getting to know someone. 

These date ideas I’m going to recommend are for any couples to enjoy. Matthew and I are sober but there are plenty of couples who still drink but may want to plan an alcohol-free night out. I’ve learned many things from not drinking, and my eyes have been opened to how amazing it is to connect with a partner and open up to each other without the influence of alcohol. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Lee

Lunch at Seaboard Cafe and a walk around Logan’s Garden Shop

Located at Seaboard Station is a beautiful flower shop called Logan’s. What I consider a hidden Raleigh gem within Logan’s is one of the best lunch spots in Raleigh called Seaboard Cafe, which is a wonderful date spot. Their food is fabulous, including soups, pasta salads, and delicious sandwiches that are all homemade. Logan’s does not serve alcohol, and my favorite drink to get is their sweet tea with some added fresh mint sprigs that they provide. Before or after lunch, take a walk around the flower shop with your date to look at all the beautiful plants. Such a cute date for a weekday or Saturday lunch! The cafe is open 11:00am-2:30pm everyday except Sunday. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Lee

Dinner at Coronato Pizza in Carrboro

Coronato Pizza recently decided to stop serving alcohol and go completely alcohol-free! Their new drink menu is incredible. I stopped drinking in early March of 2020, and I’ve never had an experience quite like eating at Coronato in sobriety. With each course they served me, they paired different alcohol-free beverages with the food for me to enjoy. It made for such a unique, fun dining experience that’s very rarely provided with booze-free drinks. It’s amazing to go to a place that puts such thought and care into the drinks provided for those who don’t drink alcohol. My favorite drink I had was called “Fizzy Up Beet,” which had freshly pressed beet juice, pomegranate, and sparkling oolong tea. It paired perfectly with the pizza I had. 

If you live in Raleigh or Durham, it’s well worth it to drive out to Carrboro for dinner. While out there, it could be made into a day trip to explore Chapel Hill or Carrboro. It’s fun to walk around the UNC Chapel Hill campus if the weather is nice or get tickets to the Morehead Planetarium. Tickets to the planetarium do sell out, so if you’d like to check it out make sure to buy some in advance. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Lee

Explore Historic Oakwood neighborhood for a walk and dinner or dessert

My favorite place in Raleigh to go for a walk is in the Historic Oakwood neighborhood downtown. It’s romantic to take a stroll around Oakwood hand in hand with your date and look around at the beautiful homes. The Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour will be coming up in December, which is the perfect opportunity to see inside some of these historic homes when they’re decorated for Christmas. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Lee

After exploring the neighborhood for a stroll, I highly recommend getting dinner at Crawford and Son restaurant for their phenomenal food and non-alcoholic drinks. Their spirit-free drink options are some of the best I’ve ever had. Another favorite spot of mine in the Oakwood neighborhood is Two Roosters Ice Cream. Their homemade ice cream is to die for. 

Explore Umstead or Eno River State Park 

My boyfriend and I really enjoy getting out in nature with each other. It helps us to connect by putting our phones on silent and going for a hike through a beautiful place. He lives right near Umstead State Park, so we enjoy going for a walk or bike ride through there. I’ve really enjoyed going on more active dates since being sober and have found how nice it is to share an activity like relaxing out in nature or going for an active hike. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Lee

Plan an adventurous date at Triangle Rock Club 

If you haven’t tried indoor rock climbing, it is a super cool activity and a lot of fun for a date. I love Triangle Rock Club for how helpful they are to new climbers and how nice their spaces are. We did a Zero Proof meetup there and our group had a blast! 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Lee

Meet at a coffee shop 

During my time of being sober, my new love is for good coffee. There are so many amazing coffee shops in Raleigh that all have a different vibe and special drink offerings. My favorite place is Sir Walter Coffee downtown for the creative drinks they offer. Idle Hour on Oberlin has the most amazing sweets with giant doughnuts that are perfect to share with a date. Though Matthew knows I usually don’t share my sweets!

My last sober date recommendation is to check out a Zero Proof event! Our socials are a great place to bring a date or even a chance to meet someone new…

Written by Jacqueline Lee Founder Of Zero Proof