Friends are important (and we’re not talking about the hit TV show—which is, frankly, also important). Research shows that having friends can literally add years to your life. And that means we can’t stay in our post-COVID caves forever.
Meeting a new friend in NC (as an adult) can be daunting—especially when you’re hoping for a friendship connection. So we’ve put together a list of 13 easy and affordable places in North Carolina where you can go to scope out a potential pal.
Connect over music at outdoor concerts
One of the most surefire ways to solidify a friendship is by sharing music—especially if you have similar tastes.
This summer, there are tons of free outdoor concert series happening across the state, from Blowing Rock in the northwest to Sanford in central North Carolina and Wrightsville Beach on the coast. Just type “outdoor concerts near me” and see what comes up!
Typically, these events feature food trucks and invite attendees to bring chairs or picnic blankets (along with their dancing shoes and singing voices, of course!), so it’s a great place to strike up a convo about music while waiting in line for street tacos.
Find a community by helping yours
If you’re looking for fulfilling ways to spend your summer, consider volunteering with a local organization. One way to go about this is by plugging your location and interests into VolunteerMatch, a website that helps connect well-meaning individuals with organizations they’re passionate about.
Whether you become a Wildlife Rehabilitation Volunteer in Hubert or join the Hospice Craft Team in Jacksonville, there’s sure to be something up your alley. It’s a great way to meet folks with hearts as big as yours!
Test your knowledge at trivia
Whether you’re a bonafide trivia buff or are just in it for the beer, trivia nights are a fun way to meet people near you. If you show up a little early and let the quizmaster know you’re flying solo, they can find a team for you to join.
For information about weekly trivia night in the Triangle area, check here. Otherwise, put your location into Geeks Who Drink to find a participating bar near you, as the company hosts events all across the state.
It’s the perfect occasion to put your slightly random but vast knowledge of the Kardashian family or 19th-century literature to use. You knew it would come in handy one day!
Enhance your summer reading by joining a book club
Summer is the ideal time to tick off that long-ignored reading list. However, it’s even better when you can meet up with fellow bibliophiles and share your opinions. Enter: book clubs!
Many book clubs advertise on Meetup, which is a free platform that connects you with people in your area. If you live near Garner and wine and reading are your two great loves, Wine Club with a Book Problem might be right up your alley. If you live near Cary and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is your favorite book, give Cary Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Club a try.
Let the conversation (and booze) flow on a bar crawl
Let’s face it: Sometimes, meeting new people is easier with some liquid courage. At bar crawls you have the opportunity to hit it off in a laid-back yet lively atmosphere.
Get active with others in a local sports league
Sports teams aren’t just for kids or professionals; most cities and YMCAs offer multi-level adult recreational leagues for a variety of sports. Summer sports often include softball, flag football, and volleyball, but check your city or town’s official website to see what they offer and when.
In Charlotte, SportsLink grew itself from four co-ed teams to now organizing sporting events for more than 29,000 participants every year. Even if you have to form a team yourself, this could be a great opportunity to turn acquaintances into true friends, especially if you start a post-game ritual of beers or ice cream!
Network like a pro
If you’re an introvert, you might loathe the word “networking,” but it can help you connect with people in your age group, gender, and/or field.
You might be surprised to learn how fun these events can be, too. For example, there’s an upcoming event in Raleigh on the driving range, a weekly meditation networking event for women in Cary, and a networking version of speed dating on Thursdays in Durham. We promise it won’t feel like work at all!
Download Bumble BFF and start swiping right
Bumble isn’t just for singles looking to find a partner; it also has a BFF feature that helps you make friends who live near you.
As the website mentions, “Whether you moved to a new city, found a new hobby, or just want a new person to talk to—Bumble For Friends is about finding your kinda people.”
Similar to popular dating apps, after making a profile and putting in a few preferences, you can start viewing potential friends in your sphere. Here’s the catch: If you both swipe right, one of you has to start a conversation within 24 hours or the match goes away! It might just be the push you need.
Make a gym buddy and get swole side by side
Going to the gym by yourself can be daunting, but many gyms offer memberships that include communal fitness classes like yoga, Zumba, or boxing. It’s perfectly normal for people to show up to these classes alone, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone while you set up (or both fail to keep your balance) in tree pose.
Fortunately, many national gym chains—like Crunch, Planet Fitness, and 24 Hour Fitness—have free trials and memberships starting at just $10/month. If you don’t want to incur a monthly expense, you can search for pay-as-you-go, drop-in classes near you. Many places, like Orange Theory, offer a free first class! But goat yoga might just be worth the splurge, just saying. Additionally, there are a few apps out there dedicated to helping you find a workout partner, including Jaha, FindYourFit, and Gym Buddy.
Gain a new hobby and friend at a workshop
Learning something new requires a level of vulnerability and openness, making it the perfect way to make a friend.
Whether you learn how to crochet a basket, make ice cream in a bag on National Ice Cream Day, or nail the basics of canning, there are hundreds of free workshops happening across the state this summer.
Lean into your spiritual side
If you belong to a specific religion or are interested in learning more about one, now might be the time to check out the places of worship in your area.
Most churches, parishes, temples, and mosques are welcoming to newcomers and have details online regarding what you can expect when you show up. Additionally, many places of worship offer additional ways to connect with people of your particular faith.
Crash your kid’s playdate
It might seem like making friends comes naturally to kids, but really they just have tons of opportunities to do so. So why do they get to have all the fun? If you’re a parent, next time you schedule a playdate, ask if you can tag along. While the little ones interact, you can discuss the joys and pains of parenting with someone who gets it—or at the very least, have some adult conversation for once!
Alternatively, there are playgroups across the state, many of which are informal and free. Maybe you and your child will both leave with a new friend!
Start your own group
Maybe you want to meet up with other needleworkers at wine bars to sip and sew, or mountain bike with other adventurers on local trails. Get creative, then get ready to meet your future BFFs.