Want to impress a date? From Manteo to Blowing Rock, North Carolina has natural beauty, great food, and loads of conversation-starters.
Who needs Valentine’s Day when North Carolina abounds with romantic destinations open year-round?
And if you’re looking to celebrate an anniversary or simply impress your date, these locales are guaranteed to set the scene for love.
Make time for each other in Manteo
The Outer Banks has no shortage of romantic spots with its miles of pristine beaches, but the quaint town of Manteo lures couples with its combination of waterfront charm and activities perfect for two.
Spend the afternoon strolling through the ornate plantings and outdoor sculptures of the Elizabethan Gardens, then head to the nearby waterside theater to catch a production of The Lost Colony, performed throughout the summer months.
When hunger strikes, Avenue Waterfront Grille serves up steak, steamed shrimp and the eatery’s signature crab dip with a swoon-worthy view. Then check out The Mothervine Company, home to and namesake of America’s oldest cultivated grapevine, producing muscadine wine and juice.
When night falls, retire to one of the town’s bed and breakfasts like the White Doe Inn, which offers an assortment of couples’ packages complete with extras like champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries.
Leap into love in Blowing Rock
Drawing its name from the uber-romantic legend of a Cherokee brave who leaps from the craggy cliff only to be blown back up into the arms of his lover, Blowing Rock still beckons those in love.
But today’s couples spend their time exploring the mountain town’s celebrated restaurant scene, meandering through galleries and shops that line Main Street, and enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking and horseback riding.
For an intimate dinner, head to cozy Cafe Violette for French-inspired dishes and craft cocktails, or dine lakeside at Timberlake’s in the historic Chetola Resort for steak, N.C. seafood and locally sourced vegetables.
Bellies full, tuck in for a romantic night at Gideon Ridge Inn—once a private residence, it now offers guests cozy rooms complete with fireplaces and extras like an onsite library that serves handcrafted cocktails and wine alongside books from regional writers.
Relive a century-old romance in Winston-Salem
In 1905, tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds married the love of his life, Katharine, and the two partnered to build a lavish estate on the outskirts of Winston-Salem, called Reynolda House. Tragically, R.J. died before he could move into Reynolda with Katharine, but today the estate serves as backdrop for first dates, weddings and other romantic outings.
The century-old gardens beckon couples for hand-in-hand walks, while the estate’s art museum hosts revolving exhibitions by masters such as Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keeffe, perfect for an afternoon date.
Later, check into the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, housed in the former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco headquarters in downtown. The art deco building served as a prototype for the Empire State Building and is now home to the boutique hotel and its sexy bar and brasserie, The Katharine, named after Mrs. Reynolds.
Indulge your love of history in Charlotte
Tucked into the historic Myers Park neighborhood in Charlotte, the Duke Mansion offers couples a luxe retreat from the bustle of the city.
The mansion—built in 1915 by James Buchanan Duke, namesake of Duke University—today operates as a nonprofit inn with all proceeds going into preservation of the estate.
Onsite, twosomes can explore the Mary DBT Semans Gardens, blooming with native flowers and plants, and enjoy the couples’ package, which includes a bottle of wine, chocolate-covered strawberries and breakfast in bed.
For other meals, stop by neighborhood eateries such as Reid’s Fine Foods—a gourmet market serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner—or celebrated Italian restaurant, Stagioni.