Date Night In The Village District, Raleigh

Looking for Raleigh date night ideas and romantic things to do as a couple? Now that our eldest daughter is 15, that both our kids have a lovely group of friends, and that we just welcomed two kittens into our family, our kids are suddenly less dependent on us and literally pushing us out the door!

Aerial view of a shopping mall in Raleigh
The Village District is a lovely tree-lined outdoor mall area

No complaints from us, as that means more fun date night opportunities out on the town, and shopping in Raleigh without the nagging and interruptions!

We recently enjoyed a fantastic afternoon and night out via a partnership with the Village District (previously known as Cameron Village).

For this Raleigh date experience we shopped, enjoyed pre-dinner drinks, a bite to eat, and took in a hilarious comedy show!

Lady shopping in a clothes store wearing a hat and carrying a bag
Shopping at Uniquities boutique store

It doesn’t get much more “Raleigh” than the Village District. When it opened in 1949, it became the first shopping center between Washington D.C. and Atlanta. This neighborhood destination quickly became a Raleigh tradition for shoppers and those looking for local restaurants, bars and entertainment!

The Village District is home to more than 100 unique and distinctive shops, many small, independent, and local. Plus a residential community of cafés, restaurants and services. 

Man holding a beer and trying on a sports coat
Craig trying on a sports coat and Ray-Ban sunglasses in Onward Reserve

Another bonus is the ample parking available in the center. We’ve never had an issue finding a parking spot, which isn’t always the case in downtown Raleigh!

Follow along below as we share our afternoon and evening activities of how we indulged in a little pampering, relaxed over drinks, and laughed our heads off in the hope that it inspires you to replicate our night!

Start by shopping for an Outfit 

Cars parked at a shopping mall

Ladies, a night out deserves a new outfit. Don’t just stop there though. Throw in a pair of new shoes, a haircut and nail treatment. 

Gents, while your lady shops and gets pampered, occupy yourself with a few drinks and a spot of manly shopping for yourself! 

Fab’rik

Clothes on display in a boutique store

Since the Village District has so many great boutique stores, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to find myself a much needed new dress. Like I needed an excuse!

I love dresses that are colorful, patterned, and quite unique. I don’t want to be running into several people in Raleigh wearing the same dress as me! 

Fab’rik was my first stop where I found the perfect summer dress for a casual date night at the comedy club. 

Lady looking at shoes in a shoe store
Wearing my new dress from Fab’rik while browsing the Rangoni Firenze Shoes store (see below)

And in keeping with Fab’rik’s mission to create a boutique store where everyone can afford to feel beautiful, all items are priced under $100 (except for their extensive denim collection).

Rangoni Firenze Shoes

Hand bags and shoes on display in a store

If treating yourself to a pair of fashionable Italian shoes is on your wishlist, make Rangoni Firenze Shoes a stop on your date afternoon. 

Store manager, Edna, greeted us as we walked in and spent time sharing the Rangoni story as she took us around the store pointing out the shoe range. 

Leather salesman Ugo Rangoni founded the company in Florence, Italy in 1937 with the belief that shoes should be made using the best materials possible. His legacy of quality and comfort shoes that are beautiful to look at have continued through the years as the business has grown and continued to be family owned. 

Shoes on display in a store
The Valentina Rangoni range

I loved the personal touches of the Rangoni photos on the walls of the store. 

Their designer footwear is crafted from the finest leather and imported from Italy. The make and quality was exceptional with the softest leather I have ever felt. These are the kind of shoes that will last a long time. 

Two chairs and shoes on display in astore

The range features luxury collections from Amalfi by Rangoni and the more fashion forward collection from daughter, Valentina Rangoni.

Uniquities

Exterior of a dress shop in a mall

A few doors down from Fab’rik is Uniquities, one of the best Raleigh boutique stores, a women’s designer boutique that started in nearby Chapel Hill in 1992. 

Here you can shop their unique, ready-to-wear brands and hand-picked selection of dresses, tees, shoes, accessories and one of the most extensive collections of denim and contemporary fashion in the area. 

Onward Reserve

Man enjoying a beer in a store
A beer while you shop? Yes please!

Fellas, this is how I (Craig) want to shop from now on while my wife is doing her thing – with beer in hand (or bourbon on the weekend). 

Onward Reserve in the Village District has set the shopping bar high. Yes, this specialty men’s apparel and lifestyle brand literally has a bar inside. No rush or guilt needed. 

Grab a cold one while you browse their clothing, footwear, accessories, collegiate gear, unique gifts and even original works of art.

Man shopping for clothes in a store
No rush here, take all the time you need!

But, wait. Even better. Settle into one of their comfy leather chairs on the weekends and enjoy watching the football in the cozy corner they have set up. 

Your wife will be impressed with the new YOU that gives her space to shop on an unlimited time schedule!

Man sitting in a chair with a beer in hand
Relaxing in the chair watching a game and chatting with store manager Kit

The moment I walked through the Onward Reserve experience I was embraced into that laid-back southern hospitality we love!

Store manager Kit Luciano was personable and fun. We spent some time in the store chatting with her, swapping stories about our favorite NFL teams, travel, and of course men’s fashion!

We loved hearing how this Village District store feels like a neighborly place Kitty knows most of her regular customers by name, and of course, favorite football team. 

Man shopping for clothes and books in a store

This experience at Onward reaffirmed for me just why we love living in Raleigh so much. You cannot beat the warmth and friendliness of the locals. 

With a laid-back approach to luxury and unwavering quality, and a motto that speaks to me, to “Live Authentically”, this is my new favorite men’s store in Raleigh!

Man trying on a sports coat
I’ve got my eye on one of their sports coats!

And of course, with a few beers under your belt, you’ll be more inclined to twirl and walk the catwalk in your spiffy sport coat.

Village District Nail Spa

Women sitting in chairs inside a nail salon

Shopping done, now it was time for me (Caroline) to get pampered. As soon as I sat down, I started chatting with the lady beside me, who recommended I order a complimentary chardonnay with my pampering session. 

Originally from New York, she moved here several years ago and loves the small town feel of Raleigh. The Village District Nail Spa is a regular pampering session for her and her daughter and she raved about the quality of the experience. 

Lady drinking a glass of wine while having a foot spa
Complimentary glass of wine? Yes please!

The Nail Spa was full of mostly women treating themselves and spending time with friends, or mothers and daughters. 

As we came to learn during our time at the Village District, this really is a place where people gather to spend quality time. 

My technician did a fantastic job for my mani pedi. Originally from Vietnam, we had a great time chatting about her country, which is one of our favorites and she was thrilled to hear we spent six weeks there back in 2003. 

Not only did my mani pedi include a foot massage, but their new pedicure chairs come with a fully adjustable Shiatsu back massage.

My gel polish lasted for a good two weeks on my fingers, which I was very happy about!

HairColor Xperts

Lady looking in mirror at the hair dressers
New hair, yeah yeah!

Since I had not had a hair cut in weeks, I was more than happy to plonk myself down in a comfy salon chair at HairColor Xperts and tidy up my look. 

My stylist Arlee was efficient, friendly and skilled at her job. 

I was short on time so just went for a layered cut that looked fantastic. It’s one of the best cuts I’ve had in awhile.

I enjoyed hearing about her lifestyle in Benson, Johnston County, where she lives. She convinced me that Mule Day this September is a fun event not to miss (which I included in this month’s September Events blog post!)

Lady getting her hair cut at the hair dressers
Arlee was great at her craft and to chat with!

The salon was clean, everyone was friendly, and you immediately felt comfortable as soon as you walked in the door. I’ll be back for a full head of highlights soon.

Village Draft House

Man sitting at a bar drinking a beer

Guys, while your lady gets her hair and nails done, pop into the Village Draft House for local craft beer tasting paired with the game from multiple TVs behind the large bar.

This brick-walled tavern offers an impressive 100 beers on draft and over 40 North Carolina brews including Pilsners, lagers, kolsches, brown ales, porters, stouts, and IPA’s. No matter you preference, there is a flavor you can savor. 

If you find yourself a little peckish, the Village Draft House has quality pub food including solid wings, tacos, and sandwiches.

I enjoyed a pint of Kolsch from White Street Brewing in Wake Forest at the bar watching some baseball, then had a sneaky second beer outside in the sun accompanied by some wings just to tie me over until dinner. 

Cocktails (+ a bite to eat) at Tazza Kitchen

People sitting at a bar

Now the shopping and pampering was done, it was time to relax with pre-dinner drinks at Tazza Kitchen, a popular bar and eatery in the heart of the Village District.

We actually love to sit at the bar on our date nights, and the warm, stylish and buzzing atmosphere of Tazza’s was perfect for cocktails and conversation. 

When bartender, Mara Sudol passed over my Leisure Queen cocktail made with vida mezcal, creme de cacao, pineapple, and lime-coconut ole, the person beside me asked me about my drink.

Two cocktails on a bar
Leisure Queen cocktail top right

So of course, he started gushing about my love for mezcal and how this cocktail maintained the integrity of its smoky attributes. 

As Charles is from Austin, we found some common ground and spent a very enjoyable time chatting with him. 

Charles recently moved from Austin to Raleigh and loves coming to Tazza each week. I’m not surprised as it’s a place that speaks of community gathering and connection. 

We got to hear his perspective on this booming small town he’s just moved to. As he said, “I’ve been in this movie before.” We chatted about all kinds of things like life in Austin, travels overseas, the death of the Queen, and the complexities of Tom Brady coming out of “retirement.”

Charles left with our phone numbers and the intention to meet up and hang out. #NewFriendMade. 

Cocktail with ice cube and green leaf decoration
Out of Office bourbon cocktail

Craig’s “Out Of Office” bourbon cocktail was sensational (Elijah Craig bourbon, fernet branca, peach brandy, pineapple, lemon, spicy cinnamon, angostura bitters). Both our cocktails were some of the best we’ve had in the Raleigh area and we didn’t hesitate to order a second round. 

Tazza Kitchen serves up craft cocktails, regional wines, local brews and seasonal menus with ingredients sourced from dozens of farmers and food artisans Expect prices are very reasonable for the location!

Food wise, we started with Chips & Guacamole (always goes well with cocktails), followed by Beef Short Rib Tacos (wood oven braised beef, tomatillo chipotle salsa, queso fresco, cilantro lime onion slaw) accompanied by tasty fries!

Chips and salsa with two cocktails
Chips & Guacamole
Two tacos and fries on a plate
Beef Short Rib Tacos

I (Caz) couldn’t resist the beef short rib either but I had mine in a delicious Baja bowl with green rice, black beans, tomatillo sauce and crema. 

Salad on a plate
Baja bowl

Wood fired cooking is Tazza’s specialty and Charles assured me the pizzas tasted as good as they looked (and smelled). Apparently their white pizza with meatballs and bacon is a MUST. Next time! They also offer plenty of vegetarian and gluten free dishes.

Besides dinner, they serve lunch plus Sunday brunch. Reservations recommended over the weekend, and especially if you have a ticket for a comedy show at Goodnights (see below). 

Take in a Show at Goodnights Comedy Club

man walking into goodnights comedy club in the village district raleigh

If you’re looking for fun date night ideas, it’s hard to beat a stand-up comedy show. Crazily, the only time we’ve been to a live comedy performance is on a cruise! 

And it was time to fix that. 

We could all do with more laughter given the last two years we’ve endured, and this contemporary entertainment venue in the Village District is the perfect date night experience for that. 

People sitting at tables and chairs inside a comedy club
Ready for the show!

As soon as we saw an Irish comedian on the schedule, Dave Nihill, he was our guy and booked our tickets. 

We previously lived in Dublin for a year, and I (Craig) am heading back to Ireland this week for an 8 day tour. As Australians, we also find it easy to relate to Irish humor and their ability to laugh at themselves. 

We roared with laughter over Dave’s jokes and especially loved his recount of wakeboarding in Surfers Paradise, Australia, known to be one of the most bull shark infested waters in the world! 

Cocktail sitting on a table next to a drink menu
Beer, wine and liquor available

Goodnights also had a couple of local support acts, who were equally as funny. 

I was impressed at the quality of comedians appearing here in Raleigh in this intimate venue. Comedy performances happen on a weekly basis and at a modest ticket price. 

The size of this club is perfect, small enough to feel connected to the comedian but not too small that you feel like they have their eyes on you the whole show. Similar to a cabaret theater, chairs surround tables facing the stage with friendly and discreet table service (bar service and snacks).

We even got to meet Dave after the show and hear another funny story of him surfing the break at Burleigh Heads – our old home in Australia. And we were able to share stories with him of our time living in Dublin.

Three people posing for a photo at a comedy club
Meeting Dave Nihill after his show was fun!

As he said, “That’s what Australians and Irish do. Live in each other’s countries and have the best time!”

NOTE: Goodnights are currently operating in a temporary pop-up venue at the Village District (across from the Chick-fil-A) until they move into their permanent new home under the library.

Shows are usually between 90 and 105 minutes. General admission is first-come, first-seated as you enter the showroom, and you can pre-purchase tickets online

Late night treat at Goodberry’s Frozen Custard

Hand holding up a cup of frozen custtard

After such a fun date afternoon and evening at Goodnights, you will want a little time to relive the magic of the jokes with a late evening treat. 

Just a short five-minute walk from the comedy club is Goodberry’s, one of the most popular frozen treat places in Raleigh.

We love that Goodberry’s has been locally owned and operated for more than 22 years and their focus is on high quality. 

Fed up with the mass production style of modern ice-cream filled with high-fructose corn syrup and other chemicals, Goodberry’s decided to return to old-style making 100% all-natural frozen custard made hourly with fresh milk, fresh cream, eggs, honey, pure cane sugar, and only natural flavorings to make our frozen custard.

People walking into an ice cream shop

It was the perfect way to wrap up this no-guilt, treat yourself well date experience with the person you most like to share life with!

They’re open till 11pm through the spring and summer, and 10pm during winter and fall.

This was a fantastic date night with lots of laughs, delicious drinks, tasty bites, and fun shopping experiences. These are the memories we strive for as a couple, to have quality time together and moments to reflect back on.

If you’re looking for things to do on a date night, consider the Village District the ideal location for a special day/night out and to take in some of the best Raleigh has to offer!

As their tagline says, they are “At the Center of Everything” and we loved being able to park our car once then walk a short distance from one experience to the other!

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