10 of the best summer dates in Charlotte, sorted by what you’re looking for

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Dating in the summer is just inarguably better – keep it that way.

Get us outside.

Pack a picnic basket and get some fresh air with a leisurely (or not so leisurely) stroll up Kings or Crowders Mountains, both less than an hour from Uptown.

Don’t mind driving? Check out 20 more trails within an hour and a half of Uptown.

We’re looking for a “warm summer night” kind of feeling

Throw the cooler, blanket and dog in the car and head down Highway 740 until you find the Badin Road Drive-In (it’ll be on your left). The two screens offer back-to-back screenings of rotating films every Friday and Saturday during the summer months, and don’t sleep on visiting the ridiculously affordable concession stand for funnel fries and movie candy. Note: The entire operation is cash-only.

[Related: This throwback spot is the ultimate warm weather date]

2411 NC 740 Highway, Albemarle. $7 per person, gates open at 6:30 while movies start at dark.

Listen, we kind of just want to get drunk during the day and crash at home later

heist-beer

I see you. Book a brewery tour with Charlotte Brews Cruise, on which a tour guide will take you to three local breweries, give you a behind-the-scenes look at the brewhouses and let you in on how the entire thing works while you throw back up to 15 beer samples. Participating breweries include Unknown Brewing Co., Birdsong Brewing, OMB and Blue Blaze.

Public tours happen every Saturday, starting at 1:30 p.m., for $49 per person. Book it.

We want to feel uncharacteristically fancy while we sip our overpriced cocktails and look out over the skyline

City Lights, with its plastic glasses and incredible view, may now be on the scene, but if you’re looking for fancy, Fahrenheit and its own view of the skyline that took over your Instagram feed two years ago is still your best bet. The cocktails’ $15 price tag may make you balk, but the patio’s fire pits will bring you back to life.

They’re open from 4 to 11 p.m. on weeknights and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday (11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. on Sunday at 222 South Caldwell Street.

We swiped right on each other because of our dogs, so we can’t just leave them behind

This speaks to my soul.

If you’re looking to have the dogs by your side, snag tickets to the Knights’ Bark in the Ballpark. There are two happening this season (June 26 and August 28) – Go.

For something a little less involved with the dogs and more involved with the two of you, unleash them at Lucky Dog Bark and Brew. Both locations offer daily drink specials, and although food isn’t served on-site, food trucks are often hanging out and delivery is always an option. Go.

[Related: Lucky Dog Bark & Brew is the ideal place to drink with your dog in Charlotte]

We’ve never actually met, so need something just involved enough to keep us from potentially falling into any awkward silences

With an overwhelming amount of games (both one- and two-person) to play, places like Abari, Lucky’s and Palmer Street Gamebar are goldmines for these situations. Here’s the deal:

Abari | Pinball machines, arcade games and consoles for games like Mario Kart | Games run on quarters, so bring cash | 1721 North Davidson Street | 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday | Learn more

abari game bar living room

Lucky’s | 90’s games including Sega Genesis, pinball, skee ball, air hockey and Nintendo 64 | North Side Station (300 North College Street) | 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday 

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Palmer Street | 30+ classic games (House of the Dead, Mortal Kombat, Donkey Kong, etc.) and pinball machines | Classic games are free, pinball is $0.50 | Deli-stye menu with 20 beers on tap | 412 West Palmer Street | 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday | See inside

palmer street game bar

Bonus: Seoul Food Meat Co. | Skip the dining room and head straight for the outside bar and its adult playground, filled with games like Connect Four, “human-sized billiards” and corn hole. Don’t forget the dog park, either.

[Related: Seoul Food Meat Co. building adult playground in heart of South End]

It doesn’t matter if we’re in it, on it or by it – get us to the water

You got it.

In it: Rent a tube from Catawba River Expeditions in Rock Hill for a guided trip down the river from Riverwalk to River Park on the weekends. Each session is 3 hours and tubes are $20 per person. Go.

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On it: Cast a line with renowned outdoor columnist and full-time professional fishing guide Captain Gus Gustafson, who offers guided trips on Lake Norman. Trips are a minimum of two hours and start at $150 and call for an early booking. Details.

By it: Just under 30 miles from Uptown in Rock Hill, the Pump House‘s rooftop bar offers an impressive view of the Catawba River. Look for half-price bottles of wine on Monday and half-price cocktails on Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. 575 Herrons Ferry Road, Rock Hill. Go.

We want to cause commotion Uptown but away from the hustle and bustle of the EpiCentre

Sounds a lot like you need a night at BB&T Ballpark.

charlotte-knights

Photo by Brendan Wilhide

The Knights are bringing their A-game to the stadium, too, with nights like Thirsty Thursdays ($3 domestic drafts, $1 small sodas) and Friday Night Fireworks along with $1 hot dogs (July 25), a rooftop party zone sponsored by Miller Lite and a picnic area sheltered from the sun. The season lasts through the beginning of September – go.

[Related: Baseball at BB&T Ballpark starts Thursday and Knights announce Bring Your Dog Night, Thirsty Thursdays and party tents]

A night of free music wouldn’t be so bad

Grab a blanket and get ready, because there’s no shortage of free music series in and around Charlotte this summer. Agenda picks: Party in the Park (every Wednesday night through September at Romare Bearden), River Jam (every Thursday and Saturday night through September) and Steele Creek Live (every Thursday through May 11 at Ayrsley).

[Related: 9 free outdoor music series to put on your calendar this spring and summer]

We don’t know what we want to do, but we want it to be different

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Lazy 5 Ranch is your best bet for an off-the-wall date, allowing you to get alarmingly up close and personal with animals like Emus, Ostriches and Giraffes from the comfort of your own vehicle. General admission is $11 per person while wagon rides are $16 (reservations necessary) and the operation is cash-only. Feed buckets are also available for $3. Go.

15100 Mooresville Road. 9 a.m. to 1 hour before sunset Monday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to one hour before sunset Sunday.

I just want to go on a date with myself.

manor-theatre

There’s no better company than yourself, especially at the movies (Park Terrace Stadium and Manor Theater are perfect), at the park (set up an Eno and waste the afternoon away) at a cooking class (see a list here) or at your favorite restaurant (no more sharing your fries).

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Kylie Moore
Writer doubling as a travel, wine, and Oxford Comma enthusiast.