City guides

Relaxing bars in Raleigh

Discover the top spots in Raleigh for unwinding with a drink in a cozy atmosphere.

December 19, 2023
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5
 min read
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Last updated:
Feb 14
A view of the Raleigh skyline.

Raleigh, a city known for its vibrant energy and bustling streets, also harbors some of the most inviting bars where one can easily slip into a state of relaxation after a long day. These sanctuaries offer a unique blend of ambience, drinks, and warmth that promise a soothing experience. Whether you're in the mood for a quiet evening solo or a laid-back night out with friends, Raleigh's bar scene has something for everyone. Let's dive into the locales that stand out for their ability to make you feel right at home, yet exhilarated with their distinct charm and offerings.

Foundation

Tucked away beneath Raleigh's lively streets, Foundation captures the essence of North Carolina's rich heritage with its meticulously sourced local ingredients. This bar prides itself on its exclusive use of North Carolina-made spirits and brews, which not only supports local businesses but also provides patrons with a genuine taste of the state's finest. The ambience is warmly inviting, with rustic brick walls that tell stories of the past and dim lighting that sets a serene mood. It's a sanctuary where time slows down, allowing you to savor each sip of their craft cocktails, surrounded by the hum of low-key conversations and soft music. Foundation isn't just a bar; it's a homage to North Carolina's culture and craftsmanship, making it a must-visit for those seeking a nightcap with soul.

Watts & Ward

This expansive underground speakeasy, Watts & Ward, offers a respite from the world above with its 1920s-inspired decor, complete with dark wood, leather couches, and bookshelves teeming with old tomes. The atmosphere is electric, yet soothing, with a sense of being swept back in time to an era of secret gatherings and the thrill of prohibition. The cocktail menu is a work of art, featuring classic drinks with a twist and new concoctions that showcase the bartenders' creativity. The attention to detail in the presentation of drinks and the knowledgeable staff make each visit a unique experience. It's a perfect hideaway for those looking to unwind in style, offering a peaceful ambiance away from the city's hustle and bustle, where you can indulge in the art of the cocktail.

The Green Light

Hidden behind a nondescript bookshelf in The Architect Bar & Social House, The Green Light is Raleigh's answer to the classic speakeasy. This small, intimate bar exudes mystery and exclusivity, making it feel like you've been let in on a secret. The mood is set by the soft glow of green lights, creating an ambiance that's both cozy and intriguing. Here, the cocktails are as much a piece of art as they are a beverage, with bartenders mixing up innovative drinks that are sure to impress. The close quarters and hushed conversations make it an ideal spot for those seeking a quiet escape with a side of sophistication. Whether you're on a romantic date or simply enjoying a night out with close friends, The Green Light offers a memorable experience that feels both personal and exclusive.

Person Street Bar

Person Street Bar stands as a testament to the simple pleasures of a well-made drink and the company of good friends. Located in the heart of the historic Oakwood neighborhood, this bar exudes a welcoming vibe, akin to stepping into a friend's thoughtfully decorated living space. The spacious interior, complemented by natural light and minimalist decor, invites patrons to relax and stay awhile. Here, the focus is on quality over quantity, with a carefully curated selection of beers, wines, and spirits that cater to both casual drinkers and connoisseurs alike. The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable, ready to recommend the perfect drink to suit your taste. It's a place where community and comfort converge, making it an ideal spot for anyone looking to unwind in a laid-back setting.

The Raleigh Times Bar

The Raleigh Times Bar, named after the city's historic newspaper, is a beloved landmark that combines the charm of the past with the pulse of the present. This bar is housed in a beautifully restored 100-year-old building, offering a rich atmosphere filled with historic memorabilia and a rooftop patio that provides stunning views of downtown. The drink menu features a broad selection of craft beers and cocktails, alongside a kitchen serving up delicious, locally sourced fare. The Raleigh Times Bar is a vibrant gathering place where history buffs, locals, and visitors alike can enjoy a lively yet comfortable night out, making it a must-visit for those who appreciate the blend of tradition and modernity.

Gallo PelĂłn Mezcaleria

Gallo PelĂłn Mezcaleria captivates with its vibrant energy and dedication to celebrating the rich culture of Mexico through its extensive selection of mezcal and tequila. This bar is a riot of color, with murals and decor that reflect the lively spirit of Mexican art and traditions. The outdoor patio offers a breezy, relaxed atmosphere where patrons can enjoy Raleigh's mild evenings. The staff are passionate about mezcal, eager to guide you through their diverse selection, whether you're a seasoned aficionado or new to the spirit. The cocktails are innovative, blending traditional Mexican flavors with modern mixology techniques, creating a menu that's both adventurous and delicious. It's a place where every drink tells a story, inviting you to explore the depth and diversity of Mexico's celebrated spirits.

Boxcar Bar + Arcade

At Boxcar Bar + Arcade, the concept of unwinding is taken to a playful new level, combining the joy of arcade games with the comfort of a well-stocked bar. This venue is a paradise for those who cherish nostalgia, featuring rows upon rows of classic arcade games, pinball machines, and console games that span the decades. The lively atmosphere is infectious, with the sounds of laughter and digital beeps filling the air. The drink selection is robust, offering everything from local craft beers to inventive cocktails, ensuring there's something for every palate. It's a social hub where the stress of the day melts away as you challenge friends to a friendly game or simply enjoy the vibrant energy of the space. Boxcar is more than just a bar; it's a community gathering spot that celebrates the joy of gaming and the simple pleasures of a good drink.

State of Beer

State of Beer is a haven for beer enthusiasts, embodying the spirit of Raleigh's craft beer scene with its impressive selection of local and international brews. This hybrid space serves as both a bottle shop and a bar, offering a relaxed environment where you can explore the world of beer. The knowledgeable staff are always on hand to recommend the perfect beer, whether you're looking for something light and refreshing or dark and complex. The interior is cozy and inviting, with communal tables that encourage conversation and new friendships. It's not just about the beer, though; State of Beer also offers a menu of delicious, locally sourced food items that pair perfectly with their brews. Whether you're a seasoned beer aficionado or just looking to try something new, State of Beer provides a welcoming space to discover and enjoy the best of what the beer world has to offer.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird, nestled in Raleigh's thriving Warehouse District, offers a refreshing oasis with its bright and airy atmosphere and a menu inspired by New Orleans' vibrant culinary scene. The bar's interior is modern and chic, with touches of greenery that add to the refreshing ambiance. Here, the cocktails are as colorful and creative as the city that inspired them, with a focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients that elevate each drink to a work of art. The welcoming staff and the beautifully presented dishes make every visit feel special, whether you're there for a quick drink or a leisurely meal. Hummingbird is more than just a bar; it's a celebration of good food, inventive drinks, and the joy of sharing those experiences with others in a space that feels both sophisticated and utterly welcoming.

Trophy Brewing & Taproom

Trophy Brewing & Taproom is a beacon in Raleigh's craft beer scene, known for its inventive brews and welcoming atmosphere. This small-batch brewery takes pride in its experimental approach to beer-making, offering a rotating selection of unique brews that push the boundaries of traditional flavors. The taproom itself is a cozy, inviting space where beer lovers gather to sample the latest creations, share stories, and enjoy the laid-back vibe. The staff are as passionate about beer as the patrons, ready to share the stories behind each brew and offer recommendations. With its commitment to quality, creativity, and community, Trophy Brewing & Taproom stands out as a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy some of the best beer Raleigh has to offer, in a space that feels like a second home.

Raleigh's bar scene truly has something for everyone, from hidden speakeasies to lively taprooms. Each of these establishments offers a unique way to unwind, proving that relaxation can be found in the buzz of a city. So next time you're in Raleigh, consider diving into the comforting embrace of these top bars, where the drinks are cold, the atmosphere is warm, and the experience is always inviting.

*Prices fluctuate based on season and day of the week.

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