Valentine’s Day Ideas Across the Region

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With Valentine’s Day it can be easy to get overwhelmed with making plans and pinning down last-minute reservations for your special someone. The good news is that whether you want dinner and drinks at an upscale restaurant, a private picnic outside of the city, or an adrenaline rush, the area has something perfect for you.

Chatham County  

If you want a mini getaway this year, consider spending your Valentine’s Day in Fearrington Village. Located just eight miles south of Chapel Hill, the English-inspired village is close enough for a day-trip but also has inns available if you want to extend your getaway. Located on a quaint dairy farm, the area provides a perfect escape from city life. You can spend the day shopping at some of the area’s local stores, enjoying afternoon tea, and relaxing in the spa. To continue your romantic getaway, visit Fearrington House for dinner, where you can enjoy a seasonal menu inspired by local ingredients and a wide range of wine, cocktails, and beer from local vineyards, distilleries, and breweries.  


Take advantage of the warmer weather this February and stroll through Sarah P. Duke Gardens by Duke University before dinner. Named the “Tastiest Town in the South” by Southern Living Magazine, Durham has a range of delicious restaurants for couples of all tastes. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try multiple dishes, visit Mateo Bar de Tapas where you can order tapas and small plates that blend Spanish cuisine with traditional Southern ingredients. For an after-dinner treat, make sure to stop by Unscripted Durham’s Champagne and Dessert tasting.


If you’re looking for something a little different than the traditional dinner and dessert this Valentine’s Day, visit Franklin County. You can start the day off slow by walking through the De Hart Botanical Gardens, but if you’re looking to get your blood pumping, you can visit the Triangle Sky Diving Center. What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than checking off a bucket list item with your loved one?  


Sassafras Fork Farm is the perfect one-stop-shop for Valentine’s Day. You can surprise your date (or treat yourself) with a unique, hand-picked bouquet and then browse the farm’s local produce. While you’re there, you can pick up ingredients to make dinner at home or an impromptu picnic at the nearby Lake Holt. If you would rather eat out this Valentine’s Day, visit Harvest for lunch. Located in a repurposed house, the restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy homemade sandwiches, soups and desserts in a laid-back, cozy environment.


The Triangle Region has a long list of distilleries, breweries and vineyards. If you’ve been wanting to explore some local crafts, use this Valentine’s Day to complete Johnston County’s Beer, Wine and Shine trail. You can spend the day, or the weekend, exploring five different locations throughout Johnston County. The trail includes two breweries, two vineyards, and one moonshine distillery located all over the county. Between tastings and tours, you can enjoy the scenery along rural roads, stop by a local farmer’s market or have a meal at a local BBQ restaurant. If you want to extend your stay, the county even has a Sip and Stay package that includes offers on hotels.


If you want to spend Valentine’s Day at a slower pace this year, make sure to check out Lee County. Downtown Sanford has a relaxed, small-town feel where you can spend the day exploring some of the area’s unique, local stores. To continue your visit, make sure to visit Mrs. Lacy’s Magnolia House for lunch. Located in a historic home full of antiques, the restaurant serves sandwiches, soups and salads, but it is most known for its long list of homemade desserts. After spending the day strolling along the small-town streets, enjoy a play at Temple Theatre. Built in 1925, the theatre has a romantic, rustic appearance and now serves as the Central Carolina’s Performing Arts Center.


If you’re an adventurous couple that still wants to enjoy fine dining and drinks, make a trip to Person County. You can start the day with a short walk or kayak ride around Mayo Lake Park before heading over to Roxboro’s Black Creek Brewery. After sampling some local brews, make your way over to Heirloom, a farm-to-table restaurant that puts a spin on classic southern dishes. Though the food and cocktails look and taste like they are from an upscale restaurant, you won’t find any white tablecloths here. The rustic design and casual atmosphere make it the perfect place to enjoy a special meal without having to worry about your outfit choice.


Wish you could run off to Europe for a romantic vacation with your special someone? In Wake County’s Lafayette Village, you won’t be in another country, but you’ll definitely feel like you are. The European-style shopping and dining center is modeled after quaint towns in France and Italy and creates a romantic atmosphere with string lights, plazas and outdoor seating. Restaurants like Driftwood and Village Grill have special Valentine’s Day menus, and if you’re still hungry after dinner, you can visit the Crafty Beer Shop for wine and chocolate pairings. Bonus: every other Wednesday the Chocolate Boutique has chocolate making lessons where each guest receives a lesson, a choice of beer or wine, a dipped strawberry, and up to 1/2 pound of chocolate to take home.


If you want a low-cost escape for this year’s Valentine’s Day, visit Lake Gaston in Warren County. You can pack a picnic and enjoy the drive as you head out of the city and into a more scenic area of North Carolina. Find a perfect spot around the lake to enjoy your food and make sure to bring blankets so you can bundle up and watch the sunset over the water.


For a unique Valentine’s Day celebration, visit Wilson County’s Whirligig Park. Located in the heart of downtown Wilson, the park pays homage to Vollis Simpson, a farm machinery repairman who started making giant, kinetic sculptures at his family farm in Wilson County as he neared retirement age. After he passed away, the city wanted to preserve his famous “whirligigs,” so they moved them to the center of town and began repairing them. The project has since won grants from ArtPlace America, the Kresge Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. After walking through the one-of-a-kind park, you can visit the Wilson Rose Garden before finishing the day at 217 Brewworks.

There’s so much to experience in the region, and you won’t be able to squeeze it all in this Valentine’s Day, so be sure to plan on saving some weekends to explore the area this year. To learn more about all that the region has to offer, visit the county page.