The Grown-ups’ Guide to Glenwood South

No, it’s not just for young people! Try out one of these 10 spots for a great drink and fun ambience on your next night out.
By Nelie Tahssili

Glenwood South is a popular destination for nightlife, but it has a reputation for appealing to a just-post-college crowd. If you can’t remember the last time someone asked for your I.D., that could be a turnoff — but don’t discount it just yet! 

This strip has big-city energy and an eclectic mix of bars and restaurants, so it’s worth a trip the next time you want a taste of the nightlife. These 10 bars on Glenwood South offer great ambiance, elevated drinks and a mixed-age clientele, so everyone from grads to grandma can feel comfortable.

Courtesy The Ark Royal

The Ark Royal Tiki Bar

Tucked into the side of a building, just off Glenwood, this colorful and vibrant bar offers the full vacation feel. The Ark Royal Tiki Bar offers frozen drinks and classic Tiki cocktails in a lush environment. Think: retro furniture, neon lights, tons of rattan and lots and lots of plants (head through the beaded curtain to the Taboo Room to really transport yourself to the 1970s). Outside, there’s a secluded patio for warm summer nights. 
Try: A classic Painkiller, made with rum, pineapple, coconut cream and orange — or switch it up with unfiltered sake.
410 Glenwood Avenue, #350;

Botanical Lounge

Botanical Lounge is an indoor and outdoor lounge concept in the heart of Glenwood South. The elegant interior is comfortable and posh, with lots of open windows and natural sunlight. Bar seating and lounge couches are done in touches of mint and pink, with rattan lighting fixtures that give off a bohemian vibe. Outside, the lounge areas are surrounded by greenery for an inmate feel. Whether you want to sit inside and enjoy a tapas-style bite, or sit with a view of downtown on the third floor at High Garden, this is the perfect spot for a night out without having the chaotic feel of a night club, with enough space for a larger gathering. The bar offers a full champagne bar if you’re feeling celebratory.
Try: The Give it a Chai cocktail, made with gin, chai honey syrup and lemon with a cinnamon-sugar rim.
419 Glenwood Ave Level 1,

Photograph by Pascal Monmoine | Courtesy Clockwork


Ease your way into the weekend at this stylish disco-inspired hangout that serves fresh food and cocktails daily. Located just off Glenwood on W. North Street , Clockwork is decorated with trippy retro wallpaper, disco ball inspired sculpture and artwork in magenta, purple and gold. In fair weather, they roll up the garage door for open-air ambiance. Indoor and outdoor seating is offered accompanied by fresh cocktails and timeless sounds; in fair weather, they room up the garage door to join the parties. 
Try: Things Could be Better, Lloyd, a drink made with blanco tequila, homemade hibiscus syrup, basil, fresh lime and  agave nectar.
519 W. North Street;

Courtesy Clouds Brewing

Clouds Brewing

Clouds Brewing is a craft brewery, bar, and restaurant all in one. This spot is a more laid-back and casual spot to enjoy a craft beer and a bite to eat. Clouds Brewing produces its own line of more than a dozen beers which makes it the perfect spot for a beer enthusiast. This family-friendly nightspot offers 20 TVs to watch the latest sports game, plus frequent events like trivia nights and drag shows. 
Try: The Clouds 9, a strong Belgian Golden ale with subtle fruit and candy flavors that’s part of its core beer list.
126 N. West Street;

Courtesy Cuya Raleigh

Cuya Raleigh

Located in the middle of Glenwood South, Cuya is the sister bar to chef Oscar Diaz’s restaurant Cortez. One draw is the music garden — this summer, look out for DJ Micky Slicks, one of the area’s best-known local DJs, who specializes in hip-hop, funk, soul and global music. Early in the evening, expect a more lounge and chill vibe, but a few hours into the night the music starts to speed up and heat up. Stone walls, sleek decor, Latino energy and island vibes are featured throughout the bar (including in the The Flamingo Room, which has green and pink electric wallpaper and blue velvet lounge couches and can be reserved for events). Expect seasonal, fruit-forward cocktails, along with drinks that celebrate mezcal and tequila.

Try: La Bebecita, which melds passionfruit with tequila, lemon, cocchi americano and lemon bitters.
413 Glenwood Ave Suite 200,

Dram and Draught

An upscale cocktail bar located at the southern end of Glenwood South, Dram and Draught offers everything from an espresso martini, to a light beer, to a big range of whiskeys. Floor to ceiling windows line the walls of this corner outpost, which has an industrial-masculate vibe instead with lots of wood and leather seating. 
Try: Becky from the Block, made Farmer’s Gin, becherovka, lemon, strawberry, lavender, cinnamon, sugar, and rose prosecco, a drink that’s tangy, floral  and effervescent.
 1 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 101;

Good Day Good Night

This neighborhood bar/restaurant located in the Casso Hotel offers fresh cocktails and plant forward food. The vibrant cocktails and contemporary interior make for a great spot to unwind with friends or indulge in a relaxed cocktail hour. Underneath white chandeliers, a fully stocked bar presents unique cocktails with attentive service as well. The open floor space is welcoming. 
Try: The Mr. Ryan Reynolds cocktail, made of Conniption Navy Strength Gin, St. Germain, kiwi syrup and mint.
603 W. Morgan Street;

Courtesy Killjoy


Killjoy is a cocktail bar with a colorful interior and a speciality in signature cocktails. Lush emerald green seating, baby pink high top bar chairs, and unique yellow-and-green floral wallpaper make Killjoy a chromatic wonderland. Patio weather is the perfect place to spend time at Killjoy’s plant-powered outdoor space, which is abundant with greenery and potted plants, vibrant flowers and fresh herbs that are used in cocktails. Small bites, bar snacks, and charcuterie are also on the menu.
Try: Matcha Matcha Man cocktail, made with Haku Vodka, Tia Maria Matcha Cream, House-Made Blueberry Jam, Absinthe Rinse & Culinary Grade Matcha Powder.
116 N. West Street,

Courtesy Vidrio


Although Vidrio is known as a restaurant, the bar seating area and cocktails make it a good spot for a few drinks on a night out. Here, artisan crafted tiles, mosaic art, cool-toned furniture, spectacular chandeliers and a hand-blown glass installation by artist Doug Frates evoke and upscale Mediterranean feeling. Vidrio offers an award-winning wine collection (more than 50 wines on tap, plus another 300 bottles in the collection) plus artfully crafted cocktails, and food made with a mix of local and imported ingredients (think: olive oil shipped straight from Greece). 
Try: The Kast Away cocktail — made with Plantation Pineapple Rum, House-Made Rhubarb Syrup, Lemon, Demerara and Tiki Bitters.
500 Glenwood Ave #100,

Courtesy The Willard

The Willard Rooftop Bar

For an urban escape, visit The Willard, an upscale rooftop bar located on the top of the AC Hotel, which offers a broad outdoor seating area and elegant bar inside. Head there around sunset to catch golden hour views of downtown Raleigh. The Willard offers small bites, charcuterie boards, craft cocktails and a nice glass of wine. Chat with friends at the high-top seating or settle in to enjoy the panoramic views in the cozy lounge areas, plus local artist Taylor White’s cool murals. 
Try: The I’m on a Boat!, a cocktail made with Conniption Navy Strength Gin, St. Germain, house-made triple sec and house-made fruit punch.
9 Glenwood Avenue;

This story was originally published on on July 6, 2023.