With a steady stream of relatives asking you how the job search is going or when you will be popping out a baby, weddings can be exhausting. But it’s nothing you can’t get through with a strong drink. We’ve got you covered with the best bars in which to avoid your mom, dad, chain-smoking uncle, and little cousin going through that annoying “why” phase.


331 West Main Street, Durham


Tell your folks you’re going to a tarot-themed bar to get a reading and drink a Young Hierophant. Then leave real fast while they’re still thinking of a response.

The Baxter

108 North Graham Street, Carrboro


Is being around all this family bringing up some repressed teenage angst? Head to this barcade and take it out on little plastic blue and red buttons instead of your loved ones. Or just take a seat at the bar and get lost in the comic strips that cover its surface.

The Cave

452 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill


OK, so this subterranean dive isn’t that difficult to find. It’s just in an alley down some stairs. But if you’re really determined, you can probably lose a few straggling relatives along the way.

The Kraken

2823 N.C. Highway 54 West, Chapel Hill


With regular performances by fiddlers, string bands, and rockabilly acts, this rural roadhouse doesn’t look nearly as welcoming as it really is. And that’s perfect for warding off relatives who may want to tag along on your night out.

Neptunes Parlour

14 West Martin Street, Raleigh


An underground bar with a penchant for experimental music, Neptunes usually features a solid drink deal, like an $8 “Grown Folks Special.” Just don’t tell the ‘rents that you’re as likely to find nineties-themed bingo as free jazz there.


227 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh


Decompress at Slim’s, downtown Raleigh’s oldest bar and perhaps its greatest straight-up drinking locale. It would be just the kind of place you’d take dadif it weren’t for all the blistering punk and metal shows.

Surf Club

703 Rigsbee Avenue, Durham

Surf Club is sort of a dive bar but not; it’s a neighborhood joint, if your neighbors are cool people and your neighborhood’s bartenders know how to sling excellent cocktails and have good beers on tap. Drop the fam off at Fullsteam and go drink with the townies. Sarah Willets

This article appeared in print with the headline “Escape Rooms.”