Single in the City 101
As Valentine's Day nears, the call of the singles grows louder: "There are no good [insert gender] in D.C." Well, complain no more. For those looking for Mr. or Miss Right, we've scoped out four cities -- Austin, Colorado Springs, San Diego and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. -- with some of the country's largest populations of young professional singles. Then we identified some of the cities' swinging venues, both indoors and out. (The cities were ranked by Sperling's Best Places, a Portland, Ore., research company.) Now it's up to you to make a match.
MERRYMAKING: For bars/restaurants swarming with singles, cruise SoCo, along Congress Avenue. Other hot spots: Oslo (301 W. Sixth St.), for metrosexuals and the women who primp like 'em; Iron Cactus (606 Trinity St. and 10001 Stonelake Blvd.), for tequila shooters; and Cuba Libre (409 Colorado St.), for manicures and martinis, followed by men.
CULTURE CONNECTION: Alamo Draft House Cinema (409 Colorado St.; prices vary) has oddball events, including a "Muppet Movie" sing-along. Too weird? Students ogle art at the Blanton Museum (23rd Street at San Jacinto Boulevard; free), while the Umlauf Sculpture Garden (605 Robert E. Lee Rd.; $3.50) features 130-plus works by Charles Umlauf in a fairy-tale setting.
OUTDOOR FUN: Run, bike or gawk on the 10-mile Town Lake Trail. If you prefer singles on wheels, the Veloway, in Slaughter Creek Park, is a 3.17-mile paved asphalt loop dedicated to bikers and bladers. For all other sports -- hacky sack, soccer, volleyball -- head to Zilker Park (2100 Barton Springs Rd.), which also has a pool and an outdoor theater.
MERRYMAKING: Bar-hop Tejon Street, a bustling two-block area downtown. Party spots include Rum Bay (No. 20), which is split between a dance club and dueling pianos; the Ritz (No. 15), for food and bands in tight quarters; and the hops-happy Jack Quinn's (No. 21).
CULTURE CONNECTION: The Fine Arts Center (30 W. Dale St.) covers all the arts, and has a monthly gathering with food, wine tasting and high-brow conversation. Applaude the amateur thespians at Theatreworks at the Bon Vivant Theater (3955 Cragwood Dr.) at the University of Colorado.
OUTDOOR FUN: In these parts, if it has elevation, then it's hikeable. Try Pikes Peak, Waldo Canyon or the new Red Rock Canyon. Biking up the steeps is also popular, especially along the Santa Fe Trail and through the Garden of the Gods.
MERRYMAKING: On Broadway (615 Broadway) has a dance floor and a crowd matching its retro-modern decor, while the Onyx Room (852 Fifth Ave.) is a lounge and "underground" nightclub. At the W Hotel (421 W. B St.), sip a martini in the Living Room or hit the Beach, a rooftop bar with a heated sand floor. Indie kids jam at Casbah (2501 Kettner Blvd.).
CULTURE CONNECTION: The Museum of Contemporary Art's TNT (Thursday Night Thing) includes DJ lessons and poetry readings to live bands ($3 suggested). The Museum of Photographic Arts (Balboa Park) screens offbeat films, which novice critics then dissect. Ray at Night is a free monthly open house of galleries on Ray Street in North Park.
OUTDOOR FUN: Join other hikers at the Torrey Pines State Reserve ($6 parking). Frisbee meets putting at the Morley Field Disc Golf Course (green fees from $2) in Balboa Park. Learn to paraglide at La Jolla's Torrey Pines Gliderport (from $150) or surf at the San Diego Surfing Academy (from $30). And don't forget the "Baywatch" beach scene.
MERRYMAKING: Raleigh's seven-block Glenwood South district pulsates with nightlife. Popular singles hangouts include swanky-cool Sullivan's Steakhouse (414 Glenwood Ave.), for whiskey and T-bones; the Hibernian (311 Glenwood), an Irish pub; and the Office (310 S. West St.), where you can do the (upscale) hustle. In Durham, Brightleaf Square is the social hub.
CULTURE CONNECTION: Artspace (201 E. Davie St.) features dozens of studios; a free gallery walk is held every first Friday. At the Company Store and Espresso Bar (517 W. Jones St.), view art and listen to tunes. Tour N.C. State in Raleigh, which includes the College of Textiles. Durham's Carolina Theatre (309 W. Morgan St.) spotlights David Byrne to horror flicks. Go to Raleigh's Rialto (1620 Glenwood Ave.) for similar fare.
OUTDOOR FUN: Umstead State Park (8801 Glenwood Ave.; free) fills with canoers, hikers and mountain bikers. Durham's West Point on Eno City Park (5101 N. Roxboro Rd.) has hiking, rafting and a photo museum. Jog/bike the Museum Park Trail, part of the N.C. Museum of Art complex (2110 Blue Ridge Rd.). Tee off under the moon at Knight's Play Golf Center (2512 Ten Ten Rd., Apex; from $8), which stays open late.