I am looking for a word that qualifies a place people keep coming back to, such as their favourite restaurant, or the grocery store they usually shop at.

The word I am looking for is not 'popular'. For example, if a one-time event is well-attended, it might be qualified as 'popular' because a lot of people attend once. However, individual people will not come back to the same event again.

It should also be neutral, which excludes words like 'favourite' or 'preferred'. For example, you might visit the hospital regularly because of a health condition, but this would not be considered a favourite or preferred place.

Instead, I am looking for a word or expression that emphasises the idea of recurrence without any positive or negative connotation. The closest I have come is:

Regularly visited venues are visited by the same people over and over again.


The local grocery store is among Joe's regularly visited places.

However, I was wondering whether a single word (noun or adjective) or a better expression to convey this idea exists.

  • 2
    Watering hole; but the term may be too local for some, too dated for others..
    – Hugh
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 17:24
  • Why did you exclude favorite as in "favorite spot" ?
    – Graffito
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 17:51
  • @Graffito The reason I do not want to use favourite is that it conveys an idea of liking. You might visit the hospital regularly because of your health, but you wouldn't call it a 'favourite spot'. Should I edit the question to make this clearer? thanks for all the answers so far!
    – notme
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 18:41
  • Yes, I think that you should edit the question because most (all) responses have a positive connotation, refering to a place where you enjoy being.
    – Graffito
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 19:05
  • 1
    What you are looking for is the name of the place that the habitué of visits. "I have become an habitué of the local walk-in clinic because of my asthma." Or, "I have become a habitué of Marco's because of their terrific lasagna." But a neutral word that covers both places eludes me.
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 19:49

11 Answers 11


Haunt seems a good synonym for what you seek, which according to Webster's is:

  • "a place that you go to often."
  • 1
    thank you for your answer. Does haunt have any positive or negative connotations? Would you for example use this to refer to your local grocery store or a hospital you go to often?
    – notme
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:10
  • 1
    I'd say yes, and probably more negative than positive, or at least more seedy than virtuous :-) For instance, I think one might use "haunt" to describe a local watering hole or nudie bar one frequents. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:40
  • 1
    Are there regional differences for this word? I live in the southern US, and I've never heard this word used in this way. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 22:15
  • 2
    I wouldn't have said the term was seedy, but it does have a slight implication that it's somewhere that you'd go to socially rather than e.g. for business. I'd also suggest that it's more often used in a past tense - I usually hear it used as 'my old haunts' referring to places you used to hang out when you were younger Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 11:32
  • 1
    @JoeBlow: Try googling (for example) "one of my old haunts" - you'll find it's quite commonly used to refer to a single bar/pub/cafe...
    – psmears
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 21:46

Hangout is a common word for this these days:

a place where a person frequently visits, esp. for socializing or recreation.
A frequently visited place (TFD)

It can carry the meaning of favorite as well, but not necessarily (note that "favorite" is added as an adjective in the example):

a favorite place for spending time; also : a place frequented for entertainment or for socializing
The park was their favorite hangout. (MW)

  • Quite right, but as with "haunts" it only refers to .. hangouts. It does not refer to places like grocery stores or petrol stations, which can be very much a "regularly visited" place by someone, but it is not a "hangout" (or "haunt")
    – Fattie
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 14:50

Not a single word, but stomping grounds is

  • a place where someone regularly spends time; a favorite haunt

(from the definition provided from Google for a search on this term)

  • Which suggests that the word "haunt" would also be a possibility (although 'stomping grounds' seems to be more commonly used nowadays). Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 9:21
  • They did ask for a single word though, there are many ways of describing this with two words.
    – Cephlin
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 12:17

How about frequent?

They frequently frequent....


frequent (redirected from frequented) Also found in: Legal. fre·quent (frē′kwənt) adj.

  1. Occurring or appearing quite often or at close intervals: frequent errors of judgment.
  2. Habitual or regular: a frequent visitor to our house. tr.v. (also frē-kwĕnt′) fre·quent·ed, fre·quent·ing, fre·quents To pay frequent visits to; be in or at often: frequent a restaurant. [Middle English, ample, profuse, from Old French, from Latin frequēns, frequent-, crowded, numerous, frequent.] fre′quen·ta′tion n. fre·quent′er (-kwĕn′tər) n. fre′quent·ness n.
  • 2
    Why be redundant? "They frequent Joe's Diner" says everything that "They frequently frequent Joe's Diner" says.
    – ErikE
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 18:48
  • 3
    The idea of "frequenting" a place is an appealing answer. There is no easy/obvious noun (or noun phrase) that corresponds and is commonly used (frequented place?) but it would meet the definitions of regular attendance, neutrality, and recurrence the OP asked for. "He frequented the local watering hole. He frequented his old haunts. He frequented a well-patronized hangout."
    – Nonnal
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 6:28
  • @ErikE well you don't need frequently frequent, only frequent.
    – Cephlin
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 10:02
  • 1
    this answer quite closely catches the meaning I want to convey. However, I think a noun or adjective would be more convenient.."well-frequented" comes to mind, which is close to "well-patronized".
    – notme
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:14
  • 1
    My suggestion, for what's it worth: Add frequented, (A frequented grocery/bar/restaurant) a dictionary link, and maybe its definition, and this is the most sensible answer of the bunch. thefreedictionary.com/frequented P.S The ‘joke’ isn't that funny, and the edit weakens your answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 6:26

If you're in the UK and it's a pub you're referring to then the term local is used.

"Just popping down to the/my local for a quick pint."

  • And can't it also be used for takeaways, kebab shops and so on?
    – smci
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 7:28
  • Just popping down to anywhere works so long as you'll only be there for a short amount of time (this can vary and is usually relative). Just popping over to my mums to grab some food, then I'll pop down the pub mate.
    – Cephlin
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 10:55

An informal expression is watering hole:

  • A social gathering place, such as a bar or saloon, where drinks are served: "a Warsaw restaurant that was once a cosmopolitan watering hole for actors and writers" (Newsweek). In both senses also called water hole.


According to Etymonline the expression is from the 60's:

  • by 1965 in the figurative sense "place where people meet and socialize over drinks."

The reference is to the pools of water in the savannah where wild animals gather to drink. enter image description here

  • 4
    I wouldn't call a grocery store (one of the example locations given) a "watering hole", except perhaps in a slangy metaphor way.
    – R.M.
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 23:01
  • 3
    @R.M. - would you call it a haunt?
    – user66974
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 23:05
  • 1
    @Josh61: I for one would. “She guessed the boys would be hanging out at one of their usual haunts in town — Dunkin Donuts, perhaps, or over at the Kwik-E-Mart.”
    – PLL
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:45
  • 1
    It's a great phrase to mean "bar", but I don't think it means "bar a person frequents" unless you qualify it, Example from UD: Heading downtown to my favorite watering hole.
    – James
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 23:16

Another option would be your "go-to" place. For example, I don't like our local supermarket, but it's still my go-to location for shopping, as it's much more convenient than anywhere else.


Places that are visited over and over again by an individual are referred to as a "regular haunt." If you're looking for Alex, the Starbucks at the corner is one of his regular haunts.

From a sociological perspective, places where people gather are often referred to as a "third place" space. Home is your first place, work is your second place because those are where you spend most of your time. A third place is anywhere you would go to just hang out and talk to people on a regular basis.




A good word that has not been suggested yet is purlieu:

A place that one frequents.


a frequently visited place : haunt

the restaurant, the preferred purlieu of the theatergoing crowd, is always packed an hour or two before showtime



Since you mention that an expression is OK, consider gathering place:

a favorite haunt where people gather


Another variant of "stomping grounds" (suggested by Michael above) is "stamping ground":

a favorite place where someone often goes


  • One can go to a place often without gathering with anyone there.
    – Alfe
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 9:34
  • Yes, it's a contextual answer.
    – A.P.
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 10:41
  • Okay, but not the context of the Q. Q contains examples like 'restaurant' and 'grocery store'. I rarely see people "gather" at a grocery store. But never mind. In closely related contexts, this is a valuable answer.
    – Alfe
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 10:56

I will go with, well-patronized [venues]. Google


: to go to as a customer, especially on a regular basis : We patronize the local diner. AHD

: to be a frequent or regular customer or user of (a place) M-W

: to frequent (a store, theater, restaurant, or other establishment) as a customer: restaurants remaining open in the evening were well patronized OED

Ask owners of well-lit, well-patronized restaurants about exhibiting your art. Google Books

At the same time, the STPB has discovered from past experience that developing tourist attractions for tourists only could be counterproductive in that foreign tourists prefer to go to those tourist attractions that are well patronized by locals. Google Books

  • Thank you for your answer. Would you be able to say: "Joe's well-patronized places are the local grocery store, his workplace and the Starbucks on the corner."? Or would well-patronized simply highlight that the mentioned places are popular (For example: "Starbucks is a well-patronized coffee chain"), regardless of Joe's frequent visits.
    – notme
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:19
  • @notme You're welcome. Personally. I wouldn't use "patronized" in the first case. I think I'd probably rather say something like "Joe's choice places are..." On top of that, I never heard of someone "patronizing" their workplace... "Starbucks is a well-patronized coffee chain" highlights the fact that Starbucks coffee stores are mostly frequented by patrons, i.e. regular customers.
    – Elian
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 18:26
  • These terms indicate that there are many customers, but don't adequately convey the idea that they are repeat customers. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 20:09
  • @Mari-LouA My "frequent" is not a suggestion, Mari-Lou...
    – Elian
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 10:24
  • Every time you update, the top answer gets an upvote :)) The word patronize is technically correct, but it's easily confusable with its other more derogatory meaning "to patroniz/se" someone. And I think only for this reason, the answer hasn't been upvoted. "I patronize that bar"? "That hospital is patronized by many"? Instead ...."The bar/club/pub has many patrons" ....sounds more idiomatic. Don't forget the Brits spell it with an -s
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 10:38

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