I have nothing against traditional bachelorette parties (I went to Vegas for mine and had a blast!), but I also love the idea of trading in drink specials and—ahem—decorative straws and celebrating the bride-to-be with an outdoor adventure instead.
Whether you are recently engaged or part of the bridal party for an upcoming wedding, the following destinations offer fun outdoor activities and are not so remote that you can’t still include bar hopping and bachelorette games on the itinerary, if you wish!
1. Hike Santa Fe
Source: Her Expeditions
The capital of New Mexico is home to gorgeous hiking trails (like the Dale Ball Trails) and located less than an hour from popular sites such as Tent Rocks National Monument, which offers excellent hiking options for the casual hiking group. Bandelier National Monument offers longer backcountry hiking and camping opportunities in addition to shorter trails.
Recover after your hike by eating as much green chile as you can find and wandering the shops at the Plaza. Santa Fe also offers plenty of cultural options to enhance your weekend, including art galleries, history museums, and the internationally renowned Santa Fe Opera during the summer. If visiting in the winter, consider skiing in Santa Fe or nearby Taos.
2. Bike the Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina offer a variety of road cycling and mountain biking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. You can also hike in the mountains or tube down the New River. When you’re ready to relax, visit Asheville for good eats and local brews, or stop by the smaller mountain town of West Jefferson to explore local art galleries and build the ultimate cheese board from the delicious products available at North Carolina’s oldest cheese factory.
Or try: For great cycling weekends in other parts of the U.S., consider California’s Lake Tahoe or Washington’s San Juan Islands on the West Coast, Texas Hill Country or Missouri’s Katy Trail in the Midwest, or Vermont’s Lake Champlain in the Northeast.
3. Go Whitewater Rafting in Colorado
Source: Echo Canyon River Expeditions
For an adventurous summertime bachelorette party, head to Colorado for hiking, biking, and rafting galore. Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River is considered the most popular whitewater rafting spot in Colorado, but it can be a little hard to get to as it is located about two hours from popular resort destinations (such as Vail, Keystone, and Breckenridge).
If you make the trip to Brown’s Canyon, be sure to stop in Leadville on your way back to the lodge to enjoy a cup of coffee and stroll around the historic downtown. For an adventure closer to Denver, consider rafting Clear Creek, located less than an hour from the city. If you don’t feel like getting soaked, Colorado is also a prime location for horseback riding. And if you’re celebrating the bride-to-be in the winter, the state is especially known for its fantastic ski resorts.
4. Rock Climb in Moab
Source: Whit Richardson Photography
Like its neighboring state to the east, Utah is known for being an ideal spot for a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, zip-lining, and even whitewater rafting. But Utah is perhaps best known for its fantastic rock climbing opportunities, and Moab is one of the best-known cities in the west for this fun and challenging activity.
Although Moab offers plenty of tough routes for experienced rock climbers, beginners can also easily find a class to learn and practice their skills. Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, two of Utah’s “Mighty 5” national parks, are located only about 5 and 30 miles from Moab, respectively.
5. Surf in Puerto Rico
For a Caribbean adventure that doesn’t require a passport, head to Puerto Rico. There are quite a few companies that offer surfing lessons on the island, as well as windsurfing and kitesurfing classes. If you prefer the jungle to the beach, consider a zip-lining tour to get a unique perspective on Puerto Rico’s gorgeous landscapes, including the famed El Yunque rainforest. After a day in the sun, explore the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan and consider a food tour to see the best the city has to offer, such as Flavors of San Juan or Spoon Food Tours.
6. Stand-Up Paddleboard in San Diego
Source: Kylie, Lisa and Megan
For a water-filled weekend on the other side of the nation, consider stand-up paddleboarding in San Diego. The truly adventurous can even add yoga to their SUP experience with a class from Bliss Paddle Yoga in Mission Beach or Floating Yogis in nearby Carlsbad. Follow up your fun on the water with a Padres baseball game, lots of fish tacos, and a leisurely bike ride around Mission Bay the next day.
7. Chase Waterfalls in New England
Source: Andre Albert
Reward yourself for hiking in New England by choosing a trail that ends at a waterfall. Popular falls include Kent Falls in Connecticut, Bingham Falls in Vermont, and Arethusa Falls in New Hampshire, but finding a waterfall near your bachelorette party location is probably easier than you think! Many waterfalls are located in state parks, which offer plenty of other recreational options for your weekend, and you can almost be guaranteed there will be a charming New England town and a covered bridge nearby for gratuitous ’gram ops after the hike.