The day of nuptials looms near, but first, there’s one last big hurrah: a goodbye to singledom that hopefully only occurs once in a lifetime. Movies depict them as debaucherous bacchanalias but in reality, bachelor and bachelorette parties are precarious undertakings: How must one plan an outing for an eclectic group that includes besties, drinking buddies from college and a second cousin once removed?
Thankfully these United States are large and generous, with plenty of spaces for celebration. Here are seven under-the-radar bachelorette and bachelor party destinations to spark the imagination.
Gamble in the Wild West in Deadwood, South Dakota
Perhaps your bachelor or bachelorette is a fan of Westerns or just the show-turned-movie Deadwood on HBO. Take a trip to the Wild West in this Gold Rush town, in the mystic Black Hills of South Dakota and also a favorite of Kevin Costner, who opened a casino in Deadwood after falling in love during his filming in the area of Dances with Wolves. (The casino has since closed.)
Get up close and personal with a ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ with a drink in your hand, at a historical reenactment at the charming Saloon #10. Tour the graves of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock in Mount Moriah Cemetery, relax with a spa treatment or spend your silver dollars in casinos, with game halls running 24/7.
If you’re curious, the Bodega Casino boasts the ‘Collusus,’ which they assert is the world’s largest slot machine. See and judge for yourself.
Aspire to the Olympics in Park City, Utah
Movies buffs at the Sundance film festival made Park City famous, but outdoor enthusiasts keep it a destination year-round. Winter activities range from white-water rafting, snowshoeing and one ski-in distillery to the unique opportunity to do yoga on a paddleboard in the warm mineral water of the 10,000-year-old Homestead crater.
Ski slopes at Utah Olympic Park are hallowed ground, hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics (and bidding again on the one in 2030), and in the summer you can barrel down on the same track which hosted the bobsled, luge, and skeleton events.
For an ideal summertime fete, spend the day thrill seeking with mountain biking or a turn on the mountain roller coaster, with over a mile of loops and scenery. Later, wind down with the Deer Valley Concert Series at the famed and expansive Deer Valley Resort, which in 2019 hosted acts including the Indigo Girls and Ben Harper.
Hike a glacier in Girdwood, Alaska
There aren’t many places in the United States to hike a glacier and even less in close proximity to a luxury resort. Girdwood was originally named Glacier City, and it’s easy to learn why just by taking tram ride up to Mount Aleyska, from which you’ll be able to spot several of the slick white guys.
And those glaciers are good for more than just ogling: hiking and ice climbing excursions can be booked, ideally while the party is staying at the Hotel Aleyska resort which offers spa treatments, steak and sushi restaurants or dining at the Seven Glaciers, named for the number you’ll see from their panoramic windows.
In town, the Girdwood Brewing Company offers up more laid-back fare with local brews with names like No Woman No Cryo, which comes with a side of mountain views and possibly a moose sighting, if you sit very still. And It’s all just a 30-minute drive from Anchorage, a little longer if you make a pit stop along the way to see white whales at Beluga Point.
Sample suds in Asheville, NC
Mountain air lifts you up while Southern hospitality grounds in Asheville, a favorite of F. Scott Fitzgerald and George Washington Vanderbilt II, who built the spectacular Biltmore estate. A pre-wedding party would be well satiated, and we’re not just talking stuffing your face in Asheville’s famous ‘Foodtopia’ culinary scene.
Hike trails to thundering waterfalls, fly fish or kayak on the French Broad River or bike along the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping along the way for a picnic and group photos.
Gaming fans can get competitive at the Pinball Museum, and after working up a thirst everyone can find out why Asheville was nicknamed Beer City, USA, with 26 breweries, more per capita than any other city in the USA including the east coast outpost of Sierra Nevada Brewery. Another, Ginger’s Revenge, even specializes in gluten-free alcoholic ginger beers.
Unwind with desert air in Scottsdale, Arizona
There’s a reason Frankie Muniz opened his olive oil shop in downtown Scottsdale: the desert region is replete with history and endless blue skies. The party move here would be to anchor yourself at The Phoenician, a luxury resort that butts up to Camelback Mountain for an easily-accessible hike, followed by a treatment at their spa or a dip in the rooftop pool.
The Sonoran Desert invites exploration, be it by hot air balloon, on three-wheeler or horseback, and for those with golf fever, the area has some of the best courses in the country.
Should your bachelor or bachelorette be an architecture buff, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Taliesin West is worth a visit, and when nighttime rolls around downtown Scottsdale is easily walkable and offers culinary delights that nod to Arizona’s Native American, Western and Spanish roots.
Sip Wine in Santa Ynez Valley, California
Grab some spurs for the throwback wooden facades and horseshoes embedded in the charming sidewalks of the Santa Ynez Valley’s namesake horse town. But before hitting the honky tonks, saddle up for a viticulture tradition though namechecked in the movie Sideways that’s still young, with properties less than 50 years old, but ambitious in scope and definitely less crowded than the more well-known Napa and Sonoma valleys.
Book a chauffeur or a pre-set wine tour like Stagecoach Co. to hop between towns like Los Olivos, Buellton and Ballard, then just worry about sipping varietals and enjoying each other’s company.
While out in Santa Barbara wine country don’t miss Solvang, a Danish-themed California gem of a town with windmills, bakeries, and their own wineries with tasting rooms. Make it immersive and procure clogs for memorable party favors.
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How to spend a perfect weekend in Napa Valley
Tip for planning a perfect trip to California wine country
Deep-sea fish in Destin, Florida
If the goal is to go deep-sea fishing with your buds then basically the state of Florida would work, but the Emerald Coast town of Destin, nicknamed the ‘World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,’ has allure even when you’re on land.
Throw a hook over a pier for some easy game or book a charter – Destin harbor holds the largest fleet of charter fishing vessels in one port in North America – to go deep and grapple with snapper, grouper or marlin or whatever your heart desires.
Destin is also famous for Crab Island, a submerged sandbar where boaters drop anchor and settle in to catch some rays: pack some booze and it’s an easy daytime party. After a day of sun and sips, head back to shore for go-carting, bar hopping at HarborWalk Village or seafood with a side of sunset. And don’t forget to top it off with some key lime taffy.