Back in the day, bachelorette parties meant a tiara, a boa, and a night on the town with your BFFs. And often they still do. But these days, many brides are traveling for their celebrations. The classic destination bash has always been Las Vegas, but if flashing lights, luxe theme resorts, and slot machines aren't your thing, there are still plenty of amazing options for your girl's getaway.
First, think about what you really love to do. (Side note: If there's something you really don't want at your bachelorette—tequila shots, strippers, penis straws—be sure to let your maid of honor know.) Into indulgence? Plan a spa vacation and you can grab facials with your girls, then gab over mani-pedis and cucumber water. Love shopping? Hit a city you've always wanted to see and start the hunt for that perfect rehearsal-dinner dress. Crave adventure? Drive cattle at a dude ranch or go hiking in a national park.
Wherever you decide to go, keep your bridal party's budget in mind. Traditionally, guests are supposed to pay for the bride, but if traveling is your idea, you should pick up the tab for your flight and hotel room. And don't be offended if some of your BFFs can't afford to attend. Remember, they're already shelling out for a dress and a wedding present.
A few ways to save: Check out HotelPlanner.com, which helps negotiate discounts for group travel. Or share a vacation home instead of paying for separate hotel rooms. TripAdvisor's Flipkey has more than 300,000 options on its site. You can also pick a destination within driving distance so you can skip the plane tickets. Or just do a bachelorette staycation in a cool hotel suite in your hometown.
Ready for some serious party inspiration? Keep reading to find the perfect bachelorette destination for you.
Cross "Learn to Surf" Off Your Bucket List
Why not plan a girl's getaway at a surf camp? On the West Coast, head to Surf Diva in San Diego, which offers weekend clinics and private bachelorette party packages. In the east, head to Montauk, New York in the Hamptons, and check in to Montauk Yacht Club. The hotel will arrange for private group lessons with the local institution CoreysWave.
Pamper Yourselves in Austin
After eating and partying your way through the city of Austin, head to Lake Austin Spa Resort to get some serious R&R with your girls. The resort is a luxurious retreat that's just a 20-minute drive outside of the city center. Whether you want to lie by the pool (they have three—including one in a barn), go canoeing, do yoga, take a cooking class, or indulge in crazy-good spa treatments, this is the ultimate escape. Cap off the night by ordering a few bottles of rosé and watching the sunset lakeside before heading off to sleep in one of their renovated shabby-chic cottages featuring the comfiest beds ever.
Hit a Destination Spa in Sedona
This desert town in Arizona is known for its red rocks, sybaritic resorts, and numerous energy vortexes, making it a no-brainer for a stress-zapping getaway. Mii Amo has a rep as one of the best destination spas in the U.S. and spoils girl groups with everything from hydrotherapy to Reiki to astrology readings. Bunk down in one of Mii Amo's 16 rooms, or stay at Enchantment Resort, which offers full access to Mii Amo, plus golf, hiking, and jeep tours.
Take the Best Selfies Ever in Yosemite
Nothing will make your nature girls happier than a trip to a national park. This California icon has waterfalls, mountains (it's in the Sierras), and famous backdrops aplenty (A Half Dome snap is a must). Bike, hike, or horseback ride through all the splendor, then rest up at the Ahwahnee; located in the park, this hotel has views of Half Dome and Glacier Point.
Play Cowgirl in Montana
Pack some boots and a ten-gallon hat: The Bar W Guest Ranch near Glacier National Park offers three women-only weeks a year in the spring and fall. Among the myriad of activities: Learning to lasso, joining a cattle drive, taking wagon rides, and shooting clay pigeons with an old west style handgun.
Hit the Slopes in Aspen
If you're planning a bash in winter, head to Aspen, Colorado, for crazy-good skiing, a fab après-ski scene, and serious people watching (Kate Hudson, Mariah Carey, and Victoria Beckham are regulars). Save a bundle by renting a condo or house in town that can accommodate your whole crew. We found several six-person joints on Flipkey for under $400 a night.
Stay Up All Night in Miami
Miami hits the bachelorette-party trifecta with insane shopping, gorgeous beaches, and up-all-night clubs. (It also has a very cool art and restaurant scene.) Your home away from home? Trump International Beach Resort, where you can reserve one of the air-conditioned beach cabanas—complete with a mojito-making station—as a private lounge for you and your BFFs.
Party in New Orleans
Po'boys, beignets, and gumbo: If you're in search of the best hangover grub on the planet, this food mecca is your kind of town. Whether you're spending your nights drinking hurricanes at a French Quarter bar or taking ghost tours with a voodoo priestess, you and your girls will have the time of your lives. Pick a retreat within walking distance of the action, like the French Quarter's Hotel Monteleone; its famous Carousel Bar will rotate slowly as you and your girls sip on Sazeracs.
Embrace Your Inner Child at Walt Disney World
Riding Dumbo and the teacups here is a given, but there are plenty of ways you and your girls can get your grown-up on, too. Hit Epcot to "drink around the world"—a bachelorette-ready ritual involving downing a beverage at each of the 11 countries represented at the Epcot World Showcase. (If you don't pace yourself and eat between bar stops, it can get messy, so there's no shame in breaking this up into a two-day activity.) Later, head to Downtown Disney to bowl at Splitsville or to Disney's Boardwalk to groove until the wee hours at the Atlantic Dancehall.
Do an All-Inclusive in the Dominican Republic
Along with palm trees, white sands, and turquoise Caribbean waters, the Dominican Republic has a rep for being a great place to score deals. Stretch those dollars even further—and get all the daiquiris you can drink—by staying at one of the island's many all-inclusive hotels. We love the adults-only Breathless Punta Cana, which caters to crews like yours with a package that includes a "bachelorette" banner on your doors, late-night tapas parties, and a group photoshoot.
Go Wine Tasting in the Napa Valley
During the day, have a limo drive you and your girls from vineyard to vineyard. Then head back to Meritage Resort for massages in an underground spa built to look like a wine cave. Bonus: The resort offers a free 10-minute shuttle ride to the town of Napa, so you and your girls can take full advantage of the restaurant's insane wine lists without anyone having to play designated driver.
Go Till Dawn in New York City
Whatever you're into, you can indulge your obsessions here. Looking for nightlife? Many clubs here stay open until the sun comes up. Love theater? Even if you and your girls have seen everything on Broadway, you can do Off-Broadway or Off-Off Broadway. Obsessed with Top Chef? NYC lays claim to more than a dozen restaurants helmed by veterans of the show, plus several Tom Colicchio joints. The list just goes on. Make your home base the Gansevoort Hotel in Meatpacking, and you'll have access to a rooftop pool and all the happenings in one of the buzziest areas in Manhattan.
Island Hop in the Florida Keys
Road-tripping through these coral isles is a great way to fit in some partying and beach time. Fly into Miami, then head south on the Overseas Highway. The views from your drive are gorgeous, but you'll want to stop for a night or two on the chilled-out isle of Islamadora to soak up some sun on the sand at Cheeca Lodge & Spa. When you're ready to get on the road again, head to Bahia Honda State Park for a few hours of snorkeling and kayaking by a white-sand beach. Just be sure to get to Key West before sunset: You're going to want to toast the technicolor show with margaritas at Ocean Key resort's Sunset Pier before your bar crawl on Duval Street.
Hit the Scene in Portland
With an artsy vibe and hot artisanal food and drink scenes, Brooklyn and Portland, Oregon, have been duking it out for the title of Hipster Capital, U.S.A. for years. But when it comes to natural beauty, Portland clearly comes out on top: The Willamette River rushes through downtown, Mount Hood's snowcapped peak hovers in the background, and there are fir trees everywhere. Split your time between food-truck hopping, craft-cocktail sipping, and boutique shopping (no sales tax) in the city and get your girl power on with a day hike on the Pacific Coast Trail à la Wild. (Author and PCT legend Cheryl Strayed lives in town.)
Soak Up the Sun in San Juan
Not only is Puerto Rico an easy flight from the East Coast, you won't need a passport to get there. Stay in buzzy San Juan, where you can hit the cobblestone streets to check out chic shops and even chicer restaurants and hit the beach in your spare time. We love La Concha, a seaside resort where rounds of passion fruit mojitos and coconut cream cocktails are served on the sand, by the pool, and in the hotel's 24-hour casino.
Plan an Un-Vegas Vacation in...Vegas
Yes, the title of this slideshow is "Beyond Vegas," but there's just so much going for this desert town (affordability, tons of flights) that we couldn't leave it off the list entirely. Besides, you'll find tons of things to do here that aren't, well, Vegas-y. Step one: Pick a hotel without a casino, like the sleek all-suite Delano Las Vegas. Step two: Plan an alt-Vegas itinerary. You can take a cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu Las Vegas, a day trip to Death Valley National Park (it's 90 minutes away), or a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon. Or fill your Instagram feed with snaps at Vegas Indoor Skydiving (so fun), the Neon Museum (a graveyard for old Vegas neon signs), or (hello) Britney. And if you and your besties decide to sneak in some time at the club or a roulette wheel, we won't tell a soul.