1. Portland, Maine
As someone who went to school in Boston, I made plans to visit Maine with friends sometime before graduation but never actually did. And even if you didn’t go to school in Boston, you may have dreamed about going — so now’s your chance! Portland is the perfect mix of city dining and culture with a gorgeous waterfront and nature that just won’t quit. Check out this guide to Portland for tons of eating and adventuring suggestions, from oysters to art galleries to the best place for a picnic.
2. Asheville, North Carolina
If you and your friends love live music and good beer, head to Asheville. The Orange Peel Social Aid and Pleasure Club has been deemed one of the best venues in the country, and there are plenty of dives and clubs with local acts to choose from. In fact, downtown is filled with things to do: Explore the River Arts District or get lost in a story at the Battery Park Book Exchange. And if you’ve got a car, there’s plenty to see out in the mountains. Drive along the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway, or go check out the Biltmore Estate — basically a French chateaux in the middle of the mountains.
As long as you guys don’t mind a little rain, Seattle is a fantastic city to visit. There are TONS of amazing restaurants, from classy joints on Capitol Hill to authentic street food to sweet, sweet Molly Moon’s. Check out the Seattle Arboretum and observe the hipsters at Greenlake. And the Puget Sound is right there, where you can sea kayak, watch orcas, or try crab-trapping. Maybe even schedule your trip to coincide with Hempfest!
4. St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
St. John is infinitely more affordable when you choose more rustic accommodations. A great one is the Maho Bay Camps, a solar- and wind-powered eco-compound of 114 ~tent cottages~ plus a dozen cabins built from recyclables. Doubles go from $75 per night, so it’s a pretty affordable deal. There you can bask in deep red sunsets, spot all the fish from Finding Nemo while snorkeling, and hike to abandoned sugar mills. You’ll basically be camping, so you take showers in communal bathhouses (unless you have a cabin) and cook for yourselves on your own propane stoves. Of course you can always go camp out for yourselves in one of the campgrounds within the Virgin Islands National Park.
5. New Orleans
For the crew who want to live like they never left college, New Orleans is the perfect meetup. And beyond the obvious awesomeness of Mardi Gras, JazzFest, and the French Quarter, there’s plenty more to see and do (and eat!). Check out the Marigny and Bywater districts to hear local musicians and marvel at local art, or visit the Backstreet Cultural Museum and learn a damn thing. For the ultimate itinerary, check out these suggestions for something to do at every hour in NOLA.
6. Empire, Michigan
Crowded coastal beaches are overrated; Lake Michigan is where it’s at. And if you guys are looking to relax in a lakeside town with nature to spare, Empire is the place to be. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is awesome for swimming, climbing dunes, learning to surf(!), and tons of hiking trails. After you’ve worked up an appetite, get some delicious calzones at the Empire Village Inn or venture over to Traverse City and check out Front Street for tons of mouthwatering options.
Miami is great for a reunion because you can please the beach bums and culture-seekers all at once. Home to the “Ellis Island of the South,” Miami’s diverse population means you have some amazing food options, from Cuban coffee to Colombian empanadas to Trinidadian roti. And once you’ve had enough of sunbathing, you can hang out at the gorgeous Vizcaya museum/mansion, explore the Art Deco District and Little Havana, catch a Marlins game, or catch one of the awesome festivals that happen yearround, like Art Basel or Carnaval Miami.
8. Adirondack Mountains, New York
Another outdoorsy pick, the Adirondacks are a perfect escape for college friends who are feeling a little cramped in their Northeastern cities. It’s just as much fun in winter as it is in the summer, with the Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex offering the ~bobsled experience~ of your dreams. In the summer, you can relive history class at Fort Ticonderoga, squeeze in plenty of hiking and swimming, and even go whitewater rafting. Plus, there are plenty of vacation rentals that will be super affordable when split among a group of you.
9. San Diego
Maybe one of the most underrated cities in California, San Diego is an awesome place to reunite with old friends. There are tons of touristy things are totally worth doing, like visiting the zoo, hanging out in Seaport Village, and exploring the museums and gardens of Balboa Park. But did you know you can also tour the Taylor Guitar Factory or scope out original art by Dr. Seuss? There’s also a desert filled with dinosaurs, and in the summer you can try to catch tiny fish with your bare hands! And all this before you tackle all the delicious junk food you can only find in San Diego.
Can’t make it to France? NP, Canada’s right there! Montreal really feels like a little peace of Europe on our side of the pond, with gorgeous 17th-century architecture, a great mix of cultures, and French speakers all of the place. Be sure to check out Old Montreal and the Notre-Dame Basilica for a healthy dose of history; you can even explore the actual foundations of the city. But most important, you guys have to eat — like, everything. Eat poutine, get a smoked meat sandwich, and definitely try a bagel to weigh in on the whole Montreal vs. NYC debate.
11. Providence, Rhode Island
This small New England city is often overlooked, but everyone else’s loss is your crew’s gain. Also a college town, Providence offers plenty of nightlife options, including watching an indie movie in at the cozy Cable Car Cinema and cheering on a badass sing-off at Point Street Pianos. The RISD Museum has some incredible exhibits of art & design, and the Providence Athenaeum is probably the most beautiful library you’ll ever enter. Try to schedule your visit to coincide with a WaterFire lighting, or take a quick side trip to Newport to stroll along the gorgeous Cliff Walk and marvel at the mansions.
12. Austin, Texas
If you guys haven’t been to Texas yet, now’s your chance! Austin is pretty awesome all year-round, but you could always try to hit up SXSW in March or Austin City Limits in October. Otherwise, you can stuff you face with breakfast tacos and prepare for an awesome day in the city. You can hike Mount Bonnell, check out a UT game, find a swimming hole (there are lots!), or find a gem at the ultimate garage sale. Just make sure to do everything on this list before you leave, and be sure to pace yourself for all the food trucks and BBQ.
13. La Ceiba, Honduras
If you guys are looking to put those passports to ~tropical~ use, Honduras is a surprisingly affordable and not-so-crowded Central American destination. La Ceiba is a beautiful port city that’s got tons of hostels, hotels, and restaurants (a good meal costs about $3, score!), and is close to tons of awesome stuff. There’s Pico Bonito National Park, where you can tour the rainforest, kayak, or go whitewater rafting; or the gorgeous island of Roatan, where you can go diving. This handy travel guide will show you where to find all the howler monkeys, Mayan ruins, and baleadas that you desire.
14. Denver, Colorado
Skiers, hikers, climbers, eaters of delicious food and lovers of sunshine: Denver has something for all of you. Home to some of the best breakfast eateries and the third-highest number of breweries per capita, your tummies will be more than satisfied in Denver. And to work up an appetite, there are plenty of accessible city and state parks to explore, mountains to ski, and trails to hike — not to mention some truly unique finds, like the Molly Brown House, the legit fossils along Dinosaur Ridge, tons of original street art in RiNo, and the beautiful Victorian homes scattered around the city. For more inspiration, this guide to everything you must do in Denver will keep you guys plenty busy.
15. Charlottesville, Virginia
If you want all the views and relaxation of a trip to Napa but would like to avoid wine snobs and stick to a college student’s budget, check out Charlottesville. Not only are there plenty of wineries and Thomas Jefferson’s stunning Monticello, but the hotels here cost a fraction of Napa’s exorbitant prices. It’s also a college town, so there are tons of affordable places to eat and drink, and y’all can relive the glory days of running wild on campus.
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