No matter who you are, turning 21 is a big deal. Sure, you’ve already technically been an adult for a few years, but your 21st birthday is different.
You might be working, in college, traveling, or even starting a family when the big 2-1 rolls around. Whatever you’re doing, turning 21 happens at a busy and exciting point in your life.
The following are 21 birthday ideas to help you or someone you know have an unforgettable 21st birthday!
21ST BIRTHDAY: What to look out for?
For those who drink (don’t forget your ID!):
1) Research someplace interesting and memorable to try your first of-age drinking experience. Some examples are: craft beer bars, meaderies (which sell mead or honey wine), or even semi-educational beer/wine/vineyard tours.
2) For a less costly investment, check out under-$10 wine tastings that some grocery stores (like Whole Foods) have. For $5-$10, you can sample different kinds of wines, often served with sample-sized food pairings. This can be a great start to a fun 21st birthday extravaganza!
3) Get a little exercise while you drink! Book a pedal pub, which is a pedal-powered vehicle that allows you to sightsee a city as you socialize, imbibe, and enjoy yourself. You can reserve individual seats on a pedal pub, or you can rent the whole bike for a group outing.
4) Don’t forget that there are plenty of places that are alcohol-optional, which means you can now add adult beverages to fun activities such as: going to a movie tavern, bowling, or even playing arcade games.
5) Pick out someplace fancy to eat with some friends or your boyfriend/girlfriend. Splurge on whatever great-sounding wine the server suggests, or get an exotic mixed drink!
For those who aren’t interested in drinking:
6) Plan a road trip to somewhere cool for your 21st birthday. There is nothing like the freedom of driving somewhere new, and there are tons of options for different budgets and preferences. You can make it just a day trip, you can go with a few friends, or you could even rent a large travel vehicle to make it an epic birthday experience!
7) Use your detective skills and the power of teamwork to escape from a puzzle room! You and some friends (and maybe some strangers) have to work together to figure out how to escape the room. It’s not a traditional way to celebrate turning 21, but the feeling of accomplishment of getting out in time is a truly memorable gift.
8) Sign up for a class or an experience you’ve always wanted to do, such as horseback riding, ballroom dancing, yoga, or karate!
9) Plan a trip to an amusement park, museum, or theater. Enjoy the entertainment venues in your city or state that you often overlook in your day-to-day life.
10) Participate in a charity event like Relay for Life or spend some time volunteering at an animal shelter or other local non-profit. You may be surprised at how fulfilling giving back can be, and the camaraderie with friends and like-minded strangers makes it all that much more fun. (There’s no shame in going out for some birthday cake afterwards, though!)
11) Grab a few adventurous friends and do something wild for your 21st birthday. Possible examples include skydiving, whitewater rafting, or even zorbing.
12) Go to a sporting event, renaissance faire, comic book convention, or comedy club with a group of friends.
13) Make a list of 21 birthday wishes and give it to a group of friends so you can go through it together. Some things could be simple, like “Take 21 candid photos of me on my birthday”. Other birthday wish items could require time and planning, like “I want to go to a concert for my birthday.” Plan ahead and make it fun!
14) Go out shopping with a group of friends for your 21st. You can even make it a theme: thrift store finds, ridiculous knick-knacks, or even grocery shopping for a collaborative birthday dinner surprise!
15) Check out a board game cafe! You can eat, drink, play games, and have a blast with friends for your 21st birthday.
16) Plan a day just for you. If that means buying a book at the bookstore and quietly reading under the covers with cake and a glass of wine next to your bed – go for it! Just make sure it feels like a special 21st birthday occasion to you.
17) Plan a spa day for yourself and (maybe) invite a friend. Rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit for your birthday!
18) Go out on the town reaping the benefits of birthday freebies! Keep in mind that most of these require you to sign up for an email list well ahead of time (often at least a week before your B-day), so don’t delay signing up!
19) Take a mini-vacation in the great outdoors. Research parks, trails, mountains, rivers, etc. nearby where you live, and then plan an adventure! You can even make it a multi-day birthday trip, complete with staying overnight somewhere interesting through AirBnB or old-school camping. Don’t forget to take pictures so you can show off (or just remember) the incredible beauty and wonder of your 21st birthday!
20) Have a movie night at home with a close friend or significant other. Plan in advance what movies to watch and birthday snacks to eat.
21) Do something, anything, fun and memorable (within reason and the confines of the law, of course). You can choose to spend your 21st birthday alone, with a couple of people closest to you, or amid many friends. Make sure it’s something you enjoy, and don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do.
A Word to the Wise
The most important thing about your 21st birthday is not to regret this special occasion. Don’t drink yourself to oblivion (i.e., do 21 shots) just because you’re no longer underaged.
Between memory gaps, embarrassing moments/pictures, real safety concerns, and a raging hangover, you’ll quickly understand that over-drinking on your 21st is a terrible way to celebrate a one-time-only event.
You are the only one who can make a wish as you blow out your 21 birthday candles. You have the power to make your 21st birthday as outrageously over-the-top – or as calm and cozy – as you desire. Plan ahead, have fun, and always make sure to stay safe as you celebrate.