Some trips are enlightening, arduous backpacking excursions with a few close friends who know how to manage rattlesnake bites, and others are more in the spirit of opulent bachelorette parties. But what if you could have both? These cities are ideal for adventure seekers who relish the nightlife. Put these laid-back destinations at the top of your list if you’re looking for the great outdoors and some even greater indoors.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Just 45 minutes northwest of Denver and home to Colorado State University, Fort Collins offers college life with half a dozen open spaces and state parks within a 20-mile radius. Spend the day hiking the Rocky Mountain Front Range in Horsetooth Reservoir, Lory State Park, or Devil’s Backbone Open Space before grabbing dinner at the Colorado Room and drinks at Pinball Jones ad Lucky Joe’s Sidewalk Saloon. The region even has a number of lakes and beaches for additional summer aesthetic.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is nothing if not a luxury destination. With Grand Teton National Park just a few miles north, the city views are incomparable. Lodging can be on the pricer side, but the unparalleled quality of nightlife more than makes up for it. Whether you’re looking for cowboys or cocktails, bars such as The Rose and The Silver Dollar have you covered.
The unofficial party suburb of Phoenix, Tempe offers mechanical bull riding, bar dancing, and a truly unforgettable (or, preferably, forgettable?) evening. With its modern western energy, there’s no drink or experience you can’t find in Tempe. Local hot spots include Yucca Tap Room and Taste of Tops. Drink responsibly if for no other reason than the sidewalks are littered with prickly pear and saguaro cacti. During the day, walk off the hangover in Tonto National Forest, Usery Mountain Recreation Area, or head north to Sedona for prismatic sandstone canyon views.
Miami doesn’t shy away from its party-city reputation. Year-round summer sun and white sand beaches are just a few reasons the city continues to earn its rightful place as a top U.S. tourist destination. Local clubs like Gramps and Wynwood Kitchen help give Miami its charm, but Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve are serene natural getaways. Be sure to do some wildlife viewing, kayaking, and bayou tours after a night out.
Palm Springs, California
Set your sights on a desert rejuvenation after a chilling winter in the Coachella Valley. Palm Springs has a whimsical, neon vibration that reverberates throughout its bustling nightlife. With names like Chill Bar and Bootlegger, it’s easy to get lost in the city’s contagious caprice. Check out Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Springs State Park, and the Salton Sea between sips of artisan cocktails.
Traverse City, Michigan
An unlikely and unconventional party city, Traverse City will treat you to low-key, northwoods get togethers after a day of hiking the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and swimming in a chilly Lake Michigan. A craft beer lover’s paradise, this northern Michigan city is known for brewpubs such as Rare Bird, 7 Monks, and Mackinaw Brewing Company.
An authentic southern gem, Knoxville is just north of the Great Smoky Mountains and Nantahala National Forest. Nightlife in Knoxville most definitely includes modern honky-tonks and square dancing. Bars and clubs like Twisted Mike’s Tap Room, Preservation Pub, and The Public House are first stops guaranteed to give your night a rowdy kickstart.