It’s impossible to pick a single experience that you must have in your 20s. There are simply too many adventures to be had, parks to explore, meals to eat, and parties to attend. That’s the fun of being young. You want to do it all. And you have the time, too. Or at least more time than you will when you have kids or a mortgage.
To help you collect a whole swath of epic, hysterical, and borderline terrifying experiences we created a state-by-state guide to adventures large and small. There are outdoorsy pursuits to try, drinking challenges to master, and even a few photo ops to post to your social feeds. Each of them has the potential to turn into an absolutely rad memory.
As you read through, consider getting in on the action. And if you’ve passed the 20-something age cut off, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean these things still won’t be fun. They just might leave you sore and desperate for a nap.
Alabama: Drink Some Bushwackers At Flora-Bama
The Flora-Bama Lounge and Package, often referred to simply as The Bama, sits in Perdido Key, Florida on the Alabama/Florida state line and bills itself as the “last great roadhouse.” It’s one-part honky-tonk, one-part beach bar, and all landmark on the Gulf Coast. There might be annual mullet tosses and fishing rodeos other places in Alabama, but they aren’t nearly as fun. There’s a reason this place has received accolades or been covered by every major publication out there.
The Bama is also known for a local favorite called the Bushwacker, a frozen drink that’s pretty much a mocha-flavored piña colada. It’s a lot of rum, Bailey’s, crème de cacao and coconut cream. Drink a few of these and the Flora-Bama is sure to become the best bar you don’t have any recollection of.
Alaska: Go Sea Kayaking
Alaska is a popular cruise destination for good reason. There’s endless beauty to behold in those chilly waters. But nothing you experience on deck comes close to sitting in a kayak at eye level with a circus of puffins or a romp of otters. Expect a lot of marine life views that you aren’t as likely to find in any other state — including seals, sea lions, and whales. Plus, the nature of kayaks makes you feel like you’re alone in these moments, which is extra wild.
One of the great reasons to sea kayak in your 20s is simply that you tend to have more stamina. If you’re an athletic paddler, you can opt to kayak for literal days with breaks to spend the night at a campsite or a yurt.
Arizona: Meditate At A Vortex In Sedona
Yes, yes, there are a lot of amazing outdoor activities in Arizona. But we have a soft spot in our hearts for both the metaphysical and for Sedona itself, which has a global reputation as a place of enlightenment — in part because it sits at the conversion of multiple vortices. The four that are best known are located at Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Boynton Canyon, and people note that the energy they produce flows in different ways depending on which ones you opt to visit. We can’t imagine you have a strong “vortex preference,” but if you do, research them before you start trekking.
Even if your healthy cynicism makes you want to write this experience off with a snide comment, it’s worth noting the vortices are in devastatingly gorgeous locales that require a hike in some beautiful weather. Regardless of whether or not you buy into their “energy,” you will enjoy visiting them. We won’t make you meditate if you don’t want to.
Arkansas: Visit Mountain View, The Folk Music Capital of the World
This Ozark town is located about 100 miles north of Little Rock and has fewer than 3,000 residents. They also don’t have a single bar. Dry, yo. What they do have is a yearly folk festival dating back to 1963 and two bluegrass festivals. You don’t even have to wait for one of these events to get your fill of Americana, either. The locals all seem to be musically inclined and happily get to pickin’ and strummin’ all day long on various storefront porches.
Mountain View is one of those places that everyone should have heard of but surprisingly few people actually have. That’s shocking when you consider the appeal of hundreds or thousands of string players hitting the town square to play all night.
California: Cruise Highway 1
California is huge, so how do you pick one experience from a state that has so many to offer? Easy. You pick the experience that allows you to enjoy one of the most scenic highways in the country and a big ass chunk of Cali. Rent a cool car if you don’t have one, roll down the windows, turn up some music, and speed along the ocean’s edge. The view is consistently picturesque, so it’s really easy to start imagining you’re a character in a movie and to let the worries of your real life slip away.
If you wanna go HAM, spend a week making your way from San Diego to San Francisco with stops to stretch your legs and enjoy some amazing cities like Carmel and Santa Cruz. Surf. Lounge. Skateboard through a redwood. For those pondering the #VanLife, this is as good as it gets.
Colorado: Explore The Legal Cannabis Scene in Denver
Cannabis is legal in a number of states, but Colorado has been at it longer than any of them. As such, it has a much more developed canna-tourism scene. Denver, specifically, really excels in marijuana activities. We think it’s pretty cool that you can get high during graffiti walking tours, cannabis cooking classes, wine and weed walking tours, pottery classes, and needlepoint meetups. We’re still totally good getting high and playing some video games alone in our apartments, but you can’t beat the novelty of what Denver has to offer.
Denver also has some awesome social clubs for people who aren’t stoked on activities. The city isn’t a big fan of the lounges, so there aren’t too many but they’re fun nonetheless.
Connecticut: Have Pizza And Beer In New Haven
It probably doesn’t feel very exciting if you live in New Haven for us to tell you eating pizza and drinking a beer is an experience, but you have to be patient with us. New Haven’s American spin on Neapolitan-style pie is super cool. It has traditional roots that run back to Italy, but still finds a way to be innovative. So this pizza is a must-try, especially if you want to have informed pizza views, and who doesn’t want that? Plus, you add in a lot of really good beer and you’ve designed a near perfect night.
We really like Brü Rm. at BAR because we can get both beer and pizza, but Cask Republic is pretty solid too. The pizza is the real star, and most New Haven establishments have solid beer selections, so why make a real plan? Just start eating and drinking and see where the night takes you.