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FYI: You can easily pivot a handful of these to be pandemic-friendly.
When Miley Cyrus sang “Send out a 911 / We’re gonna have some fun / Hey, boy, you know you better run” in 2007’s formative hit “G.N.O.”, we listened. We really listened. And while I personally believe that Miley invented the modern girls’ night, there’s evidence it’s been around for a hot sec. Throwing on a going-out top and jeans and racking up a tab of vodka sodas is a long-treasured practice. But the same old bar nights can get a little tired. Aaaand COVID-19 is still very much a threat. So it’s time to change it up!
Whether you’re looking for ideas for the summer or just wistfully pocketing for a later date, we threw together 30 of the best ~alternative~ girls’ night out ideas. Psssst, there are a ton of activities on this list that you can do virtually. Just get creative and save the others for that sweet post-vax life.
Reminder: CDC guidelines currently state that you can congregate in small groups indoors if every member of your party has been fully vaccinated, otherwise keep masking and social distancing. So, better save the sweaty bowling alley for a future date.
Without further ado, peep our list of the best alternative girls’ night out ideas. You don’t even have to give us credit.
Before you say anything, I’m aware that “meeting your three possible dads on a Greek island the day before your wedding where you all sing along to ABBA” and “working out” doesn’t really go hand-in-hand. But you need to trust me on this one. No one is going to be judging your form at home and dancing to the Mamma Mia! soundtrack is more fun than…anything? Get tipsy, laugh, and take a chance on this one. (Sorry, had to.)
This is an easy thing you can do mid-pandemic too! Williams Sonoma has a ton of virtual events to choose from. Bonus points to whoever can pull off the best Julia Child accent.
Plenty of museums now offer “after hours” programming, complete with DJs, drinks, and open access to select exhibits. I think it was Socrates who said, “Learning is best done with a cocktail in hand.” And so many museums have also opened their doors to virtual audiences. Touring The Met from the comfort of your couch in your coziest sweats and a bottle of rosé? Sign me up! (You can…right here.)
Your fave dive bar can wait. Opt instead for the kind of plush setting where it feels like Colonel Mustard could murder you with a candlestick at any second. Also, nothing makes me feel more like an adult lady than telling the bartender to “surprise me.”
Grab some friends for emotional support (’cause honey, you will absolutely need to dissect the experience after) and book a reading to glimpse what the future has in store for you.
Do you know what’s still fun? Bowling. Especially glow-in-the-dark bowling. It was always the sickest 10th birthday party, and it’s still lots of fun to do with your besties (socks and hand sanitizer not included).
By that we mean you buy a bunch of cheap-ish bottles from Trader Joe’s or a similar spot, and then sit around with your girlfriends tasting the different varieties while saying fancy things about the rich notes of shoe leather and black cherry. Let me help you out and suggest a few options…
Plan a night to do the kinds of things you would only do if your cousin Lauren were in town. Go eat that famous dish! Go walk across that famous bridge! Get your steps in seeing all the sights!
Because what’s more fun than belting out your favorite Whitney song? Belting Whitney with all of your closest girlfriends, duh!
Before there were comedy podcasts, there was the comedy club. These shows are usually pretty cheap, and the giggles are guaranteed. Talent can be hit-or-miss, but that’s just part of the fun. Plus, there are SO many comedy shows happening over Zoom.
Channel your inner J.Lo in Hustlers (BTW, THE ACADEMY ROBBED HER!!!) and take a pole dancing class with your besties. It can be pretty freeing to empower yourself through the extremely timeless art of shaking your booty.
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There is something so darn divine about reclining in those cushy chairs and watching a movie on the big screen. Lots of these theaters now offer gourmet menus for a full dine-in experience. Sipping a ‘tini while watching Chris Evans/Chris Hemsworth/Chris Pratt’s latest project? Sign me up.
If you live in any major metropolitan area, this one’s for you. PSA: Opera glasses are less than $20 on Amazon if you really want to look legit.
What better way to practice self-love than with a bougier-than-usual bottle of wine and fries for the table? Obviously, I don’t recommend making expensive dinner reservations so often that your budget takes a hit, but planning a seasonal fancy meal is a super fun way to get together and celebrate everything that’s going on in your group’s day-to-day lives.
Why not lean all the way in? Commit to a dress code (hot pants encouraged), take a few laps underneath the disco ball, and then go back to someone’s apartment and stream Whip It.
Check out this calendar of 2021 celestial events, and make note of the ones you want to witness. You and your friends can gather on someone’s roof (or a yard works too, depending on where you live), mix up a few to-go bevs, and catch the show.
Here’s the thing about gallery openings—not only is it an opportunity to look at beautiful objects (and often beautiful people, too), but there is also free wine, so…
Even if court-side seats aren’t in the cards, you and your friends can still kick it in the nosebleed section with nachos and beer.
Nothing makes me feel more like a classy adult woman than viewing a group of insanely talented humans in tailcoats and black getups playing Chopin. If this isn’t an option where you guys live, scope out the local spots that have live jazz as an alternative.
Nostalgic dance parties have hit music venues in a big way. What other night out can include leg warmers and teased bangs? Check your local clubs and event spaces to see the next time they’re hosting a themed night.
In case you’ve been out of school for so long now that you’ve forgotten, here’s a friendly reminder that certain coffee shops stay open until the wee hours of the morning. Stake out the Friends-iest overstuffed couch and sip (decaf) drinks until you get tired.
Casinos can actually be really fun spots to drink and pull levers and maybe win some money. Lots of people-watching opps, too. Just set a monetary limit for yourselves, lest anyone get out of hand.
Most parks stay open well after dark, which means the view from the top of that roller coaster will be momentarily gorgeous before you plunge downwards and start shrieking.
The epitome of grace and discipline, ballerinas are always a magical sight to behold. Even if you guys don’t possess a coordinated bone in any of your bodies, you’ll have a ball giggling (kindly!) at everyone’s attempts.
Okay, I hear you, these classes sound “soooooo basic,” but get over it because they’re popular for a reason. Plus, if you’re anything like me, it takes a few glasses of vino to let your creative freak flag fly.
If you live by a body of water, chances are you have the opportunity to board a boat. In New York City, for instance, there are Circle Line cruises that tour the harbor while serving drinks and snacks. There’s just something about sparkly city lights on water that makes the night feel truly infinite, ya know?
So this might count as “staying in,” but it’s not your real house so just roll with it. Rent a luxe loft with a few friends for a night of fabulous make-believe. You can order take-out, bring along a few bottles of wine, and snuggle up on the couch—a bona fide sleepover party!
Scour Groupon or LivingSocial for a rando activity—ideally something you’ve never done before—and then treat your friend to an afternoon of adventure. Nothing bonds you faster than mutually freaking out over indoor skydiving…or just dabbling in a pottery class, your call.
Grab a bunch of penis paraphernalia and a fake veil from a local sex shop, and hit up your favorite circuit of bars like you’re at a bachelorette party. If you’re not dressed up as the (fake) bride-to-be, work on getting your group free drinks.
Okay, I’m trusting you won’t judge me for this idea. Glam up, and then take turns snapping Insta-worthy pics of each other. First of all, it’s fun to be goofy and play model every once in a blue moon, and second of all, your friends definitely know how to find your light.