At the tender age of 18, with the hopeful guidance of Taylor Swift’s latest album, I waved goodbye as my tightknit group of gal pals drove to the corners of the country, acceptance letters in hand and promises of weekly Skype sessions rife and sincere. Thus began a nonstop procession of hugs and tears as I made my way through university, study abroad programs, solo treks – making friends only to wave goodbye to them sooner rather than later as our studies, travels, trips inevitably drew to a close. While it’s decidedly easier to keep up with my hometown crowd (our families do live in the same city, after all), the ache I feel for my friends faraway lingers.
To celebrate BFFs scattered all around the world, I’ve put together a list of the best places to reunite with your long distance pals with three different budgets and interests in mind: Couchsurfers ($), Reserved Indulgers ($$) and Extravagant Spenders ($$$). So whether you want to dance it up on the cheap or sip mimosas in a luxurious locale, here are the best places to plan your bestie reunion:
The Couchsurfers – $
You’re fresh out of college and frantically clawing your way up the corporate ladder, I get it. But just because funds are low doesn’t mean we should deny ourselves the bubbly pleasures of hanging out with some of the only weirdos that actually get us, right? (Right? She wonders bleakly to herself as she peeks at her bank account and questions the necessity of the little things like food and A/C). No matter where your clique’s interests lie, there are affordable options across the States that’ll have you all dancing, head-banging and sightseeing in no time.
While most people head to Colorado to be in the great outdoors, Denver plays host to an up-and-coming nightlife scene. Denver has profited wildly from the country’s recent obsession with craft breweries – the city boasts of a bustling downtown area littered with bars, clubs and dance halls. Top it off with the state’s bountiful offering when it comes to hiking, biking and camping spots and you’ve got yourself a getaway with your pals that’ll give new meaning to the phrase work hard, play hard.
Music junkies, unite! If you and your pals love the comeback of grunge and embrace its dirt cheap philosophy, head to the Pacific Northwest and tour the hilly streets that gave the genre its rainy home in the nineties. Music venues abound and live music finds its way into most bars come nighttime. The city also has a new, affordable light rail that makes getting around without a car speedy and hassle-free. Popping through areas like Greenlake, Gas Works Park and Capitol Hill make for a delightful trip that pays homage to the city’s beautiful setting and its evolving dynamics.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
With a church that dates back to the 1700s, this Southwestern state capital is sure to delight your troupe of traveling history buffs. Also noted for its quirky locals and artistic flair, the city is an arts and culture lover’s dream! Not only does its current architecture date back the 18th Century, but the restaurants and bars within have been voted as some of the best in the country. Though rich in history and the arts, low-budget couchsurfing crowds can feel comfortable here: Albuquerqueans rank as some of the most down-to-earth and un-snobby locals in the country!
The Reserved Indulgers – $$
Congrats! You’ve done well for yourself and have some spare cash set aside to indulge with your swashbuckling coterie on your next trip. Whether that means splurging on a week’s worth of poolside drinks and appetizers, a weekend music festival or an itinerary full of museum trips, you and your clique will no doubt be raising a glass by the time your vacation is up.
Though the cocktails are pricey and the dress code is ritzy, flights into Miami’s International Airport are among the cheapest in the nation – so long as you book with foresight and at the beginning of the off-season. For the group that is ready to spend a bit more on drinks and accommodations, the cheaper flights can offset the group from turning into extravagant spenders. The city ranks high in noisiness and low in family destinations – ensuring that your clique’s time beachside is sure to be a hoot and a half!
A hipster’s paradise in Texas, Austin is quickly becoming the place to be if you’re a music lover. Playing host to quickly expanding music and arts festivals like South by Southwest, Austin City Limits and the newer Fun Fun Fun Fest, the city has branded itself as a major contender in the national arts and culture game. Often branded as a liberal haven in the generally conservative Texas, the city is developing an eclectic new voice in the arts and culture scene – with cool and intimate musical venues opening up in East Austin and at the University of Texas that you and your headbanging group are sure to enjoy.
San Francisco, California
Though the Beats and hippie culture spring to mind when San Francisco is mentioned, its history dates back much further to when the native Ohlone people lived in the area. Invaded by the Spanish in 1776, the city’s Presidio became an important military base for the Spanish, Mexican and, eventually, the American troops. You and your group can take the city’s many walking tours to learn about the city’s evolution: from the gold rush to the hippies to the tech present. Don’t shy away from the city’s fantastic food and drink options – after all, what’s San Francisco without a taste of its top rated dining?
The Extravagant Spenders – $$$
You and your pals have paid your dues sleeping on couches and stuffing as many gals into a hotel room in Vegas than you previously thought possible. Now you’ve all made it and are ready to experience the places the way that you’ve dreamt of seeing them: from the top floor of a fancy hotel with a week of ritzy cocktails, rich jazz venues and private museum tours in the books.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Do I even need to write about this one? Las Vegas is the holy grail of long distance best friend reunions. With plush digs, constant sunshine, unlimited entertainment options and the absurd necessity to constantly have a drink in hand, the Vegas experience is a necessity once you and your crew have made it to the top. With a large expendable income, your former trashy collegiate runs can miraculously transform into an effortlessly classy group getaway.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Jazz it up in the authentic birthplace of the genre! Though the music has traveled throughout the States since its inception in the early 20th Century, New Orleans is still the only place to go for the best sounds. With you and your pal’s propensity to live it up, the city is the perfect place for music lovers to live lavishly. Not only is NOLA the best place to hear that sweet, sweet trumpet, it also has a rich offering of food, drink and arts and culture options for the crowd who wants to see it all.
New York, New York
The city is not known for its affordable nature, which is why you and your chums have flocked to the Big Apple. Complete with endless options for dining well, cultured entertainment and luxury shopping, New York City is ever-expanding in its options for a high-budget reunion. While touring Manhattan’s impressive museum network is necessary for any cultured troupe, paying a visit to the historic and rapidly changing parts of Brooklyn are a must-do for any group looking for a taste of New York’s much-discussed hipster culture.
Already group texting your mates? Good! Start planning right away!