Whether it’s a major milestone or just one of the notches between decades, every single birthday is special. On your next one, ditch the awkward office birthday party, set your vacation autoresponder, and treat yourself to the gift of travel. One thing is for sure: it rolls around once a year, every year, but where you choose to celebrate your birthday is totally up to you. Check out these 9 places coast-to-coast where you can soak in your special day however you want.
Have a Shindig in Chicago
Known for its architecture, museums, and wind, Chi-Town is a great place to grow a year older. With options to either fly into the larger O’Hare International Airport or the smaller Midway International Airport, flights to this city abound. Some of the best hotels are in the city’s Magnificent Mile or River North neighborhoods, both with easy access to transit and dining.
And speaking of dining – you better seek out a proper slice of deep-dish pizza. Park yourself at Gino’s East, a 50-year-old joint with several locations around the city. You can even commemorate your birthday by signing their wall. (Check out this guide for other top places to get a slice around the city.)
Nightlife in the city? For something truly special, consider a boat cruise on the Chicago River, or head to Hubbard Street in River North for one of the city’s most vibrant scenes.
Celebrate in Savannah
This seaside city is known for its southern hospitality, historic architecture, and bustling town squares – and you’ll experience all of these when you visit. The closest airport is the regional Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, just seven miles from downtown.
Once you’re in the city, most of the action is in the historic district, where many hotels are located, as well as a bounty of restaurants and bars. Consider the trendy Bohemian Hotel, which has a popular rooftop bar with great views of the river.
One of the best parts of Savannah? Resort towns like Tybee Island and Hilton Head Island are only a short drive away – once you’ve crisscrossed the small city of Savannah, you can easily seek out a change of scenery.
Let Loose in Las Vegas
Anyone who’s been there knows: there’s nothing quite like a celebration in Las Vegas. If you’re the type of person that likes the energy and neon lights of Sin City, play your cards right and head there for your birthday.
Getting to Las Vegas couldn’t be easier. McCarran International Airport is located just a few miles from The Strip and offers great views of the city as you’re landing. When it comes to lodging, take your pick of any of the resorts that line The Strip. The Mandarin Oriental, ARIA Sky Suites, and The Cosmopolitan are perennial favorites, but the list of hotels is just as long as the 4.2-mile strip.
And for birthday activities – there are the obvious casinos and shows, but if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, make a reservation to see artist James Turrell’s colorful art installation, Akhob, on the fourth floor of a Louis Vuitton store. (Bonus: Your Instagram feed will thank you.)
Plan a Soiree in Sonoma
For a celebration that steers toward sophistication, book it to Sonoma, California. Almost all Sonoma adventures, however, begin in San Francisco, where you’ll either fly into San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport, so make sure to fit in some San Fran sightseeing and sunsets, if you can.
From San Francisco, you’ll cross the Golden Gate Bridge, heading north on the 101. In an hour, you’ll enter Sonoma County. The Farmhouse Inn and MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa offer some of the finest lodging in the area – but if you’re looking for something a little funkier, check out the “glamping” options at Autocamp in nearby Guerneville.
The activity du jour is, of course, touring the 425 wineries and rolling vineyards that this Northern California wine region is known for. Some of the popular wineries include Gundlach Bundschu and Benziger Family Winery – but there are quite literally hundreds of options in the Sonoma Valley, so be sure to ask the locals for their favorites.
Have a Night out in Nashville
Put on your favorite country playlist and pack your boots for a birthday in Nashville. With the nickname “Nashvegas,” you know you’re in for a good time. You’ll fly into Nashville International Airport, only a 20-minute drive from downtown.
The beating heart of Nashville is “The District” – a 20-block area in downtown that is the epicenter of honky-tonk bars and live music. Any downtown hotel will offer access to Nashville’s nightspots and tons of other attractions during the day.
If you want to experience some great southern fare, check out Hattie B’s Hot Chicken with several locations in Nashville. For music, the honky-tonk bars offer entertaining cover bands, but for true up-and-coming Nashville musicians, check out the Bluebird Cafe.
A Year Older in New Orleans
New Orleans has long been a port of call for people looking for a good time. If you’re having your birthday there, you’re in for some of the greatest music, food, and people watching in the country.
To get there, you’ll fly into Louis Armstrong International Airport, which is only 11 miles from the French Quarter, where you’ll undoubtedly spend some (or all) of your visit. You can get a hotel in the French Quarter, like the Four Points or the Royal Sonesta, or even consider the Algiers neighborhood as a quieter alternative.
Nightlife and activities are not hard to find – stroll Bourbon Street and you’ll be entertained without ever entering a venue. For must-try dining, make a reservation at the acclaimed Commander’s Palace, and swing by Cafe du Monde for their famous beignets at least once before you depart.
Hang Ten in Hawaii
But not just anywhere in Hawaii – we’re talking the island of Maui. For the best flights, fly into Honolulu, where you can choose to spend a day before jetting into Kahului Airport on the island of Maui.
You can treat yourself to a suite at the Four Seasons or the Grand Wailea, or opt to rent an entire condo for the price of a hotel room. Most people stay in West Maui or South Maui where the majority of the resorts and hotels are located.
There’s nothing wrong with spending your entire visit in relaxation mode at your resort, but for a truly unforgettable adventure, take the Road to Hana to see the best views of Maui’s coastline and visit Haleakala National Park to see the world’s largest dormant volcano.
Fun in the Florida Keys
If some Florida sun and fun is what your birthday calls for, take your party to the southernmost tip of the United States. To get there, plan to fly into Miami International Airport or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, rent a car (consider a convertible), and drive the scenic 120-mile length of the Florida Keys.
For the best nightlife and big crowds, keep driving until you hit Key West. But if you want a slower pace, make a stop at any of the other major keys along the way – Key Largo, Islamorada, or Marathon. On any of the islands that make up the keys, you can find beaches, fishing, snorkeling, and diving.
Your next birthday is getting closer every day – whether you’re ready for it or not. Tell us where you’re planning to celebrate this year on Facebook.