When it comes to friends, everything is better together. But choosing the right setting to spend your group vacation with friends can be hard, especially when each of you might want something different.
This list is made with the help of expert group travel advisors who have booked hundreds of vacations, many for close-knit groups looking for new sights and experiences. Near or far, these are some of the best places to travel with friends; you can easily create an epic group travel itinerary in any of these destinations!
New Orleans, Louisiana
Grab your King Cake and Mardi Gras beads and prepare for the near year-round party that is visiting New Orleans. New Orleans is where friend groups can see an outdoor music festival celebrating jazz music, watch a professional sports team compete, and partake in some of the nation’s oldest historical sites, all in one place.
The city is a beacon of resilience and diversity, beckoning travelers the world over to experience its one-of-a-kind culture and spirit. Locals of all stripes affectionately call it “NOLA.” NOLA’s eclectic character reflects its status as a center for trade, tourism, and immigration throughout history.
Sure, New Orleans is a sports destination, hosting professional teams in several major leagues, but it’s also a cultural melting pot blended with French, Italian, African, Creole, and Indigenous influences found within the city and its population. Many historical and cultural spaces throughout New Orleans are as much a part of daily life for today’s residents of New Orleans as they were when they were founded, such as the world-famous Cafe du Monde. Friends who love spooky stories and scary locations will fall in love with New Orleans, which is considered among the most haunted places in the US!
The warm and affable people of Iceland welcome thousands of tourists each year to their rocky shores out of the goodness of their hearts and as a major driver of the nation’s economy. While Iceland boasts many wonderful places to visit, you and your friends can’t go wrong in the capital of Reykjavík. Iceland is known for its unique, even strange, attractions like attending elf school or visiting a phallic museum (yes, you read that correctly).
In addition to all that’s whacky and wonderful, Reykjavík, as well as greater Iceland, is among the most naturally beautiful places to visit in the world. You don’t have to be an expert climber, hiker, or biker to see the magnificent sites up close. Waterfalls, hot springs, and geysers adorn the countryside outside Reykjavík and are relatively accessible with a short drive and a brief walk. Explore a bit further from the city with a boat ride to a glacier. Or find incredible group accommodations in town and visit the local Perlan Museum, home to several glacier-themed exhibits.
San Jose, Costa Rica
You and your friends will love what San Jose has to offer, with its exhilarating sightseeing, cultural attractions, and outdoor activities for no-limits adventure. Spend a day at Parque Diversiones, Costa Rica’s foremost amusement park. With incredible roller coasters and thrill rides that could fit right in at theme parks in the US, Parque Diversiones has something extra special to offer guests: a percentage of visitor proceeds go to the local National Children’s Hospital.
When you’re done enjoying amusement park thrills, San Jose also has an electric nightlife. The energy is palpable, often overflowing from bars, clubs, and lounges into San Jose’s downtown streets. Costa Rica has a comparatively young population, so the city caters to them with more than a handful of late night attractions. Many restaurants are open late, as are street food options for an authentic Costa Rican dining experience with friends old and new.
The jewels of Costa Rica’s vaunted tourism industry are its natural attractions, which host a variety of outdoor adventures you and your friends will bond over. Discover Costa Rica’s natural beauty while exploring national parks, home to volcanoes for hiking, whitewater rapids for rafting, or lush forested mountains ideal for ziplining. Visitors can also experience guided wilderness tours led by experts in Costa Rica’s unique ecology. Stay in private oceanside villas overlooking the beach, or in high rise rentals with incredible views of the San Jose cityscape.
Malibu is a vibrant hub of culture and commerce that attracts the rich and famous to live and play. You and your friends can get a taste of the highlife visiting Malibu. In addition to its luxury indulgences and celebrity tours, Malibu offers numerous outdoor activities including hiking, beaches, wide open parks, and marine excursions, many of which are free or low cost.
Popular Malibu attractions include Getty Villa, a stylish museum devoted to ancient artifacts and art. The grounds are an attraction in and of themselves as a faithful recreation of a Greek and Roman villa, appealing to the ancient history fans in your friend group. For those who aren’t, Malibu is also home to some of the best shopping anywhere. Head to Malibu Village for a mix of locally-owned boutiques and famous luxury brands.