The bachelor party is a rite of passage, but coming up with the best bachelor party ideas that will keep a group of adults on board is a daunting task.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of tired old traditions instead of making your own. The best bachelor party ideas are those that build off the groom’s interests, but add something new and exciting to the mix. That’s the recipe for memories, people. So take from our guide what speaks to you, modify the hell out of it (or don’t), and have a great time.
Who pays for the bachelor party, and who plans it?
Tradition dictates the best man should plan, invite guests, and pay for the bachelor party (and, incidentally, assist with groomsmen attire plans for the wedding). But the bigger the plan, the more the groom-to-be should get involved in the planning. This can be as simple as approving bachelor party ideas, or as in the weeds as constructing a time zone-calibrated itinerary.
The point is, if you, the groom, want to do something elaborate, don’t throw it all on your buddy. Likewise, if you get invited, you should probably prepare to chip in for the bachelor’s expenses. Don’t leave the best man to cover that courtside Warriors ticket alone.
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How to Plan a Bachelor Party
This doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be organized—especially if you’re bringing in a crew that’s geographically spread out.
When we talk about timing, we’re talking about how much notice you give the invitees, and how far in advance of the wedding you plan the bachelor party.
Life will be bonkers for the groom during the wedding planning process—a great argument for using the bachelor party weekend (or more) to blow off steam—and timing is everything. Don’t schedule this within 30 days of the wedding. Dude’s going to have plenty of responsibilities and loose ends to tie up in the final month, and it’s best if the bachelor party is in the books at this point.
Assuming you want a solid turnout, give the invitees plenty of time to make arrangements. One month’s notice should suffice if you’re planning a local, long weekend with a small crew, but if it requires PTO or a flight, two months is better. Not only does this timeline make showing up easy, but you’ll have more time for RSVPs, booking hotels, buying tickets, and making reservations.
If the groom doesn’t have a strong opinion on this, you’ll need to balance opportunity with accessibility. Find a location with activities that align with the groom’s interests, but where travel and lodging aren’t cost prohibitive, or a logistical nightmare. For example, if the groom and most of the people you’re inviting live in Kansas, then Kansas City, Oklahoma City, or Denver are all reasonable options, provided you can find ways to have a good time. A trip to Iceland, on the other hand, is going to thin out most of those potential revelers.
You should have a pretty good idea what is/is not interesting to your crew, and how much (travel, money, time) is too much. Plan accordingly.
Guest List (Who)
Work with the bachelor to decide how big they want this thing to be, and who makes the guest list. Some people feed off of a crowd, while others would prefer a smaller, more intimate group for their bachelor party. Once you’ve got the names, get email addresses, phone numbers, and Venmo / Cash App contacts for everyone (more on this later), and put it all in a spreadsheet that you and the groom (if that’s not you) can access. This will make it easier to keep track of who’s in, who’s not, and who has paid.
Every activity should be planned around the person getting married… since it’s, you know, their party. So ask.
The groom shouldn’t have to plan everything, but get a gauge of whether they want to try something they’ve never done or stick to the things they know they love doing. If they don’t want (or have time) to be involved in planning, take that info, make a plan, then run it by them for approval. They have veto power, too—especially when it comes to naked people. Never sneak naked people onto the itinerary.
Best Bachelor Party Ideas by Activity Type
Okay, this is what you’re here for, right? You obviously care about finding unique bachelor party ideas to make this a memorable event, and planning this beast can be an overwhelming task. It helps to break down the possibilities by activity type, so if the groom doesn’t have a dream bachelor party on their vision board (sh’yeah right), choose a few activities from the categories below: Competition, Entertainment, Connection, and Food & Drink.
The only way you can be sure the groom will remember this day is by beating them, and beating them badly.
Flag Football, 3-on-3 Basketball, Slow Pitch Softball, Ultimate Frisbee – It’ll take some effort, but if you do it right, this could become an annual thing. Have uniforms and a small but amazing trophy made—hell, hire refs where possible or appropriate. Obviously the sports above are just the beginning (sand volleyball, anyone?). Just be sure to split up the teams as evenly as possible, and aim for zero groom face injuries.
Golf or Mini Golf – Conventional, but with good reason. Best Ball is the best policy if you’ve got a larger group. If you know the skill levels of the group, try to pair bad golfers with good golfers, or at least with an average golfer. Nobody enjoys an ass-kicking.
If golf isn’t really your (or the groom’s) thing, consider mini golf—if you can find a good course. The key is quality, because the novelty of a crappy mini golf course will fade quickly, and people will lose interest. In that case, there are better ways to spend your time.
On the other hand, Topgolf might provide your crew with the best of both worlds.
Bowling – To keep this interesting, make a list of prizes for in-game feats, like getting a spare on a 7-10 split, taking the most pins in the 10th frame, etc. To keep it sanitary, wash your damn hands before you dip your paw in the community fries. And when the opportunity to have bowling shirts made arises, please embrace that opportunity with shirt collars wide open.
Extra credit: Find a bowling alley with some character, like Timber Lanes in Chicago.
Paintball – We will always argue in favor of paintball over laser tag. The urgency you feel to avoid being hit with a paintball is primal—you will never feel as competitive doing anything as you’ll feel in an acrylic battle royale.
ESports – Video games, even the old ones, are great. If the bachelor is heavy into gaming, consider setting up a private party at a gaming venue. No risk of injury here, unless you count injured feelings.
Leave it to the pros. Just make sure everyone knows how much the tickets cost in advance.
Pro or College Sporting Event & Tailgate – Tailgating is so key here, especially if you can host the thing yourself. The event itself can be as small as a regular season game against a weak opponent, or multiple sessions of the NCAA tournament. Better if the groom has an iron in the fire—look for tickets to see their favorite teams first.
Broadway Show – You need to be sure the bachelor is into theatre, and it helps if they have good taste—no friend is worth sitting through Escape to Margaritaville. This is an especially good bachelor party idea for NYC. Seeing a good Broadway show is a great excuse to put on a suit, which in turn is a great excuse for an upscale night out.
Film Festival or Movie Marathon – Yes, technically Sundance counts for this one, but it doesn’t have to be an A-List experience to be A-Wesome. Is this dude a huge horror fan? Find a double- or triple-feature at an Alamo Drafthouse.
Music Festival – Amazing. Probably sweaty. Amazingly sweaty. Just make sure the festival you’re looking into has a decent track record, and think outside the Coachella. There are so many niche, specific festivals out there that you should be able to find something right up the groom’s alley. Is he obsessed with Bluegrass? Tell(uride) me more about that.
Bachelor party ideas that are primarily focused on connecting with the people you’re inviting are never a bad choice.
Karaoke – Do we really need to explain why karaoke is fun? The only real decision here is whether you go to a larger karaoke venue where anyone can sign-up (and wait) to sing, or reserve a private room for just your crew. If you go the private room route, this probably doesn’t have to be an all night plan.
Road Trip – Plan plenty of stops—nobody wants to spend 9 hours in a car just to cover ground and eat fast food. A great playlist, a new city every night, and the finest AirBnB’s you can find* can make for a memorable bachelor party.
*Pro tip: Filter results to include heated pools or hot tubs.
Ski Trip – Do you know how to ski? Don’t care. If a portion of the group does, or if other winter sports exist around the resort you’re eyeballing, there will still be plenty to keep the crew busy. As long as there are alternatives, splitting up a little can keep a group from getting really tired of each other—especially on a longer trip.
Kayaking Trip – First thought when we see “kayaking” is some intense, rapid-filled gorge. So, yes, f*cking awesome. Alternatively, consider a trip to a place like Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where you can paddle in, set up shop, and spend a few days exploring the area. Just make sure everyone knows what they’re doing, or hire a guide.
Camping, Hiking, or Backpacking – Or skip the water sports and use the two twigs mother nature gave ya. Car camping, a challenging day hike, or a four-day backpacking trip could provide the groom with the space they need to see the bigger picture, forget about all the stress of wedding planning, and take a satisfying crap in the woods. Another perk: This is a pretty cheap trip. Just make sure everyone has some sturdy, comfortable, appropriate hiking boots, and rent the rest of your gear from REI. Use AllTrails or The Hiking Project to find your way.
Visit a Haunted Place – This is exactly what it sounds like: Locate the most haunted place you can find, and spend some time there together. You know, not being scared. At all. I’m fine. Bonus if you can combine this idea with karaoke.
Food & Drink
Bachelor parties can be overhyped regret-fests, but you can avoid that entirely by focusing on the finer things: great meals and intoxicating concoctions. Clear liquors, full stomachs, can’t lose.
Brewery Crawl – Bar crawls are rarely a good idea, but a brewery crawl is a great bachelor party idea—if you love variety in your beer. For best results, plan your own stops (hello, Yelp), head to a city with a long list of craft breweries (like Chicago), and always take public transit or a Lyft.
Whiskey, Rum, or Tequila Tasting – Does the bachelor have a favorite spirit? (If you just whispered “The Spirit of Christmas!” to yourself, we like your style.) See if the distillery has a tasting room where you can sip and swill the good stuff, right where it’s made. Or, find a bar where you are that specializes in flights of rare rums, whiskeys, or tequilas. If hard booze ain’t their thing, maybe some wine would tickle your buds.
Eat Everything – There is nothing wrong with the classic steak dinner (aside from the toilet catastrophe that follows 10 guys eating too much red meat at the same time), but if you’re going to make this bachelor party all about the grub, you’ll need to expand your horizons. Get some recs from Eater, then book ‘em. Or, if you can, coordinate the bachelor party with your chosen city’s restaurant week or food festival. Try something weird—you’ll like it.
Best Bachelor Party Destinations in the U.S.
Seek and ye shall find a super dope place to celebrate with your friends. Our criteria? We looked for cities with live music, major sports, great food, access to nature, cultural significance, and reliable transportation options. Here are the 10 best bachelor party destinations in the lower Land of the Free (in no particular order) for toasting the good times, past and future. (Click through for local nightlife tips.)
*A Note About Las Vegas: Vegas is the stereotypical bachelor party destination because, well, vice. That alone doesn’t qualify it for this list, but with access to nature, professional sports teams, amazing food and entertainment, and a vibrant arts district, this city has a lot to offer anyone—including those in search of the clichés and slot machines.
Avoiding Common Bachelor Party Problems
Each of these topics is subject to complicated problems, with more complicated solutions. But are you really looking for the answers on a formal wear blog? Instead of a deep dive, here are two-sentence, don’t-think-twice solutions to common bachelor party issues.
Be honest about the bachelor party plans, and if you’re in the know, don’t put people in the position to relapse. Gambling, alcohol, recreational drugs, and sex can all be wonderful things, but without moderation, they can ruin the party (or someone’s life).
Get help here.
Not every relationship observes monogamy, but you should never be expected to lie for your friend, or coerced into helping them avoid the consequences of their actions. When faced with an unreasonably jealous partner at home, encourage compromise and stay out of the battle.
Law Enforcement, Jail
Comply, but first, avoid the need to comply if at all possible. Post bail, not Instagram stories.
Do everything you can to not let this happen, you guys. But send flowers.
Bachelor Party Down, Wedding To Go
We hope these bachelor party ideas helped you map out a memorable break from the stress of wedding planning. Odds are, there’s still a lot of of that wedding planning left to do, too—from hors d’oeuvres to horse-drawn carriage arrangements (come on), and yes, choosing the groomsmen suits.
That’s why The Black Tux exists—to make outfitting groomsmen easy and stress-free, and to make sure everyone looks their best when the wedding day comes. Looking for fewer frustrating phone calls, and more groomsmen suits that actually fit? We can help.