For many, the 21st birthday is a milestone. It’s the first time you can legally drink in America and it feels like an accomplishment. But if alcohol isn’t your thing, how do you celebrate? Here are 19 of the best things to do on your 21st birthday without alcohol!
21st Birthday Tradition
Let’s talk about why your 21st birthday is a milestone. Typically, when one makes it to 21 years old, they are considered to be an adult in society. This means that you have the right to drink alcohol in the United States.
Historically, this has led to most celebrating their 21st birthday by drinking alcohol legally for the first time. Some people have a big party for this special occasion on their 21st birthday.
What if You Don’t Drink Alcohol?
Even though many 21st birthday celebrations involve drinking alcoholic beverages, that doesn’t mean that they all do. There are alternatives for those who don’t drink, and they can still have a fantastic time with friends.
Celebrate Your 21st Birthday Your Way
First of all, this is your day. So celebrate it however you like. Come up with ideas! Do you want to throw a party or go out? In town or take a trip?
It’s all about what you want to do. Start by making a list of your favorite things, and let that list inspire you to celebrate your 21st birthday YOUR WAY.
Top 19 Things to Do For 21st Birthday Without Alcohol
Here are some fun things you can do to make your 21st special, without alcohol:
1. Go for a hike.
Going for walks is always a good idea if you want to be active, but there’s something special about going on an actual hike. It gives you a chance to explore new areas outside in the fresh air.
Hikes are also great because they’re often free or cheap. There are tons of parks in lots of different areas so pick one nearby and see how much fun your group has!
2. Book a hotel pool day pass.
Find a local hotel with a pool and ask if they offer daypasses. Hang out by the pool with your friends for a day and soak up the sun.
If it’s winter, book a spa day pass and use the indoor spa amenities spas offer, like hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas (cold plunges unacceptable for birthday fun, unless you’re really into that sort of thing).
3. Go to a concert.
Everyone loves music. Find out which bands are in town and go see one on your actual birthday. Or consider planning ahead and travel to see one of your favorite bands.
4. Picnic in the park.
Take a picnic somewhere while enjoying the weather outside. The great thing about picnics is that you can take them anywhere and enjoy any kind of weather. Plus, it gives you a chance to try out different types of food!
5. Meet for coffee.
One of the best low-key ways to celebrate your birthday is coffee with a friend. Grab a cappuccino with a friend at a new coffee shop that neither of you have tried before.
6. Go on a food truck crawl.
Food trucks are popping up everywhere these days which means that there’s a good chance you have a few near you. Taste through them all, then fall into food coma bliss.
7. Head to the movies.
Whether or not the movie has alcohol in it, going to the theater is always an afternoon (or evening) well spent! There are also plenty of other activities that can take place before and after your trip to the movies, like dinner or bowling.
If your friends are adventurous and willing to travel, consider taking a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before. Love the outdoors? Plan a trip to a National Park. Urban explorer? You can’t go wrong with the big ones: New York City, Tokyo, or Paris.
9. Have a staycation.
Traveling can be costly and require a lot of planning. If you can’t travel for your 21st birthday, do a staycation! Book a night at a local hotel. Stay up and watch movies and get room service in a room you never have to clean!
10. Go out for brunch.
Brunch is a meal that is often associated with drinking, but it can still be a great time to hang out with friends and family! Just go to a restaurant that has a great vibe and excellent food. Treat yourself to something new! You can also do this with a big group of friends who don’t drink and you might be surprised by how much fun it actually is.
11. Cook your favorite food.
One of the best things about cooking is that it pairs well with any kind of activity! You just need a great recipe for something you love or something new to try, and then you can plan a nice meal at home. At the end of the day, spending quality time around the table with friends and family is gold.
12. Try an escape room.
If you’re not in a big city, check and see if there are any escape rooms in your area. They’re a new craze sweeping the nation and are lots of fun! You pay to be locked in a room with your friends for an hour or two to try and solve puzzles to get out. It’s like playing spy games, except real and completely safe (theoretically).
13. Go bowling.
Bowling is always fun, especially when you have great company. Some bowling alleys offer “Cosmic Bowling,” which is usually late night bowling where black lights and strobe lights are involved. It’s a lot of fun!
14. Go skydiving.
I mean, if you’re going to do something for your 21st birthday, it should be out of this world. Skydiving is perfect for that. It’s a thrill that lasts five minutes, which means you get to live on the edge for just a little while.
If you can’t easily find a skydiving company, some big cities have skydiving simulators, which are really fun too. Either way, once the adrenaline wears off, you will rest easy knowing you did something unique for your 21st birthday without alcohol.
15. Go on a Weekend Camping Trip.
Camping is easy to do with friends and cheap if you already have the gear. Look for one near a lake or a hot spring, or a location where you can also hike. Taking a road trip to a campsite for a weekend with friends can be one of the most memorable ways to celebrate this milestone.
16. Get a tattoo.
Getting tattoos is a big thing to do for a 21st birthday. It’s one of the most permanent ways to celebrate you, so you better like it!
17. Try something new.
This may sound too simple, but if you’ve never tried stand up paddle boarding or snowshoeing before, why not? Who knows, maybe you’ll pick up a new favorite hobby. What’s something you’ve never done before?
18. Organize a scavenger hunt.
Get into groups and plan a city-wide scavenger hunt full of puzzles, clues, maps, codes, and anything else you want!!!
19. Throw yourself a birthday party.
Throw a birthday party at your house or a friend’s, with a theme, decorations, or anything you want. The sky’s the limit for what you can do here, so keep reading below for great ideas on how to throw yourself a home birthday party for your 21st birthday.
Alcohol-free Birthday Party Ideas
If you are going to host your 21st birthday party at home, there are endless possibilities for making it a special night (or day). Here are some ideas to make it a great event:
- Host a karaoke party: Pick out the songs, invite the people, and let the games begin! There are some great apps to help facilitate this like call-a-friend and singstrips. Get a wireless bluetooth microphone (link to check price on Amazon), some friends together and get singing!
- Game night: Play a strategy board game or host poker night.
- Backyard BBQ: Grill brats and burgers and play lawn games like bocce or corn hole.
- Costume party or fancy dress party: Make it a theme and everyone has to dress for the theme. Why does Halloween have to be the only excuse you have to go all out with a costume? Think “Roaring 20s”, “Disney favorites,” or “Favorite Scary Movie.”
Obviously, if you are planning to celebrate your 21st birthday at home with your friends, you should have some delicious non-alcoholic beverage options on hand.
Mix up some tasty non-alcoholic cocktails! Check out the recipe collection for more ideas. It’s a fun way to spice up the beverage options while avoiding alcohol. You can make this as complicated and crafty as you would like.
Tonic is a great mixer with many of the available spirits for a 2-ingredient drink, or indulge your inner bartender to craft some incredible non-alcoholic cocktails. Just head to the main menu to find reviews on the best non-alcoholic spirits available.
Another option is to buy ready-to-drink mocktails or non alcoholic bubbly that don’t require any mixing. Some great options are Proteau Rivington Spritz, Kin Spritz, and Ghia Le Spritz (link to Ghia) for mocktails.
*The links in this section are to check prices to purchase on Amazon or other external sites.
Sober Birthday Party
All of the home birthday party beverage options listed above are mostly recommended for those that choose not to drink alcohol for health and wellness or merely taste preferences.
Whatever your reason, if you are concerned any of those beverages might be triggers, it is best to steer clear of them.
Perhaps lean toward doing one of the outdoor or new experience recommendations instead. This way you get to enjoy time with family and friends without feeling pressured to drink since it’s all on your terms! You may feel more relaxed if you do this.
This upcoming 21st birthday without alcohol is about you.
You are in charge of your experience and what you do during the pre-party, party and post-party celebration. Planning these three phases will allow you to have a positive and alcohol-free experience.
If you do decide to drink alcohol while celebrating – obviously we hope it goes without saying but please be safe.
Have fun and Happy 21st Birthday!