You want to invite friends to hang out but have no idea what to do with them. If you’re sick of the same old bars, movie theaters, or weekend routines, it’s time to spice things up.
Try some of these unique activities with friends to sweep you out of a bland daily routine into a new state of creativity where conversation and fun can flow into your social circles.
Unique Things to Plan With Friends
It may not surprise you that the human brain loves doing new things. In fact, researchers have found that novelty and new stimuli boost memory and improve brain health.
There is even significant evidence that the anticipation before a positive event is enough to lower your stress levels and boost your mood.
If you want to make new friends and keep your existing friendships full of zest and intriguing conversation, try visiting new places or creating vibrant experiences when you hang out.
Thrift Store Adventure
Head to a nearby Goodwill, Salvation Army, or locally-owned thrift store and pick out some absurd outfits to dress up and take photos. Better yet, pick out a goofy outfit for your friend and have them pick one for you. Spend a couple of bucks and head out for the day dressed like grandmas, fashionistas, or costume collectors.
Dress Up and Go to Local Art Museums
Art enriches and enlivens the human experience by opening our minds to seeing the world through a more creative lens. Plus, it’s pretty interesting (and often hilarious) to see how differently you and your friends interpret a piece of art. Museums make for a lovely day trip to experience something new with your best friend or a group of friends. Some of them are even free!
Action Step: Use Google or Yelp to search for “best art museums” in your city or town. Add an extra flair of fun by dressing up in your most classy black outfits or vibrant artsy get-ups before heading to the museum.
Attend a Conference
There are conferences for nearly every niche interest on the planet: from entrepreneurship, science, art, and tech to cryptocurrency, veganism, spirituality, gardening, TED Talk events, and beyond. Learning something new and listening to inspiring seminars is always more fun with a friend who shares your passion.
Action Step: Search Eventbrite.com or local event calendars for conferences centered around you and your friends’ shared interests.
Re-create a Gourmet Meal at Home
Cooking with your friends can be a scrumptious reward or a hilarious mess. Either way, you’re sure to have fun and (hopefully) eat something delicious.
Action Step: Think about one of your favorite meals you’ve shared with your friend or enjoyed during childhood, then try to recreate it in your kitchen. Split the cost of the ingredients, put on some good tunes, and cook up a feast that’s filled with good memories.
Pro Tip: When you’re making plans at home, don’t forget to set the vibes by creating an ambiance in your kitchen. This creates a more special experience than a regular old dinner night. Try out new cuisines, light candles or hang up lanterns, play culturally-relevant music, and/or end the night with a special dessert from a local bakery.
Paint and Sip
It doesn’t matter if you’re a great artist when you have a glass of good wine in hand and a fun vibe surrounding you. A medley between an art class and happy hour, these unique classes are popping up in cities as a unique alternative to basic old bar plans.
You can taste a few different wines, share snacks, and experiment with colors and strokes. If drinking isn’t an option, try sipping on mocktails or kombuchas in fancy glasses. Either way, getting creative with your friends is scientifically proven to strengthen the bond between you.
Action Step: Search online for an organized paint & sip class in your area or re-create your own with a painting lesson on YouTube (hello, old Bob Ross favorites!).
Train for a 5K (or Marathon)
Friends who work out together tend to stay together. Research shows that working out in a social setting can lead to better exercise performance and deeper bonding. If you want to challenge your athleticism and set up a date to look forward to, consider training for a race with your best friend.
Action Step: Use Runsignup.com or Active.com to find a race near you and register to support a good cause. Gamify the process by keeping track of your times, investing in new running outfits, and rewarding each other with healthy smoothies or snacks after each training day.
Visit a Botanical Garden
Connect with nature and your friends with a day trip to a horticultural jungle or greenhouse paradise. There are over 1,000 botanical gardens in cities around the United States! Exotic orchids, flowing palms, endangered wildflowers, and exquisite trees filled them to the brim.
Action Step: Use the GardenSearch tool Botanic Gardens Conservation International to find a botanical park near you and delve into the lush beauty of your local region. Don’t forget to bring your cameras and snap some beautiful memories.
Hit the Trails
Getting outdoors is profoundly beneficial for both physical and mental health. If you want to de-stress and let loose in a natural environment, one of the simplest and cheapest ways to entertain your friends is with a challenging yet beautiful hike.
Action Step: Use AllTrails.com to look up the best hikes near you and choose a trail based on length, difficulty, and reviews. Surprise your friends with tasty protein bars and a celebratory photo at the top.
Play Some Team Sports
Sports aren’t just for kids or pro teams, and you don’t need to make a season-long commitment to enjoy some friendly competition.
If you’re into tennis or golf, join a local country club or tennis club to find partners and matches.
If you like football, soccer, softball, or martial arts, join a niche-specific gym or training group.
If you like basketball or volleyball, explore indoor and outdoor courts in your area. You can often find “pickup games” at local parks, courts, beaches, and fields.
Whatever sport calls you, team sports are a fun opportunity for bonding and exercising simultaneously.
Action Step: Use Meetup to find adult sports activities. On Craiglist, you can search the Event Calendar of your region with keywords like “[sport] league” or “[sport] pickup game.” You can also use a site like Clubwaka to find co-ed adult sports leagues in a city near you.
Take a Dance Class
Dancing can be awkward to learn on your own, so why not bring a friend to laugh it off with you? If you’ve wanted to learn to move your body in a new way, invite a friend to a dance class for an enjoyable workout and a lesson in rhythm.
There are so many types of dance classes to try, including:
- Swing dancing
- Hip hop
- Belly dance
Action Step: Use Takelessons.com to find affordable virtual or in-person dance classes at a local studio.
Go to an Open Mic Night
From stand-up comedy and poetry readings to performing arts and singer-songwriter jams, open mics usually attract an eclectic blend of amateurs and professionals who want to share their craft.
Take your friends for a spot in the crowd, or sign up to sing or read something of your own. Most open mics are laid-back and unplanned- just show up and enjoy!
Ask around local cafes, coffee shops, and bars to figure out when the next open mics are happening. You can also search “open mics near me” on Google or Meetup to get some leads on the following events.
Volunteer at the Humane Society
Who doesn’t love playing with puppies or kittens? You can get your cuddly fix while doing something positive for your community and bonding with your friends. It’s a win-win.
Action Step: Look up your local humane society or animal shelter and check their website or call to inquire about volunteer opportunities. You may need to submit an application, attend an orientation, and schedule your volunteer training ahead of time.
Start a Podcast Together
When you hang out with someone for long enough, you probably revisit the same topics repeatedly. You and your friends may not even realize you’re experts in fashion, craft beer, travel, or books. Anyone can start a podcast and host it for free to share their passion for certain subjects or let listeners tap into funny conversations.
Plant a Garden Together
Get your hands in the dirt and plant some seeds for the future. Whether you get started on your apartment balcony, in your backyard, or at a local community garden plot, growing food or flowers is a rewarding pastime with ample opportunities for teamwork and conversation.
Action Step: Start small with just one or two raised beds or plots. Crops like radishes, lettuce, baby spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, and scallions are the easiest plants to grow. Use this simple beginner’s guide to starting an organic garden and invite your friends to plant with you. You can also look into volunteering at a local farm or community garden to learn the basics.
Take an International Cooking Class
Thai? Italian? Greek? Argentinian? South African? There are practically endless cuisines to try, but they may not be available in your local area. Use a site like CozyMeal for a virtual cooking class with international chefs, or peruse Airbnb Experiences to find cooking classes near you.
Hit the Road
Planning, packing, and taking off on a road trip can be one of the most bonding experiences to have with other people. After all, it’s not all about the destination- it’s the journey!
Imagine you and your best friend(s) meeting at a cafe after work to plan out places you want to see. You can get old-fashioned maps and draw out your route. In the weeks leading up to the date, you’ll talk about what you’re most excited to see and the intriguing people you might meet.
You can work together on a collaborative Spotify playlist or burn some old-fashioned mixtapes to listen to on the road. When the weekend comes, stock up on snacks, book an Airbnb (or buy some camping gear), and take off for the time of your life.
Pro Tip: Remember that anticipation is scientifically-proven to make people feel happier. After all, everyone wants something to look forward to. Building hype before the actual plans is a great way to keep things interesting and exhilarating.
When you can’t hit the road for a vacation or road trip, try out a virtual travel experience to see new places from the comfort of your home. You can select a location you’ve always dreamed of visiting and explore it with Google Maps satellite imagery and street view. You can also check out virtual tours like this 360° summit view of Virtual Yosemite, an audio-guided tour of Machu Picchu, or a VR tour of Austria.
Start a Vinyl Collection
Turntables and records have made their comeback thanks to superior sound quality and that nostalgic, rich sound of a vinyl turning beneath the needle. Collecting records is a great hobby with friends because you can bond over your favorite musicians while swapping albums and going on vinyl hunting adventures. Head to your local used record shops and jam out to vintage tunes or new age LPs.
Go to an Antique Show
Whether it’s antique cars, records, collectibles, jewelry, clothing, art, or decor, antique shows are a unique blast from the past that attract a diverse crowd of passionate collectors and old-timers. Put on a vintage outfit and take your friends to gawk at 1900s Victrolas and refurbished VW hippie buses. Don’t forget to ask attendees about some good stories from back in the day.
Get Disposable Cameras and Go on an Adventure
Keeping up with the vintage theme, try buying a few disposable cameras and experimenting with film photography. Disposable Fujifilms or Kodak cameras will take you to the 80s and 90s. There is something special about the fleeting experience of taking photos on a film camera- you only get one shot, and there isn’t any instant gratification of seeing it right away.
You and your friends can take your cameras with you on adventures or daily activities throughout the week and then send the film off to get developed. Hang them up in your house and swap the one-of-a-kind images for tangible memories that will last a lifetime.
Throw a Themed Dinner Party
Putting together a dinner party takes a good amount of organization and coordination, but the process is part of the fun bonding experience for you and your friends.
Pick a theme (the 70s? French picnic? Mexican fiesta? Speakeasy vibes? Farm to the table? Fancy gala?) and divide the responsibilities. Choose decor, music, outfits, and recipes to transport your friends and guests into a different world for a while. This is also a great opportunity to get to know new people and expand your circle of friends.
Check Out a Music Festival or Concert
Who doesn’t love to connect with friends over one of your favorite bands or throwback songs? Anthropologists have found that social bonding through music tends to be in our brain networks since prehistoric times.
Whether you plan to dance or jam out with a cold drink in hand, inviting your friends to a summer music festival or concert will give you something exciting to look forward to for weeks ahead. If you can, surprise them with tickets and plan to get ready or have dinner together before the event.
Use this music festival search database to find an upcoming fest near you.
Late-night talks under the stars and roasting s’mores over the campfire are the ingredients for profound yet straightforward memories with your friends.
Use apps like The Dyrt (over 500,000 campsites with reviews and tips), Recreation.gov (for national park experiences), or Reserve America (state park campgrounds) to find some epic wilderness stays. If you’re more into glamping, try out HipCamp or Tentrr to stay in a unique cabin, treehouse, or platform tent without roughing it too hard.
Don’t forget snacks, water, and toilet paper!
Pretend to Be Foodie Reviewers
Who doesn’t love trying new cuisines and sharing their opinion on different dishes? Create a friend group mission to try out as many restaurants as possible in your area. From hole-in-the-wall joints to high-end restaurants, you might find some intriguing corners of culture that you’d never have explored otherwise.
Taste with keen attention to flavor, texture, and presentation, then compare and rank your favorites. Heck, you could even start a hobby foodie blog or restaurant review YouTube channel to share your findings.
Adult Scavenger Hunt
Unleash your inner child by planning an adult scavenger hunt with a group of friends or coworkers. This can unlock fun team-building opportunities and hidden stories you may not have known about your friends. It’s also a unique way to boost your problem-solving skills, get out of your shell, and explore your home city.
Some scavenger hunts involve taking photos, while others are all about collecting items. Use an app like Let’s Roam (you can even join nearby scavenger hunts) or plan your hunt with pre-made lists and your creative spin.
Create Vision Boards
A vision board is a visually rewarding way to lay out goals and manifestations for the future. Science has proven that working towards a shared goal promotes deeper social connections.
If you and your friends have shared dreams of starting a business, traveling the world, or having a family, it could be fun to let your imaginations run wild as you copy and paste images from magazines or the internet into a dream board. Use Pinterest or Canva to bring it to life.
Try Water Sports
If you have a lake, river, or ocean near you, water sports are a fun way to get out in the summer sunshine and relax. Invite your friends to get out on the water for a day with a kayak or paddleboard rental. You can also rent jet skis, snorkels, surfboards, canoes, or even take scuba diving classes. Check-in with your local marina or search for water sports groups on Facebook or Google.
Take a Foraging Class
Get in touch with your local plants or fungi with a botanical adventure. Foraging is learning to identify and gather wild plants to eat. It’s an enriching way to connect with friends and nature while potentially discovering something delicious. Wild huckleberry pancakes or dandelion fritters, anyone?
Invest in a regional foraging guidebook or find an expert-guided foraging walk on Airbnb Experiences. Make sure you learn the basics and never eat any wild plants or mushrooms until you’re 100% sure you’ve properly identified them.
Places to Go With Friends
“Let’s go to the mall!” or “want to go out for drinks tonight at the brewery?” Been there and done that. Sometimes you need a mental refresh by visiting new places with your friends.
- Go to the Beach
- Go Swimming or Boating at the Lake
- Visit an Amusement Park
- Go Horseback Riding
- Go Zip Lining
- Check Out a Science Museum
- Go Bowling
- Browse an Art Gallery
- Go to a Pottery Class
- Hit the Gym
- Play Mini Golf
- Head to the Local Farmers Market
- Visit a Farm or Ranch
- Go to a Vineyard Wine Tasting
- Meet for a Coffee Date
- Ride Scooters through the City
- Go Fishing or Hunting Together
BONUS #1: Find an Obscure Attraction
An abandoned subway station, a giant instrument played by ocean waves, or a museum of neon art? Check out Atlas Obscura for over 9,000 of the strangest attractions in the U.S.
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Fun Things to Do at Home With Friends
When you’re stuck at home or trying to have fun on a budget, hosting friends at your house can still be a perfect time.
- Host a Bonfire
- Plan a Picnic in the Park
- Go Bike Riding
- Host a Potluck
- Play Board Games
- Take a Pottery Class
- Learn to Make Jewelry
- Learn Basic Carpentry and Build Something
- Write a Song Together
- Learn a New Language
- Have a Movie Marathon Night
- Learn to Do Handstands
- Try Out Acro Yoga
- Bake Your Favorite Desserts
- Grill Out on the Patio
- Find a Craft on Pinterest
Key Takeaways: How to Plan Exciting Hangouts with Friends
When you put in the effort to create cool new experiences for you and your friends, they may become more excited to spend time with you. Thinking outside the box and putting in some planning effort can pay off when building lasting memories:
- Make it an adventure: Creating anticipation is psychologically proven to boost mood and reduce stress. Sure, anyone can go on a road trip, but how can you build hype ahead of time? From meeting in a cafe to researching destinations, looking up strange attractions along the way and drawing out your route on the map, to crafting playlists for the drive and picking out new outfits for a night on the town in a new city; every step of the way offers another opportunity to bond with your friends and create a memorable adventure.
- Create unique experiences: Go the extra mile to add flair and ambiance to your social plans. Sure, you could invite someone to cook at your place. Or you could create an epic Italian culinary experience. Flip through some vintage Italian cookbooks at a bookstore, turn up the tunes in the car, head to an international grocery store, pick out some unique ingredients, and ask the clerk about their favorite dish. Head home and create a vibe in the kitchen with candle lights, Venice cafe music, a regional wine, an online cooking class, and some cannolis and an Italian movie to round off the night.
- Tap into your child-like imagination: Remember when building a fort in the living room or playing hide-and-go-seek was the most exciting thing? Imagination transforms mediocre experiences into vibrant games. Even the most serious adults have a playful inner child that wants to laugh and waste time a bit. When making plans with friends, get creative about how you want to spice things up. Are you having a dressed-up dinner party, or are you hosting a wild western-themed dress-up night complete with a BBQ smoker, country music, and line dancing? People are more likely to remember unique and creative experiences from the norm, so try to use your imagination when planning get-togethers.
- Be enthusiastic: At the end of the day, it’s not about where you are but who you’re with. If you want to invite your friends for more engaging and entertaining hangouts, it’s important to create some buzz and amusement. When you exude fervor and energy for your plans, that feeling is intoxicating for others. It feels like something new and out-of-the-norm.
Ultimately, finding new things to do with friends shouldn’t be a chore. Creating exciting plans is a great way to magnify friends with your positivity, intriguing conversation, and zest for life. If you’re tired of doing the same thing repeatedly, here are 40 Productive (And Fun) Things to Do When You’re Bored.