Inside: 37 (Absolutely Not Basic) Girls’ Night Out Ideas for a Guaranteed Good Time

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I feel like the term "girls’ night out” brings to mind a certain scene. And for me, that scene typically includes wearing “jeans and a cute top,” rushing to finish a cocktail (or, more often, a White Claw), before an Uber arrives, and feeling the indescribable pain of having to pay for both cover and coat check at a bar I didn't want to go to in the first place. But news flash, my friends: Not every girls’ night out has to involve pregaming and then going to some random bar you love to hate. I know this might be brand-new information, but it’s true! A girls’ night can take many forms, from wholesome as hell to rowdy and rambunctious. And once you get over the idea that you have to go out out for a G.N.O. (as our queen Miley Cyrus so aptly abbreviated it in her hit 2007 banger), the world is your freakin' oyster...and you can donate so many of your old crop tops.

So, whether you're looking for ideas for things to do in the spring or just wistfully pocketing these for a later date, we threw together 37 of the best ~alternative~ girls' night out ideas (AKA ideas that don't involve boozing at your local pub). Whether you're feeling a full-on club vibe, a sip-cocktails-at-a-museum kinda evening, or wanna sit around with your friends in sweats, we've got you covered, bb. Throw out a few of these plans in your group chat and hold for applause—you don’t even have to give us any credit. (Psssst, there are a ton of activities on this list that you can do virtually, too, since it's 2023 and COVID is still very much a concern/thing.)

1. Go all out for a theme party.

Halloween shouldn’t be the only day of the year you go hard on a costume. Pick a theme for the night and give it your all, whether it be luau, ‘80s, black tie, or tea party. The more creative, the better the Instas.

2. Visit a board game cafe.

We know this might sound meh in theory, but it’s actually so much fun—especially when the cafe has a liquor license. Dibs on Catan.

3. Embark on a scavenger hunt.

You’re never too old for a good scavenger hunt. Print out a template online or go the traditional route (which I def recommend) and make a personalized hunt for your hunnies. Just make sure you bring a Polaroid along for the ride.

4. Stroll the aisles at a record shop.

Have record player, will travel. Scout out your local record shop and bring the girls to grab some new vinyls. Then go home (stopping for snacks, ofc), pop ‘em in your Victrola, and have a dance party for the ages. How old-school cool of you!

5. Take a pizza tour of your neighborhood.

Dave Portnoy isn’t the only one who can rate a slice of ‘za. Make a map of your hood and plan a pizza tour, checking off (and giving a subsequent rating) to all the best shops in town. Yes, this will work better if you live in a pizza city, like New York or Chicago, but there’s no reason why you can’t hit all the mom ‘n’ pops in your vicinity even if you live in Small Town USA.

6. Get your DIY on at a local shop.

No matter where you live, I guarantee there’s a DIY class with you and your friends’ names on it. Do a quick Google search for a pottery, perfume-making, watercolor painting, or mixology class near you and Get. To. Booking. You’ll gain plans for an afternoon and feel great knowing you’re supporting a local biz.

7. Host a PowerPoint night (no, srsly).

One of the best things to come out of the pandemic is the PowerPoint night, where friends come together and low-key roast each other (or maybe that’s just my friend group?) with hilarious slideshows about anything and everything. Some of my favorite topics include “What American Girl doll everyone would be,” “T.Swift songs to describe each person,” and “Everyone’s worst ex,” but we also have a list of additional PowerPoint night ideas if you ever find yourself in need of inspo.

8. Do this Mamma Mia! workout class.

Before you say anything, I'm aware that "meeting your three possible dads on a Greek island the day before your wedding where you all sing along to ABBA" and "working out" don't really go hand-in-hand. But you need to trust me on this one. No one can judge your form at home, and dancing to the Mamma Mia! soundtrack is more fun than...anything else on planet earth? Get tipsy, laugh, and take a chance on this one. (Sorry, had to.)

9. Book an online cooking class.

Williams Sonoma has a ton of virtual events to choose from. Bonus points to whoever can pull off the best Julia Child accent.

10. Have your own night at the museum.

Plenty of museums now offer “after-hours” programming, complete with DJs, drinks, and open access to select exhibits. (I think it was Socrates who said, "Learning is best done with a cocktail in hand!") So many museums have also opened their doors to virtual audiences, so you could always stay home and get to learnin' online. Touring The Met from the comfort of your couch in your coziest sweats and a bottle of rosé? Sign me up! (You can...right here.)

11. Hit up a bespoke cocktail bar.

Your fave dive bar can wait. Opt instead for the kind of plush setting where it feels like Colonel Mustard could murder you with a candlestick at any second. Also, nothing makes me feel more like an adult lady than telling the bartender to "surprise me." 😉

12. Have your future told by a psychic.

Grab some friends for emotional support ('cause honey, you will absolutely need to dissect the experience after) and book a reading to glimpse what the future has in store for you.

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13. Justice! For! Bowling!

Do you know what's still fun? Bowling. Especially glow-in-the-dark bowling. It was always the sickest 10th birthday party, and it's still lots of fun to do with your besties (socks and hand sanitizer not included).

14. Host your own wine-tasting party.

By that we mean you buy a bunch of cheap-ish bottles from Trader Joe's or a similar spot, and then sit around with your girlfriends tasting the different varieties while saying fancy things about the rich notes of shoe leather and rich mahogany. Let me help you out and suggest a few options...

15. Play tourist in your hometown.

Plan a night to do the kinds of things you would only do if your fav cousin were in town. Eat that famous dish! Walk across that iconic bridge! Get your steps in seeing all the sights!

16. Sing it out at karaoke.

Because what's more fun than belting out your favorite Whitney song? Belting Whitney with all of your closest girlfriends, duh.

17. Have some laughs at a comedy show.

Before there were comedy podcasts, there was the comedy club. These shows are usually pretty affordable, and the giggles are guaranteed.

18. Take a pole dancing class.

Channel your inner J.Lo in Hustlers (BTW, THE ACADEMY ROBBED HER!!!) and take a pole dancing class with your besties. It can be pretty freeing to empower yourself through the extremely timeless art of shaking your booty.

19. Hit up one of those fancy movie theaters with the comfy seats.

There is something so darn divine about reclining in those cushy chairs and watching a movie on the big screen. Lots of these theaters now offer gourmet menus for a full dine-in experience. Sipping a 'tini while watching Chris Evans/Chris Hemsworth/Chris Pratt's latest project? Yes, plz.

20. Spend a night at the opera.

If you live in any major metropolitan area, this one’s for you. PSA: Opera glasses are pretty cheap on Amazon if you really want to look the part of Jennifer Coolidge in that one White Lotus scene.

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21. Treat yourself to a fancy restaurant.

What better way to practice self-love than with a bougier-than-usual bottle of wine and fries for the table? Obviously, I don't recommend making expensive dinner reservations so often that your budget takes a hit, but planning a seasonal fancy meal is a super fun way to get together and celebrate everything that's going on in your group's day-to-day lives.

22. Let out your inner roller girl.

Why not lean all the way in? Commit to a dress code (hot pants encouraged), take a few laps underneath the disco ball, and then go back to someone's apartment and stream Whip It.

23. Watch a meteor shower.

Check out this calendar of 2023 celestial events, and make note of the ones you want to witness. You and your friends can gather on someone's roof (or a yard works too, depending on where you live), mix up a few to-go bevvies, and catch the show.

24. Head to a gallery opening.

Here's the thing about gallery openings—not only are they an opportunity to look at beautiful objects (and often beautiful people, too), but there is also free wine, so...

25. Grab some cheap tickets to a sporting event.

Even if court-side seats aren't in the cards, you and your friends can still kick it in the nosebleed section with nachos and beer.

26. Check out a symphony orchestra.

Nothing makes me feel more like a classy adult than viewing a group of insanely talented humans in tailcoats and black getups playing Chopin. If this isn’t an option where you live, scope out the local spots that have live jazz as an alternative.

27. Throw it back with an '80s/'90s/'00s dance party.

Nostalgic dance parties have hit music venues in a big way. What other night out can include leg warmers and teased bangs? Check your local clubs and event spaces to see the next time they're hosting a themed night.

28. Chill out in a late-night coffee shop.

In case you've been out of school for so long now that you've forgotten, here's a friendly reminder that certain coffee shops stay open until the wee hours of the morning. Stake out the Friends-iest overstuffed couch and sip (decaf) drinks until you get tired.

29. Put it all on black at a casino.

Casinos can actually be really fun spots to drink and pull levers and maybe win some money. Lots of people-watching opps, too. Just set a monetary limit for yourselves, lest anyone get out of hand.

30. Scream your heart out at an amusement park.

Most parks stay open well after dark, which means the view from the top of that roller coaster will be momentarily gorgeous before you plunge downward and start shrieking.

31. Test your gracefulness at a ballet class.

The epitome of grace and discipline, ballerinas are always a magical sight to behold. Even if you and your girls don't possess a coordinated bone in any of your bodies, you'll have a ball giggling (kindly!) at everyone's attempts.

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32. Channel your inner Van Gogh at a paint and sip.

Okay, I hear you, these classes sound "soooooo basic," (I only hear this in Anna Delvey's voice now) but get over it, because they're popular for a reason. Plus, if you're anything like me, it takes a few glasses of vino to let your creative freak flag fly.

33. Go on a booze cruise.

If you live by a body of water, chances are you have the opportunity to board a boat. In New York City, for instance, there are Circle Line cruises that tour the harbor while serving drinks and snacks. There’s just something about sparkly city lights on water that makes the night feel truly infinite, ya know?

34. Have an Airbnb staycation for one night only.

So this might count as "staying in," but it's not your real house so just roll with it. Rent a luxe loft with a few friends for a night of fabulous make-believe. You can order take-out, bring along a few bottles of wine, and snuggle up on the couch—a bona fide sleepover party!

35. Try your luck with a random Groupon.

Scour Groupon or LivingSocial for a rando activity—ideally something you've never done before—and then treat your friend to an afternoon of adventure. Nothing bonds you faster than mutually freaking out over indoor skydiving...or just dabbling in a pottery class, your call.

36. Fake a bachelorette party.

Grab a bunch of penis paraphernalia and a fake veil, and hit up your favorite circuit of bars like you're at a bachelorette party. If you're not dressed up as the (fake) bride-to-be, work on getting your group free drinks.

37. Have an Extra™ photoshoot.

Okay, I'm trusting you won't judge me for this idea. Glam up, and then take turns snapping Insta-worthy pics of each other. First of all, it's fun to be goofy and play model every once in a blue moon, and second of all, your friends definitely know how to find your best light.

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