Best spots for bachelor and bachelorette parties

There are some destinations that beg for bachelor/bachelorette party business. Las Vegas and New Orleans are obvious pillars of this community.

While the old-faithful choices are happy to oblige you and your closest friends with unique and fun opportunities to celebrate impending nuptials, there are some off-the-beaten-path beaches and smaller mid-sized cities that hold their own in terms of fun. We rounded up eight destinations for unforgettable bachelor and bachelorette vacations.

The Florida Keys

Miami is a common party destination. But dig a bit deeper and drive a few hours further to the Florida Keys to make your experience that much more memorable. Diving, deep sea fishing, shopping and partying – there’s a lot going on down in The Keys.

The Upper Keys are great if you want the country club vibe, and they’re deemed the “sportfishing capital of the world.” The Middle Keys in this 118-mile stretch of islands will offer you the quaint charms of Marathon, a tiny island town with lots of appeal, and great stretches of sand and sun. The Lower Keys give the opportunity to escape or to find a legendary night a in bar, combining mostly deserted islands that culminate at the infamous Key West, capping the end of the chain.

Key West has long been loved by vacationers, but it’s also been busy of late. For example, 2013 welcomed the opening of Ibis Bay, the island’s first luxury resort with a private beach. Now you can party all night and recover all day … without sharing your sand with everyone else.

Austin, Texas

Wearing its nickname proudly, this “Live Music Capital of the World” is an amazing place to spend a few days reveling. Home to more than 200 music venues, the city transforms at sundown into a giant playground of partying.

The penchant for gathering around music has also made Austin a festival Mecca - to more than just sound. This summer alone, there’s a hot sauce festival, multiple film festivals and – for the boys in particular – the V8 Supercar Series. Despite the raging hangover, you’re going to want to wake up early. Seeing the city from water level - via a kayak along the river that curves directly through downtown – is a must.

The Dominican Republic

A quick flight from major cities like New York and Miami will land you in another world, where quiet beaches are sprinkled with curving palm trees, reaching out over the water. Home to Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere, this island provides romance in the form of historic charm as well as the appeal of getting away from it all on deserted beaches.

Fresh fish is served up whole at beachside shack restaurants, and tiny coastal towns with fantastic surf breaks will make you consider why you ever vacationed anywhere else in the Caribbean. The prices are lower here than in the British Virgin Islands, but the benefits are in many ways greater. From the lively culture and all-night parties in the Zona Colonial neighborhood of Santo Domingo to the calm and quiet of seaside escapes like Rio San Juan, the Dominican Republic is a fantastic place to play.

Portland, Ore.

If you haven’t been to Portland, it might not immediately make sense as a top destination for a bachelor or bachelorette weekend. If you have been to Portland, you know this Pacific Northwest town is reported to have more strip bars than anywhere else in America per square mile. It’s also the karaoke capital of our fair country, boasting more places to belt your heart out than anywhere else.

It’s a funky, eclectic, hipster haven that also has a serious love of cuisine and cocktails, creating a balance that’s hard to beat. While the nightlife might occasionally cater to some serious late-late night partying needs, they will also serve your love of foie gras, champagne cocktails and craft beer – without the pretention or the price you might find in New York or San Francisco. Overnight trips up the stunning Oregon coast provide exceptional hiking and camping opportunities as well.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Manhattan has made many lists as a Best Of destination for a last hurrah before marriage. Consider Brooklyn in 2013. You are only moments away from the big draws of the Big Apple – Times Square, Broadway and shopping – yet surrounded by something that’s entirely new in terms of hunting great food, boutiques, gardens, farmers markets, and … yes … those all-night parties.

Best of all, you get it for a fraction of the cost you’d find on the opposite side of the river. Plus, Brooklyn now offers everything that Manhattan does in terms of accommodation, from high-end options like The Wythe Hotel to more affordable ones like the Aloft chain. You can spend your Saturday at the famous Brooklyn Flea in DUMBO, hop on a ferry boat for an afternoon cruise, dine on fried chicken at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg and then stay for a late-night bowling session.

New Orleans

Synonymous with partying, New Orleans will forever make Best Of lists for any rowdy gathering. Bourbon Street is a natural place to play, but don’t forget the city’s wealth of more authentic options for a good time.

Rent a house on St. Charles. Attend a crawfish boil in the Faubourg Marigny. Hit up the town’s amazing music venues like The Maple Leaf, Tipitina’s and the House of Blues. And for local bar culture, you and your best buddies should head to Frenchman Street, which is lined top to bottom with whiskey dens and Jazz bars. The culinary options in the Crescent City need no explanation, but if you do your research right, you could find yourselves eating alligator on a bayou dock after a great day of swamp touring.

Las Vegas

Sure, Vegas is a bit cliché when it comes to spending your last moments before a wedding. But let’s face it, all clichés have truth at their core. One of the city’s biggest draws is the sheer number of options. You can throw caution and credit cards to the wind, or you can party on the cheap. There are fun, affordable hotels in Old Las Vegas that might allow you to upgrade to a penthouse suite and great package deals for brides- or grooms-to-be.

There are also a bevy of cool openings planned for 2013. Be on the lookout for The Delano Las Vegas (a sister property to the famous hotel on South Beach) and Cirque du Soleil’s new show, “Michael Jackson One,” which just opened at Mandalay Bay.

Costa Rica

If your best friends are action junkies, Costa Rica is an ultimate destination for a bachelor or bachelorette weekend. Skydiving, paddleboard yoga, surfing, rainforest zip-line tours, hiking up volcanoes or driving down curvy jungle back roads to hidden beaches … it’s all easy to arrange. Your costs are low compared with American city destinations. The volcanoes in the country’s center make wonderful adventures, and the Western coast provides arguably the best beaches with the most luxury resorts. Many, like the massive Los Suenos by Marriott, are eco-friendly and focused on sustainability, while still offering perks such as world-class golf, elite spas, and proximity to great surf breaks.