Turning 21 is a huge milestone in a young adult’s life. These are the best things to do when you turn 21 to celebrate!
Before we get started, here’s a quick caveat: Turning 21 is majorly linked with drinking alcohol in the United States, since 21 is the legal drinking age.
If you choose to drink when you turn 21, do it responsibly! You’ll have much more fun if you can remember everything that happened the night before and don’t wake up with a painful hangover.
And that being said, you don’t have to drink when you turn 21. There are plenty of ideas on this list that don’t involve alcohol, and you aren’t missing out on anything if you choose not to drink.
Here are the best things to do when you turn 21 to celebrate your birthday:
1. Have your first legal drink
One of the most obvious things to do when you turn 21 is to have your first legal drink of an alcoholic beverage.
21 is the minimum drinking age in the United States, so this is the first time you will be able to order an alcoholic beverage at a bar or restaurant.
2. Go bar hopping
Another fun thing to do when you turn 21 is to go bar hopping. Many cities and towns have streets that are popular for nightlife where there are lots of bars and you can hop from one to another, hence the term “bar hopping.”
Just be sure to drink responsibly and not overdo it — the last thing you want is a horrible hangover from your 21st birthday.
3. Go to a casino
21 is the legal gambling age in many states (although in some states it’s 18.)
Going to a casino and gambling is a fun way to celebrate your 21st birthday, especially if you go somewhere like Las Vegas.
However, it’s a smart idea to set a limit (e.g. $100) that you’ll spend on gambling. Just try it out for fun, but don’t get carried away!
4. Update your license
When you turn 21, you can update your driver’s license. Right now, you most likely have a vertical driver’s license that highlights that you’re under 21.
You can now update that to a horizontal adult license — while you probably don’t want to spend your 21st birthday at the DMV, this is a good thing to do soon after you turn 21.
5. Have a hotel party
At the age of 21, you can now rent a hotel room on your own in many places. What better way to celebrate than with a hotel party?
Just keep it small (no more than a few friends) because you don’t want to get in trouble with the hotel management.
But renting a room at a local hotel, especially one with amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub, is a great way to celebrate your 21st birthday with friends.
6. Buy alcohol at the store
Turning 21 means you can now legally order alcohol and bars and restaurants, but it also means you can now buy it in the store.
Celebrate this milestone by picking out a fancy bottle of champagne or another beverage of your choice and paying for it yourself.
7. Travel abroad
Traveling abroad is something you can do at any age, but 21 is a great time to do it.
It’s a time that many college students choose to study abroad for a semester, or you can even do a multi-week backpacking trip during the summer.
If you go to Europe, you’ll be eligible for student discounts until the age of 25 or 26, so you can take advantage of free and discounted museums, train fares, and more.
A region like Southeast Asia or Central America is the perfect place to travel if you’re on a budget and want to stretch your money further.
8. Go clubbing
Along with bars, you can officially go to clubs at the age of 21.
One of the most fun things to do when you turn 21 is to gather up some friends and have a big night clubbing and dancing the night away.
9. Have a paint and sip party
Have you heard of paint and sip parties? They’re a fun group activity that involves painting and sipping wine or a beverage of your choice.
Check to see if there are any local paint and sip events near you or host your own with a group of friends!
10. Do the 21 selfie challenge
The 21 selfie challenge is one of the best things to do when you turn 21. Basically, this is a list of photos that you have to take while going out on your 21st birthday.
You can find ideas online, or have your friends come up with them.
Some photo ideas include a selfie with a stranger, a selfie kissing someone, a selfie of you dancing on a table, a selfie holding a drink someone else bought for you, and so on.
11. Drink around the world at Epcot
One of the most unique things to do when you turn 21 is to drink around the world at Disney World’s Epcot theme park.
This has become an extremely popular activity, and you’ll see lots of people wearing shirts indicating they are drinking around the world. Epcot has miniature versions of 11 different countries, and you can work your way around trying a drink in each one.
You won’t want to have a full drink in each country (that would be dangerous and extremely expensive) but splitting one with a couple of friends is a great idea.
12. Go on a road trip
Going on a spontaneous road trip with friends is one of the best things to do when you turn 21.
Consider visiting a national park, the beach, or a state you’ve never been to before. The opportunities are endless for a road trip, and it doesn’t have to cost much money either.
13. Go to a wine tasting
Celebrate your new legal drinking status by going to a wine tasting. If there are any vineyards or wineries nearby, this is a great place to do a wine tasting.
Local wine bars also typically host wine tasting events.
14. Get a tattoo
Getting a tattoo is something you can technically do at 18, but it’s also a fun thing to do when you turn 21.
Just make sure not to mix alcohol and tattoos — you don’t want to wake up with something spontaneous that you regret!
15. Have a house party
A house party is a great way to celebrate your 21st birthday. It’s even more fun if you choose a theme for your party.
A white lies party (where everyone wears a white t-shirt with an obvious funny lie about themselves) or an anything but a cup party (where everyone has to bring the most outrageous thing possible to drink out of) are both fun ideas for a 21st birthday party.
16. Attend a music festival
If you’re looking for something fun and memorable to do for your 21st birthday, why not attend a music festival?
A popular music festival like Coachella, Lollapalooza, or Ultra is a great way to celebrate your 21st birthday.
17. Buy a round of drinks
Now that you can legally buy alcohol, one thing to do is buy a round of drinks for your friends.
Especially if they planned your 21st birthday party or took you out for your birthday, buying a round of drinks for them is a great way to say thank you.
18. Visit a party destination
One of the top things to do when you turn 21 is to visit a party destination. Now that you can legally drink and go to bars, it makes these places a lot more fun.
Some ideas of party destinations in the United States to visit include Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, and Nashville.
19. Go to a boozy brunch
A boozy brunch is an extremely fun way to celebrate your 21st birthday.
Many restaurants offer boozy brunches with deals like bottomless mimosas for a certain period of time. This is a great activity to do with friends for your 21st.
20. Go on a cruise
21 is the age that you can go on a cruise by yourself. Taking a cruise is an extremely fun way to celebrate your 21st birthday.
You can find amazing deals on cruises to the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Caribbean from the U.S. making this an affordable and fun vacation.
21. Plan the rest of your twenties
While this may not be the most exciting idea on this list, planning the rest of your twenties is a great thing to do when you turn 21.
You still have nine years of your twenties ahead of you, and a lot is probably going to happen in that time — graduating college, moving, getting your first job, and so on.
Take some time to set goals or create a vision board for what you want the rest of your twenties to look like. Do you want to travel? Move to a new city? Land your dream job? Get married? Buy a house? These are all great things to think of and can help you plan for the future.
21 Things To Do When You Turn 21
This post showed you the best things to do when you turn 21.
Turning 21 is a major milestone and it’s the birthday that signifies true adulthood. These are some of the top ways to celebrate on your special day!