Sober vacation destinations
October 26, 2017 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Some of my friends and I have started doing group vacations for our 40th birthdays. My 40th is next, but I'm an alcoholic with 91 days sobriety, so our go to spot is no longer an option for me. I need ideas for vacation spots where drinking isn't the focus. Details inside.

For the last two years, we've gone to New Orleans. The most recent trip was last week, which I skipped, although the mister went with my permission.

My birthday is in late May, usually the week before Memorial Day, and we're based in Rhode Island. There will be 5 - 9 of us and we stay in an AirBnB. We like museums, interesting restaurants, nice weather, live music, and not too much walking. We're not really the outdoorsy sort. Beach good, woods bad. Two of the couples will likely have gone to Disney World before then, so not there. We're probably limited to the continental US. I definitely do not want to go to DC while Trump is in office. I just want a place where there's enough to do for four days without resorting to day drinking and I'd like to avoid places with a strong party culture, like New Orleans.
posted by Ruki to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
!Chicago! So many things to do, fantastic restaurants of all cuisines and price ranges, decent weather in late May, beaches (probably not warm enough to swim in tho), lots of live music, comedy shows, etc. Some walking, but easy access to cabs/Lyft/Uber etc and public transportation. I can't speak to the Airbnb situation here though.
posted by Fig at 7:31 AM on October 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

If you want to stay east-coast, maybe Boston? It's often nice that time of year. Lots of good food, including great ice cream, all sorts of things to do and see. It's about as walkable as you want to make it, since there's public transit or you could potentially drive since you're close-ish. Plenty of AirBnBs.

If you want to go farther afield, maybe Santa Fe, NM? Beautiful landscapes, museums and galleries and plenty of local artists, live music, also lots of great food. No beach, obviously, but there's a Japanese-style onsen. Gentle hiking too -- like, paved loops that let you see points of interest, if you don't want anything intense. (And given the altitude, it's often not advisable for visitors to drink much anyway!)
posted by halation at 7:34 AM on October 26, 2017

What about having the trip be a specific skill building vacation? Do a week long course in water colour painting, or massage, or what have you.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:36 AM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Although I can understand not wanting to go to DC right now, remember that the city is much more than the federal government, both culturally and politically. For example, Trump received only 4.1 percent of the DC vote. In wildly conservative San Francisco, in contrast, he received 9.2 percent.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:43 AM on October 26, 2017 [10 favorites]

Los Angeles would be perfect, in my opinion. Weather is always beautiful, they have great museums, and it's almost literally impossible to get a bad meal there. Seriously, the food in LA is bested only by the Bay Area. And no one walks in LA (ok, I exaggerate, but it's not a walking city, and it's very easy to get around by car). Congrats on your sobriety!
posted by holborne at 7:45 AM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

My partner is pregnant, and we were trying to decide whether to go to New York or Los Angeles for a post-Christmas trip. As she put it, there's a lot to do in New York without drinking, while she couldn't imagine going to LA without drinking. So we're going to New York. Of course you end up spending more on lodging in New York than just about anywhere else, but your cost of getting to New York will be low.

I can't speak to the AirBnB situation in New York, though, and it might work against you since you'd need a relatively large place to fit that group.

See also: Philadelphia.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:09 AM on October 26, 2017

Could you do an activity-focused vacation? I'm joining the rest of some corner of the Internet in falling down the "maybe I should get a paramotor" hole, and the idea of spending two weeks learning that (or any other) skill seems like a pretty ideal vacation to me. You might still have to find ways to occupy your evenings that are not "drinking," and depending on the vibe of the people you're with that may remain a challenge, but at least then "go drink" would not be the focus, and you'd have some safety and performance related reasons to abstain even if you were not intentionally sober.
posted by Alterscape at 8:11 AM on October 26, 2017

My family (2 adults, 1 20-year-old, 1 17-year-old) spent five days in San Diego in August and it was AMAZING. Walkable if you want it to be, parking never seemed to be an issue for us, the food was INCREDIBLE, and Balboa Park has SO MANY MUSEUMS. And the beaches were breathtaking. We loved it so much.
posted by cooker girl at 8:22 AM on October 26, 2017

Anywhere except New Orleans! NO and Munich are the only places I've ever been where drinking is almost forced on you, and even Munich is not as bad as NO. All the places mentioned so far are great, so are other cities, because all will offer museums, interesting restaurants and live music in an atmosphere that does not absolutely insist on drinking or acting like it's Mardi Gras. I personally vote for Philly, Baltimore, DC or some combination of the three, but really, anywhere will be fine except for New Orleans.

BTW, I love New Orleans. But it is what it is.
posted by ubiquity at 8:25 AM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anywhere except New Orleans, surely. In addition to culturally interesting places, cities with "health" cultures (too many to list, but obviously includes San Francisco, LA, San Diego) have juice bars and kombucha bars and a whole food/beverage establishment that celebrates and elevates healthy living.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:36 AM on October 26, 2017

Seconding Chicago. Fantastic museums, great theater, gorgeous parks.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 9:45 AM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Beach good, woods bad.

Santa Monica/Venice

Lots of interesting things to do in the immediate area, especially restaurants. It's also a great place to do nothing. Bergamot Station is three Expo line light rail stops away from downtown Santa Monica, and the expo line will make it easy to get to other parts of the city without a car (and maybe a short Lyft ride) which gives you access to LACMA, MOMA, and tons of other museums. There will also be tons of live music options.

Congratulations on your sobriety!
posted by Room 641-A at 9:55 AM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I should add that I don't really drink, and haven't for at least 15 years, and can't think of a single activity where that was a problem. Also, in this part of town there are probably as many juice bars as there are alcohol bars.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:00 AM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Philadelphia or Baltimore, maybe. I've spent very fine weekends in both places, where there was a lot of museum-y stuff to do - both cultural and historic - and decent restaurants, and at no point in either place did i go to a bar.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:20 AM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Utah, for obvious reasons, is pretty low on alcohol. Maybe Zion National Park!
posted by miyabo at 10:27 AM on October 26, 2017

Charleston! It's a super-charming historic city with plenty to do.

There is, omg SO MUCH good and interesting food; I'll just leave you with a couple pieces.

There are beaches (Folly Island and Isle of Palm are closest, Kiawah & Seabrook are a nice day trip with plenty of terrific food and shopping). May is definitely beach weather there. One of my favorite things to do in that area is charter a fishing boat, which can be a fun half day group activity.

There are smaller museums, historic architecture, shopping, galleries, local markets, here is a list of things to do.

Congratulations on 91 days! That's quite an accomplishment.
posted by lalex at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Agreeing with Chicago and New York, maybe also Philadelphia. I had a good time without drinking in Atlanta and Houston, but that might be because I had almost no expectations of what they might be like.
posted by plonkee at 9:23 PM on October 26, 2017

I had a good time without drinking in Atlanta

I live in Atlanta. There is no reason to visit here.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but it's really one of those places that's better to live in than to visit.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:52 AM on October 27, 2017

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