I’ve mentioned before that I don’t drink alcohol. It’s a decision I made a long time ago for my own health and well-being, and I feel confident in this decision.
The majority of my generation, though, tends to socialize in establishments where alcohol is served. Many people report first meeting their significant others at bars. Coworkers go out for happy hours together after a long day at the office. Friends catch up over drinks.
Along with a few friends who avoid alcohol for similar – or different – reasons, I find it a challenge to come up with any other venue that is so conducive to relationship-building. Especially among people my age – the ones I’m primarily looking to meet – everyone seems to congregate almost exclusively at places where alcohol is flowing when they want to socialize.
My teetotaler friends and I often ask ourselves the same question: “Where can I meet people without going to a bar?”
There isn’t always a great solution to this question. But whether you’re looking for your future spouse or a squad to call your own, there are a few places I’ve found millennials tend to lurk:
- The gym. Whether it’s the nearest YMCA or a specialty fitness club, young people abound. Statistics say we’re the most likely group to exercise, and those who are working professionals can probably afford the membership fees. Try joining a class that piques your interest – Zumba, cycling, kickboxing – or just jog around the track once a week. Or walk. Or run. Do your thing, and you’ll probably start crossing paths with others who like to do the same thing.
- Church. I know. Church “singles” groups sometimes have the worst reputations, and lots of times they deserve them. But there are also some great ones out there, especially at larger churches, and they can be full of fellow young adults hoping to make solid friends and/or walk down the aisle. If you’re lucky, your church (or a church in your area) will have more than one group going – groups for never-marrieds, single moms, young professionals, divorcees, etc.
- College. This goes without saying, but if you’re a traditional student enrolled in school, there are people your age all around you – in your classes, in the dorms, at campus events, all over the place! Get involved, introduce yourself, and befriend people hanging out in the same places you like to frequent.
- Weddings. If your high school bestie or college roommate is getting hitched, you have the perfect opportunity to spend an evening surrounded by people your age. Especially if you’re in the wedding party and will be sitting at the head table or on a bus with your friend’s other nearest and dearest pals. Smile and engage interesting people in conversation. Your friend will probably be trying to introduce you to others (or set you up with them), anyway.
- Coffee shops. We millennials love our caffeine! Bring your laptop and get some work done while you people-watch, or meet a friend for PSLs. Bonus points if you go for an open mic night or similar event, when you’re more likely to actually socialize with others who are probably there for the same reason.
- Community ed classes. Are you passionate about photography? Basketball? Mexican food? Sign up for a class in your area and start chatting up others with the same interests.
- Volunteer activities. I’ve met friends of all ages while we’ve volunteered together, both short-term and long-term. Most of my experiences volunteering have been at church – in the nursery, in the library, at VBS, hanging out with teenagers – I’ve done it all, and they’re almost always in need of extra volunteers. If you like animals, check out the humane society. If you have a heart for the homeless, serve at a soup kitchen. Or go on a missions trip. Or deliver meals on wheels. There is no shortage of opportunities!
- Your friend’s birthday party. What’s not to love about cake and ice cream? These are usually pretty chill and they provide the opportunity to potentially meet others in a safe environment. You never know what mutual friends you might click with.
- Your friend’s child’s birthday party. Even if you don’t have kids of your own – and especially if you do – you never know what commonalities you may have with the other attendees. After all, they invited you, so there’s a good chance they’ve also invited others like you.
- Your friend’s pyramid scheme party. Most of us hate these. A few actually like them. Many flock to them out of duty. Even if you’re not looking to purchase a new pair of geometric-print leggings or essential oils, show up and see who else does, too – you may leave with a new friend after you bond over how much you hate these parties!
- Your friend’s party, period. Unless it’s something you’re totally not interested in, friends’ events are always ideal for meeting new people.
- Parks or dog parks. Grab a Frisbee or Fido and take a stroll through your local park on a nice day. You’ll likely come across fellow Frisbee enthusiasts or dog-lovers, strike up a natural conversation, and voila! New friends. (Note: I only recommend taking a Frisbee if you actually like Frisbee, and only taking a dog if you actually like dogs…you get the picture. Be yourself.)
- Sporting events. If you’re a football fan, go watch a local high school game. Or run a 5k. Or join a volleyball league. Or go bowling with friends.
- A community pool. Go later in the day or evening when younger adults are out of school or off work. And if you see small children running around? Their parents could be your future best friends!
- The beach. Same as above.
- Festivals and events. Color wars. Art displays. Food truck festivals. Every community has some type of event calendar. Check out what’s happening near you via Facebook or your city’s website, and be on your way!
- Concerts. A surefire way to meet people who are into the same type of music you are.
- Class reunions. They only happen every five or ten years, but they’re guaranteed to be bursting at the seams with people your age.
- Farmer’s markets. You’re looking for fresh local kale and so are 47 other millennials. You’re bound to bump into them if you frequent the same vendor’s stand.
- Fundraisers. Kind of the same story as pyramid-scheme parties, only for a better cause.
- Professional networking events. Many areas have career events catering to young professionals. Check with your local chamber of commerce or city website.
- Escape rooms. These are popping up everywhere, and if you go with a small group of people, you’re more likely to be paired with other stragglers to help you solve the mystery before time runs out.
- Conferences. Whether work-related, faith-based, or designed to build some sort of skill, you’ll find yourself in a large room surrounded by people who are like-minded on some level. There may be breakout sessions requiring you to interact in small groups, as well.
- The grocery store. Especially if it’s one that’s swarming with millennials, such as Aldi or Trader Joe’s.
- Cafeterias and restaurants. Buffets especially tend to facilitate more conversation since you’re continually bumping into one another, but any eatery can work! Especially if you’re waiting to get in and you see your neighbors or classmates in line, too.
There you have it: 25 places to potentially meet your newest friend or love interest. Do you have anything to add to this list? Tell us below in the comments!