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Great Places to Celebrate Milestone Birthdays (and Special Occasions)

Discover top destinations to mark major life milestones.

U.S. News & World Report

Great Places to Celebrate Milestone Birthdays (and Special Occasions)

Whether you want an adventurous or serene celebratory escape, there are plenty of standout spots for special occasions.(Getty Images)

There are birthdays and then there are birthdays. Certain milestones – 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 – are significant events. Such moments call for a memorable celebratory trip. And when you want to go big on your birthday, there's nothing like being somewhere that sets the tone for the occasion, and better yet, helps launch you into the next phase of life. So, without further ado, here are standout spots to mark major life milestones.

When You Turn 21…

Visit an Outside-the-Box Party Destination

Forget about traditional party spots like Miami, Las Vegas and New York City. Eight miles east of Puerto Rico, Vieques features the largest natural wildlife refuge in the Caribbean and a vibrant nightlife. And at the W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island, you can take a  three-day DJ retreat that teaches the art of spinning tunes, perfect to play by day and mix and mingle by night. For an out of the ordinary experience, head to the property's two-level infinity WET splash pool, where tunes pulsate through the underwater sound system streaming a custom mix directly through the water. Best of all, when you're not sipping tropical cocktails around a fire pit, there's adventurous pursuits – hiking, horseback riding and nighttime tours of the Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay – to keep you busy.

Jump into Your Twenties

If you're looking for a thrilling vacation experience, it's hard to beat jumping into the Devil's Pool, a natural infinity pool at Victoria Falls, along the Zimbabwe-Zambia border in southern Africa. With guides from Tongabezi, a high-end safari lodge situated near the falls, you can catch magnificent lunar rainbow views and swim at the edge of the waterfall without worrying about your safety.

For an adventure that's exhilarating, but not as far-flung as Zambia, consider visiting Negril, Jamaica. After getting your adrenaline pumping while cliff jumping, you can unwind at Rick's Cafe, a lively bar known for its picturesque cliffside location and its majestic sunsets. Aside from serving some of the best cocktails in Negril, Rick's nearby cliffs offer memorable diving spots for those seeking a spine-tingling adventure.

When You Turn 30…

Trek into Your Thirties

Take a life-changing four-day hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. With a luxury tour operator, you can enjoy hot showers, massages and meals prepared by a private cook. And once you've reached the end of the trail, you'll arrive at Sun Gate, which offers a magnificent view of the ruins. From there, you can check out temples and agricultural areas or impressive vantage points like Huayna Picchu, which offers a bird's-eye view of the ruins.

Reach New Heights

Though it's hard to beat visiting Machu Picchu's iconic sites, memorable experiences at Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina in Saint Lucia await daring travelers looking to steer away from a cookie-cutter vacation. Climb one of St. Lucia's iconic landmarks like Gros Piton, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or relax with treatment at Auriga Spa at Capella Marigot Bay, which incorporates natural ingredients from the island.

When You Turn 40…

Recharge with a Spiritual Awakening

At forty, you'll likely want to connect with your body and soul. To embark on a spiritual adventure, head to Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Costa Rica. Think of it as Club Med to get rejuvenated in a splendid beachfront setting. During your stay, you can feast on organic, locally grown food, indulge in unlimited massages and volcanic mud baths and meditate, among other activities.

You can also boost your health and wellness with a relaxing getaway to Turks & Caicos, which is sure to put you at ease with its aquamarine waves, sugary sands and impressive coral reefs. The Residences at Grace Bay Club offer five-bedroom villas so you and your loved ones can celebrate at the spa, the beach or top culinary spots, especially local crowd-pleasers like Mr. Grouper's Restaurant and Da Conch Shack.

Dive into Your Forties

For a trip to remember, consider heading to Fiji, where you can learn to dive among spectacular coral reefs. The Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort is surrounded by palms, mountains and the calming Savusavu Bay and is often lauded for its standout dive sites. Beyond getting certified to dive in just three days, you can enjoy the world-class dining, secluded sands and the magnificent reefs of the Namena Marine Reserve.

When You Turn 50…

Go Somewhere Exotic

To celebrate this important milestone, consider exploring the island nation of Sri Lanka. Make sure you take the train through the tea plantations from Ella to Kandy and you embrace the region's lush forests and diverse species as you check out Buddhist temples, colonial architecture and Sri Lanka's flavorful gastronomy. And if you're looking to splurge, spend your first night in the Mount Lavinia Hotel Colombo, which once served as the residence for the British government, and still retains its colonial grandeur.

When You Turn 60…

Visit Italy

If you want to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime cooking vacation, it's hard to beat Tuscany. Stay in luxurious villas and spend a week learning the art of cooking authentic Italian and Mediterranean dishes. After mastering classic cooking techniques, visit an olive mill or enjoy wine-and-cheese tastings. Plus, Tuscany affords ample time to relax, hike or sightsee in the countryside, making it an ideal escape for both laid-back and adventurous types.

When You Turn 70…

Visit Places on Your Bucket List

Let's say you've been meaning to get to Zanzibar in Tanzania. Now is the time to go. Stay at the Protea Hotel Mbweni Ruins, a historic hotel with a beautiful botanical garden right by the Indian Ocean and far enough out of Stone Town (the old part of Zanzibar City) to enjoy some peace and quiet. There are daily shuttles into Stone Town and you'll have access to all kinds of tours.

When You Turn 80…

Focus on Family  

Your eighties is a time to enjoy quality bonding time with your family. Myrtle Beach, in South Carolina, is ideal for family fun and offers affordable lodging options. There's enough action for kids, tweens, millennials and beyond. It's a culinary gem with seafood and anything else you might fancy. There's the beach, boardwalk and Brookgreen Gardens, not to mention live entertainment at The Carolina Opry, including the Time Warp show, which showcases hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s. 

When You Turn 90…

Plan a Tranquil Getaway

If you want the peaceful atmosphere of Antigua or Bermuda but don't want to trek the miles, consider Alys Beach on the Florida Panhandle. There are many vacation rentals and much to do from swimming at Caliza, the community pool, biking, taking in the 20-acre preserve and more. And if you're based on the West Coast, consider planning a trip to Palm Springs, a desert hideaway set at the foot of the rugged Santa Rosa Mountains, filled with colorful flowers, fragrant tangerine and grapefruit trees and picturesque courtyards, all framed by towering palms.

When You Turn 100…

Celebrate Cherished Travel Experiences

Pavia Rosati, founder and CEO of travel website Fathom, suggests celebrating the occasion by reconstructing a favorite travel experience. She advises recreatng memories, such as "a Mexican feast (with a piñata) to recall the high times in Acapulco, an Italian spaghetti feast to honor your Amalfi Coast honeymoon or a Brazilian feijoada so you can see if you remember those Carnival samba moves all these decades later."

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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