While they don’t date back as far as actual wedding ceremonies, it’s believed bachelor parties started as early as the 5th century B.C. with the ancient Spartans, who held grand dinners on the groom's final night as a single man. The tradition continues to this day, with the groom’s final send-off ranging from formal black-tie affairs to wild and rowdy weekends. Below we offer 10 out-of-the-box bachelor party ideas that go beyond the typical booze and babes night out.
There’s nothing like some roaring Class IV rapids to foster a little male bonding. At the U.S. National Whitewater Center, you and your buds can experience the largest multi-channel, man-made river in the world. Other adrenaline-pumping activities at this 300-acre outdoor oasis include rock-climbing walls, a ropes challenge course, mountain bike trails, and zip lines. Afterwards, get a bite to eat and cold beer at River’s Edge Bar and Grill, which provides panoramic views of the river. www.usnwc.org
If the groom is a music lover, a great place to celebrate is NC Music Factory. Situated in Fourth Ward, this multifaceted entertainment complex hosts both regional and national acts at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheater and The Fillmore, an intimate, 2,000-seat indoor venue. Before or after the show, grab a drink and dinner at one of the Factory’s restaurants or bars, including VBGB, which has an expansive outdoor beer garden. www.ncmusicfactory.com
Luxe and Laid-Back
Who’s to say the groom’s side can’t enjoy a little pampering before the big day? The perfect spot is Emerson Joseph, a men’s grooming lounge with a full lineup of spa services, including Swedish and deep-tissue massages as well as a straight razor shave. The guys can also hang out in the private Room XIII, which has a pool table, bar, and catering from Ruth's Chris. www.emersonjoseph.com
Behind the Wheel
The groom and his buddies are sure to get a rush during this fuel-injected good time when they strap themselves into a growling 600-horsepower stock car and zoom around the Charlotte Motor Speedway at speeds of up to 165 mph. The Richard Petty Driving Experience offers several different programs, including ride-alongs, where you sit shotgun with a professional driver for a three-lap trip, to the more daring Rookie Experience, during which you’re behind the wheel for a thrilling eight-lap race. www.drivepetty.com
One Stop Shop
The great thing about this sprawling, three-story entertainment complex is there’s so much to do all at one location. StrikeCity is a state-of-the-art bowling alley with yummy bar fare, dozens of flat-screen TVs, and private party rooms with pool tables. For dinner, chow down on a juicy steak at BlackFinn American Saloon or try top-notch sushi at Enso Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar. For some rowdy fun, head to clubs like Whisky River or Howl at the Moon, or try something a little more upscale at Suite, an exclusive nightclub and lounge, or the Moroccan-inspired and designed Kazba. www.epicentrenc.com
A day on the links is a great way to celebrate a friend’s final days of singlehood, and Charlotte boasts one of the nicest courses around at the scenic, tree-lined Golf Club at Ballantyne. The club, which is also home to the renowned Dana Rader Golf School, is part of The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, which boasts a luxurious spa, salon, swimming pools, tennis courts and gourmet dining at Gallery Restaurant. Gallery Bar is a popular stop, too, with the Carolinas’ most celebrated Scotch collection, featuring more than 60 labels. If you want to make it an overnight celebration, there are numerous golf packages available, which include accommodations, breakfast and a round of golf. www.theballantynehotel.com
Send your buddy off with a righteous toast during a tour of all the great Charlotte-area breweries. Options include The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery ( www.oldemeckbrew.com ), which offers about a half-dozen German-inspired beers along with a growing number of seasonals. In the funky NoDa neighborhood the NoDa Brewing Company ( www.nodabrewing.com ) has a full lineup of American Pale Ales, India Pale Ales and Porters, and Heist Brewery ( www.heistbrewery.com ) boasts beers served along with unique menu items like Lobster Bisque Test Tubes and Kurobuta Pork Belly Corn Dogs. Just north of Charlotte at Lake Norman you’ll find Davidson Beverage Company ( www.davidsonbeverage.com ), with over 300 craft beers and six rotating taps.
Neighborhood Pub Crawl
There’s no need to venture uptown when there’s Montford Drive, an eclectic mix of casual bars and restaurants all within easy walking distance of each other. Options include Moosehead Grill ( www.mooseheadgrill.com ), which is famous for its chicken wings and lively bar, or Good Food on Montford ( www.goodfoodonmontford.com ) for upscale, tasty small plates. Stop in at Angry Ale's, a rowdy college bar with a large deck and regular drink specials or Ten Park Lanes ( www.rollten.com ) for a retro bowling experience. End the night at Jeff's Bucket Shop, a funky little underground spot with karaoke and eclectic crowds.
Take the Fall
Consider it a practice for taking the plunge on the big day: Skydive Carolina in Chester, S.C., offers a range of skydiving experiences, including tandem jumps for beginners, during which the groom and his buddies can leap out of a plane at 14,000 feet and free-fall for about a minute, reaching speeds of up 120 mph. It will almost be as big of an adrenaline rush as saying “I do!” www.skydivecarolina.com
Day on the Lake
What better way to celebrate the groom than with a fun-filled day on the lake? Whether it’s a fishing trip, pleasure cruise, or water sports like skiing and wakeboarding, there are dozens of companies around Lake Norman that charter or rent boats for all occasions. www.visitlakenorman.org