After the phrase “go west, young man” first appeared in the Terre Haute Express in 1851 and later in the New-York Tribune, people flocked to the West in droves. It’s no surprise, then, that the region is full of energetic go-getters who love filling their days with activities ranging from fancy dinners to relaxing massages to hurtling across forested valleys. We’ve curated a list of some of the most exemplary experiences in the West, and there’s a showdown at dawn. Which will come out on top of this region’s Best of Groupon bracket?
Round One Wrap-Up
Though the expression “hang loose” originated in the West, adrenaline-fueled activities largely beat out relaxing meals and spa treatments. Running contrary to this trend is a class taught by a massage therapist to the stars—an upset that’s perhaps less surprising when you consider that the region lays claim to Hollywood. So, what’s at stake for round two? For starters, a couple of opportunities to commune with exotic animals will do battle with an airborne combat simulator and a 70-foot water slide. Stay tuned for the results.
Read about the most Groupon experiences in the West:
1. Sip wines at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Santa Monica, CA
With a wine list of more than 1,200 choices curated from 100,000 bottles, it’s no surprise Wine Spectator once deemed Valentino’s cellar “the greatest wine cellar of them all.” Try an affordable $50 bottle or watch someone like frequent visitor Wolfgang Puck plunk down the cash for a $25,000 bottle.
2. Scream “Yas, queen!” during a drag show in Santa Ana, CA
The audience is part of the Lipstick & Lashes drag show, so you’ll get up close and personal with the host, former RuPaul’s Drag Race star Shannel. This choreographed production features a large cast of female impersonators, backup dancers, and a three-course dinner.
3. Eat award-winning barbecue with sharks in Litchfield Park, AZ
It’s not every day you can eat meat next to sharks without any repercussions, but you can here. This Dillon’s is located at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park, so naturally its dining room abuts a 60,000-gallon tank housing sharks, colorful fish, and eels.
4. Learn how to treat your partner like a celebrity in Portland, OR
The Love Institute
The Love Institute (formerly The Love Lab) teaches you and your partner how to express your love during couples massage classes. Best of all, you get to learn the same massage techniques founder Meagan Holub has used on A-listers and royalty.
5. Get a massage set to a soundtrack in San Diego, CA
Rock Spa at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Rock Spa may be the only spa in the country that sets a pulsating massage to a curated soundtrack. Listen to the greatest hits of yesterday and today, which are synced up to different massage pressures and rhythms.
6. Freeze your woes in Scottsdale, AZ
Step into a chamber set between -200 and -250 degrees Fahrenheit to fight inflammation and prove you’re tougher than a physics test written in Old Norse. The results tend to vary from person to person, but benefits could include weight loss, increased energy, and improved circulation.
7. Explore the Gaslamp Quarter on a walking tour in San Diego, CA
The Sofia Hotel
There’s a lot to do at this newly renovated art-deco-style hotel, but if you want an insider look at San Diego, try one of its walking tours to the Gaslamp Quarter. This trendy neighborhood—and nightlife hot spot—is full of Victorian-era buildings and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
8. Sip bubbly while soaring over wine country in Temecula, CA
A hot-air balloon whisks you hundreds of feet above wine country for a sunset ride accompanied by champagne. Upon landing, a 4x4 vehicle transports you to the picturesque Monte De Oro Winery for a post-flight party.
9. Stay in a floating hotel aboard a famous ocean liner in Long Beach, CA
The Queen Mary
See how celebrities such as Clark Gable, Winston Churchill, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor traveled in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s with a stay aboard what was once the grandest ocean liner in the world. It was even briefly transformed into a troop-transport ship during World War II.
10. Zipline over lush valleys and then step off a cliff in Kauai, HI
Skyline Eco-Adventures’ outfit on Kauai sends adventurers hurtling over lush valleys on five- or eight-line zipline tours. Choose the eight-line tour and test your nerve by stepping off a platform perched above a sheer cliff—bonus points if you cackle beforehand.
11. Plunge down a 70-foot-tall water slide at over 30 mph in Salt Lake City
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, climb to the top of the 70-foot tower, Lightning Falls, which sends you hurtling headfirst down a 244-foot-long slide at more than 30 mph. Afterward, lower your heart rate with a leisurely float down the lazy river.
12. Drive an ATV through Valley of Fire State Park in North Las Vegas, NV
Adrenaline ATV Tours
Get dirty while zipping through Valley of Fire State Park in your own ATV during a three-hour tour. Guides lead you past breathtaking red sandstone formations and 3,000-year-old Native American petroglyphs.
13. Use your breath to shape glass in Tigard, OR
Live Laugh Love Glass
Learn how to shape hot molten glass into a decorative piece, such as a wavy vase, a pumpkin, or a hummingbird feeder, during hands-on glass-blowing classes. The glass is heated up in a furnace that is never turned off, not even at night.
14. Ride a horse on an original stagecoach trail in Sedona, AZ
A Day in the West
Appropriate for beginners, A Day in the West’s horseback rides lead you (and your equine companion) over Oak Creek, through the juniper-pinyon woodlands of Coconino National Forest, and up to a scenic overlook of the Verde Valley. While this particular itinerary skips Sedona’s legendary vortexes, a portion of the ride covers an original stagecoach trail.
15. Pretend you’re a zookeeper in Anchorage, AK
The Alaska Zoo
The zoo has provided a home for injured and orphaned animals of the Arctic and subarctic for more than four decades. Its public-education efforts include the Keeper for a Day program, which lets you help prepare the animals’ food and even feed the wolves.
16. Engage in airborne combat in San Diego, CA
USS Midway Museum
The museum, located on the USS Midway aircraft carrier, lets you barrel-roll away from enemy fire during naval battles on flight simulators. Afterward, check out the museum’s 60 exhibits and collection of more than 29 restored military aircraft.