40th Birthday Ideas for an Unforgettable Trip Around the Sun

Kimberly Miles Avatar

two women on a 40th birthday trip to an oceanfront destination
Photo credit: Pixabay

Ready to celebrate the big 4-0 with an epic birthday trip? Not sure where to go? We’ve got you covered. First, decide if you’re going solo for some quiet contemplation, with your partner to a bucket list destination or somewhere FUN with your besties to party like your college days. Then check out the SheBuysTravel list of both domestic and international 40th birthday trip ideas. You’ll have the best birthday trip ever, one that you’ll be talking about for years…until it’s time to celebrate your 50th!

Domestic 40th Birthday Trip Ideas

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The view from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Photo credit: Greater Palm Springs CVB

Palm Springs, California

What better way to bring in your 40th birthday than in a gorgeous desert oasis with 360 days of sunshine? Known for its hot springs, spas, luxurious and fun hotels (like the new Margaritaville Resort) and world-class golf courses, Palm Springs has what you need to have a blast whether you choose to party it up or relax.

Palm Springs has some of the best pool parties, bars, casinos and nightlife. There’s absolutely no shortage of places to go or things to do to ring in the big 40. If your birthday falls in mid-April, get glammed up and head to the Coachella Music Festival for a good time!

For something more low key, Palm Springs has many mineral hot springs and day spas where you can truly, relax and pamper yourself. Outdoor lovers can head to Coachella Valley to partake in outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, horseback riding and biking.

Napa Valley is an excellent 40th birthday celebration destination
A Napa sunset. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Napa Valley, California

If upscale wineries and spas sound like your idea of a good time, then Napa Valley needs to be on your list of 40th birthday trip ideas. Whether you go alone, with your significant other or with a group of friends, Napa Valley will not disappoint.

Many know Napa Valley for its world-class wine region and Michelin star restaurants. However, Napa packs so much more that make for an incredible and relaxing birthday getaway. Take a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train to get the best of Napa’s food and wine while admiring the scenic valleys and vineyards along the way. Afterwards, spoil yourself with a spa treatment at the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs where you can get a relaxing massage or even a volcanic ash mud bath.

Read More: Want More Wine? Check Out Temecula in SoCal

A boardwalk with palm trees at sunset in Miami, one of the best places to spend a 40th birthday
Lined with boutique hotels, classy restaurants and plenty of nightlife, Miami is a great place to spend a 40th birthday with a group of friends. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

Miami, Florida

For people watching and entertainment, Miami won’t disappoint. And as someone who has spent many special occasions in Miami and South Beach, I can say that it is the ultimate place to spend a milestone birthday!

Lined with bright boutique hotels, cafes high-end restaurants, Art Deco architecture and incredible beach views, popular Ocean Drive is fun to stroll both day and night. It also has a very busy nightlife and bar scene if that’s your thing. 

Even if the party scene isn’t for you, there’s plenty of other relaxing and fun things to do. One can easily spend a day lounging at the hotel pool and sipping on mojitos. You can also take a tour around Star Island, explore Little Havana or take a road trip to Key West (more on that next)! But before you head home, make sure you do some shopping at some the many high-end boutique shops for souvenirs and one-of-a-kind clothing.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Key West, Florida

There are those who love to soak up the sun and sea from the sidelines. And then there are others who actually love to jump in the sea. If the latter sounds like you, the island of Key West is an excellent option for a 40th birthday getaway! Just a short day trip from Miami, Key West is known for its coral reefs (including the nation’s only living barrier reef) as well as its snorkeling and diving opportunities. It’s one of the best birthday vacation ideas in the Florida Keys for groups and individuals, especially those celebrating their big day!

Key West is also known to have a festive nightlife culture. So if you’re looking to get your party on, you’ll have your choice of pubs, bars, live music venues and dance clubs. The nightly Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square is the perfect way to celebrate another trip around the sun. And before you leave, don’t forget to snap a souvenir photo at the Southernmost Point in the continental USA!

A lake surrounded by trees in New York, one of the best places to spend a 40th birthday.
A stroll through New York’s beautiful Central Park is a relaxing way to spend the day sightseeing before heading out to your birthday dinner later in the evening. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

New York City, NY

Packed with iconic restaurants, beautiful parks, live entertainment and world-known attractions, the Big Apple is a great place to spend a 40th birthday bash. Whether with a group of friends, your significant other or even with the family, New York City has plenty of fun things to do and see, no matter what time of year you visit.

There are many ways to bring in and celebrate the big day in the City That Never Sleeps. Spend the day sightseeing and visiting popular sites such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building before heading to Times Square for dinner and a show. And don’t forget to take a stroll through the massive and beautiful Central Park, a great place to take in all of the beauty around you and give thanks for another year and another milestone.

The MGM hotel in Las Vegas, one of the best places to spend a 40th birthday.
Las Vegas is a mecca for entertainment and a super fun place to spend a milestone birthday! Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

Las Vegas

Keeping it honest, Las Vegas is the ultimate vacation destination for any type of celebration. Between the glitzy lights, slot machines and top-notch nightlife, Vegas is one of those destinations that you add to the list when you want to get your adrenaline pumping and have an unforgettable happy birthday.

The greatest thing about Las Vegas is that there’s plenty to do no matter what time of day it is. During the day there are pool parties galore to keep you cool in the dry desert heat. Of course there are the casinos and table games if you’re feeling lucky. But perhaps topping the casino and nightlife are the numerous shows and events. From live music to the thrilling Cirque du Soleil shows such as “O” and , there’s no shortage of entertainment opportunities to bring in your 40th birthday in an exciting way. 

As one of the biggest high-end shopping meccas in the nation, it won’t be hard to spoil yourself with a nice gift. Vegas also has plenty of casual dining and fine dining restaurants to celebrate your big day. Or, take a day trip to the breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park and Hoover Dam.

Read More: Beyond the Casinos: Best Day Trips from Vegas

It's not a visit to Maui without some time on the beach. Be sure to make one of your free in Maui stops a beach visit. Soak in the sand!
It’s not a visit to Maui without some time on the beach. Be sure to make one of your free in Maui stops a beach visit. Soak in the sand! Photo credit: Nasreen Stump

Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii has several gorgeous islands to choose from. But when it comes to celebrating a big birthday, Maui sits at the top of the list of beautiful places to go. In fact, it has been consistently rated as the “Best Island in the U.S.” by Condé Nast Traveler.

With more than 30 miles of world-famous beautiful beaches, immaculate scenery, and impressive volcanic rock formations, Maui is a great choice for those who’d rather spend their days out in nature versus partying the night away. There are activities to keep you active during your big day, from parasailing and helicopter tours to hiking and tours. 

Once you’ve worked up an appetite from all the fun things you did during the day, wind down and indulge in traditional Hawai’ian cuisine at a sunset luau. After all, Maui is famous for its local cuisine, and your birthday is a good excuse to indulge!

International 40th Birthday Trip Ideas

A sign in the sand on the beach in Cancun, one of the best places to spend a 40th birthday,
Life really is better when you spend your birthday on a Mexican beach! Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

Cancun, Mexico

When I think of a destination birthday, the first thing at the top of my mind is a Caribbean beach vacation. If you feel the same way, then Cancun should definitely be among the list of 40th birthday trip ideas. Cancun is packed with all-inclusive beach resorts that make planning a 40th birthday beach vacation a breeze.

And although there are many busy nightclubs and bars, Cancun isn’t all about partying until the sun comes up. Cancun is also a popular family vacation destination, meaning there’s something for all ages and travel styles.

When not on one of the beautiful white sand beaches, there are opportunities to explore historical Mayan ruins. You can also swim in cenotes and tour architectural wonders such as Chichen Itza. Other popular beach towns such as Playa del Carmen and Cozumel are just a short day trip away.

And of course a trip to Cancun isn’t complete without a trip to Isla Mujeres. Just a little over 4 miles long, this beautiful island off of the coast of Cancun is a lovely way to spend the day exploring via golf cart, swimming in clear blue waters and dining at some of the best restaurants and eateries in the region.

A palm-tree lined boardwalk at sunset in Puerto Vallarta, one of the best places to spend a 40th birthday.
For a Mexican destination birthday that has the best of all worlds, Puerto Vallarta is a top pick. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

On the West Coast of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is a popular vacation destination for solo travel, best friend getaways and family vacations. As a resident of Puerto Vallarta, I can confidently say that anyone who spends their 40th birthday here won’t be disappointed. In fact, there’s so much to do and see that you may want to come back every birthday!

If you want to spend your birthday relaxing at the beach, Puerto Vallarta has many. When you want to get pampered at a spa or salon, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Into outdoor activities? You can hike to waterfalls, bike through the Sierra Madre Mountains or enjoy water activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding. The Rhythms of the Night boat tour is a popular crowd pleaser and excellent birthday gift to yourself or someone else. And of course there’s all kinds of nightlife and entertainment along the malecon, with amazing views of the sunset.

Read More: The Best Beaches in Mexico, Ranked by a Local

View the famous blue domed buildings in Santorini, an epic 40th birthday celebration destination
Santorini’s famous blue-domed buildings. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf


So you want to ring in your 40 years in a picture-perfect dream location? Well, the Greek Islands should be at the top of the list of 40th birthday trip ideas. No matter how you choose to spend your birthday, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Party-goers will want to head to Mykonos. It is known for its incredible nightlife, cosmopolitan vibe and beautiful, sandy beaches. It’s also popular for its white houses, stairways and chapels. Santorini is a great place to spend a more relaxed birthday, with black sand beaches, wineries, unique landscape and architecture. And don’t pass up Athens! The largest island in Greece, Athens is packed with history, ancient ruins and incredible restaurants. It’s also one of the most budget-friendly!

Take a dip in one of Iceland's hot springs to celebrate your 40th birthday.
Iceland’s stunning hot springs are a wonderful place to celebrate a 40th birthday. Photo credit: GeoSea


If the Northern Lights is on your bucket list, your 40th birthday is the time to check it off! Known as “the Land of Fire and Ice”, Iceland is an ultimate birthday destination more than worth a 40-year wait.

The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, is known for its famous lagoons, swimming pools, natural hot tubs, museums and theaters. In fact, it is home to some of the best hot springs in the world! A trip along the Golden Circle route is a great way to view some of Iceland’s best attractions including volcanoes, waterfalls, geysers, and the famous Blue Lagoon (a must-do on your big day). The Reykjavik restaurant and nightlife scene is also growing. That way, you can eat good before dancing the night away to celebrate another year!

The Italian island of Sardinia is a great year-round destination, even outside of swimming season. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks


If exploring some of the world’s best art, food, architecture and fashion is your idea of a good time, you may want to book a ticket to Italy for your 40th birthday. Home to the famous cities of Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan, Italy is one of those bucket list destinations that certainly tops the birthday destination list.

One can easily spend days if not months in Italy basking in its extraordinary architecture, art and culture. Head to Rome to explore the famous Colleseum, Trevi Fountain or Vatican Museums. If you’re into art, you’ll certainly want to head to Florence to view masterpieces by Michelangelo and other world-famous artists. Spend your birthday afternoon sailing down the canals of Venice. Or treat yourself to some high-end fashion-finds with a shopping trip in Milan!

Photo credit: Simon Steinberger from Pixabay


Known for its tropical beaches, ancient ruins, temples and palaces, Thailand is a beautiful and colorful place to spend a birthday. In fact, Thailand is such an incredible place that it is nicknamed “The Land of Smiles.” The best part is that the dollar stretches pretty far, so you won’t have to break the bank to celebrate!

Located in Southeast Asia, Thailand is a bucket list destination for many. The opportunities for how to spend a birthday getaway are endless no matter what you’re into. If you’re into food and culture, there’s the city of Bangkok. If tropical beaches are more your idea of a good time, Phuket is hands-down the place to be. And for a quiet, tranquil place where you can truly connect with nature, there’s Chiang Mai.

But no matter where you land in Thailand, be sure to spend some time checking out the floating markets, volunteering at elephant sanctuary or taking a street food tour. Your taste buds will thank you!

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