Making new friends as an adult can seem daunting. Unlike school or college, there are fewer opportunities to easily meet and connect with new people. However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make meaningful friendships, even in your 30s, 40s or beyond. The key is being proactive and putting yourself out there by engaging in social activities within your community.
With some effort and courage, you can meet people who share your interests and values. This leads to satisfying new friendships that enrich your life. In this comprehensive guide, we cover the top places and activities for adults to meet new people and make friends in their city.
- Places to Meet New People
- Community Centers
- Gyms and Sports Leagues
- Volunteer Organizations
- Religious Groups
- Networking Events
- Adult Education Classes
- Meetup Groups
- Local Community Events
- Dog Parks
- Co-working Spaces
- Public Transportation
- Coffee Shops and Bookstores
- Support Groups
- Social Media Groups
- Dating Apps
- Through Friends of Friends
- Activities to Bond and Deepen Friendships
- Join a Book Club
- Take a Cooking Class
- Go to Trivia Nights
- Take Group Exercise Classes
- Join a Running Group
- Go on Group Hikes
- Have Game Nights
- Take Day Trips Together
- Go to Museums and Art Galleries
- Attend Music Events
- Take Improv or Dance Classes
- Join a Softball or Kickball Team
- Volunteer Together
- Participate in Pub Crawls
- Go Salsa Dancing
- Attend Networking Happy Hours
- Join a Bowling League
- Go Wine or Beer Tasting
- Take a Pottery Class
- Go to Comedy Shows
- Cook Meals Together
- Join a Walking Group
- Have Spa Days
- Go Shopping Together
- Plan Movie Nights
- Travel Together
- Join a Yacht Club
- Have Picnics at the Park
- Take a Couples Cooking Class
- Go Rock Climbing
- Join a Choir
- Take Photography Classes
- Making Friends at Different Life Stages
- Making Friends in Your 20s
- Making Friends in Your 30s
- Making Friends After 40
- Making Friends After 50
- Making Friends After 60
- Making Friends as an Introvert
- Making Friends as a Single Parent
- Making Friends After a Big Move
- Making Friends After Loss or Divorce
- Fostering and Maintaining Friendships
- Be Open to New Experiences
- Make an Effort to Keep in Touch
- Set Up Regular Get-Togethers
- Offer Emotional Support
- Don’t Compare Friendships
- Set Healthy Boundaries
- Communicate Openly and Honestly
- Be Yourself
- Focus on Shared Interests and Experiences
- Make Time for Your Friends
- Extend Invitations
- Remember Important Occasions
- Introduce Friends to Each Other
- Don’t Spread Gossip
- Appreciate Your Friendships
- Overcoming Challenges and Obstacles
- Dealing with Rejection
- Pushing Through Social Anxiety
- Finding the Time
- Moving Past Clashing Personalities
- Balancing Multiple Friend Groups
- Letting Go of Unhealthy Friendships
- When a Friend Moves Away
- Knowing When to Say Goodbye
Life can get busy with work, family, and other obligations, making it difficult to prioritize meeting new people. However, human connection remains essential for happiness, meaning, and mental health. Investing time and effort into making new friends leads to emotional fulfillment, enjoyable experiences, and personal growth.
Adulthood provides freedom and independence, but also comes with isolation and loneliness for many. While childhood friendships stem naturally from school and neighborhood proximity, making new friends as an adult takes strategy. The good news is there are endless opportunities to meet potential friends all around you. It just takes putting yourself out there.
In this guide, we share the most effective places and activities for finding and bonding with new friends. We also provide tips on fostering meaningful friendships and overcoming common obstacles that arise. Use this guide to create an intentional action plan for expanding your social circle. Discover how enriching new adult friendships can be when you commit to the process of making them.
Places to Meet New People
Making new friends begins with increasing the quantity and quality of your social interactions. Frequent places where you encounter the same potential friends can develop into meaningful relationships over time. Here are the best places to regularly meet new people and make connections:
Local community centers offer diverse classes, events, clubs and volunteering opportunities. Taking a class or joining a club focused on an interest like arts and crafts, dance, sports, or volunteering allows you to meet like-minded individuals. Consistently participate and you’ll see familiar faces that can turn into friendships.
Gyms and Sports Leagues
Gyms provide regular proximity to the same set of people. Join fitness classes and talk to classmates before and after. Attending consistently allows acquaintances to turn into friends over time. Joining a recreational sports league expands your social circle even further.
Volunteering for a cause you care about lets you meet others with shared values. Food banks, animal shelters, museums, and special event committees need ongoing volunteers. Make it a regular habit and fellow volunteers can morph into new friendships.
If you are religious, attending services and events at your church, temple, mosque or other house of worship provides community. Introduce yourself to other members and chat over coffee hours. Deepen faith-based bonds through volunteer work or joining groups.
Attending professional networking events allows you to practice social skills and make connections. Chat people up, collect business cards, and follow up. Turn a networking relationship into a personal friendship by suggesting meeting up again in a social context.
Adult Education Classes
Enroll in a class at your local college or community center. Photography, painting, writing, language and cooking classes allow you to bond over shared interests. Suggest continuing learning together or socializing after class.
Meetup.com is a platform with groups for diverse interests like hiking, trying new restaurants, photography, travel, and more. Browsing groups related to your hobbies and attending Meetup events puts you face-to-face with like-minded people.
Local Community Events
Look up free or cheap events like concerts, festivals, outdoor movies, craft fairs, and cultural celebrations happening in your town or city. Strike up conversations with other attendees browsing booths or waiting in lines.
If you have a dog, visiting your local dog park regularly allows you to socialize with fellow pet owners. Bond over your furry friends while they play together. Suggest meeting up again for doggy play dates.
Working out of a shared co-working space allows you to network and socialize with others working independently. Interact over coffee, lunch breaks, events, and classes. Turn professional connections into personal friendships.
Strike up conversations with other riders on your bus or train commute to work. Rideshare connections can also lead to friendships. Follow up to continue chatting on future shared commutes.
Coffee Shops and Bookstores
Reading or working at a coffee shop or bookstore allows casual interactions with other patrons and staff. Make small talk about books people are reading, leave small tips, and become a regular.
Attending a support group or therapy group for a specific issue provides a community of people undergoing similar experiences. Bond through sharing and empathy. Suggest meeting up again outside group.
Social Media Groups
Facebook features local community, interest-based, and hobby groups you can join to connect with like-minded people. Reddit also has local subreddits to help you find community. Meet up in person.
Dating apps like Bumble have a “BFF” feature to find friends. Be upfront you are looking for platonic friends only. Meet quickly in public areas and don’t provide personal details until trust is built.
You don’t have to go far to make new friends – they may be right next door! Introduce yourself to neighbors and suggest meeting up for happy hour or a cookout. Walking dogs and kids playing together helps, too.
Through Friends of Friends
Having your current friends introduce you to their friends helps grow your social network exponentially. Agree to join them on a group outing or ask them to host a dinner party mixing friend groups.
Activities to Bond and Deepen Friendships
Once you’ve met new people face-to-face, suggest fun activities to continue getting to know each other better. Shared experiences form the basis for meaningful friendships. Here are great activities for bonding:
Join a Book Club
Discussing books with others reveals perspectives. Choose books together that align with your interests. Meet regularly to analyze themes, share opinions, and socialize.
Take a Cooking Class
Learn new recipes and techniques alongside potential friends in a cooking class. Bond while prepping ingredients and savor the meal you created together after.
Go to Trivia Nights
Playing trivia at a bar or restaurant combines friendly competition with mental stimulation. Brainstorm team names and cheer each other on while answering questions.
Take Group Exercise Classes
Whether yoga, pilates, crossfit, spin, martial arts or dance, working out alongside others motivates you while forming bonds. Sweat it out together then suggest grabbing a smoothie after class.
Join a Running Group
Jogging or running with others provides accountability to stay active while socializing. Sign up for a charity 5k together or just do a few miles through your neighborhood.
Go on Group Hikes
Spending time together outdoors is a simple pleasure. Join hiking groups or plan nature walks with friends. Explore new trails and scenery while catching up.
Have Game Nights
Rotate hosting game nights with snacks and drinks at each other’s homes. Play classic games like charades, trivia, poker, monopoly, chess or newer games like ‘Cards Against Humanity.’
Take Day Trips Together
Escape your everyday routine by planning day trips together to somewhere new. Explore an interesting neighborhood in your city, visit small towns nearby, check out flea markets and local sights.
Go to Museums and Art Galleries
Feed your cultural and intellectual sides together at museums featuring art, history, science or culture. Discuss opinions about exhibits while learning new things.
Attend Music Events
Seeing live music together builds memories and gives you an energizing shared experience. Check event calendars for free concerts at parks or low-cost shows at bars and clubs.
Take Improv or Dance Classes
Letting loose through laughter or dance helps friends bond. No prior experience required for improv comedy or beginner dance classes that meet weekly.
Join a Softball or Kickball Team
Recreational sports leagues like softball and kickball mean regular games, practices, and time together. Play hard followed by sponsor bar hangouts.
Give back while bonding over helping a cause you both care about. Volunteer shifts at food banks, animal shelters and community centers need groups of friends.
Participate in Pub Crawls
Exploring new bars and nightlife together brings friends closer. Look for organized pub crawls or make DIY versions hitting favorite local spots.
Go Salsa Dancing
Learn something new together by taking salsa dancing classes, then hit up salsa nights around town. Feel the energy and rhythm while engaging in friendly competition.
Attend Networking Happy Hours
Transition professional networking relationships into friendships by getting drinks or appetizers together after work events.
Join a Bowling League
Bond with friends through a little healthy competition. Join a recreational bowling league for weekly games, trash talk and celebration of strikes and spares.
Go Wine or Beer Tasting
Tour local wineries, breweries or cideries together. Sample beverages while discovering new favorites. Hop between multiple spots in a day or weekend getaway.
Take a Pottery Class
Get creative and chat while crafting pots, mugs or bowls from clay together. Feel accomplished displaying finished pieces proudly made by you and your friends.
Go to Comedy Shows
Laughter truly brings people together. See stand-up comedy shows at clubs or improv troupes at theaters. Grab a drink together while enjoying the humor.
Cook Meals Together
Cooking and dining together allows quality time to talk and just be yourselves. Share recipes and themes from different cultures.
Join a Walking Group
Combine fresh air, exercise, and friendship by joining or forming a weekly walking group in your neighborhood. Catch up while appreciating nature around you.
Have Spa Days
Pamper yourselves together by booking packages at the spa with massages, facials, soaking pools and relaxation lounges. Continue the self-care at home with face masks and wines.
Go Shopping Together
Wandering stores browsing goods, trying on clothes and providing opinions gives friends fun escapism. Shop for others’ birthdays, your home, or just for yourself.
Plan Movie Nights
Get comfortable at each other’s homes for movie marathons with popcorn, candy, and pillow forts. Take turns picking different genre themes.
Make lasting memories exploring new places together on weekend trips or longer vacations. Split costs by sharing rented homes or hotel rooms.
Join a Yacht Club
While pricey, joining a yacht club provides regular social events, sailing lessons, and opportunities to cruise together on yachts. Meet other boat enthusiasts.
Have Picnics at the Park
Pack snacks, sandwiches, fruit, wine, and blankets then enjoy the outdoors together. Let kids and dogs play nearby while you reconnect with friends.
Take a Couples Cooking Class
A couples cooking class allows two friends to learn and laugh over preparing a meal together. Then enjoy eating the fruits of your labor at the end.
Go Rock Climbing
Trust builds as you support friends climbing up a rock wall and spot them coming back down. Get adrenaline pumping together then grab a beer after.
Join a Choir
Making music together synchronizes you emotionally. Choir practices, rehearsals and performances let you harmonize with friends.
Take Photography Classes
Enroll in group photography workshops, classes or photo walk meet-ups. Improve skills together while discussing composition and styles.
Making Friends at Different Life Stages
Your approach to making new friends shifts as your responsibilities and priorities change throughout adulthood. Here are targeted tips for making friends at different life stages:
Making Friends in Your 20s
- Attend young professional happy hours
- Join sports leagues like bowling and kickball
- Take classes related to career interests
- Volunteer for causes you care about
- Introduce yourself to neighbors
- Talk to people at the gym and boutique fitness classes
- Join groups related to your hobbies on Meetup
- Say yes to any social invitation
- Make friends with coworkers
- Reach out to friends of friends
Making Friends in Your 30s
- Bond with other parents on the playground or at school events
- Meet neighbors while kids play or walking dogs
- Join family-friendly community groups
- Get to know other regulars while attending story times, classes and events at the library, rec center, church, etc.
- Organize family game nights or potlucks on your block
- Chat with fellow PTA members and parent volunteers at school
- Connect with peers through work functions
- Attend fundraising galas and charity events as couples
- Plan double dates and group dinners with other couples
Making Friends After 40
- Volunteer at organizations related to your interests
- Get more involved at your house of worship
- Start conversations on planes, trains and buses during your commute
- Take classes at local colleges through extended education programs
- Join book clubs
- Sign up for cooking, art or DIY classes
- Share know-how and network at local business groups and professional associations
- Introduce yourself at networking events
- Take small talk with gym classmates to asking to work out together
Making Friends After 50
- Spend time in the common areas of your apartment building or condo complex chatting with neighbors
- Join a recreational sports team like softball or tennis
- Sign up for exercise classes that meet at the same time each week to see familiar faces
- Volunteer as a tour guide at a museum or community theater usher
- Attend free lecture series at your library, museum or community college
- Join a hiking or outdoor enthusiasts group
- Participate in outings organized by your place of worship
- Get more involved in planning your high school reunion
- Take an arts or crafts class (knitting, pottery, jewelry making, woodworking etc.)
- Join AARP and make use of group activities and trips
Making Friends After 60
- Have coffee or lunch with former colleagues and coworkers, getting caught up
- Get to know fellow regulars while attending church services and events
- Chat with other travelers on bus tours, cruise excursions and group trips
- Volunteer as a tutor or mentor to provide purpose while meeting peers
- Spend time in shared common spaces of your senior living facility interacting with residents and staff
- Sign up for continuing education classes at your local community college
- Join a club (like photography, gardening, cards/games) at your senior center
- Attend SilverSneakers exercise classes and socialize with classmates
- Join walking, hiking or cycling groups for seniors
Making Friends as an Introvert
- Have one-on-one meetups rather than big group activities
- Look for friends with similar quieter, introspective dispositions
- Suggest low-key get-togethers like going to museums, seeing a movie, or taking a walk
- Open up talking about books, ideas, and theories you find interesting
- Volunteer together at animal shelters since pets provide comfort
Making Friends as a Single Parent
- Bond with other parents at your kid’s school events and extracurricular activities
- Get to know other regulars at your library’s children’s story times and singalongs
- Chat with other parents at the playground while your kids play
- Join single parent support groups on Facebook
- Take free or low-cost family friendly classes and activities at community centers
- Go to Meetups that welcome families so kids can socialize too
- Organize potlucks and game nights with other single parents in your neighborhood
- Make couple friends who are also parents by going on group outings
Making Friends After a Big Move
- Introduce yourself to neighbors and suggest meeting for happy hour
- Attend Meetups for hobbies and interests to quickly connect with locals
- Join recreational sports leagues to exercise while meeting people
- Volunteer at local organizations meaningful to you
- Frequently go to the same coffee shop, bar, cafe, or park to become a regular
- Bring baked goods and introduce yourself to businesses you frequent
- Adopt a dog needing walks to get outside and meet fellow dog owners
- Say yes to any social invitation even if you only know the host briefly
- Let coworkers know you’re new to town and interested in exploring
Making Friends After Loss or Divorce
- Join support groups in-person or online to connect with others experiencing similar challenges
- Share your story and provide emotional support when listening to peers
- Confide in and spend more time with old friends who uplift you
- Say yes to doing new things outside your comfort zone – this is an opportunity for growth
- Take yourself out to community events that interest you rather than waiting for invitations
- Adopt a pet needing a home to build unconditional love
- Volunteer for a cause bigger than yourself
- Take solo trips that lead to meeting fellow travelers
- Join classes or clubs related to personal interests – focus on you
- Introduce yourself to neighbors and suggest meeting up
Fostering and Maintaining Friendships
Finding potential friends is just the first step. Next, you have to foster real bonds and actively maintain meaningful friendships over the long haul. Here are tips for cultivating and keeping great friendships:
Be Open to New Experiences
Push past comfort zones and say yes when friends suggest something new – whether an art gallery opening, pottery class, or hiking trail. Novel experiences lead to meaningful bonding.
Make an Effort to Keep in Touch
Don’t just wait for friends to reach out to you. Initiate contact via text, phone calls, social media, or making plans. Set reminders if needed. Show you value them.
Set Up Regular Get-Togethers
Rather than vaguely suggesting meeting up “sometime”, pick set days like the first Friday of each month for a drink, or Sunday mornings for brunch. Recurring plans make it easy.
Offer Emotional Support
Listen when friends need to vent, console them during tough times, and offer advice if asked. Support them like you want to be supported.
Don’t Compare Friendships
Every friendship has its own unique dynamic. Don’t hold friends to standards set by other friendships or compare how often you see different friends. Appreciate each as they are.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Speak up if friends expect too much from you, take advantage of your kindness, or drain your energy. Prioritize self-care.
Communicate Openly and Honestly
Voice your feelings and needs directly yet kindly. Speak up if a friend upsets you. Staying bottled up breeds resentment. Talk it out.
A good friend brings out the best in you, and loves you as you are. You don’t have to pretend, care what they think, or filter your personality. Feel secure being 100% yourself.
Focus on Shared Interests and Experiences
Base friendships on meaningful commonalities like values, sense of humor, passions, life viewpoints, cultural background, and shared memories. This grounds the bond.
Make Time for Your Friends
One-on-one friend catch ups should be prioritized just like other important appointments. Consistently showing up deepens bonds.
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Take the initiative to invite friends when you hear about something fun like free concerts, special events, parties, or want company trying a new restaurant. Think of your friends often.
Remember Important Occasions
Make birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and major life events feel special for friends by celebrating or acknowledging with cards, calls, posts, gifts or time together.
Introduce Friends to Each Other
Once you feel comfortable introducing friends from different circles, set up dinners, parties or outings to integrate groups and expand your social network.
Don’t Spread Gossip
Just listen if friends vent about other friends. Don’t pile on or spread judgmental talk. Be trustworthy and aim to resolve issues rather than sabotage relationships.
Appreciate Your Friendships
Recognize the value of healthy friendships that uplift you. Be grateful for friends who love and support you through life’s ups and downs.
Overcoming Challenges and Obstacles
Like any relationship, friendships have ups and downs. Here is guidance on overcoming common hurdles:
Dealing with Rejection
If someone declines your social invitation or seems disinterested in friendship, don’t take it personally. Move on gracefully. Not every potential connection works out.
Pushing Through Social Anxiety
Making new friends becomes easier each time you put yourself out there. Anxiety lessens through regular exposure. Take small steps.
Finding the Time
Carve out priority time for friends amid life’s busyness. Multi-task by catching up while exercising together, enjoying a show, running errands, etc.
Moving Past Clashing Personalities
Accept friends for who they are if core values align. Personality differences add richness. Focus on shared interests and supporting each other’s growth.
Balancing Multiple Friend Groups
Integrate circles by hosting dinners, parties, and outings with different groups. But also nurture one-on-one bonds with each friend. Divide time fairly.
Letting Go of Unhealthy Friendships
Be honest if a friend jeopardizes your mental health or engages in destructive behavior towards you. Wish them well if moving on is healthiest.
When a Friend Moves Away
Stay connected through regular virtual catchups, visits when possible, sharing pics, mail, and planning trips together. Appreciate the time you had.
Knowing When to Say Goodbye
If a painful betrayal or value clash occurs, it may be time to move on. Communicate problems, but part ways if the friendship drains you.
Developing and maintaining strong friendships undoubtedly enriches life. Yet it unquestionably takes effort and courage to put yourself out there, meet potential new friends, and bond over shared interests and experiences. Start implementing the advice in this guide to expand your social circle.
Look for opportunities to meet people all around you – at work, classes, volunteering, places of worship, events, common interest groups, and everyday places like buses, parks, and coffee shops. Say yes to invitations, take the initiative to plan get-togethers, and be a reliable, genuine friend.
Friendships wax and wane naturally over the years as life situations change. But by continually nurturing relationships with meaningful shared experiences, good communication, and quality time together, you’ll develop lifelong friendships that provide comfort, joy, and support through all of life’s ups and downs.