When you think of late-night fun, chances are clubs in big cities like New York, Berlin or Miami come to mind. And while it’s true that there are plenty of up-all-night diversions in those locales, there are also plenty of alternative evening adventures awaiting travelers, both in cities and outside of them. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite after-dark activities around the world — from exploring a bioluminescent bay in Vieques to snacking at the Angkor Night Market in Cambodia — that will spike your adrenaline and give you nights to remember.
When the Spanish first encountered Puerto Mosquito in Vieques, Puerto Rico, they attributed the underwater neon-blue lights to the work of the devil; a more plausible explanation attributes the phenomenon to dinoflagellate, a microorganism that glows in response to movement. We can thank the Spaniards, who blocked off the entrance of the bay in an attempt to drive out evil spirits, for preserving the unique ecological environment in Puerto Mosquito. Visitors to Vieques can experience the bioluminescent bay by booking a kayak tour after dark (several companies operate in the area; try Kayaking Puerto Rico). Plan to visit on a night with no moon, so as best to see the lights in the shallow bay waters.
Yosemite Moonlight Tour
See California's Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall against a backdrop of the unpolluted night sky on a Yosemite Valley Moonlight Tour. The two-hour tour takes visitors through the valley floor in an open-air tram, giving you plenty of opportunities to snap a picture of the moonlight reflecting off El Capitan’s granite walls. The after-hours tour of Yosemite Valley is held during full moon nights and the four days leading up to the full moon during select months of the year (typically April/May through September/October). During the winter months, Yosemite offers additional after-dark programs, including snowshoe tours.
Petra by Night
The UNESCO World Heritage Site in Jordan dates back as far as the second century B.C. and once served as the capital city of the Nabataeans during the Hellenistic period. The stunning structures of Petra, carved into the red sandstone walls, are the country’s most-visited tourist attraction, so sign up for the guided Petra by Night excursion to avoid at least some of the crowd. The walk through the Siq, lit by 1,500 candles and the moonlight, is a unique way to experience the ancient city, culminating at the iconic Treasury building. If you find yourself in a big group, linger at the back to avoid chatter and have the walk to yourself.
Alcatraz Night Tours
To avoid the crowds and enjoy the stunning view of San Francisco after dark, book a night tour of the infamous prison. Watch the sun set over the city as you circle the island, before a guided tour takes you around the prison building and into the cellhouse. After, an audio tour with recordings from former inmates lets you explore the eerie prison after-hours, and you can participate in several special programs offered only in the evenings. This tour is one of the city’s most popular attractions, so be sure to book well in advance (tickets are sold 90 days ahead of time).
Barnaby Evans’ sculpture in Providence’s Waterplace Park is an art installation, performance piece and community event rolled into one. During select dates from May through December, more than 80 braziers light up the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck and Providence Rivers that flow through the Rhode Island city’s downtown on select evenings, creating a multi-sensory experience combined with the aromatic wood smoke and global music selections. WaterFire is put on free for the public by WaterFire Providence, a local non-profit arts organization.
Prague Ghost Tours
An already spooky city with a distinct Grimms’ fairytale vibe, Prague comes alive when the sun goes down, with a wide variety of local ghost stories, real and fictitious, to add to the ambiance. Skip the clubs and head out for an evening tour of the city to learn about the many spirits that haunt Prague’s streets, from the story of the Golem, to legends of Templar Knights. There are several different companies offering ghost tours of the city, many of which sell tickets around Old Town Square in the afternoon. Mysterium Tour Prague leads a particularly good tour of Old Town, and McGee’s Ghost Tours offers a Prague Castle After Dark excursion for a look at the city’s iconic landmark.
Angkor Night Market
The first night market in Cambodia, the Angkor Night Market in Siem Reap opened its doors in 2007 with the intent to showcase and preserve traditional handicrafts made by the Khmer people, the largest ethnic group in Cambodia. The market has more than 150 stalls, with plans to increase to 250, selling clothing, silk paintings, carvings, and a selection of sustainably produced goods made from recycled materials. A fun place to stroll around, the stalls are worth a visit even if you’re just window-shopping, but be prepared to haggle if you decide to buy something. Alternatively, head to the Island Bar and spend the evening people watching with a cocktail in hand.
If you can brave the cold, there’s no better adrenaline-pumping way to spend the evening than on the slopes at Colorado's Keystone Resort. Watch the sun set over the Rockies at the Summit House before enjoying the (usually) crowd-free runs with lifts open until 8 p.m. Keystone’s self-proclaimed “longest ski day in the state of Colorado” runs from late November through early April (check Keystone’s lift schedule for exact dates). The mountain’s Adventure Point tubing hill is also open for select night runs during the season.
For the rest of the best things to do at night around the world, including why the Northern Lights are best seen from Norway, visit Fodor's.