How to Meet People: The 35 Best Places for Making New Friends
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Has a stroll through a park ever taken you down memory lane, compelling you to think about the times when you used to hang around with your friends? John from next door, Claire from school, or George who used to sit beside you on the school bus? You might think about these friends all the time.
When we move on from high school, the number of our friends starts decreasing. But even though we are not in touch with the people we befriended when we were children, we still have a group of enthusiastic teenagers who we call friends.
Then, college happens. Friends move to different schools, and we, too, move on with our lives and let the college get the better of us. At college, we find a few faithful friends, and hope to stay in touch with them.
But then once we enter work life, we kind of lose touch with almost all of our friends. Our lives now revolve around a series of deadlines and projects. It is not that we have completely lost our friends. We tag each other on Facebook posts and share old pictures. But there is distance, work, and family between us and our friends. Gone are the days when we can meet for a Saturday night out. All of us are living far away, and there is never a perfect time for everyone to come together to have lunch, dinner, or even a few drinks. This leaves us lonely, or surrounded by a only a limited number of people who don't bring anything exciting to our lives.
This loneliness from not having a friend to share life experiences with isn't limited to people living alone. Regardless of how much you love your job and how loving your immediate family is, you likely have the urge to meet new people and expand your social circle. Meeting new people is an experience worth pursuing on its own merits. Every person has a unique way of looking at the world. When you meet new people, you learn about different perspectives, which in turn make you more empathetic.
Making new friends is not about reaching a celebrated number that only a few can reach. It is about meeting different people who may have experiences different than you. Your school and college friends are, to a large extent, exposed to the same experiences and same environment that you were exposed to. When you meet people from different backgrounds—and sometimes even from different countries—you get to know learn their unique experiences and have a broader view of the world.
It is true that it is more difficult to make new friends as we grow older. But as an adult, friendships are not about play dates or sleepovers. You need a friend who can be by your side when you are down, who can lift you up when you are overwhelmed by the challenges that life throws at you, or who can just accept you as you are. After all, it has been shown that having friends can make you happier.
In this digital age, social networking and dating apps have caged people inside their houses. You can sit beside a person for hours on a bus every day and still not know their name. Why? Because you are more interested in checking out the photos posted online by someone from work.
It seems a difficult and nearly impossible task to venture out into the world and find new friends. And since we often don't know how to meet new people, we remain inside our houses binging on TV shows and movies. But in this article, we'll explore the 35 best places where you can go to make new friends and live a happier life.
Side bar: If you are interested in learning more about how to be happier, we recommend you to read this book, which has 53 habits you can use to increase your happiness and life satisfaction.
The 35 Best Places for Making New Friends
There are billions of people in this world, and there is no way that you've already met all of them. From your grocery store to the bank you visit every month, there are a large number of places where you can meet new people.
You may be familiar with the mantra that encourages you to “Say yes” to new things and not hold yourself back. You have to apply that same mantra in your life when it comes to finding new friends. You may be surprised to know that many of the places you go every day without even thinking about it are places where you can make new friends.
Let's begin by talking about the easiest place to meet new people. Almost every other romance novel talks about the protagonist finding the love of their life in a cool bar they went to with their friends. Even with platonic relationships, a bar is a place where you can definitely find someone to become friends with. On weekend nights, bars are crowded with cheerful people who are interested in sharing drinks with strangers and getting to know them better.
There are better chances of making a new friend at a bar than anyplace else—so do the obvious and go to a bar to meet new people. Be more approachable, and enjoy the experience!
2. Public Transport
The public transport system brings a lot of people together. Have you seen the videos shot inside the Metro where strangers start singing pop songs together just to kill time on their long commutes? YouTube is filled with such videos, and it will warm your heart to see the extent to which different people connect with each other.
We understand that when people are on buses or trains, they are often preoccupied with their various thoughts. Some are lost behind a book, wandering in a magical land. You shouldn’t disrespect their boundaries and start asking them all kinds of questions just because you think they might be interested in talking with you. But the next time you see someone reading your favorite book, casually strike up a conversation. If they show a willingness to talk with you, you can have a conversation with them. Then share your phone number (with consent) and lay the foundation of a good friendship started at an unexpected place.
If you already use public transportation for daily commutes, don't hesitate to strike up a conversation with people who commute on the same route. Who knows—maybe the person who gets off one station before you is a dog lover just like you, and knows amazing tips for solving behavioral issues. It may be uncomfortable at first, but if the other person shows interest, you can easily strike up a conversation.
3. Volunteer Work
It is nice to take time out from your busy schedule and give something back to your community. Volunteer in areas that are close to your heart. For example, you can volunteer at a nursing home or a school for underprivileged children. You can also work at a dog shelter. These volunteering options will give you a chance to meet people who share the same interests as you do.
A hospital is a place where you usually don't have good memories. It is hard for people to spend time in hospitals while simultaneously dealing with the hurt of seeing their loved ones in pain—and during those heart-wrenching moments, people don't really look around and think about meeting people.
But the hospital can be a place where you find people who can understand what you're going through. When you are at the hospital, look around and greet people who are waiting. Strike up a conversation with them and offer words of support.
Humans love companionship, and it is nice to stand beside someone in their time of need. Let them know that they can ask you for help if needed.
5. Book Club Meetings
Book clubs are one of the coolest groups to be a part of. You are surrounded by like-minded people who you can talk to about all kind of books. Book clubs organize monthly meetings where members are expected to show up after reading a specific book. Members then proceed to discuss the book and talk about the parts that moved them. Showing up at a book club meeting is not only a good way to learn about a specific book, but also to expand your social circle and befriend a large number of people.
6. Local Meetups
This is the age of the Internet and social media, and most of the people you talk with on the Internet are those you actually met on the Internet. Even though you haven't met your Internet friends in real life, you share a deep connection with them.
Facebook groups are a good way to bring thousands of people together. Travel enthusiasts share their travel experiences in a traveling group. Animal lovers have a separate group where people share cute videos of their pets and rescue cases. Administrators of these groups can arrange Meetups for members to get to know each other in person. The thought of finally meeting a person in real life can be super exciting, so don’t miss out on the chance of attending these Meetups. They are a great way to meet new friends, and to get to know your existing “digital” ones even better.
7. Dog Parks
Dog parks allow your furry friends to go off leash and enjoy themselves in a controlled environment under your supervision. While you let your pet have a fun time, you can also spend your time talking to other people who have brought their pets to the park.
You can share your pet's food choices, or the shampoo brand that you use. It can be hard to find people who share the same interests as you, so if you are at a place that is filled with people who actually have your same interests, it will be sad if you don't make the most of the opportunity.
For most of us, the gym is the only place where we want the time to move quickly. The idea of a one-minute plank can be daunting! But the gym is also a haven for fitness enthusiasts. It may seem like the best idea to just focus on your exercises and then go home as quickly as possible to take a hot shower and give your body some rest, but you should consider sticking around at the gym and talking to other people.
By building a special bond with these people, you can develop a group of people who will push you to do better. In a short time, you will be surprised to find that the friendships you have started have grown into special bonds.
9. Local Museum
Who doesn't love to visit the museum and learn about the history of a particular place? Don’t you want to know how your city looked thousands of years ago? When you suggest going to a museum, your friends may roll their eyes and say how boring that sounds.
But the truth is that the museum is not only interesting, but also a great place to mingle with people. You might even find a museum buddy who would love to go with you every other weekend.
10. Bus Tour
When you are in a foreign land, your first stop should always be a hop-on, hop-off bus, because bus tours show you all the important places in a city. But when you are in your own city, you probably don't feel the need to book such bus tours. Yet have you ever thought about how these tours can provide you with an opportunity to meet foreigners?
As a local, you can tell them about the different activities that they can do. Grab a ticket and sit beside an excited tourist, then politely ask if they are interested in chatting. Tell them about the city, and maybe, by the end of the tour, you will be sharing your phone number with a promise to meet up at the most famous music club in the city.
11. Music Club
Music clubs normally host small bands that are trying to get started in the industry. These bands often invite their friends and families to the show as well. In other words, there are a large number of people gathered in a small space, so you can easily make new friends.
Have you ever missed your flight or dealt with a misconnection? The thought of spending long hours at the airport can be frightening. With travel fatigue weighing heavy, you don't often think of anything else except for going home and lying down in your comfortable bed. But when life gives you a lemon, you should make a lemonade—and drink it with style.
If you get stuck in an airport, don't sit in the corner cursing your luck. Talk to your fellow passengers. If it is an international flight, you might meet foreign nationals who may have different things to talk about. You can learn more about their country or customs. In fact, with little more than a short introduction at the airport, you may befriend a person who is willing to host you when you plan a trip to their country.
13. Family Functions
Apart from the political arguments that you may have to deal with, you can actually have a good time at family functions. You can spend time with people you love, and get to know new members of your extended family. And you might just find that, despite your political differences, you have more in common than you thought!
Hiking can be physically demanding, but it is also a great way to meet other people out in nature. Talk to the people you meet, and you just mind find yourself enjoying a beautiful view with a beautiful new friend.
15. Flash Mob
Have you ever witnessed a flash mob? Dozens and even hundreds of people dance in sync at random places in a city, putting on incredible shows! While you could record the entire experience on your phone to enjoy later, you could also keep the device in your pocket and join the mob. It doesn't matter if you know the steps—sing along and dance and meet new people.
16. Yoga Class
Meditation is very important to reduce your stress levels, so sign up for a yoga class to live a happier life. And while you are at it, get to know the people in your class. Yoga is best done in silence, but there is nothing wrong with smiling at each other during the warm-up session or sticking around at the yoga center for 15 minutes after the session to catch up with your classmates.
17. Local Running Races
Another place where you can meet people is at local running races, where people come together to run and support a good cause. This is a great way to meet people who actually take interest in issues that are close to your heart.
18. Weekend Classes
Are you thinking of taking that photography class whose ad keeps appearing on your news feed? Do it. Short classes provide you with a good opportunity to meet people and make new friends. You can also learn some pro tips from them if you missed what the teacher said during the lecture.
19. Your Local Neighborhood
One of the best places to meet new people is your own neighborhood. In today's busy life, we kind of forget about working on our relationships with our neighbors. We live on the same street, but we often have no idea what our neighbors are like. Either host a party and invite your neighbors, or bring them a cake or some other baked good to bond over.
20. A Cultural Event
Book festivals, art exhibitions, readings, and other discussions are normally conducted as cultural events. A large number of people attend these events, and you will be glad to meet them. But don't just sit quietly waiting for a chance to meet people! Take an active part in sharing your thoughts.
21. Debate Club
You may have heard about Toastmasters or other debate clubs where people from different fields come together to talk about pre-approved topics. These places are a good way to meet new people and expand your social circle.
22. Community Centers
Almost every city has a community center that hosts political discussions, book launches, slam poetry, and other activities. People who visit these places are interested in learning more about things that you may be interested in. Whenever you hear about a discussion at a nearby center, make sure that you go.
23. On a Trip
Foreign trips aren’t just for ticking items off of list. They also provide you with the opportunity to meet the locals and get to know about the culture and traditions of the place. When you are on a trip, select activities where you can meet new people.
24. Coffee Shop
Freelancers and other people working remotely often head to coffee shops to work on projects. These places are typically filled with people with their laptops, hard at work. At other tables, you might find people buried in books. But the next time you see them waiting either behind or in front of you at the counter, say hi and start up a conversation.
25. Charity Work
A hurricane or other natural calamity can be a good reason to volunteer at a charity center. In times of tragedy, there are always those who need aid. Charity organizations invite people from different background to come together and work for a common cause. As a bonus, these activities are a good way to meet new people.
26. Part-Time Job
If you are doing a part-time job during your studies or for other reasons, you have the opportunity to meet new people and make friends.
27. At Your Workplace
At work, most people only talk with the members of their teams, or with people who are working in their departments. But your company is likely quite large, and full of people to meet. Say hi and start a new friendship with someone you might not have met otherwise!
Nearly everyone loves sports. We are often obsessed with them, and can't get enough. That’s why we love to watch our favorite teams live at stadiums. When you go to a stadium to watch a match, don’t forget to meet the other fans who are there with you. You already have shared passions, so it shouldn’t be hard to strike up a friendship.
29. Outside a Store
People often line up for hours and even days to buy the newest gadgets. If something you are interested is being released, join the line and get to know your neighbors. You will leave with a new toy and a new friend!
Many people go to bookstores, browse through the shelves, pay at the counter, and then leave. Instead, spend a bit of extra time exploring titles and getting to know the people who are shopping near you. You might both end up loving the same book, and have a friendship develop over that!
31. Informal Gatherings
Parties can be a great place to meet people, as everyone there is usually in a good mood and looking to mingle. Leave your inhibitions at the door and strike up a conversation with the first person you meet.
32. Anonymous Meetings
When you are struggling with an addiction, it is good to be surrounded by people who can understand your struggles and appreciate the fact that you are fighting for a better tomorrow. Friends made at group therapy meetings share a strong bond, as they were there to give you support when you were at the lowest point in their life.
33. Study Circles
Even though the Internet can now teach you virtually everything you want to learn, nothing beats a study circle where a group of people meet to learn about a new topic. Activists often hold study circles and invite people to join and learn more about various causes. These are great opportunities to meet people with similar passions as you.
A wedding is the classic event where a large number of people come together to party and mingle. You may be celebrating the new couple, but you also have a great opportunity to get to know lots of new people who have mutual friends as you.
Whether you are speaking out against the demolition of a historical building or trying to raise awareness about recent price hikes, protests bring like-minded people together and allow them to fight for a cause. Protests also help you learn more about a particular subject and understand why a certain topic is important to a group of people. If you ever come to hear about a scheduled protest that is of interest to you, take some time out to attend it. You will love the energy, and are more likely to meet new people.
Wrapping It Up
It is fascinating how many places we’ve never considered can be opportunities to meet friends and develop long-lasting relationships. You may have visited these places occasionally, but perhaps you never considered finding a friend there. The next time you go to any of these places, try to strike up a conversation with people and make new connections.
Finally, if you’d like to learn more about how to be happier, we recommend you to read this book, which has 53 habits you can use to increase your happiness and life satisfaction.