In recent seasons, ABC’s long-running series The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have quietly turned their attention from catfights, crying, and ill-fated proposals to routinely showcasing some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Of course, there’s still over-the-top drama, but more and more, it’s set against a backdrop of bucket-list adventures in far-flung locales. So far this season, Juan Pablo and company have bungee-jumped off a bridge in Los Angeles and eaten insects at a food cart in Seoul, South Korea.
But you don’t have to have a harem of romantic hopefuls in tow – or ABC’s travel budget, for that matter – to enjoy some of these experiences. Here are a few ways travelers can enjoy some of the show’s around-the-world adventures. Who knows? It just might be your Most. Dramatic. Trip. Ever.
Go Wild in South Africa (The Bachelor, Season 15)
Perhaps producers chose South Africa, one of the most exciting countries in the world, to offset the snooze factor of Brad Womack, one of the most boring personalities in the history of the series. Whether you’re riding an elephant in Kruger National Park, seeing the sights of Cape Town from a helicopter, or getting engaged near the Cape of Good Hope, rest assured that South Africa will be unforgettable (unlike Bachelor Brad).
South Africa is amazingly affordable once you arrive, and a fantastic destination for adventurous travelers. In Cape Town, forgo the pricy helicopter rides and consider exploring this magnificent city with a reputable tour guide. (We recommend Jorvan Tours; another good one is Escape to the Cape.) Most tours include visits to iconic Table Mountain (insider tip: hiking to the top is a must for adventurous travelers, and you’ll earn you big points with the outdoors-y locals) and the Cape of Good Hope, which is where Brad dropped to one knee and asked for Emily’s hand in marriage. (Too bad the glorious setting overshadowed the proposal itself.)
Leave Your Heart in San Francisco (The Bachelor, Season 16)
A few points to clear up about the group’s experiences here: No, you can’t normally ski down a steep street in Russian Hill, though it’s been done before. That was a publicity stunt, as was Bachelor Ben Flajnik and what’s-her-name’s adrenaline-pumping climb up the cables of the Bay Bridge. (It was not, as some reports incorrectly stated, the Golden Gate Bridge, which the general public also isn’t allowed to climb.)
However, there are still plenty of ways to get your Bachelor fix in the City by the Bay. The Fairmont, the 541-room stunner atop Nob Hill, served as home base during filming, but skip the spendy rooms. Instead, enjoy a tropical cocktail (from $12) at the Tonga Room, the historic and hopping tiki bar that first gained notoriety as a post-World War II stop for returning soldiers. For a charming stay, check out the historic Queen Anne Hotel in Pacific Heights with rooms from $119. A cable-car ride, as touristy as it sounds, is a must-do (a one-way ticket $6), but for a locals-only treat, enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail at the speakeasy Bourbon & Branch, in the edgy Tenderloin area. (Cocktails from $12; reservations recommended, and you’ll get a password to get in.)
Whining is a staple of any Bachelor episode – so, of course, wine should be a staple of any trip to San Francisco. And there’s a very apropos tie-in: Bachelor Ben Flajnik himself is a winemaker. The winery he runs with two friends, Envolve, has a tasting room in downtown Sonoma (tastings from $15), and travelers can still follow in the show’s footsteps thanks to this handy guide highlighting spots where filming took place.
Stroll Through the Streets of Dubrovnik, Croatia (The Bachelorette, Season 8)
Notice how we said stroll, not skip? If you make a trip to Croatia, please don’t make a complete idiot of yourself by skipping down the ancient cobblestone streets of its capital city, as Travis and Emily did on the show.
Travis may have been feeling chipper about the prospect of a one-on-one date with Emily, but it’s hard not to be giddy when you arrive here. Dubrovnik is an enchanting city of winding, walled streets that are ideal for unscheduled exploring. Don’t miss a stop at the Dubrovnik balancing stone. Legend has it that anyone who can stand on the wobbling stone and take off their shirt at the same time will be lucky in love. (On the show, contestant Travis didn’t even try – and was, not surprisingly, sent home, crying, after that date.)
Emily wasn’t one of the most outdoorsy bachelorettes on the show, to say the least, but Dubrovnik’s coastal, mountainous geography offers infinite ways for adventure-minded travelers to explore. Check out outfitter Adria Adventure, which offers sea kayaking and walking tours led by knowledgeable guides. And the quaint Berkeley Hotel, which is run by a family of English-speaking locals, offers excellent value and is just a ten-minute ride from the old down. Rooms start at around $70.