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Travel + Leisure readers ranked the best cities for decompressing with your gal pals. The variables? Shopping, yoga, gallery-hopping, and a cocktail that tastes like a candy bar.
No. 1 New Orleans
America's Best Cities For Getting Away With the Girls
No. 1 New Orleans
It’s the ultimate party destination, with distinctive shopping and no shortage of beignets; the Crescent City won the girlfriend getaway contest for hitting every necessary indulgence. By day, you can browse boutiques on Magazine Street or antiques on Royal Street. Or sign up your gang for a crash course in chicken gumbo and other down-home cooking at Langlois Culinary Crossroads. After dark, there are plenty of only-in-New-Orleans spots to whoop it up. Catch a live music show at D.B.A. or the midnight burlesque show at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. To understand why the city ranked No. 1 for desserts, do a little taste-test comparison with visits to classic Café du Monde, Morning Call, and Gracious Bakery.
Among the trips Casey Wohl racked up while researching the Girls Getaway Guide, one of the most memorable was Savannah, GA. “That’s where we had breakfast next to Robert Redford and met him afterward,” she says. “Talk about a hot girls’ getaway.”
Even when Redford’s not in town, Savannah scored in the top 10 for girlfriend getaways, according to Travel + Leisure readers. They ranked 35 metro areas for such features as walkable streets, wine bars, and great theater in our annual America’s Favorite Cities survey.
Those are a few of the charms that draw groups of traveling women, whether coming to town for a bachelorette party, a book-club weekend, or a reunion of high school buddies. Whatever the trip motive, they’re a force to be reckoned with: a few years ago, an AAA study showed that girlfriend getaways generate about $5 billion annually for the travel industry.
And cities are rolling out the pink carpet. In Honolulu and San Diego, you can take women-only surfing or stand-up-paddleboard lessons. Charleston, SC, offers shopping tours with local decorators. In New Orleans, which took the crown at No. 1, you can learn to make chicken gumbo at Langlois Culinary Crossroads or check out the live-music scene. One boutique hotel in Providence, RI, offers a cut-loose karaoke bar right off the lobby.
Of course, each group will have its own definition of what constitutes a great girlfriend getaway—and there’s an intangible element that helps make a city feel welcoming.
“For me and my girlfriends, the common denominator is going somewhere where we don’t have to think about deadlines, dishes, or drudgery, but indulge in good food and conversation,” says Suz Garber, a Philadelphia-based healthcare executive who has traveled to Vegas, San Diego, and Miami with her friends. “Heck, we could probably do that in Peoria,” she adds, “but good shopping and shows don’t hurt, either.”