Courtesy of Alisal Guest Ranch

If you resolve to spend more time with the girls in 2013, these are the best places to go wine tasting, learn to surf, catch the next great band, or chill at the resort pool.

Santa Ynez Valley, CA

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Wine tastings, bucolic country roads, and quaint towns await in the Santa Ynez Valley, the heart of Santa Barbara County. Leslie Westbrook, author of the Insiders’ Guide to Santa Barbara, recommends Trattoria Grappolo for special Italian dinners paired with local wines, and Maverick Saloon. “It’s a funky, kick-ass saloon with strong drinks, greasy road-stop food, and good-looking men in cowboy hats and cowboy boots,” she says.

Where to Stay: For a vineyard-meets-dude-ranch experience, check in to the Alisal Guest Ranch Resort. It recently partnered with the Hitching Post II restaurant and winery for harvest weekend events, and the Cowgirl Bootcamp package includes horseback rides, a winemaker’s presentation, cocktail parties, and line dancing.

Santa Ynez Valley, California

America's Best Girlfriend Getaways

Santa Ynez Valley, CA

Wine tastings, bucolic country roads, and quaint towns await in the Santa Ynez Valley, the heart of Santa Barbara County. Leslie Westbrook, author of the Insiders’ Guide to Santa Barbara, recommends Trattoria Grappolo for special Italian dinners paired with local wines, and Maverick Saloon. “It’s a funky, kick-ass saloon with strong drinks, greasy road-stop food, and good-looking men in cowboy hats and cowboy boots,” she says.

Where to Stay: For a vineyard-meets-dude-ranch experience, check in to the Alisal Guest Ranch Resort. It recently partnered with the Hitching Post II restaurant and winery for harvest weekend events, and the Cowgirl Bootcamp package includes horseback rides, a winemaker’s presentation, cocktail parties, and line dancing.

Courtesy of Alisal Guest Ranch

America's Best Girlfriend Getaways

Travel gimmicks come and go, but years after hotels dreamt up the first girlfriend getaway packages, the trend of women going on vacation together has proven its staying power. And why not: even if the catchphrase—or pink—makes you cringe, you can’t argue with the appeal of stealing away for quality time with your best girlfriends.

“At the end of the day, women are more concerned with who they are traveling with, rather than where they are traveling to,” observes Stephanie Oswald, editor in chief of Travelgirl Magazine.

Even so, deciding where to spend your hard-earned time and money can get tricky. For some groups, a soothing setting like Florida’s coastal town of Delray Beach can be all you need to put a plan in motion. Other women hone in on a group activity to focus their rendezvous. “That’s why group wine tastings, cooking school classes, and jewelry-making lessons are all the rage,” Oswald says.

Charleston, SC, encourages friends to bond during comfort-food cooking classes and while dining in one of America’s hottest foodie destinations. If you’re more of the wine-swilling sort, think south beyond Napa and Sonoma and bring California’s Santa Ynez Valley up for consideration.

If you’re gathering a gang with diverse interests, a big and accessible destination is a good bet—places like New York City and Vegas remain popular for a reason. College towns can be a more affordable option, while still offering a dose of sophistication and culture. Take Madison, WI, for instance, or Austin, TX.

It’s the Texas capital that recently sparked the interest of Amanda Pressner and two girlfriends who quit their jobs to travel the world and launch the Lost Girls website in 2006. Getting away together has since become an annual tradition—and Austin the latest choice. “We figured that the laid-back, artistic/creative vibe would be right up our alley,” says Pressner. A stay at Travaasa, an experiential spa and yoga resort, is at the top of their to-do list.

“We tend to focus on luxurious adventure, which means that we try to fit in one major high-adrenaline activity like hiking or surfing and relaxing aspects like spa treatments, wine tasting, or multicourse meals,” she says. “Girls’ getaways, while focused on fun and celebration, don’t have to be one big drinking fest like guys’ trips often are.”

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