America's Best Cities for Getting Away With the Girls
The older we get, the more precious time spent with our favorite people becomes. This is reason enough to champion a girls’ trip — a special sojourn away from the routine of daily life to just have fun with the humans who make you laugh that ugly laugh only a small portion of people who know you have seen. Whether it’s a bachelorette party, a divorce celebration or a just-because getaway, these are the cities around the country guaranteed to show your group a grand old time.
Charleston, South Carolina
You might be too awestruck to actually Instagram the vibrant, historic houses that line the Battery, but the experience walking along the harbor will be memorable even without the photo documentation. If your group is craving more culture, spend a few hours at the Gibbes Museum of Art (check the online calendar to ensure they’re open) or wander through the Unitarian Church Cemetery — a really cool, if not kind of creepy park-like cemetery with trees and other foliage growing among the headstones. If you have a free Sunday morning, reserve a table at Hall’s Chophouse for its lively gospel brunch. The music and food are equally good, but the drink — namely the famous house bloody mary — takes it all home.
If indulgence is a word you’re associating with your girls getaway, Miami’s the spot. With so many stunning hotels to choose from, it might be worth shelling out extra for a proper pool-side stay, whether you end up lodging at a place like The 1 Hotel South Beach (which always smells good) or Acqualina Resort & Spa. Palm trees and picture perfect waves make the ideal backdrop for time well spent lounging, but when you’re taking a break from the beach, check out the Wynwood Arts District, where you can enjoy 50 blocks of eclectic street art, galleries, retail shopping and tons to eat and drink (including three James Beard-nominated chefs and restaurants).
Little Havana should be on your list as well: The Cuban neighborhood will transport you back in time, where while exploring galleries and sites, you must take advantage of the strong Cuban coffee. Miami’s nightlife offers something for everyone, so whether it’s casual drinks or table top club dancing you’re after, either will be easy to find.
There’s lots happening in Austin, but for your weekend away with the girls, think boating, barbecue and booze. Consider reserving a full day for a boat party on the Colorado River; the city has plenty of rental options, so you and your maties can drink, swim and relax near groups of other like-minded adventurers. For a bit more physical activity, you might rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to burn off the finger-lickin’ goodness that you’ll definitely be indulging on during your visit. If you’d rather spend the day on land, make an event out of waiting in line for Franklin’s Barbecue, one of the best-known brisket joints in the city. The wait is an experience of its own — those in the know will bring beer and mimosas, games, lawn chairs and snacks to keep it entertaining. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are known to be the least packed, with an average wait time of 60 to 90 minutes. Franklin’s is not the only good place to grab some grub, so be on the lookout for excellent Tex Mex and glorious vegan food, if that’s more your scene. Make sure to carve out some time to enjoy some of the city’s local art — Art on 5th and Austin Art Garage are two great places to start.
The perfect mix of adventure and chill awaits you in Sedona, where you can embark on a hike surrounded by stunning scenery and be treated to a detoxifying massage all in the same day. If you don’t know where to start with the red rocks, sign up for one of the Pink Jeep Tours, where a pro will guide you off road to sites you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. Be warned: The ride will be a rocky one in every sense. Sedona lovers say being surrounded by the rich natural scenery of this place can provide those who are looking for it some spiritual healing. Sedona spas don’t take the city’s natural wonders for granted: At Mii Amo, for example, a Sedona clay wrap treatment incorporates the red, mineral-rich clay from the surrounding environment for the ultimate detox. At this particular spa, Native American therapies, meditation, mindfulness and reiki treatments are offered in addition to the more typical spa services.
Park City, Utah
Winter, spring, summer or fall, every season’s a good season to venture out west to Park City. In the colder months, your whole gang can spend the day on the slopes, taking advantage of the imitable fresh powder. Then you’ll warm up at night with a cozy cocktail-by-the-fire scene (try Molly Green’s or Fletcher’s for these vibes).
There’s no denying that this town is a ski town, but the warmer months here are just as bustling and active: The slopes transform into mountain biking terrain, and you’ll have the chance to dominate the hills while taking in the gorgeous green scenery. Your girls can experience a whole new kind of zen: Park City Yoga Adventures will bring you inside the geothermal Homestead Crater, where you’ll do some downward dog atop a paddleboard. Novice yogis have no need to fret — the mineral water hovers around 95 degrees year round.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
The U.S. is home to plenty of unique winery expeditions outside of California, so open your mind and allow the wine to flow like wine in the state of Oregon. Oregon’s Willamette Valley will fulfill a variety of tasting note desires, so your group of oenophiles should be pumped to explore the sprawling vineyards, of which there are many. Plan to stay here for the duration of your trip — or spend a night or two, using the other days to fall in love with Portland, which is just about an hour drive away.
You could spend your whole trip drinking — no judgement — but if you need a little break from all those tannins, consider hiking the trails at Silver Falls State Park. If you choose to venture on the Trail of Ten Falls, you’ll have the good fortune of spotting stunning waterfalls while making your way through the lush green terrain.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Here’s another trip that caters to the girls eager to spend time together in the great outdoors. This tiny town (population 2,000) is home to deepest geothermal hot spring in the world, which you can access year round. Called the Mother Spring, this 1,000+ foot deep spring is made up of slightly acidic water with the the same salt content as the ocean and plenty of nutrients, like lithium, manganese and potassium, that are said to have major health benefits. The Springs Resort & Spa boasts 23 different soaking pools that vary in temperature, so you can venture from something piping hot to cool to piping hot again.
Craft beers are hot here in little Pagosa, so make sure you sip on something from one of the few local breweries. Great places to do this are The Backyard at Pagosa Springs, Pagosa Brewing and Riff Raff Brewing.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Don’t let the fact that NOLA’s the bachelorette capital of the U.S. bug you — there’s a reason so many ladies have this destination high on their bucket list. You could totally model this trip after Girls’ Trip, but it’s by no means a requirement. For an expedition less crowded than Bourbon Street and Jackson Square, stroll the French Quarter for great glimpses at the the iconic architecture the city is known for. If you want a real taste of history, stop by the 1850 House, where you’ll get a sense of what life was like in the antebellum more than 100 years ago.
You’ll want to check out Bourbon Street even if it’s just to gawk at the scene. For an extra sweet hurricane and a show, head into Pat O’Briens, where you won’t be able to help but sing along with the dueling pianos. Bar hop, or don’t, then discover some new sounds around Frenchman’s Street. From quiet jazz clubs to more energetic spots with talented cover bands, you won’t be disappointed. It must be said: an appetite is mandatory in New Orleans — this is a foodie’s paradise. Taste the cajun cuisine (try Coop’s Place), the chargrilled oysters (try Acme Oyster House) and the sugary sweet beignets (believe everyone — Cafe du Monde is worth the wait).
Saratoga Springs, New York
Buy a big floppy hat and prepare to make some bets: The Saratoga Racetrack is the charming city’s summertime scene, where hoards of people dressed in fun, old-fashioned derby attire gather to drink, gamble and holler as magnificent horses glide through the sticky heat. When you’re back in town, mosey your way up and down Broadway, the city’s main street that’s a window-shopper’s paradise, rife with cute antique shops and specialty stores, like Saratoga Olive Oil. Here, you’re encouraged to taste the many, many flavors.
Consider staying at The Downtowner, a new boutique hotel centrally located on Broadway. You’ll likely spend the night somewhere on Caroline Street, where you and your pals can decide to bar hop or spend hours leisurely sipping cocktails — Hamlet & Ghost is a fun spot for just this. Don’t end your trip without sitting down for a decadent brunch at Max London’s (breakfast pizza, Belgian waffle, or both?) or for the famous fried chicken at Hattie’s.
Plan for a dressed down getaway in Carmel: As a safety precaution, the city has a ban on high heels that are over two inches in height due to the town’s uneven, cracked streets (it doesn’t seem like this law is strongly enforced, but take it as permission to give your feet a break!). Beyond walking the shoreline barefoot in the sand, you and your group can traipse (comfortably) along the charming streets that make up the one square mile village — some say the whole area feels like a European Disney World, minus the screaming kids and costumed staff.