There are certain bucket list travel items everyone’s got to check off during their lifetime—a wildin’ out spring break, a destination wedding, an outrageous honeymoon, a family trip to Disney, a 40th birthday somewhere tropical. And we’re all so busy planning (and dreaming about!) these over-the-top vacations that we often neglect the one trip we women need most. That’s right, I’m talking about the girls-only getaway. No, you don’t need to tackle Machu Picchu together, really all you need is a luxurious hotel—with housekeeping, no dishes or laundry allowed!—a lively town, some stiff cocktails and the undivided attention of your besties.
I recently embarked on such a trip, to Boston in March, and guess what? It was very cold. And very rainy. But I was surrounded by my best friends who’ve known me since I was 14 years old and guess what? It was the best weekend ever. We laughed and cried and laughed some more and no, we were not whitewater rafting with our husbands or waiting in line to meet Elsa & Anna with our kids. Instead we were spent a good many hours snuggled under the covers of a sumptuous California King bed howling with laughter over memories from high school. And I came home from that weekend more refreshed and plain ol’ happy than I have been in a verrrry long time.
So here’s the point: Don’t overthink a girls weekend…JUST BOOK IT. Because with everyone’s busy lives, nailing down dates that actually work for everyone is half the challenge. Once you’ve got that box checked, I’ve done the rest of the legwork for you below, choosing four towns that are perfect for hosting you and your friends. They’re not going to break the bank and you won’t have to fly 10 hours to get there, but they do have lots of fun sights to see (and bars to dance in). I promise you this is the one vacation that you never actually think to plan…but probably need the most.
I’m partial to Boston because it’s my hometown, but given that I’m an East Coaster, I also know it’s a central and easy-to-get-to destination for friends who live in Manhattan, Philly, DC and Baltimore. What makes it so great? Cobblestone streets, the gorgeous Charles River, parks and running trails galore, enough shopping to keep you busy for weeks and some of the best Irish pubs our country has to offer.
There are many reasons to stay at a Four Seasons, it being the FOUR SEASONS ranking chief among them, LOL. But the Boston property is a do-not-miss for your girls weekend because it’s centrally-located—many of the rooms overlook the picturesque Boston Public Garden—and because it just got a $15 million makeover this spring. Guests can now expect completely renovated rooms that are crisp, calming and bright, and that all feature the hotel’s proprietary “Sleep Temple” mattresses that are, in a word, divine. Don’t miss the burger at the in-house Bristol Restaruant and Bar, it’s the late-night snack you and your (tipsy) friends will surely need. The indoor pool is great for an early morning soak, and if you can also coordinate to have spa services completed in your room. Done and done!
Perfect for groups, Doretta is just a few blocks walk from Newbury Street’s boutique-packed stretch. Meaning? Head here for small, shareable Greek plates after y’all have shopped til you dropped. Don’t miss the zucchini chips and or feta jalepeno spreads, and be sure to order the Paloma (aka Tequila & grapefruit juice) as soon as you sit down.
Who wants to bother doing their own hair, when they can sit with their girls and have someone else blow it out to perfection inside a gorgeous, all-white salon that looks like the inside of a jewelry box? No brainer!
Convenient for all you Midwestern gals, Chicago is the perfect town to explore with your BFFs—whether you go in the summer time and rent some bikes for a ride around the lake and check out World Series champs the Cubbies at Wrigley (no town does game-day day-drinking quite like Chicago!), or visit during the wintertime and opt spend your days luxuriating in the spa and cozy neighborhood pubs, Chicago is a colorful, lively backdrop for your weekend getaway.
The Stay: The James Hotel
Nestled in the heart of Chi-town’s shopping district, The James offers pretty much every amenity you and your squad demand—in-room or in-spa services? Check. Ipod docking station for dance parties? Check. A glitzy bar and restaurant to hit up if it’s snowing outside? Check. Connecting rooms are available and the hotel’s super-modern aesthetic make everyone staying here feel glamorous.
Finger foods, Italian wines and smokin’ happy hour prices? Yep, this is just what the doctor ordered.
The Activity: Biking
I know, I know, when you're on vaca you don't really want to, um, exercise. But consider this touristing and exercising all at once! Schedule a bike rental through On the Route Bicycles while you're in town and head straight for the 18-mile Chicago Lakefront Trail, where you'll pedal alongside Lake Michigan, take in the all of the city views (and breezes) and oh yeah, make a few pit stops at the beach bars along the way.
For Southern clicks, this music-filled town is a natural choice—but equally so for anyone in the country looking to get a dose of, well, country. With live concerts being offered 24/7, seven days a week, this city knows how to get down, which is perfect for you and your line-dance-loving sorority sisters. But the town is also becoming a foodie mecca and a shopper’s delight, and given its delightful climate, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend away with you’re A#1s.
The Stay: The Thompson
Let’s face it: Our real lives are messy and hard. So, when you manage eek a girls weekend into your calendar, you want to be pampered, and The Thompson is just the place to do that. High design and utterly chic, the luxury boutique hotel will be a haven away from your laundry-filled home thanks to its sleek-meets-Southern rooms (think hardwood floors, barn doors and floor-to-ceiling windows). The rooftop bar is the perfect spot pre-game cocktails (you can’t go wrong with the Bey Swizzle) and then make your way down to James Beard Award-winning chef John Besh’s in-house restaurant Marsh House. Next up? Head to legendary bluegrass venue The Station Inn just around the corner.
There’s your standard mimosas-and-eggs brunch and then there’s Pinewood Social. Chase your hangover away with some hair-of-the-dog cocktails and your choice of bowling, bocce and a dip in the pool. Because breakfast tacos and bowling are never a bad idea.
It’s the age-old crux of traveling to a new city with your old friends—you want to see “stuff,” but you also want to just hang out and have a few drinks. Well, in Nashville you can hit two birds with one stone thanks to the Pedal Tavern, where you’re invited you to “hop on, pedal and sip.” Book one of three routes for your tour, which includes stops at partner bars. Reservations recommended.
Calling all West Coast girls! If you and your besties are spread out over the Golden State, Palm Springs is the ideal spot for meet up. Because nothing cleanses the mind and body like some yoga in the dessert with the people who know you best. And a few bottles of Champagne too, of course.
The Stay: Parker Palm Springs
When you check into the Parker, you’ll literally feel your worries and troubles ooze away as you start to ponder what do first with your girls—tennis, croquet, bocce or sunbathing by one of the two pools? Or you can eschew all of that for a spa day at the hotel’s in-house Psyc, where you can also schedule private yoga class...or hit up “the deck” for a well-deserved cocktail. The property’s guest rooms are sooo group friendly, whether you opt for the free-standing villas (that comprise living rooms and outdoor patios) or the patio rooms that have large outdoor terraces. Regular “estate” rooms are also superb options as they are oversized and can easily accommodate your gaggle of gals.
Perfect for the group that prefers small bites over a full dinner, this new hot spot is where you go for some classic cocktails alongside meats, cheeses and oysters. Yum. A curated roster of DJs ensures the music will always be on point, too.
The Activity: Palm Springs Aerial Tram
Hand everyone a bottle of water, a pair of sneakers and two Tylenol and head outside for some fresh air—and some crazy beautiful views of Palm Springs and Coachella Valley. This 10-minute tram ride will take you 2.5-miles up a mount to take this old-school cable car up into the much cooler San Jacinto Mountains. Once you’ve arrived there are multiple hiking trails to choose from—or you can opt to soak in the scenery from the mountaintop’s cocktail lounge or restaurant.
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