Girlfriends are like our extended family. For years, they’ve been your travel companions, your taxi drivers to and from the airport, your partners in crime, and your confidants. They’ve also got more dirt on you than the Las Vegas desert (but you know that your secrets are always safe with them). So when it comes to planning a girls’ weekend: You don’t need a reason to get together. You just need a destination. Here are our top picks for group travel ideas for an unforgettable all-girls getaway … no matter what the occasion.
Food and Wine
There’s only one thing girlfriends love to share more than a really good secret – really good vino. And when it comes to a fine glass of wine, look no further than Tuscany's Castello del Trebbio, a palace-turned-winery. If ever there was a heaven-on-earth, it’s found at Castello, which is located just on the outskirts of Florence. But what’s a good glass of wine without the perfect meal to pair it with? Take Tuscan cooking skills home as a souvenir by enrolling in cooking classes at Tuscana Saporita, which offers lessons for culinary artists of all levels, from beginners to accomplished chefs. All classes are taught by professional chefs, are hands-on and conducted in English. Now that’s a taste of la bella vita (the beautiful life). If you’re looking for a group travel idea in the States, visit Ladera, a small Howell Mountain estate in Angwin, Calif., known for its hillside Cabernet Sauvignon.
Whether you want to shop for an important event, like your upcoming wedding, or you just want to celebrate the fact that you finally fit back into your “skinny” jeans after having a baby, shopping sprees are the perfect way to reward yourself. And a shopping spree just isn’t a shopping spree without a girlfriend alongside you to offer a second opinion. With nearly 50 new stores opening over the past year, including European labels such as Céline and American designers such as Proenza Schouler, Madison Avenue in Manhattan, N.Y., is the place to go. Amongst these new stores are their veteran predecessors such as Oscar de la Renta, Chanel and Gucci. As any local will tell you, whether you’re looking for a new pair of shoes, a refined piece of art or a good cup of coffee, you can find it on Madison Avenue. If you find yourself wanting to go West instead, then make sure to window shop at The Grove, wander around Melrose Avenue and loosen up your purse strings in the Promenade in Santa Monica.
Ladies Night (...and Morning)
A memorable ladies night always consists of three key components: The perfect outfit, a well-blended beverage and dancing like you’ll never run into anyone you know from back home. If you want to live it up, but still blend in with the crowd, there’s no better place to do so than in Las Vegas. In a city where glitter and sequins abounds, Las Vegas allows your inner fashionista to run rampant – think metallic fabrics, boas and even colored wigs. Anything goes, and no one passes judgment (mostly because other city-goers will be wearing much of the same). Before you take it to the streets on the Las Vegas Strip, make sure to check out some of the city’s world famous entertainment, such as Cirque du Soleil, vocal performances by Celine Dion or “Jersey Boys” the musical. When you are ready to bust a move, start the night off with drinks on the rooftop of the Voodoo Lounge and then head to Pure Nightclub, where you’ll feel like you just stepped off of the red carpet. For brunch the next day, head to Serendipity 3 in Caesar’s Palace and order the egg white and shrimp frittata. It’s the perfect meal to wake up to after a long night of casino action or dancing. If you love nightlife, but also want to be by the beach, plan a trip to the Florida Keys instead, which offers the best of both worlds. During the day, go on an all-day snorkeling cruise in Key West and then at night, head to Duval Street for dinner and dancing.
Celebrating a Milestone
Whether you’re celebrating a 50th birthday or a 25-year anniversary of a longstanding best friendship, cruises are the perfect group travel idea for care-free adventurers. Many cruises are actually all-inclusive, which means that the price for food and overnight accommodations were included in the booking price for the cruise itself (although alcoholic beverages, excursions and tips for the staff are usually “extras”). One option for a cruise is the Seabourn Sojourn, a 540-passenger vessel that is dexterous enough to access small ports, but still offers the type of accommodations and dining that you would expect to see on larger ships. It also features a two-story spa with outdoor space and cabanas. Its cruise through the Norwegian fjords offers a good combination of on-ship comforts and off-ship rugged adventure, with its unforgettable glaciers, craggy mountains and waterfalls. One drawback is the weather, which can sometimes be a bit unpredictable. So if you’re looking for destinations that are more consistently sunny, plan a Caribbean trip aboard the Disney Fantasy, which makes stops in the Grand Cayman, Cozumel and St. Thomas, to name a few.
For those female travelers looking to unwind and reconnect with old friends – or themselves – a retreat to a desolate beach is in order. Bora, Bora in Tahiti is as quiet as they come, with its white sandy shores, pristine waters and serene atmosphere. Look for a hotel that also features a health and wellness spa, so you and your girlfriends can enjoy a day where you leave all of your worries at the massage table. Whether you want to experience Bora Bora by basking in the sun under a coconut tree or snorkeling and swimming in the ocean, it’s the perfect place to be as active or as inactive as you’d like. If you’re looking for peace and tranquility, but also enjoy hiking and greenery, head to the Huangguoshu National Park in China instead. The park’s feature attraction is the Huangguoshu Waterfall, which is the largest waterfall in all of China at 77.8 meters high and 101 meters wide. It’s surrounded by 18 waterfalls of various sizes, all very picturesque.
If you and your girlfriends feel that no vacation is complete unless you had to sign at least one waiver, then plan your next group vacation around an adrenaline-pumping extreme adventure. Break up the typical 9-to-5 routine with a trip to the Canyon Swing in Queenstown, New Zealand. The swing is a system made up of climbing ropes and a body harness that allows you to freefall more than 200 feet, at speeds of more than 90 miles an hour. We did promise you an “extreme” adventure, did we not? The drop itself only lasts about three seconds, but the memories last a lifetime. If you’d rather enjoy an adventure closer to the ground, try the Dale Jarrett Racing Adventures in Talladega, Alabama. There, amateur drivers can circle the fastest and largest racetrack in America at professional speeds of more than 180 mph.
What do you suggest for a getaway with your girlfriends?