The last time I uttered the words, “I want something different,” I ended up with a haircut in the shape of a mushroom. A wild, lopsided mushroom. Bad haircuts aside, when it comes to group trips, my guess is that you often hear that request. Travelers want something other than the “same ole, same ole” but with a tinge of familiarity so that the trip has broad appeal, especially with those tagged as girlfriend getaways. The trick is to pick a destination rich in diversions that keep everyone happy.
Here is some food for thought (hold the mushrooms please) when brainstorming themed girlfriend getaways.
For many of us, shopping is a sport. According to recent studies, a sweet find on the sale rack and the din of the cash register can truly enhance your mood. Even better when you are among friends. But remember that shopping can take many forms, from mega malls to back-street antique shops.
Themed shopping getaways:
- Thrift store and outlet shopping in Palm Springs, California. Amazing things end up in thrift stores, especially in areas where celebrities go to, errr … uh, retire. (Gypsyland and Revivals are among the top rated.) If all else fails, the Cabazon and Desert Hills Outlets offer miles of retail.
- Furniture shopping in the back roads of High Point, North Carolina. Not sure where to start? Where You Need to Go offers insider tours (whereyouneedtogo.com).
- Boutique shopping in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon. Get a walking map at explorethepearl.com.
- Crafts and quilts in Amish Country, Ohio. The Berlin Village Gift Barn is a must (oldeberlinvillage.com).
- Antique shopping in Mount Dora, Florida. Close enough to entertainment central in Orlando, this quaint town was once dubbed the “antique capital.”
Everybody loves a beach vacation. But with your planning expertise, your group can get more than just their feet wet.
Getaways with a splash:
Snorkeling in the Florida Keys. As a native Floridian, I can personally attest that The Conch Republic is nothing like most people think who haven’t yet visited this diverse string of islands. Islamorada, Marathon, the Lower Keys and of course, Key West, offer a slew of diversions with snorkeling among the “key” ways to get wet. Top snorkeling spots: scubo-do.com, diveflakeys.com and divekeywest.com
Whitewater rafting in Northern California. With rafting trips for all levels, the American and Truckee rivers take in the scenic northern Cali river coast and are within short shots to Lake Tahoe, wine tasting and apple orchards. For produce lovers, a trip to Davis Ranch in Sloughhouse (davisranchproduce.com) for sweet corn harvested daily is worth the trek. Check out: whitewatertours.com and americanwhitewater.com
Sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands, Washington. For calmer waters, plan a trip that explores the shores of the San Juan Islands by kayak. Start at: outdoorodysseys.com and shearwaterkayaks.com
Festivals and Events
Here’s what I know about fairs, festivals, concerts and special events: You’ll eat too much, blow way too much cash and have a blast. The build-up and planning that goes into events is often what shapes a community and as “outsiders,” your group will get a front-row seat to the sights, sounds, tastes and culture of an area.
Annual events worthy of a getaway:
- Scottsdale Culinary Festival (scottsdalefest.org), early April
- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (nojazzfest.com), late April-early May
- Rodeo Santa Fe (rodeodesantafe.org), mid-June
- Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California (gilroygarlicfestival.com), late July
- Santa’s Enchanted Forest, Miami (santasenchantedforest.com), late October through January
Other places to ponder are seats of good eats such as Seattle and Chicago, psychic centers such as Sedona, outdoor hiking or horseback riding adventures, volunteer vacations and so on. Pick up my book for more “out there” ideas.
−By Lisa Kasanicky
Lisa Kasanicky is author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Girlfriend Getaways (Alpha Books, 2009) and founder of AZSpaGirls.com − a girlfriend-to-girlfriend guide to spas, salons, beauty and wellness. The book offers travel details on more than 70 destinations in the United States and Canada ideal for female-focused group travelers.