From rural retreat to upscale urban adventure, plan your getaway with the gals in style
Romantic retreats and family vacations are some of life’s most precious gifts. But let’s face it: when you really need to let your hair down, your best friends are your best travel companions. While your options are endless, here are three excellent itineraries to try.
Everyone likes one-stop shopping—and whether you’re thinking about a quick escape for you and your BFF or a big get-together, choosing a full-service resort is one of the best ways to streamline the planning process.
With 6,800 acres of rolling hills and a panoply of amenities and activities, Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa has enough of everything—hiking, biking, horseback riding, golf, hot-air balloon rides and more—to satisfy the desires of even the most diverse group of women. And the vast array of specialty boutiques, galleries and restaurants in nearby Galena, Illinois, makes for a delightful daytrip, just in case you need a break from utter relaxation.
The resort’s signature dining spot is Woodland’s Restaurant—presented with Wine Enthusiast magazine’s Award of Distinction for 2008 for the second straight year. It’s splurge-worthy dining, and is an absolute must for any Eagle Ridge stay. And while everyone loves fine dining, if you and your girlfriends are in the mood for the kind of decadence that won’t impact your waistline, stroll over to the Stonedrift Spa for one of their signature Holistic Wellness Treatments.
A Big-City Bash
If you haven’t been to Milwaukee lately, you will be amazed at how this city famous for its breweries, bricks and Harley-Davidson bikes transformed itself into a truly cosmopolitan vacation destination.
Once an eclectic warehouse district, the Historic Third Ward is now home to art galleries, cutting-edge fashion and gourmet dining. And in the stylish Brady Street area—nine blocks running east to west from Lake Michigan to the Milwaukee River—you’ll find a community-oriented neighborhood full of locally owned specialty retail shops, ethnic cuisine, cool coffee shops and chic salons.
Since no big-city girlfriend getaway would be complete without a little spa therapy, swing by the Pfister Hotel’s Well Spa and take advantage of one of their girlfriends packages that combine decadent spa treatments with one- or two-night stays in the lap of luxury. Another ultra-hip lodging option is the Iron Horse Hotel. This hundred-year-old warehouse across the river from the Harley-Davidson factory has been renovated from top to bottom and reborn as a modern luxury boutique hotel.
Kick up your heels with more than three hundred different wines, artisan cheeses, chocolates and charcuterie at Indulge, a new after-hours wine room that makes for the perfect Sex and the City–style end to a day of indulgence. Another equally lavish choice for a nightcap is Cuvée, a champagne celebration lounge in the Historic Third Ward. And Hinterland, a gastropub featuring upscale tavern fare and handcrafted microbrews from nearby Green Bay, is a delightful main-course option.
No Roughin’ It
With nearly half a dozen wineries, two renowned cooking schools, out-of-this-world shopping, natural beauty and small-town charm, Door County is the ideal choose-your-own-adventure style getaway. Just pick a few quaint towns, toss in some one-of-a-kind shopping destinations, a winery or two, and voilà! You’ve got a foolproof recipe for feminine fun.
With its “Best Place to Find a Unique Gift” nod by Midwest Living, you won’t have to look too far in Door County to find great shopping, and exploring the small towns and back roads for hidden gems is all part of the adventure.
While there’s no shortage of great restaurants in Door County, if you feel like making your own gastronomic masterpiece, an afternoon course at one of the area’s fine cooking schools is a wonderful way to spend quality girl time while expanding your collective culinary horizons. The Savory Spoon Cooking School and the Washington Island Hotel Culinary School both offer a fabulous array of enlightening, hands-on cooking classes and guided tastings.
And whether you drop in for a taste of wine or an afternoon game of bocce, Stone’s Throw Winery is an ideal spot to while away a summer afternoon and the perfect way to end a day of creative bonding.
Amy Seigel is a Madison-based freelance writer.