So, your best gal pal is coming into town for the weekend. Or, maybe your femme fatale posse wants to be impulsive and go somewhere exciting. Or perhaps you just need a change of pace. Whatever the reason, there are some great getaways in any state in which you live, with action, adventure and relaxation around every corner, reinforcing the bond you all share.
- Ever thought of “roughin’ it” at a dude ranch? These fun, rustic locations aren’t just for farmers or ranchers anymore. Dude ranches around the country offer world-class cuisine, spas to spoil yourself in, en suite masseuses, health clubs and, of course, more outdoor activities than you can shake a horseshoe at. Typically, horseback riding fees are included with the cost of your room and board at the ranch, as are lessons and guided trail rides. Also, look for hiking and biking trails, water sports (if there’s an on-site lake) such as canoeing, hay rides, campfires and s’mores (no gal pal vacation is complete without them).
- If you live in a coastal state, the beach is always a good choice. But to avoid shoobies (a.k.a., tourists), talk to locals and find out where they go for fun in the sun. This way, you’re sure to find some wonderful shorelines that are off the beaten path and away from the hustle and bustle. But there’s a lot more to a coastal vacation than baking yourself on the sand. Depending on the state you’re visiting, check out local dolphin and whale watching cruises (or manatees if you happen to be in Florida), botanical tropical gardens, parasailing adventures, surfing lessons, and kayak, boat, scuba, and jet ski rentals.
- Don’t ignore the oft-forgotten art of the road trip. The beauty is that the destination doesn’t really matter. Splurge and rent a convertible for the weekend. Lower the roof, pump up the music, and cruise along with your girlfriends while dishing about everything and anything. For cheap gas and good eats along the highways and byways, look for the ubiquitous Flying J’s. On the whole, these truck stops are clean and well lit; but for safety’s sake, stay together in a group.
- For thrills and spills, visit a local amusement park. Every state has them, and many offer discounted tickets to locals. There’s nothing more satisfying than smacking your friends in a bumper car, screaming together on looping coasters, or beating their pants off in the midway games. There will be laughs a ‘plenty as you relive your childhood and re-experience your favorite rides. And who can say no to cotton candy?
- How about a classic wine and dine experience? Many states (such as California and Massachusetts) have beautiful vineyards open year round for visitors. Tours are typically inexpensive and almost always conclude with a taste of the winery’s finest. For an additional fee, you can sign up for a vertical tasting, which is a sampling of several different reserves. Many wineries tie this experience into an elegant dining affair, concluding your day trip with class and sass.
- Release your inner rebel and try an extreme sport. You and your gal pals can share the unforgettable experience of plummeting to the earth during a sky dive or bungee jump. Head to the snowy slopes for a skiing/snowboarding escapade. Enjoy an unforgettable vista from on high in a hang glider. Or, get out your aggressions with a good healthy round of paintball. The best part is that your friends won’t let you chicken out from experiencing something you’ve always wanted to try.
- Train travel is a great, cheap alternative to flying or driving. Plus, this unique experience, offering fine dining and scenic vistas, is one most people will never experience. Trains can take you from coast to coast; from big cities to hidden hamlets; from national parks to sparkling shoreline. The beauty of train travel isn’t in the destination, but the excitement, splendor and memories you and your friends will make during the journey.
- Treat your inner vagabond to a two-to-three day bike trip through evergreen-covered foothills and majestic mountains. Load up a knapsack with bottled water and energy bars, rent some mountain bicycles, and follow wherever the road may lead you. Travel through towns, villages, countrysides, and wilderness. Camp out under the stars and bond with your girl friends amid the flickering shadows of a campfire. End your wild escape with a refreshing jaunt down a white water river.
- If humor is your bag, consider a cooking class for your and your girlfriends. You might be surprised to find that one or two have been eating their pasta a little too al dente. Search the phone book for local culinary academies or adult learning centers, which often offer inexpensive classes in the early evening. Whether you end up with a five star cuisine or a five flag disaster, you and your friends are guaranteed some laughs.
- Looking for the perfect rejuvenating, relaxing getaway? Have a local spa getaway that offers more than just massage therapy. Many offer yoga classes, meditation seminars, tai chi, sauna, facials, manicures and reiki. Enrich the afternoon by attending high tea. And what gal pal party is complete without a decadent chocolate tasting?
The best part about traveling with your gal pals is that, regardless if it’s a weekend away, a five-year reunion or just an afternoon, you will share the adventure together. The beauty of friendship is that time and space don’t matter; the bonds are still there. And what better way to strengthen that connection than by testing your limits, rejuvenating yourselves or simply traveling someplace new and letting the experience become a part of your shared history.