The Girlfriend Getaway Guide
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The Girlfriend Getaway Guide

Imagine this: you and your best friends, away for a few days with nothing to do but laugh, relax and have a glass of wine or two. Get inspired by readers who made it happen.; Get away with your friends for a few days to laugh, relax and sip a glass of wine.

Spa

Treat yourself to a relaxing, stress-free weekend of massages, facials, yoga and poolside naps.

Sedona, Arizona
Debe Hauschild, 55, first visited Sedona 17 years ago and she keeps going back. "Something about it just captures you," she says. "It's a spiritual place." Last January she and three of her best friends—Karen Braver, 53; Leigh Ann Albers, 55; and Beth Cooper, 56—met at Mii amo, a spa at Enchantment Resort that's eight miles from downtown Sedona. "Everyone has greasy hair and no makeup," says Hauschild. "And that's one of the best parts." 525 Boynton Canyon Rd.; 888-749-2137; miiamo.com.

Rest and renew Of the 75-plus treatments at the spa, the Thai massage was Braver's favorite, and it left a lasting impression. "It was like getting physical therapy," she says. "I went there with a lower-back issue and when I left, it was gone!" Another spa favorite among the women was Shirodhara, a traditional East Indian treatment that includes a facial and a scalp massage.

Body work Some of the group's favorite activities at the resort: yoga, stretching, Bosu and Pilates classes and hiking. "There are a few hikes you can take right from the spa," says Cooper. "There are these great big cliffs and it's just so spectacular. It was even better because we were all together."

Great eats The women had most of their meals at Mii amo, but they also ventured into downtown Sedona for a meal at the Mexican restaurant Elote Cafe. "Their roasted corn relish salsa is to die for," says Albers. "Everybody agreed it's some of the best Mexican food we've ever had." 771 State Route 179; 928-203-0105; elotecafe.com.

Serene scene Even though the resort activities kept them busy, at night they lingered over meals and sipped wine by the fire. "We don't see each other that often," says Albers. "It was such a great reunion for all of us, and I can't wait to do it again."

More spa vacations

  • In addition to spa treatments, at Travaasa Austin guests can try mechanical bull riding workouts, take cooking classes and learn to dance the Texas two-step. 512-258-7243; travaasa.com/austin
  • Eighty-five miles south of Savannah, Georgia, is Sea Island, a resort with 600 cottages, two hotels and a five-mile beach as well as a stunning spa and fitness center. 855-714-9201; seaisland.com
  • Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa is a desert oasis outside Santa Fe with hot mineral pools, yoga classes, a spa and nearby hiking trails. 505-583-2233; ojospa.com

Adventure

One great way to bond? Get your adrenaline pumping on an action-packed vacation.

Alaska
For Rita Pilger, 61, doing something as wild as zip lining through an Alaskan rain forest was inconceivable. But two years ago she and her daughter, Beth Blair, 37, embraced their adventurous sides by signing up for Princess Cruises' Denali Explorer cruise tour. The trip started in Fairbanks and included a tour of Denali National Park (and its main attraction, Mt. McKinley), a train journey to Anchorage and a seven-day cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver. Along the way they took some exciting side trips that included dogsledding, a plane ride around Denali and a helicopter ride to a glacier. The verdict? "We've got to plan more mom?daughter getaways," says Blair. "My mom still talks about the trip like it was yesterday." 800-774-6237; princess.com.

Off the rails The passengers in the front of the train between Fairbanks and Anchorage see the most wildlife, but Pilger and Blair opted for the glass-ceilinged car in the middle, which gave them sweeping views of the mountains, cliffs, waterfalls and even river rafters. But their favorite part was sitting back and relaxing together. "We had Bloody Marys for the ride and we took a ton of pictures," says Pilger. "We really wanted to document our trip. It's very rare that we have time for just the two of us."

Riding high Zip lining sounds terrifying—you're sliding about 35 miles per hour on a high wire through Ketchikan's forest canopy— but Pilger and Blair decided to just go for it. "Together, we'll try anything," says Pilger, who loved seeing the lush forest from the treetops. "It was an adrenaline rush like you wouldn't believe. I was so proud of myself !"

Into the wild From Juneau the pair went on a smaller boat to get an intimate look at the humpback whales that migrate from warm waters to Alaska. "They were flipping right in front of us," says Blair. "It was a rainy day, perfect for spotting wildlife," says Pilger. "We got sopping wet, but so what? It was thrilling."

White sights Neither Pilger nor Blair had been in a helicopter before they took one to see their first glacier. "We started screaming like little girls when we stepped out because we'd never seen anything like it," says Blair. "It was huge, with all these little blue pools amid the whiteness. It was absolutely amazing."

More Adventure Escapes

  • On a bank of the Colorado River 14 miles east of Moab, Utah, Red Cliffs Lodge can arrange canyoneering, hiking and rafting guides. 435-259-2002; redcliffslodge.com
  • The Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch in New Hampshire offers packages that include meals, rock climbing classes and a hiker shuttle to nearby trailheads. 603-278-4453; outdoors.org/highland
  • Rent a cabin at the Ace Adventure Resort in Minden, West Virginia, then choose from whitewater rafting, zip lining, horseback riding or just sitting by the lake. 800-787-3982; aceraft.com

City Weekend

Pick a cool city for your next trip and you'll never be bored—you can shop, sightsee and eat at great restaurants.

San Francisco
When Lisa Christie, 30, moved from Salt Lake City to Virginia last year, she and her best friend, Amy Ursenbach, 34, vowed to plan a girls-only weekend every year. Last September they headed to San Francisco. Both women are married with young kids, so just the thought of a rare kid- and husband-free weekend was exhilarating. "It was so nice to be able to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted!" says Christie. Their first getaway together went so well that they've already made plans for another.

Market value Fisherman's Wharf is often swarmed with tourists, but on Saturdays locals come out for the farmers' market. "I loved seeing all the fresh seafood," says Ursenbach. "For lunch we got bowls of clam chowder." There are also lots of funky shops selling souvenirs and T-shirts.

City cycling After renting bikes at Fisherman's Wharf, they decided to ride all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. "Neither of us knew that it was an eight-mile bike ride up San Francisco hills to get there," laughs Christie. For the return trip they took the ferry that runs by Alcatraz Island, the site of the infamous prison. San Francisco Bicycle Rentals, 425 Jefferson St.; 415-922-4537; bikerentalsanfrancisco.com.

Shop and stop The women spent a day in Chinatown, which is lined with tiny mom-and-pop stores. "We bought kimonos and Lisa got little jammies for her kids," says Ursenbach. They ate dinner at the House of Nanking, which is known for serving some of the best Chinese food in the city. "There was a line to get in literally down the block," says Christie. "So we figured it must be good. And we were right." 919 Kearny St.; 415-421-1429.

Up all night long Christie and Ursenbach found a deal at the Warwick, a historic hotel with a prime location near Union Square. Art galleries, shopping and restaurants are all close by, but the best night was when they just stayed in. "We ordered drinks, sat on our beds like we were in college and stayed up late talking and laughing," says Ursenbach. "I love San Francisco but honestly, the best thing about the trip was having three uninterrupted days with my best friend." 490 Geary St.; 415-928-7900; warwicksf.com.

More great city trips

  • The hip Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon, lets guests use their bicycles for free. Visit the Portland Saturday Market, one of the country's largest open-air crafts fairs. 503-228-2277; acehotel.com/portland
  • In South Beach, Miami, the ocean and nightclubs are within walking distance of Hotel Chelsea, as is the popular Art Deco Historic District. 305-534-4069; thehotelchelsea.com
  • Chicago's funky Hotel Monaco is near the lakefront and Millennium Park, home of the famous Bean sculpture. 312-960-8500; monaco-chicago.com

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