As you know, lovelies, traveling is one of my MOST cherished activities and bringing my girlfriends along makes it even more exquisite.
Unplugging with my best girls calls for a trip that allows us to recharge, reconnect and remember how much we’ve always enjoyed each other. From simple beach getaways, to bustling urban centers, to adventures only tackled once in a lifetime, these are some of the locations on my wishlist that are perfect girlfriend escapes.
A favorable exchange rate with the Canadian dollar means now is a great time to pay a visit to our friends up north. With a flight time of only about 90 minutes from the East Coast, hip Toronto is a cosmopolitan choice for a girls trip. Downtown Toronto is always bustling and there are great shops and dining. But don’t forget to explore a little bit of Toronto too!
The summer days in Toronto are long and languid, so celebrate by heading down to the Toronto waterfront. It’s a great spot for a stoll or to grab a beach chair and relax in the warm sand. You might even be surprised at how warm the water gets towards the end of summer! There are also plenty of relaxing boat cruises along the Toronto coast. Bring a sweater and take one of the evening tours and watch the day wrap up as the lights come on in beautiful Toronto.
Kensington is a wonderful place to start your weekend. Known as one of Toronto’s most multicultural neighborhoods, here you’ll discover tucked-away lunch spots and vintage shops. Street performers and art add to the vibrant energy of Kensington.
Offering a refined respite from the cityscape, The Ritz Carlton offers afternoon tea with a different theme each month. Featuring teas from a local shop that range from the traditional to the adventurous, this tasty and indulgent experience also includes the requisite finger sandwiches, some splurge-worthy desserts and even prosecco. Afternoon tea may be a perfect way to cap off an afternoon at Casa Loma, Toronto’s gorgeous local castle. Located in midtown the Gothic Revival castle and the lush gardens make for delightful exploring.
When I think of Virgina, I think of long rolling hills and wide open spaces, but Charlottesville delivers both a relaxed rural setting and big city amenities. Charlottesville is a small town with bustling, but not overwhelming, city life. Outside of the city centre, which is known for its picturesque horse pastures, you’ll discover the Monticello Wine Trail which boasts 33 vineyards, all open to the public and many serving farm-to-table nibbles. Imagine leisurely riding along on a rental bike – or maybe even a bicycle built for two – at your own, relaxed pace while dropping into wineries here and there to sample the local delights. Early fall in Charlottesville is exceptional, the city is less crowded and the warm afternoon sun delights. An late-fall afternoon eating wine and cheese while telling tales sounds like a lovely way to catch up with my ladies.
If wine tasting isn’t quite your speed, consider visiting some of Charlottesville’s notable museums. The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia is an unexpected delight because it’s so unusual to find an entire museum dedicated to Aboriginal art outside of Australia. In fact, it’s permanent collection of 1900 artworks is the only one of its kind outside of Australia. Right there in Charlottesville, you can take a little vacation within a vacation and explore the expressions of a completely different culture.
San Francisco, California
Known for its breathtaking views and romantic notions, San Francisco can also be a girls weekend delight. Everyone’s favorite city by the bay, San Francisco is a dynamic mix of urban adventures and delicious dining. With more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S, San Francisco’s restaurant scene is robust.
While you’re planning your culinary adventures in San Francisco, consider exploring some of The City’s less traveled paths. San Francisco’s Chinatown is famous for being the largest and oldest in America. Around every corner is an enchanting discovery. The tiny shops are stuffed with imported finds from spices to home goods like dishes and decor. Beautiful jade is everywhere and it purportedly brings good luck, so pick up a tiny little jade frog (frogs are symbolic of prosperity when kept on your person) and bring some good fortune home with you.
While San Francisco is a tough walking town because of the hills, a relaxed stroll through the oldest footpath through the Presidio, Lover’s Lane, gives time for reflection and catch-up with your ladies. Start at the south end and follow the zig-zag wooden line art installation which cuts an enchanted path through an impressive eucalyptus forest. If you follow the well-worn path downhill, you’ll see some of San Francisco’s most historic homes in the valley below.
Darlings, we all have “our look.” Some of us love flats, some of us love heels. High heel lovers take heed if you’re headed to Carmel-by-the-Sat. Since 1975, Carmel, has had a ban prohibiting high heels over two inches in height due to the town’s uneven, cracked streets. Even though the law doesn’t appear to be strongly enforced, take the opportunity to enjoy some comfortable shoes.
I’m such a fan of this sleepy beach town, with it’s small-town feel and friendly locals. When visiting with my gals, we grab a quick coffee at one of the many cafes in the small-town center, and head over to the many galleries that feature local artists. After a morning of coffee and art, we’re ready for some spa pampering at one of the many spas and salons.
Once we’re feeling relaxed and beautiful, we’re ready for shopping! Within the one-square mile village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, I can find so many gorgeous fashion, jewelry, and home decor boutiques that sometimes they rival the ones I love in Chicago.
Not to be forgotten is Carmel Beach. Voted one of the nation’s top beaches, Carmel Beach is THE place for strolling, weddings and, of course, surfing. While I’m not much of a surfer, I LOVE the Scenic Bluff Path, that meanders along the coast in the shade of Monterey cypress trees to Carmel Point.
A girls trip is sometimes exactly what my soul needs. Friends are more important as I get older and I cherish my time with each and every one of them. Traveling and exploring with girlfriends gives me very special memories and I hope that my post has inspired you to organize a trip with your besties.