Something for every group of gals in this guide to six weekend getaways: Santa Fe, Miami, Charleston, Carmel, Aspen & New York
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UPDATED: November 2021 (I will be updating and adding to this article as I explore new places and return to these favourites.)
What’s more fun than a weekend getaway with the girls? I selected these six destinations from among my favourite places in the U.S. They each offer a unique weekend experience and I’ve highlighted some of the things that makes each of them special. Whether your favourite ladies like to stay up late dancing or get up early for a hike – read by the pool or museum hop, there’s a girls’ weekend for every group.
Girls' Getaway Weekend Planning
If you aren’t sure where to go on your girls’ getaway, it’s helpful to decide on your approximate dates because some destinations aren’t ideal in certain seasons. Fall is hurricane season in Miami but lovely in New York City. Conversely, I find New York too hot and sticky in summer; California or Aspen would be ideal.
Next, have everyone in the group consider the things they’d most like to include in the girls’ weekend: wine tasting, historical tours, lounging by the pool, shopping, morning walks on a beach etc. That will give you all a clearer view of what everyone is envisioning for the trip. With that in mind, I’ve highlighted what I think makes each of these U.S. destinations extra-special.
U.S. Girls' Getaway Destinations
Weekend in Santa Fe
Culture, Art, Spas, Dining, History, Hiking
Santa Fe is a charming city with a rich history and unique culture set in a gorgeous landscape amidst the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It’s the oldest capital city in the U.S. and Hispanic, and Native American cultures are all evident in the food, art and architecture.
Santa Fe does not have the party vibe of Miami or Nashville so it’s a great pick for ladies looking for a more low-key getaway. This is heaven for art lovers and foodies. In addition to the city sights, Santa Fe offers access to beautiful hiking. It has a semi-arid climate with lots of sun; spring and fall offer ideal temps for visiting. Summers are hot, but thanks to the altitude of 7000’, not as hot as nearby states like Arizona. January through April can offer pleasant weather but also snow.
Historic Santa Fe: Learn about Santa Fe’s interesting past at historic sites located throughout the city such as the oldest church in the U.S., San Miguel Chapel, a 17th century Spanish Colonial mission. A wonderful way to see historic Santa Fe is on a guided or self-guided walking tour. You can explore the options at Tourism Santa Fe.
Santa Fe is considered the 3rd most significant art market in the U.S. after Los Angeles and New York. You’ll find a little of everything here: classic painting, sculpture, contemporary art. Head to Canyon Road, the charming arts district with over 100 galleries. There are art events throughout the year and if you are visiting in October, try and catch the annual Santa Fe Studio Tour, when artists welcome visitors to their studios to learn more about their creative process.
The Railyard Farmers’ Market is considered one of the best markets in the country. In addition to amazing produce you’ll find food products and artisanal goods. It operates every Saturday year-round and on Tuesdays, May through November. There’s also a wonderful flea market here known as “The Flea”. A great spot for treasure hunting with assorted gems such as antique Native American jewelry.
If a little pampering is in order, visit the Ten Thousand Waves Spa for a dose of R&R in a lovely setting. And in summer catch a performance at the Santa Fe Opera, a world-renowned open air theatre. Book well ahead if you can.
The strings of red chilis hanging in doorways are a colourful reminder that dining is a special part of any weekend in Santa Fe. Green and red chile are on many menus and worth a try when you get the chance (they can be spicy so ask about spice level when you order).
A couple of restaurants I enjoyed on my most recent trip were the Terra Cotta Bistro, where creative international dishes reflect the owners’ passion for travel. And for an upscale dining experience, I loved Estevan – exceptional New Mexican food with a French flare.
For a splurge meal, Geronimo is supposed to be incredible and is located in a 250-year old adobe.
I most recently stayed at the Hotel St. Francis, the oldest hotel in Santa Fe (and recently redone) with a perfect location one block from the main plaza and in the mid-price range. It has lots of character and thought it was great value for money. I’ve also stayed at La Posada de Santa Fe, a sprawling resort-style property with a pool, spa and rooms with wood burning fireplaces (make sure you book that specifically if you want it). The location is great. If you want a resort-style hotel and find a price you are happy with (it can be pricey) I recommend this.
For a budget-friendly option check out the El Rey Court. It has comfortable rooms with a colourful southwestern vibe and a nice breakfast. It also has a pool – not fancy, but does the job for cooling off after a day of sightseeing in the warm months. It is further from the center of town.
For a more luxurious experience, Santa Fe has fabulous options. La Fonda on the Plaza has great reviews as does Posada de Santa Fe which is in a similar price range. For a splurge, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi looks gorgeous and the ultra-luxe Inn of the Five Graces is as special, and expensive, as it gets in Santa Fe. I would LOVE to stay at any of these!
Weekend in Miami
Beach relaxation, Nightlife, Art & Architecture, Cuban Culture
It used to be that people came to “Miami Beach”. But now there’s so much more to the diverse and exciting city of Miami. It is brimming with art, has fabulous architecture and cuban culture. And if your group likes to dance, this is the place. One of the things I noticed on my last trip to Miami was the people here seem to embrace a sense of occasion when they go out – so take all your favourite outfits and don’t be afraid to show a little skin, if you feel like it.
Miami’s Little Havana neighbourhood was definitely a highlight of my last trip with the girls. We had a wonderful dinner at Cafe Le Trova which I highly recommend, and then went salsa dancing at the Ball and Chain, a Miami institution since 1935. We got lucky: Luis Bofill, a very talented Cuban-American was performing on the pineapple stage – the back garden venue at the club. Salsa dancing to his incredible performance was unforgettable. (Note: The Ball & Chain is closed as of the summer of 2021 but it is supposed to reopen soon. Check the website for details.)
I also enjoyed doing an architecture tour of the Art Deco buildings in South Beach. You can go on a guided tour or do a self-guided tour as I did. Find more information at the Miami Design Preservation League.
Thanks in part to the annual Art Basel festival, Miami has grown into a notable hub for art. Visit Wynwood Walls, the outdoor gallery which showcases artists from around the world. And one of Miami’s newest museums offers free admission. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami features artists from around the globe as well as local talent. Stop in at the peaceful outdoor sculpture garden.
If you ever watched Miami Vice ( GenX ladies?) you know that getting out on the water is a part of Miami. We had a friend with a boat take us out and enjoyed an excursion around Biscayne Bay to see the incredible homes. If that sounds like fun, you can explore Miami ocean excursions at Get Your Guide – Miami, Biscayne Bay.
Miami is full of delicious food and lots of different types of cuisine including plentiful South American. The oldest restaurant in Miami is also my oldest memory of Miami as our family used to make a special expedition to Joe’s Stone Crab on our Florida vacations. I learned early on that when stone crab is on a menu, you order it.
You’ll find many of the city’s exceptional restaurants inside hotels. For Italian, check out Osteria Morini inside the Kimpton Palomar. On my next trip I want to try Byblos Miami on Collins Avenue. The decor and Mediterranean food are supposed to be sublime.
Although there’s much to explore around the city I think it’s the most fun to stay near the beach and South Beach offers the most within walking distance. The Raleigh Hotel is the classic right in the heart of South Beach. For over the top luxe check out the Fontainebleau, a historic property designed by Morris Lapidus, know for his Miami modern hotels of the 1950’s. It has a fabulous pool, gorgeous art, and excellent Spanish restaurant. Further north in Miami Beach, The Miami Edition is also popular if you want a sprawling beachfront resort with lots of amenities.
For something more budget friendly there are many boutique hotels in the Art Deco buildings scattered within a block of Collins Avenue. We had drinks and a tour of the The Dream Hotel and I thought it had a great vibe. It has a nice rooftop bar with a small but cute pool, and is a short walk to the beach. The architecture and decor are colourful and fun. If you prefer to be in downtown Miami the Kimpton Epic gets rave reviews; I have stayed at several Kimpton hotels and have enjoyed all of them.
Weekend in Charleston
Southern Charm, Fabulous Walking City, History, Cute Shops
Charleston is a city that’s perfect for wandering. It’s also compact so easy to explore: enjoy cute cobblestone streets, stunning mansions, and people driving along the streets in golf carts. On our girls weekend in Charleston, we loved meandering to enjoy the gorgeous houses and stunning gardens.
The best time to visit Charleston is anytime other than summer when it is very hot and humid. I was there in mid-June and it was hot but still manageable.
Explore the city by bicycle. We borrowed bikes from out hotel and rode around the city. Between a beautiful waterfront and charming streets, it’s easy to cover a lot of ground and take in this picturesque city.
The Old Slave Mart is a Charleston museum that I found incredibly informative and also very difficult and sad. Charleston was a hub for slave auction in the mid 1800’s and the Old Slave Mart is one of two remaining buildings where enslaved African Americans were auctioned (the other is in Virginia). I couldn’t take pictures inside due to copyright, but there was a quote from Maya Angelou on the wall: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
Husk is the classic choice if you want to enjoy beautifully prepared food with southern ingredients. There are also locations in Savannah and Nashville, two other cities I love for girls trips. We had a wonderful dinner at Magnolia (check the website it may be temporarily closed). For something budget friendly The Royal American is supposed to be good.
Visit Bitty & Beau’s Coffee for delicious java with a side of inspiration: the cafe employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Charleston hotels tend to be expensive. We chose a mid-priced option, The Vendue, and enjoyed our stay. It has a great location and a rooftop bar with a lovely view of the harbour. Next time I would choose something with a more traditional southern vibe: the Wentworth Mansion if I had the budget or the French Quarter Inn. The Francis Marion Hotel is also recommended as a moderate-priced option.
Weekend in Carmel
Beach walks, Wine Tasting, Quaint shops, Day Spas, Hiking
Carmel encapsultes so much of what makes California special: a quaint town set on a dramatic coastline with spectacular scenery. Add to that incredible wine, and a close to ideal climate year-round and Carmel offers an ideal girls’ weekend getaway. The exception would be if you are looking for nightlife as well – in that case see the “Miami” trip section.
If you enjoy wine you will be very happy in Carmel. There are many tasting rooms around town so you can imbibe without getting in your car to visit the wineries, although that’s an option as well. Learn more at Wine Tasting Carmel.
Carmel has several day spas and they all look lovely. I would definitely like to visit Refuge on my next trip (although they have a “no talking” policy which isn’t for everyone and might not be for me). Ahead of your treatment time you can enjoy their spas and saunas.
The Carmel Mission is a beautifully restored Spanish colonial building built in 1797 by Franciscan missionaries. Today it is also an active parish. You can either visit and admire the building and gardens from outside, or take a guided tour. Check the website for the current tour schedule.
The Carmel beach is gorgeous for walks, especially at sunset. And if your group enjoys hiking, I recommend Point Lobos State Park, a stunning coastal preserve with gorgeous trails and ocean views. You are likely see some seals playing in the water or resting on the beach.
La Bicyclette is wonderful for a European bistro-inspired meal with a California flair. Wines are a mix of European and California. The Stationary and La Balena are also popular choices for dinner. Carmel Belle is known for a delish brunch.
Mission Ranch is a great choice for a fancy cocktail with a pretty view.
On my visits to Carmel I’ve stayed at the home of friends but I hope to visit again soon and here are a few hotels I’d love to try. For something budget friendly, the Carmel River Inn gets great reviews and is well-priced for Carmel. It’s on the edge of town. The Sandpiper Inn is a Bed & Breakfast with charming rooms and ocean views.
For a full-service resort in the mid-high price point, I’d consider the Tickle Pink Inn an oceanfront hotel atop the rocky coastline with stunning views. Some rooms may be a little dated, but the gorgeous adjoining patios seem to make up for it. The Tradewinds Hotel is a boutique property with Asian-inspired decor. And the historic Cypress Inn is charming and you can bring your pooch along if needed. For a splurge I’d love to stay at the Auberge Carmel in their European-style cottages.
Weekend in New York City
Theatre, Shopping, Museums, Nightlife, Architecture, Food
Oh New York, how do I love thee – let me count the ways. Obviously New York has endless options for what to see and do. But to me what makes it so wonderful for a girls’ getaway is the energy in New York is unlike anywhere else in the U.S. “Girls just wanna have fun” and there’s no better place. Since a big part of seeing New York is exploring on foot, spring or fall is the best times for a girls’ weekend. I’ve also been there over the holidays which is great fun, but crowded and hotels are expensive.
I love New York’s art galleries and The Frick and the Museum of Modern Art are my favourites. The nice thing about both is they are manageable in size so if you only have a weekend in New York you can see either in just a couple of hours.
Walking the High Line park is also a fun way to enjoy views of both the Hudson River and the Chelsea area of New York. I also love walking across the Brooklyn bridge; subway or taxi to Brooklyn, have brunch at one of the cute restaurants and then walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge to enjoy the spectacular New York skyline (and get a glimpse of the State of Liberty).
And of course the New York theatre… either plan ahead to get tickets to the show of your choice (especially if you are a large group), or take your chances with last-minute tickets. There’s usually something available and the surprise is part of the fun.
There are endless New York restaurant recommendations depending on budget, type of food and neighbourhood. Dining in New York deserves an article of its own. I recommend the New York Times Restaurant reviews online as a great resource. You can sort by neighbourhood, price range and food type. If I have to pick one, Pastis is a classic for French bistro food in the meatpacking district, very near the High Line.
I have stayed in many different hotels in New York over the years so can make a few suggestions. In midtown I love the Lexington Hotel which was built in 1929 – Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio lived here during their brief marriage in the 1950’s. Some rooms have fabulous balconies. (note: The Lexington is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection so you can earn or redeem points with your stays.)
For “affordable luxury” I love CitizenM, a Europe-based chain which has small but incredibly well-designed rooms. I stayed at their Bowery location on my most recent NYC visit and thought it was fabulous; I really enjoyed the gorgeous rooftop bar. (They also have a Times Square location, although I don’t love Times Square as an area to stay in.)
For a very nice boutique hotel experience I enjoyed the Maritime Hotel in the Meatpacking District. The location is terrific and the rooms are small but fabulous. Another boutique hotel I’d adore to stay in is The Crosby in SoHo. If you have a bigger budget, check it out.
Weekend in Aspen
Luxe accommodation, Chic Boutiques, Delish Dining, World-class Hikes
I live in Denver so know there are many wonderful mountain towns to enjoy throughout Colorado. But there is something special about Aspen for a girls’ weekend. It’s small yet has something for everyone. That said it is expensive so if you are on a tighter budget, I would probably skip Aspen and choose another destination for your getaway.
Incredible scenery and access to the outdoors is the main attraction here. In winter you can ski, but there are other options if you don’t. In warm weather you are situated near one of the best hikes in Colorado: Maroon Bells, also among the most photographed mountains in the country. You can’t park at the trailhead so you will need a reservation for the parking lot and shuttle to the trail. It’s best to reserve this as soon as you know you are going as it can book up well ahead. A much more accessible hike is the Hunter Creek Loop, a favorite trail among locals and accessible from town.
After your outdoor adventures you may be ready for a little pampering and there are multiple options here at various price points. I haven’t visited a spa in Aspen but most seem to get rave reviews. The shopping is also plentiful for a small mountain town. In addition to big name brands you’ll find small boutiques and many art galleries.
One of my favourite restaurants in all of Colorado is in Aspen – the French Alpine Bistro. It’s charming and magical and the perfect dinner spot for anyone and everyone. Whether you are with the girls, with a partner, with a parent, with a child, on your own, please come here! I’ve heard there are a lot of other great restaurants in Aspen as well.
I didn’t love where we stayed on my list visit to Aspen so I am not going to suggest it. I am hoping to get to Aspen in the next month (fall 2021) so and will update this with my latest experience. The Annabelle Inn is where I hope to stay on my next visit. It’s a European-style lodge in downtown Aspen with breakfast. They have rooms with two doubles, perfect for girls who are sharing. There is no shortage of luxe accommodation in Aspen, but it is pricey. Booking ahead may save you money, as well as visiting in the shoulder season. I think early fall would be wonderful. It’s the perfect time to see the golden Aspen trees in all their splendor.
Hopefully you are imagining the kind of trip that’s the perfect fit for your group. Wherever you choose for your girls’ getaway weekend, may it be filled with laughter and fun. With a special group of girls, any destination will be the perfect weekend getaway.
You might also enjoy these weekend getaway guides:
If Southern California is on your bucket list, a Weekend Away – Venice Beach California might be of interest. Or how about a girls’ getaway weekend in one of the world’s most multicultural cities: Weekend in Toronto. I’m originally from Toronto and it’s one of my favourites!