15 Top Girlfriend Getaways

Shopping in SoHo, New York City. Photo: Courtesy Trump SoHo Courtesy Trump SoHo
Gather up those college roommates or far-flung female family members for a long-overdue girlfriend getaway of pampering and togetherness. From renting a farmhouse in Tuscany to taking cooking classes in Florida's Amelia Island to planning the shopping haul of a lifetime (like in Manhattan's SoHo, pictured), each of these trips is ideal for bonding, relaxing, and learning something new. 

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The pool at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, Arizona. Photo: Courtesy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Courtesy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Every hotel worth its salt has a spa these days, but Scottsdale, Arizona, has long been synonymous with spa resorts. In fact, Scottsdale is believed to have more spas per capita than any other place in the U.S. Unwind at the Willow Stream Spa in the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, where the open-air rooftop pool is a huge draw.

Even if you're not a guest at the Camelback Inn, you can hang out and use its facilities all day just by booking a treatment at the Spa at Camelback Inn.

At the Sanctuary Spa and Resort in nearby Paradise Valley, carve out some down time in the meditation garden or by the reflecting pond.

Pictured: The rooftop pool at Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
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Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa, Miami. Photo: Courtesy of Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa Courtesy of Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa
Massages and skin treatments always go over well on girlfriend getaways—but with so many spas enterting the market, how can you sort out the good spas from the so-so ones, and how can you learn about which ones have current specials? Find out about facilities such as Miraval in Tucson (one of Oprah's favorites), Canyon Ranch Miami Beach, The Peninsula Chicago and hundreds of other locations. Or just get ideas for destinations you might not have thought about before. 

Check www.spafinder.com for treatments and rates at spas around the country.

Pictured: Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa, Miami
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Artist's rendering of the Golden Nugget's new waterslide within a shark tank. Photo: Golden Nugget Images Courtesy Golden Nugget Images
We all know that Las Vegas is a party destination—lots of pre-wedding celebrations take place here for a reason. Bachelorette antics and blackjack games aside, Vegas also has top restaurants from revered chefs such as Joël Robuchon and Charlie Palmer, more shopping than anyone's credit card should handle, and affordable hotels both on and off the Strip.

Love everything about Italy except the long flight? Grab the gals for a gondola ride at the Venetian. Thrill-seekers will love the waterslide-in-a-shark-tank at the Golden Nugget (pictured in an artist's rendering). Now that should get your adrenaline going for some late-night partying.

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Wine and cheese in Willamette Valley, Oregon. Courtesy of Travel Oregon/Oregon Bounty Courtesy of Travel Oregon/Oregon Bounty
Wine lovers already know about California's Napa and Sonoma. For a new type of wine vacation, head up to Oregon's Willamette Valley (pictured) for award-winning wines or the up-and-coming Columbia Gorge region for wine tasting among some of the state's most waterfall-laden geography.

A stay at the Allison Inn puts you close to the 200 vineyards in Willamette Valley, whereas the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel is an hour's drive from Mt. Hood -- still within sipping distance of what wine lovers call "a world of wines in 40 miles."

Travel Oregon has many suggested routes for both the Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge regions.

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Salt Cooking School at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Florida. Photo: Ron Starr Ron Starr
It's hard to go wrong with a trip that starts with champagne and pastries. A few times a year, Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida, puts on "Salt Cooking School" for two people, with two nights' hotel, two days of hands-on cooking instruction, breakfast daily, valet parking, aprons, take-home recipes, and more.

When: Classes are offered every year in February, April, June, August, October, and December

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Mother and daughter Anne Tegtmeier and Donna Kelly work together in Boot Camp Basic at the CIA in Hyde Park, NY. Photo: Courtesy Keith Ferris/CIA Keith Ferris
If you're serious about food, this Culinary Boot Camp can get your cooking skills up to speed. Admittedly, the boot camp is more of a skills-related immersion experience than a by-the-books vacation, but intensive learning suits many people, and at the very least, you and your friends can reap the rewards at dinner parties to come.

Twenty boot camps run year-round for two, three, four, or five days. If you can't spare much time or cash, the Culinary Institute of America (www.ciachef.edu) runs themed Saturday workshops throughout the year.

Pictured: Mother and daughter Anne Tegtmeier and Donna Kelly work together in Boot Camp Basic at the CIA in Hyde Park, NY
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Poolside in Tuscany. Photo: Courtesy Papavero Rentals Courtesy Papavero Rentals
What could be a better way to indulge in your love of food, wine, art, and history than visiting Italy? Consider renting a Tuscan farmhouse in Siena (pictured; one of many renters is Papavero Rentals; tel. 866/737-0000www.papaverorentals.com) or booking a penthouse apartment in Rome that's close to the Spanish Steps.

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Waterfall pool at Trump SoHo, New York City. Photo: Courtesy Trump SoHo Courtesy Trump SoHo
Shopping in New York City is kind of a given, but the Trump SoHo (pictured) offers special packages that may include an exclusive shopping card with access and discounts to some of the city's best boutiques. For example, Bloomingdale's will throw in a gift when you spend $300 or more, plus the department store will offer complimentary delivery of your shopping bags back to the hotel. You'll also receive 20 percent off at Nanette Lepore or $50 off a Theory purchase of $250 or more. When you're finished shopping in SoHo, head back to the hotel and relax on the pool deck.

Some rooms have views of the Empire State Building, or consider splurging on the spa suite with a private in-room sauna and direct access to an adjoining treatment room (from $799 per night). It's a splurge, but hey, you and your friends are splitting the cost.

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Duchess Room at Dukes Hotel. Photo: Courtesy Dukes Hotel Courtesy Dukes Hotel
At Dukes Hotel in London (tel. +44-(0)20-7491-4840www.dukeshotel.com), ask for a Duchess Room, which comes with fresh flowers and a complimentary fruit bowl. A female staff member escorts you to the door and handles all room service and housekeeping inquiries. Small touches—such as a make-up mirror, a hair dryer, bedroom slippers, and a pile of glossy magazines—can make all the difference after a long flight.

The five-star boutique hotel, less than a 15-minute walk to Buckingham Palace, offers high tea in the afternoon. The 90-room hotel is also close to gourmet food emporium Fortnum & Mason (a favorite of the royals), along with classic luxury brands such as Chanel and YSL on Old Bond Street. Rates start around $400 per room per night.

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The Reefs Hotel & Club, Bermuda. Photo: Courtesy of the Reefs Hotel & Club Courtesy of the Reefs Hotel & Club
There's no shortage of all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean or Mexico, where cocktail umbrellas are basically part of the landscape. (Click here for some of the ones that Frommer's writers have named the most perfect.) Luckily, there are also some upscale hotels and resorts to choose from. In Bermuda, The Reefs (pictured; tel. 800/742-2008; www.thereefs.com) offers ocean views from every hotel room, including the bathrooms. At this luxury hotel, lounging on the private pink-sand beach is all but required. Girlfriend getaway-themed packages may include spa credits or a special three-course dinner.

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The pool and beach at Waikiki Parc, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Courtesy of Waikiki Parc Courtesy of Waikiki Parc
Flights to Hawaii from the West Coast are getting cheaper every year. Hit the waves in Oahu, Hawaii, at Waikiki Parc (www.waikikiparc.com), just steps from the beach. Packages may include the choice of a rental car, a 60-minute massage, or a two-hour surfing lesson. Its neighboring hotels (look for the others that Frommer's recommends in Waikiki) also often offer solid surf packages for short stays.

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Prana del Mar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Photo: courtesy Prana del Mar Courtesy Prana del Mar
The Prana del Mar (www.pranadelmar.com) in Cabo San Lucas manages to help you unplug—there isn't even a phone in your room. The eco-friendly retreat center offers yoga and Pilates classes, plus more active diversions such as hiking, surfing, and horseback riding. Weekly rates include seven nights' lodging, airport transfers, three meals a day, and daily yoga classes.

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Head to Whitefish, Montana, for Cowgirl Up!, a six-night, women-only retreat in the spring and summer. It's an all-inclusive Western fantasy of hours of trail riding, horse clinics, good food, and end-of-the-day massages. It's at the Bar W Guest Ranch (tel. 866/828-2900; www.thebarw.com). Or look at the offerings of Call of the Wild (tel. 605/265-1662www.callwild.com), which specializes in women's outdoor vacations all over the American West, from Yellowstone to Death Valley.
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Hiking the Swiss Alps with Adventure Women. Photo: Susan L Eckert/AdventureWomen Inc. Susan L Eckert/AdventureWomen Inc.
There are scores of companies that lead women-only trips around the world. Extremely popular for booking multigenerational travel, these companies can help you plan big adventures. Adventure Women (tel. 800/804-8686; www.adventurewomen.com) has been in the game since 1982 and itineraries have included a 10-day trip called "Hiking in the Alps," a 13-day trip exploring the "Treasures of Turkey and Istanbul," and trips to New Zealand's South Island, Alaska, and Yellowstone.

Pictured: Hiking the Swiss Alps with Adventure Women
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Outdoor cafe in Mykonos, Greece. Photo: Courtesy of Gutsy Women Travel Courtesy of Gutsy Women Travel
Want to go on your own Grecian Odyssey? Gutsy Women Travel (tel. 866/464-8879; www.gutsywomentravel.com) has run a nine-day trip that hit Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos (pictured), including a cooking class and dining with a local family in Athens. That's the sort of journey the company assembles for women who want to learn something about the cultures they visit. It goes all over the world, including venturing to Cuba and booking blocks of cabins on cruises.

Also look into The Women's Travel Group (tel. 646/309-5607www.thewomenstravelgroup.com), which takes on equally adventurous itineraries including Ethiopia, Northern India, river cruises, Morocco—and, of course, good old-fashioned spa vacations. 

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