While my husband and I travel together for a living, I also spend a lot of my free time going on both work trips and getaways with my girls. I’ve spent years judging a city for whether or not it would make a good bachelorette trip or long weekend with friends, and I’ve finally compiled a list based on what I’ve deduced.
(Spoiler alert: You will not find Las Vegas anywhere on this list.)
Ahhh, Savannah. The Hostess City of the South. A dream of a town cloaked in moss and serving up hearty doses of Southern cooking with a side of love. I can’t think of a place better made for a girls’ weekend, from dining at culinary hotspots like Cotton & Rye and The Grey to hitting the beach on Tybee Island to checking out the late-night scene on River Street, and it’s becoming even easier to visit Savannah if you’re a non-Southerner thanks to a growing number of flight options directly into the local airports.
Where you’re staying: Kimpton Brice Hotel
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
This might not be one you expected, but it’s my latest city crush and I can’t imagine a more fun mid-sized city than the heart of Okie territory. Why? Consider this: No traffic, affordability, easy parking, compact, plenty of delicious places to brunch, great local shopping, street art photo opps for days, outdoor adventures galore. I guess the question remains: Why wouldn’t you go to OKC on your next long weekend break?
Where you’re staying: Colcord Hotel
It’s no surprise that Austin tops my list as it’s Nashville’s doppelgänger in a sense, but spring and autumn in particular are glorious times to grab your girls and hop a flight to Texas’ capital (and its hippest city). You can fill your shopping bags with funky clothing and home décor along South Congress, eat tacos from Torchy’s, sample the burgeoning brewery scene, see plenty of rockin’ music and spend a leisurely day out on Lake Travis.
Where you’re staying: Hotel Ella
The Gulf Coast, Florida
I may be biased as my family used to have a vacation home near 30A and I’ve been going to Panama City Beach and Destin since I was a wee tot. And it’s still one of my favorite places to unwind—in fact, SVV and I just arrived here today for a much-needed, no-social media, non-blogging vacation (I already broke one of those rules…)! But it’s also insanely fun with your gals in tow. Ever since my freshmen year in college, 30A has been where my girls and I go to have a little fun, but mostly unwind and settle into that toes-in-the-sand mentality. In recent years, I’ve held bachelorette parties in South Walton and PCB, and I love how affordable they are for the gal on a budget as you can rent a big ol’ beach house and really keep the cost-per-person low, particularly if you’re cooking out of said house and using the beach as your free daytime entertainment.
New Orleans, Louisiana
I had my own bachelorette party in New Orleans and went back for round two this summer with a pair of my best blogger gal pals. What I love about NOLA is it’s easy to navigate, it’s relatively compact, it’s more affordable than, say, New York City and it’s got a killer music scene, perfect for those who love to burn the midnight oil (but still a good fit for those who don’t). We had a great time exploring the Big Easy and eating our weight in Cajun food. Airlift may have once been a problem, but New Orleans is getting new flight routes all the time—and bonus: They’re serviced by my personal favorite airline, Southwest.
Where you’re staying: Catahoula Hotel
How can I write about girls’ trips and not include the Bachelorette Capital of the United States, not to mention my hometown? I can’t! But please, please venture off Broadway. Stay in an Airbnb on Music Row or around 12South and use my bachelorette guide to Nashville and tips for having a grown-up girls’ weekend as ways to avoid the tourist traps. If you have more than just a Friday through a Sunday, I highly recommend you tack on a day in Franklin to your itinerary for shopping, dining, sipping and more.
Where you’re staying: an Airbnb in 12South
Charleston, South Carolina
I realize this list is tending to skew Southern—what can I say? I write what I know—but having lived in both California and New York, I find the Southern cities to be much more accessible for meeting up with groups, not to mention affordable (and as a CPA’s daughter, I’m always looking for a deal). I’ve planned three girls trips to Charleston in the past few years, and for those who really enjoy eating, drinking and beaching, you couldn’t pick a better city to visit.
Where you’re staying: Zero George Hotel
St. Augustine, Florida
Despite this charming coastal city being in prime hurricane territory, it seems to weather any storm. I only visited for the first time last year to see my girl Jade and couldn’t believe I’d gone more than 30 years without experiencing St. Augustine’s splendor. From Nashville, it was just an hour flight and then under 45 minutes to drive to St. A from there. We stayed on Vilano Beach, explored the historic downtown, had cocktails at the Ice Plant, went to a concert on Anastasia Island and just kicked it on the beach.
Where you’re staying: an Airbnb on Vilano Beach
Louisville may be on your bucket list (see: mint juleps and Derby parties), but I urge you to also consider Lexington, which I believe to be one of the South’s most underrated cities. The college town has much more curb appeal aesthetically than its bigger western neighbor, not to mention it’s far more walkable. And it’s got booze to spare: Lexington has its own distillery district, a handful of awesome breweries, and is within a half an hour from other Kentucky big boys like Woodford Reserve and Castle & Key.
Where you’re staying: 21c Museum Hotel Lexington
I’ve been to Orlando with my family, I’ve been with SVV, I’ve taken small children to the parks, and I’ve been with friends. There’s really no bad way to do Orlando—just as long as your trip companions love theme parks as much as you do! If I were to have my bachelorette party at (almost) 35, I’d probably consider doing it at Universal Orlando Resort. It’s got a brand new water park, Volcano Bay, five hotels to choose from (with several more in the works), so many delicious food options (see: The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, Antojitos, Mama Della’s, Amatista and many more), and you don’t ever have to deal with the nuisances of driving anywhere (or taking a Lyft), as there’s a water taxi that transports you to and from the parks and CityWalk, as well as the other resorts. You could easily pool-, restaurant- and bar-hop around the resort complex for four or five days and never repeat anything. Just promise me you’ll actually spend time in the parks, too—and drink your weight in Butterbeer on my behalf.
Where you’re staying: Cabana Bay Hotel
This was the first big girls’ trip I took as an adult with my soulmate Lemon, and we had the best time, not just because Maine is home to the friendliest people in the world, but also because there were so many things we loved about Portland: the food! the shopping! the coast! the lighthouses! Acadia National Park! It’s got all the New England charm without the crowds or inconveniences.
Where you’re staying: the Press Hotel
I know there are plenty of other cities that are primed for fun weekend trips, and I can’t wait to explore them—already on the docket for girls’ weekends in 2018 are Western Canada; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Fargo, North Dakota.
What’s been your favorite girls getaway in the continental U.S.? And who wants to plan one with me for next year?