Archive | Best Beaches

christmas beach vacation

Best Christmas Beach Vacation Ideas

The holidays are a magical time of year. The snow falls, the fireplace crackles and the egg nog flows.

I absolutely love the preparation, the planning and the excitement of the holidays. And especially with young kids in the house, the holiday energy reaches a fever pitch by Christmas Eve.

I love the holiday season. I really do. But I have something to admit.

Last year we spent the week between Christmas and New Years in Mexico on the island of Isla Mujeres. And this Christmas beach vacation was a-freaking-mazing!

Because to be honest, by the time Christmas actually arrives, I am kind of over the holidays. I’m usually pretty wiped out after all the shopping, decorating, eating, drinking and merry-making from Thanksgiving all the way through December.

So packing up and heading south on Christmas day was one of the best decisions we made all year. If you’re considering a Christmas beach vacation, I can wholeheartedly endorse that idea!

Here are a few of my top picks for the best Christmas beach vacation.

The Bahamas Out Islands for a Family Christmas Beach Vacation 

The Bahamas Out Islands are considered to be the “Caribbean Connoisseurs” destination. Consider the Out Islands if you’re looking for a place to relax, reconnect and keep away from the crowds.

bahamas out islands

The Abacos, a 120-mile chain of islands (kind of a mini-Bahamas within the Bahamas), are perhaps the most accessible of the Out Islands. Here you’ll also find the widest range of accommodations; bungalows, villas, vacation rentals and a few larger resorts. The tourist board website is a great place to start looking for a place to stay in the Out Islands.

While you’re in the Out Islands, be sure to enjoy the white – and the pink – sandy beaches. You’ll find a variety of nature trails and hikes spread out among the four national parks located within The Abacos, where you can see orchids, Caribbean parrots and exotic marine life. Kids also love seeing these famous swimming island pigs in the Bahamas Out Islands!

Belize Beaches for an Amazing Family Beach Getaway

Just short 2.5-hour flights from many airports in the southern Unites States, the best Belize beach vacations all include the island of Ambergis Caye. Originally put on the map as a mecca for divers, this funky beach town has grown into a fun home base for a week at the beach. Activities on Ambergis Caye revolve around the water; diving, snorkeling, boating, and fishing. Golf carts are the main form of transportation on this island.

Las Terrazas Resort is an Ambergis Caye family favorite. When traveling to the beach with kids it’s important to stay someplace where you can spread out as well as prepare some of your own meals. This family-friendly hotel checks all the boxes. Select fro a range of “town home” rooms available, all including kitchen and sitting area. And the La Terrazas private, white sand beach is one of the largest on Ambergis Caye.

christmas beach vacation

Especially if you have older kids, you may also want to consider a visit to San Ignacio while on your Belize Christmas beach vacation. Here you can visit ancient Mayan ruins and learn about the culture and history of this part of Central America. I like to plan this active and historical type of activity early in the vacation, so you can fully relax once you get to the beach.

Spend the Holidays with the Family in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a seriously fun place to visit around Christmas, as this country is host to one of the most traditional Christmas celebrations in the region. The celebration goes on for weeks. There are three Christmas parades; El Carnival with dancers and musical groups from all across the country, El Tope, a parade of show horses and decorative hand-painted ox carts, and the favorite, El Festival de Luzes, a nighttime parade filled with thousands of decorative lights.

These are magic events and well worth scheduling your trip to be in San Jose during one or more of these parades.

christmas beach vacation

Costa Rica is a great option if you’re keen to stay active during your Christmas beach vacation. Spend a portion of your trip next to the magnificent Arenal volcano on Guanacaste’s white-sand beaches.

Then head to another amazing beach, one of the best in the country in fact, at Playa Conchal. I love this Christmas beach vacation package from Vacations Costa Rica, which combines these spectacular Costa Rica beaches.

Consider Isla Mujeres for an Easy Family Christmas Beach Vacation

My family spent Christmas on Isla Mujeres island last year and loved every minute of it. Even though this island is only a quick ferry ride from Cancun, it feels miles away from the mega-resorts, crowds and shopping malls.

Condo in Mexico

We stayed at the Ixchel Beach Hotel, and of course loved having a kitchen and spent a fair amount of time in their beachfront pool. But what we loved most was being right on the magnificent North Beach, the best beach on Isla Mujeres island. The water here is a stunning shade of turquoise and stays very shallow far out, so you don’t have large waves and it’s safe for small children.

During the week between Christmas and New Years there were many private boats parked near North Beach, creating a very fun, festive atmosphere every day.

Be sure to rent a golf cart on Isla Mujeres at least one day during your trip to fully explore the island.

Book a Family Christmas Beach Adventure to the U.S. Virgin Islands

St. John, which along with St. Croix and St. Thomas make up the U.S. Virgin Islands, is perhaps best known for maintaining over two-thirds of it’s land mass as protected national forest. You won’t find a single resort or condo on any St. John beach.

No cruise-ship ports or airports either. While there is a main town, a number of private villas and a few hotels, St. John maintains a totally natural and pristine atmosphere.

Camping on St John

If you’re feeling adventurous or looking to save money on accommodations, consider camping on St. John. That’s right, I said camping! Kids love the adventure of camping on the beach, and you’ll love sleeping just a few feet away from the magical blue ocean in this secluded part of the Caribbean.

So what do you think? Is a Christmas beach vacation something your family would consider?

Out Islands image by Scott Smith via Flickr

La Terrazas image by Patton via Flickr

This post is part of the fun Travel Advent Calendar series, check it out here for fun travel posts the entire month of December!

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Camping on St John

Camping on St John

Camping on St. John is usually not top of mind for most travelers planning their next Caribbean vacation. It can be easy to fall into a little bit of a rut when it comes to beach vacations–wanting everything easy and done for you.  No one is knocking all-inclusive vacations in Cancun, but sometimes you want something a little bit different!

Camping on St. John

The notion of unzipping a tent and peaking my head out to a spectacular sunrise was all I needed to dig into it more.  Not to mention the fact that these pristine views lack the big time price tag that accompanies so many of those resorts.  

We loved camping in the Grand Canyon, but were unsure about camping in the Caribbean. To get a better idea of what we might be in for, we spoke to a few frequenters of the Caribbean and learned some more.

Here’s what we found out about Camping on St. John:

Although Caribbean has a lot to explore, the number of places you can camp in the tropical paradise are few. In fact, the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John is one of the only safe and family-friendly Caribbean destinations for camping. (It’s worth noting that Jost van Dyke is a close second. It’s renowned for camping, but getting up-to-date details requires a lot of research. If you have more information about camping there, please let us know!)

The U.S. Virgin Islands, made up of St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas, may be best known for protecting more than two-thirds of its land as national forest. As such, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any resorts, condos, cruise ports or airports on the beaches of St. John. But don’t let that deter you– there is still a town with private villas and a few hotels scattered among the pristine, natural island.

It’s for this reason you’ll find yourself returning to St. John over and over again.

What to pack for a camping trip on St. John

Packing for any trip requires planning, and it’s especially true for camping trips. We’ve talked about what we pack for backpacking and weekend getaways, yet packing for camping in the Caribbean is an entirely different undertaking. Unless you want to pay outrageous bag fees, you’ll have to be smart about what you bring.

Luckily, there are two main campgrounds on St. John that provide many of the amenities and camping supplies you’ll need. They offer things like clean sheets and towels on a weekly basis, as well as small kitchens with basic cooking essentials.

Camping on St John

Although most of the regular St. John’s campers recommended bringing select dry goods from the states, you can still find a handful of food and drink options when you arrive. There are grocery stores in St. Thomas and St. John that have adequate selections, and St. John has several great restaurants where you can easily dine out for any meal you don’t feel like cooking.

In the end, the simple island lifestyle makes your packing list a short one. You’ll want to bring enough to be cosy and comfortable in the evenings (read: slippers and games) but you won’t need much else. The must-haves include swimsuits, coverups, sandals, snorkel equipment, and, of course, a camera!

Getting around St. John

We’d be lying if we said traveling to St. John from the U.S. was always a breeze. Chances are you may need to change planes a few times. But at least United States citizens don’t have to worry about immigration. Since it’s part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, you actually don’t even need to bring your passport.

That said, it’s recommended you bring it anyway. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent a boat from the island and visit some of the nearby snorkeling locales. Some of the daily snorkeling trips hop along the neighboring islands, and these will require a quick visit to customs and another stamp in your passport. All well-worth carrying the extra ID.

Once on St. John, the easiest way to travel the island is via a rental car or, our favorite, a 4×4 vehicle. Whatever you rent, make sure you get a vehicle that can carry you across the rugged island roads in ease and comfort. By car, you can travel from one end of the island to the other in about 45 minutes. But don’t let the ease of exploration fool you– there is no shortage of things to see and do.

If you’re visiting St. Thomas too, you can rent a car there and take it with you on the ferry to St. John; however, this ferry only runs a few times each week, so you’ll have to plan accordingly. It may well be easier to just rent a car when you arrive in St. John.

The bottom line about camping on St. John

The bottom line is a sandy one. Camping on St. John will leave you with a remote, pristine, family-friendly, and affordable Caribbean beach vacation.

If you’re looking for an adventure, getting to St. John is just the start. There is surely enough to see and do on the island for more than a week-long stay. That said, the beach is easily the main attraction for this destination, and you’ll be lucky enough to sleep surprisingly close to the ocean. THAT is what makes camping on St. John such a memorable experience!

Not sure where to start? One of the main campsites with camping accommodations is the Cinnamon Bay Campground on St. John. For decades, they’ve been catering to guests with rave reviews who return time and time again. But be aware that they run on island time, so patience is encouraged when waiting for a response. If that wasn’t reason enough to book well in advance, they often sell out of spaces a year ahead of time. Better get started!

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Isla Mujeres Mexico

Exploring Mexico: Why Renting a Golf Cart on Isla Mujeres Makes Sense

You can see the city skyline from the island, but don’t be fooled—this gem is nothing at all like bustling Cancun. Still, renting a golf cart on Isla Mujeres will make your trip more enjoyable.

For starters, you can get to Isla Mujeres by arranging an airport transfer for the Isla Mujeres Ferry Terminal (Puerto Juarez). This ferry goes every 30 minutes all day, and takes about 20 minutes to traverse the nearly 4 miles from the mainland to the island—just enough time to double check your travel guide and enjoy the stress melting away as the ferry chugs over the island.

While there are other beaches on the island, Playa Norte is the main attraction. Playa Norte is perfect for kids because the beach stays quite shallow very far out, and it is super laid back (read: minimal party scene).

Playa Norte Beach on Isla Mujeres Mexico

Within minutes of landing on the beach, my 6 year old was off in full snorkel gear looking at fish and playing in the water—and it was perfectly safe. But after a string of perfect beach days, we wanted to explore some of this intriguing island. And we quickly realized the best way to do this was to rent a golf cart and explore.

From the moment we set foot on the island, a number of authorized rental companies surrounding the main pier offered us a golf cart rental while we walked to dinner along the main street. Eventually our hotel concierge proposed it as well. But how much is it to rent a golf cart on Isla Mujeres? On this trip the prices ranges from about $50 – $75 USD per day. After comparing prices for a variety of Isla Mujeres Golf Cart Rentals, we decided to rent from our hotel’s concierge.

He arranged it all, we paid for it on our room tab, and my husband rode over to the rental company with a hotel representative. Note that you will have to go pick them up yourself because delivery of a golf cart to a hotel or vacation rental is not permitted by the office of Tourism and SINTRA (State Department for Infrastructure and Transports). Apparently, if a golf cart company is caught delivering carts directly to renters, they will be fined.

Here are 5 reasons why you absolutely must rent a golf cart on Isla Mujeres, Mexico:

1. The breeze is nice. It gets a little steamy inland, away from the ocean breeze. If you want to explore with the open air and wind-in-your-hair, the golf cart is the way to go. Or if you’re really a fresh-air-fiend, you can your own little fan.

Family on a golf cart in Isla Mujeres

2. See the turtle farm. The Isla Mujeres turtle farm is a cute stop to make as you cruise around on your golf cart. For only a few dollars’ entry fee, you can view a number of baby and juvenile turtles, along with a range of other sea creatures. This little turtle farm, funded by the nominal entrance fee and private donations, has released tens of thousands of young turtles and educated hundreds of local schoolchildren on the importance of turtle conservation.

Boy at the turtle farm on Isla Mujeres

3. Explore Punta Sur and the outdoor sculpture museum. When you rent a golf cart on Isla Mujeres, you can take it around the very southern tip of the island to find the Punta Sur Sculpture Garden. Full of unique sculpture and art and walkways winding down to the steep cliffs, here you can look out on awesome views of the ocean on one side and Cancun’s bay on the other. This is well worth a visit and your golf cart is the best way to get there!

Punta Sur on the Isla Mujeres

4. Cool down and refuel at a beach club. By this point in your day you’re going to be hot. At least we were. The Zama Beach Club appeared in front of our golf cart on Isla Mujeres like an oasis in the desert. We thankfully arrived after the lunch rush, and while we grabbed a table the kids were running in the other direction directly into the welcoming, multi-level pool (don’t forget your travel towels!). There are a few nice beach clubs along the west side of the island, pick one and relax!

Kids on a golf cart in Isla Mujeres  

5. Explore the city like a local. Tourists aren’t the only ones buzzing around on golf carts. You’ll learn it’s a preferred method of transportation for locals too. To really get a feel for the local community, a golf cart is your best bet.

Want more about travel in Mexico? Hop over to the main land and explore the charming and fun town of Playa del Carmen! Click here to learn how.

Have you been to Isla Mujeres? What else did you discover while carting around the island?


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why use a travel agent

Why use a travel agent to book your family beach vacation?

I know Mexico. I’ve been traveling to the Riviera Maya regularly, several times a year, for many years. I’ve traveled there with my husband for romantic getaways, with my girlfriends for Mom’s weekends away, solo to do yoga on the beach, and with my extended family.

But I just booked a family beach vacation to Mexico’s Riviera Maya using a travel agent.

And I’m glad I brought in the professionals for this one. My extended family is planning a trip to Mexico next spring. In addition to my own family of four, my adventurous in-laws will join us for a week at the beach.

I gathered family beach vacation ideas from across the internet, researched a few of the family-friendly all inclusive resorts in the area, looked at some villa rentals options and other vacation homes, but just couldn’t find anything that was perfect. Not having been to these specific units and locations, it was really hard to know for sure what was the best option for our group.


My group has some very specific wants and needs, such as a great beach, balcony with views, in-unit kitchen, and a safe complex. But traditional travel-booking web sites didn’t allow me to search on these criteria.

So I turned to the experts to help me plan this Mexican getaway.

I looked for a travel agent who was personally familiar with the destination, has personal experience with the actual properties and could translate my laundry list of needs into actual amenities and property features.

I also looked for a travel agent with a heavy dose of patience.

So while we’ve all been hearing for the past decade that travel agents are a dying breed, I absolutely think travel agents are still a valuable part of the travel planning equation. In fact, it’s clear to me that the value added by a travel agent increases in direct correlation to the trip’s complexity, the size of the group and the distance from home traveled.


And here’s a little known secret. Booking with an agent does NOT cost you any more money. Travel agents are compensated in commissions from the travel supplier (the hotel or tour company for example). You pay the same amount regardless of how you book, direct or via an agent.

Using a travel agent is basically a free, awesome service to make your life easier and ensure that you’re trip will be amazing.

So, find a good travel agent today for your next family beach vacation. Need agent suggestions for Mexico, Caribbean or Africa? Email me and I’ll open my Rolodex for you!


**Shout out to LocoGringo, a Riviera Maya travel specialist, who booked this journey for my family. I was not compensated in ANY way to write this post. I was genuinely thrilled with their knowledge and service and would highly recommend their services!


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Wine Girlfriend Getaway

Best Girlfriend Getaways for Busy Moms

The other ladies around the table just gawked at us, mouths half open.

“I want in next year for sure!” one of them said, finally breaking the silence. I sipped my wine and glanced knowingly at my friends. We’d just finished telling them about our wonderful four-night Mom Getaway on the beach in Mexico.  Our sun-kissed shoulders shook with laughter as we recalled more than a few funny moments around the pool.

Much to my delight, this Mexican girlfriend getaway for us Moms has become an annual event. Last year we had twelve moms on our long weekend away in Mexico. The majority of us are working moms, and with about 27 kids between us, it’s no small task to coordinate this getaway. But with some advance planning, not only is this annual getaway do-able, but also we’ve blocked off this time annually for what has become a very important emotional necessity.

Making time to travel nourishes friendships, clears the mind and helps our tired and stressed bodies relax for a few days in the warm Mexican sun. It’s important.

Whether you’re beginning to plan your first Girlfriend Getaway or if you’re looking for new ideas for your well-traveled group, this list of Best Girlfriend Getaways for Busy Moms is a great place to start! Forward this blog post on to your girlfriends and see which options rise to the top of the list for your group.

Then, get a planning party on the books and make it happen!

I sincerely hope this list of the best Mom Getaways inspires you to get away and have a great adventure with your best girlfriends.

Rest and Relaxation Best Girlfriend Getaways

#1. Riviera Maya, Mexico: From almost anywhere in North America, travel to Mexico is easy and relatively inexpensive. Leave in the morning and arrive on the beach for happy hour to kick off your coastal girlfriend getaway! The famous, soft white sand beaches on the Caribbean side of Mexico stretch from Cancun down through the Riviera Maya and all the way to Tulum, and offer a range of accommodation options with something for every group. If an all-inclusive resort is the direction your group is headed, be sure to select an adults-only resort that isn’t overly honeymoon-focused (otherwise you will spend your trip either surrounded by screaming kids or canoodling couples).

Where to stay: The adults-only Secrets Resorts and Spas, of which there are six on the Caribbean side of Mexico, recently introduced an Unlimited-Luxury package. For only $70, you can enjoy a mani/pedi session, access to the spa’s wet areas (usually reserved for those who have booked a spa treatment), and an additional 10% off extra spa treatments, daily yoga sessions and special room service. 

My group of girlfriend especially loves The Royal Playa del Carmen. This property is adult-only and has a lively pool scene. Because the hotel hosts a number of destinations weddings, there is always a fun and festive atmosphere which is key to a successful Girlfriend Getaway. Enjoy the all-inclusive meals on site or wander into Playa del Carmen town, just a few blocks away, to check out the local nightlife.

And if you’re looking for cancun airport transportation check out Transfers USA. They are super responsive, affordable, have very professional drivers and you can even book right online!


#2. Scottsdale, Arizona: Generally, flights to Phoenix from anywhere in the U.S. are inexpensive year-round.  Add to this the warm desert sun, beautiful natural surroundings and ample options for dining and drinking and you have the ingredients for a perfectly relaxing Girlfriend Getaway. There are plenty of hotels in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area that offer stunning pools and great spas ideal if your girls group keen on doing, well, nothing!

Where to stay: The Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North is a great place for a restful girlfriend getaway. Reserve one of the poolside cabanas in advance, and enjoy as much (or as little) sun as you desire. Rates (for up to 3 people sharing one room) start at about $619 per night. 

Scottsdale Girlfriend Getaway

Photo courtesy Four Seasons.

#3. Out Islands Bahamas: If you like the idea of relaxing on a Caribbean island but don’t want the crowds, or cruise ship traffic, of Cozumel, Nassau or even Aruba, The Abaco Islands and their low-key local scene may be ideal for your group of girlfriends. There are three airports in the Abacos: Marsh Harbour (the major one, on Great Abaco Island), Treasure Cay, and Walker’s Cay. The easiest way to get to The Abaco Islands is to fly to Miami and connect directly to Marsh Harbour on Bahamasair. In addition to white sand beaches and warm Caribbea water, get ready for lively nightlife in the funky villages and superb dining, including lots of conch!

Where to stay: For a cozy “house party” experience (picture gathering for cocktails in the living room before dinner and family-style dining) and all the fresh Bonefish you can eat, try the Delphi Club. This cozy atmosphere will welcome your girls group with open arms! Priced from $1,629 per person for a 3-day stay (discounts available for groups of 8 or more).

Bahamas Girlfriend Getaway

Photo Courtesy Delphi Club.

#4. Anguilla: Getting to Anguilla involves a bit more flight time than most destinations on this list, but this package simply can’t be beat. For the girls group who has already done Mexico, Vegas and the Bahamas, Anguilla should be next on your list. In addition to enjoying the lively atmosphere on the island, organize for a day tip to a deserted Scrub Island with its magnificent, totally empty beaches. You will be dropped off in the morning with a delicious picnic and plenty to drink and bought back in the afternoon of whenever you’d like.

Where to stay: The Arawak Beach Inn runs a girlfriend getaway package including transfers, three nights’ lodging (in two oceanfront rooms), breakfast daily, a six-pack of Carib beer upon arrival, a full-day excursion to an uninhabited island (picnic lunch and transportation on a boat captained by one of Anguilla’s most eligible bachelors – ha!), and a one-day car rental to explore the island from $269 per night.

Active Adventure Best Girlfriend Getaways

#5. River Rafting in California, Oregon or Idaho: Burn some calories and get some sun at the same time on this active girlfriend getaway.  Especially if you live in a big city, rafting on the river in California, Oregon or Idaho gives you a chance to unwind and reflect in natural beauty for a change. But really, they had me at “…knowledgeable wine stewards and five-star epicurean offerings.”

Where to stay: O.A.R.S., a long-time leader in river rafting and outdoor adventure trips, organizes these amazing Wine Tasting on the River Adventures and while the chefs and wineries change per trip, the five-star quality is guaranteed. Three-day trips start at about $700, including all activities, camping accommodation and all meals and wine. 


Photo Courtesy OARS.

#6. San Juan Islands, Washington: Just a short ferry or floatplane ride away from Seattle, the San Juan Islands offer island camping and activities where you and your friends can run around in the wilderness for days on end. The islands are great for photographers and the charming Friday Harbor is friendly and walk-able.

Where to stay: Lakedale Resort on Neva Lake offers all the relaxation of the natural surroundings, with the service that makes for a great Girlfriend Getaway. To experience “Glamping” for yourself, check out their Canvas Bunkhouse, a 6-person, 450-square foot canvas-walled cabin with two queen beds and a full-size futon. Rates for the entire tent are about $279 per night. Enjoy the signature Lakedale granola served for breakfast and hot-water bottles to keep your tootsies warm at evening turn-down.

Camping Girlfriend Getaway

Photo courtesy Lakedale Resort.

#7. Moab, Utah: Well-known for it’s year-round mountain biking terrain, Moab’s best-kept secret is that it also has amazing road riding. In addition to pedaling through Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, your group could also do some hiking and rafting. The beautiful red rock terrain and endless views are sure to inspire.

Where to stay: The Sorrel River Ranch in Moab includes rustic chic accommodations in private cabins, so you can relax in comfort after a day of activity. Their River View Family Suite is perfect for a bigger group, and is priced at about $779 per night for the entire cabin.

Moab Girlfriend Getaway

Photo Courtesy Sorrel River Ranch.

#8. Las Vegas, Nevada: Warm weather and ease of access pretty much guaranteed Las Vegas a spot on this list of best Girlfriend Getaways for moms, but there is so much more to Las Vegas than only casinos. Begin your getaway with a few days hiking in the Red Rock Canyon, then end with a few days on the strip, enjoying the lively pool scene by day and amazing culinary options by night. 

Where to stay: Located near the entrance to Red Rock Canyon National Recreation area, begin your getaway at the Red Rock Resort. This hotel boasts a 25,000 square foot spa, which is the perfect end to your day of hiking. Weekend rates are around $200 per night for a double Queen room. Then, head on back to the strip. I love the Art Deco-inspired Four Seasons Las Vegas. Enjoy the private Four Seasons pool or check out the livelier scene at the neighboring Mandalay Beach, where you’ll also have signing privileges for food and drink. Rooms here start at about $240 per night.

Las Vegas Girlfriend Getaway

Photo Courtesy Four Seasons Las Vegas

#9. Beaver Creek, Colorado: During ski season both Vail and Beaver Creek are both awesome for girlfriend getaways. I love spending the weekend in Beaver Creek with my girlfriends, as it’s smaller and less crowded than neighboring Vail. When staying anywhere in Beaver Creek, you can take advantage of the free local shuttles that service the entire area. After a day of epic power skiing, be sure to have an après cocktail in the lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch. You’ll find a cozy atmosphere, great people watching and even live music around a massive outdoor fireplace (and make your own s’mores!)

Where to stay: Definitely a splurge, but the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is worth every penny. Go early in the ski season and rates are as low as $359 per night for a room that sleeps four (later in the seasons rates soar to about $700 per room per night.)


 Affordable Best Girlfriend Getaways

#10 Madison, Wisconsin: For those on a tighter budget,college towns tend to have more affordable dining and accommodation options while still offering a dose of sophistication and culture. Madison, WI for example, offers amazing restaurants such as dinner at L’Etoile, where produce, meats, and artisan Wisconsin cheeses are sourced from a local farmers’ market, and weekends are full of happy hours and college town cheer.

Where to Stay: In keeping with the Badgers (the University’s mascot) these, the HotelRED is the town’s most stylish boutique hotel.  Enjoy their walk-to-everything location, modern art on the walls, and kitchenettes that make it easy to cook up a group dinner. Book a two-bedroom suite with a private balcony for only $319 per night.

#11 Outer Banks, North Carolina: The Outer Banks span 200-miles along North Carolina’s coast, and are comprised of a string of barrier islands connected to the mainland by bridges and ferries. Check out historic lighthouses and the wild horses when you’re not lounging on the beach. Fly into Raleigh/Durham, NC and rent a car to get to the Outer Banks, which is about a four-hour drive.

Where to stay: Book a vacation rental through Outer Bank Vacations. More intimate, spacious and often more affordable, choose from a wide selection of vacation homes and condos throughout the Outer Banks.

#12 Pelican Lake, Minnesota: The warm humidity of the Midwest in the summer, combined with the famously kind and outgoing locals, make for a perfectly relaxing getaway that won’t break the bank. Spend your days lounging lakeside or rent a pontoon boat (large boats rent for about $400 per day) and enjoy boat-side swimming and the ever-popular sunset booze cruise! 

Where to stay: Pelican Lake, Breezy Point Resort is only 140 miles north of Minneapolis/St. Paul. If you prefer to fly, Breezy Point is just a 30-minute flight from Minneaplkis served by Skywest-Delta Connection into the Brainerd Airport with several daily flights. Book the Boat House, which sleeps 12 and is perfectly located right next to the lake’s boar marina.


Photo courtesy Breezy Point.

Food and Wine Best Girlfriend Getaways

#13 Willamette Valley, Oregon: The Willamette Valley is a low-key, laid-back wine country experience where it’s not uncommon for the winery owners show up during tastings in dirty overalls. You’ll find no pretense or attitude here; just amazing Pinto Noir and some extraordinary culinary experiences.Don’t miss the Lange Winery for some of my favorite Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Domain Drouhin for their stunning tasting room experience and Sokol Blosser for one of the only organic wine in the valley.

Where to stay: While there are many cute B&B’s in the area, if you’re with your girlfriends opt for The Allison, the only luxury resort in Willamette Valley. A room with two queen beds will run about $460 per night. Enjoy the gorgeous pool and spa after a long day of wine tastings.



#14 Brittany, France: While this is certainly one of the more far-flung destinations on my list of top Girlfriend Getaways for moms, it’s also at the heart of culinary excellence so certainly could not be left off. Based in the green rolling hills of Brittany in Northwest France, you’ll live the local village life in a charming, renovated estate. Brush up on your French (or just download one of the many super-handy language apps available today).

Where to stay: If you’ve ever spent time in Minneapolis, you’ve surely heard of Lucia’s restaurant. Doing whole and local foods in haute cuisine before it was cool, Lucia has been a long-standing personality of the Twin Cities “foody” scene. Her French chateau is available for a vacation rental, and even better yet join her there for a cooking class a few times a year! While this is a splurge, you can justify it to your family by coming home with lots of new yummy things to try out on your family! Priced from $1,600 for six nights for six people.

#15 Santa Fe, New Mexico: Santa Fe has drawn artists and spiritual souls to the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for decades. With a lovely warm, dry climate and fascinating culture and history, Santa Fe is an intriguing, yet easy, destination for your Girls Getaway. Combine spa and some hiking with fine dining and shopping for a perfectly relaxing weekend. If you’re driving, you can also visit Taos (another cute artsy town), which is just over an hour away.

Where to stay: There are a number of cute boutique hotels in Santa Fe. Ten Thousands Waves Mountain Spa, located about ten minutes from downtown Santa Fe, is a great option. The property, and especially the spa, is inspired by traditional Japanese hot springs resorts (the communal soaking tub is women only and clothing optional). Rooms start at $219 per night.

Urban Best Girlfriend Getaways

#16 New York City: Nothing beats a weekend in Manhattan, where you can be as active or as lazy as you desire. Head up to Brooklyn to check out this evolving scene, and enjoy drinks and happy hour snacks at the Whiskey Soda Lounge. During the summer months events like movies and concerts in Central Park are fun, but the dining and shopping experiences are endless year round. You might even be inclined to dust off your dancing shoes and head out on the town!

Where to Stay: The Eventi Hotel, a Kimpton property, is ideally located in Chelsea near the Theater District and great design, with lush, rich colors throughout the hotel, rates for a room with 2 queen beds are around $549 depending on day of the week.

#17 Miami, Florida: Be warned, Miami isn’t for the modest. Expect to see, and maybe even show, lots of skin while enjoying the Miami heat until the break of dawn. Miami is known for glitz and glamour, so pack, and plan accordingly. Days at the beach or the spa, followed by nights out are a great way to spend a few days in Miami.

Where to stay: Book your girls group in at the Fontainbleau. With an amazing spa, no less than nine dining options on site and crisply decorated rooms, this hotel is the perfect scene for your girlfriend getaway.   Mid-week rates start at $399 for a room that sleeps 4.


Photo courtesy Fontainbleau.

#18 Nashville, Tennessee: If your group of girlfriends loves music, Nashville (aka Music City) is a great getaway option. And you’ll find much more than just country music. To find out who’s playing when and where, grab a copy of Nashville Scene, an alternative weekly available for free around the city. Plus you’ll find plenty of amazing culinary experiences to be had. Chefs across Nashville serve up fun and often farm-fresh takes on classic southern dishes. I love Nashville’s tourism web site, Visit Music City, packed with great info to help you plan the perfect weekend away. 

Where to stay: Check out the  The Printers Alley Lofts, a collection of fully equipped industrial-chic lofts. With full kitchens and plenty of lounge space to hang out with a glass of wine before hitting the town, these lofts are a great alternative to hotel rooms and perfect for a group of ladies. Book these lofts on, prices start at $275 per night (sleeps 4) with a 2 night minimum.

Healthy Best Girlfriend Getaways

#19 Palm Springs, California: Sure there is plenty of party action to be had in Palm Springs (check out the scene at the Riviera and the upcoming Splash party for starters!), but if you want to relax and return from your getaway refreshed and feeling healthy there are some awesome options as well. The warm air and stunning natural surroundings make it a perfect place to kick off a healthy new you alongside your besties.

Where to stay: The Spring boasts their own mineral hot springs which have been called some of the best in the world. While you’re here you can even do a juice cleanse. with only 12 rooms this boutique hotel is intimate, quiet and chilled out. Priced from about $160 per night (sleeps 3 adults), The Spring is also a great value.

#20 Napa Valley, California: Need a good excuse to start running? Why not double up on your getaway and run a half-marathon followed by a few days of tasting some of the best wine in the world. The Wine Country Marathon series always sells out fast though, so be sure to plan well in advance.

Where to stay: There are a number of awesome places to stay here, but I love the quintessential Calistoga Hot Springs. Especially if you’ve just run a half marathon, soak in the natural mineral waters until you’re ready to start your wine tastings! Rates start at about $285 per night for a room that sleeps 4.



#21 Troncones, Mexico:  Nestled between the lush mountains of the Sierra Madre and the sparkling Mexican Riviera, Troncones is a laid-back beach-front village. Located about 20 miles north of the Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo International airport, which is served daily by most major carriers, the area has long been famous with surfers from around the world.

Where to stay: In addition to being a charming boutique hotel right on Mexico’s Pacific coast beach, Present Moment Retreat is a retreat for the cultivation of human consciousness and well being. Just what every busy mom needs most, right!? Prices start at about $115 per person per day, but a number of retreats and packages are offered year-round, so be sure to inquire direct with the hotel before booking.


Photo courtesy Present Moment Retreat.

#22 Austin, Texas If your pre-kid girlfriend getaways included music festivals like Coachella and SXSW, Austin is the right town for you. Spend a few nights at the Lake Austin Spa Resort to spend your days surrounded by stunning interior décor, taking a Cardio Dance Party class or enjoying a critically acclaimed massage. Then wrap up the weekend with a few nights in downtown Austin, about 45 minutes away, enjoying nightlife, food and drink.

Where to stay: Mix it up and spend a few nights at The Lake Austin Spa followed by a few nights in the city. Hotel Ella is a fun boutique hotel in a great part of town.

Have you taken a memorable Mom Getaway? I’d love to hear about your experience and Girlfriend Getaways tips!

** Are you a hotel or travel publicist with a product perfect for this best girlfriend getaways feature? I’d love to hear all about it. 


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