Getting away from life, work, kids and husband is a must sometimes. A little girlfriend time is so necessary! I find that exploring a new city is also fun for these weekend. I went to Nashville once and my friends and I consistently still rank that among one of our best trips ever. Hanging a great hotel with a few besties with some shopping, spa, and great eats = bliss.
I recommend getting one of these on your calendar ASAP (I’m feeling encouraged to do the same!) Even if it is scheduled a year out, its something to look forward to…. a chance to connect and have fun with favorite women in your life. Consider the following ideas for 36 or 48 hour itinerary in New Orleans, Charleston or Chicago; perfect weekend getaways sure to recharge you!
I know most people think of New Orleans with drunken Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras and partying, but it’s so much more. The city has so much cool history, culture and fantastic restaurants. Stay at The Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter for a solid mix of authentic southern with modern touches in a great location, or the Ace Hotel, which has a great roof deck bar and pool. The downstairs bar is also very cool and has free live music. For breakfast, get beignets and Cafe Au Lait at Cafe DuMonde… touristy but seriously amazing. Opt for the “To Go” line (which moves faster) and eat in the nearby gardens (great people-watching).
Spend the day exploring The French Market (walk down Royal Street to check out various art galleries) and do shopping on Magazine Street. It’s also beautify lot walk in Audobon Park, and along the Riverfront Downtown. For a few touristy treats, take a carriage tour (great way to see the city) and get your tarot cards by a medium (they’re everywhere!), and head to the Windsor Court Hotel, which is the place to have tea (it also has a good spa).
When it comes to food and nightlife, skip Bourbon Street and get ready: the options are plentiful. For a super casual meal peel and eat crawfish at Frankie & Johnny’s or get a Poboy from local favorite, Parkway (Obama went here) and eat it on Bayou St. John across the street. For an upscale dinner, there’s Irene’s in the French Quarter or Annunciation in the CBD (get the fried oysters and brie appetizer!).
After dinner, it’s all about the jazz, ’bout the jazz, ’bout the jazz. To get hear jazz where the locals go, visit the iconic Tipitina’s or head to Frenchman Street (it runs between Filmore Avenue in the north and the Mississippi River in the south, a short cab ride from Royal Sonesta Hotel)… DBA is a great spot; the Davenport Lounge in the Ritz Carlton is ideal for upscale jazz. And, no girls trip will be complete without a serious brunch. For a greasy spoon, opt for Elizabeth’s in the Bywater or Ruby Slipper, or don some pretty florals for a fancier brunch at Cafe Atchafalaya before you cry and head home.
After several years of being ranked by Travel + Leisure as one of the top cities in the world, it’s no surprise Charleston has become one of the top vacation destinations. The city’s unique balance of rich history and culture combined with the progressive art and culinary scene make it a perfect spot for a girl’s weekend! Stay at The Mills House, where you’ll be walking distance from tons of restaurants and art galleries. A few must-try restaurants include Poogan’s Porch (traditional Southern/Lowcountry), The Ordinary (amazing seafood, be sure to try their oysters), Minero (it will change the way you think about Mexican food). You can’t go to Charleston without doing brunch. I recommend Hominy Grill, but almost every restaurant offers brunch on Sundays (many also offer on Saturdays). Be sure to stop by The Rooftop Bar at The Vendue for a drink overlooking the city. A few other fun bars are The Bar at Husk, The Gin Joint and Stars (also has a great rooftop bar).
If you want to get some shopping in, head down King Street where you’ll find plenty of boutiques. The Historic Charleston City Market, although a bit touristy, is fun to check out and you can pick up some great souvenirs. Carriage tours are really popular, but if you’re up for a bit of walking, it’s even better to see the city by foot. Take a walk down East Bay Street toward the Battery and White Point Garden, and along the way you’ll pass the famous Rainbow Row. Once you’re south of Broad Street, don’t be afraid to take a stroll down a few side streets to view the many stunning houses and private gardens.
Chicago is such a great and under-rated city for a girls trip! Go during the warmer months between April and September, where it’s pretty much patio season (i.e. everyone eats, relaxes and mingles outside). For or lodging, try the W Lakeshore. They have a great Bliss spa and an awesome rooftop bar with views of the city. Shopping and exploring on The Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) is touristy but impressive and I highly recommend the architecture tour by boat; my brother took us a few years ago and it’s the most fantastic way to see the city. For animal lovers, head to the Lincoln Park Zoo, a popular and free spot.
When it comes to meals, they’re the obvious: Chicago-style pizza, of course! Lou Malnatti’s is a famous and casual spot, and Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder in Lincoln Park is also great. The restaurant is located in a classic brownstone and it has warm atmosphere. Also the pizza, to die for! Since everyone comes outside during the Chicago summers take advantage of plentiful outside seating at favorites including Big Star, Parson’s Chicken + Fish, NoMI Terrace, Gemini Bistro, Little Goat and Homeslice. My brother, who until recently lived in Chicago, also higly recommends Cozy Noodles (he’d always mention it!), and if you’re into dining at spots by celebrity chefs head to Rick Bayless’ spot, Alinia by Grant Achatz (pricey but world renowned), RPM by Guiliana and Bill, or Pork and Mindys, Jeff Mauros new spot. Beatrix is also a must for brunch!
After dinner and drinks, catch a play at the historic Steppenwolf Theatre of some fun improv at Second City, or get in your pajamas for room service dessert, cocktails and girl talk. The later is always the most fun!