Girlfriend Getaways

by Kate Branum

Let’s face it: life gets hectic, and setting aside time for yourself and your friends can be a challenge. Between fulfilling family obligations and juggling responsibilities at work, you’re probably in need of a recharge. While you love spending quality time with the kids or your significant other, it’s time to shake up your routine with a long-overdue girls-only getaway. The best thing about “girl time?” It can be as simple or as elaborate as you make it! From a long weekend perusing local hot spots to a week-long escapade exploring unfamiliar cities, the only thing required for a successful, rejuvenating getaway is a solid circle of gal pals. Here are a few ideas to pitch to the group as you plan your outing.

Retail Therapy

Whether you’re treating yourself to fresh pieces for your wardrobe or home, browsing through unique relics at an antique store or window shopping at a local boutique, some much-needed retail therapy with your close friends could be just what the doctor ordered.

Sandy Dryer, president of Countryside Tours notes that shopping is one of the most popular activities women like to do together. Countryside Tours hosts an annual shopping outing that allows women and their friends to travel by bus to Frankenmuth and Birch Run outlet in Saginaw.This trip not only strengthens bonds between girlfriends, it also allows them to meet other like-minded women as they travel and aims to create memories that will last a lifetime.

“We start the day out with mimosas and go from there, Dryer explained. “The women (on the trip)  are being taken care of most of the day; they don’t have to worry about getting to the right place or finding a parking spot. It’s all about (the women) and making sure they have a good time together.”

An Evening In 

When was the last time you had a sleepover with your best friends? A relaxing night in with the girls can do wonders for the soul as it allows ample, uninterrupted time to catch up and rediscover the important bond that initially created your friendships. Slip on your pajamas, put out a few simple snacks, stock up on a couple bottles of wine and a crank some classic tunes you haven’t danced to since high school, and you’ve got the ultimate adult pajama party. This stress-free setting allows you to be vulnerable; spill your guts, share some gossip or reminisce on funny memories that’ll send contagious laughter around the room.

Dearborn resident Linda Branum travels to her best friend’s house in South Haven regularly for a long weekend of unwinding on the back deck, homemade meals and martinis and hours of sharing memories.

“I think it’s important for all women to have at least one good girlfriend; it strengthens you, Branum shared. “Even when you have a great spouse that you communicate well with, it’s clear that men and women think differently, feel things differently and react differently to certain things. Your girlfriend feels what you feel–your happiness, your stress and your worries. She knows where you’re coming from, and even if she can’t solve or change things, she’s there as a support; and sometimes that’s all you need to get you through life.”

Backyard BBQ

Get grilling this summer with a backyard potluck. Pick a weekend and coordinate the meal with your group of friends; from main-course meats to simple sides to tasty desserts and drinks, have each guest create a dish to pass. Sit in the sunshine with a plate of home-cooked comfort food and your favorite ladies, and end the evening perched on the porch, drink in hand, swapping stories under the stars.

Outdoor Adventure 

Nothing strengthens bonds like a plan-as-you-go expedition. Dust off your bike, pack your hiking boots and round up the troops for an outdoor outing. Get heart rates pumping with a hiking and biking trip to a local trail in West Michigan, such as the Butterworth Trail near the Grand River, the Reeds Lake Trail located in the heart of East Grand Rapids or Cascade Peace Park Trail in Ada.

Amp your adventure by planning a road-trip to one of Michigan’s many scenic parks. Set up camp on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan at Ludington State Park, rent a couple kayaks and sail the turquoise waters at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising or end a full day of trail blazing and sightseeing with a roaring campfire at Interlochen State Park in Traverse City.

A Day of Pampering

Call up a couple of close friends and suggest a refreshing spa day; chances are, you won’t have to tell them twice! Book reservations at a local day spa, such as the TLC Spa, Chasing Vanity Salon and Spa, or Renewal Skin Spa, all located in Grand Rapids.

Reap the benefits of a relaxing deep tissue massage, sweat out toxins in a steamy sauna, revitalize your skin with an extensive facial and chat over gossip magazines and chilled wine as you and your girls receive pedicures and manicures.

Make a day out of it; after emerging from the spa fresh-faced and flawless, head to a favorite restaurant and finish the evening with a spread of shareable appetizers and a round of cocktails. Cheers to a successful girl’s day!

Bonding Over Bands

Think about the last amazing concert experience you had–has it been too long? Search through the extensive list of bands and artists making their rounds through Michigan this season and score a few tickets. Bond at an intimate venue, such as 20 Monroe Live, pair good tunes with craft beer at Founder’s Brewing Company, sit up in high in the stands and belt out songs at the Van Andel Arena or spend a brisk summer night rocking out at the outdoor amphitheater at Frederik Meijer Gardens.

A Week in Paradise

Opt for a balmy vacation surrounded by clear water and good company. Book a week-long cruise with the gals, filled with breathtaking views, sunshine and exciting activities offered on board the ship. Launch into the crisp tropical waters of the Caribbean or stay closer to home with a journey through the Great Lakes. Facilitated by the Great Lakes Cruise Company in Ann Arbor, this round-trip tour showcases some of the best views Michigan has to offer, including legendary landmark Niagara Falls, historical and charming Mackinac Island, vast dunes, grand vistas and miles of lush forests. Be sure to pack a camera!

East Grand Rapids resident Jill Jacobson and her four good friends have been planning a trip to Jamaica since their freshman year of college. After years of anticipation, they are set to fulfill their long-standing promise to each other
this summer.

“We made a pact when we were 19 that we would take this trip when we turned 50,” Jacobson divulged. “We’re all friends from high school–the same foursome that went on spring break to Fort Lauderdale together when we were seniors in high school.”

A Weekend at the Lake

While most of us dream of a steamy, scenic week in the tropics, a weekend spent on the lake is next best thing. Consider splitting the rent on a small lake house right off of the water with several friends and prepare for a low-maintenance weekend spent lounging on the sand, collaborating on homemade meals, wading in the calm water and gabbing for hours around a blazing fire.

Sandy Venman, 60 and her close friends have committed to spending an annual weekend on Lake Michigan together for the past few years. The women hold group garage sales throughout the season to fund their trip.

“We have to be on the water,” Venmen expressed. “We eat food, drink, listen to music, go for walks, go shopping; we really just unwind.”

Venman describes the deeper significance of these frequent get-togethers as more than just a bite to eat, chit-chat and break from her day-to-day life — it’s  the essence of friendship that enriches the soul and acts as reassuring navigation through life’s uncertain times.

“We have been through thick and thin together,” Venman emphasized. “These are the people who give you answers to things in life that are difficult. They get you through the hard times and the good times.”

Kate Branum

Aside from studying journalism at Grand Valley State University and interning at WLM, Kate Branum enjoys writing, reading and all things art. Reach out to her at:



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