You know what you need right now? A girls weekend, just for you and your three best friends. But it doesn't have to involve cucumbers on eyes and wineglasses in hands. Maybe you and your friends just aren't into the whole spa-day thing. Maybe you prefer bibimbap to bon bons. Consider alternative girls weekend getaways that perfectly match your passions, whether that's food, fitness or simple fun. Here are some ideas for a girls weekend that's a little different.
Planning a food-centered girls weekend doesn't mean splurging on expensive restaurants or sitting around stuffing your face. Instead, consider a culinary tour. To focus your planning, choose a cuisine or food you know your girlfriends adore. Love cheese? Follow the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail in upstate New York or the Sonoma Cheese Trail in northern California. Relish Southern food? Try a tasting tour of Charlotte, N.C. on bikes or Atlanta, Ga. on foot.
If you're all chefs at heart, try a culinary boot camp weekend. People magazine offers a taste of what's available, from a three-day course in pizza-making in Los Angeles to League of Kitchens' international cuisine courses in New York City.
You and your girlfriends love live music, but you're not into the frenzied hype of events like Coachella or SXSW. Consider planning your girls weekend around a more laid-back music festival. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is big and lively, but nowhere near as raucous as Mardi Gras. Jazz Fest is typically held on the last weekend of April and the first weekend in May.1 In Memphis, the Beale Street Music Festival brings a wide range of stars — Lenny Kravitz and The Avett Brothers headlined in 2015 — to a city already known for its vibrant musical heritage. Don't miss Graceland while you're there. Just remember that you'll have to plan your accommodations well in advance if your girls weekend coincides with a big festival.
Roughing it is a smart way to save money on your girls weekend while bringing you and your friends closer together. And you don't have to camp; many state parks offer inexpensive cabins to rent, some with all the amenities you need. These cabins fill up fast, however, and some may require a full week's stay during the high season. Check out Fodor's list of the best U.S. state parks for girls weekend ideas: You could stay in a 1930s cabin with canyon views in Texas' Palo Duro Canyon State Park, or camp near a mountain lake in South Dakota's Custer State Park.
For outdoorsy girls weekend ideas, check out REI's multi-state list of weekend getaways. The adventure outfitter organizes backpacking trips in Yosemite National Park, paddleboarding and hiking at Lake Tahoe, and rafting in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Leave the high heels at home and plan your weekend around hiking, surfing, running or yoga. Just make sure the program you choose isn't too tightly scheduled. You want enough free time to be able to catch up with your friends and even escape for a while. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Mass., offers R&R retreats that include all accommodations and meals while letting you choose which classes, workshops and outdoor activities you want to try.
If you and your friends are hardcore adventurers, you could try a women's survival camp. Sigma 3 Survival School offers an intensive, three-day course for women that covers wilderness survival, urban survival and anti-kidnapping/self-defense skills. It's taught by Laura Zerra, star of Discovery Channel’s "Naked and Afraid." Warning: You might need to schedule a second girls weekend just so you can recover.
The best girls weekends are filled with laughter — so why not try something totally weird and wild? Every state has its own bizarre traditions and festivals, and there's probably one near you. At the annual San Fermin festival, you run through the New Orleans streets as roller-derby girls try to whack you with foam bats. Savor the flavor of the July Gilroy Garlic Festival near San Jose, Calif., where four tons of pasta are served every year (you know your girls will love that). You might draw the line at flinging manure at the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival — but then again, it could become one of your best girls weekend memories.