Getaways with Women Friends

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Birthday getaway with girlfriends

Nov 2009

I would like to do something special with my girlfriends for my birthday coming up. I'm not a drinker and don't much like crowds. Any ideas on a fun day? what do places like calistoga have to offer? I have some vague ideas but need details. Also how much do things cost like massage, facials and how did you organize the time? birthday girl

Calistoga is a great place to get away with friends, it's a little over an hour from Berkeley. Very relaxing. Nice main street with restaurants, bookstore, clothing shops. State park to go hiking, and then the spas, of which there are many. Most have midweek specials, esp in winter. Golden Haven, Indian Springs, Calistoga Spa, Roman spa, are all nice. Indian Springs is the most expensive, has a wonderful olympic size pool of warm water. Golden haven is the most reasonable, has nice rooms, but only indoor tubs, but good facials, massages. anon

I just had a weekend with girlfriends, and we went to Calistoga and had a great time. We stayed at Eurospa Inn, which I thought was quite reasonable. Call them up and ask for a spa/room package and they'll work out a deal with you. The place was clean, comfortable and cute enough. They have a patio area where we were able to hang out. Even though it was cold out, it was manageable because they have a little fireplace there. The breakfast that was included was good (they cook all the pastries there, and there was fruit, yogurt, granola, etc.). We all had spa treatments at the attached spa and all were happy with the treatments received. The hotel is walkable to the main area of Calistoga, so once we parked the cars in the hotel's lot, we didn't use them until we were on our way out. So the weekend was all about hanging out, eating good food (would recommend Jole's, kind of pricey but definitely worth it), wandering around the town and on the way home, we stopped at the Napa outlets and shopped. Fabulous!

Indian Springs! See my loooooong post re: the couple going away for a romantic weekend. This place works great for both ideas! mailisha

Sept 2009

My sister turns 50 in the Spring and would like my other sister (age 54) and I to go to Europe with her. She has no real destination in mind - just wants a big trip with us gals. I am the youngest (35) and have actually been to Europe with some friends and my husband on several occasions. I certainly have my own ideas but I am looking for things that perhaps someone who has never been and is in the 50 range would like. All of us are very physically fit - not a problem there - but I doubt a physical trip would be our thing...can't see them trekking through the 'Stans, or trying to summit something. Day hikes around a town or to see something is one thing... I was thinking perhaps a cooking class in Tuscany (we LOVE wine..though the birthday girl is exclusive red, the other is white wines only and hey, I'll drink anything.) The birthday girl is a SAHMom of 2 teens and her husband travels the world for work. She lives in a very sheltered little town and lives for her kids. My other sis is a teacher and mom to a college student. Not the most adventurous gals out there.... Any place ideas for us or tours you loved? Sarah, the traveling baby sister

A couple of key questions: 1. What time of year are you going? 2. How much do you want to move around? Is the point to see the ''highlights'' or to relax and lead a different sort of life for a few days?

If your sister has some highlights in mind that she just has to see for herself (Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower, Vatican, etc.) then that should form the basis for your itinerary. This would mean only a day or two in each city and lots of time traipsing from city to city/country to country on trains, in a car or on planes.

If you are looking to find a place and settle in, there are so many great ways to do this these days...renting an apartment or a house somewhere central and ''living like a local.'' I have done this in Umbria (fabulous for day trips), the South of France, Amsterdam, Prague and Paris. All of these were amazing trips, but totally different than hopping around to see the ''highlights.'' Probably you three need to sit down with a couple of bottles of wine and have your birthday sister think through and express her ''vision'' of the trip. Have fun! Loves Europe...can't wait til the kids are a little older is a link to Carol Sicbaldi (look under leaders). She is a wonderful woman who used to work for me at Top Guides and also worked for Inner Asia and Ciclissmo Classico. She married an Italian Luca Magnoni and they live in Bologna, Italy. Google her name and Bologna, Italy for a slew of reviews. Any tour they would put together for your group would be fantastico! I did a trip with a friend to Sicily which was fabulous. We took the ferry from the boot tip of Italy and spent 3-4 days on the East Coast and 3-4 days (could have spent more) on the west coast. The east has Mt. Etna. Our room in a hotel clinging to the mountainside had a view of Mt. Etna smoking in the distance. We did a hike on the volcano with a guide. We found a lovely river gorge with hot springs to swim in. In the west there are lovely secluded beaches, marine sanctuary, little ferries to outlying islands and a wonderful bed and breakfast that was recommended in Karen Brown's guide. I can look it up in my travel notes if you email me. In the south are 9th century Greek ruins to explore. Wonderful food and wine. We tend to travel off the beaten track so can give you more info. from my notes if you want to go the Sicilian route. Have a wonderful time!! Kathryn

The Dordogne region of France is on my all-time favorite list. It has wonderful food and wines, beautiful architecture, more castles than you can shake a stick at, fascinating prehistoric sites like Lascaux and Les Eyzies... I could go on and on. There's a lot to see within a short distance, so you can do numerous day trips without logging too much windshield time. This area is well worth looking into. There are many charming places to stay, and since the area is very popular with British tourists, it's well-equipped to deal with English speakers. And wherever you go, make sure that spring has really started by the time of your visit! Fromage-ophile

I think you should go to Paris with maybe some excursions to Monet's gardens in Giverny, chateaux in the Loire Valley, or Mont Saint-Michel. Paris = ''Europe''

Europe can be pretty cold and rainy in the Spring. If you want something unique and decent weather you must go to Venice!!!! Walk all over the place, get lost in the alley ways, split a gondola ride, take boat rides to Murano (glassblowing), Burano (sooo charming!) and maybe a ride to the Lido and dip your feet into the Adriatic Sea. Google for photos of Burano and Venice. Your possibilities are endless! If you find a hotel closer to the train station, it will cost less plus all major boats (vaparettos) stop there and you have less commute time). There is also a gondola station close by.

No cars - that place is magical! Paris is too cold and rainy in the spring (unless you are all art lovers and go from museum to musem). Venice will be very special! born & raised in Europe

FLORENCE - something for everyone, amazing art and architecture, wonderful food, and of course SHOPPING. Also alot of English speakers if that's an issue. Very walkable central city. And ''women of a certain age'' are appreciated! Over 50 traveler

Girls Weekend Away in December

August 2008

Last year, for my 40th birthday, I went to Las Vegas with 5 women friends and had a fabulous time. We're now wanting to get together again and are thinking of some kind of spa destination. I've looked at the current recommendations and got some ideas, but most are in the wine country. Since half of us live in LA, I'm looking for recommendations for places to go that are driving distance from both the Bay Area and LA, or perhaps a short plane ride away from both places. We're interested in somewhere with massage and spa facilities onsite or nearby, good restaurants, maybe hiking or other nature activities, and somewhat moderately priced (at least for the accommodations--then each can choose how much to spend on other things). We'll probably go in December. Thanks! Mom who needs time away

I HIGHLY recommend Two Bunch Palms, a beautiful and tranquil spa in Desert Hot Springs, outside Palm Springs . I went there with some girlfriends several years ago and have longed to go back ever since. Not cheap, but gloriously relaxing. If you want get into town for a night out, it's not far. steph

A great half-way place between LA and Bay Area is Cambria . It's a coastal town that's easy to get to off of the 101 (about 20 minutes to the coast on highway 146, I believe). It's not super cheap but there are a lot of nice motels and some pricier hotels in town. Not sure what it would run you in the winter for a room. I went last summer at stayed with the family in a suite at the Cambria Pines Lodge - a little fancy and it was definitely on the expensive side ($350/night) but I think you could probably sleep 4 adults per suite. They offer massages on site there to guests and to folks staying in town, I believe, so you could always stay in a hotel and head up to the lodge for a treatment. Many restaurants in town of varying quality. We really enjoyed Robin's for both lunch a dinner. Nina

I would suggest Palm Springs and the all the towns around it. It is very pretty, warm in December, there are spas aplenty, shopping, and outdoorsy stuff to do. It is a 2 or 2.5 hour drive from LA and a short flight from SFO. We stayed at La Quinta resort over spring break and had a great time. Sedona is pretty sweet, too. But it takes a little time to get to.

About halfway between LA and the Bay Area, not exactly a spa destination but pretty amazing, is Big Sur . I took a girls' road trip a couple years ago and our 2 nights in Big Sur were the favorite part of the trip. We stayed at Deetjen's Big Sur Inn in a rustic suite with a fireplace and tiny kitchen, nestled in the redwoods. Very reasonable. They have a very good restaurant there, where we had breakfast and also dinner one night, but there are also great places to eat nearby - we enjoyed a lunch at Nepenthe. For a splurge there is the Post Ranch Inn - lunch is affordable there - it's on a bluff overlooking the ocean. If you can swing it, staying at the Post Ranch is unforgettable. Esalen is in Big Sur, which we didn't visit but would be a one-of-a-kind trip with friends. Just being in Big Sur is a treat, and of course there are many hiking trails and gorgeous spots. San Simeon is nearby if you wanted to take a day trip to visit Hearst Castle, and in December you should be able to see lots of elephant seals lolling on the beach. Have fun! Ginger

How about Ventana in Big Sur ? p.s. Can I come too???????? barbara

3-4 Day Hiking or Biking Getaway w/Sisters

March 2005

My very athletic (east coast) sisters and I would like to take a short active holiday together. We're looking to do some vigorous hiking, or the like, someplace in this country. We don't have an enormous amount of time, as we all have children, but could manage to getaway over an extended weekend--say for 4 days. Has anyone out there done this? Or, might you have knowledge of something else adventurous and fun? linee

It wasn't clear if you want to backpack and camp or stay in lodging but here are two recommendations:

On the East Coast, the White Mountains has a great system of huts run by the Appalachian Mountain Club. You can hike from one to the next. It's beautiful.

On the other hand, the Sierras are spectacular and completely different from the east coast. If your sisters have time, I recommend that you take a three day backpacking trip in the Sierra's. They can rent packs and tents from REI. The Emigrant Wilderness, leaving from a trailhead near Pinecrest is beautiful and only a three-hour drive from the Bay Area. There are lots of good books that detail 3-4 day backpacking trips in the Sierras. Have fun. rachel

A great trail is the Skyline to Sea Trail - starts on the Santa Cruz mountain ridge and then takes you down to the sea. It is a 36 mile trail going through redwoods, with great vistas, creeks, gentle slopes, and beautiful campsites. Great to do over 4 days and 3 nights (9 miles per day). Keren

If you're willing to fly to Arizona I would recommend the Grand Canyon. I went there for a long weekend with my fiance 4 years ago. We flew into Flagstaff and drove to Williams which is an hour away from the South Rim. We stayed in a funky and charming B Williams is a very small town. There are also accomodations closer to the Canyon. You could do some of the day hikes in and aroundthe canyon. Or even plan ahead and hike down and camp in the canyon. There are also other intersting towns nearby. We spent a day in Sedona and hiked there as well. Sara

PhD Party for me and my girlfriends

May 2004

I'm graduating in June from a long and grueling doctoral program, and want to have a party for myself and my girlfriends who have been there for me along the way. I'm looking for ideas for a party for 10-15 women, many of them moms. Ideally I'd like something fun, decadent, pampering, and not too expensive. Also I'd like it to be a situation in which we could really talk, not just a noisy restaurant or bar. Ideas? Phinally PhinesheD

I am not sure if this is exactly what you had in mind but, I would like to propose that you check out The Body Shop's at home Spa Parties. My sister-in-law just had a facial party and we all had so much fun, that at least three of the guests signed up to host parties of their own. (I just was invited to one... a foot spa party.) These are like Tupperware parties... in that there is a company rep who shows up and is passing around products for you to sample and order, but is also a lot like a good old- fashioned slumber party in that everyone is sitting around with goopy face creams on and having a good time. The rep brings everything you need... at the facial party we each had our own mirror, bowl of water and washclothes... all my sister-in-law had to do was clean the house and throw out snack foods. No one was required to buy anything, but a lot of people did, and she got a discount off her purchases because of it. If you wanted to treat your friends to a tub of body butter, or something simillar, as a thank you gift it would fit the theme and the intent. I felt that it was more of a fun get together than a sales pitch or anything else. I understand that the foot spa party is more relaxing/luxurious. Rose

My girlfriend does Spa Parties for Beauti-Control. It is a home based business with some great spa products. She will come to your house and do a little presntation of the products that you all can try and buy. It was very fun. Her email is piscesgirl AT or you can email me for more information. Kerri

One-night getaway with a girlfriend

May 2004

My best friend and I are planning to go on an overnight without kids on Saturday, July 10. Ideally, we would like to be less than 1 hour away from SF/ Oakland and we need to be able to stay for just one night. We really want to relax and sleep, but we also would like to have a bit of fun. We do not want to spend a fortune (less than $200 per night). We really don't want to end up in some romantic B or a place filled with kids. We are up for sun or fog. Nothing listed on the website exactly fit what I am looking for. Lisa

Recommendations received:

  • Calistoga Inn
  • Santa Cruz

    One-Night Get Away for Gals

    March 2004

    My best friend of 37 years and I want to do a ''gals night away''. Napa/Sonoma seems like a good choice, as it is not too far for either of us to go. The main wrinkle is this: we would need to go for a Friday or Saturday only, and although I consulted the previous postings, some of the places people recommended as okay for one night seem to have a two-night minimums now. So any suggestions based on recent experiences would be great. Also, any restaurant suggestions to go along with any hotels/B would be appreciated as well. One caveat: neither one of us really likes the potpourri-teddy bear atmosphere of many B! A B would be fine as long as it is not too ''precious''... Many thanks! sarah

    Recommendations received:

  • Calistoga Inn
  • Costanoa
  • The Hyphen Napa Hills
  • Meadowwood Resort, St. Helena

    More advice:

    Why not SF? I've done some great women's get aways in SF for one night and cutting out all the travel time means you can have a great time. You can pick a particular hotel and get a good deal or you can it a few days before you go and know you'll get something good and reasonable. loads of great restaurants, spas, etc. think about it! Ioana

    Day of pampering for friend's 30th birthday

    Jan 2004

    A friend of mind is turning 30 next month, and three of her girlfriends would like to treat her to a girls' day out with some sort of relaxing, pampering activity. I've seen the recommendations on the website for facials, pedicures, etc. This is completely foreign territory to all of us, however, and I'd appreciate any specific recommendations for something along those lines that would be both affordable and fun to do as a group activity. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Elisabeth

    Recommendations received:

  • Indian Springs Calistoga
  • Wine Train Napa Valley

    More advice:

    For a fun Girls' Day Out type thing, you might check out Petroglyph. I used to work there a long time ago, things may have changed since I worked there last. With enough time you may even be able to reserve a time for a Friday or Saturday night if school nights are a concern. They used to offer packages for parties and one of my favorites was the package where everyone in the party could pick out whatever they wanted to paint. With a package you get a discount off of the items you want to paint. Call the store nearest to you and get the information or you could check them out at for store locations, hours and prices. We used to host wedding showers, girls' nights out, children's birthday parties, etc. Depending on the pieces your group may paint, you could be there several hours. My best friend and I made an appointment and spent about two hours painting and chatting, it was a lot of fun. Also, when I worked there, we allowed parties to bring in outside food and the occassional bottle of wine. Hope this helps! Mariana

    If you can't find the time to go out, like myself, then I know of an excellent massage therapist & wax guru who can come to you. She travels to your home or office. She does waxing, massages, manicures, and pedicures. Here name is Carolyn Law. Give her a call at (510)915-3180. Or contact me for futher information or questions. rocquel

    Inexpensive Girls Night Out

    May 2003

    I recently attended a ''girls night out'' down in LA with my sister and wanted to organize something similar for my moms group. Does anyone know of services/people that they can recommend. We have someone to do massages and we will provide snacks and drinks. I am look for recommendations for how to go about getting a few ladies in to do maybe demonstrations or consultations with make-up, manicures, pedicures, maybe mini-facials? We also thought maybe even a Discovery Toy consultant or other product that people sell from home? Any ideas or leads? Do you know someone who might be interested? We want to keep things on the inexpensive side but are open to any ideas. Some people might opt to sign up for specific (cost) services and then there would be a couple free services or information. Please email me directly if you have any ideas. sandra

    I have a couple of recommendations for your ''Girls Night Out''. First, check out SpaCamp ( They come to you and do shoulder massages, pedicures, facials, etc. for your group of 5 or more. Another idea is to actually go OUT. Not sure how big your group is, but my mom's group gets together every month or so for dinner. With all the restaurants in the Bay Area, we're always trying something new!

    There's also a place in SF in the Mission called Beauty Bar that offers martinis and manicures. Never been - but it sounds fun! e

    - Dessert out at a nice restaurant
    - coffee and book store browsing
    - craft making (beading!) at someones house
    - scrapbooking without having to hide the scissors
    - hot tubs (Piedmont Springs!)

    Try not to do something too focused on the kids.. Focus on yourself for once. We Moms forget about that. Just remember this mantra... If Mama isn't happy, ain't nobody happy. fellow traveller

    Trip with Sisters


    Help! It is my turn to plan our girlie trip in February with my four sisters and mom (yearly celebration mom's birthday). Done Las Vegas, Skiing in Tahoe, Mud bath in Sonoma, Fort Braggs/Mendicino-horse riding on beach. We don't mind driving within 6 hrs. I was thinking of Hearst Castle Cambria/San Simeon or AmTrak to old town Sacramento. Any better ideas? Aleta

    From: Noah

    1. A Day of Chocolate--I have heard, but have yet to find out exactly where, that there is a small Hershey chocolate factory somewhere near (south of?) Sacramento. Having toured the factory in Hershey, PA, I am sure the CA factory would be a fun day trip or at least a fun part of a longer trip. If the women in your family are like mine, a little chocolate makes a party. (Editor: It's in Oakdale, on Highway 120)

    2. What about crabbing? I don't know the dates for the seasons, but seem to recall driving up to the southern coast of Oregon in the fall about six years ago. None of us knew what we were doing, but we managed to have a great time. We rented a boat and traps and they even had a little park/ramada with cleaning stations and pots to cook the crabs in. (You'll need to supply the rest of the feast however.) It was fun because it was unusual and I actually became quite good at handling the little guys. I was a bit squeamish about cooking them, but others in the group were not.

    No matter what you do, it sounds like a great family tradition. If you come up with something terrific, you'll have to share it with us.

    also recommended: Sycamore Hot Springs