Under-the-Radar Southern Towns for Girlfriend Getaways

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Under-the-Radar Southern Towns for Girlfriend Getaways

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From the unexpected allure of Gulf Shores to a historic resort tucked away on Jekyll Island, we’ve got your next girls’ weekend covered. Check out our list of incredible southern getaways to experience in 2017. Plus, get more great ideas for weekend getaways! View the full article here.

Pick any town below the Mason-Dixon line, and you’re destined to find old-fashioned southern hospitality and charm. But pick any of the southern towns we’ve rounded up below, and you’re destined to also find loads of culture, entertainment, shopping, and opportunities for relaxation—in other words, the perfect spot for your next weekend trip with your girlfriends.

While cities like New Orleans and Charleston usually get all the love (and we agree, they’re great!), we think 2017 is the time to look beyond the usual suspects and escape to quirkier gems, like outdoorsy and artsy Knoxville, Tennessee or laid-back Lexington, Kentucky. Here, our favorite surprising southern destinations to book for a rollicking trip with your best sidekicks in the coming year.

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Seaside allure gets muddled with artistic soul in this groovy southern town that you’d probably just drive right past on your way to New Orleans if you weren’t in the know (most aren’t). While in town, you can relax with your posse during a restorative class at Treehouse Yoga, which offers just as much whimsical and free-flowing fun as its name might hint at. It would also be an excellent idea to sign everyone up for a day of TLC at Spa at the Bay, but if time is tight, take the road less traveled and opt for an unforgettable boat excursion, checking out the harbor and surrounding bayous, with the help of Solar Boat Tours.

 

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

 

This is the North Carolina that small town mountain fantasies are made of. You could easily spend all day in a rocking chair, soaking up views of the lush wilderness, but we suggest hitting the road to check out the breathtaking vistas on the Blue Ridge Parkway aka “America’s favorite drive.” Make a pitstop at renowned Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, for a quick but memorable visit to the craft center, before heading onto Canyons for some tasty grub and unreal mountain views. Rest your weary feet at Chetola Resort—where your gang might have a hard time prying themselves away from the sauna—or at the elegantly restored Green Park Inn. (Fun fact: Margaret Mitchell spent time penning Gone With the Wind there!)

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Groups looking for off-the-beaten path thrills will be more than satisfied with a weekend in this Bluegrass State prize of a town. You can finally use the word “spelunk” in everyday conversation as you tour the world’s longest cave at Mammoth Cave National Park (you’d never guess you’re just an hour north of Nashville!). Then, you can make the kiddos back at home jealous when you and the ladies take some classic cars for a spin at the National Corvette Museum. Finally, enjoy a fun night out at the 1869 Boyce General Store, where you can take a canning or baking class, or simply enjoy some live music at its “Pickin’ on the Patio” event every other weekend in the summer. Slip into bed at the funky-yet-elegantly outfitted Kentucky Grand Hotel, which offers a cool Prohibition-era vibe.

Charlottesville, Virginia

Nestled in central Virginia’s wine country, there’s a million reasons you won’t want to say goodbye to the Keswick Hall & Golf Club (wine definitely being one of them, thanks to the resort’s vineyard). Perhaps start your day with the 3 Bs—birdwatching, bocce ball, and badminton—and end your night in the energy-infused streets of downtown Charlottesville. Since there’s likely still one or two Dave Matthews Band Crash-era devotees in your throng, raise a pint at Miller’s (ask for the DMB brew), where Dave himself tended bar when the band’s biggest shows were at UVA frat houses and the 900-person Trax nightclub. (And you thought you were cool because you caught them on your local amphitheater’s lawn back in ’97…)

Islamorada, Florida

Call the luxurious and rejuvenating Cheeca Lodge Resort & Spa, located  on the islands of Islamorada in the Florida Keys, home base for your next girls’ getaway. (Islamorada means “purple islands,” a name that will click upon arrival). There, you and the gaggle can indulge in the true joy that is the adults-only pool, book a treatment (or two) at the spa, and eat way too many sushi rolls at the resort’s lauded Nikai Sushi Bar. Should you choose to take your retreat off-property, try backcountry skiffing with Bud N’Mary’s for some of the best sport fishing the country has to offer.

Columbia, South Carolina

Pulsing with a vibrant, artsy energy, downtown Columbia is sprinkled with enough bakeries, boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops to set the backdrop for RGMs (Really Good Memories). Remember The Andy Griffith Show? This Palmetto State treasure emits a “Mayberry-esque” quality, despite its fast growth in recent years. Nest up at the Inn at USC where you can spend hours relaxing on the wide wrap-around porch and feeling far removed from the hustle of city life, even though you’re only a few blocks from plenty of dining options and attractions, like the industrial Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Alehouse. While in town, assemble the gals for an afternoon trip to West Columbia (it’s a quick 10-minute jaunt across the river) where you’ll find the Old Mill Antique Mall, a two-level historic building that houses over 75 dealers with some of the coolest antiques, furniture, and vintage finds around. After, congregate at Cafe Strudel, a zany pour-your-own coffee bar, to dish about your vintage bounty.

Fort Myers, Florida

Pulsing with a vibrant, artsy energy, downtown Columbia is sprinkled with enough bakeries, boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops to set the backdrop for RGMs (Really Good Memories). Remember The Andy Griffith Show? This Palmetto State treasure emits a “Mayberry-esque” quality, despite its fast growth in recent years. Nest up at the Inn at USC where you can spend hours relaxing on the wide wrap-around porch and feeling far removed from the hustle of city life, even though you’re only a few blocks from plenty of dining options and attractions, like the industrial Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Alehouse. While in town, assemble the gals for an afternoon trip to West Columbia (it’s a quick 10-minute jaunt across the river) where you’ll find the Old Mill Antique Mall, a two-level historic building that houses over 75 dealers with some of the coolest antiques, furniture, and vintage finds around. After, congregate at Cafe Strudel, a zany pour-your-own coffee bar, to dish about your vintage bounty.

Point Clear, Alabama

Worthy as a destination in itself, the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear is a gorgeous resort and spa tucked away on 550 sprawling acres along the Alabama coastline. Studded by 36 holes on its esteemed golf course and a member of the Historic Hotels of America, the hotel was founded in 1847. It now offers outdoor and indoor swimming pools, an art gallery, and daily tea-and-cookie service in the lobby. Relax at the spa before heading to the daily historic cannon- firing ceremony (seriously!). As you stroll around the nearby town of Fairhope, you’ll wonder why you didn’t take an extra vacation day. Oh well, Sunday Jazz Brunch awaits…

Greenville, South Carolina

Ah, where to start? Food seems like a good place to kick things off in this epicurean haven, anointed one of the New York Times’ top places to go in 2017. First, there are the oldies like Grill Marks (order a boozy milkshake) and Sidewall Pizza. Then, there are the newbies, like Biscuit Head (get a Bloody Mary on the side to wash ’em down) and The Anchorage, with a focus on seasonal, local ingredients. Ward off a food coma by heading over to M.Judson Booksellers and Storytellers for a reading, or to pick up some titles for an impromptu book club with your gals. Falls Park, with its cascading waterfalls and scene-stealing gardens, seems like a good spot for the literary discussion, as do the grounds of the rustic Hotel Domestique, where you’ll want to hit the hay early so you can squeeze in a group yoga class in the morning.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

You know a day that starts with yoga on the beach and ends with harborside drinks with your besties before catching an outdoor Miranda Lambert concert is a good one. Here’s how to make that fantasy itinerary a reality in this underrated beach town: First, book a session at Glow Yoga, then reserve an outdoor table at Driftwood Bar and Grille, and finally, look up the concert schedule at The Wharf (or, time your trip for the ever-popular Hangout Music Fest). Of course, you’ll probably need a place to stay, so score rooms at Turquoise Place, which has a lazy river and a bar with some of the best Bushwackers in town. Oh, and all roads should lead to the legendary Flora-Bama at the end of the night, a beachside mega-dive with live music straddling the Florida-Alabama line in the happiest of boozy limbo.

Hendersonville, North Carolina

Step aside, Asheville. This neighboring town, tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is worthy of bucket list goals, too. Satiate your hankering for a dose of the outdoors by hiking the nearby trails, or take a stroll downtown on the extra-wide sidewalks punctuated by benches, flowers and outdoor cafes. Book a few nights at the Mélange Inn and Gardens, which serves as a convenient launching pad for adventures to countryside wineries, Sierra Nevada’s massive East Coast brewery, and the famed Flat Rock Playhouse, which regularly hosts Broadway shows. Another fun fact to share with your friends: The recent remake of Dirty Dancing was filmed in Hendersonville!

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Whisk the group away to the pristine shores of beautiful Jekyll Island, a gorgeous state park that’s protected from extensive development. At the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, book a package (there’s a yoga retreat; murder mystery weekends; and whiskey, wine, and wildlife adventures … just to name a few) or build your own itinerary. Whatever you choose to do, make sure Victorian tea, a day trip to the Okefenokee Swamp Park, and a guided water tour with Turtle Tides are all on your list. The property’s regional southern Georgia cuisine is so good, expect to go on a grits kick for weeks when you return home.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Nashville may the first place travelers think to go when visiting the Volunteer State, but Knoxville makes for a spectacular getaway if outdoor activities are your group’s thing. Start at the Adventure Center which offers moonlit paddles, disc golf, and mountain biking (among many, many more options). After working up a sweat, the city’s downtown district has oodles of mouthwatering dining options, but we’re partial to the idea of a welcome night feast at Knox Mason, where everyone will beg the chef for the pimento cheese recipe. After dinner, enjoy a nightcap at sophisticated speakeasy Peter Kern Library, which moonlights as a coffeehouse by day. Next, you can retreat to your chambers at The Oliver Hotel, or find music and fun in Market Square. Just don’t overdo it if the plan is to wake up early for rock climbing at Big South Fork the next day…

Seabrook Island, South Carolina

This quiet, laid-back sanctuary makes relaxation a very pressing priority. Kick off your travels with some beachcombing, dolphin-watching or crabbing. If your gang is feeling ambitious, you can try a Water Dog stand-up paddleboarding tour. If you’re feeling less-than-ambitious, try lazing around at your villa or townhouse rental (complete with ocean or tidal creek views). Other potential activities include visiting the equestrian center, playing a round of pickleball, or a night out on the town in Uber-able Charleston.

For more information, visit discoverseabrook.com.

South Walton, Florida

Forget Miami and Fort Lauderdale—the 26-miles of sugar-white sand beaches in South Walton is the stuff Instagram gold is made of. There are plenty of eclectic seaside villages to choose from, but our pick is Rosemary Beach, with its black-and-white- trimmed boutique hotel The Pearl. Note: Its rooftop restaurant, complete with firepits, hammocks, and ocean views, make it exceedingly difficult to leave. While in town, you and your group will also want to hit up some of the area’s famed coastal dune lakes (these rare ecosystems only exist in a handful of other places, like New Zealand and Madagascar) for some stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, or even birdwatching. If you prefer to balance all that beachtime with some on-land excursions, try a bike ride along the scenic 19-mile Timpochee Trail (you’ll ride through quirky beach villages, state parks, and around dune lakes).

     Southern Indiana

“SoIn,” as folks have started calling this region, has been quietly gaining traction as a hot destination for eating, drinking, and being merry. New Albany, which is just five minutes from Louisville, Kentucky, has earned the name “Louisville’s Brooklyn” thanks to a vibrant restaurant and bar scene. Check out Brooklyn and the Butcher, a great option if your group likes sharing plates, and Aladdin’s Cafe for fresh, Mediterranean fare. There’s also Feast BBQ which offers bourbon slushies! Feeling full? Venture to nearby Jeffersonville to cycle or walk over The Big Four Pedestrian and Cycling Bridge,which connects the city to Louisville Waterfront Park. Need another reason to go? On the weekend of May 25th-29th, 2017 Jeffersonville will host Abbey Road on the River, A Beatles-inspired fest with over 20,000 concert-goers. Reserve your rooms at the delightful Market Street Inn B&B now, and thank us later.

 

 

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By | 2017-09-07T18:12:22+00:00 July 10th, 2017|Culture, Travel|