Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting a city slicker weekend that involves haute cuisine, fashion splurges, partying until the sun comes up, and pampering at the spa, there’s something to be said for a weekend in the wild with your closest friends.
As millennials discover that experiences over things what they really value, nature-and-adventure weekends are becoming increasingly popular with groups of fun, fearless females. While the Girlfriend Getaway 2.0 may have you trading in your Louboutins for Lululemon, don’t worry; you can still look cute as you work up a sweat. You don’t have to be a serious outdoorswoman or extreme athlete to try a new bucket list worthy experience.
So get back to your roots, make some memories, and challenge yourself. It’s much more fulfilling than an umbrella drink by the pool or wasting away the day at the mall. Promise.
If you’re looking for an epic, adventure-style girls weekend getaway, add these trips to your bucket list. And just in case you were wondering, mimosas do taste better over a campfire because you earned it. Pass the s’mores.
6 Girls Weekend Getaways with Outdoor Adventures
Rough it at Cloud Camp
Cloud Camp is where the Real Housewives would go if they decided they wanted to “rough it” for a weekend. An all-inclusive, five-star nature retreat, the ritzy wilderness center is designed to introduce you to the Rocky Mountain backcountry without sacrificing creature comforts – and a cozy bed.
Nestled 3,000 feet above The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, their version of glamping features one and two bedroom cabins, suites, and a guest lodge. A daily itinerary will keep you busy from dusk until dawn with activities like mule rides, disc golf, cooking classes, crafting, fly fishing, yoga, guided hikes, and archery lessons. If you’re looking for something a little less rigorous, there are lawn games, stargazing, bird watching, and board games at your disposal.
Where to Stay: The Broadmoor
Cloud Camp includes full access to all the amenities of the AAA Five-Diamond resort, which includes award-winning dining, golf, and a spa. Roughing it never sounded so cozy.View Hotel
Get Wet and Wild at the US National Whitewater Center
Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, the US National Whitewater Center is an official Olympic Training Center and sprawling outdoor playground that’s open to the public. Nestled on 1,300 acres deep in the woods, it’s the largest manufactured whitewater course in the world and the only facility of its kind in the country. A day pass will grant you access to a laundry list of activities on both water and land that include Standup Paddleboarding, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, zip lines, and high ropes courses to test your agility and strength. Beyond the whitewater rafting, none of the activities require a reservation. There is professional staff and gear at each of the activity stations so all you need to do is show up and get your adventure on.
For those groups of picky girlfriends that can never agree on anything; there’s truly something for everyone here. Plus, they regularly host live music, festivals, and events so you can sweat to a soundtrack. And when you’re done, retreat to the comfort of the Queen City to get glammed up for a scintillating Southern meal and a nightcap.
Where to Stay: Kimpton Tryon Park
The Kimpton is a design lover’s dream and the perfect setting for a girls’ trip. Amenities include free bikes to explore, a sweet tea bar, board games, and a killer rooftop bar.View Hotel
Rock Out in Zion National Park
With sprawling red sandstone cliffs, Zion is basically a “choose your own adventure” destination with activities for all levels of difficulty. The Narrows is one of the most famous slot canyons in the world and a bucket-list worthy hike that’ll have you hiking directly in the river with water ranging from knee to waist deep for 16 miles or until you decide to call it quits.
(Pro Tip: Renting waterproof gear is highly recommended, especially when it promises to have you looking like a 21st century Power Ranger for the photos.)
If you’re not afraid of heights, Angels Landing is another once-in-a-lifetime trek. A challenging jaunt with steep switchbacks and metal handholds, you’ll gain altitude ascending straight up the exposed cliff face. Zion is also known for its rock climbing and rappelling so if you’re looking to try something new, there are plenty of local operators who can show you the ropes – literally.
Where to Stay: Under Canvas Zion
Complement the rugged daytime activities by glamping under the stars in a luxury safari-style tent.View Hotel
Step up Your Backcountry Photo Game
Practice your outdoor photography in one of the country’s most unique landscapes — the painted desert. Looking like a cross between sand art and another planet entirely, the Northern Arizona desert is 50 shades of red. Blessed with a number of Instagram hotspots, Antelope Canyon offers photography tours with lessons dedicated to capturing the intricate geological features and light beams in all their glory. You can take your newfound skills to nearby Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon, one of the most popular national parks in the country. Havasupai Falls and the Wave are also nearby but require special permits you must secure months in advance.
Where to Stay: Ticabook Lodge Lake Powell
An oasis in the desert, the Ticabok Lodge is a perfect base camp for adventure. Boasting easy access to the marina and the gorgeous red rocks, if you want to rent a houseboat and laze around, that’s totally acceptable too.View Hotel
Make it a Water Sports Weekend
You could spend your vacation chilling on the beach catching up on the latest celebrity gossip, or you could try toning and tanning while learning to surf, kiteboarding, or windsurfing under the San Diego sun. The area is a treasure trove of saltwater adventures with sea kayaking, speed boating, and snorkeling the best way to get active and meet the locals — the marine life that is.
One of the more unique watersports available is flyboarding, where you can simultaneously glide like a dolphin and soar like Superman with flips and spins that promise epic (or hilarious) video footage. It’s easy to pick up but hard to master, so if you’re up for a challenge, it’s a fun alternative to the standard water sports.
Where to Stay: Kimpton Solamar Hotel
Located in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter, the Kimpton Solamar is regularly ranked as one of the top hotels in San Diego. After fighting the ocean waves all day, the rooftop pool is the place to relax and recharge.View Hotel
Get High in Jackson Hole
There’s this strange misconception that ski resorts shut down in the offseason, but Jackson Hole is a year-round playground. Home to one of less than 10 via ferratas (protected climbing routes) in the country, the “iron route” is a way to circumvent a mountain using a combination of suspension bridges and cables. Originally created as a way for soldiers to cross the Alps, it’s a unique way to expose yourself to raw nature in a safe and controlled manner.
For another “stomach in your throat” type of bonding activity, take to the skies on a tandem paraglide. There’s nothing quite like running off the side of a cliff together to cement your vacation memories and get your adrenaline pumping. In fact, nothing sounds more deserving of a cocktail afterward.
Where to Stay: The Lodge at Jackson Hole
Located in the heart of the Village, the Western-themed Lodge is the place to convene in Jackson Hole. The outdoor Jacuzzi, indoor soaking tub, and sauna are the perfect reward for a long day of adventuring, but if you really want to treat ‘yo self, you definitely earned that massage, too.View Hotel
Featured image by Greg Rakozy, Unsplash