More Great Girlfriends’ Getaways
Written by Colleen Ann McNally
SEA ISLAND, GA
With its history of Southern hospitality for 85 years and world-class reputation, Sea Island has become a sought-after destination for family, leisure travelers and now, girlfriends’ getaways. Whether you wish to relax, break a sweat or both, there is plenty for everyone to enjoy.
Spend the day in 65,000-square-feet of serenity at the Forbes Five-Star Spa one day, then get outdoors the next with a long list of offered group activities, including kayoga – a mixture of kayaking and Vinyasa yoga – on a private, salt-marsh-surrounded island, tennis clinics with former French Open champion Murphy Jensen, lessons with popular instructor Gale Peterson at the Golf Learning Center, and more. If your girls are game for some healthy competition, tee off at one of the three championship golf course. Winner buys dinner!
After working up an appetite, indulge in culinary excellence from casual to formal dining with seven venues to choose from. Girlfriends can even sign up for a private wine tasting in The Cloister Wine Cellar. seaisland.com
SOUTH WALTON, FL
Approximately a five-and-a-half hour drive from Atlanta, the trip to South Walton, or “So Wal” for short, is so worth it – especially when so much wine is involved. The 28th Annual Sandestin Wine Festival on April 10 – 14 is held two weeks earlier at Baytowne Wharf. Whether wine aficionado or novice, this event is packed with opportunities for discovery. Even non-drinking guests are still welcome to attend the Grand Wine Tasting with their friends at no charge. sandestinwinefestival.com
Later in the month, The South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival on April 24 – 27 showcases not only an extensive selection to sip on, but celebrity winemakers and a culinary village. This year, new partnerships with Wine Enthusiast, Banfi Wines and Emeril Lagasse are anticipated to attract international attention. The festival appeals to all five senses, with walks on the beautiful white sand beaches and entertainment from Nashville’s best as they continue their Endless Summer Songwriters Series. Sponsored by Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, these songwriters perform and share the stories behind their biggest hits written for country music stars including Rascal Flatts, Faith Hill and Vince Gill. Proceeds from the festival benefit the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, which supports a dozen children’s charities in Northwest Florida. Held in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, girlfriends may have to divide and conquer. sowalwine.com
Home to several historic bed and breakfast locations in its downtown district, Beaufort is a popular destination for bridal showers and bachelorette parties. Seeping with Southern charm and downtown shops to explore, this town is where history is made. In fact, the city ranked first place as 2013 America’s Happiest Seaside Towns by the readers of Coastal Living Magazine.
Be sure to wear your walking shoes. The state’s only lighthouse that visitors can still climb is located nearby at Hunting Island. You can make it back to the hotel in time for happy hour, which includes Champagne and cheese if you choose to stay at the Rhett House Inn. Complimentary homemade cookies, lemonade and ice tea are also served during the afternoon.
Following a day of seeing the sights, pamper yourself (especially your feet) at the Beaufort Inn’s full-service spa. This local hot spot also holds afternoon teatimes on Tuesday through Saturday from 1 – 3 p.m., reservations required. Or stay for dinner at the Southern Graces Bistro at Beaufort Inn, an upscale contemporary take on fine Southern fare by Certified Executive Chef Christopher Hewitt. Sample the area’s fresh seafood and cuisine inspired from the area’s Gullah heritage. BeaufortSC.org
HILTON HEAD, S.C.
If you and girls need to spend some time off the mainland, Hilton Head Island is about an hour drive from Beaufort. The Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island, after a $30 million renovation, offers all-new amenities and is directly on the beach. Located on the south end of the island overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the view for watching the sunset is hard to beat – especially while lounging with friends in a cabana around the zero-entry, heated lagoon-style swimming pool. The pool-side Sweet Cane Bar and Grill offers daily happy hour specials, casual dining and weekly entertainment. No shoes, no problem.
Dedication to the Lowcountry lifestyle continues to the resort’s Arum Spa, with local products infused with jasmine and sea salt. The location within the Shipyard Plantation includes easy access to tennis, golf, beach, and bicycle rentals. sonesta.com/hiltonheadisland
REFLECTIONS AT BAY POINT
Panama City Beach may be best known for accommodating family vacationers or the spring break crowd, but this little gem is actually ideal for a getaway with the girls. Tucked away from the main drag on the picturesque St. Andrews Bay, Sterling Resorts’ Reflections at Bay Point offers fully equipped condos with breathtaking bay or golf course views, and access to amenities like a seasonally heated pool, private beach, and water shuttle to nearby Shell Island. Situated at the end of the on-site pier, Lime’s Bayside Bar & Grill is the perfect place to sip margaritas at sunset, while Kingfish Restaurant is well-suited for a gussied up girls night out. But the biggest lure to Reflections for the ladies? Serenity Spa, a full-service spa and salon with whirlpool, steam room, sauna and treatments that rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. Who knew this kind of R&R was possible in PCB? sterlingresorts.com