Grab Your Besties, Mama, and Take one of These Girls Only Getaways Around the Midwest

As my children get older, our family calendar is filled with more activities. However, most of those activities center around my children.

It’s become harder for me to find time for myself and to foster those important relationships with my dear friends. I know time for myself is important and it’s something I’m committed to make happen.

I recently read an article that said, “the more social connections a mother has, the higher her kids scored on early cognitive development tests – and if the mom didn’t have many friends, her kids scored lower”.

That sealed the deal, it’s time to start planning a girls’ only trip!

A weekend away from the routine of daily life, the demands of family and some much needed time to get my favorite gal pals together for laughs, sleep, hot coffee and new memories!

Sometimes getting away seems like too much trouble, after coordinating childcare, carpools and the guilt of leaving our family at home as we go off and have fun. Trust me, making time to get away nourishes friendships and helps our tired, stressed bodies relax.

You don’t have to go far or spend a ton of money to feel the day-to-day responsibilities roll off your shoulders.

4 Girls Only Getaways Within Driving Distance of Grand Rapids

Pack Your Bags, Get Your Gals and Hit the Road

1 – Chicago | 2 Hours 57 Minutes; 176 Miles

Chicago is a great place for the ultimate girls weekend. Offering a multitude of day and evening activities and plenty of public transportation, the “Windy City” is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Whether your group is looking for relaxation, shopping, adventure or a bit of everything, it’s all at your fingertips in Chicago.

Explore Chicago Like a Local

If your gals are looking for adventure check out Chicago River Boat Architecture Tours. It’s a great way to get out on the water and learn a bit of Chicago history. If you can’t fit an architectural tour into your schedule opt for a quick ride via a Chicago Water Taxi. Trust me, the skyline is even more amazing from the water.

Don’t be scared to give Divvy Bikes a try, it’s easy! Download the Divvy App before heading to the city.  It’s an amazing way to see the breathtaking Chicago lakeshore via bicycle. If you pedal north to Lincoln Park check out the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Zoo, both are free.  

If a relaxing day is what your group is seeking head out for afternoon tea at the Drake – Palm Court. The dining room is beautiful and tea is so much fun. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time and are having tea with cast from Downton Abbey.

If your group is looking for action attend a Cubs game at historic Wrigley Field. The lively pre and post game atmosphere make it an event that you won’t forget.  

You can’t go wrong by ending your day catching a show at The Second City.  Last time I went I laughed so hard I got a free ab workout. If you end up with a front row seat and you may end up as part of the show!

The Signature Lounge in the evening is an absolute must! It’s the perfect place to finish the day with a cocktail or coffee. The view is perhaps the best in the city.

After a full day in the city your group is bound to be exhausted. What could be better than an afternoon at the spa. If you are looking for a spa day I would recommend checking with your hotel. They may have one on site and you may be able to get a package deal.  

This may sound crazy, but if you’ve never been to a blow dryer bar you must try it! It’s the ultimate indulgence and it’s amazing! Check out Blowtique, you will leave looking polished and feeling pampered.

Chicago Shopping Ideas

We all know that a girls trip to Chicago isn’t complete without shopping. Of course Michigan Avenue is isn’t called the Magnificent Mile without reason. With the shops of Water Tower Place, 900 North Michigan, and The Shops at North Bridge all within a few miles of you simply can’t go wrong.

Oak Street is an upscale area and a fun place to window shop. With shops like Parad, Giorgio Armani, Barneys and Jimmy Choo, you’ll feel like you’re in Hollywood strolling down Rodeo Drive.

If you are looking to do some budget friendly shopping check out State Street. With shops like Old Navy, Nordstrom Rack and Marshalls you’re sure to find some deals.

Chicago’s Culinary Hot Spots

With so many amazing restaurants it’s hard to choose where to dine. Below are my restaurant recommendations.

Eataly it’s simply amazing! It’s my favorite place to grab a quick breakfast before hitting the road to head home. Besides the wonderful food it’s an amazing place to walk around and simply take in the sights and aromas! From sit-down restaurants to fresh meat, seafood, produce, chocolates, and cheese counters this place has it all. I could spend hours in this place!

  • 3 Arts Club Cafe | Located inside Restoration Hardware in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood this spot will be sure to impress on many levels. From the unbelievable decor to the delicious food everyone is sure to be wowed.
  • Shaw’s Oyster Bar | Cool, casual and so much fun! This Chicago institution is located just a few blocks off Michigan Ave. making it the perfect midday shopping respite. From fresh oysters to sushi you won’t be disappointed!
  • Summer House Santa Monica | From brunch to dinner Summer House Santa Monica will offer a unique California influenced dishes. With the beach decor and a retractable ceiling you may actually forget that you are in fact still in the midwest. The ever changing menu features locally sourced produce when possible.
  • Cindy’s Rooftop | Located across from Millennium Park, Cindy’s offers amazing city and lake views. With brunch platters that are built for sharing (most accommodate 3-4 guests) it’s the perfect way to start your day in the city. After brunch take a stroll through Millennium Park.

Insider Tips:

  • Traveling to Chicago can be relaxing. Read, nap or catch up with the girls while traveling via Amtrak or the South Shore train. In addition to not having to navigate traffic you will also be able to avoid costly city parking fees.  
  • Be sure to check out the women’s bathroom at The Signature Lounge, it offers some of the best views in the city, seriously!
  • Make meal reservations whenever possible, Chicago restaurants are insanely busy.

2 – Milwaukee | 4 Hours 24 Minutes; 276 Miles

Milwaukee is an amazing city with great restaurants, brewery’s, waterfront walking and biking paths, tons of culture and cute boutiques. Taking the Lake Express from Muskegon to Milwaukee adds an element of fun to your adventure!

Things To Do In Milwaukee

Every summer Milwaukee is host to Summerfest. A huge music festival that runs from the end of June through early July. This year the festival features artist from Thomas Rhett to Ozzy Osborn, truly something for everyone.

When the music side of Summerfest is over the grounds is home to the Milwaukee World Festival. An ethnic festival featuring a different ethnicity every weekend and showcasing art, ethnic performances, and cook-offs.

Check out The Third Ward, an old warehouse district and home to super cute boutiques, art, bars, and restaurants. Plan to spend at least the afternoon, it’s a super fun area. While there I highly recommend grabbing lunch at the Public Market in the Third Ward.

Milwaukee Public Market

If culture is more your gig take a stroll through the Milwaukee Art Museum. It’s worth checking out even if you just take in the exterior of the building, the architecture is amazing.

Brady Street is a funky and artsy street that’s fun to walk down. At the end street you will find Peter Sciortino Bakery – an amazing Italian bakery that you must try.

While you are in the area be sure to stop into Art Smart’s Dart Mart and Juggling Emporium. It’s the perfect spot to pick up treasures for the kids back at home. Plus, it’s juggling store, how fun is that!

Milwaukee Public Market

Where to Get Pampered in Milwaukee

When your crew is ready to kick back and relax check out Well Spa in The Pfister Hotel. It’s an amazing spa and you don’t have to be a hotel guest to use the spa.

Blu is an incredible bar on the 23rd-floor of the hotel. It features full views of downtown Milwaukee and Lake Michigan. It’s one of the most popular martini bars in Milwaukee. Fun fact, rumor has it that the hotel is haunted by friendly ghosts

Milwaukee’s Food Scene

Milwaukee is another city with so many amazing dining choices. It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. You truly can’t go wrong with anything you choose.

  • Cafe Benelux | Located in the heart of the Third Ward, Cafe Benelux celebrates European culture with a massive, award-winning Belgian beer selection, a from-scratch menu, and one of Milwaukee’s most unique rooftop patios.
  • Milwaukee Ale House | Enjoy lunch or dinner with river front seating, downtown views and handcrafted beverages. Fun fact, Schooners used to dock in front of the building to get fitted with new sails before heading back out to Lake Michigan.
  • Smyth | Located inside The Iron Horse Hotel it’s an upscale hotel designed for motorcycle riders. Smyth is a super fun place to grab brunch then head to the nearby Harley Davidson Museum.
  • Koz’s Mini Bowl | Super casual spot where you are guaranteed to have a blast while grabbing a bite to eat. The restaurant features four mini-bowling lanes, darts, pool and a jukebox.
  • Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro | If you’re looking for an elegant setting, authentic French cuisine and fabulous views of Lake Michigan this is the place. It’s delicious and a crowd pleaser.

3 – Detroit | 2 Hours 35 Minutes: 157 Miles

Detroit is back! Over the last year or so I’ve heard that a few times and after spending the day in the downtown area – just north of the river I believe it.

You and your gals will find hip and bustling restaurants, well manicured parks and gardens and perhaps a professional sports event or concert taking place just to add to the bustling ambiance.

Must-See Destinations in Detroit

Get out and explore the city. It’s full of history and culture. Book a FREE walking tour with Detroit Experience Factory. The tours are only available on Saturday and vary in theme, from Best of Downtown, Art & Architecture to Bar Tours.

While downtown be sure to check out Belt Alley (located between Broadway and Library Street). It’s truly a one of a kind destination. The alley has been transformed with art and restaurants.

The Eastern Market is amazing, I could spend the entire day perusing the goods. On Saturdays the market is focused on fresh produce, meats, baked goods, flowers and local art.

The Sunday market is far from a traditional farmer’s market. It’s a street-style market showcasing local artists, musicians, cooks and more. It is the perfect place to find items that are unique to Detroit and Michigan made.

If your group is looking for a slower pace head to Belle Isle. From the conservatory to a giant slide there is truly something to please everyone. You can easily spend the day exploring this park.

For a great indoor activity check out The Detroit Institute of Art, home to one of the largest and most significant collections of art in the United States! From mummies to modern art the collection is impressive. An added bonus: if headed from downtown, you will drive through a lovely neighborhood of beautiful victorian era homes.

Shopping in Detroit

Somerset Collection in Troy features the most exclusive shopping in Michigan. It’s Chicago’s Magnificent Mile under one roof.

And a girls trip to Detroit isn’t complete without a stop at IKEA in Canton. Plan to spend an afternoon, and more money than you thought. I always going in for one thing and leave with all sorts of treasures. Don’t worry, if you spend longer than expected they have a tasty cafeteria.

Dining Detroit style

The greater Detroit area offers many amazing restaurant choices. The food scene in downtown Detroit has seen some new, hip and tasty additions in the last few years.  

  • Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine | Located in downtown Detroit Vincente’s has delicious authentic Cuban food. The ambience is super fun with live music and Salsa Dancing. The portions are huge. It’s a great place to order and plan to share with your table.
  • Cornerstone Barrel House | Centrally located in the heart of downtown Detroit. It’s a hip, upbeat bourbon and whiskey restaurant/bar with live music Thursday – Saturday evenings. The restaurant is small, so try to get there early as they don’t take reservations.
  • Standby | This super fun location which boarders The Belt Alley in downtown Detroit. The art, music and food are all top notch.
  • Dime Store | Located downtown this is an amazing location for brunch. The food is made from scratch with creative twists on brunch staples.

4 – Traverse City | 2 Hours 33 Minutes; 143 Miles

Traverse City is a perfect getaway destination anytime of year. Breathtaking hikes, a quaint downtown with fun shopping, and a first-rate food scene all within one city. What’s not to love!

The Traverse City food scene is a real treasure. You may be surprised that a small northern Michigan town has so many delicious choices. I really believe that you can’t go wrong with any restaurant choice in Traverse City.

From endless boutiques, to Cherry Republic, to The State Theater downtown Traverse City is truly bustling with life. You can easily plan to spend an entire day, eating and shopping downtown.

When it comes to getting pampered The Spa at Grand Traverse Resort will not disappoint! There is a lounge and restaurant at the top of the 19 story building where you’ll find the most breathtaking views. And, pretty tasty food, too.

A trip to Traverse City isn’t complete without a trip to The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. The former State Asylum has been transformed into a dining and shopping destination. They offer various walking tours. The tours will take you underground and into the former steam tunnels as well as into a few of the non-renovated buildings. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Follow this link to read more details about the amazing experience a few Grand Rapids moms while unwinding in Traverse City.

Make Time For You a Priority

Even if you and your favorite gals don’t have the time or budget for an overnight getaway make sure that you make time for you and your gals to grab dinner, a movie or maybe just a coffee while strolling your local Target. You deserve it!

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