THE PERFECT FRIENDS-GETAWAY DESTINATIONS

First of all, if you and your old college/high school friends don’t already have an annual girls getaway in the works, what have you been doing?! If you do, with old vinas or new, be sure to tag your Instagram posts of your girls getaway vacations and hangouts with #vinatime! We want to see where y’all are getting your quality time logged with your girls, plus, we’re looking to feature our vinas in more of our content (like the featured image above!)

We meet some of the best friends of our lives in college, but more often than not our gangs gets divided after graduation. We take jobs in new cities, start families on different sides of the country, and, in general, start to forge our own individual paths. But looking back on college, it’s not the classes and the textbooks that dominate our favorite young adult memories – it’s our friends, the adventures we went on with them and the nights we hung around the dorm doing nothing but gabbing and drinking the alcohol someone’s older sibling picked up for us. If the relationships were what honest-to-goodness got us through those tough four years, how are we expecting to survive the scary and undefined post-grad world without them?

Keeping in-touch with the OGs is just as important as building new communities and friendships wherever we go. So, if you haven’t already, now’s the time to send your golden-years besties this starters list of the best girl gang getaways and plan your summer vacay.

THE EXUMAS

Even if you’re not a Bachelor fan, you’ve probably heard of this popular tourist destination. Big Major Cay, or more famously known as Pig Beach, is a small island in the Bahamas where your gang can hang and bond with the locals – the resident island pigs. The friendly pigs swim out to meet their morning visitors and spend their afternoons napping and playing in the sand.

According to the islands’ official website, a typical day on the island can look something like this:

  • Feed Bahamian rock iguanas
  • Visit Blowhole Beach
  • Stop for lunch on Staniel Cay
  • See the pigs 
  • Pet a stingray and hold a starfish
  • Snorkel in the Out Islands

The islands are a short 55-minute flight from Fort Lauderdale, and there are plenty of gorgeous and exciting resorts on the islands to take your pick from. Or, if you’re looking for a long excursion and don’t mind getting close and cuddly with the besties by sharing a cabin, many cruises take 5- to 7-day long trips to the island for reasonable prices.

Read more about the history and travel logistics.

SANTA BARBARA

The entirety of California could have been made specifically for girls-weekend retreats as far as I’m concerned. And no, I’m not biased because I’m a native. This is just facts.

Santa Barbara is a gem that’s lesser known outside the state, but is nonetheless arguably one of the most beautiful cities we can claim credit for. Besides its inherent beauty, exquisite architecture and year-round summer-dress-appropriate climate, Santa Barbara is packed with luxurious places to stay, iconic eateries and endless adventures. From renting a bike on the beach to hiking the mountains overlooking the coastline to the superb shopping on State Street, there’s plenty to fill your day/weekend/week with. If your girls are of the wine-appreciating variety, there’s no better place than California’s Central Coast. Santa Barbara is full of vineyards and wineries that can add a taste of the local life to your getaway.

In the mood for fresh fish on the pier? Santa Barbara Shellfish Company is your best bet.

If you’re into fish tacos and drinks on the beach – literally on the beach, toes in the sand – Shoreline Beach Cafe is your place.

For the artsy district of Santa Barbara, head to the Funk Zone. (Locals’ Tip: My girl gang never makes a trip to Santa Barbara without hitting the hole-in-the-wall-sized Money’s Mexican Food for the best fish tacos out there.)

WHIDBEY ISLAND

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For the outdoorsy crews, Whidbey Island, Washington is a quaint and pristine Pacific Northwestern getaway. If not everyone in the group has an up-to-date passport to make it to Canada’s Victoria & Vancouver Island, Whidbey Island is the other-worldly retreat to take. Visitors can take a 15-minute ferry ride from Mukilteo (an hour outside Seattle) to the island for less than $10 for a car and a driver, or $5 for riders without vehicles.

Fort Ebey State Park is a beautiful camping location for those who are so inclined. From hikes overlooking the ocean, to lighthouse views, parasailing, winding hiking and biking trails, and leftover underground rooms from the World War II defense fort that originally inhabited the island, there are beautiful and exciting sites across the park.

The remote island is a natural beauty and counts kayaking, whale watching, forest hikes, wine tasting, sailing, fishing, and delicious fresh sea food among its offerings. For a break from the fast-paced city life, a peaceful and rejuvenating trip to the quiet island will get you and the girls back in touch with nature and each other.


SHOREDITCH, LONDON

This artsy neighborhood is known for its street art in particular, and home to plenty of brunches, vintage shops, hip night clubs and so much food. This neighborhood is inhabited by young creatives so the city is literally designed for fun, food, and entertainment.

As for places to stay, Culture Trip has curated a quick list of beautiful and fun Airbnb options in the area that’ll have you feeling like a well-to-do local.

On my personal bucket list, Gloria, a Big Mamma restaurant group eatery. The group is famous for some of the best Italian eateries in Paris, and brought their talent to the UK for the first time in February. The locale itself is a masterpiece, but who is going to turn down classic Italian dishes made with fresh, straight-from-Italy ingredients? (Not me.)

In general, sticking to Shoreditch High Street, Great Eastern Street and Old Street, which form a convenient triangle to easily navigate, will guarantee no loss for things to do, see and eat.

However, London is large and full of many distinct neighborhoods, so if you have the time or the hankering for a different side of London life, check out this complete list of London neighborhoods and the ins and outs of visiting each.

NASHVILLE

You will not be bored in Nashville. Whether your girls are music lovers, foodies, outdoors enthusiasts, history buffs or all of the above, you’ll leave Nashville with twenty more things you didn’t get to. There are truly endless options in Music City, USA.

Nashville is the kind of place that feels a little like a really big small town. It’s welcoming and quaint yet packed full with nightlife and entertainment options.

To start off your Nashville adventure, hit 12South. This popular, one-stop neighborhood has a morning’s worth of fun places to eat, drink and snap some Insta-worthy squad pics. Start with coffee and breakfast at Frothy Monkey. It’s a favorite and for good reason. Nearby, you can walk down to the Nashville Looks Good on You mural for some post-coffee Insta fodder. There’s a lot of street art around to see so don’t let this be your first and last, but it’s an iconic place to start. Five Daughters Bakery, in the same area, boasts the best donuts and cronuts around and offers a variety of quality-ingredient donuts including Organic and vegan options.

For live music, you can pretty much wonder around and find it anywhere. When they’re having an event, Grimey’s Records is a fun record store to peruse before walking to the back for shows. The Blue Bird Cafe and Broadway are obvious must-see classics of the town, too.

Other phenominal places to hit before you head back home:

  • Farmer’s Market – this place is an artisan haven, offering everything from fresh produce to soaps, gifts, ice cream and more.
  • Shakespeare in the Park (Cookeville, TN – 1 hr 15 mins out of Nashville) – If you’re visiting in fall, this is a fun, free, award-winning performance that plays nightly for a week and a half.
  • Belle Meade Plantation – 30 minutes out of the city is a beautiful and historic plantation for the history buffs in the group.
  • Radnor Lake (30 min drive south of Nashville) – This state park is a locals and celebrity favorite so be sure to find time for a stroll through this scenic spot.
  • Hillsboro Village – This is a great stop for fun shopping in the city.

Traveling with old friends is magical, but so is traveling with new ones! If you’re really looking for new experiences, join the Jet Setters community on Hey!VINA to find your fellow adventurers and plan your next trip today!

8 NASHVILLE HOT SPOTS TO ENJOY WITH NEW FRIENDS

Nashville is known as Music City because of the many musicians, songwriters, and music execs that live here (Jack White or Garth Brooks, anyone?). With so much creativity spread throughout the city, there are endless vina date ideas available! Find a new friend on Hey! VINA and check out our 8 picks below!

GET YOUR COFFEE BUZZ ON!

Coffee shops are a casual way to ignite a stellar VINA friendship! Barista Parlor is a hip coffee shop that first made a name for itself in 2011. The local company has since expanded and have three locations in Nashville! The original Barista Parlor is located in East Nashville. The second location is near Music Row nicknamed ‘Golden Sound.’ The last shop is located in Germantown. The atmosphere is a great place to connect with your new friend, while trying delicious variations of coffee. You’ll have fun asking the java aficionados behind the counter which blends you’ll like best. No matter which section of Nashville you live near, there is a Barista Parlor for you!

BRUNCHIN’ WITH MY HOMIES

If you’re a gal who enjoys hitting the snooze button a couple times on the weekends, brunch would be a fantastic vina date idea! Sky Blue Cafe located in East Nashville is a cozy spot on the corner of a mellow neighborhood street. Craving breakfast at noon? Don’t worry! Sky Blue Cafe has got you covered because they serve breakfast all day. This adorable restaurant has walls covered in art, friendly staff, and fair prices. There are trivia games to play while you wait and free coffee outside. Brunch date win!

LET’S GET WILD

Nashville is filled with so much good food that it’s hard to choose a favorite restaurant. The Wild Cow makes the top of the list with their local food, attentive waitstaff and carefully curated menu. Oh, did I mention that all the food is vegetarian (and can be made vegan if you choose)? This is a wonderful vina date spot because it has an electrified energy that allows you to engage in conversation over healthy food. Their meals will never leave you feeling hungry. Local tip: After eating at The Wild Cow, check out Jeni’s Ice Cream around the corner for dessert!

THE HAPPIEST OF HOURS

Happy hour brings out a lively atmosphere and plenty of people for the extroverted vinas and gives you a chance to really talk and connect! Acme Feed & Seed is a lively place perfect for a cocktail (or two). Check out the roof top bar for an amazing view!

GET RAD!

Being outside is a great way to not only connect to nature, but also with new vinas! Radnor Lake is a peaceful space to enjoy the great outdoors with your VINA friend! There are multiple hiking trails to get you moving and get the conversation started. You can also spot some wildlife such as adorable deers and turtles basking in the sun. So, get out in the fresh air and strengthen your friendship while being surrounded by the loveliness of nature!

NASHVEGAS

Nashville has another nickname besides Music City. That name is Nashvegas! Broadway is the main strip to where a lot of fun happens. Broadway is lined with honky tonks, bridal parties, people singing with cash buckets, and street performers. Roberts Western World is famous for it’s fried baloney sandwiches, cheap beers, and world class musicians! This is a great place to dance and have fun with your VINA pal! It’s Nashville…you never know who may show up! Roberts Western World can boast of the legendary night Joe Walsh from The Eagles and Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys showed up and played on the same stage. True story. Another great spot to see live music with your VINA pal is Acme Feed and Seed (mentioned earlier) on Broadway. Acme has 3 floors and a rooftop bar where you can see Broadway like you never have before! 

LISTEN UP!

What better memory to share than going to an epic show with your friend at the historic Ryman Auditorium? A Ryman Auditorium show is always special. Even if you have seen a band 10 times, the Ryman Auditorium show is going to be the one that stand above the rest because of the amazing sound quality, size of the venue and the feeling of community created by the seating arrangement. Nicknamed “The Mother Church,” Ryman Auditorium is set up in  a curve shape with church pews. It feels like you are not only at the show, but with a community of people that loves the same music you do. It is a great way to bond with your new vina  with a shared experience concert memory! The Ryman Auditorium is located a street away from Broadway, so you can go out right after the show!

ARTSY FARTSY

For vinas interested in art, the First Saturday Art Crawl in Wedgewood-Houston is wonderfully entertaining (did we mention there’s free wine?).  All the art galleries are within walking distance and the art rotates every month. At the First Saturday Art Crawl, there are always new people to meet, new art to see, and fun conversations to be had with your friends! After the galleries close, you can head to Bastion where you both can get perfectly crafted drinks and out-of-this-world nachos! Enjoy!

(Feature image via @brewbna_)