It seems like mission improbable at first: How can you and your girlfriends possibly untether from work and family responsibilities? And then—miracle, oh miracle—it happens, and you’re hugging in airport lounges and setting out to explore city streets, culinary treats or mountain trails together. So, here are four destinations perfect for your next getaway with the girls.
This is the retreat for friends seeking time to relax and unplug. Set in the rolling Haldimand Hills near Grafton, Ont., Ste. Anne’s really is a country spa. Expect floral bedding and clawfoot tubs, satisfying meals (just leave the Fitbit at home) and a laid-back atmosphere. With 500 acres of fields and gardens, there are trails to explore and a spring-water pool to dive into. There are even stables on site if combing a horse’s mane makes you feel truly present. The array of treatments and activities on offer will please everyone in your group.
Banff National Park
Fill your days here with the blessed trinity of the outdoors: hiking, paddling and après-exertion relaxing. Some itinerary highlights? Hike the network of trails, departing from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, to one of the two tea houses. Both railway outposts offer delicious baked treats, but the mountain views will be your real reward. Another possibility? Rent a canoe from the Banff Canoe Club to explore the sea-green Bow River. Afterward, sink into the hot mineral waters of the Banff Upper Hot Springs, grab a pint of Banff Ave Blonde Ale at Banff Ave. Brewing Co., or linger over a glass of wine and tapas at Block Kitchen + Bar.
You’ll soak up history just strolling around one of the oldest cities in North America with its fortified walls, cannons and cobblestones. For a visual art fix, visit the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec, which features, among other treats, canvases from favourite son Jean Paul Lemieux. Art can also be found in the public squares where performers ride unicycles and breathe fire. For cultural sustenance of the more gastronomical variety, pay a visit to Le Chic Shack for poutine and artisanal ice cream sandwiches. How do you say “happiness” in French?
Create your own culinary tour in one of Canada’s best foodie cities. Browse the java menus at Gastown spots like Revolver or Timbertrain Coffee Roasters, then graze from food-truck favourites like Japadog and Tacofino. (Find them through the Street Food App). If surf is more your turf, go for a Dungeness crab lunch on Jericho Beach once you’ve figured out a casting trap with Swallow Tail Tours. Cap things off with craft beer at 33 Acres Brewing Company or creative cocktails at L’Abattoir. Happy hours, indeed.