Northwest Woman

It’s Time to Grab the Girls and Get Away

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We all need a break from time to time, and this is a perfect time of year to get away. Here are a few fun places in our region where you and your gal pals can escape for a few days.

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As women, we know that when it comes to career, family, home and community responsibilities, the adage “A woman’s work is never done” is profoundly true.

We all need a break from time to time.

When the pressures of life begin to overwhelm, why not gather up the girlfriends and head off for a weekend of gabbing, adventure, rest and relaxation? One need not travel far to find an ideal location for a girls weekend escape. Here are a few suggestions.

Galavanting in Galena

If your tastes run toward history, art, great food and wine, chances are you’ll love Galena. There are oodles of fun places to stay and lots of girly things to do.

Visiting Galena is “like walking onto a movie set,” says Celestino Ruffini, director of sales and marketing at the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The 1800s-era Main Street is well-preserved and offers more than 120 boutique shops and attractions. It’s like a calling card for women.”

Year-round, gal pals enjoy Galena Cellars for wine tours and tastings, and can even rent rooms at the vineyard, or enjoy a snowshoeing excursion there, provided by Fever River Outfitters, an outdoor equipment and tour group.

At Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, enjoy ice skating, cross-country skiing, sledding, bonfires, sunset snowshoe walks and “skijoring” – being pulled by a horse, dog or motor vehicle while wearing skis.

Skiing and snowboarding lessons are available at Chestnut Mountain Resort, while lovely lodging, fine dining and excellent views of the Mississippi River backwaters are available at the Goldmoor Inn.

Girls who love to be pampered will find many good spas around Galena, including the full-service Aveda spa at A Clover on Main, and the Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge. And, they’ll have fun making jewelry at Rustic River Finds and Galena Beads.

Winter may seem like a great time to get away, but Galena hosts all kinds of special events throughout the year.

Wine Lovers Weekend is March 27-29, and while any weekend is a great time for a gal getaway, the official “Ladies Getaway Galena” is Sept. 11-13, when various businesses and hotels offer promotions, special events and tours.

Soaking Up Serenity

If a quiet retreat is what your heart desires, why not go rustic at Little Sugar River Farm?
This 20-acre vacation rental property is 30 miles from Madison, near Albany, Wis., and is surrounded by 2,000-acre Albany Wildlife Area preserve.

Owned and maintained by Frank Goodman, it began as an agri-tourism business and was converted to vacation rental in 2003.

The 1,600-square-foot home sleeps two to six comfortably in three bedrooms, and there’s a fully equipped kitchen.

Described as an example of “American vernacular architecture,” the house features exposed structural framing and raised battens reminiscent of what farm buildings in the early 20th century looked like. Because of its uniqueness, Little Sugar River Farm won an Honor Award from the Wisconsin chapter of the American Institute of Architects, in 2000.

“There is nothing [around the area] like this house in terms of the beauty of the building,” Goodman says. “We built all of the furniture ourselves. The house is completely handmade, from the floorboards to the furniture. In wintertime, the farm is a great place to just sit on the huge couch and have a cozy weekend in. We’ve hosted a number of girls’ weekends here. It’s a nice place to just hang out, cook, take walks and enjoy the beauty, peace and quiet of the surroundings.”

Enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and relaxing by the fireplace, which is supplied with wood. In warmer months, visitors hike and bike, since the farm is less than a quarter-mile from the 23-mile Sugar River Trail and 5 miles from Badger State Trail. The trails meander along rivers, rolling hills and wildlife areas. Bikes are provided at the house.

And there’s something more.

“It’s funny, the things people like,” Goodman says with a chuckle. “I have several hundred records and a turntable in the house and people love it.”

Learn more at littlesugarriverfarm.com.

Lounging at Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva has long been called the “Newport of the West” because its natural beauty and sophisticated population make it a special place to play.

“Lake Geneva is a great four-season destination,” says Karen Arthur, marketing and communications manager with the Lake Geneva Chamber of Commerce. Stores and boutiques showcase wares from around the world, and the city stages special events year-round.

In the winter, resorts like the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa offer snow sports and special packages. “The Abbey Resort’s Avani Spa Girlfriend Getaway package is great for friends,” suggests Arthur. The package provides a one-day pass to the spa, a voucher for a complimentary wine flight and cheese plate with the purchase of a dinner entree, and discounts on spa services and retail products.

For a grown-up version of a tea party, plan a trip to Lake Geneva’s historic Baker House. The Victorian mansion was built in 1885 and offers afternoon teas, fine dining options, mystery dinner theaters, summer Cabaret shows and a chance to play dress-up and don fancy vintage hats.

In warmer weather, visitors enjoy lazy days at the beach or a walk on the 21-mile Geneva Lake shore path, which winds through the backyards of grand mansions. A full 20-foot perimeter of shoreline remains in the public domain.

Lake Geneva also hosts a special weekend just for women. Now in its fourth year, Women’s Weekend is April 24-26. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Lake Geneva, activities include flower arranging, art, dance and cooking classes, wine tasting and more. Select hotels will provide discounted rates, and local businesses offer special activities. A full list of activities and fees is found at lakegenevawomensweekend.com.

Affordable Retreats

For women on a tight budget, Weekends Away Retreats might be the solution. Danita Bergrud, a Naperville native, has been organizing affordable, three-day retreats for 20 years at Harbor Shores, a hotel in Lake Geneva.

“It’s about giving women time away from home and work – time to rejuvenate,” Bergrud says.

Women are provided with ample table space they can use for crafting, scrapbooking, beadwork, painting or personal projects, and they come and go as they please.

“If the ladies don’t want to do that, some of them just come with their friends, a bottle of wine and board games,” Bergrud says. “The retreats also offer massages, manicures, pedicures, makeup artists, classes and shopping trips downtown.”

In honor of the 20th anniversary of her business, Bergrud will offer specials this year. Learn more at weekendsawayretreats.com.

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