Great Girlfriend Getaways

Hey Ladies! Who runs the world? Girls!

Make every day National Girlfriends Day and have the ladies show up and show out in the Great Rivers & Routes region of southwest Illinois. Indulge in a weekend getaway to really show the girls how much you love them. No matter what kind of girlfriend adventure you are looking for the sky's the limit!

Here are just a few ideas ... but feel free to create your own.

The Laid Back Gang

Start your getaway by checking into an elegant bed and breakfast at the Beall Mansion in Alton, IL. which is a perfect central point to start. Make your way to Mineral Springs Mall where you and your girlfriends could start your weekend off with some chakra cleansing or you could all get yourselves new hand-made bath bombs.

Take a drive down to Edwardsville and float in a deprivation tank at Float Edwardsville. This helps relieve stress and aligns you to be more happy and healthy (Tip: reservations should be made ahead of time). If you and your girls are really needed a good message though, the best place to go is Bodies Kneaded where the prices are affordable and the masseuses are well trained.

Get your nails done with an organic cocktail in hand at the EXO Lounge and Nail Bar in Edwardsville, IL. This lounge has a new way to get your nails done and is the first of its kinds to offer organic alcohol paired with delightfully decorated nails (Tip: go online to book nail appointment). Once everything is said and done the ladies are going to be hungry and the best place to keep up the healthy living would be Cleveland-Heath where everything is locally grown and cooked fresh.

Head back to the B&B and prepare yourself for the all night chocolate buffet that is offered to all guests. Good luck in your chocolate comma while you doze off into a sweet dreams with the ladies that matter the most to you. Don’t forget to enjoy your breakfast in the morning!

colorful cocktails at Grafton Oyster Bar

The Drinky Gang

Alton and Grafton have you covered for your best gals getaway yet! Make your first stop at 3rd Chute II in Alton where you can find good drinks and multiple bar settings. This is your first stop because the bar has a shuttle bus that will take you to and from Grafton (Tip: runs every Saturday from Alton starting at 1p.m. every odd hour and in Grafton every even hour). Bring your drinks on the bus and enjoy a safe drive down to Grafton while catching up with the girls.

Once in Grafton the fun can really begin. It’s a sunny day so make that first stop in Grafton count by sitting out and gazing at the water while sipping on a nice cold slushy drink provided by The Loading Dock. After having a chance to relax in the sun it is time to eat, the Grafton Oyster Bar is the place to be when it comes to fine dining with your ladies. Try the oysters and if you aren't a big fan of those you can definitely find something else on the menu like Shrimp Voodoo Tacos or the Crawfish Etouffee all while sipping on Grafton Red Sangria.

Now that all the ladies are full and happy, it's time to enjoy some cool little shops -- all within walking distance. Check out these antique shops that make the old new to you. New to You is an antique shop that has collectibles, vintage clothing, and something that could be your next craft project. Golden Eagle Antiques has some refinished furniture that might intrigue you but remember you might have to come back for it tomorrow. Harrison’s Gifts and River Bank Gifts could be perfect spots to get some souvenirs that are unique and fun.

Walking down the road you will see a ski lift going up and down through the trees and this is where your next stop lies. Go up the Grafton Sky Tour and find yourself at the top at The Winery at Resort. Sit yourself down with a nice bottle of award-winning wine. Catch up with the girls and soak in the day. If you are tired you can stay in any of the hotels and resorts in Grafton.

two women having fun kayaking during a girlfriends getaway
Adventure awaits on Route 66 in Litchfield with kayaking and camping.

The Adventurous Gang

Take a wild camping trip with your ladies this weekend. Set your spot for camping at the Farm Girl and Friends Petting Zoo/campground in Litchfield, IL. Learn about the ins and outs of farming with your girls and then make your way to Lake Lou Yeager where you can take some hikes in the woods and be one with nature and all of your friends. Be sure to pack a lunch and plenty of water as it will get hot. There are plenty of trails to take depending on your experience level. One cool trail is in the Shoal Creek Conservation Area where you can see many different types of animals.

Now it’s time to get wet in the lake. Rent a canoe for the whole gang or individual kayaks for everyone. Once you have it figured out, set off for a nice little float but be sure not to tip the boat. By the time you are done you’ll be ready to star gaze with your ladies next to a fire at the campground. Tell some good stories from the past and really soak in the getaway.

Be sure to stop by some cool spot for breakfast like Tosi’s Route 66 Café or Ariston Café. Ariston Café is one of the oldest continuously operated restaurants along all of Route 66. Right next door is Jubelt's Bakery & Restaurant, the perfect spot to satisfy a sweet tooth. Make sure that you have your bikes ready to ride off the calories and ride down Route 66. Bond with your ladies all weekend while exercising your bodies and getting down and dirty with nature.

a group of women purchasing flowers at the farmers market
Art galleries and farmers markets are great places to spend time with friends.

The Picture Perfect Gang

This is a day trip for the artsy friends that want to sit back and admire some of the great work this area has to offer. Galleries in the area include the Von Dell Gallery & Studios in Wood River where they also offer weekly classes to help you become the best artist you can be. Good Weather Gallery in Edwardsville is another great spot to get a look at the local art from the area.

Make sure before you take off at some of these galleries to go to one of the local farmers markets. Land of Goshen Community Market in Edwardsville is one that has countless products and unique gifts. It is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to Noon. The Alton Farmers' & Artisans' Market is also open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to Noon and offers local art, food, and products.

Once you have bought enough, take time for dinner at Gentelin’s on Broadway where they offer a full menu that ranges from appetizers to steaks. Sit by a window and get a nice view of the bridge while sinking your teeth into a juicy steak.

Check the schedule to see what the Alton Little Theater has on tap and buy everyone some tickets to really get in the spirit of the arts. Enjoy a good laugh together as the show goes on. The weekend will be long and fun so you might want to pick a spot to rest your head. The Alton Cracker Factory is a sure spot to wind down after a busy day, sit back and have a drink of wine with your friends and turn in for the night.

About the Author

Cailyn Tegel

Cailyn Tegel is a senior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She joined the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau as its Summer 2020 Intern. She is an avid traveler and plans to pursue a career in travel or public relations upon graduation. She is planning a trip to Greece in the Spring of 2021 and has plans to visit all 50 states in the U.S. in the next few years!