story by GLENDA WINDERS
Once in a while a gal just needs to get away and hunker down with her girlfriends. Maybe you’re celebrating a special event or milestone. Or, you simply want to continue an annual tradition
of bonding with your besties…
Whatever your agenda, someplace in Indiana offers exactly what you’re looking for. Is your group active and looking for outdoor adventure? Are you more interested in museums and antiquing? Are there foodies in your crowd who would rather taste wine and eat at offbeat restaurants? It’s all right here.
A good place to start your planning might be Richmond and Wayne County, where several “Just Us Girls” packages await your selection. “The Artful Getaway,” for example includes staying at the Artist’s Retreat Guest House and learning from an artisan how to make earrings with the
materials you’ll need included. With “DIY Flowers, Friends and Fun” you’ll stay at the Seldom Scene Meadow Bed and Breakfast while you make a succulent plant living wreath or miniature fairy garden.
And that’s just the beginning. Other packages will have you hiking and biking, sleeping in mansions, antiquing, shopping and tasting wine. You’ll also receive a gift pouch with free goodies and discounts at the stores where you’re likely to shop.
“The Greater Richmond area is the perfect girlfriends’ getaway for those who seek big city character without the crowds,” said Nancy Sartain, leisure marketing director at the Richmond-Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau. “Women find our hub to be historic, quaint, artsy, friendly, fun and affordable.”
Noblesville resident Victoria Reinhold recently spent a few days in Richmond with some of
her girlfriends. “We rented the Gennett Mansion Guest House and it was perfect for our group. We loved catching up with each other, laughing, and renewing our friendship bond,” Victoria said. “While we ventured out and took in the Richmond sites, we also really enjoyed just being together… and that’s what makes girlfriends’ getaways so special.”
Headed north? Several options will fill the bill. In Chesterton shop for textile art at Three Moons Fiberworks and work by local artists at the Chesterton Art Center. Classes are available at both places if your group is so inclined. You can also join a workshop at Chelle’s Boutique and Garage, and shopping is good here, too – from women’s and children’s clothing to shoes, housewares and gifts.
Take something home for the kids from the imaginative collection at Chesterton Toys or treat yourselves to a treasure at O’Gara and Wilson Antiquarian Booksellers. The Coffee Creek Conservancy is the place to go for hiking and bird-watching. Then when it’s time to recover, head for Serenity Salon and Spa.
Wrap up the day with a glass of suds at the 219 Taproom, or Hunter’s Brewing, where pub food on the menu includes vegan options. Another good dining option is Abbiocco Italian Cuisine which also features the Luna Rooftop Bar. For lunch, try the Red Cup Café for deli sandwiches (gluten- free, if you like) and organic salads. Running Vines Winery offers pizza and sharable plates to go with your wine-tasting.
In nearby Valparaiso you and your girls can hit the links at Creekside and Forest Park golf courses, explore the 300-acre Gabis Arboretum, visit the Brauer Museum of Art and take in a performance at the Memorial Opera House and Chicago Street Theatre. And of course, there’s fantastic downtown shopping and dining.
While you’re in the area, your tour along the South Shore Winery Trail can be organized by the South Shore Brew Bus so that everyone can sip and nobody has to drive.
Just south of Valparaiso, in Wheatfield, check out the Still Point Retreat, a secluded whole-home rental that includes a 1,500-square- foot barn/workshop that would be ideal for arts and crafts workshops.
When it’s dinnertime check out the Industrial Revolution Eatery and Grille in Valparaiso, a themed restau- rant that honors the nation’s innova- tors with dishes such as the Edison Burger, Patrick Henry’s Freedom Chili and Madame C.J. Walker’s Curly Mac. And be sure and plan your Valpo trip around some of their many fun events taking place throughout the year.
Also along the state’s northern tier is Michigan City, a perfect place to hit the beach. “So many who live in or visit Indiana do not realize the magnificent lakeshore we have here in Northwest Indiana,” said Katie Eaton,” president of the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce and a lifelong resident. “We invite everyone to experience this beauty and discover an amazing beachfront in Michigan City.” While you’re outside, rent kayaks, take a boat cruise on Lake Michigan or visit Indiana Dunes National Park, one of the newest in the National Park System, for trails and hiking.
If you’re here in June, don’t miss the spectacular Singing Sands sand-sculpture event. North Star Properties offers a range of rental properties in northern Indiana, from condos to cottages steps away from Lake Michigan. At 4411 Inn and Suites you’re also close to the lake in two- and three-bedroom suites to accommodate your whole gang.
If you’d rather try your luck at the tables, however, consider staying at the Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa. While some of you have massages and facials, others can hang out by the slots. Or bunk in at the Brewery Lodge and Supper Club and enjoy a few hours at the Hideaway Esthetics Spa. Hermanas Harmony Spa is another option.
History buffs won’t want to miss the Old Lighthouse Museum or a tour of the Barker Mansion, and art-lovers will enjoy the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, where admission is free and exhibits change every few months. If you’ve come for peace and quiet, a stroll through the Friendship Botanical Gardens is in order.
Farther east is Shipshewana, where the big draw is immersing yourself in Amish culture. Plan to stay in the cozy rooms at Highfield Manor Bed & Breakfast, an Amish farmhouse where you’ll be treated the next morning with a homemade breakfast that features seasonal produce and locally sourced meats.
For shopping there’s Davis Mercantile, with its four floors of 21 stores that offer everything you can imagine from clothing and home décor to candy and other delights. For more shopping in one spot, the Big Red Barn is home to shops that also carry a wide variety of products, many of them made by local Amish artisans. The Shipshewana Visitors Center will provide a map to an “Off the Beaten Trail” route that will guide you deep into Amish culture and small shops where artisans sell their wares.
While you’re shopping, stop for lunch at Millie’s Market Café inside the Davis Mercantile. At dinnertime, however, Destination 814 is the place for made-from- scratch dinners and a bourbon bar or maybe you’d prefer dinner and a show at the Blue Gate Theatre.
Since food and drinks are always an important part of a girls’ trip, Kosciusko County has created three Sip & Savor Passports: a Breakfast Trail, Taco Trail, and Sipping Trail to provide you with a fun guide to the best restaurants in the area, many of which offer exclusive discounts to passholders.
Of course, shopping is typically an essential component when it comes to girlfriends getaways, so the ladies will be thrilled to know the Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale is back for 2023. This iconic sale will be held June 14-16 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne.
In Noble County, plan a trip around the Annie Oakley Perfumery where you can tour the factory and create your own personal fragrance at their world- class organic mixing bar. Stay at the nearby historic Kimmell House Inn Bed & Breakfast, situated on 12 country acres.
In Lafayette-West Lafayette, be sure and include a Beyond the Vines tour as part of your getaway. This tour company offers full-day winery excursions starting in Lafayette. Round out your stay here with great shopping and dinner at one of their top restaurants, including Bistro 501, an upmarket spot serving French-influenced cuisine.
And in Wabash, your whole group can stay at The Sanctuary, a renovated 1903 Gothic style church that can accommodate overnight groups of up to 16 people.
Monroe, Brown and Bartholomew counties in the southern part of the state are also tailor-made for a gaggle of girlfriends. Any one will fill your bill, but they’re close enough together to sample all three. Bloomington is the home of Indiana University with all it has to offer, and shopping abounds around downtown’s Courthouse Square, with antiquing just a few blocks away. Booking rooms at Grant Street Inn will put you within walking distance to both the campus and the city, and its charm, porches, and one-of-a-kind rooms have been welcoming girlfriends’ getaways for years.
For a more rustic experience, visit Brown County, where bunking in at the Abe Martin Lodge in Brown County State Park will put you close to hiking trails and nature studies. Or check out Moondance Vacation Homes or Hills O’Brown Vacation Rentals, where you can host your small or large group in log cabins and guest cottages located throughout the entire area. They both specialize in vacation rentals, so they make it easy to just unpack and unwind. Their rentals include everything you need, like linens, towels, kitchens, and everything in between.
In Morgan county, spend a weekend enjoying wineries, a lavender farm, lots of live music, and more. For extra fun, plan a dinner at the funky Zydeco’s Cajun restaurant in Mooresville.
Nashville, the county seat, is a renowned art colony, so plan to browse in the locally owned boutiques and galleries. At the Ferguson House, you’ll enjoy a tasty and creative lunch or dinner, and overnight stays, in the heart of downtown Nashville. This bistro and inn was originally a boarding house, but has been beautifully renovated.
Columbus is known for its mid- century modern architecture, so contact the visitors center ahead of time to book tours. Cool places to stay here are the Inn at Irwin Gardens or Hotel Indigo. At some point you’ll want to tuck into a hot fudge sundae at Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum.
Shoppers among you will want to head to Indiana Premium Outlets and the Exit 76 Antique Mall just a few miles away in Edinburgh.
Farther south still is historic Corydon in Harrison County. Pick up a map at the Blaine H. Wiseman Visitors Center and find your way to the historic buildings that made up Indiana’s first state capital. For entertainment visit Zimmerman’s Art Glass, where you can watch demonstrations and take something home from the gift shop. Have breakfast at KentJava Bar that serves fresh-roasted coffee and pastries and taste wine at the Turtle Run Winery and Best Vineyards.
Along the Ohio River is historic Madison, which holds the distinction of being the nation’s largest contiguous historic landmark district. It’s here you’ll find blocks and blocks of local shopping and dining options. Add in the area’s art galleries, museums, wineries, and spas, and you have the perfect combination for a girlfriends’ getaway.
French Lick-West Baden is a girlfriends’ getaway dream. Their two resorts offer world-class spas where you can get pampered with an array of treatments. Or, for an experience unique to the area, soak in a famous Pluto or Sprudel bath. If your itinerary doesn’t include a spa day, both hotels have indoor/outdoor pools and hot tubs that hit the spot for relaxation. Rent a surrey cart, which is sure to provide some laughs for everyone as you explore some of the resort’s 3,200 acres together.
While Vincennes and Knox County attract history buffs, the area is a must visit for its shopping, restaurants, and specialty attractions. Be sure and plan time to visit Little Hill Flower Farm, where you can pick and design your own floral arrangements.
If the outdoors is your thing, explore Squire Boone Caverns, Indiana Caverns and Marengo Cave. Canoe down the Blue River, hike or bike the 25 miles of trails O’Bannon Woods State Park or test your skill at Squire Boone Caverns Zipline Adventures. Accommodations here range from camping and cabins to the historic Kintner House B&B in downtown Corydon.