We all know how important friendships are to a woman's psychological and even physical health. So why not solidify and deepen those ties with a group getaway? The list of possible destinations is almost endless, but these seven are particularly appealing for a few days of fun, culture, good food, relaxation or all of the above.


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1. Bennington, Vermont

A picturesque college town, Bennington is known for its historic architecture, a trove of Grandma Moses paintings in the museum, a famous pottery factory and a lively restaurant scene. But beyond that, there's Green Mountain National Forest, home to some of New England's premier day hikes. Take an easy walk through woods that blaze with color come autumn, or tackle the more challenging 5.2-mile Mount Abraham circuit, which leads to a summit with commanding views of the Adirondacks and the Champlain Valley.

2. Santa Fe, New Mexico

If you and the girlfriends are culture vultures, this may be a spot for you. You can spend entire days checking out museums, touring Spanish Colonial buildings, visiting top art galleries, enjoying terrific regional cuisine and attending musical performances at the city's stunning, open-to-the-elements opera house. And if all that culture becomes too much, take a walk in the mountains just outside town or repair to the women-only, clothing-optional outdoor soaking pool at the famed Ten Thousand Waves spa.

3. Charleston, South Carolina

One of America's hottest culinary destinations makes for a terrific group getaway focused on food and cooking. Bond over a plate of shrimp 'n' grits or Charleston red rice as you take a daylong class in preparing the region's famed Lowcountry cuisine, and throw in a few lunches and dinners at the city's top eateries. Balance all the food time with a class at one of Charleston's many yoga studios, or with one of the walking tours that illuminate the history of this fascinating port founded in 1670.

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4. La Jolla, California

This affluent Southern California beachside town has all the upscale shopping and spa treatments you could possibly want for a weekend getaway. But you can also try your hand at surfing: Sign on for a women-only surf clinic, or with one of the many independent surf instructors who can usually get even first-timers up on a board, no matter their age. Later, you'll feel like you've earned your cocktails as you watch the sunset from one of the town's many wonderful restaurants.