By Kristy Alpert
Author Candace Bushnell may have said it best: “Maybe our girlfriends are our soul mates and guys are just people to have fun with.”
There are few bonds closer than those between girlfriends, and what better way to explore new frontiers and experience new things than with your closest group of “soul mates” right by your side? In the Grand Central region, getting away with girlfriends involves much more than pampering and polishing.
Groups of women can let down their hair, as this region offers plenty of estrogencentric escapades, from jet skiing on Lake Ouachita to adventurous eating after a day spent scouring one-of-a-kind boutiques — and the occasional spa treatment, of course. Here are a few spots across the region worthy of getting away to for some real female fun.
Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
Founded in the early 1740s by French settlers along the west bank of the Mississippi River, the village of Ste. Genevieve holds its characteristic appeal as purely intact as it did 100 years ago and remains the last French Colonial Village in America. The historic town is a charming destination for ladies looking to unwind in Old World opulence, with historic bed-and-breakfasts, wineries, distilleries, cafes and more.
“Historic downtown Ste. Genevieve is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon shopping, enjoying art galleries, wine-tasting and [having] lunch,” said Stephanie Bell, director of tourism for the city of Ste. Genevieve and a resident of more than two years. “The shopping is a collection of unique boutiques, all of which are locally owned and operated. Ste. Genevieve is home to a considerable number of talented artists who display their works in seven art galleries located downtown, and the dining in Ste. Genevieve is unique in that many of our restaurants use local produce and foods to support local agriculture, and the offerings are delicious.”
The pride of this little town lies in its wine country, boasting a “Route du Vin” that welcomes thirsty girlfriends to sip and sample their way through the six wineries: Cave, Chaumette, Charleville, Ste. Genevieve, Sand Creek and Twin Oaks.
Just outside the bustling city of Tulsa, the Garden Deva Sculpture Company is a gem for gardening goddesses — and aspiring goddesses, too — with more than 3,000 square feet of gallery space and an industrial metal studio where groups can see artist Lisa Regan at work. The gallery inside a colorful brick building houses Reagan’s many creations, along with works from dozens of other local artists.
“I love to create art for our community,” said Regan, metal fabrication artist and owner of the Garden Deva Sculpture Company. “We’re a funky, fun metal fab studio and cooperative gallery, and we offer metal classes to make your own cool metal works, as well as tours of the shop and gallery.”
Regan’s whimsical and carefree personality is contagious, and although her classes are limited to a group of eight students, by reservation only, the women will laugh and learn alongside this free-spirited artist while creating their own one-of-a-kind sculptures.
Shopping in Lawrence
Recently named one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Dozen Most Distinctive Destinations,” the main street shopping district of Lawrence, officially named Massachusetts Street but dubbed Mass Street by the locals, is a well-preserved yet modern city with numerous options for shopping, from galleries and boutiques like the Prairie Pond women’s boutique to specialty shops like the European cheese and meat market au Marché.
“Within a few blocks, you can enjoy an abundance of galleries, unique specialty shops and cafes amidst lush landscaping and a vibrant nightlife,” said Anne Dillon, a Lawrence resident for more than 25 years and marketing manager for the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau. “From Jayhawk jewelry to togs for travel, enchiladas to escargot, downtown can indulge your every whim and personifies Lawrence’s youthful spirit and college-town vibe. The variety among retailers and restaurants is endless, offering anything and everything you might need or want in an atmosphere that’s uniquely Lawrence.”