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Published July 23, 2012, 11:30 PM

Region's best getaways for the girls

GRAND FORKS - Amanda Vogt and her girlfriends want to put a stop to men having all the fun. “It seems that men are always gone hunting or fishing with their friends on the weekend,” she said. “We deserve something fun on the weekends, too.”

By: Anna G. Larson, INFORUM

GRAND FORKS - Amanda Vogt and her girlfriends want to put a stop to men having all the fun.

“It seems that men are always gone hunting or fishing with their friends on the weekend,” she said. “We deserve something fun on the weekends, too.”

Vogt, a mother of two in Grand Forks, joined five of her friends recently on a motorcycle trip to Grand Rapids, Minn. The women didn’t let anything get in their way of a good time.

Taking her breast pump with her on the road, Amanda pumped during her trip.

“Women shouldn’t let being a mom get in the way of having a girls-only weekend,” she said.

The friends vowed to make their getaway an annual event.

Start your own tradition with your girlfriends by planning a weekend getaway:

SHOP, COOK, RELAX

Stillwater, Minn.

Stillwater is a charming getaway in southeastern Minnesota.

Get your shop on in the historical downtown area, where more than 100 unique owner-operated stores dot Main Street.

Find the perfect vintage dress at Finny Fox Retro and Vintage Apparel. Head to Grace James Boutique for trendy but affordable apparel. Home and garden shops, spas, antique stores, book stores and restaurants, also owned by locals, occupy the rest of Main Street.

“You don’t find any standard stores or chains here – they’re all unique,” said Barb Trueman, marketing director of the Stillwater Visitors Bureau (www.discoverstillwater.com).

In the heart of the downtown historical district sits the Water Street Inn. Treat yourself to a room with a view of the St. Croix River.

After checking in, unleash your inner foodie with a cooking class at Cooks of Crocus Hill (www.cooksofcrocushill.com).

With the philosophy of “joy and connection” through cooking, students learn technique through tasting and doing under the direction of local, national and international chefs.

On Sunday, refresh the body and spirit with a class at Natural Balance of Stillwater (www.nbpilates.com). The Pilates studio can accommodate private group sessions.

“Pilates is great for women of all ages,” said Carol Ricci, owner of Natural Balance of Stillwater. “It changes the composition of your body.”

BREEZY ESCAPE

Alexandria, Minn.

Known as “easy to get to, hard to leave,” Alexandria is a lake escape with a twist.

A weekend jaunt to Alexandria starts with an afternoon at Carlos Creek Winery (www.carlos

creekwinery.com). Go underground to the wine cave during the free tour to see where barrels of red wine are left to age.

“It’s an experience you’d expect in France, not in Minnesota,” said Tami Bredeson, president of the winery.

After the tour, head to the tasting room. For $5, sample five different Carlos Creek wines. All guests receive a complimentary wine glass.

Next, check in at West Ridge Shores Resort (www.westridgeshores.com). The multi-cabin resort rents cabins of all sizes and has an on-site art studio where guests can learn a new craft.

“We do women’s getaways a lot, and we have something for everyone,” said Erin Frederiksen, owner of West Ridge Shores Resort.

The cabins have modern amenities such as air conditioning, televisions, DVD players, dishwashers and showers.

On the way home Sunday, stop in Detroit Lakes, Minn., for a shopping excursion at Shady Hollow Flea Market (www.shadyhollowfleamarket.com).

Open 6:30 a.m. to about 3 p.m. every Sunday through Labor Day, the market features new and used items like antiques, books, fresh produce, furniture, clothing, jewelry and more.

Up to 150 temporary vendors and 23 permanent vendors from the tri-state area sell their goods, said Chad Stenerson, manager and owner of Shady Hollow Flea Market.

WOMEN GO WEST

Medora, N.D.

A truly North Dakotan girlfriend getaway exists in North Dakota’s Wild West – Medora (www.medora.com).

Saddle up for a morning trail ride at the Medora Riding Stables on the eastern edge of town. On the guided trail, take in the natural beauty of North Dakota’s landscape.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities for horseback riding on a trail in North Dakota,” said Stephanie Fong, spokeswoman for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. “It’s a really great way to start a trip to Medora.”

Fong suggested dressing the part by checking out the Western wear at local shops.

After horseback riding, indulge in pampering at Cedar Canyon Spa (www.cedarcanyonspa.

com). The Western-themed spa encourages “kicking off your boots and kicking back.”

Several types of massages and wraps soothe achy bodies. Visitors can even soak in a claw-foot tub of chocolate milk. Rich chocolate, whole milk and a touch of vanilla remove toxins and reduce the chance of cellulite, according to the spa’s website.

Step back into your boots and enjoy the Medora Musical. Held outdoors in the 2,852-seat Burning Hills Amphitheatre, Medora’s famous musical is performed nightly through Sept. 8. Each show pays tribute to American patriotism and the Old West.

“It’s musical fun in an upbeat setting right here in the Badlands,” Fong said.

A GRAND GETAWAY

Grand Forks

Groups of girlfriends don’t need to look any further than our neighbor to the north for a fun city weekend.

The Art & Wine Walk, held the third Saturday of every month through October, is a must-do for a girls’ weekend, said Sandy Dobmeier, visitor service manager at the Greater Grand Forks Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Each woman purchases a wine walk map for $15 and visits participating downtown businesses that are hosting a regional or local artist. Most locations serve wine samples, and some locations serve food.

The map is stamped after visiting each location, and at 5 p.m., maps are brought to the wrap-up party at the Empire Arts Center, where wine walk-goers can win prizes.

If you can’t catch the Art & Wine Walk, the North Dakota Museum of Art, “a cultural jewel on the prairie,” is the next best thing.

Besides the permanent collection, the museum has frequent traveling exhibits. The current exhibit, People’s Gold, runs through Sept. 30, and features important works of art owned by the people of North Dakota.

Recent acquisitions include work by Julian Schnabel, Helen Frankenthaler, James Rosenquist and Robert Motherwell.

Outdoors, enjoy a 25,000-square-foot butterfly garden, located next to East Grand Forks (Minn.) Central Middle School. The garden is designed to attract all types of butterflies, and the native prairie site features a variety of different grasses and wild flowers.

The Japanese Gardens in Sertoma Park are “a pretty place to take a break,” Dobmeier said. Developed and completed by representatives from Grand Forks’ sister city Awano, Japan, the gardens feature Japanese rock lanterns and various rock and gravel formations.

Several restaurants with outdoor seating and views of the riverbank are found on the boardwalk in East Grand Forks.

Personalized itineraries are available by calling the Grand Forks Convention & Visitors Bureau (www.visitgrandforks.com).

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