The Land of 10,000 Lakes may not seem like an obvious girls getaway destination, but Minneapolis has a laid-back approach to luxury that's perfect for a relaxed bachelorette party, mother-daughter vacation or sorority reunion. With a swanky new hotel, great restaurants, spas and shopping, Minneapolis is my under-the-radar pick for an ideal Midwestern girls getaway – and it's just a six hour drive from Chicago.
The brand new Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis has vaulted the Twin Cities to an entirely new level when it comes to luxury accommodations. This breathtaking skyscraper in the heart of the city is just a block and a half from the Mississippi River and all 222 guest rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows for unobstructed skyline and river views beginning on the 23rd floor. Book an executive suite for the bathroom of your dreams – double sinks with halo lit vanity mirrors, a free-standing deep soaking tub, large separate showers with double rain shower heads and full-size Le Labo bath amenities. Decor throughout guestrooms and public spaces is modern, with bright and calming blues and neutral wood and sand tones.
Locally curated minibar drinks and snacks are perfect to enjoy over midnight gossip wrapped in plush bathrobes, from bean-to-bar Terroir Chocolate bars and turmeric spiced nuts by Isadore Nut Co to Minneapolis craft beer and 3leche kombucha. In the morning, baklava croissants from Socca Cafe downstairs are a must.
For a more affordable boutique option, Hotel Emery is part of Marriott's Autograph Collection in a restored historic landmark. There's no spa or pool, but you can get locally roasted Spyhouse Coffee in the lush, plant-filled lobby, along with excellent pizzas at Northern Italian restaurant Giulia.
Chef Gavin Kaysen's Mediterranean restaurant Mara at the Four Seasons and French bistro Bar Rufus at Rand Tower Hotel are the hottest new reservations downtown. Menu highlights at Mara include chermoula spiced chicken, braised lamb shank and an assortment of vegetarian-friendly dips to begin. At Bar Rufus, you'll find French classics like beef tartare, rich garlicky escargots and duck a l'orange. Soon, two more concepts by chef Daniel del Prado will open upstairs above Bar Rufus – cocktail lounge Miaou Miaou and full-service restaurant Blondette with a Pacific Northwest meets French menu under a retractable rooftop.
If you're craving Japanese food, Zen Box Izakaya is outstanding, and they serve a number of delicious vegan dishes, including a mapo tofu mazemen brothless ramen with an eggplant spicy bean sauce that tastes just like ground pork. For dessert, Bebe Zito makes the best ice cream in town, with unique flavors like dulcineia, maracuja and Brazilian brigadeiro chocolate inspired by co-founder Gabriella's Brazilian heritage.
There's no sales tax on clothes or shoes in Minnesota, so you have permission to shop til you drop. Skip the Mall of America though, in favor of stylish boutiques in the North Loop neighborhood. Queen Anna House of Fashion has an impeccable selection of dresses, jumpsuits, outerwear and accessories for women of all shapes and sizes by international indie brands. Grethen House is a great place to stock up on versatile closet staples from brands like Nili Lotan and Pas de Calais, while D.NOLO is a co-op boutique with friendly stylists who will introduce you to up-and-coming designers and help you break out of a fashion rut with flattering new styles.
Four Seasons has the most impressive hotel spa in town, with six treatment rooms and expansive spa facilities including saunas, steam rooms and whirlpools, plus co-ed indoor pools. The most lavish treatment of all is a two hour botanical bliss body treatment, featuring Lola's Apothecary products for a full body exfoliation scrub, warm rose-scented bath milk wrap and customized full body massage. The time flies by and you may even be lulled to sweet sleep, but you'll emerge feeling like a fairy goddess with silky soft skin.
The newest spa experience in town is Watershed Spa, a social but serene communal bathhouse with sauna and steam rooms and a cold plunge pool for hot-cold hydrotherapy. Holistic wellness treatments are available too, from plant-powered Botnia facials and vibrational sound healing to acupuncture and cupping. You might know founder Nell Rueckl from Spot Spa and she even makes her own body butters and bath soaks for guests to take home.
After a rejuvenating salt scrub, sauna and bathhouse experience, saunter across the Stone Arch Bridge crossing the Mississippi River to the Guthrie Theater to enjoy a play. The world premiere of Emma by Kate Hamill is a delightfully clever modern twist on the Jane Austen classic that's closing August 21 but up next beginning September 10 is Vietgone by Qui Nguyen.
You could spend the whole day perusing the 90,000 works of art at the enormous and free Minneapolis Institute of Art, or wandering through the exhibits and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center. There are plenty of colorful murals and larger than life public artworks scattered throughout the city too, so keep your eyes peeled. Minneapolis is full of surprises.