And just like that…summer vacation is almost over. Which means the time is right to schedule that girls’ trip gal pals are always talking about. Luckily, there are many fun places to squeeze in a quick getaway within a few hours of Houston, even if it's just an "escape from reality" while floating on a river everyone knows and loves.
These five spots feature great pool scenes (or a river float for the more adventurous), expansive spas, delicious dining, and most importantly, sanctuaries to simply unwind. It's a mix of laid-back locales and luxurious lodgings (but hey, you're splitting the bill). Some are brand new, some are tried-and-true favorites with new reasons to visit, and all are within about a five-hour drive.
So text your besties, pack a swimsuit, and get ready to hit the road.
The Guadalupe River, Gruene
It’s a bucket-list activity for Texan, but a whole different experience when it's just the girls. Away from rowdy guys on the river, gal-groups can bond (and solve the problems of the world) during a leisurely inner-tube float down the crisp and cool Guadalupe - insulated tumblers in hand. Then end the day in the tiny town of Gruene, where groups can gather to listen to live music at Texas’ oldest dance hall, sip margaritas at a riverfront restaurant, shop boutiques, or relax in a boutique day spa. There are countless hotels, camp grounds, and short-term rentals for an overnight stay.
How to float the river:Rockin’ R doesn't get much closer, located on the banks of the Guadalupe in the heart of Gruene. For decades, they've outfitted tubers for river floats and provided shuttle service back from the end point. New is Rockin’ R’s expansive Gruene Light Bar, where live music and cocktails are available all summer long. El Arroyo (the Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant known for its hilarious marquee signs) also has a food truck on-site for pre- or post-float grub. Don’t forget to wear water shoes, and note that cans, glass, or anything disposable is not allowed on the water.
Other Gruene must-do’s: Have sangria or a longneck bottle at the iconic Gruene Hall while listening to live music. Stroll through locally owned shops for cute clothes, décor, and souvenirs. Or schedule a spa treatment at Gruene Day Spa, but note treatments should be booked at least two to three weeks out.
Where to eat dinner: No visit to Gruene is complete without dinner at Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar. There’s typically a wait for a table, especially on the weekends. But that means you get to listen to live acoustic music on the lawn with a salt-rimmed margarita until your name is written on the chalk board, indicating your table is ready. Pro tip: chips and fresh salsa (which is also sold to-go by the mason jar) are available at the indoor-outdoor bar while you wait.
Rates: Tube rental with shuttle service at Rockin’ R starts at $25.
Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin
The popular Austin-area resort is worth a another look this summer, as it has launched a new signature wine, beer, and spirits tasting event. An adults-only infinity pool, 13,000-square-foot spa and sanctuary, and enchanting views of more than 4,000 countryside acres add to the allure.
If your girl group likes adult beverages: Don’t miss Hill Country Sip & Savor, the resort's new festival-style tasting event that features beverages from local breweries, distilleries, and wineries native to the Texas country along with food and live music. The festival launched on Memorial Day weekend and there are two dates left: Saturday, August 5 and Saturday, September 2. Rates start at $459 per night and include overnight accommodations, three drink sampling tickets and one food ticket per adult, two beach towels and one tote bag per room, and one bottle of sunscreen.
Other gal pal activities: Lounge at the adults-only infinity pool and order an Elderflower Spritz from the bar, or go to the spa. The latter has its own private rooftop pool with plenty of tranquil lounge chairs and plush outdoor seating away from the crowd. There are also four golf courses on-site for ladies who love a good tee time.
Where to eat dinner: Make reservations for Blind Salamander, the resort’s upscale seafood restaurant led by chef Francisco Baca. Indulge in steamed mussels with miso butter, glazed redfish with clams and cornbread, or jumbo shrimp with blood orange cocktail sauce.
Rates: Rates start at $399 per night.
The Adolphus, Dallas
Dallas has many sleek new hotels, but nothing quite like this historic luxury hotel that feels as though you're steeping back in time. Opened in 1912 by Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch, the high-rise draws a new generation of guests seeking an extravagant escape.
If your friends are fancy: Make reservations for afternoon tea in The French Room, an iconic experience in a sophisticated, storied space that's fit for royalty (fun fact: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed at the Adolphus in 1991). The marble floor, the gilded chairs, the glass chandeliers – all exude elegance. Tea service includes three courses with the option of adding champagne and caviar. Reservations are available Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am-2:45 pm. (Note that The French Room has still not fully reopened post-pandemic, but they do have a new executive chef in the kitchen.)
If you’re having a hot girl summer: Show off that smoking swimsuit at The Adolphus’ rooftop pool, where a live DJ plays music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon. Rent a cabana and get a bottle of Minuty sparkling rose on ice to share. If finding zen is the goal for the getaway, make plans for Black Swan Yoga on the pool deck Saturday, August 19 at 9:30 am.
Where to eat dinner: Feeling high-end? Head to The French Room Bar, where foie gras torchon, escargot en croute, East Coast oysters on the half shell, and rack of lamb round out a very upscale French menu of culinary delights. (The absolute best savory, slightly spicy popcorn comes with cocktail service at the bar.) For something much more casual, go downstairs to the Rodeo Bar, where burgers, nachos, barbecue, and even a fully loaded foot-long chili dog combine for a completely different dining experience. Wash it all down with a frozen whiskey sour.
Rates:Rates start about $298 per night.
Omni PGA Resort, Frisco
Don’t let the “PGA” in the name fool you. Guests of the sprawling resort north of Dallas, which just opened in May, don’t have to be golf fans to enjoy the many luxe amenities offered: multiple pools with bar service, a full-service spa, shopping, live music, and 13 dine-and-drink destinations.
If your gal group likes to golf: There are two 18-hole courses and a two-acre putting green. But don’t miss The Swing, a 10-hole par three course that’s lit after dark – perfect for avoiding summer’s scorching rays. Texas country music plays on speakers overhead, and there’s a Casamigos tequila truck that serves refreshing ranch waters at the half-way mark, making this short course perhaps the most lively in town.
For the non-golfers: Book a relaxing treatment at Mokara Spa, where there are more than 20 treatment rooms, a sauna, stream room, jacuzzi, private pool, and spa café. Shop The Monument Realty PGA District then have happy hour at The Lounge by TopGolf. Or simply kick back all day at the adults-only rooftop infinity pool with a Coco Berry Mojito in-hand from the Bluestem Bar.
Where to eat dinner: Make reservations for Trick Rider, the resort’s signature fine-dining restaurant for steak and seafood dishes. Grab a pre-dinner martini at the horseshoe-shaped bar and say “hello” to Cinnamon, the restaurant’s spectacular 1,500-pound, quarter horse-shaped chandelier.
Rates: Rates start at $359 per night.