You Go, Girls!
If sailing doesn't float your boat, here are 11 other women-only ways to try something new--because who cares if you look like a fool when you're with friends?
1. Stir It Up So many women were coming to cookbook author Deborah Krasner's Vermont Culinary Vacations that she set up three-day weekends for just the girls. Martha McKinnon, 43, of Land O' Lakes, Wis., went last June with her sister Brenda Garrison, of Denver. "I learned how to make pizza in a wood-burning oven, and that olive oils can be as varied as wine," says Martha. You stay in an 18th-century barn converted into a five-bedroom home. 802/387-6610, culinaryvermont.com, $1,325 for accommodations, lessons, meals, a farmers market visit, a massage, and yoga instruction.
2. Hang Ten "We make girls out of women" is the motto of Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women, a "reverse finishing school" outside of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Started by Bev Sanders in 1997, Las Olas has taught 2,000 women how to ride waves. "You feel like a real surfer, even though you're just learning," says Laura Roche, 36, of New York City. 831/625-5748, manifestasafaris.com, from $2,295 for six nights in a beach bungalow, lessons, a one-hour massage, equipment rentals, and--to keep--an anti-rash wet-suit top.
3. Spin Your Wheels Last summer, WomanTours launched its first bike tour of Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. The five-night trip averages about 30 miles of cycling per day. Two sisters from Oregon, Elaine Al-Hadi, 47, and Karen Matthews, 53, went on the trip. "On Martha's Vineyard, all the roses were in bloom, and we could smell them as we rode by," says Elaine. 800/247-1444, womantours.com, $1,690 for five nights' lodging, 13 meals, ferries to and from Martha's Vineyard, and van support; bike rental $160.
4. Horse Around For Becky Shabec, 56, of Elk Grove Village, Ill., the horses were the main draw at Adventures in Good Company's weeklong ranch getaway in Ovando, Mont., which includes riding, fishing, hiking, and visiting a ghost town. "I rode as much as I possibly could," she says. Becky, who went alone, knew everybody by the end. "My roommate and I have been e-mailing back and forth," she says. 877/439-4042, adventuresingoodcompany.com, from $1,895 for seven nights' lodging, meals, most activities, transfers to and from Missoula, Mont., and tips for ranch hands.
5. Pass the Bug Juice You'll feel 11 years old again after archery lessons, tie-dyeing, and s'mores around the campfire at Camp GetAway, outside Big Bear, Calif. (There are also spa treatments and yoga.) "She played musical chairs like a demon!" says Marietta Harris, 46, of her older sister, Michele Walker. The sisters, residents of northern California, also won an award for playing red light, green light. Guests stay in shared cabins, hike in mountains, and participate in skits--check the website for footage of women learning Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance. 310/471-3138, campgetaway.com, from $295 for two nights' lodging, five meals, most activities, and a souvenir T-shirt.
6. Chill Out Up North Several times a year, Equinox Wilderness Expeditions hosts women-only adventures in Alaska and British Columbia. Owner Karen Jettmar guides many of the trips. The company offers some coed trips, but the women-only expeditions keep gaining in popularity. "I felt very safe, which is always a major concern when you're in the backcountry," says Ira Nicolai, 41, of Vancouver. "The guides took care of the group really well." 604/222-1219, equinoxexpeditions.com, from $550 for the Whistler snowshoeing tour, which includes three nights in a chalet, all meals and park fees, and transportation to and from Vancouver.
7. Row Your Boat When paddling around the San Juan Islands of Washington State, you're likely to spot orcas, otters, and eagles. "You know that feeling when someone's watching you? We turned around and saw harbor seals following us," says Barbara Smith, 41, of Helena, Mont. Outdoor Odysseys leads three-day, women-only sea kayaking trips from San Juan Island several times a year. The groups camp two nights in double tents on a beach that's only accessible by boat. 800/647-4621, outdoorodysseys.com, $495 for meals, equipment (except sleeping bags and pad), instruction, and guides.