For many women in West Michigan having “girl time” is a consistent priority. It represents a moment to laugh, relate, and bond with your friends. “Girl’s Night Out” generally entails dinner and/or drinks at a local bar. While it’s definitely fun to try new restaurants and laugh over a glass of wine, this choice isn’t for everyone. Eating out can be bad for your budget, many women tend to order more than they originally intended and at the end of the night they regret the bill sitting in front of them. It can be bad for your health; at a restaurant it’s hard to count calories or order a healthy option. With so many menu items it’s also difficult to really be sure of the ingredients; it can be misleading (that lite Caesar dressing actually has fifty grams of fat FYI). It’s also difficult to talk with everyone; if there are more than four people present, long table syndrome can kick in–when you are stuck at a table and can only talk to friends at either side of you, it’s hard to mingle because you are at a sit-down dinner, and it’s always a little awkward.
Instead of coordinating a dinner or drink date consider the options below that will get you and the ladies out for some fun in the sun and give everyone the opportunity to enjoy each other's company free of long tables and financial strain.
- Coordinate a run or a walk together. Walking is a great way to let off some steam and talk, talk, talk it out. There is a feeling of accomplishment associated with the end of a good run or walk. Couple that with an awesome chat, and you’ve got yourself a great girl’s night. Don’t know where to go? Check out the West Michigan Strategic Alliance. They created a comprehensive inventory of more than 123,000 acres of parks, trails, and other recreations areas located within Allegan, Barry, Kent, Ionia, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, and Ottawa counties.
- Organize a daytime or evening kayaking excursion for the ladies. Kayaking is a fun, healthy way to get on the water, enjoy the day, and the company of your friends. Looking for a challenge? Try paddle boarding instead. For more information check out Running Rivers Kayak/Paddle Board Rentals in Douglas or Kayak Kayak in Holland.
- Take a fitness class together. There are new fitness classes popping up everywhere in West Michigan. Take advantage of this by scheduling a class with all your friends. Trying something new together will take away the awkwardness out of going solo, and who knows, this could be your calling. Check out the new Pure Barre workout studio in Grand Rapids. Get a group of ten women together and schedule a private introductory class (the cost is less than dinner and drinks for sure). If you’re not into Pure Barre get fit outside with Ecotrek fitness the outdoor exploratory fitness program. It’s only $12 for an introductory class.
- If the words fitness and free go hand in hand for you, check out Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids for a free WERQ fitness class every Friday throughout the summer starting at 5:30 p.m.
- If you like the idea of getting outside without breaking a sweat plan a vintage shopping excursion to Funky Junk Outdoor Flea Market. Grand Rapids' only weekly vintage flea market is open every Thursday from 2-8 p.m. with free parking and admission.
- Take advantage of all that West Michigan has to offer by checking out our beautiful beaches. MTV ranked Oval Beach as one of the five most beautiful beaches in the nation. Go to ExperienceGR for a complete list of their favorite beaches and locations.
- Let the foodie in you come alive every Saturday morning by heading out to the Holland Farmer’s Market for their Chef’s Series. Throughout the summer area chefs demonstrate how to use fresh, seasonal, and locally grown ingredients to prepare a simple and healthy meals straight from the market.
- Interested in combining the outdoors, walking, friends, and wine together? Sign up for a Square Peg Events walking tour throughout the summer in downtown Grand Rapids. July 24 is Chicks and Chocolate, and August 7 is the Artful Appetizer.
Hopefully these ideas can help you take advantage of the summer sun and enjoy spending time with your girlfriends at the same time. Help add to the list! How do you have “girl time” outdoors over the summer? What is a must-do activity for you and your friends?
Written by: Chelsea Slocum is a resident of Grand Rapids. She works as an educator and freelance writer. She enjoys learning about new and different things happening in the city and spending time with her husband, two crazy kids, family, and friends.