November girlfriend getaways

In the slow season, women head out to have fun with their friends.

Women like shopping in Galena year-round.

View all images

In November, women make a break for it.

As men sit in deer stands or watch football games on TV, women hit the road with their friends. They shop, visit spas, sip wine, take cooking classes and see musicals their husbands or boyfriends don't want to see.

For women, November is a great month. Not only do they have a good excuse to get away with their friends, but they can get a head start on shopping for Christmas.

There are art fairs and holiday markets everywhere. And festivities start early in such shopping meccas as Cedarburg, Wis., which starts its Festive Friday Eves on the eve of Wisconsin's firearms deer opener.

Broadway shows draw weekenders to Chicago and the Twin Cities. Galena is the perennial favorite for power shopping, but groups of girlfriends also sample wine, tour historic houses and take cooking classes.

Women who love the outdoors can join a snowshoe-making workshop or hike in the woods. Hiking won't be so fun after Minnesota's firearms deer season starts Nov. 6, but Wisconsin's doesn't start until Nov. 20. In Michigan, it's Nov. 15-30.

Below are some of the best things to do around the region in 2021

For the rest of the year, see 12 months of girlfriend getaways and  50 great girlfriend getaways.

Art fairs and crawls

In the arts district of Minneapolis, 250 artists team up for Art Attack Nov. 5-7, which includes live music, food trucks and demonstrations.

Madison always is a fun place to shop, in the quirky shops and museum stores along State Street and on more sophisticated Monroe Street. And in November,  big markets make shopping especially fruitful.

The Winter Art Fair Off the Square, featuring the work of 140 Wisconsin artists, is at Monona Terrace Nov. 13-14. Mini-versions of the Art & Gift Fair at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art on State Street will be Nov. 12-Dec. 12 on weekends

For more, see Shopping in Madison.

The Autumn Festival: An Arts & Crafts Affair, with 500 artisans from 30 states, is Nov. 11-14 at Canterbury Park in the Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee.

The Wisconsin Holiday Market is Nov. 19-21 at the American Club in Kohler; it tends to be heavier on crafts than fine arts.

For more, see Kohler's luxuries.

Indulgences

In the popular chick town of Galena, Nouveau Wine Weekend Nov. 19-20 includes tastings, music, vineyard tours and spa, shopping and lodging specials.

For more, see Galena getaway.

If you're worried about weather, look for a weekend where you never have to go outdoors. For weatherproof getaways, see Inn retreats.

Women's weekends

The village of Stockholm, on the Wisconsin side of Lake Pepin, often offers a Women's Weekend Nov. 5-7 with progressive wine tastings, music and pie flights.

For more, see Destination: Stockholm.

In Iowa's Amana Colonies, there's a Girls Getaway Weekend Nov. 5-7, with wine-tasting, food-sampling and yoga.

In the Lake Michigan beach town of South Haven, Mich., there's usually a Women's Only Weekend. Events include a fun run/walk, music, trivia scavenger hunt, a cooking class and artisan workshops.

Roller derbies

It's a hoot to watch teams of fun-loving women on roller skates dubbing themselves the Banger Sisters or the Kilmore Girls elbow their way around the rink.

The Minnesota RollerGirls play home bouts at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown St. Paul, Madison teams at the Alliant Energy Center and the Windy City Rollers in the Chicago suburb of Lombard. 

Art classes

In the adorable town of Mineral Point, half an hour west of Madison, Shake Rag Alley School of Arts and Crafts holds lots of weekend workshops, where you can paint and make glass beads, wreaths and pottery. 

This November, there are workshops on memoir-writing, poetry, abstract painting, steel jewelry, rye bread and snowflake ornaments.

Lodgings are right in the Shake Rag campus, some in stone buildings from the 1840s.

For more, see Slinging cement in Mineral Point.

Shopping and a free concert

Less than an hour south of the Twin Cities, the college town of Northfield has an adorable downtown full of unique, locally owned shops.

Spend the day browsing, then take in a free concert at St. Olaf College, whose music program is world-renowned. The St. Olaf Philharmonia and Norseman Band perform Nov. 21.

For more, see Scrappy Northfield.

For other good places to shop, see Great shopping towns.

Wine tasting

Wine trails around the region, including the Mississippi River Valley and Michigan's Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas, offer festive November events that involve sampling, touring and treats.

For more, see On the wine trail.

Cooking classes

There's wine, there's laughing, and then you get to eat. What could be better?

Many cooking classes are in places that are fun to visit anyway Lake Geneva, Chicago, Door County, Minnesota's North Shore.

Book early, because they fill fast. At the Lake Geneva Cooking School, learn technique at the My Life in France With Julia Child dinner, $85, and Holiday Appetizer Party,  $75, as well as Saturday dinners with the theme Paris, Napa Valley, Americana and Tuscany, $95.

For more, see Now they're cooking.

And if you just want to eat, go on a food tour they're always a lot of fun.

For more, see Tours for foodies.

Folk schools

The North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minn., is one of many folk schools that offer classes in all kinds of artisanry.

In 2021, its classes in November include bread-baking, sausage-making, spoon-carving and lathe-turning. Mini-courses are offered during the Winterers' Gathering & Arctic Film Fest Nov. 18-21.

There are many other folk schools in the region. For more, see Schools of know-how.

Broadway shows and concerts

Minneapolis' downtown theater district hosts many nationally known comedians and singers plus Broadway shows, including "Oklahoma!'' Nov. 9-14.

The Marcus Center in Milwaukee hosts Broadway hits and concerts, including "Jesus Christ Superstar'' Nov. 24-29.

In Madison, the Overture Center hosts music, opera, theater and touring Broadway shows, including "Fiddler on the Roof'' Nov. 16-21.

In Chicago's Loop theater district, "Beautiful, the Carole King Musical'' plays Nov. 2-7 and "Disney's Frozen'' starts Nov. 19.

Chicago is a classic girlfriend destination, with lots to do. For more, see Chicago stories.

Outdoors

Women love horses, so this is a good time to take a trail ride and see the last of the fall color, too. Five miles west of Oregon in northwest Illinois, White Pines Ranch offers an Adults Only Weekend Nov. 4-6 in 2022. 

If you have the patience, make classic wood snowshoes for yourself or as a gift, while staying at a camper cabin in the middle of nature.

In Minnesota, Afton State Park near the Twin Cities often offers snowshoe-making classes and rents four camper cabins. Check the state-park events calendar for dates.

On the east shore of Lake Michigan, Ludington State Park offers snowshoe-making classes and rents three mini-cabins. Check Michigan's park events calendar for dates. 

For more, see Choosing snowshoes and A roof in the woods.

Holiday festivities

Cedarburg, a postcard-perfect village 20 minutes north of Milwaukee, is a favorite destination for girlfriend getaways.

At Cedar Creek Settlement, a restored 1864 woolen mill, Festive Friday Eves start Nov. 19, featuring dancing, live music, puppet shows, appearances by Father Christmas, cookies and cider and luminarias.

For more, see Jolly Cedarburg.

Hanging out

Vacation rentals or cabins with many bedrooms are perfect for groups of women. In the north woods, many lodges and resorts, especially the larger ones, drop their rates by up to half in November. 

For more, see Renting a vacation house.


Similar Stories

  1. 20 great shopping towns
    Few shoppers can resist these Shangri-Las of spending.
  2. On the wine trail
    In November, taste the fruits of the harvest on winery road trips.
  3. Spring weekends for women
    In shopping towns and woodsy retreats, April and May are prime time for girlfriend getaways.
  4. Minneapolis spa getaway
    A group of girlfriends find a bargain in their own back yard.
  5. Power shopping in southwest Wisconsin
    On a late-fall foray, six bargain hunters find treasure amid scenery.
  6. 50 great girlfriend getaways
    Looking for ideas? Here are fun trips for every season.
  7. Galena getaway
    In northwest Illinois, this historic village is a favorite destination.