Tips + Trends

Surf, Ski, Sail, Spa: 8 Friend Getaways to Remember

Raise the #squadgoals bar on your next friends vacation with a trip to Laguna Niguel. (Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton)

There’s no need to make your friends jealous of your vacation by posting drool-inducing pics on Instagram. Instead, invite them along and post up a #squadgoals storm.

These eight itineraries make for ideal jaunts with your squad.

1. Laguna Niguel, California: Surfing, Snorkeling and other Seaside Adventure

Situated atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is in prime location for activities in and by the water. Learn to surf on Laguna Beach, tour Dana Point Harbor on a stand-up paddleboard, snorkel over the kelp forest, or spend an adrenaline-fueled morning bodyboarding and bodysurfing.

To experience sweeping ocean views without actually getting wet, head to Monarch Beach Golf Links, one of the five courses close to the hotel, and one of the few ocean courses in Southern California.

2. Boston: American History on the New England Coast

Explore our nation’s roots in one of America’s oldest cities, starting with a practically obligatory walk along the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, taking in the Paul Revere House, Bunker Hill Monument and 14 more historical sites along the way.

For another classic New England excursion, take to the sea aboard a yacht from Lewis Wharf. Boston Sailing Center caters to local sailors, but offers private lessons or charters around Boston Harbor for visitors.

At the end of your day, toast to your big adventure with celebratory martinis at the Avery Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston.

3. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Sample Rum and Local Cuisine

friends vacation
Get a dose of history and fun in San Juan. (Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton)

A rich past and lively contemporary culture combine in charming San Juan. Tour El Morro Fortress, the 16th-century citadel perched on the northwestern-most point of the island, or sample the spirits at the Bacardi Rum Distillery — founded on the island in 1936, it’s the largest premium rum distillery in the world.

Taste island cuisine, from fresh ceviche and fried fish tacos to oceanfront fine dining — and when a break from sightseeing is on the agenda, take advantage of miles of golden beaches.

4. Orlando: Recreation and Relaxation

The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes will soon unveil a 2-mile bike trail winding through wetlands and showcasing central Florida’s natural beauty. Anglers of any level of expertise can head for one of the property’s 11 private, stocked lakes and ponds for a guided bass fishing expedition, no license required, and return for a restorative massage afterward.

The hotel spa draws from the local bounty, with treatments that use herbs from the organic garden, citrus from nearby orchards, and honey from its resident bees.

5. Lake Tahoe, California: Year-Round Outdoor Adventure

The expansive freshwater lake at the foot of the Sierra Nevada lures visitors year-round for its bounty of both winter and summer activities. In colder months, choose from exhilarating endeavors like heli-skiing or dog sled tours, or more classic winter activities.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe features mountain concierge services and ski-in, ski-out access to the Northstar California ski area from its convenient mid-mountain locale. When the weather warms, the lake beckons. Hire a private charter from Sierra Wave Addicts for an afternoon of wake surfing or tubing.

6. Toronto: A Taste of Dynamic City Life

friends vacation
Sip cocktails in Toronto with your crew. (Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton)

This year, celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary in its most populous, vibrant city. Book a table at comedy club Second City for a chance to see the next Mike Myers or Martin Short, who both got their start here, and taste your way through the famed St. Lawrence Market, with over 100 vendors showcasing local and artisanal treats.

To tap into the city’s notable craft beer scene, let the concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto arrange a curated tour of microbreweries, including a personal tasting with a brewmaster, and top off the day at the hotel’s DEQ Terrace for a beer cocktail with unparalleled views of the iconic CN Tower.

7. Denver: Biking, Ballpark and Breweries

friends vacation
The living in easy on a Denver friends getaway. (Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton)

Offering an energetic downtown and abundant outdoor adventure, Denver epitomizes the best of both worlds. World-class biking trails span the adjacent Rocky Mountains, or stay in town for a beer and a ballgame. The Colorado Rockies play at Coors Field, easily walkable to a host of local breweries.

Great Divide has been brewing its award-winning beers from the Ballpark neighborhood since 1994. With a convivial tap room, daily brewhouse tours, a patio and food trucks, it’s easy to spend a sunny afternoon soaking up the Mile High City. And when the sun sets? It’s dinner at ELWAY’S, named after legendary Broncos Hall of Famer John Elway.

8. Charlotte, North Carolina: Small-Batch Spirits and World-Class Culture

friends vacation
Indulge in too many chocolates on your Charleston getaway. (Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton)

Though Charlotte is also home to an impressive craft beer scene, opt instead for a tour of some of the city’s local cideries and distilleries to sip small-batch spirits like gin, bourbon, moonshine and hard cider.

If chocolate is your vice, arrange a cooking class at Bar Cocoa —the noted dessert destination at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte — tasting the fruit of your labor along the way. The hotel’s Uptown neighborhood locale means many cultural destinations are within walking distance, including world-class hub of art and design, The Mint Museum.

This article originally appeared in Journey Into the Ritz-Carlton.