A girlfriends getaway filled with shopping, dining and fun

By Lori Barnes

What do you get when you take 3 life-long best friends; add 3 weddings, 3 new houses, 1 cross-country move, 1 new baby, and 1 baby on the way? The answer is busy.

Alissa, Sarah, and I met when I moved to Kansas City 23 years ago; we were in the 2nd grade! Our friendship has stood the test of time throughout all these years, and we’ve celebrated so many milestones together: birthdays, graduations, concerts, awards, new relationships, and engagements. So, when Sarah told us she was moving away with her new fiancé, you can imagine how devastated Alissa and I were (but of course, still thrilled for her).

Fast forward to three weeks ago, during our bi-weekly chat, Sarah said “I can’t remember the last time the three of us were together; I miss you two so much”. After hanging up with Sarah, I immediately dialed Alissa. She agreed it had been far too long since we had a full-on girls’ weekend!

“I could definitely go for one last hoorah before my little one arrives in 10 weeks!” she said. I could barely contain my excitement, and started my search for the perfect girls’ trip the very next day.

Choosing the perfect place

Being the planner of the group, I spent several days of viewing what seemed like hundreds of travel sites, until I found our destination… Right here in our back yard; Kansas City, KS! “Why didn’t I think of that first?” I said to myself. Kansas City, KS has been revamped over the last 10 years, making it the ultimate destination that has everything you could ever ask for: dining, sports, hotels, entertainment, and shopping! Lots of glorious shopping! I immediately called the girls to tell them about my discovery. They were both so excited; Sarah even booked her flight that day.

Alissa and I picked up Sarah from the airport, and made the convenient drive down I-435 towards our destination.

Shopping ‘til we drop

“Where did all of this come from?” Sarah cried, in absolute awe of how much the area had changed since the last time she had been in town.

“Pretty crazy, isn’t it?” I replied back, knowing how she would react when we arrived at our first stop: Legends Outlet Kansas City for some serious retail therapy! Saks Fifth Avenue- Off 5th, Polo Ralph Lauren, White House/Black Market, Adidas, Under Armour, Ann Taylor, Cavender’s Western Outfitter, Chico’s, Forever XXI, Coach, Cole Haan, Eddie Bauer, Oshkosh B’gosh, and Stride Rite are just a sampling of the store offerings. There is something for everyone. I snagged a killer pair of black suede, knee high boots for an absolute steal at Saks Fifth Avenue- Off Fifth, as well as the cutest tiny track suit for Sarah’s little guy, now old enough to do without his mommy for a couple of days.

“You know, since Liam was born, I’ve wondered what outfits you would pick out for him if we could go shopping together. This is the best part of the trip, spending time together again and shopping for him with both of you!”

We were even able to squeeze in a pedicure at Nails So Happy, located right there in the shopping center. We happily sat in the cushy chairs and gave our feet a break.

“This is exactly what I needed.” Alissa said as the friendly nail tech massaged her pregnant feet.

Specialty pizza hits the spot

After shopping until we were about to drop, we decided to re-fuel at Chiusano’s Brick Oven Pizzeria. What an absolute gem! This family-owned, 4-year-old establishment serves Naples-style, brick oven pizza that is to die for. Eating their pizza took me back to my trip to Italy in 2000, when I had pizza from a brick oven for the very first time. We decided on the Margherita, topped with mozzarella, fresh basil, and tomatoes, and the Frech (with caramelized onions, brie cheese, and prosciutto). In addition to fabulous pizza, they offer sandwiches, salads, pasta, traditional American and Italian appetizers, and several dessert options including zeppoles and bread pudding. Never heard of zeppoles? They’re what dreams are made of; ricotta, eggs, sugar and flour fried to a golden brown and tossed in a paper bag full of powdered sugar (the traditional way). They are served with bourbon caramel and chocolate dipping sauces. Not only was the food spectacular, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful while we made our selections.

Luxury accommodations with a wine bar

With full bellies, we made our way to our hotel of choice: The Chateau Avalon. As we pulled in, we were mesmerized by the gorgeous fountains and stately architecture of the building. We were greeted by a friendly clerk in the hotel lobby, laden with beautiful marble floors, grand staircases, and fantastic artwork. He kindly showed us to our suites: the Colorado Frontier with wood-burning stove/fireplace for Sarah, the Buckingham with a private library for me, and the cosmopolitan New York Penthouse for Alissa. Each room was exquisitely detailed and utterly luxurious.

After an afternoon nap and wardrobe change, we headed downstairs to D’Nile Wine Bar, located on the first floor of the Chateau Avalon. It was a quaint and cozy place with a few tables and seats at the bar. While browsing the drink list, I asked the bartender what she recommended. “Our signature cocktail is the D’Nile martini. It’s a delicious mix of house-infused pineapple vodka, Blue Curacao, and coconut rum!” she replied proudly. D’Nile had an extensive list of craft martinis, signature cocktails, beer, and of course a lovely wine list. Sarah and I both ordered the D’Nile Martini, while the bartender created a wonderful virgin strawberry daiquiri for Alissa. We grabbed our cocktails (and mocktail) and headed out to the beautiful patio. As we sat by the fire pit and reminisced for hours about the memories we’ve shared over the past two decades as if no time had passed at all, I couldn’t help but smile.

I thought to myself “No matter what life throws at us, no matter the distance or circumstance, these girls will always be in my life”. I didn’t need a girls’ getaway to figure that out, but I was certainly happy we made the time to re-connect.

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