Retail therapy is all the more healing when you can partake in the pleasures with your best girlfriends. So it's no surprise that a stint of shopping figures heavily on the itinerary of many a girls' getaway.
When it comes to pulling out the plastic, the best way to justify a retail high is the ridiculously low prices found on designer duds at outlet malls across the country.
Now, set your sights on serious bargains and join Travel Channel for a jaunt to some of America's most appealing outlet shopping locales.
Inevitably associated with L.L. Bean, this pretty coastal town in southern Maine offers outlet shopping galore that goes beyond that of the rugged and outdoorsy variety. Freeport is an outlet shopper's mecca, with more than 170 upscale outlets hawking everything from housewares and rugs to Made in Maine specialty toys, jewelry and clothing. You'll also find big international names represented, along the lines of Anne Klein, Burberry, Jones New York and Maidenform. The Harraseeket Inn, located on Freeport's main retail drag, offers special room and dining rates as part of the hotel's Serious Shopper package. Two nights lodging, dinner for two in the Maine Dining Room, buffet breakfasts and afternoon tea are included in the package. They even toss in a gift certificate to kick-start your spree. While you're in Freeport, don't miss out on the seacoast's sublime scenery -- the Inn can also help arrange trips aboard lobster boats where you'll get an inside look at the business, not to mention gorgeous bay views.
St. Augustine, Florida
Beautiful beaches, lively bars and restaurants and some of the South's best outlet shopping are the lure in America's oldest city. Founded by the Spanish in 1565 and home to a Portuguese port that's as close as you'll get to a European aesthetic on American shores, St. Augustine is a tourist destination in its own right. And when you add outlet shopping to the equation, you've got the makings of the ultimate women-friendly weekend getaway. Some 85 shops await at the Premium Outlets, an outdoor mall with an abundance of preppy big-name brands, such as Coach, Chico's, J.Crew, Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger and Tommy Bahama. Bypass the mall's food court and head back to historic St. Augustine instead for a casual seafood-centric meal at A1A Aleworks, where the hops are brewed in-house and live music is always on tap, too. The most decadent spot to rest your shopping-weary bones is the historic Casa Monica, an old-world palace of a hotel in the historic district that once hosted the King and Queen of Spain.
Hey, a girl's gotta shop. And if it means luring the ladies with an escape to paradise to get everyone on the same page for a weekend of retail togetherness, so be it. Before hitting the Waikele Premium Outlets -- the only outlet shops in Hawaii -- loosen your spending inhibitions with a couple of cocktails beachside. Diamond Head views and the sexy beach-bum crowd at Duke's Waikiki Hula Bar www.dukeswaikiki.com are just as swoon-inducing as the mai tais. The Hyatt Regency Resort, on the oceanfront in Waikiki, is one of the most decadent places in Hawaii to bed down. And the traditional Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massages at the hotel's Na Ho'ola Spa are just what the doctor ordered to make sure you and your entourage are suitably relaxed and ready for an afternoon of outlet shopping.
San Diego, California
What is it about fabulous beach destinations inspiring some of the country's most appealing outlet shopping? Maybe parting with your cash is precisely the cold splash of water you need to wake your senses from a tropical lull. Add San Diego to the list of the country's most entertaining destinations for an outlet-shopping getaway. The Viejas Casino & Outlet Center sounds like a financially disastrous combination, with some 60 outlet shops teaming up with slot machines, video poker and blackjack tables capable of taking your cash like candy from a baby. But hey, what you save on clothes you can spare to part with for a chance at hitting it big on the tables, right? The Carlsbad Premium Outlets take the danger of gambling out of the equation, with a whopping 90 stores featuring the usual suspects (Calvin Klein, Coach and Banana Republic) in addition to some uber cool labels a la Juicy Couture, Theory, AG Adriano Goldschmeid, Elie Tahari and Energie. Head to Shelter Island to kick off your evening with sunset cocktails at Bali Hai, a retro Tiki bar with seriously potent cocktails and killer views of San Diego Bay. And come nightfall, set your sights on San Diego's trendiest district, the Gaslamp Quarter for dining and nightlife with the girls.