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Discover Wisconsin: 4 girlfriend getaways in Wisconsin that may surprise you
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Here at "Discover Wisconsin," we have a tendency to want to journey off the beaten path to find destinations you might not normally consider. That is exactly what we decided to do for our recent "Girlfriend Getaways" episode. Here are four areas in Wisconsin we think make for the perfect place to round up your gal pals and hit the road:

1. Beloit

Play: Beloit is one of the most - if not the most - underrated cities in all of Wisconsin. There is a lot to take in here but let's start with the music scene. During a girls' trip to Beloit with my best friend, many of the locals suggested we take in music at Harry's Place, which is a summer concert series held at Riverside Park's Harry C. Moore Pavilion. The music was fantastic, the dancing was fun and the energy was palpable. Beloit is also home to the always-camera-friendly Beckman Mill, a thriving downtown district and the Angel Museum, where you'll see thousands of angelic figurines including a collection donated by Oprah Winfrey.

Eat: Choose Merrill and Houston's for an amazing steak and Lucy's Number Seven Burger Bar for a phenomenal stuffed burger. (You'll love the Rosie the Riveter vibe at Lucy's Number Seven.) After dinner, head to Northwoods Premium Confections for retro candies or gourmet popcorn.

Stay: Ironworks Hotel in Beloit is unlike any resort I've seen. The industrial-chic rooms are just gorgeous. Be sure to look into the Ironworks' special Girlfriend Getaways package.

2. Fox Cities

Play: Let's be honest, a girls' getaway without shopping is not much of a girls' getaway at all. If your shopping is somewhere between "well-versed" and "expert" levels, you and your chicas will have a field day when you visit Wisconsin's Shopping Place: The Fox Cities. Comprised of about 25 communities in the Fox Valley region, there are shops of every kind from the gigantic Fox River Mall to the Harp Gallery antique shop. For a quaint, small-town feel, head to Neenah for Ultimate Ladies Day. Held every April, women from all over the region flock to Neenah for this fun-filled event for a champagne breakfast, fashion show, pampering and of course, lots of shopping throughout historic downtown Neenah. There's more than shopping though in the Fox Cities: Attend a show at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, pamper yourselves at Spa BenMarNicos and stroll through the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass.

Eat: I was so impressed by the Downtown Appleton Farm Market, not only for the good eats but also for the entertainment.

Stay: My top picks include CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel and Spa (keyword: spa) and the Roost Bed and Breakfast in Appleton.

3. Racine County

Play: Making our way to the southeastern corner of the state, let's talk about Racine County. Now, I grew up making a lot of fun memories in the Racine area as my dad, brother and I regularly went salmon fishing off of the Port of Racine. So, I welcomed the opportunity to explore Racine County in a very different way: with my girlfriends. When it comes to unique experiences, Racine County delivers. I rounded up a few friends of mine, and we made our way to Milaeger's for a container gardening class and to Funky Hannah's Bead Camp, a two-day jewelry-making retreat held at the beautiful and historic DeKoven Center. There's also a fall quilt show hosted by the Lighthouse Quilters Guild every other year, plus the annual Waterford Hot Air Balloon Festival in July.

Eat: I recommend Apple Holler Restaurant for a slice of Americana, Javier's Cuisine for a delicious vegetarian meal and Red Onion Cafe for a mouth-watering breakfast. And you absolutely, positively cannot leave the area without trying "Wisconsin's State Pastry" - Kringle. You can pick some up at one of many local bakeries, including O and H Danish Bakery, Lehmann's Bakery and Larsen's Bakery.

Stay: Christmas House Bed and Breakfast in Racine or the Baymont Inn in Waterford are both lovely.

4. Waupaca Area

Play: If you'd prefer to spend your entire girls' trip outdoors, you're going to love my final recommendation. The Waupaca area in central Wisconsin is absolutely breathtaking. I met up with my college friend (and Waupaca native), Kelly, in her hometown. First up on our itinerary was standup paddleboard (SUP) yoga, which was equal parts athletically challenging and hilariously entertaining. After our "I-can't-plank-because-I'm-laughing-too-hard" workout, Kelly and I took a cooking class at Green Fountain Inn. There were, once again, lots of laughs thanks to our cooking and the good vino at hand. I was also really impressed by the Waupaca shopping scene: Check out Panache, Revival and the Feminine Touch. After all that planking, cooking and shopping, make time for a Fusion Stone Body Massage at Studio 212 on Main Street.

Eat: The Freckled Frogg Cafe is vibrant and delicious and just a one-of-a-kind place. The owner brings the menu to you on a chalkboard. We also loved the char-grilled sandwiches and Wisconsin draft beer available at Clear Water Harbor.

Stay: Kelly and I stayed at Apple Tree Lane Bed and Breakfast in Waupaca. We even ran into another ladies group that visits the area every year for their girlfriends' getaway. For more about girlfriend getaways, stream our recent episode on

- Mariah Haberman is the co-host of the nation's longest-running tourism TV show, "Discover Wisconsin." Her column is published Tuesday on Life page in the Times.