|Friendships seem to be front and center throughout childhood and early adulthood, but once careers get into full swing and families start to grow, female friendships often take a back seat to other priorities. Nurturing good friendships is hugely important throughout your life. Friendships are said to increase your sense of belonging, boost your happiness and improve your self-worth. Experts say they’re also great for reducing stress—and can be important for support when you cope with tough life situations such as illness or divorce.
We all know the classic girls night out (think dinner, drinks and dancing). But sometimes that night out at a loud bar doesn’t make for the best conversation or bonding experience. Instead of burning the midnight oil, swap night for a full day of friendly fun. Friends can spur you to change or avoid unhealthy habits, experts say, and many of these ideas for a girls day out incorporate a health boost! Mix and match these ideas to plan a day of bonding and adventure with a girlfriend or your whole group of pals. What could be more fun than a day of fun, fashion, food, friendship, and fitness?
Host a moviethon. Whether it’s a Gossip Girl marathon session or watching all of the Twilight movies, pick a group favorite, whip up some popcorn and enjoy relaxation and chatting. With just the cost of a few rentals and snacks, this fun-filled day is super affordable at less than $30!
Throw a theme party. Whether you love Wild, Wild West, Star Wars or Sex and the City, invite your friends over for a theme party. Get creative with dressing for the part and provide healthy foods that fit the theme. Depending on how elaborate you are with food, drinks, decorations, and costumes, you can throw a themed party for as little as $50.
Take a bartending class. Learn to whip up cocktails with your friends! With hands-on expertise from a real bartender ($25 and up per person), you can ask specifically about how to make low-cal drink options.
Plan a fit movie day. Watch classic movies that incorporate fitness for inspiration. Love dance? Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Footloose and Flashdance are all great options! Are you all team players? A League of Their Own and Bend It Like Beckham fit the bill.
Have a game day. Whether you play Charades, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit or Cranium, games have a way of opening up the conversation and creating lasting memories. And it’s free if you have the game on hand!
Go out to the ball game. Head to a ball game with the gals, be it a hockey game, minor league baseball game or a pro basketball game. Whether you’re actually interested in the sport or the team doesn’t matter—it’s a fun change of pace from the mall! And with prices all over the map, it can be an affordable day out with the girls.
Shop the thrift stores. Hit up thrift stores and consignment shops for great clothing deals and one-of-a-kind items. Browsing and playing dress up is fun at any age! Plus, it’s free to look.
Get fitted. Need a new pair of running shoes? Head to a running store to get fitted for shoes with your fit friends. Never been measured for a bra? Make sure you’re wearing the right size, available free in the intimates departments of most department stores!
Splurge on a new workout outfit. If your workout wardrobe is getting stale, go shopping with your healthy pals for new fitness wear that flatters and motivates you to move.
Get a mall makeover. Never stopped in that department store for a professional makeup application? Do it in the morning and you’ll look fab all day! It’s free, although you’ll likely purchase a product or two.
Book a personal shopper. Make an appointment with a personal shopper who can give you and your friends tips on the latest trends and classics to add to your wardrobe. It’s typically free, although, like the makeup department, you’ll likely buy!
Hit a wine tasting. Whether you make a day of going to a winery or simply head to an upscale liquor store for a wine tasting, trying various wines is a great way for you and your friends to find new favorites. Wine tastings can range from about $5 to $20 per person, but oftentimes a tasting fee is waived if you make a purchase.
Host a healthy potluck and recipe swap. Have your girlfriends over for a potluck lunch, with everyone bringing their favorite healthy dish. Make recipe cards a requirement and everyone will leave with healthy meal ideas!
Cook a new recipe. If you’re not brave in the kitchen, there is safety in numbers! You and your girlfriends can pitch in to whip up a new healthy dish you’re too scared to make on your own.
Attend a cooking class. Take a group cooking class to learn new skills in the kitchen. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $50 and up per person for a private class.
Dine at a healthy restaurant. Know of a restaurant that uses only locally-sourced foods? Has a vegan restaurant opened up in your neighborhood? Hold the typical bar food and have a nourishing dining experience with your friends.
Peruse the farmers market. Head to a local farmers market to check out the fruits, vegetables and other local vendors. Then use your purchases to whip up a healthy lunch!
Have a smoothie-making party. Like your fruit in liquid form? Assign your friends smoothie ingredients to bring over—yogurt, juice, bananas, frozen fruits, spinach—and get creative with a smoothie-tasting party. Award the best-tasting smoothie maker with a fun prize!
Visit a local farm. Head out of town and visit a local farm. You’ll find fresh produce and maybe even be inspired to eat more local foods.
Go for manis and pedis. Ah, the classic girlie endeavor: head to a salon and get your fingernails and toenails shaped up and painted by the pros! From a simple fingernail polish change on the cheap to a full out spa pedicure, prices for services can range from $10 to $50.
Get massages. Tack on a massage to your spa day for the ultimate in relaxation ($70 and up for an hour-long massage).
See a chick flick. Nothing says girls’ day more than hitting the movies to watch the latest romantic comedy. A good laugh, a good cry—it’s all worth the price of admission ($8 to $15 for movie tickets).
Check out your local art museum. If you and your friends are artsy types, soak up some culture and bond over your love of aesthetics at the latest exhibit in your town. It’s a great way to relax and get a fresh perspective! Some art museums have free admission, but others, especially those with specialty exhibits, can vary in price.
Take a road trip. Oftentimes, a road trip with your girlfriends is all you need for a boost of mental health. Make a fun playlist with songs that you and your friends love and go for a drive—whether it be across town or across the country! The price you pay is up to you, depending on how far you go and whether you choose to stop and see the sights along the way, but you should budget for at least a full tank of gas ($30-$50).
Make your own scrapbooks. For an instant happiness boost, get your friends together to make scrapbooks of all the good times you’ve had together. Have everyone bring in pictures, stickers, magazines, and glue and share your favorite memories and inside jokes while you work. Depending on how crafty you want to get, this project can be virtually free. But if you want to make your scrapbooks look a little more professional, you can drop a few extra bucks on supplies from the craft store ($10 or more).
Attend a yoga class. Take a yoga class (up to $20/person although your first class is usually free). Stretch, destress and bond while downward-dogging with your gal pals. Whether you’re brand new to yoga or a self-proclaimed yogini, this ancient practice turned fitness trend is something that women of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels can enjoy.
Take a hike. Whether you head to a local walking path or tackle a trail you’ve had your eye on, this is a free and fun endeavor for you and your friends.
Hit the driving range. Head to the driving range, get a bucket of balls and see who can hit a golf ball the farthest! For $10 and up for a bucket of balls, you and your girlfriends can practice your skills at a low cost without committing to eight or more hours on the course.
Go horseback riding. It may seem like the horse is doing the work, but horseback riding is an active endeavor for you, too! Prices and rides can vary widely, ranging from an hour to all-day adventures ($30 and up to over $100 for longer trips).
Run a 5K. Sign up for, train and compete in a 5K. Whether you run with your friends or walk, it’s always a great time to get up at the crack of dawn and exercise with friends! Entrance fees typically run $20-$35 per person.
Go bowling. It may be old school, but you’re guaranteed a laugh watching your girlfriends throw their balls right in the gutter—and get the occasional strike. It’s a low-intensity active endeavor that will easily kill a couple of hours and give you great memories! It’s also fairly affordable— $5 to $10 per game, plus the cost of shoe rental ($3 to $5).
Try a new fitness class. Whether it’s a Zumba class you’ve always wanted to try, salsa dancing, or pole dancing, get your groove on! With prices ranging from $10 per class to $50, pick your price and your poison!
Think outside the box when it comes to getting your girlfriends together. There’s no need to do the standard coffee date when there are so many options out there for good food, fitness, and fun!