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The Question: My five girlfriends (we were coined "the Yayas" a long time ago by a friend's mom and it stuck) and I have been friends for 20 years. We've planned a much-deserved girls' getaway for four days this July, to kick back without husbands and kids and celebrate our friendship (and maybe let off some steam!). We're looking for a unique and hassle-free getaway somewhere warm that won't break the bank ($1,500 for four days) that offers a mix of beach, nature and safe trekking, as well as good food and culture. Can you suggest a few destinations that could make this a trip to remember?

Floating along a calm lake, pulling over to explore the shore, laughing over glasses of mint juleps as you cook dinner. For an offbeat vacation and quality time away from busy lives, Julia Rosien, founder of the travel site Go Girlfriend (, suggests a houseboating adventure on picturesque Cumberland Lake in Kentucky.

"I think houseboating is a good idea for women because it lets you truly get away with your friends," Rosien says. "But the best part is the hot tub and rooftop bar with a central music system. Divine!"

Getting there does require a modicum of hassle: a flight to Lexington (with a connection in Detroit), and then a two-hour-drive south to Somerset and the Burnside Marina ( where Rosien rented her boat from Waterway Adventures. (Houseboating is popular here; check out other routes and rentals at She also suggests heading to Florida or Las Vegas; flights are cheap and you can find nature off the beaten path.

Driving the houseboat was "incredibly easy," she adds - whoever is best at parallel parking can take the wheel first - and anchoring requires lashing a rope to trees in a quiet corner. The onboard GPS, ship-to-shore contact and maps are handy too.

While a trip like this forgoes starred restaurants (or side trip to sample the rising foodie scene in Louisville), it does offer front-door access to birdsong and crickets, as well as opportunity to explore Cumberland Falls State Park - just don't forget to pick up booze in Lexington as Pulaski County is dry.

On board, Rosien's houseboat was fully equipped: private bedrooms, air conditioning, full kitchen, multiple bathrooms (and outdoor shower) and satellite TV. Plus, there was a waterslide. What better way for the gals to reclaim their Yaya namesake than zipping off the roof into the refreshing waters?

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Karan Smith is a former editor of Globe Travel. Special to The Globe and Mail