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Party for the Girls: Everything We Hoped and MORE

No cooking, no cleaning, no chores, no worries….that’s what our girlfriends enjoyed at our Party For the Girls weekend at the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel in Galena, Illinois. Along with Siobhainn O’Connor Van Santen from The O’Connor Show Irish radio program, we descended on this historic resort town for a fabulous late-winter getaway and girl, did we have a great time! Read on for our report, complete with pictures!

The Valley of Glendalough
The Valley of Glendalough


After a scenic 3-hour drive to Galena, we arrived at our hotel. When you enter the Irish Cottage, you are instantly transported to a more relaxing place! The hotel overlooks “The Valley of Glendalough” —a hilly countryside reminiscent of Ireland. The hotel’s common areas feature a cozy library fully stocked with books, and an attached pub that is “the beating heart of the hotel”—complete with Irish dancers and live entertainment. It’s always bustling!

Your charming hostesses, Siobhainn, Dawn and Tina
Your charming hostesses, Siobhainn, Dawn and Tina
We quickly set up in the lounge for our opening reception and shamrock hunt. This allowed us to welcome everyone, let them mingle and get a little silly looking for hidden shamrocks around the lounge and library. The two girls who found the most shamrocks won a beaded makeup bag and matching wristlet. We also took some fun girlfriend pictures to open the weekend. Guests picked up their (jam-packed) goodie bags, the agenda for the weekend, and their instructions for a weekend-long scavenger hunt. Then, we headed out for a family-style Italian dinner at Vinny Vanucchi’s in downtown Galena. Thinking we’d rather not drink and drive, we called for cabs, not knowing there are only two cabs in the whole city. The Party Girls definitely got to know each other better as we piled into our cabs —literally! Luckily, downtown Galena is only a two-minute drive from the Irish Cottage. Our dinner was fabulous and we left there completely stuffed. We headed back to the hotel (this time in the hotel’s shuttle van— much more comfortable) in order to hang out in the pub, listen to the live music and chat until late into the evening.

Psst! Like pictures? Check out our Whrrl from the event!

More check-ins at The Irish Cottage
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On Saturday, many of the girls had appointments for massages, mani-pedis and more booked at the Wild Clover Day Spa. Others took the opportunity for an early morning hike or jog. Some others visited the local alpaca farm (yes, really!) and took in the sights. Then, we all managed to converge on downtown Galena for some serious shopping, lunch, wine-tasting and more in the afternoon. Galena’s downtown comprises several blocks of high-quality boutiques, restaurants, galleries and shops. Jewelry, clothing, shoes…let’s just say that the Party Girls did their part in helping the local economy! Galena’s small-town hospitality and friendliness really wowed us all weekend long. We were definitely charmed by how the local shopkeepers and police rallied to help one of our girlfriends find her lost purse (disaster averted!). Meanwhile, those participating in the scavenger hunt pestered shopkeepers for seashells, birthday candles, pink shoes and more hard-to-find items. While some girlfriends escaped back to the hotel to read and relax, many of us stayed in town to get our makeup done at A Clover on Main and get accessorized at Simply Elegant Boutique. Feeling totally pampered, we scurried back to the hotel to get ready for another night out.

Irish Eyes Smile Down at You in the Lobby
Irish Eyes Smile Down at You in the Lobby

Saturday night featured a planned meal at One Eleven Main, featuring local cuisine. Executive Chef Ryan Boughton prepared a 5 course meal just for us, paired with sangrias and mojitos to help us get in the mood for summer entertaining. From the sweet potato and leek vichyssoisse to the sweet chili maple glazed salmon to the dessert—a vanilla bean biscuit with pineapple rum mascarpone sorbet, topped with canded ginger and Door County cherry compote, the meal and the drinks left us saying wow! In addition, the bartender kindly showed us all how to make our own delicious mojitos (so easy to do!).

Then, local historian Steve Repp stopped by to speak to us about the “history and mystery” of Galena. We quickly learned that were dining in one of Galena’s most interesting buildings—if you’re interested in ghosts, that is. One Eleven Main is renowned for “paranormal activity,” and soon the staff gathered around to tell their own ghost stories. It was fascinating, though we had a few skeptics in the group. On the way out, we gamely trooped up to the “haunted” third floor, where a paranormal study group was setting up their data-gathering equipment for the night—a regular occurence at the restaurant. Luckily, we didn’t encounter any ghosts while in the restaurant—at least, not that we know of!

Ghost in the Group?
Ghost in the Group?

We ended Saturday with a nightcap in the pub, enjoying the company of hotel owners Jack and Basil.


On Sunday we gathered for a delicious hot breakfast in the pub and awarded prizes to the scavenger hunt winners as well as our raffle drawing for a beautiful Irish music basket courtesy of the O’ Connor Show. We said our farewells to new friends and old and piled into our cars to head back to reality. We left convinced of just how worthwhile it really is to make time for “girl time”—to take a vacation just for yourself, but in the company of friends. And, no surprise, there’s already talk of “next year!” Be sure to subscribe to GirlfriendCelebrations emails if you want to stay informed about all our events, posts, giveaways and more.

Special Thanks

Look what was in the goodie bag!
Look what was in the goodie bag!
Special thanks to the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel, Wild Clover Day Spa, A Clover on Main and Simply Elegant Boutique for their outstanding hospitality. In addition, our goodie bag sponsors made our girlfriends feel extra special! Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for giving every attendee a copy of Winter Garden (Siobhainn will be hosting an online book club soon, so stay tuned for details), Barefoot CEO Lisa Hammond and Femail Creations, e.l.f. cosmetics, Atkins Bars, always a girl’s girl, Games for Dames, and GirlfriendCircles.


  1. Thank you for all the great posts from last year! I look forward to reading more interesting topics, maybe about pearl necklace or jewelry on your blog.

    Comment by Laguna Pearl Jewelry — March 16, 2010 @ 7:07 am

  2. [...] Party for the Girls: Everything We Hoped and MORE [...]

    Pingback by Spring Fling Giveaway from Gracious Bridal | Girlfriend Celebrations — March 26, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

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