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Sips, Spreads and Shopping! Can’t-Miss Libation, Culinary and Retail Experiences

Sips, Spreads and Shopping! Can’t-Miss Libation, Culinary and Retail Experiences

Arguably one of the best parts of setting off on a great trip are all the delicious drinks and indulgent meals you're sure to enjoy along the way—with some retail therapy thrown into the mix, of course.

Come along as we take a journey through some options groups won't want to miss out on. From the sweet and savory to the luxurious and economical, we're trying it all on.

There's nothing like a good glass of wine. If your groups agree, then Temecula Valley's SoCal Wine Country should absolutely be on your radar. Venture to Oak Mountain Winery for a tour and wine blending experience in their climate-controlled mined wine caves; relax at Wilson Creek Winery on a covered courtyard cabana with a wine slushie before a behind-the-scenes tour; take a spin on an e-bike through the tenderly-nurtured vines at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa; and more. Transportation offerings from Tour Del Vino and Temecula Cable Car Wine Tours remove the stress of moving from place to place, allowing groups to truly soak it all in.

Bourbon is the name of the game in Kentucky, and for good reason—the state is the spirit's birthplace and crafts 95% of the world's supply. Along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, groups will find over 45 distilleries to choose from for their Bourbon-themed adventures, including Heaven Hill, nestled in the heart of historic Bardstown. Upon visiting, groups could enjoy the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience, which includes an interactive, elevated tasting experience and the ability to customize their own bottle to take home. You'll even fill the bottle and place the label yourself!

Lovers of crisp, cold craft beer will be thrilled by all the options found in Grand Rapids, Michigan—Beer City USA. With more than 40 craft breweries within a 30-minute driving radius, options abound. Enjoy the beautifully tart oak aged sours found at Speciation Cellars; the rustic European-inspired brews at Brewery Vivant, the world's first LEED certified microbrewery housed in a refurbished historic funeral home; the specialty beers available at vintage baseball-themed Mitten Brewing Co.; and more. To the north in Bellaire, groups could also enjoy a brew pub tour of Short's Brewing Company, offering seasonal, limited and legacy brews.

Groups Looking for a good meal to refuel after all their adventures have plenty of options to choose from all around North America. One popular option is Golden Corral and their Endless Buffet (available for breakfast, lunch and dinner), featuring over 150 items like crispy waffles, Bourbon Street chicken and USDA signature sirloin steaks. Ample seating accommodates groups of many sizes at Golden Corral's many locations around the U.S., and reservations can be booked online and made up to a year in advance at special group rates.

​​Big adventures require big, delicious meals—and that's exactly what groups will find at Buca di Beppo. With Italian-inspired dishes served up family style in an eclectic atmosphere, Buca di Beppo ensures groups feel the lively energy of a classic Italian table. Baked rigatoni, eggplant parmigiana and mini chocolate chip cannolis? Sign us up. Regardless of the occasion, every meal feels like a celebration—served with fresh baked house bread, of course.

Don't forget about Virgil's Real BBQ, with dine-in locations in the heart of Times Square, Las Vegas and Atlantis in the Bahamas. It's here that groups could savor some hearty southern BBQ (smoked right on the premises) and exceptional craft beer, with a side of southern hospitality. Dishes like Carolina pulled pork, and Texas beef brisket, along with sides like catfish bites, cornbread and mac & cheese, are sure to impress.

World-class shopping, coming right up! For the ultimate shopping experience, groups will want to head to the Mall of America is Bloomington, Minnesota, which is home to over 520 stores. Recognized as the nation's largest entertainment and retail complex, groups will have no shortage of choices for getting their shopping fix with options like the colorful Crayola Store, baubles from Kendra Scott, luxurious wares from Burberry, outdoor apparel from The North Face and more. You could even celebrate your purchases with a roller coaster ride inside Nickelodeon Universe, housed right within the mall itself.

Found in various locations around the country, Simon Shopping Destinations allow groups to experience a fulfilling and satisfying shopping experience, no matter where their travels take them. From the Finger Lakes and Fort Lauderdale to Puerto Rico, the Pacific Northwest and Pittsburgh, choices abound. Retailers like Bottega Veneta and Gucci bring the high-end vibes, while the NIKE Factory Store and the Vans Outlet ensure groups are truly ready for anything their adventures throw at them.

More than 450 retailers could be found along Chicago's Magnificent Mile, from major department stores to international boutiques. There's even a luxury pet boutique (Tails in the City) for the most discerning furry companions. Located in Chicago's bustling downtown, the 13-block Magnificent Mile district stretches down North Michigan Avenue, right near the scenic Lake Michigan shoreline. The district also boasts 275 restaurants and more than 70 hotels, so it's safe to say groups will never go hungry or have a hard time finding a place to lay their head.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.

This article originally appeared in the May/Jun '24 issue of Groups Today.

Photo Courtesy of Virgil's Real BBQ, Alicart Restaurant Group.


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