“The older I get, the more I see the power of that young woman, my mother,” poet Sharon Olds wrote of the connection between a mother and adult daughter. How better to strengthen your relationship than to take a trip together, affording you some time to relax and get to know each other all over again.
Still, one-on-one time with Mom can be intense. Where should you go? How will you fill the time? We’ve got you covered, with some sample itineraries for moms of every stripe.
Tips for Planning Your Getaway
First, you’ll want to pick a mother-daughter getaway that’s right for each of you individually and together. Here are a few questions worth considering: Are you or your mom by nature self-directed, or do you thrive when there’s a set schedule to follow? Are you seeking adventure-filled days and nights? Unfamiliar surroundings and culture? Are you foodies whose days would best revolve around meals and culinary adventures? Or do you just need some pampered, luxurious downtime?
If you’re a mom and doing the planning, think about your daughter’s age and what holds her attention — and how long you two can get along without working each other’s last nerve.
Consider the same if you’re the grown daughter planning an escape for you and your mother, and think about your dynamic: In what situations do you tend to be at your best together? And for how long? Are there any physical limitations if your mom is elderly? Keeping this information in mind when you look at locations will guide you in the right direction.
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Popular Destinations for Mothers & Daughters
A handful of spots tend to make just about every mother-daughter getaway list out there: New Orleans, New York City, Las Vegas, Paris, London, and Washington, D.C. These places all offer excellent mixtures of culture and excitement, from museums and theater to live music and culinary adventures. Also popular for their range of offerings: Sedona, AZ; Taos, NM; Newport, RI; Sonoma, CA; and Miami Beach.
8 Getaway Itineraries
There’s nothing scarier than a blank page you’re expected to fill — especially if that page is a travel itinerary and your mom is looking over your shoulder. Use the ideas below as a template to get you started. Solicit input from your mom (or daughter) so you’re building a getaway plan together. And make sure to leave room for spontaneous discoveries or naps.
1. Outdoorsy Mom
Spending time in nature has health benefits, both physical and mental, that can make an outdoorsy-mom getaway a life-affirming choice for both of you. Consider a number of destinations before making any decisions, including the aforementioned Sedona. Boulder (CO), Hilo (HI), and Taos (NM) also offer stunning scenery without requiring an up-to-date passport. If you’re looking for a more far-flung adventure, consider Iceland.
Once there, your itinerary might look something like this:
• Settle into your nature-themed accommodations, whether a glamping tent, cabin, or lodge. Then get your hands on a local trail map. Prepare daypacks with water and snacks.
• Have dinner at your lodge or near where you’re staying, and get to bed early.
• Get up with the sunrise, have a healthful breakfast, and head out for a hike, making it as long or as short as makes sense for each of your physical abilities. Have an al fresco lunch with a view, preferably at the peak of your hike. Then head back before sunset.
• Enjoy dinner and some wine at a local spot. Wash, rinse, and repeat the next day.
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2. Foodie Mom
The world is your oyster! Pick a place known for its cuisine that’s within your budget and an acceptable distance — anywhere from Portland or Chicago to Nashville or Philadelphia. Or hey, why not? Paris or Rome.
• If you’re into trying the hottest spots at your destination, you’ll want to reserve tables well in advance and confirm before you head out. Then linger over every meal, being sure to take precious time to reminisce and share life goals.
• Book a cooking class, preferably one that’s specific to your locale. Learn how to make a perfect gumbo in New Orleans, for example, crepes in Montreal, or Cuban tostones and ropa vieja in Miami.
• Spend an afternoon hitting local markets and food emporiums, stocking up on spices, oils, and other culturally specific pantry items that will double as useful and evocative souvenirs.
3. Artsy Mom
Most of us don’t take the time to explore the art scene in our hometown. That makes this trip a special opportunity for the creatively inclined duo.
• Pick an arts-rich city. San Francisco, for example, has the most art museums, theaters, music venues, cultural centers, art supply stores, and music shops per square mile, according to a recent ranking of U.S. destinations. Get hold of a local exhibit guide. Then get out there and see it all. Other arts-rich spots: Miami (brimming with art fairs, galleries, and dealers), New York, and Chicago. Not to mention smaller locales, from San Antonio and Santa Fe to the tiny Cape Cod strip of Provincetown, each of which draws crowds for regular and lively art gallery walks, especially during summer travel season.
• Schedule your trip around a major art fair. Miami’s Art Basel, for example, NYC’s Armory Show, or the spring rite of passage in Italy, the Venice Biennale. Book your hotels and restaurants well in advance. Then enjoy the works of art — and some parties, too, if you’re both up for it.
4. Spa Mom
Who isn’t a spa mom, really? Booking a room and a lineup of treatments could not be a better approach to mother-daughter bonding in our opinion. You’ll find a lavish place to be pampered pretty much anywhere, but these favorites should get you started:
• Lake Austin Spa Resort, in Texas Hill Country, comes with a water view and farm-to-table cuisine. LakeAustin.com
• The Lodge at Woodlock, in Pennsylvania, has everything from hydro-massage to cooking demos. TheLodgeatWoodloch.com
• Miraval Resort Arizona, or any of its other properties, from the Sonoran Desert to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. MiravalResorts.com
• Amangiri, a dreamy 5-star hotel and resort in Utah. Aman.com/resorts/amangiri
Once you’re there, figuring out how to fill your days should be easy. May we recommend a combination of:
• Massages, facials, and body wraps
• Lazing in pools, hot tubs, and saunas
• Strolling peaceful grounds and dining on clean, fresh foods
5. Wine Mom
Does Mama love her vino? Consider a weekend of vineyard-hopping — in Sonoma, on the North Fork of Long Island, through Oregon’s Willamette Valley, along Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula, or through the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York.
Your shared goal: getting around to the various wine tastings and vineyard strolls. Cap it off nightly with regional fare and tucking in at a local B&B or hotel, perfect for stretching out, watching a movie, and bonding with before-bed conversation. Some points to have on your checklist:
• Start by renting a car with a credit card. Or if you head to Santa Barbara for its charming Urban Wine Trail (UrbanWineTrailSB.com), a couple of bicycles. Prioritize your vineyard visits with the aid of a local map and guide.
• Leave plenty of time to linger at each place — for shopping as well as sipping. Double-check the times of their tasting hours.
• Wind up at a spot that offers dinner, too, so you can soak up the alcohol while you download your favorite parts of the day.
• Tuck in at a place that’s close by, and look into the unique experience of sleeping at an actual winery, as is offered at vineyard B&Bs such as Sannino Vineyard on Long Island (SanninoVineyard.com), the Glass House Winery in Charlottesville, VA, on the Monticello Wine Trail (GlassHouseWinery.com), the Chateau Grand Traverse Inn on Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula (CGTWines.com) or Chateau de Vie in California’s Napa Valley (CDVNapaValley.com).
6. Party Mom
Is your mom your best friend, from whom you hold nothing back, including a shared crazy night out? Then go all-in with a trip to a place where nightlife is the main attraction — and shopping, strolling, and eating gets you happily through the days. We’re talkin’ Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Key West, New Orleans, or Austin.
• Start by making dinner reservations at all the hotspots. Then get a hold of local arts weekly, which will give you the rundown on nightlife (something a hotel concierge can help you with, too).
• Spend your day shopping, browsing, perhaps getting your hair and nails done for your evening. Then relax back at your room before having a festive dinner followed by a night of dancing or live music.
• If you’re the mom and you’ve got a restless teen on your hands, show her a great time by making her favorite pop star’s concert the destination’s main event — whether it’s Pink in Boston, Taylor Swift in New York, or Adele in Las Vegas. She’ll never forget it. And trust us: Neither will you.
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7. Hippie Mom
One way to bond and relax, with a little bit of structure helping you along, is to sign up for one of the many mother-daughter retreats offered at centers around the country. Some are geared toward specific ages — moms with tween or teen daughters, for example — and all offer a range of activities, discussion groups, and relaxed, unstructured time.
Programs are offered at Omega in upstate New York (EOmega.org/ mother-daughter-retreat); Kripalu in the Berkshires of Massachusetts (Kripalu.org/ presenters-programs/ mother-daughter-yoga-weekend); and various wellness-trip operators in Costa Rica (HereandNowTravel.com/ mother-daughter-costa-rica) and Mexico (BookRetreats.com/s/ other-retreats/mother-daughter-retreats/mexico) — just for starters! Your itineraries will be taken care of by the planners at each retreat.
8. Sun-Worshipper Mom
Time to hit the beach! If you two can’t soak up enough of those rays, consider a jaunt to one of these wonderful year-round destinations (and please don’t forget to pack plenty of SPF). Miami, St. Petersburg, Grayton Beach, and St. Augustine in Florida are all perfect for a winter getaway. And for summer travel, Block Island (RI), Cape Cod (MA), Chincoteague (VA), and Cape May (NJ).
• Check into your room. (Why yes, you really should get the water-view room!)
• Pack a beach bag and hit the sand or pool, ordering waterside drinks if it’s an option (and you’re not traveling with a teen).
• Find al fresco lunch and dinner spots, and catch up over plates of seafood.
• Catch sunset at the shore, get some lovely post-sun sleep, and do it all again the next day.
Accessible Ideas for Less Mobile Moms
If one of you is older or less mobile for any reason, consider a trip where you’re a bit more taken care of and shepherded around: a riverboat cruise, for example, such as through Mississippi with Viking Cruises (VikingRiverCruises.com), or a more traditional cruise with a theme, such as Seth’s Big Fat Broadway cruises (SethsBroadwayVacations.com/#/Cruises), chock full of your favorite talent from the Great White Way.
You might also consider a guided bus tour or a stay at a full-service resort that has plenty of restaurants and activities right on-site.
Mother-daughter bonds can be complicated. That is precisely why it’s worth making a thoughtful plan to reconnect with your parent or child. Choose a location and itinerary that caters to both your interests (art, food, the beach, nature hikes), and leave plenty of time for reminiscing and discussing life goals. You’ll both come back from your get-to-know-you-better getaway with a newfound understanding of the most remarkable woman in your life.
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