12 Mother Daughter Trips in the USA That You'll Never Forget
There’s nothing like time and age to give you a little perspective on a situation or people. You (likely) had a lot of ups and downs with your mother throughout your life (bitchy teen years anyone?) but as adults, hopefully you enjoy spending time together now and passive aggressive arguments are at a minimum. Now that I’m expecting a daughter later this summer, I’ve found myself thinking of all the experiences I hope to share with her, travel being a big one.
I moved away from my hometown after college and taking trips with my mom over the years has been a fun way to catch up while experiencing a new place. A few years ago, I surprised her with a surprise weekend with Pack Up and Go to San Francisco for her birthday. She’d never been to SF before and I’d never been to the city without staying with friends so the trip was a new experience for both of us. We had a blast seeing the sights and talking for hours in restaurants sharing stories.
Whether you want to plan an epic surprise road trip for Mother’s Day or plan an easy going weekend getaway for the two of you to chill, I asked some fellow writers to share their favorite mother daughter getaways in the United States to help you do the planning.
Scottsdale AZ - Eden, Rock a Little Travel
Looking for a fun destination for an upcoming mother daughter trip? Consider a few days in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. There’s great weather year round, tons of trendy restaurants and bars, and lots of fancy resorts with big pools. Scottsdale is the perfect place to spend your days by the pool and your evenings out on the town. If you’re into the outdoors, consider attempting the popular hike up Camelback Mountain. The hike takes about 2 to 3 hours but rewards you with incredible views once you reach the top.
When you’re ready for dinner, head to Scottsdale’s trendy downtown area. One of my favorite restaurants is The Mission. They serve upscale authentic Mexican cuisine and some killer margaritas. Get the jalapeño one.
For the perfect place to stay during your visit to Scottsdale, consider booking a room at The Phoenician, a luxury resort right next to downtown. The hotel grounds are beautiful, with several restaurants, multiple pools, and spacious rooms. My favorite part of the hotel is the large deck overlooking the pools. In the evenings, you can sit out on the deck sipping cocktails, listening to music, and watching the sunset over the beautiful Arizona desert. This is the perfect way to end an evening, and makes a great last night in Scottsdale.
Wine Country - Sage, The Everyday Wanderer
Some things just go together -- like bread and butter, spaghetti and meatballs, bacon and eggs, and women and wine. That’s why California wine country is a favorite mother-daughter trip destination in our family.
Because Napa is one of the most popular wine destinations in California, let’s start there. In addition to visiting a selection of wineries during our mother-daughter trips, we also like to board the Napa Valley Wine Train. It’s a deliciously unique way to wine and dine mom while watching the picturesque countryside slowly pass by. Another favorite stop is the Oxbow Public Market. Grab a more casual lunch alfresco by the river at one of the market’s venues, or purchase a selection of local produce, charcuterie, cheese, and chocolate for a picnic off-site.
Pro Tip: As you plan a day of wine tasting with mom, expect to be able to visit about four wineries.
While Napa Valley is a household name, we are partial to the lesser-known (yet still amazing) Livermore Valley wineries. About an hour and a half southeast of Napa, my favorites include Murrieta’s Well, Mitchell Katz (try the tawny port), and Wood Family Vineyards.
Surprise Three Day Weekend - Emily, Em’s on the Road
I mentioned this earlier but I can’t recommend this trip enough, especially if you’re short on time and want to do something out of your comfort zone. Pack Up and Go is a surprise travel agency that sends you on a surprise trip in the United States.
To help determine your destination you fill out a questionnaire about your vacation interests and where you live. From there the team plans a jam packed weekend for you. They send you details on what to pack and then all you have to do is show up at the airport and open your destination packet to find out where you’re going. They only need about 2-3 weeks to plan which makes it all the more exciting!
Wilmington, North Carolina - Maggie, Pink Caddy Travelogue
Wilmington, North Carolina has everything required for a perfect mother-daughter trip. It has beautiful Victorian mansions, a fabulous foodie scene, shopping, and a requisite beach. Often overshadowed by nearby Savannah and Charleston, this underrated Southern city should be on your must-visit list.
What girl doesn’t like watching movies? Wilmington is known as the “Hollywood of the East,” since over 500 films and TV shows have been filmed there, including Iron Man 3 and One Tree Hill. One of the best things to do in Wilmington is to take a walking tour of the film locations with a local film expert. For the history buffs, take a tour of Bellamy Mansion, a gorgeous antebellum home located downtown. Just 15 minutes from downtown is Wrightsville Beach and, if your mom is like mine and loves the beach more than anything, you’ll definitely want to spend some time here!
When it’s time to eat, be sure to check out Caprice Bistro, a casual French restaurant that focuses on fresh seafood. Or Beer Barrio, for excellent margaritas paired with creative tacos.
Moab, UT - Megan, Red Around the World
Moab, Utah is a high-end paradise for outdoor lovers in Southern Utah. For a more luxurious getaway, consider staying at Moab Under Canvas or Sorrel River Ranch. There are plenty of other options around town for all budgets. For restaurants, The Spoke and 98 Center are both great.
The best things to do in Moab are going to be exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dead Horse Point State Park, and driving Potash Road and the Colorado River Scenic Byway.
Must-dos in Arches includes hiking to Delicate Arch, Park Avenue, Landscape Arch, and Fiery Furnace. In Canyonlands, visit Island in the Sky and hike to Mesa Arch, Whale Rock, and Upheaval Dome after visiting all the viewpoints. If you have time, head over to The Needles Overlook and Newspaper Rock to see some petroglyphs. Dead Horse Point is a great stop on your way to Island in the Sky.
On Potash Road, you can see petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks before hiking to Corona Arch. On the Colorado River Road, hike to Morning Glory Arch and have a picnic at the Fisher Towers with a perfect view of the La Sal Mountains.
Maui - Emily, Em’s on the Road
When we lived in Maui, it should come as no surprise my mom visited quite often. It was great because I just pretended I was on vacay with her when she made the trip! Maui has a great mix of activities, beaches, and luxury so it works well for an extended Mother Daughter trip. Give yourself plenty of time to chill out on the beach or by the pool depending on where you stay. I loved the Andaz Maui and Four Seasons on the South side in Wailea because they’re right on the beach and Wailea is much quieter and not as crowded as the West side.
If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a car and take in the sunrise or sunset at Haleakala or drive the famous Road to Hana and hike along the way. Don’t miss out on some fab shopping; the town of Paia and Makawao being my favorites for unique and local shops. When you’re ready to chill out even more, book a treatment at the Grand Wailea Spa for the most luxurious experience. Make sure to arrive for your appointment early to enjoy their Hydrotherapy Circuit, featuring a Roman tub, saunas, cascading waterfalls, Swiss jet showers, a Japanese furo and five specialty baths. I’ve put together even more Maui tips here.
Niagara Falls - Hilarye, Dotting the Map
Niagara Falls is one of those destinations that once you go to, you will remember for the rest of your life. What better place to spend some mother/daughter bonding time and to make some long lasting memories. Niagara Falls offers many unique and fun activities for children of all ages. Moms and daughters will love braving the Hurricane Deck at cave of the winds, catching a once in a lifetime view of the Maid of the Mist, and heading over to the Canada side to walk around the beautiful gardens at Queen Victoria Park and make sure to stay for the nighttime illumination of the falls.
Niagara Falls can easily be a budget vacation as there are many different types of accommodations and you can bundle attractions with the Niagara Falls USA Discovery pass. There are also a plethora of free things to do on both the US and Canada side. You can check out a list of over 23 fun and free things to do in Niagara Falls.
Palm Springs, California - Carol, Wandering Carol
When it comes to mother daughter bonding, Palm Springs in California makes a great getaway. From lying by the pool at one of mid-century modern hotels to soaking at a steamy hot springs, there are plenty of opportunities to relax.
One of the most convenient places to stay has a rat pack history. Right in downtown Palm Springs, the Riviera Palm Springs is where stars such as Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe used to stay in the 60s, and the large central pool is just as appealing today. If a spa getaway is more your style, Two Bunch Palms is a luxe resort with its own outdoor hot springs pools, and is a popular stop for stressed-out makers and shakers from LA.
For active moms and daughters, there are a ton of great things to do in Palm Springs. There are gorgeous views on the Museum Trail and at Indian Canyon, a spiritual place for the Cahuilla people and a prime nature destination with unique rock formations and well-maintained trails.
Shopping is part of any mom-daughter getaway, and the upscale shops on El Paseo in Palm Desert will keep you occupied for hours. Afterwards, it's easy to refuel at the very chic Pacifica Seafood on the same street.
Hot Springs Arkansas - Tatiana, Family Road Trip GuRu
Visiting Hot Springs, Arkansas is a great option for a mother-daughter health and wellness weekend. The town is famous for its spas (or bathhouses) where you can relax and indulge yourself. Quapaw bathhouse is my favorite. If you are traveling on a budget you can enjoy healing waters in Quapaw’s thermal pools for about $20 per person. If you want to experience more and have more time to spare you can book a tailored spa package which could include, in addition to mineral baths, a massage, a facial, a steam room and other services to your liking. Hot Springs is particularly pleasant in spring and early fall.
There are a lot of hiking trails in the nearby Ouachita National Forest – and it won’t cost you a penny! My favorite trail is in Lake Ouachita State Park which offers beautiful water views in a tranquil setting. Stopping by Garvan Woodland Gardens is must on this trip. This botanical garden belonging to the University of Arkansas is gorgeous any time of year. If you want to treat your mom for the weekend, I suggest you stay at Embassy Suites, Hot Springs (complementary plentiful breakfast is included in your stay).
Central Oregon - Michelle, Roam Redmond Oregon
Central Oregon is a great destination for multi-generational vacations. Best enjoyed outdoors, its summer sports include paddling, hiking, cycling, white water rafting, and golfing. An especially memorable mother-daughter activity for a hot summer day is a leisurely float down the Deschutes River in inner tubes. You can easily rent and get round-trip transportation in Bend. Work on your tan, peer into beautiful backyards along the riverside, and chat it up as you drift along!
In winter, areas of the High Desert turn into a snowy wonderland for skiing, snowboarding, sledding and ice skating. The region is also home to some of the country's top craft breweries. And it doesn’t hurt that dining and shopping in Oregon is always tax-free!
Oregonians on vacation often stay in Bend or nearby resorts like Black Butte and Sunriver. But to truly get off-the-beaten path, check out Redmond, Oregon and its surroundings for the same great activities with even fewer crowds.
Oahu - Sara, Our Kind of Crazy
We believe one of the best Mother-Daughter trips in the US is a getaway in Hawaii. Each island is great. Oahu is one of the busier island with lots going on, while Kauai is the romantic and very slow and laid back island, and Maui is a bit of a balance between the two. But if you’re going with your mom or daughter, we think Oahu is an awesome choice that will balance adventure and relaxation perfectly. There is plenty of time to relax on the beach, but you can take advantage of some exciting activities like swimming with dolphins, parasailing, or surfing in the North Shore. Catch a glimpse of tropical fish and massive sea turtles while snorkeling and if you visit in the winter months, you could spend the day whale watching. When you need to take a break from the sun, head to Ala Moana center for a day of shopping or head to the Moana Lani Spa, at the Moana Surfrider Westin Resort for a luxurious hydrafacial. If you’re looking for a great vacation for both mother and daughter, Oahu is a great place to check out.
St. Simons Island, Georgia - Emily, Em’s on the Road
Who doesn’t love a low key beach vacay? Treat yourself and your mom to a trip to St. Simons Island for some beach time, shopping, and delicious food. My first stop would be facials at One Love Organics brand new day spa. Their skin care line is my go-to and the new spa is the perfect place to zen out for a few hours. You can book side by side facials with their esthetician and just make sure to take some time afterwards to chill out on their deck overlooking the marsh and rehydrate.
Leave your diet at home when you venture down south. From local seafood, to BBQ, to farm to table, St. Simons restaurants offer a little something for everyone. Don’t worry about the calories because there are bike paths connecting the entire island so make sure you rent some bikes to do some sightseeing, cruise to the beach, and weave through the ancient oak trees.
When you’re ready to give your credit card a workout, there are so many boutiques in Redfern Village and on Market Street to help you. If you love high fashion, head to the Tibi outlet and Nancy for contemporary show stoppers. For the best shoe collection and affordable accessories, visit Shackleford Shoes. If gourmet food is your thing visit the Golden Isles Olive Oil Market for yummy gift baskets and a glass of wine from their wine bar. For home and garden, visit The Vine for unique planters and garden inspiration.
Have you taken a Mother-Daughter trip that you loved? Let me know in the comments!