Traveling is one of the best ways to bond as a family, but the dynamic shifts as children become adults. Family vacations are no longer about occupying restless kids and finding adventures everyone’s okay with. They’re about creating meaningful memories during one of the most important stages of life: the time when family members become friends.
I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy this type of travel with my family, particularly during getaways with my mom. We’ve bonded over hilarious memories of getting lost, we’ve shared some of the best (and worst!) meals of my life, and we continuously forge deeper friendships with conversations on the trail, while wandering around town, or posted up at nearby breweries.
Mother-daughter getaways bring the two of us closer than almost anything else, and these trips have been essential for helping us stay connected. If you want to bond with your own mother or daughter through travel, here are eight excellent mother-daughter getaway destinations to consider.
The Grand Canyon
The first big adventure my mom and I took together was a trip to the Grand Canyon. In her 20-somethings, my mom worked at the Grand Canyon over a summer. This trip was our chance to relive her “glory days” -- and my chance to envision my mom in her heyday. What an experience it was!
My mom is still pretty active, so we spent our time hiking the first portion of the Bright Angel Trail, hiking along the Rim Trail, visiting the Desert View Watchtower for panoramic views of this natural wonder, and watching the sunset from behind Bright Angel Lodge. To make a super Southwest weekend out of it, we even drove to Antelope Canyon for a quick tour on our way back to Las Vegas.
My mom and I haven’t been to Iceland together yet, but we both went separately and loved it so much that we’re heading back there as a duo this fall. Iceland is perfect for a mother-daughter getaway given how easy it is to get around. Drivers are friendly, traffic isn’t awful, and if you’re following the Ring Road, it’s virtually impossible to get lost.
Our fall trip will include some time exploring in downtown Reykjavik before renting a car and heading south for rest and relaxation in a quaint cabin. While in Iceland, you can also road trip to waterfalls like Godafoss and visit the luxurious Blue Lagoon. We’re also looking forward to cozying up for drinks and conversations in the quiet little town of Vik.
With delicious wineries at every turn, it’s hard to beat a mother-daughter weekend getaway in Napa Valley. The weekend could go a few different ways depending on your interests and tastes. If you’re into trying as many wines as possible, book a local tour guide or even splurge on a limo excursion from one vineyard to the next.
If you’d rather hunker down and become “pseudo locals,” book a hotel on or near a winery like Las Alcobas so you can visit and imbibe during the day then walk home and relax in upscale digs every night. And, heck, if you’re looking to really go big, get a bird’s-eye view of the vineyards from the comfort of a scenic hot air balloon -- an experience my mom and I hope to share one day! You’ll also want to eat local in Napa Valley with the best restaurants to try.
Visiting Paris is a rite of passage for many travelers, and who better to experience (or re-experience) that with than your mother or daughter? For the perfect mother-daughter getaway, book a centrally located hotel near the Louvre so you can walk to major attractions like the art museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Seine, plus must-stop dining spots like the upscale and charming Angelina Paris.
While it’s hard to beat central Paris, my mom and I loved exploring Montmartre for views of her favorite city, not to mention art shops galore. If time allows, stop by Georges, a rooftop bar at the National Museum of Modern Art that boasts incredible views of Paris. While we only shared an appetizer and some wine, this was by far our favorite view of the city.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
With horse-drawn carriages, no cars, scenic cycling, and a relaxed vibe, Mackinac Island is one of the Midwest’s greatest getaway destinations. My family and I have visited at least a dozen times, and some of my favorite memories stem from the times my mom and I explored this northern Michigan island on our own.
Our favorite days started with biking eight miles around the exterior of the island (bike rental shops abound in downtown Mackinac), followed by lunch at staples like the Village Inn’s Kingston Kitchen and shopping along Main Street. On the days we decided to treat ourselves, we take’d a horse-drawn-carriage “taxi” to The Woods, a fancy restaurant tucked away in -- you guessed it -- the woods. On afternoons we chose to relax and unwind, we’d grab ice cream at our favorite spot, Ryba’s Fudge Shop, then sit in the lakefront rocking chairs behind the town library.
I visited Bergen on the Viking Homelands Viking Cruise press trip with my fiance this fall, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much my mom would’ve enjoyed not just the cruise (another great mother-daughter getaway idea!) but our final stop: Bergen. This Scandinavian destination is one of the best places I can think of to travel as a mother-daughter duo given that it’s safe, quaint, and scenic, with outdoor activities for travelers of all experience levels. For instance, my mom and I could take the funicular up Mount Floyen, then hike a bit around the top before making our way down on foot to soak up the city’s vistas. Or, if she was feeling up to it, we could make the hike up then funicular back down.
Of course, Bergen is more than just a funicular ride; the main town has dozens of fun sights and experiences for mothers and daughters to enjoy together. The main harbor’s fish market is bustling on weekends, with little shops to try local bites and even have the chef cook a fish you just bought at the stands. Continuing on past the fish market is one of the best views in Bergen: the old Bryggen wharf lined with colorful houses and mountains in the background.
Portugal isn’t just a tourist hot spot; it’s a must-visit destination for mothers and daughters seeking serenity and scenery in a single destination. The Algarve, a mix of cliffs and sand along Portugal’s southern coast, is dotted with upscale resorts like the five-star Vilalara Thalassa Resort.
My mom and I stayed at this resort during the chilly yet crowd-free spring and had the spa and private beach almost entirely to ourselves. That said, summer weather may be worth contending with the crowds for the chance to sunbathe and swim in one of the resort’s many pools.
To make the most of a trip to the Algarve with your mother or daughter, spend some time hiking one of the many famous cliff walks along the coast (The Castelejo Trail was our favorite!). For another Algarve perspective, hit the water for a tour of the spectacular Benagil Cave by boat. Don’t miss one of the Algarve’s many vineyards for an evening of wine tasting; Quinta do Frances Winery is one of the area’s most famous.
For a nautical weekend getaway with your mother or daughter, look no further than Maine’s charming town of Portland. My mom and I visited Portland for a Memorial Day weekend filled with lighthouses, lobster, and way too much shopping.
In terms of lighthouses, it’s hard to beat the well-known Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, although we were almost equally impressed by the significantly less crowded Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse in South Portland. For a memorable day getaway, take the ferry to Peaks Island, where you can bike or stroll around this historic, laid-back destination. Or, take a road trip up to one of our new favorite shopping destinations, Freeport, which houses the L.L. Bean Outlet Store, not to mention a variety of other top-notch outlets including The North Face.
To cap off a perfect mother-daughter getaway, don’t miss the waterfront Lobster Shack at Two Lights in South Portland. This bring-your-own-beer restaurant lets the scenery do the talking, with low-frills (yet delicious) lobster and picnic tables overlooking the sea and nearby lighthouses. If you and your mom or daughter want even more lobster, consider our recipe for a perfect lobster crawl in Portland, too.
This list only scratches the surface of destinations for mother-daughter getaway trips. That’s why my mom and I continuously travel to new places -- and revisit our favorite spots. We know each trip is an opportunity to make important and lasting memories together.