All Ages

10 Best Mother-Daughter Trips

See recent posts by Jackie Perrin

Spa sojourns and beach escapes are popular ways for ladies to get away with their adult girlfriends, but where do you go when you want to celebrate a special milestone with your daughter? Consider a visit to these achievement-oriented attractions, all celebrating the amazing accomplishments of women. These are the best mother-daughter trips.

Susan B. Anthony Museum & House; Courtesy of Visit Rochester

1. The Finger Lakes, New York

Besides featuring some of the most picturesque trails for biking in the continental U.S., the Finger Lakes region is the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement, not to mention a mecca for farm-loving foodies.

From Rochester, spin your wheels to the pretty village of Pittsford and check into the Renaissance Del Monte Lodge & Spa. Convenient to the Erie Canalway Trail and within walking distance to village dining and shopping, the property is a favorite among locals looking for a little pampering. If you didn’t bring your own ride, you can rent one across the street at Towpath Bike at Schoen Place. If you prefer a package deal, WomanTours and Classic Adventures, both headquartered in the area, offer guided tours featuring Finger Lakes itineraries.

Journey southeast to Seneca Falls, situated on the northern shore of Cayuga Lake, where a visit to some of the nation’s most lauded landmarks should be your priority. Top spots include Women’s Rights National Historic Park, chronicling the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention, held in 1848, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame, which pays homage to the accomplishments of more than 250 pioneering American women, from Susan B. Anthony to Oprah Winfrey. Across the street from the Hall of Fame, shop for tongue-in-cheek souvenirs at WomanMade Products, a feminist-friendly shop with an amusing sense of humor for all ages.

Work up an appetite while you make your way west to the northern end of Canandaigua Lake, where the New York Wine & Culinary Center beckons. Opened in 2006, the facility features a multitude of ways to sample farm-fresh cuisine, from interactive classes and area tours to tasting room experiences.

Recommended Hotel: Renaissance Del Monte Lodge & Spa

The International Women's Air and Space Museum in Cleveland, Ohio; Courtesy of The International Women's Air and Space Museum

2. Cleveland, Ohio

Reverence for rock ‘n’ roll may bring crowds to Cleveland, but if you want to be inspired by an unconventional female “boomer” band, soar over to the International Women’s Air and Space Museum, where, even if you’re not a fan of flying, you’re bound to leave enlightened. From firsthand accounts of what it was like to be a WASP (Woman Air Force Service Pilot) during WWII to the remarkable, but little-known story of the Mercury 13, the fearless group of females we came to know in Hidden Figures.

Nearby in Canton, at the National First Ladies Library, you can soak up some political history while learning about the notable causes, fashion and views created and adopted by leading first ladies. Afterwards, rock ‘n’ roll together with the Burning River Roller Girls, Cleveland’s all-female flat-track roller derby league, or let your daughter learn the fundamentals of flying at AeroCamp. The latter experience, designed for middle-schoolers, includes instruction, hands-on experience in a flight simulator and a voucher good for a half-hour Discovery Flight.

More hands-on adventures are in store at The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland, where you can enjoy a little pampering, as well as lend comfort to others by signing up for a “Give Back Getaway.” The program, offered at all Ritz-Carlton properties, offers guests an opportunity to make a lasting impression through organized and sponsored community service activities.

Recommended Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland

National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame

3. Forth Worth, Texas

Fashion, professional football and the history of the American frontier are among the claims to fame of the greater Dallas and Fort Worth area. For an inside look at the women who shaped the Southwest, steer yourself to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, located in Fort Worth’s Cultural District.

After you’ve perused the galleries and had your turn on the museum’s Bronco Ride, scoot over to the Stockyards District and stop in at M.L. Leddy’s, famous for custom cowboy boots, hand-shaped hats and Western wear. At the Stockyards, you can watch the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive (the Fort Worth Herd), take in a Wild West show (Pawnee Bill’s), learn the Texas Two-Step at the World’s largest honky tonk (Billy Bob’s Texas) or check out the Stockyards Championship Rodeo, held on Friday and Saturday nights at Cowtown Coliseum.

Be sure to check out Esperanza’s Bakery & Cafe for its migas (Tex-Mex egg dish), sopes, tamales and fresh-baked goodies.

Recommended Hotel: Hyatt Place Fort Worth Historic Stockyards

National Museum of Women in the Arts; Courtesy of Kevin Allen/National Museum of Women in the Arts

4. Washington, D.C.

Finding your inner muse can be both enjoyable and easy on the wallet when you pay a visit to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Housed in a landmark Masonic temple, the museum brings recognition to female artists, offering a broad picture of women’s roles within creative history. Museum admission is free for children under 18 and also free for everyone on “Community Day,” typically scheduled the first Sunday of each month.

See more female-oriented works of art, all paying tribute to trailblazing women in history, at the U.S. Capitol. Nearby in National Statuary Hall, you can view statues and busts depicting more female abolitionists, woman’s suffrage crusaders and civil rights advocates, including Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth.

If you want to end your day with an artful rest, consider checking into Hotel Palomar Washington D.C. Within walking distance to the White House and the National Mall, the trendy Kimpton boutique hotel features an art in motion theme. Among the accommodation options, Motion Spa Rooms and Spa Suites offer special amenities destined to incite rest and relaxation.

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Palomar Washington D.C.

Balboa Park in San Diego; Courtesy of  Hayk_Shalunts

5. San Diego, California

Learn about the accomplishments and activities of local and national females who made a name for themselves at the Women’s Museum of California in San Diego, one of five museums in the U.S. dedicated to women’s history. In addition to lectures and traveling exhibits, the museum sponsors a number of special events, including a suffrage parade held annually in Balboa Park. At the museum store, you can shop for jewelry made by local female artists, or pick up a museum T-shirt imprinted with the slogan, “Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History.”

Twenty minutes south, at the iconic Hotel del Coronado, you can sign up for a surf lesson, spend a leisurely day at the beach, peruse more than 15 resort shops or enjoy a spa treatment. The Spa at the Del offers a selection of teen treatments, including a signature Teen Spa Sundae package, which includes a 25-minute ice cream float bath, a 25-minute sugar scrub and a 25-minute frosting massage. At the property’s MooTime Creamery and Spreckels Candy shops, you can enjoy more sweet treats.

Nearby Paradise Point Spa and Resort is another great mother-daughter vacation option on the beach, offering a range of family-friendly amenities, including surf lessons, mother-daughter spa treatments and water taxi service to SeaWorld San Diego.

Recommended Hotel: Hotel del Coronado

Crystal Rver Manatees; Courtesy of Discover Crystal River

6. Crystal River, Florida

For a once-in-a-lifetime adventure you and your daughter will never forget, take a trip to Florida’s Nature Coast, where you can snorkel and swim together alongside West Indian manatees. From November to March, Crystal River Plantation Dive Shop takes guests to the refreshing spring waters of Kings Bay, the largest concentration of gentle giants in the world. Expert-guided three-hour Manatee Snorkel Tours allow swimmers to passively observe and swim alongside the amazingly docile creatures. Excursions include use of all equipment (wet suits, snorkels and fins), boat transportation, and hot cocoa or coffee and towel service.

Tour packages at Crystal River Plantation Resort include overnight accommodations and breakfast for two. While winter months are best for manatee encounters, summer and fall present another one-of-a-kind mother-daughter adventure. From July 1 to late September, seasonal snorkel excursions bring you to Florida’s grassy flats, where you can collect bay scallops, Later at West 82 Grill, you can enjoy your resort chef-cooked catch. Think of it as an aquatic Easter egg hunt with a savory reward!

Miles from Florida’s theme park frenzy, serene and affordably priced Plantation on Crystal River offers all the amenities you need to maximize your mother-daughter relaxation time. The 232-acre resort features a marina, 27 holes of golf, a resort style pool and a full-service Aveda spa.

Recommended Hotel: Plantation on Crystal River

The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York; Courtesy of The National Comedy Center

7. Jamestown, New York

Need some comic relief in your life this year? A trip to the new National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, is practically guaranteed to make you grin for hours.  Tweens, teens and college-age kids will have fun making their own memes and creating cartoons at the 37,000-square-foot Western New York gem of a museum that’s dedicated to comedy.

Mothers and daughters can experience the healing power of laughter as they mimic and take the stage with their favorite comedians and enjoy over 50 interactive exhibits.  RFID museum-issued wristbands present a truly personalized experience, allowing families to compare favorite genres and find common comedic meeting ground as they play and laugh along together. Be forewarned: the upper level “Blue Room” is strictly R-rated. Nearby, the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Museum offers an in-depth glimpse into the lives of one of Hollywood’s most famous funny couples.

Make a comical weekend of it with a Hilarious Getaway Package at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel. The getaway for two includes overnight accommodations at the 2018-opened deluxe hotel, museum tickets and a meal voucher for the Lakehouse Tap & Grill. Present a pair of Groucho Marx glasses (also included in your comedy-themed getaway gift bag!) and enjoy complimentary dessert. 

Recommended Hotel: Chautaugua Harbor Hotel

Cirque du Soleil at Disney Springs in Orlando; Courtesy of Disney

8. Disney World, Florida

If you have Mickey Mouse fans in your family, what better way is there to celebrate a landmark event than a mother-daughter getaway to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando? A great destination for celebrating a quincenera, Sweet 16, graduation or college send-off, the central Florida resort features four theme parks, two water parks, 36 onsite resort hotels and Disney Springs, a separate shopping, dining and entertainment district.

Walt Disney World special celebration options are limited only by your budget and imagination, and range from themed scavenger hunts, special dinners and birthday parties delivered directly to your resort guestroom by Disney Floral and Gifts.

In 2020, a new Cirque de Soleil show is set to debut at Disney Springs. Designed in collaboration with Disney Animation and Disney Imagineering, the one-of-a-kind show is certain to be an Orlando vacation bucket list item.

Recommended Hotel: Disney’s Polynesian Resort

9. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Combine a five-star spa experience with a tween and teen-friendly adventure your daughter can’t wait to chat about with her friends at Velas Vallarta. Situated on Banderas Bay on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, the all-suite resort offers one-of-a-kind experiences you’ll love. For starters, there’s a YouTube workshop, where influencers ages 12 to 17 can create and edit their own YouTube cooking or special interest video. Got a Green Queen? The resort’s Behind the Scenes Eco Tour is a surefire highlight, giving her an exclusive glimpse at innovative recycling, solar energy and composting practices, and—best of all—a VIP tour of the onsite sea turtle nursery!

The Spa at Velas Vallarta offers an impressive menu of children’s and teen treatments, from a Princess Massage to a Be Yourself teen facial. Less than 10 minutes from Puerto Vallarta International Airport, Grand Velas Vallarta resort features onsite water sports, a kids’ club, two resort pools, and a weekly Mexican fiesta featuring regional foods, glass blowing demonstrations and mariachi musicians. Special single parent rates are available.

Recommended Hotel: Velas Vallarta

Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia; Courtesy of George Widman Photography L.L.C./Visit Philadelphia

10. Philadelphia, PA

While some big cities demand a serious investment of time to explore the major sites, Philadelphia is a destination that you and your daughter can easily enjoy in a weekend. For next to nothing, you can visit historic attractions like Independence National Park and the U.S. Mint, while an affordably priced Go Philadelphia Pass gets you deeply discounted admission to your choice of 35 top attractions, plus hop-on, hop-off bus transportation. Sightseeing options that tweens to adults will enjoy include Franklin Institute, The Philadelphia Zoo and One Liberty Observation Deck (try to time your visit for sunset!).

Mothers and daughters who prefer a culinary adventure can get a taste of Philadelphia at the bustling Reading Terminal Market, a historic public market with a street of shops, ethnic foods and over 30 food vendor options. For a real ethnic immersion, take a South Philly Italian Family Dinner tour with StrEATS of Philly. The two-hour Italian Market walking tour includes cheese, olives, bread, espresso and pasta with Sunday gravy.

Recommended Hotel: The Notary Hotel, Autograph Collection

Writer Jackie Perrin has covered the best of family travel for nearly two decades, for media ranging from newspapers and magazines to TripAdvisor.com. At home and on the go, she manages a crew of companions. Follow her on Pinterest, TripAdvisor and Instagram, @NYfamtravels.

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