7 Places to Go for a Perfect Mother-Daughter Vacation

Boost bonding and make memories on a mother-daughter trip.
Mom and daughter in NYC
(Photo: Sai De Silva via Unsplash)

For many people, Mother’s Day is a great reminder of the special bond that exists between mothers and daughters. But celebrating that bond doesn’t have to be reserved for Mother’s Day alone. Spending time as a mother-daughter duo away from daily routines can be an unbeatable bonding experience any time of year. 

Whether your dream is a big city, a tropical resort, or a national park, mother-daughter trips go best when both mom and daughter have a hand in trip planning (and that’s true whether your daughter is a child, teen, or adult). Start with these seven great mother-daughter vacation ideas and see where your inspiration takes you.

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1. Nonstop Aquatic Fun at Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas

Atlantis Royal Water View
Atlantis Paradise Island offers plenty of water fun for mother-daughter trips (Photo: Chris Villano)

Atlantis Paradise Island is an aquatic buffet for mothers and daughters who love being in water. Ranked among the best Caribbean resorts with water parks, it has dozens of slides at its Aquaventure water park, plus 11 swimming pools and a stunning swath of white sand beach. It’s also home to Dolphin Cay, the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, which houses some 50,000 aquatic animals, including playful dolphins. Here you can swim or snorkel with the dolphins using an underwater scooter to help you keep pace.

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The resort’s Junior Ultimate Trainer for a Day is a four-hour educational program for kids ages six to 10, who will work alongside aquarists feeding fish and tending to sea turtles. Off-site possibilities include mother-daughter day trips to the outer islands of Exuma and Eleuthera to swim with pigs and nurse sharks.

Where to Stay on Mother-Daughter Trips to Paradise Island, Bahamas

The Atlantis Paradise Island resort has five hotels on site, but budget-minded travelers should keep Comfort Suites Paradise Island on their radar too. Located next door to Atlantis, it offers tidy rooms and free admission to Atlantis. A complimentary buffet breakfast and frequent specials where kids eat lunch and dinner free are additional money-savers. 

2. Tea for Two in New York City

Eloise tea at the Plaza Hotel in New York, a popular mother-daughter trip destination
The Eloise Tea at the Plaza Hotel is a popular New York City stop for mother-daughter trips (Photo: The Plaza Hotel)

The Big Apple is famous for its exciting attractions and nonstop energy. Seeing a show on Broadway tops the list for many. Whether you prefer a musical or drama, there’s something to suit mothers and daughters of all ages on a New York vacation, though NYC is particularly great when vacationing with teens.

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Indulging in afternoon tea at a posh hotel is splurge-worthy, too. Fans of the classic children’s book Eloise know its mischievous heroine lived at The Plaza Hotel. The hotel’s iconic Palm Court serves a delightful Eloise-themed tea for children age 12 and under. Nibble on dainty finger sandwiches as you sip pink lemonade under a magnificent stained-glass dome surrounded by palm trees. 

If mineralogy is your girl’s best friend, the American Museum of Natural History’s newly renovated Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals has a sparkling display of priceless diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. 

Where to Stay in New York City on Mother-Daughter Trips

Trendy tweens and teens should enjoy the Moxy NYC East Village, which pays tribute to counterculture residents of this neighborhood. Don’t miss a meal at onsite restaurant Cathédrale, where both the food and service feel festive. 

3. A Floating Hotel in the Mediterranean Sea with Princess Cruises

The ship the Regal Princess floating in a sunny day
The Regal Princess is packed with mother-daughter fun (Photo: Princess Cruises)

For a trip to multiple European vacation spots, a cruise hits the sweet spot. The 11-day Grand Western Mediterranean itinerary from Princess Cruises starts in Barcelona and ends in Rome or vice-versa. Mothers and daughters will spend part of the day sightseeing in fabulous cities such as Dubrovnik and Pisa, either on organized shore excursions or exploring independently.

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Once you’re back on the ship, enjoy dinner and entertainment like poolside movies. It’s the perfect proportion of culture and shipboard fun. The ship’s Camp Discovery has age-specific, on-board programs led by trained staff, allowing moms of young daughters free time to hit the gym or relax poolside with a good book. 

4. Mother Nature at Her Finest in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Woman looking out at Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring destination for mother-daughter trips (Photo: NPS/CDubin)

Seeing the look on your child’s face as they gaze at the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is priceless. The South Rim is home to the tourist infrastructure of Grand Canyon Village. If you aren’t seasoned hikers, check out the Rim Trail, which connects a series of scenic overlooks. Bus stops scattered along the way offer the flexibility to combine hiking specific sections with riding the shuttle.  

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The sure-footed mule is a time-honored method of canyon transportation. For adventure-seekers, an overnight mule ride goes to the canyon floor, where riders sleep at Phantom Ranch. You must be at least nine-years-old and four feet, nine inches tall to participate. The canyon’s otherworldly rock formations and jaw-dropping size may have curious mothers and daughters wondering how it formed. The interpretive panels and detailed three-dimensional models at the Yavapai Geology Museum should answer some of these questions.

Where to Stay on Mother-Daughter Trips at the Grand Canyon

Dramatically perched on the canyon’s rim, El Tovar was considered the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1905. Today this classic national park lodge continues to ooze rustic charm.

5. Paris Is Always a Good Idea for Mother-Daughter Trips

Paris Street Cafe
Paris tops the bucket-list of many mothers and daughters, even if just for a short visit (Photo: Marloes Hilckmann via Unsplash)

With world-class culture and iconic monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Paris tops the bucket-list of many mothers and daughters, even if just for a short visit. Take time to explore its fairytale parks, where kids can ride a painted pony on a carousel and mingle with petit Parisians at the playground, as adults admire fragrant flower beds. 

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Shopping is a respected pastime in Paris, too. At the newly renovated flagship branch of venerable department store La Samaritaine, architectural elements include a show-stopping glass roof surrounded by a fresco of frolicking peacocks. The store sells hundreds of eclectic clothing brands, from high fashion to tomorrow’s trends. And speaking of fashion, the wearable art of designer Christian Dior is on display at the new Gallery Dior. See dresses as refined as sculptures in the beautiful setting where they were created. The doll-size collection of miniature dresses and accessories is a kid-pleaser. 

Where to Stay in Paris for a Mother-Daughter Vacation

The Nolinski Paris has 45 rooms and suites that feel like private apartments, adorned with decorative splashes of Carrara marble. Kids should get a kick out of the hand-painted clouds on the palatial staircase. An indoor pool adds diversion. 

6. Spa Treatments for Big and Little Guests at The Breakers Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers Lobby
Moms and daughters will find plenty of beach and spa time at The Breakers (Photo courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach)

Being pampered may bring out the best in both mothers and daughters. At The Breakers Palm Beach, kids ages six to15 are welcomed into the spa with special hair and nail services. Consider a luscious Ice Cream Mani-Pedi that comes with a creamy ice cream cone or go for beach braids and hair tinsel. Moms can luxuriate with a Black Orchid facial or custom massage. 

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Where to Stay in Palm Beach, Florida

Located in Palm Beach, The Breakers is a swanky oceanfront hotel that epitomizes seaside glamor. After your relaxing spa time, enjoy the sandy beach, sparkling pools, playground, and the area’s many incredible dining experiences

7. Seaside Celebrity Sightings in Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica bike trail with beach and palm trees in background
Santa Monica is a sunny stop for mother-daughter vacations (Photo: Santa Monica Travel Tourism)

For an introduction to California’s sun-kissed lifestyle, Santa Monica can’t be beat. Jump Pacific waves, build a sandcastle and watch surfers. Frequent celebrity sightings are catnip for mothers and daughters who groove on glitz. Rent bikes and pedal the beachside path past the Santa Monica Pier’s Ferris Wheel. If you’re in town on a Wednesday or Saturday, join foodies from around Los Angeles and enjoy fresh-picked produce at the farmers’ market on Arizona Avenue. 

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Where to Stay on Mother-Daughter Trips in Santa Monica, California

Wake up to a sea breeze at the casually elegant Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows. Glorious gardens and a fantastic swimming pool are oceanfront perks. 

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Allison Tibaldi
Allison Tibaldi has written for publications including CNN, Business Insider, FamilyVacationist, HGTV, USA TODAY, and Travel Weekly. As a former early childhood educator, she is interested in the way kids experience the world, and thinks that travel is the best education for young minds. Tibaldi is based in New York City.