Breakfast in bed? A Hallmark card? Come on, kids, you can do better than that. The woman did bring you into the world after all - so you owe her. Big time. This year, step up your game and give mom an epic vacation to remember. Trust us, these trips are guaranteed to make you the golden child for life.
By Chelsea Bengier
Photo by Cassandra Michelle Photography
Charleston, South Carolina
The mom/daughter brunch date is so overdone. How about a weekend eat-athon in Charleston instead? The southern foodie capital is chock-a-block with award-winning restaurants (Husk, FIG, and The Macintosh are reserved weeks in advance). So, start with breakfast at French bistro Chez Nous, which posts its daily menu on instagram (think almond crusted flounder or mushroom omelets). Then, burn those calories by shopping the charming stores on King Street before lunch. Fish-lovers should go for the fresh-shucked oysters at 167 Raw, while carnivores will love Swig & Swine's smoky BBQ. After the meal, explore the battery waterfront or the artisan stalls at Charleston City Market. But make sure to leave time for dinner at Charleston Grill, where you'll tuck into mouthwatering plates like pork cheeks and dumplings, seared snapper, and duck confit with truffle jus.
Photo by Mike Haverkate
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Wine is always a way to mom's heart. Skip the crowds in Napa for Oregon's Willamette Valley, just south of Portland. The region is known for its pinots - gris and noir - made by small-batch vintners. Winery hop from the locally-focused coop Carlton Winemakers Studio to the classy Bethel Heights to fan-favorite Sokol Blosser, which has a modernist tasting room with killer views. But if there's one you must visit, it's Stoller Family Estate, an airy space with floor-to-ceiling glass garage doors that spill out onto a sunny patio. Ask for a gourmet picnic paired with a bottle of chardonnay or rosé. Talk about the best girl's weekend EVER.
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No offense kids, but sometimes what mom needs most is some peace and quiet. So do her a solid and book her an open-air casita at Papaya Playa Project, an adult's-only beach retreat in Tulum. She can spend her solo vacation relaxing with a Mayan massage, a traditional temazcal steam bath or an oceanfront yoga class. Much more impressive than that spa certificate you got her last year.
Photo courtesy of Merci shop
We know it's cliche, but what mother would say no to Paris?! The city has it all: shopping, culture, incredibly good food. If you've never been, split your time between local and tourist attractions. You must see the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, of course, but the new Fondation Louis Vuitton is also worth a visit. After an afternoon exploring the contemporary art galleries, take a break at one of the charming outdoor cafes nearby (we love Les Deux Stations). Save a day to browse the boutiques along Rue de Charonne in the 11th arrondissement. There's Sessun for stylish threads, La Fee Maraboutee for boho-chic accessories, and Merci, a concept shop just a 15-minute stroll up Boulevard Beaumarchais, for eclectic home goods, vintage furniture and used books.
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If mommy dearest is more of the adventure type, jet off to Nicaragua. Get her adrenaline pumping by volcano boarding down Cerro Negro, just outside of León, on a wooden sled that reaches speeds up to 50 mph. Then cool off by surfing the swells along Playa Las Penitas's black sand beach. The waves can range from three to 10 feet, so it's smart to take a lesson with Coco Surf School before diving in on your own.
Photo courtesy of Glengoyne Distillery
Who says scotch is just for dads? Toss a few back at Edradour, one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland (it's been turning liquid gold since 1825). Here, you can taste handmade single malt whisky from the highlands. Next stop? Head 75 miles south, just half an hour outside of Glasgow, to sign up for the masterclass tour at Glengoyne. First you'll visit the the 180-year-old stillhouse before trying five whiskies and a range of sherry samples. Then, you'll blend your own bourbon and take home a 200ml bottle of the custom drink. Not a bad way to lift her spirits, eh?
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Photo courtesy of The Biltmore Company
Asheville, North Carolina
A bouquet of flowers is nice, but walking through a historic estate's private garden is even sweeter. The Biltmore, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, is gorgeous in the spring with pathways surrounded by tulips, peonies and lilacs. To see more of Asheville's stunning landscape, road trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway, which winds around the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. When hunger strikes, go for tapas at Curate - favorites include: pan con tomate and gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp). Or hit up Rhubarb by John Fleer, a three-time James Beard nominee, for crispy pig head with gribiche and smoked egg yolk, wood-grilled Mongolian-barbecued lamb ribs with collard green kimchi, and goat cheese gnudi with brown-butter braised cabbage, mushrooms, spinach and toasted pumpkin seeds. Polish it off with an array of artisan truffles from French Broad Chocolates.
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