Mother’s Day is quickly approaching — it’s May 10th this year — and for those who haven’t yet planned something special, there is still time. Instead of simply getting a gift or taking mom to dinner, think about treating her to a special experience you both can enjoy together.
Here are our top picks for things to do with mom on Mother’s Day.
1. See a show
One great way to bond with mom this Mother’s Day is to take her to see a show. Not only does this allow for a memorable experience, it lets mom forget her problems for an hour and enjoy the magic of the theater. To make the experience truly special, think about taking her to a city known for its impressive productions.
For example, taking mom to see a Broadway show in New York City will allow her to cross the iconic experience off her bucket list. There is an array of family-friendly shows playing; for example, Mamma Mia! is a feel-good play taking place in Greece, with 23 ABBA hits woven into the storyline. A few of the many other shows to choose from include The Lion King, Jersey Boys and Phantom of the Opera.
Las Vegas and Chicago, among other cities, also have excellent theater scenes with lots of great shows to choose from.
2. Indulge in good wine
This Mother’s Day, don’t just take mom out for dinner and a glass of wine. Instead, take her wine tasting in one of the world’s top wine regions.
One notable wine destination is Australia, which is home to the Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley, Hunter Valley, Margaret River and Swan Valley. Each of these regions is unique in the grapes they are known for, with many wineries and cellars offering experiences beyond wine tastings, such as making your own blends, chocolate and cheese pairings, and olive oil tastings. Additionally, many tours include excursion enhancements, like balloon rides, food tastings, horseback rides, animal encounters, national park visits and more.
Another iconic wine destination is France. Wine tasting in France will introduce mom to some of the country’s most beautiful, grape-filled areas like Champagne, the Loire Valley, Provence, the Rhone Valley and world-famous Bordeaux. Don’t leave without enjoying a structured pairing in a local wine cellar or a charcuterie-inspired meal in a vineyard.
And for those who don’t want to travel too far, you can find some of the world’s best wines in California. Sonoma Valley is known for being the birthplace of the state’s wine industry, while Napa Valley is known for its large mix of traditional and lesser-known varietals. Deciding how you want to see these wine regions is also fun, as you can cycle, walk, canoe, drive or ride in a stylish limo, comfortable coach, wine train or horse and carriage.
3. Treat her to a day of shopping
Instead of trying to choose a gift that mom may or may not like, why not let her pick out her own Mother’s Day present? Treating mom to a day of shopping not only relieves the stress of buying the perfect gift, but allows her to forget about work and life stresses and truly enjoy herself. Bonus: You can get some new items for yourself, as well.
One destination well known for its diverse shopping offerings is New York City. For instance, Union Square is full of vendors selling artisanal goods along the southwestern corner and is also home to the city’s most iconic bookstore, the Strand, which has 18 miles of books. SoHo is where you’ll find high-quality yet affordable brands like H&M, Bebe and Guess, while Fifth Avenue is littered with luxury shopping including Harry Winston, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, Fendi, Gucci and more.
Shopping in Las Vegas can include the royal treatment of getting chauffeured around in a limo, shopping at the outlets, enjoying a gourmet lunch at an authentic Asian restaurant or relaxing with a massage.
And for a real treat, pamper mom with a day of shopping in Italy — in Rome, Florence, Bologna or Milan, which is considered a world fashion capital.
4. Bring her favorite characters to life
If mom is a TV or film buff, consider bringing her favorite characters to life by taking her on a tour of some iconic on-screen spots. It’s one thing seeing a city while watching television, it’s another to actually see the landmarks and buildings where your favorite scenes take place. If mom is a fan of the British period drama Downton Abbey, take a filming locations tour with a private chauffeur from London to explore the grounds and gardens of Highclere Castle — the real Downton Abbey — and the Oxfordshire village of Bampton, the real Downton village. From London you can also experience a Harry Potter Tour, going behind the scenes at Warner Bros. Studio and visiting locations like the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley as well as Platform 9¾, where the fictional Hogwarts Express train departs from.
New York City is also great destination for TV and film enthusiasts, and there are numerous tours that let you enjoy television and move sites, like a Gossip Girl Sites Tour or a Sex and the City Hotspots Tour.
Atlanta is often called the “Hollywood of the South,” and it’s a great destination for touring movie and TV show locations. Some of the many movies and television shows that have been filmed in the city include Sweet Home Alabama, The Vampire Diaries, Into the Wild, The Blind Side, Due Date, Remember the Titans, The Three Stooges, The Walking Dead and Zombieland.
In Los Angeles, you’ll find the real Hollywood, the historical center of film and television. In fact, Hollywood’s screen culture is so rich the name is often synonymous with American cinema. There are many television and film experiences in Los Angeles for mom to enjoy, like visiting the homes of movie stars, touring sites related to Hollywood scandals, experiencing moviemaking magic at Universal Studios and seeing the filming locations for an array of movies, like the house used in Nightmare on Elm Street or the apartment complex from Pretty Woman, as well as settings from The Day After Tomorrow, Chinatown, Sunset Boulevard, Back to the Future, Terminator and more.
In the Windy City, take a Chicago Film Tour to see the settings of movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Transformers 3, The Dark Knight and many more.
A trip to New Zealand will not only let you and mom explore one of the world’s most unique landscapes, but also the fictional Middle-earth, made up by Lord of the Rings author J.R.R Tolkien. Just because it technically isn’t real, however, doesn’t mean it can’t be brought to life through a Lord of the Rings and Hobbiton Tour. These tours leave from Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and Christchurch, and visit hobbit holes, the working sheep farm that was transformed into the fictional village of Hobbiton, Bree village, Rivendell, River Anduin, Helm’s Deep and more.
5. Help her relax
Moms work hard, and so helping her relax could be the best gift you could possibly give. While many people give trips to the spa or breakfast in bed, something more creative would be to treat her to a scenic brunch cruise.
For example, a New York Sunday Brunch Cruise includes two hours of live music and an all-you-can-eat buffet brunch with items like croissants, fruits and cheese, bagels, scrambled eggs, French toast, Beef Stroganoff, baked tilapia, assorted cakes and more, as well as panoramic views from the open-air deck with landmarks like the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, Winter Garden, Battery Park, Governors Island and Ellis Island.
A Boston brunch cruise on a luxury yacht takes a scenic route from Castle Island to George’s Island before heading east to Little Brewster Island and back north to Charlestown Navy Yard. And the Chicago Brunch Cruise passes sites like Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), the John Hancock Center, the Shedd Aquarium and Aon Center and includes a glass of Champagne, live jazz and a gourmet buffet.
In New Orleans, mom doesn’t need sea legs to enjoy a delicious brunch. During a Jazz Brunch Buffet at the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant in New Orleans, mom can sample fresh, seasonal dishes as well as take in a live jazz trio and complimentary glass of wine. Some morning menu items include made-to-order omelets, grits and grillades, and shrimp and veggie pastas with a creamy Alfredo sauce, while the afternoon menu serves up Creole jambalaya, turtle soup, Oysters Bienville, duck a l’orange and shrimp etouffee.
6. Treat mom like the VIP she is
Your mom is a VIP but, unfortunately, she doesn’t get to feel like one on a day-to-day basis. Mother’s Day is the perfect time to show her how special she really is.
One way to do this is by treating her to an exclusive access tour that will make her feel like a celebrity in a unique destination. London is one city known for its posh offerings, and mom can experience this upscale lifestyle through an Exclusive Access to the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral tour.
The romantic city of Paris is another great destination where mom can feel like a VIP. For example, while experiencing a VIP Palace of Versailles Small-Group Tour with Private Viewing of the Royal Quarters, mom can gain entry to Versailles through a reserved entrance and see rooms normally off-limits to the public. Or see a Moulin Rouge show in style with VIP private balcony seating and a three-course French dinner with Champagne and wine.
In Italy, treat mom to a private viewing of the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican’s secret rooms, like the Niccoline Chapel and the Room of Gold, which are usually off-limits to the general public. Art-loving moms will especially enjoy being able to admire Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel without being pushed and pulled by a crowd.
7. Help her have fun with the whole clan
Would mom enjoy having the whole family together for Mother’s Day? Opt for a gift several generations can enjoy by taking her to an amusement park. Share the magic of Disney at Disneyland Paris, Disneyland near Los Angeles and Walt Disney World in Orlando. Meet your favorite characters like Mickey, Minnie and Goofy; scream and shout on exciting rides; take in 3-D animation; and experience the magic of fairy castles and your imagination. Universal Studios is another excellent option for a Mother’s Day outing, allowing the family to go behind the scenes of favorite television shows and films. Depending on if you’re on the East or West coast, the family can enjoy Universal Studios in Orlando or Universal Studios in Hollywood.
8. Let her choose
Since it’s mom’s special day, you may want to let her choose where she wants to go and what she wants to do. Opting for special city passes on Mother’s Day can help you enjoy a range of experiences at a discount. With these types of passes, you pay a set price that gives you entry to a number of attractions, often with added benefits. For example, museum entry might include access to a special exhibit, or the pass may offer access to unlimited rides on public transportation. Best of all, these passes are sold all over the world, with some popular cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Paris, Copenhagen, London, Stockholm, Madrid, Sydney and more.
9. Treat her to a trip through the palate
One of the best ways to explore a new destination or culture is through food. Whether you and mom stay home or decide to travel this Mother’s Day, taking part in a cooking class can be an excellent way to spend time together — as well as learn some new skills you can make use of in the future. Cities throughout Italy — like Rome, Florence, Siena and Naples — offer a range of Italian cooking classes where you and mom can learn everything from how to make authentic Neapolitan pizza to your own handmade pasta. France is another country known for its palate pleasures, with fresh baked breads, buttery croissants, stinky cheeses and rich desserts. Head to Paris to enjoy a gourmet French cooking class learning how to make pastries, classic French baguettes or French macaroons.
In Spain, you and mom can become pros at whipping up delicious paellas and tapas while also exploring the colorful markets.
Europe isn’t the only continent where you and mom can enjoy a day enhancing your skills in the kitchen. For example, in Argentina, there is an interactive dining experience in Buenos Aires that involves learning how to make empanadas, delicious wine cocktails, sweet alfajores and mate. The experience is enhanced with Malbec wine and steak tastings. Additionally, a Rio de Janeiro Small-Group Cooking Class will allow you and mom to learn about the local Brazilian culinary scene through a fun hands-on cooking class.
If mom is more interested in Japanese dishes then South American, a Kyoto Cooking Class, Sake Tasting and Nishiki Food Market Walking Tour can be a worthwhile bonding experience. And if mom would rather stay in the United States than go abroad, opt for a cooking class in New Orleans. Known as an epicenter for culinary culture in the country, you both will learn about Louisiana cooking from professional chefs while creating dishes like gumbo, jambalaya and pralines.
10. Give her an unforgettable view
Many restaurants, bars and museums offer bird’s-eye vistas, but you can make the holiday really special with a helicopter or hot air balloon ride. New York City offers a range of helicopter tours where mom can experience flying over landmarks like Times Square, Madison Square Garden and the Chrysler Building; coming face-to-face with the iconic Statue of Liberty; looking down on the five boroughs; and taking in the Big Apple from above at night when the city is all lit up. Other great Mother’s Day experiences include San Francisco helicopter rides over sites like Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, the Marine Headlands and Sausalito, or Las Vegas helicopter rides over the vibrant Sin City strip or the nearby Grand Canyon.
Hot air balloon rides are also a great way to take in the scenery from above, as well as get your adrenaline pumping. In the United States, the beautiful vineyards and countryside of California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys are best enjoyed from above, especially when the experience is combined with a sparkling wine or Champagne brunch. In Turkey, a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia allows you and mom to take in the unworldly “fairy chimneys” and volcanic rock spires that dot the bizarre but beautiful landscape. And from Barcelona, take mom for a scenic hot air balloon flight over Catalonia from heights up to 3,000 feet (900 meters).
11. Bring out her inner daredevil
Having new experiences with mom will not only bring you closer, but also show you both that you’re capable of more than you imagined. Moreover, mom will feel like a carefree teen again as she gets in touch with her inner daredevil. One popular bucket list adventure is skydiving. While this can be done in many locations all over the world, there are certain destinations that are better suited for the activity. For example, skydiving in New Zealand allows you and mom to jump out of a plane from up to 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) at speeds of up to 125 mph (200 kph) over the adrenaline-junkie haven of Queenstown.
Skydiving from Las Vegas means you’ll free-fall at top speed from the sky before enjoying aerial views of Mount Charleston, Red Rock Canyon and the Las Vegas Strip. Miami is another great place for skydiving as you and mom can enjoy a mix of city and beach views while flying like birds.
You may also want to treat mom to a lesser-known adventurous experience — for example, race car driving in Cancun or Las Vegas, or learning how to fly like a fighter pilot via a Top Gun and Air Combat Experience.
And for something truly heart-pounding and unforgettable, shark diving in South Africa is something you’ll be able to brag about to family members for the rest of your lives. The experience, which takes place off the shore of Gansbaai — known for its dense population of great white sharks — will put you and mom in an underwater cage in the open ocean within touching distance of one of the world’s most dangerous predators.
12. Treat her to a once-in-a-lifetime trip
While traveling to a new destination is always exciting, there are certain trips that are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This Mother’s Day, treat the most important woman in your life to a truly memorable trip with experiences and landscapes not found anywhere else.
One great example of a once-in-a-lifetime trip is a safari in South Africa to see the Big Five — the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros — while staying in luxury game lodges; seeing beautiful landscapes filled with mountains, prairies and waterfalls; bird watching; passing through charming towns; and immersing yourself in a natural beauty like no other.
Taking a cruise to Antarctica is another once-in-a-lifetime trip, especially as it is one of the more difficult places to get to. You’ll give mom the chance to step foot on a continent many never get the chance to explore. Additionally, the terrain is unlike any other, full of icebergs of all shapes and sizes, penguins, exotic birds, seals, whales and unworldly sunsets that provide a backdrop for unspoiled nature with barely anything man-made to be seen.
And if mom is more into warm-weather destinations, Greek Island hopping is a great Mother’s Day experience full of outstanding natural beauty, with white sand beaches, turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, mysterious caves, 11th-century monasteries, archeological sites and whitewashed towns. Additionally, each island has its own history and offerings, and an island-hopping cruise will allow you and mom to explore these.
– Contributed by Jessica Festa