Looking for the perfect destination to enjoy mother-daughter trips on a budget in the U.S.?
If you’re craving bonding time with mom and seeking a place to create memories without busting your budget, you’re in luck! Throughout the past eight years, I’ve taken countless trips with my mom to more than a dozen countries and 30 U.S. states. This post in particular pays homage to our travel memories in the U.S., highlighting my best tips and recommendations for exploring the land of the free on a budget.
The seven destinations below are brimming with fun activities, unique experiences, and plenty of opportunities for bonding that you and your mom are sure to love. From quaint cobblestone streets in small towns to luxurious afternoon teas in lush gardens, there’s something for every mother-daughter duo. So, grab your suitcases and your sense of adventure — it’s time for a trip you and your mom will never forget!
1. St. Augustine Florida
Old Town Trolley Ride
Picture yourself and your mom hopping on and off at your leisure, exploring the rich history of the oldest city in America. During the ride, you’ll pass by beautiful gardens and cobblestone streets that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
San Sebastian Winery
Here, you’ll enjoy a free facility tour and wine tasting. For just a few dollars per person, you can do a second tasting of three additional blends paired with chocolates. The house-made sangria is a favorite!
Whetstone Chocolate Factory
It’s a chocoholic’s dream and the perfect way to end a day of sightseeing. And the best part? You can satisfy your sweet tooth on a 45 minute tasting tour without emptying your wallet.
Where to Stay in St. Augustine
If listening to the waves crash as you drift off to sleep is your mantra, the beachside property of Hampton Inn Vilano Beach is your go-to. Envision yourself stepping out onto the beach right from the hotel, starting each day with a refreshing dip in the ocean or a walk along the pristine white sands. Additionally, the property serves a hot buffet-style breakfast every morning, and has a cookies and coffee turn down at night.
Aim for a daily budget of less than $100 per person, and find savings with tasty food trucks for lunch or by splitting larger meals. Enjoy free attractions like the city’s historic sites and stunning beaches for a budget-friendly, win-win trip!
2. Nashville, Tennessee
Honky Tonk bars
There are dozens of honky tonk bars along Broadway where you can kick up your boots and listen to up-and-coming country music stars during the day. Entry is free and there’s no pressure to buy a drink! (Pro tip: buy your cowgirl boots before arriving in Nashville. There are plenty of shops on Broadway that sell genuine leather boots, but you will pay a mint for them!)
Visiting the Gaylord Opryland Resort is a must when in Nashville. Not only is it free to enter, you can spend hours exploring its lush indoor gardens and walking paths. It’s like a small town within the city! It’s also next to Opry Mills Mall and the Grand Ole’ Opry so you can shop and listen to top performers in no time.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
It’s the perfect opportunity to taste the city’s iconic dish: Nashville Hot Chicken! It’s spicy, sweet, crispy, and oh-so-delicious! You and mom can share a plate, a few sides, and leave feeling satisfied without emptying your wallets.
Where to Stay in Nashville
It’s a comfortable, well-located spot that won’t blow your budget. Plus, it offers free shuttle service to-and-from Nashville International Airport (BNA), as well as a hot, buffet-style breakfast every morning. Book your stay at Courtyard by Marriott Nashville Airport for your Music City adventure!
Explore free attractions like the Music City Walk of Fame, opt for shared meals, and aim for a daily budget of around $75-$100 per person. Book your flights to BNA at least three months in advance. Nashville is a popular destination, especially for bachelorette parties, so try to find the best flight deal possible on sites like Skyscanner. Sometimes the city’s best experiences (such as walking around the Parthenon or tuning into an outdoor concert) cost nothing at all!
3. Asheville, North Carolina
The Lobster Trap
If you’re looking for a more “upscale” restaurant with decent prices, The Lobster Trap in downtown Asheville is a great choice! They serve everything from fresh oysters on the half-shell to succulent Maine lobster rolls. Don’t pass up an order their lobster Mac n’ cheese!
This jaw-dropping mansion is the perfect place for some Insta-worthy snaps, and offers a fascinating glimpse into history. The grounds also feature hiking and walking trails, a waterfall, and a winery. Having a rental car to explore Biltmore and the surrounding Asheville area (the murals!) is recommended. Pro tip: Wear a comfortable but chic outfit to explore in — you’ll really feel like royalty!
Take to the trails for a relaxing forest stroll at either Moore Cove Falls or the Whitewater Falls. Both trails are some of the best in the area. They are moderately difficult with very little elevation, so they are great for mom, too. Just remember to pack breathable, waterproof hiking boots for the trails!
Where to Stay in Asheville
Yourcation Awaits Mountain Cabin
This quaint cabin is nestled in the heart of nature, providing a serene backdrop ideal for some quality bonding time. Plus, it comes with all the homey comforts of home you’ll love (including an epic master bath with double rainforest showers) making it a snug retreat to return to after your day’s explorations.
While the Biltmore Estate can be pricey, hiking trails are free and provide a memorable experience. Save on meals by visiting local food trucks and farmers’ markets, and book flights at least three months in advance, especially if traveling during the summer months. Budget around $80-$120 per person daily for your special mother-daughter trip in Asheville!
4. Washington, DC
They’re all free! Soak in the wonders of art, history, and culture without spending a dime. Personal favorites include the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Castle. Plus, who doesn’t love a good dinosaur exhibit?
This historic estate in D.C.’s posh Georgetown neighborhood offers stunning gardens and intriguing collections. Housing works of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art, books, and other historic objects, it’s truly a hidden gem right in the city’s heart.
United States Botanical Garden
This living plant museum was once the vision of George Washington 200 years ago. It’s the oldest continuously operating public garden in the United States and features rotating exhibits, educational programs, and plenty of unique plant collections! Mom will love stepping into a lush, green paradise in the middle of the city’s hustle and bustle.
Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
YOTEL Washington DC
For a good night’s sleep, the YOTEL Washington DC is your go-to. It’s modern, comfy, and close to many major attractions. Additionally, they recently remodeled the entire property, which includes the epic rooftop pool and bar with sweeping views of downtown DC!
In DC, many attractions like the Smithsonian Museums and Botanical Gardens are free, and using public transport saves on parking. Dine at iconic yet affordable restaurants such as District Taco, Bens Chili Bowl, and Pete’s Diner to eat well without breaking the bank. If you plan on exploring outside of DC, booking a rental car is a must. However, if you plan to stay in the city limits, the Metro rail and bus system is perfect for getting around. Plan for about $200 per day for an affordable, fun-filled trip.
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
It’s a different way to enjoy the city’s glittering lights, and the view from the top is simply unbeatable. A little tip: it’s even better at sunset.
Catch a show
Think Penn & Teller, the Jabbawockeez, or even Thunder Down Under if mom has a good sense of humor. Michael Jackson’s ONE at Mandalay Bay is also absolutely thrilling. It blends his iconic music with a mesmerizing Cirque du Soleil performance.
Walking through the Bellagio is like walking through a beautiful dream. The décor changes with the seasons, making you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale. Beautiful gardens, twinkling lights, and awe-inspiring installations await! If you have time, treat mom to luxurious a afternoon tea at the hotel’s Petrossian Bar & Lounge.
Where to Stay in Vegas
The Flamingo Hotel is a relatively affordable option for staying on the Vegas Strip. Its vibrant atmosphere, iconic pink façade, and retro vibe make it the perfect hotel for a mother-daughter Vegas trip. It’s close to all the attractions and offers comfortable rooms without breaking the bank, perfect for mother-daughter trips on a budget.
If you’re savvy, Las Vegas can be affordable. Look for discounted show tickets online, and remember that walking the Strip is free (this includes the Bellagio fountain show!). Plan to spend around $150 daily for a memorable Vegas experience without breaking the bank.
6. New York City
This activity might be a bit of a splurge, but if it’s the only thing you splurge on, it’s well worth it! Whether it’s a classic show like Chicago, or something new like The Neil Diamond Musical, it’s guaranteed to be a great time. Additionally, it’s the perfect opportunity for you and mom to dress up and enjoy the glitz and glamour.
Here, it’s all about the views! The best part, is you can savor delicious appetizers while gazing at the stunning Manhattan skyline. It’s a chic yet affordable way to indulge in a bit of luxury during your mother-daughter trip.
It’s the green heart of the city. You’ll find beautiful gardens, charming bridges, and lots of squirrels. It’s a peaceful – and free! – escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. There’s also a castle in the middle of the Park, — Belvedere Castle — that is perfect for photo opps.
Where to Stay in New York City
If you’re looking for a centrally-located hotel with a pinch of luxury that doesn’t empty your wallet, The Library Hotel is a great choice. Each room is themed after a different topic in the Dewey Decimal System. It also is a Mecca for book lovers, and has a stunning rooftop with great views of Manhattan. Book your stay at the Library Hotel for your upcoming New York City mother-daughter getaway!
Opt for a city pass to save on attractions. And remember, some of the best attractions in New York are free! Enjoy people-watching in Central Park, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, or explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods on foot. Stick to a daily budget of around $200 per person (lodging included), and you’re set for a memorable NYC adventure!
7. Portland, Oregon
Picture a towering, two-tiered waterfall cascading down a lush, verdant cliffside. It offers a scenic hike that’s perfect for bonding with your mom. Hike up to Benson Bridge for awe-inspiring views of the fall.
Voo Doo Doughnuts
These aren’t just any doughnuts…they’re legendary! With crazy flavors and unique designs, you’ll love every bite. And yes, both the doughnut shop and the doughnuts are totally Instagram-worthy, too.
The Portland Japanese Garden
This zen garden is an oasis in the middle of the city. It’s peaceful, serene, and absolutely stunning. It’s like stepping into another world amidst a concrete jungle.
Where to Stay in Portland
Best Western Plus Portland Airport Hotel & Suites
The Best Western Hotel brand offers comfortable and budget-friendly lodging options with spacious rooms and excellent service. This property in particular has a convenient location near the airport and downtown Portland, which means you’ll be within a short distance of all the city’s best attractions. It also features a complimentary breakfast every morning, as well as friendly staff and free shuttle transport to-and-from the airport.
Portland is full of free or low-cost activities such as parks, museums, and outdoor concerts, so take advantage! Public transportation is affordable and convenient, making it a breeze to explore different places.
Mother-Daughter Trips on a Budget: FAQs
Below are some common questions people have when planning budget-friendly mother-daughter trips:
Where can I take my mother on a trip?
There’s a smorgasbord of budget-friendly mother-daughter trips to choose from. Consider a road trip through hidden gems in small U.S. towns, or enjoy a staycation exploring local attractions. Even exploring your own city or state can offer a memorable and cost-effective getaway.
Why are mother-daughter trips important?
Mother-daughter trips are vital for creating lasting memories and deepening bonds. They offer a unique space for sharing experiences, understanding each other better, and celebrating a special relationship through new adventures and shared stories.
Are mother-daughter trips good for health?
Absolutely! A special mother-daughter trip can be rejuvenating, reduce stress, and boost happiness. Plus, if you incorporate plenty of outdoor activities into your itinerary, you’ll be moving, laughing, and soaking up the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. Wherever in the world you take mom, just be sure to invest in a reputable and comprehensive travel insurance policy with a company such as Safety Wing.
Conclusion: Mother-Daughter Trips on a Budget
In the end, planning a wallet-friendly mother-daughter getaway isn’t rocket science. With a sprinkle of creativity and a dash of planning, you’ll find the perfect place for that quality time, whether exploring the cobblestone streets of a small town, enjoying outdoor activities in your backyard, or taking a memorable road trip across the United States.
Remember, the best things in life aren’t things. They’re moments shared with the ones we love. So here’s to making memories, living life to the fullest, and experiencing the joy of mother-daughter getaways on a budget.