Mother's Day getaways used to be just a short drive down the road, to a favorite local restaurant. But no more. Today, the sky's literally the limit. In eight hours, you can be in the ancient cobblestone walkways of France or Italy. And in 16 hours, you can wander the back alleys of the Orient, hunting for romantic surprises.
Here are my Top 10 choices for great Mother's Day getaways this year...
10) CAPTETOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - Down at the tip of Africa, overlooking the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Town is fronted by the ocean and backed by dramatic, flat-topped Table Mountain. It's a favorite of international travelers...and a good Mother's Day choice. You can take Mom up in the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, where you can enjoy a casual meal while ogling some extraordinary views. You can take her to the V&A Waterfront, where she can shop, eat, and sightsee to her heart's content. You can take her on one of the ubiquitous red double-decker buses for a sightseeing tour. Or you can take her out to the lighthouse at Cape Point - the southernmost point in Africa - for a picnic lunch above the crashing waves of False Bay. And then back into town for dinner at one of the hundreds of great ethnic restaurants.
9) VANCOUVER, CANADA - When it comes to magnificent settings, Vancouver's hard to beat. The city's filled with great hotels and elegant restaurants, many with views of the water and the mountains. There are great neighborhoods to wander, too, such as Gastown, filled with funky boutiques, restaurants, and galleries, or Chinatown, with the aromas wafting out of a hundred doorways. If you're lucky, you can catch the procession of cruise ships leaving the harbor. And, for splendid isolation, take a hike in the surrounding mountains, and walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge, hundreds of feet above the Capilano River - the longest swinging bridge in the world.
8) RED MOUNTAIN RESORT, UTAH, USA - If Mom would rather spend Mother's Day in the Great Outdoors than in a fancy dress...this is the place! Set amidst the red-rock cliffs and steep canyons of southern Utah, Red Mountain will give Mom the chance to hike, bike, horseback-ride, kayak, and explore lava caves. To work out those sore muscles afterwards, she can get treatments in one of America's great spas (The Sagestone Spa & Salon), take yoga classes, and eat healthy meals. And at the end of Mom's special weekend, she can enjoy a romantic Mother's Day dinner at Canyon Breeze Restaurant.
7) NAPA VALLEY WINE COUNTRY, CALIFORNIA, USA - Napa Valley, in northern California, is home to hundreds of world-class wineries. Here, you can wander around old stone buildings with Mediterranean archways and fountains, and you can enjoy a great lunch while sampling the wines. But there's much more to Wine Country than just wine. There are verdant mountains and hills, traversed by scenic winding roads. There are beautiful old towns to wander around, like St. Helena and Yountville. And there are old-time Bed-and-Breakfasts where you can stay, and intimate little restaurants with innovative cuisine where you can dine.
6) HONG KONG, CHINA - Hong King's still one of the world's great getaways. Take the Peak Tram up to the top, where you'll find romantic restaurants serving excellent food. Rent a junk for the afternoon, and relax with Mom as the boat weaves through the waterborne traffic under the massive towers. Treat her to an afternoon at one of the famous spas. Uncork some bubbly on the beautiful grounds of Hong Kong Park. And stay at The Peninsula, still bathed in the Colonial charm it's exuded since the 1920's.
5) CAPTIVA ISLAND, FLORIDA, USA - This is the other side of Florida, away from the city lights and the hot-spots. And perfect for a Mother's Day getaway. Here, the beach is often so uncrowded it can seem like your own private beach. The sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico are very romantic...especially if you're watching from a little cove backed by forest. The tiny, one-street village is lined with interesting shops and atmospheric restaurants. And accommodations include the elegant South Seas Island Resort, with a pool overlooking the Gulf, a private beach, a variety of water sports, several good dining spots, and cruise boats that will take you to offshore islands with cute villages; and the landmark 'Tween Waters Inn", with colorful cottages and cozy hotel rooms overlooking scenic bays and uninhabited, forested islands, and the sounds of the water lapping against the shore just below your room.
4) MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA - Montreal is a modern metropolis with a vibrant commercial and cultural life, and, yet still, in some ways, an old French-speaking small town. And it's filled with romantic spots for Mother's Day. You can wander the boutiques and sidewalk cafes of Old Montreal. You can take a horse-and-carriage ride. You can dine in an intimate sidewalk café, where the railings are lined with wooden window boxes filled with brilliant flowers, and the menus are filled with gastronomic delights. And you can end Mom's special day at the top of Mount Royal, where you can look out over the mixture of modern skyscrapers and old French-style buildings toward the St. Lawrence, and watch the lights of the city sprinkle on.
3) THE PLAZA HOTEL, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, USA - The Plaza is the most famous hotel in a city known for famous hotels. It's truly elegant, in a grand, Victorian/1920's way. It's located at the foot of Central Park, an oasis of greenery in America's biggest city, with horses and carriages right across the street, ready to whisk you and the Mrs. on a romantic ride through the park. It's filled with shops offering some of the world's greatest jewelry, fashion, and foods. It boasts the Caudalie Vinotherapy Spa, one of New York's best. And, for Mother's Day dinner, it's got four signature restaurants, one of them run by the legendary chef Todd English.
2) THE BROADMOOR RESORT, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO, USA - The Broadmoor is one of America's most beautiful resorts...and it doesn't hurt that it sits in the shadow of 10,000-foot Cheyenne Mountain and 14,110-foot Pike's Peak! It's surrounded by the sky-piercing, snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. And it's a pink Italian palace, created a century ago by Spencer Penrose, who had a fondness for Italian art and architecture. The Broadmoor's got 13 restaurants, including Colorado's only five-star restaurant, the elegant Penrose Room. It's got a world-class spa, and numerous swimming pools, including an infinity pool overlooking a scenic lake (where you can take Mom boating amidst the swans). It's got the greatest collection of Western art of any hotel in the world. If Mom likes golf, she can play it on three different championship courses. And she can pick out her own Mother's Day gift at any one of 26 beautiful shops.
And now, my choice for the top Mother's Day getaway in the world...
1) PARIS, FRANCE!!! - What did you think? It's still the most romantic city on Earth! It's still a timeless ode to love and fine wine and beautiful shops and winding alleyways filled with surprises and great art and classic cuisine - all staples of Mother's Day! You can take Mom aboard the Bateaux Mouches for a leisurely cruise down the Seine, including dinner if she so desires. You can stroll down the Champs Elysees or the Boulevard Saint Germain while looking for the perfect gift for Mom. You can wander the ancient streets of the mid-Seine islands like Ile de la Cite or Ile Saint-Louis, where every hidden cellar and underground doorway leads to gastronomic or gift surprises. You can take a bottle of wine and a loaf of crunchy French bread and some cheese for an impromptu picnic on the riverbank. And, later, you can settle down at a trendy Left Bank café for a memorable dinner to remember. On Mother's Day, Paris is definitely "The City of Light"...and of love.
There you have it...my top ten choices for Mother's Day getaways. Your comments, as always, are welcome!