Where can we play slots in our swimsuits?
December 27, 2012 6:47 PM   Subscribe

What magical tropical paradise with beaches and casinos should we take my mom to, within a 4-hour flight of Chicago, for her birthday? Bonus points for a destination with cultural activities for a non-gambler non-sun worshiper.

My sister and I gave my mom a trip for her 70th birthday a few months back. She wanted to wait until after the holidays and we're just getting around to planning it. My idea of a fun vacation is visiting ancient cities in Uzbekistan or trekking in Nepal. My sister loves cultural sites too but is more open to beaches and relaxing activities—we're both willing to forego anything we'd like so my mom can have a good time.

Mom loves gambling (slots), goes to the local casinos once every week or two and Vegas once a year by herself. She also likes the beach, ocean and the idea of a tropical paradise. She's a smoker (we are not) and will need a smoking room. The first thing that comes to mind is Atlantis in The Bahamas (I've been for work), but it's really pricey. If that's by and far the winner we're willing to consider it but would like to round up more recommendations. Where would you suggest we take her?

We'll be leaving from Chicago/Denver and are looking into the Caribbean, mainly because it's a relatively close flight (she laughed at my Thailand suggestion). I suggested Belize, but am not sure it would have what we're looking for. We're thinking it would be a 5-day trip, but that really depends on the destination, and can go whenever is best for visiting (ie. avoid hurricane season). Countries/cities/casinos/hotel suggestions as well as general advice is welcome. I have no problem traveling through India myself, but taking my mom to the beach is a much more daunting proposition.
posted by Bunglegirl to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to make your Mom happy, with minimum fuss and stress for her, and maximum gaming and lounge show fun, take her to Tunica, MS. It's an elderly ladies gambling paradise, an hour south of Memphis.

If, for you and your sister's sake, you must have beach access (January being not the most forgiving month in the Gulf, weatherwise, even in Jamaica), and a destination with more "cultural" options, consider taking Mom to the casinos/hotels in Gulfport MS, which leaves you and Sis within an hour drive (one way, or t'other) of New Orleans, LA or Mobile, AL, as your sportin' tastes may dictate.
posted by paulsc at 7:57 PM on December 27, 2012

posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:51 PM on December 27, 2012

Or: fly to florida and take a cruise. You guys will like the snorkeling and town stops and she'll like the beach stops and casinos on the boat?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:53 PM on December 27, 2012

Best answer: San Diego is just about exactly four hours flight time from Chicago (it's three from Denver) and it's got both beaches and slots. It's also got pretty decent cultural stuff.

So, to address the casinos first: there are oh, a dozen or so casinos in San Diego, almost all of which are resort-style and fairly nice. Many Indian casinos do allow smoking in designated areas indoors (they are exempt from California smoking laws). The only issue is that because the casinos are on reservation land, and because reservation land is of course well out of the way, the casinos are a bit of a drive (you'd definitely have to rent a car). Probably the closest casinos to the main tourist areas are Sycuan, Viejas, and Barona.

San Diego is of course known for its beaches so no problems there. There are lots of previous AskMe questions on San Diego that you can search for more on that; I'd normally recommend my favorite beach but it's too far north for the trip I'm describing. It is winter and San Diego does experience it, so you're talking 60F weather and not sunny and warm beach weather, but I was just at the beach today and there were a few brave souls in the water and tons more walking and sunbathing.

San Diego also has nice cultural stuff: Balboa Park, the Gaslamp, the Mission, proximity to Mexico, etc. You would easily find something to occupy yourself with. Lots of details in previous questions.

All in all, I think San Diego would provide something to make all three of you happy--and since it's still in the US it wouldn't stress your mom out unduly.
posted by librarylis at 9:17 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Puerto Rico. You can go without a passport, but you get the feeling of a tropical and exotic location. Casinos abound and it's absolutely gorgeous.

Neat sights to see, surf and sun, and a different language and culture.

It's also pretty affordable.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:18 PM on December 28, 2012

Response by poster: Mom has turned down a cruise and she's the one who most likes tropical paradise. Despite her age, she's far from an elderly lady (she'll pick Conan's masterbating bear skit over Jay Leno any day). These responses were totally unexpected, thanks for the ideas.
posted by Bunglegirl at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2012

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