Where do I take my indecisive mom and her dog on vacation?
June 9, 2016 6:45 AM   Subscribe

My mom is retiring this year, and I promised to take her on a trip to celebrate. Initially, we had planned on a 10-day road trip through the northeast in the fall to see the leaves change. However, she now wants to bring the dog (for good reasons - he gets violently ill if she boards him), so flying is out of the question. She doesn't have anything at all in mind for what she wants to do or see, only that we spend time together. We will be driving from south Louisiana, and can probably do a 10-hour or so day in the car each way. We have 7-10 days for the trip. Where should we go?

Additional details - mom is 66 and in fair to so-so health. She gets tired a lot, so imagine the trip will involve no more than one "thing" each day. She doesn't have any particular interests, but doesn't particularly care for art, history, or nature. She does like shopping, driving around and looking at scenery, and eating. She would not put on a swimsuit to go to the beach, though she might if we had a private pool. We are planning to go in late September or early October when the weather has started to cool. For my own sanity, I need there to be enough activities or sights to get us out of the house every day.

We've already been to the gulf coast beaches a zillion times. We've done a few trips to cabins in North Carolina, and we've been to Myrtle Beach a bunch. We used to live in east Texas, so nothing there will be particularly appealing. She has a condo in Hot Springs and visits there frequently. I'm not sure what else there is!

TLDR, I need a destination within 8-10 hours by car from Louisiana, where we can rent a dog friendly condo/house, with laid back but interesting stuff to do for an older lady. We could potentially split the trip into more than one destination. Help!
posted by tryniti to Travel & Transportation around United States (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
-Chattanooga and Nashville. Mountains, and possible fall foliage, depending on when you go.

-St. Augustine and Savannah, and maybe Charleston.

Lots of stuff for both of you to see and do in all of those places.

Or look into hiring someone to come stay with the dog in your mother's home so you can fly elsewhere.
posted by mareli at 7:04 AM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

You said you've rented cabins in NC -- in the mountains, right? -- but what about Asheville? You can definitely find good shopping, eating, and scenery.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:34 AM on June 9, 2016

If I were you, I would go to Eureka Springs, Ark. (not because I've been, but because I've always wanted to visit since reading the Dairy Hollow House cookbooks ... though Dairy Hollow House is no longer a B&B). They have some dog-friendly activities suggested, and apparently quite a few pet-friendly hotels, B&Bs, etc. (Here's one place I was checking out, totally dog-friendly, and good reviews, but I have no personal experience. It just seems like cozy cabins would be fun, especially in the fall). It's about 10 hours to drive from south Louisiana, and also a good spot for fall colors!
posted by taz at 7:34 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

In that area of the country, I'd want to make my way to Dismals Canyon for the bioluminescent dismalites/"glow worms". Northwestern Alabama.
posted by ktkt at 8:31 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've always wanted to drive the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is over 400 miles of federally-designated scenic roadway running from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. It sounds like you have the time, and are interested in going in roughly the right direction, so if I were you I'd build my trip around that. I bet it'll make the "long drive" part of the trip a lot more pleasant.

One of the problems with driving from Louisiana (which I ran up against many times when I live there) is that there is next to nothing within a day's drive of New Orleans that's (IMO) worth a major trip. If you can plan on even a day and a half of driving each way (or ideally two) you'll have a lot more options. Basically, if I were you I'd a big part of your vacation into a road trip, and plan on staying the night in a few different places along the way. Four days of driving plus six days of sightseeing and activities will let you see a lot more than two days of driving plus eight days of sightseeing and activities.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:00 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Eureka Springs per taz and War Eagle, Arkansas, were fine in my autumnal weeks with my own mother: lots of crafts shows, art shows, and other such entertainments occur in October. This area seems to be where Texans retire for the cooler summers meeting Minnesotans escaping the cold winters. North Arkansas leaves might not turn until early November. A few more hours north, there is Branson, Missouri, aka Vegas for Christians, and the leaves will peak typically in the 3rd or 4th week of October.
posted by gregoreo at 9:09 AM on June 9, 2016

LaQuinta Inns are very dog-friendly, if you need to spend the night somewhere en-route.
posted by sarajane at 9:11 AM on June 9, 2016

Branson Missouri is popular with that demographic. Kansas City is a nice little town for some BBQ and relaxing.

Do you want to roadtrip, or hit one spot and come home? You can go to Memphis, then head up to Chicago the next day. On your way home, you can go through Indy and Kentucky, and on to Dollywood.
posted by hydra77 at 9:55 AM on June 9, 2016

Nthing either the Natchez Trace drive to Nashville, or something in the Great Smoky Mountains/Chattanooga/Asheville neck of the woods.
posted by Sara C. at 11:29 AM on June 9, 2016

I can't believe I'm saying this, but if she likes shopping and eating, and doesn't like nature, Houston is the perfect place. Eating and shopping are pretty much all we have for entertainment most of the year (because it's too hot for outdoor activities), so we excel at it. The Galleria Mall, Highland Village, Uptown Park, 19th Street in the Heights, Rice Village and Montrose all have interesting shopping. I highly recommend Kuhl Linscomb on Upper Kirby as the ultimate shopping experience. I used to recommend it to out of town customers, and they would come back the next day specifically to thank me. You can spend a whole day in just that one store, and most of it is things you won't find anywhere else in town.

We are a restaurant mecca. We have restaurants of every ethnicity you can think of. Where to eat in Houston merits its own separate question. As I write this, Anthony Bordain is in town filming. If she likes to combine eating and shopping, we have amazing grocery stores - Phoenicia on Westheimer, Central Market, lots of huge Asian supermarkets near Bellaire and the Tollway, and tons of little ethnic markets. I've spent the last six months doing restaurant delivery work as an independent contractor for a service that will deliver from any restaurant in town, and spent years in the restaurant industry before that, so if you want recommendations, I can load you up.

And if by chance you've been to Houston but haven't been in the last two years, it's changed dramatically. You literally won't recognize it. The weather hasn't changed, though, so come as late in the fall as you can.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:31 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older How do I create an automated copyright line in...   |   Recommendations for secure file transfer service? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.