It can be so difficult to carve out one-on-one time with our daughters. The daily activities and schedules creep in and take over. Our lives get hectic, and before we know it, our connection to our daughters begins to diminish. Oftentimes, the answer is to move away from the grind and purposely make time to rekindle that connection. One great way to do that is through an outdoor-focused mother-daughter getaway. Today, Jen Barnes, South Carolina mom, and travel agent (specializing in family travel with teenagers), is going to showcase four top-notch destinations for outdoorsy mother-daughter getaways in the Southeast US area. Each location has its own special way for mamas and daughters to reconnect. 

The importance of mother-daughter getaways

The bond between mothers and daughters is a unique and profound connection that shapes a woman’s identity and influences her throughout her life. Spending quality time together with my daughter is necessary for us to have a deep, meaningful relationship. But quality time can be hard to come by at home, when we’re both pulled in a million different directions and dealing with the distractions of daily life. 

However, one of the best things we’ve decided to do for us, is to get away every now and then. Our mother-daughter getaways give us a special opportunity to escape the grind and give us time to focus on each other without distractions. This time helps us foster open communication and understanding. It also gives us shared experiences that contribute to our memory banks.

A getaway provides an environment conducive to heartfelt conversations and storytelling. These trips are also a source of joy, laughter, and relaxation. We get to explore, try new things, eat amazing food, relax, and laugh (a lot). Creating memories together in a new place strengthens the foundation of our relationship.

Make the getaway intentional

Intentional conversation

What I mean when I say to make the getaway intentional is to go into the getaway with some ways you plan to connect with your daughter. Think about the questions you want to ask her and the topics you’d like to discuss. I always like to have several fun questions and several serious questions at the ready so when the opportunity for conversation arises, I am prepared.

I think this is more important as your kids get older and tend to be less of an “open book” than younger kids are. Teens and tweens are dealing with much bigger issues these days and conversation can sometimes be hard to come by. However, you have probably noticed that when you are outside together with your kid(s), that conversation flows more freely. Without the distraction of a screen or household chores keeping you busy, you and your daughter can focus on each other. You will learn about her, and she will learn about you. 

Intentional activities

Also, be intentional about where you go and what you’ll do there. Consider what she will enjoy on the getaway. If ice cream is your daughter’s favorite dessert, find a local spot. Bring along her favorite game for an evening activity. Choose a destination with activities that she likes to do.

My daughter loves to dress fancy, so I always try to plan a dinner at a finer dining restaurant on our getaways so she could fancy up a little bit for one night. There is no need to overindulge, but I think recognizing her personality and indulging in her interests, even if it isn’t your preference, can really go a long way.

Come up with some ideas to make it a special time for the two of you. Create some bonding moments that only you share. Try something new together or get outside of your comfort zone together. Those will become core memories for both of you. 

Expectations for your mother-daughter getaway

Give yourself a pep talk about expectations for your trip before you go. And be realistic. If you are doing this mother-daughter getaway during the pre-teen or teen years, make sure you give your daughter plenty of notice, include her in the planning, and tell her how excited you are to get away together.

Have an open and honest conversation about the getaway with your daughter well before the trip. Discuss the purpose of the trip (whether it’s for relaxation, bonding, adventure, or a combination of these), and encourage your daughter to express her expectations and desires for the getaway as well. Discuss the itinerary, potential excursions, or any specific plans you have in mind. Be flexible and open to incorporating activities that interest both of you. This way, you can ensure that the trip aligns with both your expectations.

And be prepared for hard conversations and possibly hearing things that surprise you. Sometimes, the discussions can get intense. I caution you (from my own experience!) to refrain from lecturing and correcting during this time away. Do your best to let your daughter guide the direction and let it flow organically. 

Why choose an outdoorsy location for your getaway?

I’d love to encourage you, when deciding on a destination for your getaway, to consider choosing an outdoorsy location. Spending time together outside can be such a transformative and enriching experience. Plus, you’ll foster a deeper connection through shared outdoor adventures and the beauty of nature.

Whether it’s a serene beach, a picturesque mountain retreat, or a charming countryside escape, being surrounded by nature creates an ideal setting for bonding and creating lasting memories. And outdoor environments offer a recharging break from the routine of daily life. 

Spending time together outside not only promotes physical and mental well-being but also creates bonding through shared activities and experiences. From hiking and biking to exploring local landmarks or simply enjoying a picnic with a scenic view, outdoor adventures offer a wide range of opportunities for quality time and meaningful conversations. 

I firmly believe that your getaway should be outdoor-focused or nature-based. This does not mean that you need to be camping, hiking, or backpacking. Being in nature doesn’t have to mean “roughing it.” If you and your daughter love that, then do it. But, even if you and your daughter don’t consider yourselves “outdoorsy,” there is still a lot of merit in getting outside. 

I said it earlier, but I will say it again. The outdoors fosters openness and conversation. It literally breathes life into us. When we set aside the technology and the screens, our minds and bodies relax. The environment is set for making connections. The quiet moments in the woods or on the water allow our brains to see things more clearly. The noise and distraction are turned off so that we can be creative and dream and rest. This should be a time of connection and restoration.

Mother Daughter in life vests after a kayak adventure on the Kiawah River

Top 5 outdoorsy mother-daughter getaways in the Southeast US

There isn’t one outdoorsy destination that is perfect for your mother-daughter getaway. However, I found four incredible options and would highly recommend all of them. I encourage you to choose a destination that your daughter is interested in, and that works for your budget.

(And because I hope your getaway won’t be a one-time occasion, perhaps you could start a list of options for now and the future. My own daughter loves the idea of making a list of places to experience together.)

interior of a luxury yurt showing an orange couch, bed, and visible yurt beams on the ceiling above

1. Sky Ridge Yurts in Bryson City, NC

The Sky Ridge Yurts in Bryson City, North Carolina, are luxury yurts in a perfectly positioned location, for an amazing glamping experience. Located right outside of Bryson City, NC, which is a gateway city to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll have easy access to the entire area. You will go to sleep and wake up with nature all around you, but you won’t be giving up any of the conveniences or comforts of your own home.

Each yurt is outfitted with an indoor bathroom, stocked kitchen, small living area, and comfy bed. The outdoor porches and Solo Stove give you an extension for outside fun, too. Enjoy your morning coffee while you take in the views, and end your evening with a campfire.

Glamping, adventure, and access to a national park

Sky Ridge is also located within a few minutes of Nantahala Outdoor Center, where you can have a little adventure together. White water rafting on the Nantahala and Chattooga Rivers is a thrilling activity offered from March to October. You can zipline through the forest and have views of the Nantahala Gorge and Great Smoky Mountains National Park as you soar high above the trees. Or, you can rent mountain bikes or sign up for a guided mountain bike tour on Flint Ridge.

You will definitely want to explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park while you are in the area. There are viewpoints, hikes, places to river tube, and more. You can make this a day trip or spend a week here. There is so much to see and do, and you could end up driving quite a bit. The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, which includes the Polar Express holiday special, is not to be missed if you’re looking for a quintessential experience.

Mother Daughter ziplining on a platform in the trees near Bryson City, NC

2. The Inn at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, GA

The Inn at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, is a historic family farm that has been turned into a luxury retreat. The inn and entire community of rental homes and cottages will accommodate any need. This getaway location  is perfectly situated outside of the major metro area of Atlanta in the rolling hills of the countryside. You will be just 20 minutes from the airport but will feel worlds away during your stay. The 1000-acre grounds offer trails, horseback riding, an outdoor animal village, outdoor games, and open spaces to enjoy nature. 

Horses, food, massages, and bonfires

At the Inn, everything you need is within walking distance or a golf cart ride away. The Inn is relaxed-luxury with lovely rooms. You can also rent a small cottage or home in the Serenbe community area. If your daughter has an interest in horses, this would be an incredible destination, with the opportunity to ride. Hiking trails starting from the inn will lead to a few waterfalls on the property, as well as a labyrinth in the forest. Don’t miss the in-ground trampoline, the bikes, the animal village, or the pool. No matter the age of your daughter, you will not run out of fun things to do outdoors. 

There are also several options for food. The buffet farm breakfast was a winner! It is located in the prettiest windowed room. We also indulged in a delicious dinner at The Hill the previous night. We saw families, groups of girlfriends, couples, and of course, us-the mother-daughter duo. There is no doubt that a long weekend OR a week would be so much fun here, and you never need to leave the property. For a really special treat, visit the spa together and do a mother-daughter massage in their shared massage room. My daughter was so excited to include this in our getaway. Although spa time is not outside, it is a special time together. Do it!

The Inn at Serenbe also hosts events like farm tours, evening bonfires, goat yoga, hayrides, live music on the porch, and community events throughout the year. This is one of those places that has all the amenities of a resort but feels much more like a homestay in the very best way. I can’t emphasize enough the relaxed ambience with all the high-end options. If you want an outdoor-focused mother-daughter getaway that incorporates nature and relaxation, this is the perfect spot.

wide view of a country inn with stone footpath and twinkle lights

Mother Daughter photo on the grounds of the Inn at Serenbe surrounded by a canpoy of trees

3. Treetop Hideaways at Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, TN

Is there any more perfect way to do an outdoor-focused getaway than to sleep up in the trees? I don’t think so!

Treetop Hideaways has done an incredible job of creating a beautiful, functional, fun space to reconnect. This boutique treehouse retreat is so special because it has that notion of being rustic, but lacks nothing in terms of comfort. From the moment you enter your treehouse, you will notice the details of playful design combined with intentional, sustainable systems. They have thought of everything.

Twinkle lights, lookouts, surrounded by nature

If you choose this destination (and it should be on your list), give yourself plenty of time to relax on the porches with a book while you listen to the record player and soak it all in. There is a firepit for each treehouse for evening fun and conversation. Wood, a fire starter, and a wagon to transport it all are provided for you. All of the walkways have twinkle lights, making the whole site feel magical. 

Treetop Hideaways is located just 12-15 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. There are restaurants galore to choose from and many of them have outdoor seating options. If you want to give yourself more time to enjoy the treehouse, simply order takeout. Chattanooga is a city that lives on the river, so it is primed for outdoor fun. You can rent e-bikes and use them on the trails and roadways all around the city. There are places nearby to hike and explore, such as Lookout Mountain. Ruby Falls is a series of underground waterfalls, cavern trails, and caves. This is located just below the treehouses! 

Interior shot of a luxury treehouse at Treetop Hideaways taken from the loft aboveTeen daughter on an electric bike on the riverfront in Chattanooga, TN

4. The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, SC

This 5-star luxury property is located on Kiawah Island outside of Charleston, SC. The Sanctuary Resort provides the perfect destination for outdoorsy mother-daughter fun. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a stay that should be on everyone’s wish list. There is no doubt that you will indulge in the delicious food and the super comfy hotel rooms, but there is so much beauty here that most of your time will be spent outside.

Beaches, bikes, and kayaking

The Sanctuary has a beautiful swimming pool and an incredible beach. Honestly, you could spend your entire stay just doing that and get your outside hours. I fully support at least one day of soaking in the sunshine and the salt air, playing in the ocean waves, and otherwise lounging the day away. If you are looking for more activity, though, it won’t be hard to find.

The Sanctuary can help you reserve bicycles to ride the numerous paths all throughout the island. Pro tip: do this early in the morning or after the sun goes down to avoid the heat in spring, summer, and early fall months.

There are world-class golf courses for those of you who have daughters who are interested in golf! If your daughter is more interested in court time, check out the fabulous tennis center to reserve a court or to take a pickleball clinic. 

If you want to go deeper into nature or wildlife, I highly recommend doing a kayak tour on the Kiawah River. We had a glorious guided kayak tour one morning where we learned all about the flora and fauna of the Lowcountry of South Carolina. It was so peaceful paddling and bird watching. Our big surprise was a mama and baby dolphin that swam right past us as we were returning to the launch site. Core memory! 

overview of the pools and beachfront of the Sanctuary hotel on Kiawah Islanda teen daughter in a kayak on the Kiawah River

Why get away outside?

From my own personal experience, I find that time outside together fosters an openness that is difficult to replicate somewhere else. The distractions of shopping, city sites, and shows don’t quite seem to provide the space to really decompress and relate to one another. Statistics show that time in fresh air allows our brains to relax and rest. Because that’s not our natural daily rhythm, when we do allow that, and we do it together, there is deep bonding. 

Gratitude is also a natural outpouring of time outside. In a world that is constantly telling us “more, more, more,” the outdoors helps us to realize that we truly have so much to be grateful for. And when we do this with our daughters, it reminds us that we have so much WITH each other. Simply setting aside those screens for a short time will bring everything back into focus and show us what is important.

The beauty of our natural world is so inspiring. Taking time together outside will also give our daughters an opportunity to think creatively. They will see new things and exposure to new things will aid in their development. 

When should you do an outdoor-focused mother-daughter getaway?

I believe there is merit to doing a mother daughter getaway at any age. But before you go crazy, make sure you take into consideration the activities offered in the destination you are considering. Some may lend themselves to a more appropriate age. I would also involve your daughter in the planning, especially if she is a teenager. The more influence she has, the more she will buy into the experience. 

As our daughters grow older, the time we get to spend with them starts to shrink. I aim to do a mother-daughter getaway every other year. That gives us something to look forward to and time to plan something special. If that seems like too much, then aim for an age marker that stands out, like a sweet 16 or 12 when girlhood is at a pivotal point. 

When will you plan your next outdoorsy mother-daughter getaway?

About the author

Jen has been married to her original adventure partner, John, for 20 years. She is a mama to 3 teenagers who, although they have busy and independent lives, love to adventure in the outdoors when they can. Jen is a native of Chicago, but has lived in South Carolina for two decades and calls it home. She’s always planning the next adventure for herself or her friends, whether near or far. Hiking, kayaking, sailing with her family, or traveling the world is all about the experience and the journey. Her extroverted nature keeps her talking and smiling with anyone she meets along the way. She’s on a mission to show other busy families that traveling with teenagers is possible and fun!

You can find Jen online in the following locations:
Instagram: @gofamilyadventure
Website: Go Family Adventure
RWMC Posts: Jen Barnes