For the mom who likes to travel, a gift card to a bed and breakfast or some quality luggage makes a superb Mother’s Day gift. Or take it a step further and whisk Mom away on a trip! You’re sure to finally transcend the brilliance of your over-achieving siblings after escorting Mother Dearest to a lovely beachside resort or a series of cosmopolitan city museums.
Do not, however, take Mom to the wrong destination, or you’ll end up at the kids’ table again come Thanksgiving. Based on the premise that your mother is a classy lady who enjoys cultural pursuits and worries about you a lot, we’ve compiled a practical list of places she probably won’t want to visit — destinations where death, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll are prevailing themes. These are spots where raucous crowds rule, nudity is prevalent and the adrenaline flows like beer.
Okay, we’re typecasting a bit. Some moms actually love wet T-shirt contests, extreme sports and tropical hurricanes (the alcoholic drink, not the storm system). It’s true; we’ve seen them on cruise ships. If your mom is a wild child, consider our slideshow a must-visit list. But if not, think carefully about the kind of trip your mom might enjoy. Would she like peering at preserved parasitic creatures or running from an aggressive Spanish fighting bull? Then don’t subject her to these seven trips.
Rock Music Theme Cruise
Cruises don’t always fit into the mom-friendly bubble of lunch buffets and bingo games. Sometimes there’s head banging. Sometimes there are rock stars. Sometimes there are booze-fueled brawls. These aren’t your typical sailings; they’re rock music theme cruises, featuring acts such as Kid Rock, Sister Hazel and Lynyrd Skynyrd screaming their lungs off on ships stuffed with tattooed music fans. Rock cruises concentrate the best parts of a concert — music, fans and booze — on a floating multi-day festival at sea. They’re not for kids, and they’re certainly not for the kinds of moms who prefer a quiet day at the spa to mind-blowing guitar riffs.
Running of the Bulls, Pamplona
Thousands flock to the Spanish city of Pamplona each summer to participate in the most famous running-of-the-bulls festival on earth, part of a seven-day fete made iconic in Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.” Hemingway, with his elegantly spare prose and numerous pet cats, is mom-approved. Spanish bull runs, during which throngs of steel-hearted sprinters run through the streets followed by a herd of angry animals, is not. The Pamplona City Council reports that 14 people have lost their lives in the running of the bulls since 1924, and roughly 200 to 300 participants are injured annually. If you must take Mom, stay safely on the sidelines lest you reduce her to fits of parental anxiety.
Bourbon Street, New Orleans
Bring a map when walking the French Quarter with your mother. Stroll down Royal or Dauphine Streets on a weekend afternoon and you’ll find charming antique shops and restaurants with breezy outdoor seating. But make a wrong turn and you’ll feel a growing sense of awkwardness as you and your lovely mother find yourselves on Bourbon Street walking past drunken half-dressed youths and strip clubs with conspicuously displayed signs advertising nudity within. Keep in mind that during Mardi Gras, the Bourbon scene spills throughout the city and the crazy crowds are nearly unavoidable.
Bolivia’s Road of Death
You love Mom. So don’t take her to “the world’s most dangerous” anything, be it a precipitous national park trail or a beach with soul-snatching riptides. In this case, it’s a road widely considered the most hazardous on earth. According to the BBC, it’s estimated that 200 to 300 people die annually on Bolivia’s Yungas Road, a lofty cliff-side highway that hugs the curves of mountainous rain forest terrain. Despite its off-putting moniker and troubling reputation (or, perhaps, because of it), adrenaline-seeking tourists come to Yungas Road in droves to conquer its dangerous route by bike.
“Thunder From Down Under,” Las Vegas
Las Vegas flaunts its reputation as an unrestrained center for sin. Hence its ubiquitous nickname and suggestive ad campaigns (“What happens here…”). Even with its notoriety, Vegas has plenty to offer travelers seeking a more family-friendly experience, namely its top-notch cuisine and fabulous shows. Buy Mom tickets to “The Lion King,” “Cirque du Soleil,” “Blue Man Group” or “Jersey Boys.” But skip “Thunder Down Under.” It’s a strip show, after all, and nudity is abundant. We’re not talking about the few seconds of tasteful nudity that happens in a big-budget romantic comedy. This is a more blatant show of skin, complete with loud music and lap dances. It’s safe to say that “Thunder From Down Under” is better suited for a bachelorette party with friends than an evening out with the woman who gave birth to you.
Meguro Parasitological Museum, Tokyo
Mom courageously changed your dirty diapers for years, so we know she has a strong stomach. But would she be interested in gazing upon the world’s longest tapeworm? Perhaps not. Tokyo’s Meguro Parasitological Museum, home to said tapeworm, is the only museum on earth devoted to our bloodsucking “friends.” There are oodles of parasitic creatures on display here, from engorged ticks to intestinal worms of various shapes and sizes, all perfectly preserved in containers of glass to provide the ultimate gross-out effect. Do Mom a favor and take her to the Tokyo National Museum instead.
Red Light District, Amsterdam
This one’s obvious. Moms and prostitution don’t generally mix (except, of course, in certain Lifetime movies). But there’s one exception. Amsterdam‘s Red Light District can be, to some extent, mom-friendly during the day. In fact, when the sun is shining, it’s quite possible to stroll through a corner of the Dutch city’s infamous naughty neighborhood and not even realize it, especially if you’re gazing at pretty Dutch gables and tulip boxes instead of noticing the prostitutes on display in floor-to-ceiling windows. Sure, there are the adults-only shops and “coffee houses.” But the Red Light District also has some beautiful architecture and quite a few great restaurants, including Blauw aan de Wa, a Mediterranean eatery set in a 17th-century walled courtyard. At night, however, the crowds of gawking young travelers and wild bachelors ducking into brothel doorways are impossible to miss, which might raise motherly eyebrows.