New Jersey has hundreds of vacation options for moms and daughters in search of a fun getaway, so narrowing down your choice can be a challenge. The key: Choose a destination that taps into your teen's interests while providing a mix of enjoyable activities for you to bond over and some strategic down time for heart-to-heart conversations. A handful meet those qualifications.
Nature Getaway: New Jersey Pine Barrens
If your daughter’s a nature girl who loves camping and hiking, she’ll relish the opportunity to explore the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Pitch your tent in Wharton State Forest (nj.gov) in Chatsworth or reserve one of the park’s nine furnished cabins. Rent a kayak or canoe from Micks Pine Barrens Canoe and Kayak Rental (pinebarrenscanoe.com) and explore the park’s waterways, which include the Oswego, Mullica and Wading rivers. Load up your backpacks to hike the 50-mile Basto Trail or pick up a walking guide and take a self-guided tour of Basto Village (nj.gov), an 18th-century town inside the park with more than 30 historic buildings and structures. If you want a break from cooking over the campfire, plan to drive about 20 minutes into Tuckerton and have dinner at the Grapevine (thegrapevinenj.com) or Mercurio’s Restaurant (no website; 120 E. Main St., Tuckerton; 609-296-3818). If you visit in the fall, try to time your trip to coincide with the annual Cranberry Festival (cranfest.org).
Beach Getaway: Cape May
If you decide to hit the beach, skip the family-friendly destinations like Atlantic City and let her indulge her grown-up side in the lovely resort town of Cape May. Book a room at the trendy Beach Shack (beachshack.com), a retro motor lodge-turned-hip accommodation. Walk right outside to the beach, borrow a beach umbrella, towels and chairs from the hotel, and order an al fresco lunch from the hotel restaurant for an ideal day at the shore. Take a carriage ride through the charming Victorian downtown neighborhood with Cape May Carriage Company (capemaycarriage.com) or scope out the sales at Washington Street Mall (washingtonstreetmall.com), a three-block outdoor shopping area with lots of independent stores. When you’re hungry, it’s worth the wait at the Lobster House (thelobsterhouse.com), which has picked up national recognition for its terrific seafood dishes.
Brainy Getaway: Princeton
If your daughter loves books, music and intellectual pursuits, bond over the Ivy League vibe in Princeton. Stay at the pleasantly posh Nassau Inn (nassauinn3-px.trvlclick.com) in Palmer Square, which has been around since the mid-1700s and served as a stopover inn for delegates on their way to the first Continental Congress. Set aside a few hours to browse the blissfully large collection of used records and CDs at Princeton Record Exchange (prex.com) and flip through an eclectic collection of books, including textbooks, at Labyrinth Books (labyrinthbooks.com). Take a tour of Princeton University (princeton.edu) and explore the college’s beautiful and historic campus. Eat with the college crowd at PJ’s Pancake House (pancakes.com) and Winberie’s Restaurant and Bar (selectrestaurants.com).
Spa Getaway: Crystal Springs Resort
If you and your daughter do your best bonding over mani-pedis, make reservations for an indulgent getaway together at the Crystal Springs Resort (crystalgolfresort) in Sussex County. The resort has two spas, so you can sample the Day Dream package -- which includes a facial, body polish, massage, hair styling and more -- at the Elements Spa, or try the a la carte treatments like the spicy chai wrap or the green tea and ginger body wrap at the Reflections Spa. Relax together by a tropical swimming pool in the Biosphere Pool Complex or check out the resort’s underground aquarium before soaking in the hot tub. The resort has 12 different restaurants on the property, but if you feel like getting away for dinner, the fun and funky Chatterbox Drive-In (chatterboxdrivein.com) is just 10 miles away in Augusta.