Travel tips for Mother-Daughter Trips & How to Celebrate a 21st Birthday in a Pandemic

Odette Winery, Napa, California

I love to take my daughters on mother-daughter trips. Its a great time to bond and really talk without the distractions of the outside world. I look for iconic destinations that I know they will enjoy. I took my older daughter to Paris for her 16th birthday. We stayed in a small hotel overlooking the Louvre Museum. At night you could see into the rooms of the museum from our window. It was an enchanting trip and one of my most precious memories. For my younger daughter’s 16th birthday we went to New York City and stayed with friends near Central Park. We had the time of our lives. For my birthday in 2019 my older daughter bought me a plane ticket to Rome for New Years Eve. We spent eight days in Rome, Florence and Paris. Needless to say, it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. However, I do love shorter trips that give us time to reconnect by taking us away from our everyday life. California has so many wonderful destination.

How Do You Celebrate a 21st Birthday In A Global Pandemic?

My daughter turned 21 in the middle of lock down in a global pandemic. There were no parties or bar scenes with tequila straight shots. In many ways, for me, this was good, from her perspective it was not. In fact, as I watched her study online at home day after day I realized she needed a proper celebration befitting the occasion. How do you celebrate a 21st birthday in a pandemic?

Napa. It is also a great way to teach young people how to drink responsibly and Napa is also an intellectual destination. Unlike Carmel where you get a coffee and peek into the shops along Ocean Avenue, or take a blanket to the beach there is a great deal to learn about wine. Learning how wine is made, and blended, and the different regions and how they impact the flavor of the wine is very educational educational.

It was her half birthday and an excellent excuse for a quick trip to the Napa Valley Wine Country. We both needed a break from work and school. I teach an intense business class at UC Berkeley called Effective Leadership and I run Ocean SF my sustainable sailing apparel company. Because I enjoy my work and feel I am making a real impact on the world I will often work until 11 o’clock at night. I love working at home and having my daughter here, but it is difficult to find balance between work and my personal life. For her I think it is the same. She is in her last year of college and has a full course load. With classes most of the day and home work at night I don’t see much leisure in her life either. Therefore, it was time for a quick over night trip.

Short Overnight Trips Keep Us Close

There is something about a road trip that makes people open up and talk. My favorite trips are one-on-one, for one night and not too far away. This is our time to talk and get close again. Sharing the experience of walking on Ocean Beach together in Carmel, or ordering pizza to go and sitting outside overlooking Lake Tahoe can not be replicated at home. We play music, talk for hours and drive around. My girls love these trips and we look forward to spending this special time together. There is nothing better then getting in the car and heading somewhere wonderful. My older daughter is never more happy than when she is in a hotel room. No dishes, or chores, or home work.

My beautiful dog Polly, a standard Goldendoodle, is now 13 years old and she requires constant care. At one time she loved going with us on trips and especially to Carmel, but now she is too fragile. I have a neighbor who lives up the street and she comes over and watches Polly for us for our short trips. She even sleeps on the sofa next to Polly in case she needs anything. Of course Polly adores her and will bark and look for her when we FaceTime.

With the dog taken care of the next step is to find a great, but affordable hotel.

Booking A Hotel

Often, I book our hotel on the way using Hotels Tonight or I even did this in Europe in 2018. We actually booked our hotel in Rome at My Spanish Steps, the night before we left on We loved our stay in Rome and this boutique hotel. The concierge was wonderful and he told me I reminded him of Diane Keaton. I can be very funny like her in some situations. Not being able to get into the Vatican Museum was a humorless situation, however, but I put my trust our concierge and he got us on an Italian speaking group tour a few hours later. If you are ever in Europe and need to get into a museum book a tour in the language of that country as they typically have availability. The English speaking tours can be booked months in advance as well as the tickets to enter without a tour.

In June, I did a one night visit to Tahoe with my nineteen year old and booked on the way. We arrived to a full suite with two bathrooms, two bedrooms and a kitchen for the price of a typical hotel room. I’ve found the sweet spot to booking the day of is around 11:00 a.m. that is when they have the best rates and most options.

Napa Valley Wine Country

Napa is only 35 miles from our house, so we’ve been there a few times since Covid-19 up ended our lives. So far, we’ve stayed the night twice. Even though I am driving while we are out in the valley tasting the best wines in the world I don’t drink very much. However, but I do get tired. Knowing I am a short distance from my hotel is key to enjoying my day. I also feel safer not driving back to the Bay Area as many people do drink and drive when they should not. It is hard to say no to the beautiful wine that the Napa Valley is known for and so generously pours.

Recently, it was my 21 year old daughter’s half birthday, so I treated her to an overnight stay at The Silverado Resort. I would not recommend this property for a mother-daughter trip. They did not treat us well. We were over charged for both our room and our dinner. Our $179 rate booked directly through their website was processed at over $300 and at dinner we were charged for truffle fries which we did not order and for wine that we also did not order. This was because we had burgers and fries and another order of fries would have been over kill. We do love our French fries though. I went home and spent several hours sorting out our charges which I suspect are still incorrect. This resort has a lot of hidden resort fees and taxes that add up fast. Dealing with this sort of thing on Monday morning is the ultimate hang over.

It appears Siverado Resort caters to men who golf. The front desk put us facing the parking lot and ironically next to us was a very loud group of women on a bachelorette party. They had two rooms next to us and they also got the parking lot with the noise of locking and unlocking cars all night long. This accelerated on Sunday morning as people headed home. Apparently the men get the golf course views. For $300 plus I was unimpressed. There were some highlights however. Firstly, the bachelorette Party invited us over to celebrate with them. They also kept knocking on our door confused about which rooms they were in. This was nice, but we declined. We had already had enough wine, thus making us amazingly patient with our neighbors. Next, we had a golf cart take us back to our room after dinner and the driver gave us a tour of the resort which was really fun. Lastly, our breakfast was amazing. They made the best, I mean the very best Eggs Benedict I have ever had. They buy the bread and ham locally and it was delicious.

To Silverado’s credit they did give me a 20% off code for my next, “No thank you. Never again,” visit.

The Wine

Wine clubs are key to enjoying the Napa Valley. Currently we belong to four and they are a great value if you enjoy wine and wine tasting. As a wine club member you get free tastings, can bring friends, and get discounts on the wine you buy. It’s also nice to support these businesses who are struggling right now due to the fires.

Odette Winery

Located on Silverado Trail in the heart of the Napa valley sits Odette. Very casual atmosphere and excellent wines. They make some truly lovely and complex whites. We are members here and they treat us especially well.


Darioush Winery

Darioush is one of my favorite wineries and I am also a member. They give you the lux treatment here. They make a silky Cabernet that is incredible. These little snack hit the spot as well. I love the love story of the owners who met as children and built this business together. I’ve been here many times before and was even given a barrel tasting. Lovely and elegant this it is the best of the best.

Plump Jack

Plump Jack

Plump Jack is a beautiful casual winery with excellent wines. A very personal touch type of winery and Paris is a member here. They always roll out the red carpet for us with extra pours and little gifts. We love sitting on the patio near the vineyard.

Stags’ Leap

We are not members here (yet), but we stopped in for a tasting as this is possibly the most iconic winery in Napa. Stags’ Leap put Napa on the world map at the Paris blind tasting in Paris, France.

Their wines are elegantly structured and very expensive. They were very kind to us and did not charge us for our tasting as it was very cold and wet. But we were bundled up and had a wonderful time there.

2 thoughts on “Travel tips for Mother-Daughter Trips & How to Celebrate a 21st Birthday in a Pandemic

  1. let’s hope your daughter celebrates her 22nd anniversary as it should be done 🙂 anyway, i think you gave her a great day! stay safe and greetings from Portugal, PedroL


  2. Not too bad of a celebration considering that we’re in a middle of a pandemic. It still sounds like you two did a lot and had a great time. I wonder how her 22nd birthday went this year? Wish it was another fun one with you. Just a suggestion now that things are a lot better, a fun trip around town in a limousine would also be a lovely idea for a mother-daughter bonding or even with girlfriends.


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