American Cities, Ranked By The Likelihood You Will Someday Visit Them On A Road Trip With Your Mother

New Mexico state road
New Mexico state road

She'll have more free time by now. Your father won't be around. You'll start excavating old plans you made together in earlier, idler hours, and you'll recalibrate the plans according to your new limits. So you'll drive there.

Boulder, Colorado

It's not necessarily a first choice for either of you, but almost no one's going to disagree about Boulder. You can go hiking, probably! It's nice to have something to do together where you don't have to look at each other. That sounds bleaker than it ought to, maybe. It's just easier when you're not staring each other down like you're both in a job interview. Riding in the car together is a little trickier but there's always scenery to point out and billboards to describe to each other. You could spend days together without having the kind of conversation you don't want to have with her.

New Orleans, Louisiana

For the mother who will not or cannot go hiking. The older the both of you get, the more you both appreciate wrought-iron scrollwork.

Hancock Shaker Village

This one happens to be in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, but you could just as easily swap it out for any number of quaint little Mennonite-adjacent villages in Pennsylvania or Ohio where members of an offshoot religious tradition make candles, or raise bees, or carve wainscot chairs. It's nice to watch people make things, even if you don't end up buying anything. "And they don't expect you to buy anything," she'll say after another tour through a working farmhouse. "They're just happy for people to come by," which may or may not be true.

Charleston, South Carolina

"Oh, Pat Conroy lived here!" She will almost certainly like hearing about Pat Conroy. That and the local architecture gives you a lot of safe topics to talk about. You won't have a fight here. All of these cities are designed to minimize friction between a mother and her adult child on what is probably their last road trip together. Long before "the" end comes the end of road trips.

Sante Fe/Taos, New Mexico

Statistically speaking, you're almost certainly going to be in Santa Fe or Taos someday with your mother. Even if you have a terrible relationship with her, you'll go there with some of her ashes (your sister will get the lion's share) and surreptitiously scatter them outside the Georgia O'Keeffe museum one night. Now you can say you've been there.

[Image via]