No matter what your budget, there’s a vacation destination for you. The following senior travel destinations have been culled from various websites as well as the experiences of actual people. The possibilities may be endless, but this list might help you narrow down the field a bit.
1. US National Parks
There’s more than one reason for preserving natural beauty, and one of those is so people can continue to view it, savor it, and, ideally, go back home with a keener, and broader, appreciation of the value of the world around them. The US currently has 59 protected areas. Having taken Amtrak up to Montana’s East Glacier National Park, as well as having driven to the Grand Canyon, this writer can honestly state that, not only was the cost of these comfortable trips surprisingly low but the memories (all of them good, as it happens) that resulted remain indelible.
From California’s Death Valley to Alaska’s Denali, from Florida’s Everglades to Utah’s Canyonlands, nature’s offerings are infinite, awe-inspiring, and deeply inspirational. Wikipedia’s alphabetical (by park name) “List of National Parks of the United States” includes an image of each park accompanied by a brief description highlighting that park’s most notable features.
For more details on what any of these parks can offer in the way of accommodations, tours, classes, and other recreational activities, check out the National Park Service website.
2. Disney World, Florida
It’s forgivable if the first thing that comes to mind on reading “Disney World” are the sights and sounds of lots of excited children and long lines for … everything. Well, come fall, with the kiddos back in school, Disney World remains. The weather is still very pleasant and the ambiance has shifted dramatically. True, Disney World does not offer senior discounts on tickets or accommodations, but you may find discounts at other sites like AAA or AARP.
Yes, Disney World is, in a word, HUGE, but manageable. To learn more, we found good information on TripSavvy where you’ll discover invaluable tips towards enhancing the experience while eliminating the stress. One of the most valuable? Disney World has a mass transit system to get you, quickly and comfortably, from place to place. And, if you’re going alone, you can choose to sign on to a tour group. TripSavvy also talks about what seniors with health issues can expect in the way of support from the staff, including access to wheelchairs and refrigeration for insulin, among other options.
3. Corpus Christi, Texas, Wintertime Retreat
When most people think of cities in Texas, Austin, Houston or Dallas generally comes to mind. That said, the mid-sized coastal city of Corpus Christi, founded in 1519, would make a splendid winter destination, although the city was recently affected by Hurricane Harvey, so check with the visitors' center on local recovery before you book anything. Besides the fact that the daytime temperature lingers in the 70-degree range, there’s a rich architectural history and a truly stunning array of other attractions, including:
- The History and Nature Museum
- The massive Texas State Aquarium, the official state aquarium
- The USS Lexington, a relic from Pearl Harbor, is moored next to the aquarium.
- The Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens and Nature Center
- Great seafood and Tex-Mex, among other food choices
- Cultural events for any taste
The best source of information is through the Corpus Christi visitors’ center.
4. Sailing the Rhone River
For many vacationers, a leisurely cruise is the only way to relax. As for affordability, senior discounts abound. With all the cruises to choose from, we would suggest you look at the Rhone package from Avalon Waterways as an example of what’s out there. Avalon’s Rhone tour begins near the source of the Rhone River, a mile-plus tall glacier in the Swiss Alps.
From there, one glides onto Lake Geneva, bordering the venerable city of the same name, and then on into France. The attractions are many: Roman, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, glorious countryside and lovely villages, vineyards and the chance to sample local foods and wines. Whether you go with that special someone, on your own or as part of a tour, the romance of this mix of beauty and history should stay with you, the best souvenir of any trip.
5. Catch the Fall Colors of New England
Many have driven to New England to take in the fabled fall colors. Have you ever considered viewing all that beauty from the decks of a cruise ship? These cruises can last anywhere from six to 14 days, possibly more. For example, an 11-day trip’s itinerary could look like this: You set sail from New York City, and wind your way up through those glorious colors, setting foot in Boston, Halifax and Sydney (Nova Scotia), up to Charlottesburg (Prince Edwards Island), through Quebec’s Saguenay Fjord National Park, ending in the exciting city of Quebec City. The national park, by the way, would make an excellent destination in its own right, rich as it is with assorted activities, wildlife, magnificent views and affordable accommodations from campsites to cabins to huts.
6. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Long popular with tourists, this senior-friendly city only becomes more so as time goes on. Culturally, there are few cities of this size that could offer more and, thanks to technological advances, the ways to appreciate it also continue to grow. If you want to see the city, and the surrounding area, from a fresh perspective, then why not engage in the two-and-a-half-hour “Amazing Scavenger Hunt” as described at Tour Beaver.
While covering about one-and-three-quarters miles, and using smartphones or tablets, the players are fed clues and puzzles which they solve, while simultaneously exploring the city. If the scavenger hunt idea appeals to you, Santa Fe is only one of many cities that offer them. Keep in mind that there are those who say the best time to visit this lovely, sunny city is from September to November when the temperatures are most comfortable for the majority of folks. No matter when you go, though, take your sunscreen.
7. Theme Vacations
If none of the above sparks your imagination, go to your favorite search engine and type in your most beloved hobby or interest (quilting, chess, beekeeping, zombies, whatever it might be!) and add the word “vacation.” I can almost guarantee, you will not be disappointed.
The Best Months to Travel in the Best Years of Your Life
Are you thinking about a late summer vacation? You should be! There are so many wonderful reasons to take a vacation in August, September, or October. As a senior living out your retirement, you are no longer burdened with a work rigid schedule or the challenges that come with back-to-school activities. Take advantage of your freedom and read about the perks of taking a late summer vacation!
August: The World Is Calling
A cost-effective way to check-off “exotic world travel” from your bucket list is to book your dream vacation for mid-to-late August. Prices start to drop as tourists head home.
While the Mediterranean countries are still basking in the hot sun, the Scandinavian countries, with their comfortable temperatures and Northern Lights, make memorable travel destinations.
August is the vacation month for many Europeans, so crowds on the streets of Paris and London start thinning. Europe offers a wealth of urban delights such as Prague in the Czech Republic, Budapest in Hungary, or Vienna in Austria. Since you have the luxury of leisure, instead of a hectic tour of 10 cities in 10 days, pick one spectacular location and savor the sights. Linger in the outdoor cafes. Enjoy a less demanding itinerary.
Closer to home, golfers and anglers will find the mountains of Pennsylvania, New York, and New England abound with the top-rated greens, fast-moving streams, and quaint little towns.
Splurge with an overnight at a local B&B or a couple’s day at a spa. The latest trend in B&B hospitality includes fresh-from-the-garden meals.
With no school groups to crowd your view, enjoy the exhibits at local museums, historic homes, or gardens. Some of the best reasons to retire to Pennsylvania are also the best reasons to visit! Imagine exploring your nation’s birthplace without fighting traffic and waiting in line with other summertime tourists.
Check out end-of-the-season group rentals. Beaches and lakes make an inviting girls-only trip.
*Senior Safety Travel Tip: Be sure to wear flats on cobblestone streets. Use the hotel safe for your valuables, passport, etc.
September: Water Temperatures Are Ideal, Crowds Have Checked Out
September may be the perfect month to head to the beach, as temperatures, crowds, and lodging prices all tend to start dropping around this time of year. Your only company on the sand may be a flock of seagulls and a few treasure hunters. There will be no long waits at restaurants. Don’t forget to schedule a boat trip, fishing trip, or for the more adventurous, an evening kayak paddle on the ocean.
If you find that you like off-season vacation-style living, you may want to check out Acts Retirement’s 10 Reasons to Retire to South Carolina. Here’s a hint, southern-style hospitality combined with coastal views tends to make people very happy.
Take a drive or bus ride through the countryside before the leaf peepers jam the roads. Don’t miss the antique stores and roadside produce stands along the way. Local apple orchards often include a taste of fresh-made cider, slices of apple pie, and bags of your favorite Macs (not the computer!).
Bring back childhood memories with a trip to a country fair. Take a selfie with a prize-winning sheep, thrill to the roar of tractor pulls, or enjoy a nostalgic ride on a merry-go-round. Of course, you’ll ruin your diet with the pleasure of sampling funnel cakes, sausage smothered in onions and peppers, and cotton candy. But what are vacations for if not letting loose and enjoying life?
Organize your own bus trip. Limousine rental companies welcome mini-bus or six-passenger town car rentals during the week. Gather a group of history buffs, art lovers, or other like-minded day-trippers and split the rental. You are the masters of your travel itinerary and can stop along the way at cute stores and eateries.
*Senior Safety Travel Tip: Leave your expensive jewelry at home.
October: Harvest Celebrations Abound
October brings harvest season, Octoberfest merriment, and dozens of other reasons to get out of the recliner. Check your local newspaper for all the Fall events in your area or enjoy a vacation filled with crisp autumn sights, sounds, and smells.
All nature lovers must experience the beauty of the northeast’s changing seasons. The vibrant colors of the leaves mixed with a slight chill and warm cider are enough to make anyone giddy to pull our their plaid and travel to Pennsylvania, New York, or Connecticut. Rent a cabin and make a week or weekend of it!
Combine a visit with grandkids and a weekday tour. While the kids are in school, explore the local area. Make a family visit an opportunity to expand your horizons.
*Senior Safety Travel Tip: Don’t hesitate to tell your innkeeper or hotel concierge your itinerary. Tell them where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Keep a cell phone on you at all times, along with your hotel and family contact information.
Retirement should be some of the best years of your life! Open yourself up to new experiences and new possibilities. You’ve worked to build the world we live in, now it’s time to pick your head up and experience it.