Best Senior Travel Destinations in 2024

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With COVID-19 vaccination rates on the rise, it looks like this summer will be safer for travel than the last one. Especially if you and your loved ones are vaccinated, there’s no reason you can’t get out of the house and explore what the country has to offer.

No matter what your budget or style preference, there’s a vacation destination for you. The following senior travel destinations are some of my personal favorites, in addition to those of our staff writers.

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 U.S. 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 also 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. 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. Also, be sure to look into the national park pass for seniors.

Biking in Badlands National Park
Biking in Badlands National Park

2. Disney World, Florida

It’s forgivable if the first thing that comes to mind after reading “Disney World” are the sights and sounds of lots of excited children and long lines. With new COVID restrictions in place, however, park attendance is limited, and rigorous safety measures have been put in place, ensuring that guests will have a socially distanced and pleasant experience. True, Disney World does not offer senior discounts on tickets or accommodations, but you may find discounts at other sites like AAA or AARP.

My personal favorite park would have to be Epcot. Older adults, especially, can appreciate the park’s world showcase, which takes you on a culinary and visual journey through 11 different countries, including Mexico, Japan, and Italy. Even if you can’t currently travel the world, Epcot creates as entertaining of a simulation as possible.

3. Sedona, Arizona

When most people think of Arizona, their mind tends to conjure up images of cacti, rattlesnakes, and scorching hot temperatures. Departing from this image is the beautiful town of Sedona, Arizona. Less than a two-hour drive from the Phoenix airport, Sedona is a sightseer’s dream with its beautiful red rock cliffs and rock formations. Oh yeah, and unlike other parts of the state, Sedona’s average summer temperatures rarely exceed 90 degrees.

Some of my favorite activities in Sedona include hiking, bird watching, and Jeep Tours of the geological wonders. Especially for those into yoga and New Age medicine, Sedona has plenty of offerings. Additionally, if you simply want to kick back and relax, Sedona offers many hotels and resorts, and nothing beats taking in the stunning sunset at Cathedral Rock.

Sedona's Cathedral Rock at Sunset
Sedona’s Cathedral Rock at Sunset

4. Alaska

Although Alaska is one of the least frequently visited states in the country (possibly due to its distance), there’s no beating the natural wonders of this state. For those inclined towards outdoor activities, Alaska contains 17 national parks. For those who want a more relaxing trip, Anchorage and Juneau offer all the creature comforts you’d expect.

With COVID rates trending downwards, it’s also a great time to book one of the fabulous cruises along the Alaskan coast. They’re a great way to take in the natural wonders while staying in resort-style amenities, not to mention you’ll be enjoying this all in average temperatures around 70 degrees.

Alaskan Coastline
Alaskan Coastline

5. Pacific Coast Highway, California

If you’ve ever considered hitting the road with your loved ones and exploring the country via RV, then there’s one route I can’t recommend enough: the Pacific Coast Highway. People often call California its own country in and of itself, and if you travel even part of this 600 mile stretch of coastal road, it’s easy to see why.

The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH for short), spans all the way from San Francisco to San Diego, and it’s considered one of the most scenic and beautiful roads in the world. From the glistening fields of wine country down to the surfing villages of southern California, there’s something along this road for everyone.

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 scavenger hunt from 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.

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.

Travel Tip #1: 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.

Travel Tip #2: 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 out 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.