For those who have faithfully served their time in the workforce and are looking for the best senior activities to spend their retirement, look no further than this carefully curated list of the top eight senior travel destinations! Whether you’re looking for adventures in nature, historical sightseeing, or a relaxing getaway, here are the top travel destinations for seniors:
1. Denver, Colorado
Colorado stands out above the rest of the country in terms of natural beauty; the stunning Rockies are full of trails to hike, even the easiest walks boasting beautiful views of the surrounding country. The Lily Mountain trail, for example, takes hikers on a 4-mile walk up a small mountain just north of the majestic Longs Peak, a 14,000 foot mountain that looms tall and proud against the horizon., and rates are low at $30 per vehicle (if you’re 62 or older, you’re also eligible for a $20 annual pass or an $80 lifetime pass). If you can make your way to Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods is a must-see natural attraction, and although some of the tours cost money, the park itself and visitor center are totally free to visit.
If city life is more your style, Denver has countless attractions to offer. The Denver Central Market food hall has tons of local treats and eats, including roast meats, street tacos, and sandwiches by renowned chef and restaurateur Sean Kelly at SK Provisions. If you travel during football season, the atmosphere and excitement of a Broncos game in Mile High Stadium is an absolute must.
If you enjoy skiing, Denver is a perfect jumping-off point for some of the best slopes in the Rockies; Google search results offered ten resorts within 2 hours of the city.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston South Carolina is a popular spot for traveling seniors. Travel accommodations are easy to access, especially if you purchase tickets to one of the city’s famous tour buses. Charleston is the perfect place for history buffs as there are many points of interest from both the American Revolution and the Civil War. Charleston, South Carolina is as rich in history as anywhere else on the eastern seaboard, with lots of places throughout the city tied to both the American Revolution and Civil War. It’s easy to experience the sights and sounds of the city while also diving into its history in one of the many tour services—offered from vehicles ranging from boats to horse-drawn carriages—or enjoy the food market or one of many museums across the city.There are many historical tours, including tours of the harbor and tours of the cities many museums.
For those looking to explore the more supernatural side of history, Charleston is also allegedly the home of a variety of ghosts. Travelers can book ghostly graveyard tours, walking tours, and haunted cruises in the search for the undead. Whether the rumors of ghostly haunts are true or not, Charleston is a place full of stories. Whether you’re looking to learn about history, or make history yourself, Charleston should float towards the top of your destination choices.
Hawaii is the most popular state for travelers across the US, and for good reason. The beautiful beaches and stunning island views make for the perfect relaxing getaway. Though it can be easy to get caught in Hawaiin tourist traps and leave with nothing but kitschy souvenirs, careful planning can lead to a trip that’s nothing less than magical. Traveling to Hawaii sans children gives older couples the opportunity to explore Hawaii’s rich culture. The capital city of Honolulu is on the island of Oahu, which is crowded, but home to a couple of very attractive destinations: diamond head and Pearl Harbor. Diamond Head is an extinct volcano crater that offers a beautiful view of the islands and the dazzling pacific ocean, if you can make the hike to the top. Pearl Harbor is still in use today as a naval base, but it also has a memorial to the Japanese attack on the base in 1945.
If you go, you also absolutely must visit the island of Kauai. Kauai’s lush foliage would be easily recognized by any fans of the original Jurassic Park movie, since that’s where it was filmed. There aren’t any dinosaurs on the island of Kauai in real life, but the natural beauty of the island is just as spectacular and just as deserving of appreciation.
If there are coffee lovers on your trip, then you should definitely consider visiting Kona-Kailua—on the big island—home of the world-famous Kona gourmet coffee plantations. A pound of this coffee can cost $50-60 per pound, but it is absolutely worth it to shell out for what many connoisseurs across the world have labeled the best coffee in the entire world.
4. Disney World
Though most people think of Disney World as the realm of chaotic kids and frantic parents losing kids and dollar bills left and right, it can actually be quite the delightful spot for seniors who want to experience Disney for themselves. Disney World offers a large array of sights and attractions, all with a mass transit system to help you explore the park. The park is famous for its hospitality. Staff want guests to have a magical experience and will do everything they can to assist seniors with health issues.
Disney World theme parks offer special parking for those with disabled permits and handheld captioning devices for those who are hearing impaired. If you’re looking to go on vacation, but are worried about medical emergencies, Disney World may be the safest spot to travel. The park has four emergency medical facilities as well as professional equipment and paramedics stationed around the park. It’s best to come prepared with any medication you need, but for the most part Disney World is prepared to cater to both medical and dietary needs.
If you’re a fan of people watching, experience driven vacations, or the undying magic of Disney, Disney World may be an unexpected sweet spot for senior vacations. Though Disney World does not offer senior discounts, other blogs for seniors like AAA or AARP may have the deal you’re looking for.
5. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Universally acknowledged as one of the best fall vacations, Santa Fe, New Mexico offers a diverse range of attractions for older adults. A popular vacation spot for its Old West feel and modern amenities, Santa Fe effortlessly brings the past into the 21st century.
A “must-see” destination near Santa Fe is the Puye Cliff Dwellings. Once home to over a thousand Pueblo people, it is now a well preserved National Historic Landmark. Guided tours of the cliff dwellings allow visitors to explore the site. Visitors can also explore the historic Harvey House built for travelers in the late 1800s and visit the center’s gift shop. For history buffs or those curious about the ancient Pueblo people who lived in the land from the 900s to 1500 A.D this site is a perfect place to get a taste of Santa Fe’s rich history.
For seniors looking to experience the Santa Fe community, the Santa Fe Plaza will always be worth a trip. The Plaza is steeped in rich history, it’s been the city’s cultural hub since the founding of Santa Fe in 1610. The Plaza hosts a wide range of events, including regular markets, concerts, and other community events. The Plaza provides a wide variety of restaurants, souvenir shops, galleries, and historical buildings like the Palace of the Governors and the San Miguel Mission. The Plaza is the best place to get a feel for the Santa Fe community and pick up a few Native American crafts from the market to take home as souvenirs.
6. Phoenix, Arizona
If you or your loved one is a fan of golfing, Phoenix Arizona might be the perfect vacation spot for you. The Phoenix area is home to almost two hundred golf courses scattered across it’s unique Arizona Landscape. Known as the “Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix is a unique metropolis that shines through the desert like a sparkling oasis.
If you’re looking to get a feel for Arizona’s famous desert feel, you should look into golf courses strewn across the Phoenix desert landscape such as We-Ko-Pa and Troon North. If you’re looking for a more luxurious resort feeling golf course the Gainey Ranch and the Arizona Biltmore golf clubs offer golf courses with perks like spa treatments and fine dining.
If golf isn’t your scene, Phoenix still has many sites to explore. The Heard Museum offers an opportunity to learn about American Indian Tribes form the region and keeps a beautiful display of Native American Art. You can also explore Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden for an array of flora and fauna you won’t find anywhere else in the country. Whether you come for the golf or the desert views, there’s plenty of of sites to explore in Phoenix for a unique desert vacation.
7. Seattle, Washington
It is impossible to deny that Seattle is one of America’s most important cultural centers. Home of Starbucks Coffee, headquarters to companies like Amazon and Boeing, and one of America’s most colorful music scenes, and with amazing museums featuring subjects including flight, art, music, and pop culture, Seattle has something to offer everyone.
Probably the most recognizably “Seattle” place in the city is the waterfront. Dine at seafood restaurants within just a few miles of where their dishes were first caught, on wharfs that look out to the endless Pacific ocean, or go visit the fish market—where skilled fishmongers literally throw fish at each other as a part of the butchering process—and wash it down with a cup of coffee from the original Pike Place Starbucks, which still boasts its original 1971 livery (a few blocks down from a very contemporary location, also on Pike Place).
Glass takes a central role in two of Seattle’s popular landmarks. Get views of Seattle’s skyline (and the regal Mt. Rainier standing against the distant horizon) from the iconic Space Needle, which features The Loupe—the world’s only rotating glass floor. Then visit the sculptural glass wonders at the Chihuly Garden and Glass. A two-in-one ticket is $41 for seniors 65+ ($49 for adults).
The area surrounding Seattle also has much to offer the prospective holidayer. From Seattle, you can take a ferry to the surrounding islands, visit the small towns and beaches, and go whale watching on the Puget sound. Just a couple hours out, you can go hiking in Mt. Rainier National Park for $30 per vehicle, and the foothills of the 14,000 foot behemoth make for gorgeous hikes of a wide variety of difficulties.
Seattle also boasts some of the country’s best breweries. If you’re in Seattle during the fall, grab a pumpkin beer from Elysian brewery and beer hall. If alcohol isn’t your thing, try out the quirky, famous cream cheese-covered Seattle-style hot dog at Monster Dogs.
8. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is undeniably America’s most famous nature park, and its reputation is more than earned by the stunning natural beauty contained within its borders. For $80 and a $10 handling fee, you can purchase a senior lifetime pass that grants you, your vehicle, and any companions access to the park.
The pass is worth investing is, Yellowstone has spectacular geysers like Old Faithful, an active supervolcano at Yellowstone Caldera, and iridescent hot springs scattered across the nearly 3,500 square miles of park. The park is filled with wildlife that is as beautiful as it is dangerous. Forests, canyons, and waterfalls all over the park make for some of the most breathtaking camping the Americas have to offer.
If you do go, one must-see destination is the Artist’s Point, a 0.2 mile hike that ends at an overlook of the 308-foot Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone may not be as large as the Grand Canyon itself, but it is one of the most photographed spots in the park for a reason. With a beautiful waterfall crashing down one end, a short hike at any one of the numerous vantage points is sure to lead to spectacular views. Nature lovers of the US absolutely must explore Yellowstone to find all the sights the park has to offer.