Perhaps the biggest perk of retirement is that your time is completely yours. This is a time when folks can give their full attention to the things they love most. For a lot of people, travel is a big part of their post-career life. After all, retirement spells unlimited vacation days. So why not make the most of them?
Whether you want a relaxed trip or adventure travel, domestic or international locales, low cost or luxury, or solitude or crowds, your perfect trip is just a plan away. Get started by taking a look at the vacation destination ideas below. Who knows? You may just be inspired to book your next retirement retreat.
1. Road Trip Across the U.S. – Have you ever wanted to explore the country coast to coast? Now’s the time to make the drive. For nostalgia, consider “getting your kicks” on Route 66, which runs between Chicago and Los Angeles. This highway will wind you through small towns, kitschy landmarks, and a view of the Grand Canyon. Another option is Route 50, which links Maryland and Northern California. Here you’ll see an array of this country’s landscape, from the Sierra Nevada, Appalachian, and Rocky Mountains, to deserts, plains, and farmland. So, grab a map, a travel companion, and your favorite driving music, and hit the open road.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway – Speaking of driving trips, why not embark on the spectacular 469-mile route that joins Great Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. On this scenic ride, you’ll find amazing views from roadside pullover areas at elevations averaging 3,500 feet. Along the way, you can soak up distinct Southern culture, traditional music, and historical sites, all against the glorious backdrop of nature. Stop and stretch your legs with a hike on one of the 80 trails along the way. Lodging options range from campgrounds to upscale log homes.
3. Scottsdale, Arizona – If you’re looking for luxury travel, look no further. In Scottsdale, the Canyon Suites at The Phoenician Hotel is the perfect place for pampering. This boutique hotel, set against spectacular Camelback Mountain, boasts an infinity pool, spa services, daily cocktail hour, exclusive dining, and superb service. If you grow tired of the upscale amenities, you can venture out to hike, bike, or go on a shopping excursion in the city center.
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4. Rocky Mountaineer – Take your travel to the next level and climb aboard this opulent, glass-domed railway car winding its way through the Canadian Rockies. Several trips are available, like the “Coastal Passage Canadian Rockies Getaway.” This 12-day trek takes you on a tour from Seattle to Vancouver and makes stops at Jasper National Park, Lake Louise, Yoho National Park, and Banff National Park. For those with an adventurous spirit, you can explore the Athabasca Glacier and ride a gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain in Vancouver. Just be sure to pack your winter coat.
5. Southeast Asia River Cruise – For travelers new to this part of the world, a river cruise provides adventure, luxury, and convenience, all in one package. Cruise companies currently offer excursions through various locales. Take a trip down the river to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, rich in colonial architecture and ancient temples. Or dock in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, once known as “Paris of the Orient.” While you’re there, be sure to visit Ha Long Bay to see the stunning limestone rock formations.
6. China – This expansive country on the other side of the globe seems out of reach when your travel is constrained by vacation days. Retirement is the perfect time to spend time exploring China. Visit Beijing, China’s imperial capital, to view historic Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Take a walk along the 4,000-mile Great Wall, and soak up the panoramic views and this country’s long history. Just a short flight away is Xi’an, where you can see the wondrous Terra Cotta Warriors. Be sure to go hungry – you won’t want to miss the cuisine.
7. Australia – A long flight time from the U.S. to Australia puts a visit to this sprawling country outside most people’s vacation windows. Once you hit retirement, though, the sky’s the limit on how much time you can spend exploring the land down under. For marine wildlife enthusiasts, the Great Barrier Reef is home to countless species of colorful fish, turtles, dolphins, and sharks. On Australia’s southeastern tip, you’ll find Melbourne’s Great Ocean Road – a place to see rugged seashore, sandy beaches, jagged cliffs, and the dense Otway rainforest. For a more metropolitan adventure, take a tour of Sydney, home to the iconic opera house and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Remember, seasons are opposite in the Southern Hemisphere. So, most travelers time their visits to the southern part of Australia during summer, from November through March.
8. Costa Rica – Lovers of nature and wildlife, look no further. This Central American country is home to rain forests, jungles, Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, volcanoes, and hot springs. Pay attention on your travels, and you’ll see monkeys, sloths, wildcats, whales, and sea turtles in their natural habitats. Spend a day hiking, diving, or playing golf, and unwind by relaxing on an unspoiled beach. Lodgings range from affordable beachfront digs to five-star hotels and luxury resorts.
9. Israel – While this country lacks in size (it’s about the size of New Jersey), it makes up for in its rich history and culture. Jerusalem, a sacred city for Christians, Jews, and Muslims, is a must for your itinerary. Visit the site of the Crucifixion, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall. Next, head over to the iconic Dome of the Rock shrine. Just a short trip away, you’ll find Caesarea, a coastal town offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean along with Roman ruins dating from its days as the area’s largest port. To top it off, stop in to Tel Aviv, the city known for its beaches and thriving arts scene.
10. Ireland – Looking for lush green scenery, inviting pubs, and friendly folks? Look no further than a trip to Ireland. There are so many lovely cities to explore in this country. Start in Dublin and admire the ancient architecture before heading over to the Guinness Storehouse for a pint and a 360-degree view of the city. History buffs will want to check in to the seaport town of Cobh, which was the departure point of the Titanic. Before you leave, be sure to make time to drive the 110-mile Ring of Kerry for breathtaking views of historic sites, waterfalls, beaches, and monuments.
11. Sicily – Miles of gorgeous coast and beaches, stunning architecture, delicious fresh seafood, and friendly people are just a few reasons to visit Sicily. This island just off the toe of Italy’s boot is filled with unique and inviting cities, both along the coastline and on the island’s interior. Ancient ruins at Agrigento, Siracusa, Selinunte, and Taormina, are a testament to the island’s history, which has been occupied over time by the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, and Normans. For a more modern trip, head to Palermo, Sicily’s capital. This lively city boasts colorful outdoor markets, spectacular cathedrals, and delectable street foods.