Retirement is a chapter of life that usually tops off decades of planning, preparing, saving, and investing. For most, retirement is not just one big vacation, but if you have the means, a hard-earned trip is certainly in order. The same as anyone else planning some downtime away from home, retirees need to plan their vacations in the right order. What can you afford? What do you like to do? And how far do you want to go?
For some, the ideal vacation is a sun-soaked blur of sand, waves, and frozen drinks. For others, fishing, boating, and water-skiing are the name of the game. For more adventurous retirees, it might be skiing in the snow-covered mountains, or perhaps hiking or camping. In other cases, some might be in the market for a high-end luxury cruise, a low-key river cruise, or a flight on a plane to the other side of the world.
Stacker compiled a list of 30 vacation destinations that offer something for every retiree on every budget. Many are in the United States, but others involve overseas jaunts to some of the farthest reaches of the planet. Prices for potential accommodations are included, and sometimes those accommodations are part of packages that include airfare. Since the cost of air travel can swing wildly depending on when you travel, where you're coming from, and even the day of the week that you buy the tickets, the cost of airfare was omitted unless air travel was included as part of a package deal. Also, the stated offers are subject to changes in price and availability.
It's also important to note that the accommodations are only suggestions. While the list sticks mostly to hotels and resorts, you might choose to tour the same city, country, or island by using a bed and breakfast, campsite, cabin, or Airbnb rental as your home base. Read on to learn about some options for your ideal retirement travel plan.
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Take in the majesty and mystery of old-world Europe with a river tour of the Danube. You'll experience the grand cities and quaint medieval towns that rose to prominence on its banks like Budapest, Vienna, and Nuremberg, as you coast in luxury through Hungary, Austria, and Germany. Viking River Cruises offers eight-day, three-country trips that include six guided tours starting at $1,999.
You can relax on the postcard white sand beaches and soak in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles Islands without ever leaving the country—sort of. Because they're U.S. territories, Americans can travel to and from the islands of St. Thomas, St. John's, and St. Croix—known collectively as the U.S. Virgin Islands—without a passport. Perfect for retirees looking to chill out in child-free serenity, you can get a two-person, seven-day package at the adults-only Sand Castle on the Beach resort on St. Croix for $2,830.20, including airfare, hotel, taxes, and fees.
Step into America's past with a fun and educational vacation at one of the country's most popular destinations for retirees. Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia brings the world of the Founding Fathers to life, and the Historic Triangle Package from Colonial Williamsburg Resorts gives you unlimited access not only to Colonial Williamsburg, but also to the Jamestown Settlement, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, and more. Two-night packages with Williamsburg Lodge accommodations are roughly $215 per person.
Yosemite National Park is one of the greatest natural treasures not just in the country, but in the world—and California wine is spectacular, too. Both the Yosemite Valley Lodge and the Majestic Yosemite Hotel offer accommodations for the Grand Grape Celebration Package, a vacation that's hard to beat for retirees who love both wine and natural beauty. Packages start at $334 per night, per person and include an intimate meet-and-greet with some of California's top vintners, tasting seminars, and a five-course gala dinner complemented by expertly paired wines.
Retirees can get a taste of European metropolitan life in a place that's just a little more than six hours north of New York City by car. Clean, safe, and bursting with things to do, Montreal's cobblestone French Colonial streets and Gothic Revival architecture are worlds away from the common U.S. city, yet all so close. If this sounds like your kind of retirement vacation, two travelers can get a four-night package that includes airfare and accommodations at the highly rated Hotel Zero 1 for $854, including taxes and fees.
Nestled between New York and the Mid-Atlantic cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C. is Philadelphia, a city that has something for retirees of every stripe. The Colonial-era tourist district, famous for the Liberty Bell, can keep history buffs enthralled and, although it's synonymous with cheesesteaks, Philly is one of the most prized restaurant cities in the country right now. There also are all the cultural amenities, museums, exhibits, tours, and nightlife you'd expect to find in a major East Coast city—plus all things "Rocky." You can't get a more central location than the Warwick Hotel in Rittenhouse Square, where rooms start at $209 per night.
Snorkeling, diving, boating, fishing, nightlife, dancing, and cooling your heels on the beach. Sound like a tropical paradise? It is—all in a city in Florida. The southernmost city in the continental United States, Key West is America's slice of the Caribbean—it's actually closer to Havana, Cuba, than it is to Miami. Two travelers can get five nights in the top-rated Southernmost Beach Resort, plus two round-trip tickets for $3,336.88.
You'll retire your Jersey Shore stereotypes when you head to Cape May, a quaint and historic beach resort town that's sleepy in the offseason and booming in the summer. The historic Carroll Villa Hotel offers a flight of beers at Ludlam Brewery, wine tasting at Hawk Haven Vineyards, a $30 breakfast voucher, 30% off dinner entrees at the hotel's own restaurant, The Mad Batter, and two tickets for a trolley tour of the Historic District—which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places—for $119 to $149, depending on the room you choose.
The outdoor playground of the Midwest, the Lake of the Ozarks is two hours from the vacation hotspot of Branson, Mo., and perched in the Ozark Mountains, the highest range between the Rockies and the Appalachians. A true paradise for golfers, anglers, campers, boaters, and outdoor enthusiasts of all tastes, the Lake of the Ozarks is bursting with small-town charm and is a mecca for retirees. Rooms at Robin's Resort are $95 to $260 in season and $80 to 200 in the off season.
Although it's a booming, bustling, college town anchored by Ole Miss, the town of Oxford is a perfect destination for retirees. One of the cultural epicenters of the Old South, the town's rich history coexists with its vibrant scene of nightlife, shopping, cuisine, and entertainment. You can stay in the time capsule of antebellum Southern plantation architecture and decor that is the Castle Hill, for $99 a night.
Located less than 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks is known for its majestic mountain ranges, rugged wilderness, and dazzling aurora borealis Northern Lights and mind-boggling midnight sun. The three-day, two-night Alaska Tours Northern Lights Viewing Package introduces you to the wildest skies on Earth, starting at $419 per person.
Located on the rugged and picturesque Central Coast of California, the area surrounding Monterey Bay is among the most scenic places on Earth—and there's plenty to do. The county of Monterey is a global destination for a reason, thanks to hotspots like Pebble Beach, Big Sur, Del Ray Oaks, Pacific Grove, Sand City, and Soledad. Right now, the Monterey Hotel is offering rooms at $119 per night.
With lush jungles, ancient cultures, mysterious landscapes, and natural beauty, a vacation to Vietnam is almost like taking a trip to another world. You can get the entire exotic experience starting at $2,709, including airfare, with a nine-day journey from Ho Chi Minh City in the south to Hanoi in the north with a vacation package from GoWay.
Mysterious and wild, Africa is the birthplace of humanity, and the continent that has captured the imagination of the world for millennia, so an African safari is a true bucket-list adventure for the intrepid retiree. For $3,300 per person, you can tour Southern Africa's top three destinations—Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park, and the Okavango Delta—with two nights spent at each over a total of seven days. The elephant-watching opportunities are not to be forgotten.
St. Paul and Minneapolis—known as Minnesota's Twin Cities—are among the most underrated vacation destinations in the country. More than 18 million visitors pour in every year, many of them retirees, to soak up the culture, cuisine, nightlife, stunning natural beauty, and, of course, the famously friendly locals who call the Twin Cities home. Now that you're retired, beat the weekend crowds and save big money by taking advantage of the ExploreMinnesota Midweek Special, which offers rooms starting at $99 a night.
Remote, rugged, beautiful, and welcoming, Iceland is an island paradise that betrays its name. Known for raging waterfalls, soaring mountains, stunning views, hot springs, nature reserves and one of the greatest beer cultures on Earth, Iceland has been beckoning retirees for generations. Starting at the equivalent of about $2,016 you can see it all with the eight-day, seven-night Highlights of Iceland Package from Iceland Tours.
Nestled in the majestic Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina on the border of Tennessee, Asheville is a hip, vibrant, and artsy enclave in the American South. Drive the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, explore the mountains, fish the rivers, or stay in town to take in Asheville's many shows, shops, restaurants, and festivals—it's also one of the country's great music cities. You can stay at the luxurious Inn on Biltmore Estate—the largest home in the country, which was built by George Vanderbilt—starting at $279 a night.
Austin is known as the "Live Music Capital of the World," but the famous SXSW Festival is not the only draw by any means. Retirees will revel in the city's downtown walking tours, its rich and old cultural heritage, and many restaurants, shops, breweries, wineries, and outdoor amenities. You can tour the budget-friendly city with a package for two that includes two round-trip airline tickets plus six nights in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Austin Northwest Arboretum for a total of $1,080.69.
The continent down under has beckoned retirees for generations, thanks to its endless expanse of exotic natural wonders; warm, welcoming people; exotic wildlife; vibrant, interesting cities; and deep, rich culture. You can take a 14-day highlight tour of Australia and New Zealand that includes stops everywhere from the famed Sydney Opera House to the Great Barrier Reef, and the cities of Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney for $3,241 per person, not including airfare.
One of the unsung and underrated great American destination cities, Pittsburgh is a cauldron of 90 distinct neighborhoods that offer an endless sea of theater, dining, nightlife, festivals, shopping, tours, breweries, and bars—and it's home to some of the most storied franchises in sports. It's an affordable vacation city—rooms at the Pittsburgh Plaza Hotel start at $109 a night.
Endless white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, rustic cabanas, and ancient ruins combine to form the picture-perfect Yucatan Peninsula paradise of Tulum. For $415, you can spend eight nights at Xscape Tulum, a highly rated, luxurious hotel with all the amenities, and a central location a half-mile from the main square and a little over three miles from a major archaeological site.
Train travel can be quaint, cozy, or exciting—but there's no on-rail experience quite like a Rocky Mountaineer vacation. Pick your package, your route, and your destination, then sit back and relax as some of the world's most astonishing landscape passes by your window as you soar across, through, over, and under the Canadian Rockies. The eight-day Journey Through The Clouds Explorer package starts at $2,685.21.
At once ancient and modern, Israel is a mixture of holy and mystical sites like the Dead Sea, Negev Desert, and the Walled City of Jerusalem—but it's also a country filled with vibrant cities, nightlife, cuisine, art, and culture. The GoToday Highlights of Israel Escorted Tour is a seven-night guided journey through the heart of the country with stops in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Galilee that includes airfare starting at $2,299.
One of the oldest continuously inhabited lands on the planet, Sicily stills bears the marks of Moorish, Roman, Egyptian, Byzantine, Ottoman, Carthaginian, and Greek culture. From Palermo to Messina, Piazza Armerina to Mt. Etna, you can check out the entire island off the southern Italian peninsula with a nine-day Best of Sicily tour package, which starts at $2,309 and includes airfare and land travel.
Myrtle Beach is 60 miles of pristine Atlantic coastline known for killer golf courses, affordable day trips, eclectic entertainment; and an endless bounty of seafood. You can do four nights, plus round-trip airfare, at the Sand Dunes Resort and Suites, starting at $483 per person.
Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Capitol Reef national parks are arguably the greatest single-state collection of natural wonders in the National Park System. Retirees who visit Utah's rock-and-stone gems will marvel as the Earth's crust morphs into an alien landscape of geological artwork. The Mighty Five package from Southwest Adventure Tours gives you an up-close-and-personal look at them all, starting at $2,399 per person.
On the Sorrentine Peninsula on the coast of the Bay of Naples sits one of the oldest and most majestic beaches in all of Europe. Sorrento is an ancient city crisscrossed by narrow alleys that connect homes, shops, and corridors that have stood for centuries. Two people can stay at the luxurious and highly rated hilltop Hotel Villa Fiorita for two nights, plus round-trip airfare, for $2,198.31.
Scottsdale is all about wild desert, wildflowers, and wild golf courses. One of the hottest destinations for retirees in the Southwest and the country, Scottsdale is a city that you can do on a budget. The Magnuson Hotel Papago Inn earned four out of five stars and starts at $105 per night.
Rugged, rain forested, and remote, Costa Rica is the heart of Central America and one of the biggest draws for retirees in all of Latin America. The ruins, the culture, the music, the cuisine, and the seemingly untouched natural splendor are major attractions. A three-night package for two at Hotel Presidente in San Jose, including round-trip airfare, costs $1,126.07.
The Emerald Isle is a fabled vacation destination, thanks to its quaint towns, rich culture, stone castles, and, of course, soaring green pastures and hillsides. The four-night Tale of Two Cities Tour from Authentic Vacation starts at $1,148 per person and takes you through Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and Belfast in Northern Ireland.