One benefit of being retired is the luxury of time. Many seniors enjoy a fair amount of flexibility, which means ample opportunity to save big bucks on travel. By vacationing during the off-season and pouncing on limited-time specials, savvy seniors enjoy discounts on food, lodging, transportation, attractions, and events. With so much incentive, why sit at home? Head to one of these budget-friendly destinations.
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
Soak up some Southern charm in genteel Charleston, named the region’s best city by Southern Livingmagazine for the second year in a row. Attractions such as the Fort Sumter National Monument and Gibbes Museum of Art offer senior discounts, while strolls along the waterfront and past gracious homes are free.
This vacation town deep in the Ozark Mountains is being talked up everywhere from Forbes to The New York Times. Take in country music shows and concerts, hit the links for a round of golf, cruise the lakes, explore the History of Fishing Museum, and just plain relax.
THE MARITIMES, CANADA
The Maritimes are Canada’s eastern provinces: Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. The region is a frugal choice for American seniors on a budget: The U.S. dollar is still a bit stronger than Canada’s loonie. Take a ferry from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (the fare is as low as $31 for seniors during the off-season) or drive north to New Brunswick.
There’s no shortage of outdoor adventure, including whale watching at eye level on a Zodiac boat. Halifax’s Pier 21, the Canadian Ellis Island, stirs memories for immigrants, and historic hotels such as the Algonquin Resort and Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa may take seniors back to childhood vacations. Summer is the best time to visit, although that’s when prices are at their highest.
WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA
City and seashore fun are rolled into one in Wilmington, which was hailed as one of the top U.S. destinations on the rise in TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards. It boasts three nearby beaches and a Riverwalk with shops and restaurants. Go at sunset for a memorable view of the Cape Fear River and walk down memory lane with visits to historic homes, museums, and the Battleship Carolina.
Many attractions are free, including two nearby state parks, the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, the Hanover County Arboretum, and the North Carolina Azalea Festival.
Plymouth and the surrounding county are a choice destination for senior history buffs, especially in the spring before the crowds arrive. Pilgrim Hall Museum, the oldest museum in the country, displays artifacts that arrived with the Mayflower, as well as a piece of Plymouth Rock that visitors can touch. Historic walking and ghostly tin-lantern tours are typically offered April to November, and 17th-century houses that belonged to some of the original 101 Mayflower passengers are now museums and charge no or modest entry fees. Outdoor adventures include whale watching, harbor and lobster cruises, and journeys through the 100-year-old Cape Cod Canal.
Yakima was selected as one of “America’s Best Small Cities on the Rise” by SmarterTravel. It boasts plenty of craft breweries downtown and more than 120 wineries (many award-winning) in the surrounding areas. Seniors will enjoy the small-town prices, farmers market, and “u-pick” farms. Mountain passes about 30 minutes away offer hiking trails along the back side of Mount Rainier. There’s white-water rafting on the Tieton River, fly fishing and tubing on the Yakima River, biking along various trails, and opportunities to spot wildlife in their native habitats.