Many people want to travel in retirement and are looking for places where they can safely explore and linger. A recent AARP survey revealed the international and domestic places baby boomers most want to visit. Here are the destinations that retirees say are at the top of their future travel lists.
France is home to renowned cuisine, historical sites and sophisticated culture. Paris is often a first stop, and the City of Light offers incredible fashion exhibitions, must-see works of art at the Louvre Museum and enchanting views of the iconic Eiffel Tower. The tranquil countryside awaits those seeking a relaxed pace, visits to quaint villages and nature getaways. Your itinerary in France can be tailored to your interests, perhaps including a hike in the Alps or Pyrenees, visits to medieval sites in Rouen or a visit to the beaches of Normandy.
From pasta served with a glass of wine to rich and flavorful ice cream, there’s plenty of cuisine to appeal to foodies. Some places’ menus even include gluten-free options. Tours of ancient ruins abound, including the Colosseum, the remains of the city of Pompeii, and the Romeo and Juliet setting of Verona. Besides being the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites, Italy offers beautiful natural landscapes, ranging from mountain ranges to calm lakes and lively coastlines. There are also an abundance of resorts and beaches to choose from when travelers are ready to relax and soak up the sun.
You don’t have to learn a new language to visit this popular European destination, which offers both urban delights in Dublin and quaint villages dotting the countryside. The Irish countryside is lined with rolling green hills, rugged sea cliffs and weathered rock formations. Lively festivals attract visitors looking for a taste of traditional music and culture. Visiting castles and ruins can help retirees understand Ireland’s past and infamous Viking Age. Topping the list of castles: Dublin Castle for more history; Bunratty Castle to see one of the most complete castles remaining; and Dunluce Castle for its spectacular sea views.
For those looking for beautiful scenery, delicious cuisine, and dramatic history, Germany is a great travel choice. The past comes alive in its medieval towns of Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Goslar, Regensburg and Ulm, among others. A plethora of places tell the story of World War II, including the Vorbunker and Fuhrerbunker where Adolf Hitler resided, the Dachau Memorial and Museum, St. Nicholas Church, and the Holocaust Memorial. When you’re ready for a break from the outdoors, parks in Berlin, trails in the Black Forest, views of towering mountain peaks and picnics along one of Germany’s many rivers wait.
Vibrant colors, gorgeous beaches and craft markets attract retirees interested in a warm getaway and friendly environment. The ruins of Teotihuacan outside of Mexico City reveal ancient Mesoamerican life, while Chichen Itza and Tulum feature Mayan ruins. Mexico’s many colonial towns, often referred to as “Pueblos Magicos”, provide the perfect opportunity to stroll the cobblestone streets and shop in the open-air markets. Guanajuato, a city founded in Spain that originally thrived on silver mining, features an intricate network of tunnels and narrow alleyways, and its brightly painted structures climb the surrounding steep slopes. No visit is complete without sampling the Mexican food scene, which ranges from fine dining to street vendors.
With an area that spans 20 miles long and six miles at its widest point, Aruba is known for its white sand beaches and spectacular ocean views. An array of nearshore reefs filled with tropical fish and corral formations attract visitors interested in snorkeling and diving. Retirees looking for nightlife can head to a beach barbecue, cocktail party, or one of the island’s casinos. The capital, Oranjestad, is full of colorful buildings and its architecture in the city center has Dutch influences. Aruba’s economy is based on tourism, and a friendly environment welcomes visitors year-round.
Just off the southeast coast of Florida, this Caribbean destination boasts turquoise blue waters and pristine sand. Boat tours abound, which take visitors on excursions such as snorkeling, fishing, and private island tours. Tourists can take a midday break for a leisurely picnic on a beach. Those looking for a unique experience can feed the beach pigs or swim with the pigs. Pink Sands Beach offers exactly what its name suggests: a chance to stroll along a pink-hued shoreline. The Gardens of Versailles are full of breathtaking greenery, terraced gardens and intricate architecture.
The Sunshine State is the most popular national destination for retirees planning trips, according to AARP survey data. For many people, Florida’s mild winter weather surpasses the cold, snowy conditions of the northern states. Seasonal visitors can bask on one of Florida’s white sand beaches or visit the Keys to fish, boat and snorkel. History buffs can visit sites such as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and the Harry S. Truman Little White House in Key West. For those looking to add to a seashell collection, Sanibel Island is known for its tranquil shoreline lined with colorful seashells.
A walk through a Napa Valley winery, a day at the beach, and a visit to Alcatraz are on the wish list of many retirees. California has more national parks than any other state, including Yosemite, with its spectacular waterfalls and giant sequoias, Death Valley, which features extreme heat and a basin below sea level, and Joshua Tree, which has an extensive display of plants and animals in a desert landscape. California cities are home to renowned landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Sign, as well as innovative and award-winning restaurants. San Diego, the oldest city in the state, is home to the Spanish mission Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, which was founded in 1769.
The casinos and nightlife are a major attraction for retirees looking for a change of pace. Many Las Vegas hotels go above and beyond to provide guests with a feeling of luxury and comfort, making it a must-visit destination for those looking for four- and five-star dining and lodging experiences. The Neon Museum features the signs and remnants of old Las Vegas casinos and businesses, including the pirate skull that appeared on Treasure Island. The nearby architectural marvel, the Hoover Dam, was built during the Great Depression. It is one of the tallest dams in the world and creates the largest reservoir of water in the country.
A show on Broadway is a highlight for many of the millions of tourists who visit New York each year. The city has some of the best-known museums in the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Located at the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial Museum tells the story of 9/11 through a collection of artifacts and stories. A cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island gives retirees the chance to enjoy the same welcoming sights newcomers have seen for centuries as they approach the country by boat.
The Lone Star State offers something for everyone, including barbecues, hills, city life, rodeos and professional sporting events. Those staying in San Antonio can stroll the River Walk and visit the Alamo to learn about Texas history and the Battle of the Alamo. A visit to Houston could include the Space Center, where visitors get a glimpse of space exploration over the years. Those looking for warmth and sun can head to South Padre Island for fishing, boating and shopping. The South Padre Island Bird and Wildlife Center has a five-story lookout tower, where visitors can observe migrating birds.
The best travel destinations for retirees:
- New York.
Update on April 6, 2022: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.