So, you’re on the hunt for the best US travel destinations for seniors. You’ve come to the right place. This guide hops from coast to coast, mountain to beach, state park to city, all on the search for the very finest hotspots for vacations in those later years.
It offers a pretty tempting mix of places. We’ve got tried-and-tested holiday mainstays like Hawaii and the Florida Keys, but also lesser-known escapes in less-trodden parts of the country, from the sylvan mountains of Maine in New England to the hippy communes of the Arizonan deserts.
The idea here is that these destinations offer something for a range of different senior travelers. Some are great for simply enjoying the hotels and relaxing. Others tempt with more adventure in the wilds. Let’s begin…
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is one of those places you simply have to see in your lifetime. Spread between Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming on the cusp of the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide, it’s a mecca for wildlife viewing and nature lovers, encompassing tracts of bison-studded meadows and smoke-belching hot springs alike.
But don’t go thinking that this wild, wild corner of the stars and stripes is impossible to explore. It’s not, really. The whole place is crisscrossed by a neat grid of routes that make for some of the most scenic driving this side of Appalachia. The best of them is the Grand Loop Road, which takes seven hours to complete but whisks you through all the highlights and hidden sites in the park. For something shorter, check the Upper Loop, a 2.5-hour romp through the Mammoth Hot Springs and the iconic Tower Falls.
The other great thing about choosing Yellowstone in older age is that you can benefit from the reduced cost of an America the Beautiful Pass (it’s just $20 for a senior and includes access to ALL US national wildlife refuges and parks). You also shouldn’t be tied to school vacations, when Yellowstone is at its busiest.
It should hardly come as a surprise that Florida figures on our list of the best US travel destinations for seniors. The fabled Sunshine State has long been seen as retiree hotspot numero uno in North America, largely thanks to its clement sub-tropical climate, welcoming senior communities, and array of sparkling beaches. Sounds good, eh?
There are a few spots in Florida that are worth an extra special mention. The most southerly point of the state is the Florida Keys. They’re as close to vacationing in the Caribbean as the contiguous USA gets really, with turtle-filled coral gardens rubbing up to shores speckled with palm trees.
Closer to the heart of the state is The Villages, a collection of retirement communities that comes with freshwater lakes for boating and fishing, and more golf courses than you can shake your seven iron at. Finally, out west, is the beach-threaded town of Sarasota. Grab yourself a week in a villa there to be treated to visions of oat-topped dunes and quartz sands. Lovely.
It’s not hard to see why Sedona is hailed like the Uluru of North America. The town is wedged between such a jaw-dropping medley of soaring hoodoos and table-top mountains that many have come to think of it as a spiritual mecca and meeting point of magnetic fields. But whether that New Age stuff is your scene or not, there’s no doubt that there’s plenty to draw the more active seniors out there…
For one, the hiking is fantastic. Short and manageable trails can take you to see the gleaming red bluffs of Snoopy Rock, while more challenging romps whisk you over the peaks to the Devil’s Bridge and Bear Mountain if you’re feeling up to it. If not, the driving in this corner of AZ is spectacular, taking you through scented pine forests to hidden canyons and fishing spots and hot springs.
On top of all that, Sedona has some of the most luxurious lodge stays in the southwest. Check into one of the fancy, five-star places here and you’ll have hot tubs under the stars, wellness facilities, and plush Western-styled rooms warmed by crackling log fires.
Hawaii is often hailed as the best of all the best US travel destinations for seniors. Why? Well…it’s one of the USA’s rare tropical hotspots. That means sun and plenty of it. You have the location to thank for that – the Aloha State sits a mega 2,300 miles out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean from the edge of southern California.
But it’s not just the sunshine and the warmth that keep the older crowd jetting over. Resort areas like Princeville (on Kauai) and Wailea-Makena (on Maui) have risen to become all-in-one vacation hotspots in the last 50 years. Head to those to find sleek condo hotels with pools and views of the beaches, not to mention access to some of the most celebrated golf courses in the country!
More adventure-hungry seniors also have loads to get stuck into in Hawaii. Leave behind Honolulu and the hotels of Waikiki and you can scale Diamond Head or unravel the dark WWII history at the Arizona Memorial. Back on Kauai and there are unforgettable boat trips to the Na Pali coast or hiking in the Koke’e State Park to get through.
Asheville is the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. But that doesn’t mean you have to come with the walking boots in tow and the drive to complete long sections of the Appalachian Trail. No sir – the culture-brimming town is also a corker of a destination for seniors these days.
The first thing to mention is the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s the scenic byway to cap all scenic byways. It wiggles for 470 miles through a massive dash of North Carolina and neighboring Virginia. It’s riddled with lookout points and pretty picnic stops, but also enthralling historical sites like the pioneer-era Mabry Mill.
Once you’ve whizzed on back to Asheville itself, you can look forward to a vibrant mountain city that’s got everything from organic farmer’s markets to theatre houses on the menu. For older visitors, we can especially recommend the craft stalls at the Grovewood Village shopping center and the 434-acre North Carolina Arboretum.
Maine – the Pine Tree State, Vacationland – is one of the jewels of New England. It spills into the Atlantic on the northeastern edge of the USA to offer one of the most glorious runs of coastline pretty much anywhere in the country. Back inland, and you have ski slopes in Bethel and quiet state parks with untrodden peaks to explore.
The real highlight here has to be the Acadia National Park. A fragmented mass of islands covered in oak woods and pines, it’s anchored on the salt-washed village of Bar Harbor. From there, you can launch whale watching trips to strike a line from the bucket list. Or simply settle in one of the elegant coast hotels and enjoy endless bouts of New England seafood.
The fall months are especially wonderful up in Maine. People flock from all over to see the changing of the forests, from emerald-green to ochre and orange. The lake region around Limerick and the forested areas of Farmington and Skowhegan are especially fantastic parts of the state for seeing that.
There’s an undeniable romance about central Savannah, a town gilded with Antebellum grandeur and framed by monstrous old oaks draped in moss. They call this one the Hostess City of the South, and it’s the dame of all hostesses if you ask us. The downtown core is a symphony of beautiful parks and babbling fountains, handsome 1800s mansions, and elegant streets lined with BBQ and grits outlets.
The town’s cultural calendar is positively booming. Catch a show at the Savannah Theatre or drop into the Savannah Music Festival to jig to Dixie jazz in the early spring. Hit the vintage shops and vinyl stores of River Street Market. Take a whistlestop tour of the many haunted locations – they say this is the most haunted city in the whole USA!
And when you’re done with the urban enjoyments? Go for the coast. Savannah is plonked just a stone’s throw up the bends of its eponymous river from well-to-do Tybee Island and the Atlantic barrier isles on the GA coast. They’re home to bayous and beaches and old-school piers, along with some of the best seafood buffets this side of Monterey.
The best US travel destinations for seniors – our conclusion
There are stacks and stacks of places out there that could make it onto a list of the best US travel destinations for seniors. We’ve had to whittle all those down to just seven picks. What we’re left with is a pretty darn tempting array of places for older-age adventurers. Of course, the beaches of Florida and the tropical reaches of Hawaii are in the mix. But so are less-known parts of New England and historical cities in the south.