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10 Top Retirement Travel Destinations, in the U.S. and Overseas

For many people, retirement equals travel. Once you’ve closed the chapter on your working life, it’s time to seek adventure. If you don’t already have a bucket list of must-see destinations, consider these 10 prime spots for retirement travel. We’ve compiled this list based on accessibility, affordability, activities, and attractions for the over-55 crowd.

Hawaii

Hanauma Bay in Honolulu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay in Honolulu, Hawaii.

If you can’t live in Hawaii, ranked the happiest state for seniors, you can at least visit. The Aloha State’s warm beaches and majestic vistas can’t be beaten. Aside from relaxing seaside with a good book and a cocktail, there’s more than enough to do. Swim with dolphins, play golf, visit a spa, or dance at a luau. If you’re into cruises, Hawaiian cruise deals are plentiful and let you take advantage of onboard lodging, food, and entertainment. Check After55.com guide to travel discounts for seniors for information about cruise discounts for travelers ages 55+.

New York

Manhattan, featured in guide to retiring in the New York City area

Manhattan skyline, New York City.

New York City is one of the nation’s most diverse cities, with people of all different ethnicities, religions, cultures, and walks of life. It’s no wonder it’s so appealing to a broad range of travelers, including retirees. For the traditional NYC experience, take a stroll through Central Park, see a show on Broadway, and spend some time shopping or people watching on Fifth Avenue. If you’re into history or genealogy, don’t miss Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Road Scholar, which specializes in trips for older adults, recommends traveling to New York in the spring, when you’ll also enjoy street fairs, festivals, and a beautiful array of flowers and greenery.

Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Retiring in Arizona is popular, of course. Maybe you’d like to visit first to see if you want to join all the retirees around Phoenix and Tucson? The warm weather, lovely scenery, and numerous wellness retreats and resorts make this state the perfect place for a relaxing getaway. Take a few spa days after hiking around the numerous parks, including the Grand Canyon, Red Rock in Sedona, and Lost Dutchman State Park. Arizona has 22 official National Park Service sites, so this is a great place to take advantage of your National Parks Senior Pass.

Montreal and Nova Scotia, Canada

Montreal, Canada.

Place d’Armes, Montreal, Canada.

Canada is the ideal destination for those seeking an international getaway without the cost of overseas airfare. Montreal, in particular, is perfect if you want to experience the food, culture, and romanticism of France without spending the time and money to get there. For the tastes and sounds of Ireland and Scotland, head to Nova Scotia, which preserves Celtic and Gaelic culture through music, dance, and language.

Tulum and Merida, Mexico

Castillo, Mayan ruin in Tulum, Mexico.

Castillo, Mayan ruin in Tulum, Mexico.

Mexico is another ideal destination for the budget-conscious. Cities like Merida and Tulum are particularly popular among over-55ers. Tulum is a small beach town with plenty to do, including hiking, biking, swimming, and spas. For the full Tulum experience, stay at a beachfront bungalow. If you prefer a more bustling environment, try Merida, also known as La Ciudad Blanca (The White City). This metropolis was named the American Capital of Culture in 2017. What’s more, Merida is also home to the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, a treasure trove of Mayan heritage.

Medellin, Colombia

Piedra de Penol, outside Medellin, Colombia.

Piedra de Penol, outside Medellin, Colombia.

Colombia doesn’t usually top the charts for tourist destinations, but its second-largest city, Medellin, is a haven for active seniors. In fact, a Huffington Post blogger ranked it No. 3 on a list of “Best Places to Live or Retire.” Culture enthusiasts will love the city’s medley of South American and European art and architecture, as well as the annual jazz and tango festivals. Adventurous types can hike, zip-line, or ride horses through the Aburra Valley, or travel through the jungle to Piedra del Penol. The city also has a fantastic high-tech transit system consisting of metro cars, cable cars, and outdoor escalators for an easy commute to and from your daily destinations.

England

Tower Bridge, London, England.

Tower Bridge, London, England.

England is a living history book, full of exquisite architecture and captivating history. So, it’s no wonder it was named Road Scholar’s Destination of the Year for 2017. In addition to the abundance of things to do and see, England is considered one of the most comfortable places for Americans to visit, in part because there’s little to no language barrier. Furthermore, due to the country’s controversial decision to leave the European Union, it’s more affordable right now.

Italy

Tuscany, Italy.

Tuscany, Italy.

Italy is on many people’s bucket list for good reason. Its delectable fare is matched by its rich history and impressive art and architecture, as well as stunning natural scenery. Within Italy, Tuscany and Sicily are two of the best places for seniors to visit, according to CBS News. Tuscany is more affordable than some other regions, and Sicily boasts spectacular ocean views. Malta and the Amalfi Coast are also prime destinations for the over-55 crowd.

Greece

Syros in the Greek Islands.

Syros in the Greek Islands.

Like Italy, Greece is a European destination steeped in ancient history. Of course, its mouthwatering cuisine and breathtaking seaside views don’t hurt either. In particular, travel experts recommend seniors take advantage of the less-populated Greek Islands, of which there are 7,000 total. Places like Mykonos and Santorini are lovely, to be sure, but they’re also packed with 20-somethings, making it a bit harder to find comfortable accommodations. Instead, try Syros (the only Cycladic island with a full hospital), Crete, Corfu, or Spetses.

Australia

Uluru / Ayers Rock in the Australian Outback.

Uluru / Ayers Rock in the Australian Outback.

Australia is well-known as one of the most active and outdoorsy nations in the world. If you’re looking for a place of boundless adventure and exotic wildlife, this is the place for you. The east coast, with major cities like Canberra and Sydney, is the most popular among tourists. Perth and the west coast are fantastic for those looking to venture off the beaten path. Not to mention, there’s nothing quite like traveling through the Outback, where you’ll find ancient Aboriginal sites like Uluru / Ayers Rock.

Sources and more suggestions: AARP, CBS News, CNBC, Road Scholar.

Got the travel bug? Check out our full list of travel discounts for seniors for deals on hotels, cruises, car rentals, train tickets and more. Did we leave your favorite retirement travel destination off this list? Have you visited one of the spots above since retiring? We’d love to hear about it! Share your thoughts in the comments.

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