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 spots baby boomers most want to visit. Here are the destinations that retirees say are at the top of their bucket list for future travel.
France is home to renowned cuisine, historical sites and sophisticated culture. Paris is often a first stop, and the City of Light offers incredible displays of fashion, must-see art at the Louvre Museum and enchanting views of the iconic Eiffel tower. The quiet countryside awaits for those seeking a relaxed pace, tours of quaint villages and nature escapes. Your France itinerary can be tailored to your interests, perhaps including hiking in the Alps or the Pyrenees, tours of medieval sites in Rouen or a visit to the beaches of Normandy.
From pasta served with a glass of wine to rich and flavorful gelato, there’s plenty of cuisine to draw in foodies. Menus in some places 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. In addition to being the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Italy offers lovely natural landscapes, ranging from mountain ranges to quiet lakes and vivid coastlines. There is also an abundance of resorts and beaches to choose from when travelers are ready to relax and soak in the sun.
There’s no need to learn a new language to tour this popular European destination, which offers both urban delights in Dublin and picturesque villages dotting the countryside. The Irish countryside is lined with green hills, rugged cliffs along the sea and weathered rock formations. Lively festivals attract visitors seeking a taste of traditional music and culture. Touring castles and ruins can help retirees understand Ireland’s past and infamous Viking days. Topping the castle list: Dublin Castle to learn about 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 food and dramatic history, Germany comes in as a top 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 Vorbunker and Fuhrerbunker where Adolf Hitler resided, the Dachau Memorial and Museum, St. Nicholas’ Church and the Holocaust Memorial. When ready for an outdoor break, parks in Berlin, trails in the Black Forest, views of the towering mountain peaks and picnics alongside one of Germany’s many rivers await.
Vibrant colors, gorgeous beaches and artisan 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 showcase Mayan ruins. Mexico’s many colonial cities, often referred to as “Pueblos Magicos,” create the perfect opportunity to stroll through pebbled streets and shop in open-air markets. Guanajuato, a Spanish-founded city which originally thrived on silver mining, features an intricate network of tunnels and narrow alleyways, and its brightly painted structures climb the steep surrounding hillsides. No visit is complete without sampling Mexico’s food scene, which ranges from fine dining to street vendors.
With an area that covers 20 miles in length and six miles at its widest point, Aruba is known for its white sand beaches and spectacular ocean views. An array of reefs near the shore filled with tropical fish and corral formations attracts visitors interested in snorkeling and diving. Retirees looking for nightlife can head to a beach barbecue, cocktail hour or one of the island’s casinos. The capital city of Oranjestad is filled with colorful buildings, and its architecture in the downtown area has Dutch influences. Aruba’s economy thrives on tourism, and a friendly environment welcomes visitors year round.
Just off the southeast coast of Florida, this Caribbean destination has turquoise-blue waters and pristine sands. Boat tours abound, which take visitors on excursions that include snorkeling, fishing and visits to private islands. Tourists can take a midday break to have a leisurely picnic on a beach. Those looking for a unique experience can feed beach pigs or swim with the pigs. Pink Sands Beach offers exactly what its name suggests: a chance to walk along a rose-colored shore. The Versailles Gardens are filled with breathtaking greenery, terraced gardens and intricate architecture.
The Sunshine State is the most popular domestic destination for retirees who are planning trips, according to survey data from AARP. For many people, the mild winter weather in Florida tops the cold and snowy conditions in northern states. Seasonal visitors can lounge on one of Florida’s white sand beaches, or visit the Keys for fishing, boating and snorkeling outings. History buffs might tour sites like The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and the Harry S. Truman Little White House in Key West. For those looking to add to a shell collection, Sanibel Island is known for its tranquil shoreline lined with colorful seashells.
A stroll through a winery in Napa Valley, a day at the beach and a tour of Alcatraz make the bucket list for many retirees. California has more national parks than any other state, including Yosemite, with its dramatic waterfalls and giant sequoia trees, Death Valley, which features extreme heat and a below sea level basin, and Joshua Tree, that has a vast display of plants and animals in a desert landscape. California’s cities hold renowned sites such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Hollywood Walk of Fame and sign, along with innovative and award-winning restaurants. San Diego, the state’s oldest city, holds the Spanish mission Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, which was founded in 1769.
The casinos and nightlife are a top 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 this a go-to destination for those looking for four- and five-star dining and lodging experiences. The Neon Museum showcases the signs and remnants of former casinos and businesses in Las Vegas, including the pirate skull that appeared on Treasure Island. The nearby architectural wonder, 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 boasts some of the nation’s most well-known museums, 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 shares the story of 9/11 through a collection of artifacts and narratives. A cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island gives retirees the chance to take in the same welcoming sights that newcomers have seen for centuries as they approach the country via ship.
The Lone Star State comes with something for a range of tastes, including barbecues, hill country, city life, rodeos and professional sports events. Those who stay 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 an inside look at space exploration over the years. Those seeking warmth and sunshine might head to South Padre Island for fishing, boating and shopping. The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center has a five-story watchtower, where visitors can view migrating birds.
The Top Travel Destinations for Retirees:
- Las Vegas.
- New York.
Updated on April 6, 2022: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.