Just because you’re over 55 doesn’t mean that you’re “over the hill” or that you’re limited to golf resorts and bus tours for a vacation. There are plenty of opportunities to exercise your mind or indulge your passions while you enjoy good company and great scenery. Here are some of the best ideas:
Colleges and universities across the country offer classes and a comprehensive curriculum just for seniors. Sometimes termed “lifelong learning” programs, with year-round classes, summer offerings are scheduled in vacation areas and cut a broad swath through subject matter. Check out possibilities offered through Senior Summer School. If you have always wanted to write, check out The Writing University through the University of Iowa.
College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, combines academic programs with the spectacular beauty of coastal Maine for five-day to two-week workshops in writing, photography and “getting out in nature.” Programs are enlightening; participants have plenty of free time to explore; and accommodations are generally simple and affordable. in a congenial, group setting — much like spending a week in a college dorm. The Best of Acadia Retreat, offered in July, is just that — good learning and great surroundings. Total cost is less than $1,000 per person, with lectures, boating excursions, field trips, lodging and meals included. Transportation to Maine is not included.
Just for the Fun of It
Road Scholar programs, now in their 40th year, are an outgrowth of the Elderhostel concept, allowing older travelers an opportunity to learn new things as they travel at home and abroad, at affordable rates. One of this summer and fall’s most popular trips features “Island Hopping” in Washington State, a six day trip that begins in Seattle. Group tours range in duration from a few nights to two weeks or more. They generally include travel, lodging and most meals; lectures, tours and field trips, at least one performance or museum visit; and friendly groups. Activity level can range from “very easy” to “strenuous.” If you’re a history buff, you can relive the bloodiest battle of the Civil War at Gettysburg, review strategy, walk the site and pay a visit to the Soldiers Cemetery. History will come alive as you hear music of the time played on dulcimer, harmonica and banjo, stay at a hotel in the historic town and have ample time to explore interesting shops, all in the company of fellow travelers.
Smithsonian Journeys plans a diverse schedule of trips and special programs not only in the summer, but throughout the year. If you have a special interest in opera, a trip to Santa Fe may be just your ticket to summer fun. Not only will you go backstage at the world renowned outdoor opera house and hear lectures by noted authorities, but you’ll attend four performances, stay near historic Santa Fe Plaza, and drink in the beauty and culture of this high mountain, multi-cultural New Mexico capital. Combine this four-day trip in August with independent travel to nearby Indian Pueblos, tempt Lady Luck at the Cities of Gold Casino, visit the high-tech and high-mountain city of Los Alamos and experience the contrasts of the American Southwest in a totally unique way.
Cruising is a perennial favorite for senior travelers, and there are numerous sailings that cater specifically to the needs of the over-55 crowd, from river barges to coastal cruising to transatlantic crossings. Although not necessarily inexpensive in terms of total cost, cruising is a bargain in terms of dollars per night, and you can book a cruise for as little as three days or for a month or longer. Remember that once on board, almost everything is included, and it all comes with superb service. Best of all, you unpack one time, and you can be as active or as sedentary as you wish.
YMT Vacations specializes in adult cruises combined with rail or bus escorted add-ons. Visit Alaska “your way,” with time to spend in Seattle and Vancouver, B. C.; opt for additional days in the Alaskan “back country;” or combine your cruise with a rail trip south to California’s wine region. Combine a trip to Hawaii with a relaxing 7-night island cruise, and you will indeed have found paradise. This may be a trip to save for fall, when the the crowds are thinner and you have a chance to really drink in the beauty of this island state. Three days on Oahu with a knowledgeable tour director is a bonus.