Table of Contents:
- Cape Elizabeth, Maine
- The Finger Lakes, New York
- Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, WA
- Sedona, Arizona
- Solvang, California
The best part of nearing retirement is planning for the adventures that will occupy your idle weekdays.* Though metropolitan bustle and sun-scorched sand may have defined the travel destinations of your youth, your golden years are better served by natural marvels, intimate dining, and uplifting experiences.
Here are 5 destinations that will stimulate the senses without bludgeoning them, offering up a wealth of hobby and history without the harsh urban landscape or coed-strewn shorelines.
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Tucked away at the Southern tip of Maine, Cape Elizabeth is a serene and scenic port of call, known for its lighthouses, lobster rolls, and leisure. Named in honor of King Charles I’s sister, this historic hotbed dates back to the 1600s and has ties to everyone from John Smith to Theodore Roosevelt.
Experience yesteryear through the lens of one of the nation’s oldest lighthouses at the Portland Head Light museum, which illustrates America’s infancy and the birth of industrialization through navigational artifacts and photographs. Though the light room is closed to the public, the awe-inspiring crash of the Atlantic Ocean against the rocks and towering, ivory frame of the house itself are always open and as idyllic as a postcard.
If the aquatic ambience gives you a craving for fresh seafood, The Lobster Shack at Two Lights serves right on the beach and prides itself on world-class chowder, fried clams, and shoreside views. Breathe in the salty air and savor a scallop boat from a picnic table or step away from the din of nearby foghorn and settle down in their “cozy” dining area. Either way, you’ll luxuriate in over 100 years of lobster boiling experience and the subtle charms of small-town New England.
The Finger Lakes, New York
Any gourmand worth their weight in salt will tell you that food and drink is more than enough to make a voyage worthwhile. If you agree with this sentiment, travel west from Syracuse to the Finger Lakes region, where over 100 wineries are excelling at German whites and rosé. The Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery is responsible for introducing European grape varieties to colder climates, creating a distinctive flavor that will tantalize your palate. Experience their assortment of styles during a “1962 Reserve Tasting,” which runs the gamut from dry to sweet and offers curated flights and informative discussion.
Continue the conversation at The Rockwell, where all forms of American art, ranging from 19th-century bronzes to contemporary photography, are housed in Corning’s magnificently-restored, turn-of-the-century city hall. Tours can be tailored to the interests of the guests and feature in-depth, docent-guided examinations of their permanent collection and special exhibitions, which encompass everything from the pop art of Andy Warhol’s Factory to antique firearms.
If you’re not fond of libations or fine art, seek out a New York State Hunting License and trek to Steuben County, which was recently lauded as one of the United States’ premier game destinations for experienced archers and riflemen. The snowy landscape and remote locales host a bounty of deer and black bear, and licensed guides can help you carve your path and adhere to safety precautions.
Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, WA
If you’re an active senior, Washington State’s Olympic National Park boasts bountiful wilderness and a wide array of ecosystems (including rainforest), ideal for the avid climber, hiker, or sportsman. Environmentally-conscious anglers will be delighted by access to wild salmon, trout, and whitefish, all of which are available for catch-and-release without a state license and regulated to preserve aquatic resources.
Less intrepid visitors even get the chance to revel in the park’s natural majesty, embarking on “interpretive” guided walks that expound upon the indigenous plant and animal life, as well as provide a detailed background of the development of the landscape and potential pitfalls offered by the terrain.
If the untamed wild isn’t exactly your cup of tea, Lake Crescent Lodge gives you a taste of rustic living without the exposure. Relish the breathtaking views of the lake, while browsing the bevy of in-house antiquities and dozing off by the fire, all included in the bungalow-style digs, free of television, internet, and distraction.
Surrounded by red sandstone cliffs that glisten beneath the setting sun, Sedona is a spiritual enclave outside of Flagstaff, known for its thriving arts community and vast, open spaces. Visitors eager to shop for native jewelry and marvel at abstract art will have nearly 80 galleries to choose from, each focusing on a blend of the region’s rich cultural history with modern methods and techniques.
An essential stop on any architecture enthusiast’s itinerary is Arcosanti, an alternative village intended to limit the environment damage caused by urban sprawl. The structure is built into a steep hillside and blends well with its earth-toned surroundings, masking greenhouses and an amphitheater beneath its domed, open-air structure. The curious will find a futuristic community space rife with jagged angles and smooth apse, not far removed from the setting of a science-fiction movie.
If your tastes are less esoteric, Sedona Segway Tours provide a safe and guided exploration of local landmarks like Wilson Mountain and The Chapel of the Holy Cross, all of which are accompanied by the historical and spiritual details that fuel this “geological wonderland.”
Those seeking European flair without the travel expenses will be keen on Solvang, which transported the traditions, baked goods, and festive spirit of Denmark to the warm climes of Southern California in 1911. Constructed in the Danish Provincial style and featuring four wooden windmills, the city’s Main Street acts as a hub for food and festivity, hosting Danish Days in late September and Julefest during the Holiday Season.
If you have a sweet tooth, kick off fall with the Æbleskiver breakfast, which roughly translates to “apple slices” and highlights puffed pancake balls filled with jam, pudding, or applesauce. You can even work off your steady diet of baked goods by trying your hand at axe throwing or participating in a lively reenactment of a Viking encampment.
North American heritage is also alive and well in the region, housed in the adobe walls of Old Mission Santa Inés, which played a key role in the Mexican battle for independence with Spain and Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. Guests can appreciate the newly-restored chapel and enchanting views of the Santa Ynez River Valley, engaging in educational classes and examining artifacts that document our birth as a nation.
*If you need advice on cutting costs and budgeting, learn how to make the most of your retirement funds here.