Spring Break Travel Suggestions for Senior Citizens
Spring break isn’t exclusive to families with kids on vacation from school – everybody needs to regroup and refresh after a long winter, seniors included! Unless they’re taking a multi-generational Disney or cruise trip (both of which are great ideas for seniors who enjoy being around their grandchildren), seniors will probably prefer to stay away from hot spots catering to families and college kids during the spring break period. Consider the following options:
- Charleston, South Carolina, is well known for its southern hospitality and charm. Temperatures at this time of year are perfect for touring its storied plantations, visiting the lovely gardens and historic sites at Middleton Place, taking an evening tour of the Historic District complete with graveyard ghost stories, or visiting the Caw Caw Interpretive Center for a hike along miles of trails to view native animals in their natural environment. Take a harbor tour or charter a fishing boat, golf at one of the 20 championship courses here, and shop along King Street and adjacent Market Street, one of the oldest public markets in the country. And dining? Charleston has it all from soul food to oyster bars, award winning farm-to-table venues to down home cajun creole joints, Charleston checks all the boxes on a foodie’s list.
- Guanacaste, Costa Rica is a perfect destination for seniors who are active as well as those who prefer a more relaxing, laid back vacation. The scenic beauty of its lush, tropical rainforest, uncrowded beaches, and various botanical gardens are reason enough to visit, but there is much more to Costa Rica than a pretty face. The amazing diversity of plant and animal life here is phenomenal, and there’s no better place to experience it than the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges. These bridge treks through the jungle are best experienced with a guide who can point out the shy creatures that populate the area. Others of the 28 national parks in the country include the Arenal Volcano National Park, the Cocos Island National Park, and the Tortuguero National Park, all of which are dedicated to conservation and protection of the native species. Jungle tours and wildlife tours are available to seniors with all levels of mobility. Coffee and chocolate tours are popular, cooking and dance classes get visitors connected to Costa Rican culture as do visits to museums and archaeological sites in San Jose, a worthwhile day trip from Guanacaste. More active seniors can enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling, ziplining, hiking and sport fishing. Everyone can enjoy relaxing in the hot springs at the end of a busy day.
- A river cruise/tour of Spain and Portugal makes a perfect spring break trip as the weather is pleasant and attractions aren’t as crowded as they are in the summer tourist season. Begin the motorcoach segment of the trip in Lisbon, Portugal, where you’ll tour the Jeronimos Monastery, a superb example of Portuguese architecture. Traveling through Portuguese wine country you’ll stop in Coimbra for lunch. The distinct architecture of the university in Coimbra is reportedly the inspiration for Hogwarts of Harry Potter fame! The same evening you’ll arrive in Porto and board your ship for the cruise portion of the journey.
Sailing along the Douro River you’ll notice the terraced vineyards along both shores, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the exquisite palace and gardens at Vila Real and tour a local winery (port is the wine of choice in this region). The ship passes through impressive rock formations and two of the Douro’s river locks on the way to Barca d’Alva. Here you’ll tour picturesque Castelo Rodrigo with its narrow winding streets and history dating back to the Spanish Inquisition. The views of the river valley below are breathtaking.
Arriving in Salamanca, Spain, you’ll be treated to a full day excursion of this ancient city including the Gothic House of Shells, Salamanca University and the New Cathedral, locations dating back to the 1500’s. During your free time you’ll want to visit the Main Square to enjoy local cuisine and unique shops and cafes. You’ll have to try the bifana sandwich roll (marinated pork) and caldo verde (cabbage and sausage soup) for lunch.
The ship sails back west along the Douro to the quaint village of Favaios, famous for its traditional bakeries that bake bread in centuries old stone ovens. Yes, you’ll get a sample! Have lunch at a nearby winery and enjoy the local muscatel. In the village of Lamego you’ll visit the 14th century Sanctuary of our Lady of Remedies and the ruins of a 12th century castle.
Upon your return to Porto you’ll have the day to explore Porto on your own or take optional tours to Guimaraes (Portugal’s historic first capital), another winery at the Quinta da Aveleda estate or a visit to a sardine cannery.
You’ll return home from this enjoyable trip with an appreciation for the Portuguese way of life – don’t take things too seriously – enjoy each moment as it happens!
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