FIVE GREAT PLACES FOR FIFTY PLUS TRAVELERS
I get asked a lot about the best places to travel for folks who are 50 and over. Of course, I’m almost eight years into that category myself so I guess it’s a fair question.
A lot depends, like many things in life, on what you’re looking for. If you’re a foodie, I probably would suggest a weekend in New York or maybe Vancouver. If you’re into wine, the Niagara Region of Ontario or, naturally, northern California works. Not to mention the interior of British Columbia, almost anywhere in France and several great areas of New Zealand or Australia.
Anyway, notwithstanding it’s an impossible answer to provide here’s a list of some of my personal faves.
NEW ZEALAND: It’s so perfect for folks my age, I think. There’s fabulous food and wine, friendly people, the familiarity of the English language, crazy beautiful scenery, lots of soft adventure and much more. The sheer variety is amazing; alpine mountains, deep blue fjords, small coastal villages, endless bays, tropical beaches, booming cities, exquisite golf courses. And one of my fave places on earth, Waiheke Island near Auckland (see photo above). The only drawback is the length of time it takes to get here from North America. Which brings me to….
CALIFORNIA: When I was in New Zealand a few years ago, it occurred to me that maybe this is what my native California looked like before all the people came. The geographic variety is similar; with snow-clad peaks and tropical-looking beaches and big cities and water everywhere you go. Not to mention seafood and great wines. California, of course, also features Hollywood and vast, painted deserts and the always beguiling city of San Francisco. If I had to pick my favourite spot in the state, it might just be Santa Barbara; a beautiful, serene city on the coast with just about all the best parts of California except skiing. And crowds.
EUROPE: Yeah, this is a cop-out of sorts. But I’ll a caveat in a minute. Europe has just about everything you’d want from a trip; culture, cuisine, history, great cities, beautiful countryside. And it’s fairly compact. You can be on a mountain in Switzerland one morning and be on the Italian Riviera a few hours later. And how cool is that? I personally love the compact nature and lovely scenery of the Dordogne Valley east of Bordeaux (see photo above of Sarlat-la-Caneda) is a great place for 50-plus folks. I’d also suggest a driving trip of Ireland,, where they put all the nice people. And a jaunt to Slovenia, where you can find alpine mountains, cool cities like Ljubljana and also a beautiful coastal area that feels like Italy or Croatia. One of the hidden gems of Europe that I like to call the “tiny perfect country.”
BARBADOS: Another relatively safe part of the world, but with marvellous beaches and great food and tasty rum and fun festivals and music. You can sit on a beach on the west side of the island and try great resorts like Sandy Lane, or head down to the lively south coast for a fish fry, or drink in the quiet and solitude on the rugged eastern side of the island near Bathsheba. Don’t forget to check out the marvellous gardens, including Hunte’s Gardens up in the hills. A wonderfully eccentric place that’s sure to please a garden lover.
NOVA SCOTIA: One of the under-appreciated parts of Canada, I think. You can take in one of the great driving tours of the world on the Cabot Trail, rising up high on coastal mountains and soaking in amazing views (see photo above). And you also can stop at fun pubs and listen to stunning music provided by wild fiddlers. There’s also some of North America’s best golf at Cabot Links and Highlands Links. And that’s just Cape Breton. Halifax is a fun and lively town with lots to see, including great restaurants like Press Gang and a nice waterfront shopping area. Take a tour of the harbour on a sail boat or climb up the hill to the Citadel for great views. Nova Scotia also has tasty food in the historic ship-building town of Lunenburg and great inns in towns like Annapolis Royal and Wolfville, home to a burgeoning wine industry. It’s easy to take side trips to Prince Edward Island from here, too, or over to New Brunswick. And super-delightful Newfoundland is only an hour’s flight away.