12 Budget Vacation Destinations for Seniors

Senior Man and Woman Couple on Bicycles Enjoying Changing Leaf Colors During Autumn in a Park with Lots of Trees, Selective Focus


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Senior Man and Woman Couple on Bicycles Enjoying Changing Leaf Colors During Autumn in a Park with Lots of Trees, Selective Focus

Senior Hot Spots

One benefit of being retired is the luxury of time. Many seniors enjoy a fair amount of flexibility, which means ample opportunity to save big bucks on travel. By vacationing during the off-season and pouncing on limited-time specials, savvy seniors enjoy discounts on food, lodging, transportation, attractions, and events. With so much incentive, why sit at home? Head to one of these budget-friendly destinations.

Related: Unexpectedly Awesome Places to Retire Across America

Colorful Buildings and Palm Trees Line the Street of the French Quarter, Charleston, South Carolina At Dawn
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Charleston, South Carolina

Soak up some Southern charm in genteel Charleston, named the region's best city by Southern Living magazine for the third year in a row. Attractions such as the Fort Sumter National Monument and Gibbes Museum of Art offer senior discounts, while strolls along the waterfront and past gracious homes are free. One big draw is Spoleto Festival USA, an annual performing arts event (May 25 to June 11, 2023) that has traditionally offered 10% off senior tickets for select performances. Save more by booking early or attending Piccolo Spoleto, a companion festival featuring regional artists. Accommodations in spring and fall — the best times for avoiding the sweltering summer heat — start at less than $80 a night.

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Rustic Bridge in Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, Branson, Missouri, Road Through the Bridge in the Foreground
Teo Dominguez/shutterstock

Branson, Missouri

This vacation town deep in the Ozark Mountains has been talked up everywhere from Forbes to The New York Times. Take in country music shows and concerts, hit the links for a round of golf, cruise the lakes, explore the History of Fishing Museum, and just plain relax. Elvis fans should plan a spring visit for the annual Elvis festival (March 15-17, 2024). Coupons and discounts for shows, restaurants, and activities are available with the Branson Premium Coupon Package. Senior discounts on lodging also are available at local resorts and hotels.

Related: Bucket-List Destinations for Music Lovers

Boats in Harbor At Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada, During Summer, Harbor in the Foreground with Fisherman Houses in the Background
Maurizio De Mattei/shutterstock

The Maritimes, Canada

The Maritimes are Canada's eastern provinces: Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. Take a ferry from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (the fare can be as low as $31 for seniors during the off-season) or drive north to New Brunswick. There's no shortage of outdoor adventure, including whale watching at eye level on a Zodiac boat. Halifax's Pier 21, the Canadian Ellis Island, stirs memories for immigrants, and historic hotels such as the Algonquin Resort and Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa may take seniors back to childhood vacations. Summer is the best time to visit, although that's when prices are at their highest.

Related: Best Summer Travel Destinations in Canada

Riverwalk, Wilmington, North Carolina, During Early Evening, Walkway in the Foreground, River, and the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge in the Background

Wilmington, North Carolina

City and seashore fun are rolled into one in Wilmington, which has been hailed as a U.S. destinations on the rise. It boasts three nearby beaches and a Riverwalk with shops and restaurants. Go at sunset for a memorable view of the Cape Fear River and walk down memory lane with visits to historic homes, museums, and the Battleship Carolina. Many attractions are free, including two nearby state parks, the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, the Hanover County Arboretum, and the North Carolina Azalea Festival, coming April 12-16, 2023. Those that charge admission usually offer senior discounts. There are six public golf courses and fishing off public piers. Shoulder-season rates on accommodations are available in spring and fall starting as low as $64 a night at budget hotel chains (but expect to find more rooms at $90 or $100).

Among the many benefits of membership with AARP are discounts on travel as well as savings on scores of senior products and services. Expedia even hosts a dedicated AARP Travel Center.

People Walking Along the Walkway From Plimoth Patuxet Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts, During Summer, Old Wooden Buildings with a Matching Fence
Andreas Juergensmeier/shutterstock

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Plymouth and the surrounding county are a choice destination for history buffs, especially in the spring before the crowds arrive. Pilgrim Hall Museum, the oldest museum in the country, displays artifacts that arrived with the Mayflower, as well as a piece of Plymouth Rock that visitors can touch. Historic walking tours are typically offered April to November, and 17th century houses that belonged to some of the original 101 Mayflower passengers are now museums and charge no or modest entry fees. Outdoor adventures include whale watching, harbor and lobster cruises, and journeys through the 100-year-old Cape Cod Canal. Nightly accommodations at budget hotels start at about $125 in the spring.

Expansive Vineyard, Yakima, Washington, Vineyard in the Foreground, Homes in the Middle with Sand Mountains in the Background

Yakima, Washington

Yakima was selected as one of "America's Best Small Cities on the Rise" a few years ago by SmarterTravel and still has what got it there, including downtown craft breweries and more than 120 wineries (many award-winning) in the surrounding areas. Seniors will enjoy the small-town prices, farmers market, and "u-pick" farms. Mountain passes about 30 minutes away offer hiking trails along the back side of Mount Rainier. There's white-water rafting on the Tieton River, fly fishing and tubing on the Yakima River, biking along various trails, and opportunities to spot wildlife in their native habitats. Accommodations start at about $50 a night.

Las Teresitas Beach, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Expansive View of Beach, Mountains, and Sea, As Seen From Top of a Mountain with Cacti
VICTOR TORRES/shutterstock

Tenerife, Canary Islands

The Spanish island of Tenerife attracts seniors with year-round warm weather, an outstanding diversity of landscapes, and good value, especially now that the euro is more or less on par with the dollar — prices generally are lower here than on the continent. The island's quality hotels, roads, and medical facilities make it a well-equipped and appealing alternative to more popular European destinations, and travelers can reach the island from more than 180 cities. Round-trip packages from New York City, including four nights at a 5-star property, start at $900 a person. Go in spring and fall to avoid the crowds.

Colorful Trees in the Adirondack Mountains, New York, During Autumn, Trees in the Foreground with Colors in the Mountains in the Background

Adirondack Mountains, New York

Ditch the big-city excitement and head upstate to the serenely magnificent Adirondacks. Whether you're active or sedentary, winter and summer sports, cultural events, shopping, and more can keep you busy for days on end. Several communities host winter carnivals, and miles of scenic byways and country roads beckon adventurous drivers. Unparalleled leaf peeping in the largest publicly protected area in the continental United States draws crowds in the fall. Hop aboard a Trailways bus and save 10% on the fare just for being a senior. Lodging discounts for seniors are available as well. Blue Mountain Rest in Adirondack State Park, for example, shaves up to 35% off the weekend rate for a longer weekday stay for those over 62 and paying cash.

Aerial of Downtown Skyline of Roanoke, Virginia, During Dawn, Lights in Buildings and Along Roads
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Roanoke, Virginia

There are reasons why Roanoke, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, was named one of the South's "Best Places to Retire" by Southern Living magazine: the temperate climate, easy hikes through lush forest, and farm-to-table cuisine to name just a few. Antiques and art are plentiful and local wineries are making a name for themselves. A lower-than-average cost of living commends the locale as a place to vacation as well as to live. Off-season lodging rates start at less than $90 a night even for hotels with some of the highest ratings in online reviews.

Business District on Marion Street, Danville, Indiana, Large Brick Building with a Row of Storefronts to the Left with Parking
Roberto Galan/istockphoto

Hendricks County, Indiana

Hendricks County, a western suburb of Indianapolis, has become a popular place for empty nesters. It boasts arts and cultural activities, recreational options, and attractions such as the Oasis Diner, a 1954-era eating spot in Plainfield that's been restored to its original luster. Visit Hendricks County, the local destination marketing organization, specializes in planning affordable package tours, demonstrations, and workshops for senior groups often organized around themes. 

Estes Park, Colorado, During Summer, Big Thompson River in the Foreground with Trees and Shopping Behind

Estes Park, Colorado

There's plenty to keep active seniors busy at the YMCA of the Rockies, which stretches over more than 800 acres surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park: archery lessons, swimming, a rock climbing wall, ropes challenge courses, zip lining, a craft and design center (think ceramics, jewelry, and basket weaving), fishing, ice skating in winter, miniature golf, horseback riding, and campfires with s'mores. You can volunteer to work at the property — as a laundry attendant or sales clerk, for example — in exchange for room and board and access to most activities. A weeklong stay in early May can cost as little as $109 a night; YMCA members get a $15 nightly discount.

Palm Trees and Colorful Buildings Line the Historic District, Mazatlán, Mexico, Brick Road

Mazatlán, Mexico

Cancún may attract the party crowd, but snowbirds have been seeking out the sun in Mazatlán, which is a good fit for budget-minded seniors. All-inclusive resorts are plentiful and even some of the higher-rated hotels can cost less than $160 a person per night. The beaches are beautiful and there are historic attractions to explore, as well as hiking, bird-watching, and all sorts of water sports. Off-season here is spring and fall, specifically April and May and October and November.