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12 Bucket List Trips for Seniors

With more time to see the world, retirees are flocking to their dream vacations for relaxation and adventure, nostalgia and noshes.

It’s no surprise retired boomers spend the most on leisure travel when it comes to must-see trips (an average of $3,700 per year, according to CNBC travel). AARP reports that the Caribbean/Latin America and Europe top the list in popular international destinations, while Florida and California continue to draw the most domestic vacationers. Here are 12 of some of the most iconic spots to consider for your next essential getaway.

Island Paradise
Fiji

Escaping to the middle of nowhere has long been the stuff of travel dreams, and Fiji couldn’t fit the bill more. This jewel of the South Pacific is blessed with hundreds of lush tropical islands of remote bliss and beauty. Whether you’re snorkeling, diving, ziplining or simply sunning in paradise, this destination won’t disappoint.

St. Barts

Famed for both its low-key vibe and popularity with big-name celebrities, St. Barts is a contradiction in the best way. This little slice of France in the Caribbean welcome both the fabulous and the no-frills, the barefoot and the Balenciaga’d, to enjoy its truly spectacular beaches, duty-free shopping and bottomless sunshine. There are no big chain hotels on the island, and many visitors opt for a private villa. Because it’s not easy to get to, it feels exclusive but never stuffy.

Seychelles

It’s often the stuff of magazine spreads, picture postcards and dream honeymoons. Located off the coast of Tanzania, this African archipelago is famous for its jaw-dropping collection of tropical beaches, sparkling waters and impossibly powdery sands.

Road Trips
Route 66

Your open road adventure doesn’t get more iconic than the route between Chicago and Los Angeles, which spans more than 2,400 miles across eight states. Grab your favorite travel companion and explore the mythic small towns, kitschy landmarks and views of the Grand Canyon. For convenience, many travelers opt to rent a car one-way and then fly home on the return.

Pacific Coast Highway

There is nothing quite like driving through the twisting roads, towering mountains and plunging cliffs of the Pacific Coast Highway. Winding along the sinewy coasts of California, Oregon and Washington, this legendary drive is freedom personified. Traveling southbound along the PCH allows  you to be on the coastal side of the road, able to fully enjoy the ocean and coastline views. Must-stops include the Hearst Castle, the Monterey Peninsula and Mendocino.

Overseas Highway

Driving the 12-mile route through the Floriday Keys islands can be a destination trip in itself. As you make your way from Key Largo to Key West, you’ll frequent funky towns, seafood dives and delightful tourist traps along the way. Be sure to take a break and swim with the dolphins at the Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, a famous roadside attraction located in a former quarry.

Outdoor Addicts
Machu Picchu

The air is thin. The hike is challenging. The history is staggering. And you’ll never feel more alive. The 26-mile, four-day trek to the lost city of the Incas (the Inca Trail) is a dream trip for so many travelers. Be warned. It’s no the easiest trip to coordinate (you can also take the train to the ruins), but it’s worth it to marvel at the beautiful mountain scenery that rises above lush forests below. Don’t forget to get your passport stamped before leaving.

Masai Mara, Kenya

There are so many options for safari, but when it comes to the quintessential experience of endless plains full of wildlife, Masai Mara is the must-see choice. Nestled in East Africa, this majestic reserve is home to one of Africa’s highest density regions for predators. Its vast grasslands and climbing populations make it one of the best places in the world to spot some of the most sought-after animals on the planet, including the famous Big-Five (elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and black rhino). It’s also a prime place to spot the big cats, including lions, cheetahs, and the lone leopard.

Nanokoweap Trail, Grand Canyon National Park

Not for inexperienced hikers or those with a fear of heights, this 14-mile trail from the North Rim to the Colorado River comes within inches of hundreds-of-feed plunges without a single water source. It’s been described as “walking the ledges of skyscraper”, but the payoff is a view of the river usually only seen by rafters, the sound of the echoing roar of the Nankoweap Rapids, and a chance to explore the ancient granaries of the Ancestral Puebloan people.

Foodie Lovers
Paris

Paris tops the list of any diehard foodie’s must-visit destinations. And with good reason. The most iconic food city in the world is literally a moveable feast, with blocks and blocks of the world’s densest concentration of fabulous cuisine. It’s home to more than 100 Michelin starred restaurants, but you can also eat seriously well on the fly, from street vendor crepes to tourist fare at the Lourve. And don’t get us started on the wine at every meal. Just go.

Napa Valley

Imbibe. Eat. Relax. Repeat. This is all you need to remember to do in Napa Valley, which lures some of the most talented chefs in the business. The Napa Valley Wine Trail offers a relaxing way to see the vineyards, vino in hand, as you take in the spectacular views and stop at some of California’s best wineries.

New Orleans

This is a town where you start talking about what you’re going to have for dinner before you even finish lunch. There are so many distinctive dishes to devour – Beignets, Muffalettas, Po-Boys, Gumbo – you’ll want to start early and end late. It’s no wonder Mark Twain said after on evisit that “New Orleans is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.” And don’t forget the signature cocktails – Sazeracs, Mint Juleps and Absinth Frappes – to name a few.

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