The Top 5 Destinations for Boomers in 2012

By on May 15, 2012

By Anna Dewinter –

According to the United States Census Bureau, baby boomers are those Americans who were born between 1943 and 1964. During this span of time, the birth rate was higher than usual, a fact which has had a ripple effect across the US economy as the boomers have moved through the various stages of life.

Now, many baby boomers are either already in retirement or are approaching their “golden years”. This has caused a mini-boom of sorts in the vacation travel industry, since older Americans are the ones most likely to have both sufficient free time and funds to travel. Ideal destinations for those in or near retirement, however, can be a world apart from the family destinations the same individuals might have enjoyed when their children were young.

1.     The Napa Valley, California

Boomers can generally afford to take leisurely vacations because even those who are still employed have often reached the stage of their careers in which they receive several weeks off per year. Many boomers are finding that they appreciate an extended tour of the California wine country located in Napa Valley, which extends through the central area of the state.

An ideal way to enjoy the Napa Valley is to rent a car in Los Angeles and drive north along California State Highway 1. Once in Napa Valley, boomers can spend days or even weeks attending wine tastings at the various wineries open to the public.  

2.     Italy

Another top destination for 2012 is Italy, where boomers often prefer to enjoy all-inclusive vacations so that they will not have to worry about the language barrier. The wealth of attractions available in Italy is literally staggering, ranging from ancient gladiatorial combat arenas in Rome to priceless masterpieces of Renaissance art in Florence. Pompeii, of course, is best known for the massive eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, which buried the entire city in the first century A.D. Today the city has been excavated and can be explored at length.

3.     Costa Rica

Natural wonders are the main attraction in this tiny nation situated in Central America. One-fourth of the land in Costa Rica is protected from development. Since many boomers came of age in the 1960s when the modern environmental movement was beginning, seeing the rain forest in person can be a dream come true. Another adventure not to be missed in Costa Rica is seeing the Arenal Volcano at night, when the frequently emitted lava flows can literally light up the sky.

4.     Ireland

Due to massive immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a significant number of Americans can trace their ancestry back to Ireland. This makes it an ideal place for boomers to visit in 2012; Americans entering their golden years often yearn to connect to their ancestors in another time and place. Summer is the best time to visit this island since it brings pleasantly warm weather and longer days for touring the castles, gardens, and beautiful green hills that characterize the “Emerald Isle.”

5.     Las Vegas, Nevada

Sometimes, the best type of vacation of all is one replete with entertainment. The desert Mecca of Las Vegas is world-famous both for the gambling opportunities that abound and for its fantasy casinos, which include the Venetian, complete with gondola rides; Excalibur, where King Arthur holds court; Treasure Island, with pirate battles taking place nightly; and the Bellagio, home to hundreds of water fountains that dance to music four times per hour each evening. In addition to ample free entertainment designed to attract tourists into the casinos, Las Vegas also hosts a large selection of dozens of top-name entertainers including both comics and musicians.

Adventure travel for boomers: myth or reality

Today’s retired Americans are far more fit and active than was the case with their grandparents or even their parents. While many boomers do enjoy a relaxed vacation such as a cruise to Alaska, a significant number are eager to explore far-flung destinations such as the Middle East and the Amazon Basin, even if it means camping out, zooming along zip lines, and “roughing it” in hotels that are less than luxurious.

Tips and advice: before and during a trip

Even boomers in excellent health may find travel more challenging than was the case when they were younger. Boomers should be diligent and make certain to get all recommended immunizations before each trip and should take special care when it comes to bringing along the medication they may need. Some countries will not allow prescription medication through customs unless a physician’s written documentation accompanies it, so boomers need to plan ahead.


Anna Dewinter is freelance writer who loves traveling and meeting new people.

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One Comment

  1. Robin McKee-Cant

    June 2, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Being a Napa Valley native, I’m happy to see our region included on this list. It is indeed a beautiful part of Northern CA Wine Country, and and many world class wines come from the region. Because of hot day time temps, Cabernet Sauvingnon is king. “CA Wine Country” is not limited only to Napa though — and anyone with a a few weeks, or even a few days to spare, would be well served to also visit another region in “Northern CA Wine Country”, Sonoma County. This county is easily three times the size of Napa, and has just as many world class wineries. Varietals grown here vary with appellation (wine growing region), and since Sonoma County has the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline, the cooler temps are ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

    Bodega Bay, from the movie The Birds fame, is Sonoma (County), and while driving West towards the coast, don’t miss the sleepy little towns along the Russian River, and Armstrong Redwoods, a state preserve. You’ll find more than vineyards in Sonoma, and from their golden fields and open space, some of the region’s best dairy products and agriculture are grown from the soils, so restaurants and inns in the area feature artisan and farm fresh foods regularly.

    Simply put — there is more to do in Sonoma County, but back to the main story, don’t miss Napa Valley either! Driving from LA takes 8-10 hours, so you can also can fly to San Francisco or Oakland, or for a real treat — fly from LA, Seattle, Portland or San Diego, right into Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County (on Alaska Air). You’ll be wine tasting within 10 minutes of the airport!

    For more information on visiting Sonoma County check out For Napa, visit

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The Top 5 Destinations for Boomers in 2012