15 Best Summer Travel Destinations for Retirees in the U.S.

With a little planning, you can visit these exciting cities without breaking the bank.

happy couple in summer vacation
Updated May 28, 2024
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Retirement opens up a world of possibilities, including the time to explore new destinations. And, as the good weather of summer approaches, it's the perfect time to go on an adventure.

From vibrant cities to serene coastal escapes, the U.S. has a host of accessible vacation spots for retirees seeking relaxation, culture, and excitement. The best part? You don't have to drain your wallet to do it. 

And using the best travel credit cards could even earn you points or cash for a future trip.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Asheville, North Carolina

Craig Zerbe/Adobe autumn view of lake powhatan

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers retirees the perfect blend of natural beauty, culture, and outdoor activities.

Explore the vibrant arts scene in the River Arts District, enjoy diverse cuisine at tasty yet affordable restaurants, or take a scenic drive through the mountains — for free!

Denver, Colorado

creativefamily/Adobe sunset over denver cityscape

The Mile High City has abundant sunshine and breathtaking mountain views. Visit the Denver Botanic Gardens, walk along the 16th Street Mall, and explore historic Larimer Square.

Other affordable activities include free admission days at museums and outdoor events throughout the city. There is ample delicious, affordable dining in Denver, too.

Las Vegas, Nevada

vichie81/Adobe aerial las vegas at night

While known for casinos, bustling nightlife, and "sin," Las Vegas also has plenty of activities for retirees who want excitement and relaxation.

Enjoy a visit to Red Rock Canyon, catch a matinee show on the Strip, or visit the Neon Museum. Many hotels, restaurants, and attractions offer senior discounts, which is always an attraction.

Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.

If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

New York, New York

oscity/Adobe new york

The Big Apple is ripe for exploration in summer. Retirees can join the locals in Central Park, visit world-renowned museums like the Met, stroll along the High Line, and so much more. Walking is an experience in and of itself.

There are endless affordable restaurants throughout the city, serving cuisines from all over the world. Stay in an Airbnb or budget hotel to save money on pricy lodgings.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michael Deemer/Adobe mackinac-island-harbor-at-sunset

Welcome to Mackinac Island, where cars are banned, and horse-drawn carriages are the primary mode of transportation. The first tip for visiting this scenic retreat is learning to pronounce its name: It’s MACK-in-awe.

Explore historic sites like Fort Mackinac, cycle around the island, hit the beach, and eat delicious fudge at cute shops. Mackinac also has plenty of accommodations that won’t break the bank.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

f11photo/Adobe minneapolis downtown skyline

Known for its arts scene and abundant outdoor activities, Minneapolis is a perfect summer destination. Explore the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, see a waterfall at Minnehaha Park, or cruise along the Mississippi River.

Many museums are free in Minneapolis at certain times, and the city’s murals are abundant and cost nothing to gaze upon.

Monterey, California

aiisha/Adobe bixby creek bridge

California's central coast in Monterey is a stunner. The iconic drive on the Pacific Coast Highway is a must, as is a visit to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Exploring Cannery Row and whale watching should also be on your list. While you're there, drive down to the Nepenthe restaurant for an ambrosia burger; it's worth it.

Nashville, Tennessee

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe lower broadway nashville tn usa

Nashville's iconic music scene and Southern hospitality are unparalleled. Retirees can explore the Country Music Hall of Fame, tour the Grand Ole Opry, or take in the historic sights of Broadway for free.

Be on the lookout for free concerts, cheap yet delicious eats, and discounted admission to museums.

Portland, Oregon

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe portland oregon usa downtown

Portland has quirky charm and natural beauty. It's known for its eclectic neighborhoods, thriving food scene, and ample affordable activities. 

Explore the International Rose Test Garden, browse the stalls at the Portland Saturday Market, and visit the famed Powell's City of Books.

A stop at Voodoo Doughnuts is a must. Fortunately, it's open 24/7.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Martina/Adobe saving station building

Escape to the adorable seaside town of Provincetown, an LGBTQ+ haven at the tip of Cape Cod. Hit the beach (obviously), shop local art galleries and boutiques, and go whale watching.

Summer is high season in P-town, so you may want to plan your visit around Carnival and a host of fun LGBTQ+ events and parties.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dansker Digital/Adobe salt lake city drone profile

Surrounded by stunning mountains, Salt Lake City has ample outdoor adventure and cultural attractions. 

Visit Temple Square, check out the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, or visit SLC en route to national parks like Arches and Canyonlands. Lodging in Salt Lake City is also affordable.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe santa fe new mexico

Retirees will love the rich culture and history of Santa Fe in summer, where adobe architecture and a fantastic arts scene await. 

Explore the historic Plaza, visit world-renowned art galleries, or go on a scenic drive along the Turquoise Trail. For opera fans, the Santa Fe Opera’s season is during the summer. The culinary scene in Santa Fe is thriving, with over 400 restaurants.

St. Petersburg, Florida

artiom.photo/Adobe st petersburg clearwater coastline

St. Petersburg is an idyllic summer destination. Retirees can enjoy swimming and sunbathing on sugar sand Gulf beaches free of charge.

Don’t miss the Salvador Dali Museum and Sunken Gardens, and take a drive over the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge for $1.75 each way. Cheap, delicious Cuban and grouper sandwiches abound.

Washington, D.C.

Sergey Novikov/Adobe national mall in washington dc

The rich history and iconic landmarks of the nation's capital are singular. Retirees can visit the Smithsonian and many other museums, explore the monuments on the National Mall, tour The White House (contact your Congressperson to request a tour), and so much more.

Many of these activities are free of charge and cheap eats are abundant, so you can spend your budget on lodgings.

Williamsburg, Virginia

David/Adobe traveling down Williamsburg road

Step back in time and explore charming Williamsburg, where history buffs can visit Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, and Yorktown Battlefield.

After your history lessons, explore local artisans’ shops, play a round of world-class golf, and enjoy a meal at one of Williamsburg’s many eateries. Budget lodgings are plentiful.

Bottom line

Courtney Haas/peopleimages.com/Adobe taking photo of historic building

Your summer travel plans don’t have to be super expensive in order to have an amazing time. Each destination on this list has abundant activities and amenities that won’t break the bank.

Cash in your best reward credit card and hotel points to save even more on your summer travel. Savings can really add up if you play your cards right!

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
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Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

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Cat Lafuente

Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.