Would you give up receiving gifts for the chance to go on vacation this year? We asked that question to 1,000 senior travelers, 45 years and older, and the answer was a resounding yes! Our results revealed that 86% of respondents would prefer to travel than receive presents.
Think you’re up to the challenge?
We picked 11 of the best vacation destinations that are better than any gift you’ll receive. Skip the presents this year and give yourself the gift of travel instead!
You could be clasping on a diamond necklace … or you could be sipping wine in Geneva, New York
Jewelry is lovely, but have you ever sampled the wine of the Finger Lakes without a care in the world? Your only worry will be deciding what varietal you’ll have next at vineyards like Lacey Magruder Vineyard & Winery.
A trip to Geneva will leave you with lasting memories—far more than any ol’ necklace ever could. Spend your getaway winery hopping, from Ravines Wine Cellars to Ventosa Vineyards. Once you’ve gotten a taste for the local libations, discover what kinds of cuisine this town serves at F.L.X. Table. Yes, you’ll have to make reservations weeks (or months!) in advance at this eatery that only seats 14, but with a wait that long, you know it’s got to be good! After indulging in some of the region’s finest cuisine, see a show at the Smith Opera House, which dates back to 1894.
You could be testing out a new grill … or you could be eating your way through the restaurant scene in Charleston, South Carolina
One of the best parts of going on vacation is going out to eat and having someone else cook for you for once. Forget about grocery shopping and cooking on some fancy new grill when you visit Charleston vacation.
This city is getting quite the reputation for its foodie scene. And it’s high time you get a taste of it for yourself. Hunt down local favorites, like she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, lowcountry boil, and South Carolina barbecue. Find comfort food at Martha Lou’s Kitchen, get your seafood fix at The Ordinary, and pile up the pulled pork at Bessinger’s Barbeque. Afterward, walk it off with a tour of the Battery, White Point Garden, and scenic Waterfront Park. Prefer someone else to give you the grand tour? Join a Historic City Tour & Southern Mansion Tour to get a feel for this city’s charm.
You could be setting up a smart TV … or you could be skiing in Stowe, Vermont
Head to the enchanting town of Stowe, and you won’t give new trinkets and gadgets a second thought. Breathe in that fresh mountain air and indulge in the great outdoors. You’ll soon find that appreciating nature is the greatest gift of all.
No matter when you decide to visit this mountain town, you’ll witness magnificent scenery. Visit during the winter to experience a snow-covered wonderland. Break in your skis at Stowe Mountain Resort or cozy up in the lodge while your grandchildren hit the trails. Autumn is an especially lovely time to visit when the fall foliage is at its finest. Admire it from Mount Mansfield—the highest point in the state—or explore Sterling Falls Gorge. While you’re here, stop into Stowe Cider and sample some sweetness on tap.
You could be checking the time on a new watch … or you could be golfing on the greens in Houston, Texas
The best presents don’t come wrapped with a bow. Buy a trip as a gift to yourself and get ready to unleash the fun! Head for Houston and make memories for years to come.
If it’s wintertime, escape the chilly temperatures and become a Winter Texan. You’ll soon realize why snowbirds flock to this city. Play a round on Memorial Park Golf Course, while your neighbors are dealing with snow back home. After enjoying tee time, get to know Space City on the NASA Visit with City Tour. Also discover the historical ice house scene. These once functional ice houses have since been converted into bars and eateries, like West Alabama Ice House and Mike’s Ice House. Order a cold one and toast to your Houston adventures, which is so much more fun than wearing a new watch.
You could be trying to program the newest smartphone … or you could be whale watching off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts
When you vacation as a gift to yourself, you’ll spend more time looking at the horizon than fidgeting with technology. In Cape Cod, you could blink and miss a pod of whales swimming off the coastline, so you’ll want to be extra-present.
Cape Cod is a magical retreat, where you don’t even need to leave dry land to catch a glimpse of the local sea life. If you’re visiting during spring, head to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This is a popular feeding ground for whales. Another prime place to admire wildlife is the Cape Cod National Seashore. Take a stroll along the shore and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins in the distance. Looking for more nature doing its thing? Join a Cape Cod Cranberry Bog Tour. You’ll learn all about the local industry, from the spring blooms to the fall harvests. Nature over smartphones for the win!
You could be taking a new car for a spin … or you could be snorkeling around Hanalei Bay, Hawaii
You’ll forget all about receiving gifts when you visit Hanalei Bay. This marvelous coastline is its very own present from Mother Nature!
Whether you explore this coast from the water or dry land, you’ll fall in love with this island town far more than any new car. For an unforgettable tour, join a Hanalei River Paddle and Ocean Snorkeling Adventure. Glide along the water’s surface in a kayak and dip below the surface to see the fish, sea turtles, coral, and more! Then head to the amazing biodiversity at the Limahuli Garden and Preserve, which features endangered plants and animals. Set aside some time to explore Hanalei Town, too. It’s home to art galleries, like the Havaiki Oceanic and Tribal Art and 7 Artists Gallery, and countless cafes and shops.
You could be sporting a fancy pair of new shoes … or you could be hiking the trails around Bar Harbor, Maine
Skipping your share of presents will be so worth it when you set your sights on the coastal scenery in Bar Harbor. The views are unbeatable!
Begin your exploration of Bar Harbor with an Acadia National Park Tour. This adventure will take you to the Wild Gardens of Acadia, Thunder Hole, and the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Because it’s a bus tour, you won’t have to worry about walking too far in order to soak up the magnificent views. For a different perspective of this scenic destination, climb aboard a Downeast Windjammer excursion. An experienced captain will show you the ropes aboard the historic vessel. Are your grandchildren along for the fun? If so, play a round at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf—loser has to pay for a round of ice cream! A new pair of shoes has nothin’ on an amazing Bar Harbor trip.
You could be showing off some new sunglasses … or you could be basking on the shores of Delray Beach, Florida
Hear that? Ah, yes, that’s the sound of the waves gently lapping along the shore of Delray Beach. It’s too bad you can’t bottle up that rhythmic sound and bring it home with you.
You can’t take it with you, but you can certainly indulge in nature’s soundtrack. Listen at Delray Municipal Beach and Atlantic Dunes Park. You’ll feel like you just changed your clock to vacation time—just the gift you deserve! Relax and unwind under your sun umbrella or go for a stroll along the shoreline. Looking for more tranquility? Join a traditional tea ceremony at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. You’ll be amazed at the discipline that goes into this cultural tradition. Before turning in, make your way to Pineapple Grove Arts District. This artsy neighborhood features sculptures, murals, and art galleries galore—far cooler than a new pair of shades.
You could be sitting on a brand-new couch … or you could be sipping craft beer in Fort Collins, Colorado
Give the gift of travel to yourself when you plan a trip to the city of Fort Collins. There’s no better way to toast to your vacation than with a cold pint of locally brewed beer in this mountain town.
The hardest decision you’ll make all vacation long is deciding which brewery to visit first. You could belly up at Funkwerks, known for its sours and saisons, or head to Prost Brewing Co. & Biergarten for their German selection of brews. Enjoy a flight at Intersect or go big at New Belgium Brewing. Once you’ve had your fair share of suds, walk it off at Gardens on Spring Creek, a lovely 18-acre botanical garden. Historic Downtown Fort Collins is another place to add to your list. The downtown area was modeled after Main Street, U.S.A. Say goodbye to that new couch and hello to an incredible Fort Collins getaway.
You could be playing on the latest laptop model … or you could be horseback riding in Whitefish, Montana
New technology is fun, but nothing compares to how you’ll feel after a day in the great outdoors. Visit Whitefish and breathe in that fresh air, soak in the views, and become one with nature.
Revel in the lovely scenery from the saddle of a horse. In Whitefish, you’ll find amazing horseback riding experiences at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake. Take your pick: trot along the working ranch or venture out on the trails of Glacier National Park! Rather explore the nearby national park on your own two feet instead of four? There are hiking trails, like Hidden Lake Overlook, that are suitable for all skill levels. After all that hard work, unwind with a visit to one of the local distilleries (you’re on vacation after all!). Sip on some Montana Wheat Vodka or sample some Orange Clove Run at Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits. An adventure in Whitefish beats a new laptop any day.
You could be wearing a designer purse … or you could be soaking in a hot spring in Fairbanks, Alaska
An adventure in Alaska promises to unleash good things. This fascinating city has a lot up its sleeve, and it’s up to you to uncover it all.
If there’s only one thing you do on a trip to this region make it a Northern Lights & Chena Hot Springs Winter Tour. Soak in the healing waters of Chena Hot Springs, which are naturally heated from the earth. Ah, you’ll feel instantly relaxed! On this tour, you’ll also visit the Aurora Ice Museum, which is the largest year-round ice environment in the world. Bundle up and explore the masterful ice sculptures and order an “Appletini” cocktail in a glass completely made from ice! But perhaps the most magical part of all is when you stick around for the northern lights. If the conditions are right, you’ll see the incredible aurora borealis, which is way more impressive than a new purse.
When you forgo presents for a vacation, you just may realize travel is the greatest gift of all.