For many couples, retirement means planning a getaway without having to coordinate calendars and vacation time. More free time and flexibility opens a world of possibilities, so choosing a destination is sometimes the most difficult part of post-retirement trip-planning.
GOBankingRates surveyed several destinations and selected the best ones for retirees, based on safety, availability of couples-friendly activities and attractions, and average costs for individual airfare, a hotel room and a meal for two. Whether your idea of a great vacation includes hiking trails or haute cuisine, consider some of these activities and attractions when planning your next post-retirement romantic getaway.
1. Venice, Italy
- Average hotel cost: $37.33
- Average cost for meals for two: $78.97
- Average cost for airfare: $960
- Venice’s crime level is low. The safety level for walking alone at night is high, and the daytime safety level is very high.
Cruising the Grand Canal by boat or gondola offers visitors some of the best views of San Marco Basilica and Venice’s other sites. One option is Walks of Italy's two-hour boat tour that starts at about $110 per person. LocalVeniceTours.com offers a private 30-minute gondola tour for two with Prosecco for about $80.
“All in all, it's not only the classic way to see the city, it's the way that requires the least amount of physical effort,” said Ted Endo, social media manager for Walks of Italy. “It is one of the most popular excursions among our older clients.”
2. Barcelona, Spain
- Average hotel cost: $50.33
- Average cost for meals for two: $45.13
- Average cost for airfare: $935
- Although the overall crime level and level of safety while walking alone at night is ranked as moderate, the safety level of daytime walking is high. Worries about violent crime are low, so tourists who are aware of their surroundings should be in good shape on the streets.
The city’s “Barri Gòtic,” or Gothic Quarter, is a great place to start when it comes to seeing Barcelona’s historic churches. Branch out from there to visit world-renowned museums, including the Museu Picasso, which opened in 1963 to showcase the works of the influential Pablo Picasso.
One of Barcelona’s most picturesque churches is the Basilica de la Sagrada, where individual tickets start at around $17. Tickets that include a self-paced audio tour are around $25.
3. Santa Barbara, Calif
- Average hotel cost: $140
- Average cost for meals for two: $60
- Average cost for airfare: $525.78
- The rate of violent crime is below both the national median and the statewide median for California.
The weather in Santa Barbara invites the exploration of outdoor attractions, including the beach and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. And, like other California cities, it’s a wine and food lover’s paradise.
“Santa Barbara is renowned for its wine. And 36 tasting rooms along the Urban Wine Trail — all within walking distance of each other — showcase the region’s vintages, from pinot noir to chardonnay," said Karna Hughes, director of communications for Visit Santa Barbara. "A great food scene complements the wine, with restaurants found throughout downtown and along State Street, Santa Barbara’s shopping corridor."
End an active day at the luxury Spa at San Ysidro Ranch. It offers a “Romantic Getaway” service that includes a couple's massage, a spa tub soak for two and a bottle of champagne for $450.
4. Bali, Indonesia
- Average hotel cost: $45.67
- Average cost for meals for two: $17.06
- Average cost for airfare: $649
- Although statistics show the overall level of crime is moderate, walking alone, day or night, is highly safe in Bali.
Explore Bali’s ancient shrines and temples by day, or visit the Elephant Safari Park to ride an elephant, or watch one express its artistic side through painting. You can also relax and spurge at the AYANA Resort and Spa, which features several packages specifically designed for couples. For example, the “Diamond Miracle” package includes a Coral Algalea body scrub and ocean splash rose bath for two, among other services, for around $985.
5. Sedona, Ariz
- Average hotel cost: $127
- Average cost for meals for two: $50
- Average cost for airfare to Flagstaff, Ariz.: $485.05
- The level of violent crime in Sedona is well below the national median, as well as the median for the state of Arizona.
Sedona offers plenty of opportunities to see nature, both inside and out. Take a trail at Red Rock State Park, or explore the galleries and shops in the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village.
For a romantic evening and morning, book the Creekside Honeymoon Suite at Sedona’s Creekside Inn Bed and Breakfast for $329 a night. Honeymoon suite guests are treated to breakfast served in the suite, and can enjoy amenities including a private deck and jetted tub for two.
6. Jackson Hole, Wyo
- Average hotel cost: $102
- Average cost for meals for two: $35
- Average cost for airfare: $619.45
- Robbery statistics are much lower than the national median, and there were fewer than 50 violent crimes reported in 2014.
Jackson, the largest town in the Jackson Hole valley, is best known for its outdoor attractions, including granite hot springs, ski slopes and the trails and vistas of Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are 62 or older can get a lifetime national parks pass for just $10. Jackson also offers excellent opportunities for dining and dancing at the end of a day of exploring.
“The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, Wort Hotel’s Silver Dollar Bar and the Stagecoach Bar all offer incredible western dancing opportunities," said Kate Foster, communications manager for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. "You see visitors and locals of all ages enjoying the dance floors.”
Room rates at the Wort Hotel start at $409 during peak summer season. But retired travelers with flexible schedules can take advantage of significant savings at other times of the year.
7. Kiawah Island, S.C
- Average hotel cost: $152.67
- Average cost for meals for two: $72.50
- Average cost for airfare to Charleston, S.C.: $384.04
- The level of violent crime in the Charleston area, which includes Kiawah Island, is well below the national and state median.
Kiawah Island's beach frequently makes numerous “best beaches” lists, said Mike Vegis, director of public relations for Kiawah Island Golf Resort. “What makes it special is the island’s original land plan that dictates that homes can’t be built along the first dunes line like most coastal properties, but must be built behind the third dune line," he said. "This allows for a great sense of seclusion for beach-goers.”
Visitors often mix biking and beach walking with games of golf and tennis. The Kiawah Island Golf Resort offers deals for couples, including a “Tees and Tranquility Spa Package” that features garden view accommodations at the resort’s Sanctuary Hotel, two rounds of golf and two 60-minute spa treatments. Pricing for the two-night package starts at $604 per room, per night in the winter and $893 per room, per night for spring and summer.
8. Naples, Fla
- Average hotel cost: $97.67
- Average cost for meals for two: $50
- Average cost for airfare to Fort Myers, Fla.: $324.79
- The level of violent crime in Naples is well below the national and statewide median, with only 16 violent crimes being reported in 2014.
This sun-drenched city offers beaches, the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, where visitors can observe animals in a tropical setting, and a botanical garden that draws more than 220,000 visitors annually. General admission to the zoo is $18.95 for adults 65 and over. General admission to the Naples Botanical Garden is $14.95, but the garden is offering a $5 discount through Sept. 18.
9. Cape Cod, Mass
- Average hotel cost: $77.67
- Average cost for meals for two: $62.50
- Average cost for airfare to Boston, Mass.: $364.78
- For Barnstable, Mass., violent crimes were somewhat higher than the state and national median, but property crimes were lower than the state and national median.
History and nature come together in this region that is home to the Heritage Museums & Gardens, the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, and the 40-mile-long Cape Cod National Seashore. The Heritage Museum & Gardens in Sandwich, Mass., features three galleries, expansive gardens and the restored Old East Mill — which dates back to 1800 — on its grounds. Adult admission to the attraction is $18.
10. Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Average hotel cost: $20.33
- Average cost for meals for two: $40
- Average cost for airfare: $865
- Although the safety of walking alone in daylight is high, the rating falls to low after dark, so tourists might want to stick with organized activities after sunset to be cautious.
By day, Buenos Aires attractions include neighborhood sightseeing and visits to the city’s rose garden and museums. At night, it’s time to tango at one of the capital’s many dinner and dance halls.
“This has to be the No. 1 activity on anyone's list for Buenos Aires," said Dan Clarke, a director at RealWorld Holidays, a United Kingdom-based travel company. "Even if you're not usually a ‘dinner-and-a-show’ person, the sheer passion and style of the tango — and the fantastic food here in BA — are bound to win you over.”
“There are a host of tango halls which offer nightly shows, but try and pick one which also offers free tango lessons as part of the deal — that way you can tell the grandkids you've danced the tango on stage in Buenos Aires,” he said. The Plaza Dorrego's Sunday market is also a good place to watch couples dance, and you can often get a free tango lesson at the end of the day, according to travel blog TheCultureTrip.com.
Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed travel-related information for 10 destinations, including the following factors: (1) Average hotel cost, for hotels five miles or less from city center, sourced from Hotels.com — on April 21 and 22, 2016; (2) average cost of a three-course, mid-range meal for two, according to cost estimates from Numbeo.com; (3) average cost for airfare from LAX to the destination, sourced from the U.S. Department of Transportation for domestic flights and Google for international flights — on April 22, 2016; and (4) safety level, sourced from NeighborhoodScout.com for domestic destinations and Numbeo.com's Crime Rate Index for international destinations in April 2016.