Bucket List Travel Destinations to Explore in Retirement

Retirement means saying goodbye to your 9-to-5 and no longer worrying about fitting in some much-deserved time off. Now is the time to experience the Northern Lights or dig your toes into the white sand beaches of Hawaii. You definitely deserve it after all those years hard at work.

You now have all the time in the world to do what you want to do and see those once-in-a-lifetime destinations you’ve been dreaming of your entire life. It’s time to experience different cultures firsthand, try new foods you can’t even pronounce, and finally start checking things off that ever-growing bucket list.

Adventure awaits, but we know you may not have the same travel budget you had during your working years so we’re here to help. Below are our top four picks for must-see state-side destinations to explore during retirement that won’t break the bank but offer experiences you’ll never forget.

Kaua'i marriot resort

Lihue, Hawaii

Who doesn’t have Hawaii on their bucket list? You are surrounded by crystal-clear waters, majestic landscapes, and over 240 days of sunshine per year.

In the town of Lihue on the island of Kaua’i, you’ll be hard-pressed to not let loose and live a little. Here you can soar above the beaches in a helicopter, take in 150-foot waterfalls, and go off-roading through the mountains where Jurassic Park was filmed.  For those who like a little less adventure and more relaxation, immerse yourself in the island’s rich history at the Kaua’i Museum, then stop by the Koala Rum Company for some post-sightseeing libations. The best part is that all these places and plenty more are no more than 20 miles away from the Kaua’i Marriott Resort. Whether you take a hike, scenic drive, or even get a little luxurious by taking the resort’s limo, you’ll be able to enjoy all that Lihue has to offer.

williamsburg inn

Williamsburg, Virginia

If your ideal trip is a main course of relaxation with a side of education, Williamsburg, Virginia, is the place for you. When you arrive at the Williamsburg Jamestown Airport, you’re just under four miles from the Williamsburg Inn. Once checked in, visit their luxurious spa for a facial, relaxing body scrub, or massage treatments to melt away the stress of traveling.

As a city that played a key role in the American Revolution, Williamsburg offers countless ways to get a glimpse of America’s colonial history. Take a 15-minute drive from the inn down to Historic Jamestowne on Jamestown Island, the site of the very first U.S. colony. From there, make your way back to the Colonial Williamsburg Historic District to visit the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum, which houses the largest collection of Southern furniture, and take a stroll through Bicentennial Park.  After a long day of historical sightseeing, kick back with a refreshment at the Williamsburg Winery or enjoy a five-star dinner at the Williamsburg Inn’s Rockefeller Room.

Marriott's Willow Ridge Lodge

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri, is known to cater to those seeking to slow down time. The beautiful Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge is less than 10 minutes away from all the wonderful attractions in Branson and makes for the perfect place to relax and forget your life back home. Here, you get the small-town experience of being able to visit antique shops, duck into a small hidden diner with the best home-cooked food you’ve had in years, and stop into the theaters located at basically every corner.

You can relive your childhood at Branson’s famous Silver Dollar City theme park, which blends your childhood love of roller-coasters with old-time demos of basket weaving. And no trip to Branson would be complete without visiting the Titanic Museum, which spotlights magnificent photos, maps, and insight into the great ship. A more scenic view of Branson can be found at Table Rock Lake, where you can enjoy a picnic on its over 50 miles of shoreline, or rent a boat from the Port of Kimberling Marina. Looking for a bit more adventure? Check out the Hollywood Wax Museum, zipline across Table Rock Lake, take a tour of the Marvel Cave, or head to Promised Land Zoo.

La Fonda on the Plaza

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Not only does Santa Fe, New Mexico, serve up a fascinating history, but the views are spectacular, too.

If you’re interested in the arts, head to Canyon Road, a half-mile stretch nestled in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. This strip boasts more than 100 art galleries, jewelers, boutiques, and restaurants where you can experience Santa Fe’s deep Native American and Spanish roots. Next, stop by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum or the Museum of International Folk Art to see the region’s art history. For more historical background, check out the Palace of the Governors, which once housed Spain’s government offices and now serves as the New Mexico History Museum.

All of these attractions are less than 20 minutes away from our favorite hotel in Santa Fe Plaza, La Fonda on the Plaza. This hotel’s unique adobe architecture blends into its surrounding buildings and provides a stark contrast to the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi across the street.

You can’t get these experiences by spending your retirement sitting on the couch at home. Now is the time to get out, see the world, and truly live. When you’re ready to start checking things off your bucket list, we’ll be here to help you find the perfect hotel no matter where the wind takes you.