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10 Best Places to Retire for Active Boomers

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

May 21, 2019 — Possibly you are one of those baby boomers who can’t wait to retire and do all the things that your job wouldn’t let you do. If so, here is our list of 10 great places to retire where you can go, go, go from dawn to sunset, and maybe not even quit then!

By active we mean all kinds of things, not just sports. Your best retirement town might be in the mountains, where hiking and skiing is available in your backyard. It might be at the beach, where you can swim, sail, fish, or surf. Or maybe a vibrant community where you can catch a concert or play, get dealt into a bridge game, or find volunteer work – just about any day of the week. We gave extra points on this list for towns and cities that are walkable and have good biking, since we don’t consider riding around in our car active living. One thing is certain, it staying busy is your thing, there is a retirement town where you can be very happy.

Here is our 2019 list of the best places for an active retirement. We concentrated more on mid-sized towns and cities since just about every big city offers opportunities to stay active.

Lakes in Madison

Madison, WI. The city boasts a 30-mile web of paved trails that are lit, snowplowed, and biked year-round. Beautiful lakes surround this walkable town. The University of Wisconsin and all its attractions. You can be busy all year round in Madison, a great place to retire.

The track

Saratoga Springs, New York.  One of the more interesting towns in New York, if not the country, it is best known for the Saratoga Race Course which opened on August 3, 1863 and is the oldest continuously-operating sporting event of any kind in the United States. Saratoga is also home to 2 colleges, Empire State and Skidmore. The city has a number of cultural and recreational institutions, with more than 20 golf courses in the area.

Scene near Billings

Billings, Montana. Nicknamed the Magic City, it is located in south central Montana. The city has numerous attractions including an extensive park system with jogging and bike trails, cultural institutions like the pictured Alberta Bair Theater, and several colleges including Montana State University-Billings. The Yellowstone River runs through town, and six mountain ranges are nearby.

Hult Center for the Performing Arts

Eugene, Oregon. A vibrant college town, 17,000 students attend the University of Oregon here. The Cascade Mountain range provides unlimited hiking, skiing and outdoor opportunities. And the wild and rugged Pacific coast is just an hour to the west. The city, birthplace of Nike, is famous for its extensive park system, which includes many bike and running trails. The Hult Center for the Performing Arts will please anyone who loves culture.

Downtown Tucson

Tucson, Arizona. The city is warm in winter, blessed with sunshine almost 300 days per year, has beautiful surroundings, and a rich cultural life as well as the University of Arizona. At 233 performing arts dates per year, it also has one of the nation’s highest numbers of arts performances. It retains a distinctive relaxed, western flavor (Tombstone is nearby), and it celebrates outdoor life due to its climate and location.

Mountains and Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, CO.

The city looks up at Pikes Peak, which towers over the city at 14,115 feet. The United States Air Force Academy is a big part of the city. Many modern amenities such as open-areas, bike trails, parks, and cultural activities are among the reasons why the city was named in 2006 as the best large city to live in by Money Magazine.

Salt Lake skyline

Salt Lake City, Utah. The advantage of living in Salt Lake City as an active adult can be seen on a short drive through the city’s freeways (nicely expanded for the Winter Olympics held here).   It can be snowing in the mountains and warm and sunny in downtown Salt Lake. Some people will be playing golf in beautiful sunshine. Yet others have skis and snowboards on their cars headed to world class ski resorts just out of town.

Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls, Idaho. The city’s River Walk runs along miles of the Snake River. Due to its proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, along with many outdoor recreation and cultural venues, Idaho Falls has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as on of the Top 10 “Hottest Small Cities”. CNN/Money called Idaho Falls one of the Top 100 Cities in the USA, and Where To Retire Magazine recently listed it as one of their “8 Invigorating Outdoorsy Towns”.

Edge of Lake Michigan in Traverse City

Traverse City, Michigan. “Cherry Capital of the World,” enjoys a reputation as one of the top arts towns in the country. It has become popular retirement community for active adults in northern Michigan because in addition to arts and music, it has terrific golf, skiing, and miles of biking and hiking trails along Lake Michigan. Traverse City is also all about water – it is on Grand Traverse Bay and connected to it by the Boardman River and Boardman Lake.

The Cardiff Kook Statue in Encinitas

Encinitas, California. The residents of this coastal town above San Diego enjoy the great weather and ability to be outside most of the year. Downtown Encinitas is vibrant and full of thriving local salons, restaurants, shops, bars, and art galleries. The surfing in the area is justifyably famous; Swami’s is rated in the top 5 surf locations in the world. Coaster trains going from Oceanside to San Diego stop here several times a day

Burlington sits on Lake Champlain

Burlington, Vermont.  A lovely small college town on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, it is home to the University of Vermont. Mountain bikers enjoy many great trails such as “The International.” It begins with a good technical climb and ends with downhill sections. Nearby Sugarbush, Mad River Glen, Smugglers Notch, and Stowe offer some of the very best skiing in the east.

Comments? What towns do you think deserve to be on a list of great places for active retirees? Or are you looking for something else in a retirement town? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on May 20th, 2019


  1. I love this list, but find most of the active cities are in 4 season (winter) cities! Tucson and Encinitas are the only two cities that appeal to most retirees looking for a warmer climate. Just an observation.

    by Jana Harrison — May 22, 2019

  2. Great list! We could definitely be happy in 1 of these 10 places, and have a number of them on our own consideration list.

    I agree with Jana comment about winter climates, with an exception. I care very little about winter temps, or even snow – but the number of days of sunshine per year means a LOT to me. I love hiking the western national parks in January (Grand Canyon, Sedona area, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite) because we get sunny blue skies to make the 40’s temps and snow a positive, not a negative. Where I grew up (Detroit) we had months of “gray overcast” in the winter, which I really disliked, hence my move to So Cal after college grad and for the last 38 years!

    Denver (& Co Springs I assume) has roughly the same # of sunny days annually as Los Angeles. Sunshine stats by city are easily available, fortunately! I’ve been to 6 of the 10 cities listed (most of them multiple visits, including in winter). SLC & Tucson seem particularly appealing to us as at the moment. Other places on our short list: Sedona, AZ, Flagstaff, AZ , St George, UT and Coeur D’Alene, ID.

    Encinitas is beautiful and we love living at the ocean, but it shares 3 flaws with our current slice of paradise of 20 years up the coast in Laguna Beach, CA: 18 million people in So Cal means solitude is hard to find locally; SALT taxes up the wazoo and way > $10,000 cap, even w/ Prop 13; and a government that increasingly seems to dislike ordinary taxpayers.

    20 years ago this was a sleepy tourist beach town and we never heard emergency vehicle sirens. Now PCH is bumper-to-bumper traffic on weekends year ‘round, and sirens all the time. The mountains might be a nice change of pace for the next 30 years, as long as we can count on lots of sunshine…and moderate politicians & taxes!

    I’ve been to

    by Matt McGuinness — May 23, 2019

  3. Matt it looks like you are doing your homework. We are originally from the East Coast but over the years have lived in three different areas of CA. For the last 18 or so years we’ve been up here in Canada just outside Toronto. Now as we are looking to retire we have a long checklist of things we hope to find at a reasonable cost of living. The primary one is getting away from winter. Sunny days as you mentioned are top of list. And for us – no snow. The south is way too hot in the summer (for me) and all the storms now going through down there and the middle of the country are likely to only increase. I think, once you have lived in California any other place can never compare to that amazing weather – especially if the ocean is a driveable distance. I particularly love the northern coast Big Sur area. Carmel / Monterey would be amazing but totally out of our budget. After researching so many different areas I keep coming back to it. Now trying to learn more about the tax situation out there. Perhaps some towns a bit inland would have a lower cost of living? I will look up SALT taxes as I don’t know what they are. Any other California tax info for retirees you could pass on I would appreciate. Also costs of health care out there if you happen know. Probably similar to other states? The other locations you are looking at seem appealing too. Good luck with your ongoing research and please keep posting your thoughts on these areas…

    by Cindy — May 23, 2019

  4. Many retirement age middle class folks are leaving Southern California for the Boise-Meridian Idaho area with its much more agreeable cost of living.

    by Bubbajog — May 23, 2019

  5. Right on with Tucson.
    Just moved here after trying a couple of locales. Lived in montana and oregon and california during our working years.
    But this place works for retirement like other. There are several great communities to check out.
    Saddlebrooke, north of Oro valley is the one we found.
    It is a large one with so many activities and for active and inactive types. Largest bicycle club in state, hiking clubs, dancing, several golf course. One of the The Preserve is one of the most scenic and interesting course in Southern Arizona.
    There are some top notch competitive athletic teams that compete on the National level, like master swimming. Easy to stay active.
    Restaurants and Performing Arts center for concerts and live performances when you need to take a little break from all the activities.
    Views and vegetation are spectacular. At base of Catalina Mountains, it is a few degrees cooler than tucson and significantly cooler than anything in the Phoenox Valley.

    by Oso — May 23, 2019

  6. Paul asked why we don’t show Google maps on our City review pages anymore. It is a good question, and this is our response:
    Thanks for asking. WIthout any notice Google started charging us an exorbitant fee for displaying their maps so we had to take them down. Disappointing, we thought they were a great feature. Are looking for a lower cost alternative.

    thanks again

    by Admin — June 4, 2019

  7. Yes you can live the dream in CA….SALT taxes arent really a concern if you are lower income, less than $25,000/yr.
    We moved from San Diego to Riverside County where homes are more affordable and the savings will allow us to travel or for medical expenses we might have in the future. And yes we were thinking of leaving the state but came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t benefit us in the long run since we want to stay on the west coast…..

    by Mary11 — June 5, 2019

  8. One of the many great things about having lots of children, nieces, and nephews is that as they move onward and spread out across the country we have been invited to many places for graduations, weddings and fun events. Recently we have been to Traverse City and Colorado Springs, and have enjoyed them for several different reasons. We are lucky in that we both enjoy traveling and have rented for six months in different cities during the summer to get out of the southern heat and visit our children. Never had Michigan on our radar but now we do, and Traverse City seemed like be a fun place and a lot to do, glad to see it on your list! We are going back to do more exploring.

    by Pauline — June 20, 2019

  9. We moved the last couple of comments concerning living in The Villages to a different Blog for more discussion on this popular topic:

    Is The Villages Right for Your Retirement: Facts and Opinions

    by Jane at Topretirements — June 21, 2019

  10. South Carolina is great if you like sunny days hot summers and moderate winters! Bluffing is a great area!

    by Ron — June 22, 2019

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