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Want to Travel, But Not Sure Where? Check Out These 10 Offbeat Ideas

Category: Travel

April 7, 2018 — The majority of people say they would like to do some traveling once they retire. There are plenty of destinations that immediately come to mind. Paris, the Grand Canyon, London, New York City – these are on many people’s lists. Beyond that, evaluating and planning exciting places to visit can be a really fun part of the process. To help stimulate your thinking this article will give you some creative and offbeat ideas that will, hopefully, get your travel juices really going.

Out of the box travel ideas
Not that it is a competition, but who ever said you had to go to the same places that everybody else has. So consider these travel themes, which in many cases involve exploring all (or many) of the locations in certain categories.

Detail from The Temple of Bulguksa (built in 774) South Korea. World Heritage site

1. UNESCO – World Heritage sites – Worldwide there are 1,073 World Heritage sites, so it is improbable anyone could visit more than a few hundred or so. According to Wikipedia, “To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an
already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.” We have visited several of these sites around the world, and everyone has been amazing.

2. Baseball (Football, etc.) Parks , major or minor. Are you a sports fan? We know several people who have gone on pilgrimages to ball parks across the country. Usually they do it with friends or relatives, every year adding a few more to the list.

3. National parks. More than a few people have set a goal of visiting every national park in the U.S. (there are 58 of them so get started early!) For $80 you can buy a lifetime Senior Pass to all the parks. You can also think smaller – visit every state park where you live.

4. All the mountains over ??? feet in a state or area. New Hampshire is a good example, it has 48 mountains over 4000′ – many people hope to climb them all. In most states you don’t have to be a mountaineer to bag the highest peaks, but maybe there is some other worthy goal that interests you. Out west and in Alaska, climbing all the high peaks can be a bit more challenging!

5. Homes of Presidents. Lucy’s friend’s husband is almost finished with this quest. This could be a great project to do with your grandchildren; a wonderful way for them to see history firsthand.

6. Famous highways like Route 66 or the Pacific Coast Highway. Our friend John did Route 66 last year, driving almost every mile from the coast in Santa Monica to Chicago. We teased him he should have rented a Corvette, just like in the old TV Show “Route 66”. You could expand this idea to other famous highways like the Blue Ridge Parkway or Route 12 in Utah. Or, you could branch out a take a river trip on every American river (steamboat, kayak, or other kind of boat).

7. Lewis and Clark Trail. You can retrace the route of the early 19th century explorers sent out to discover the West by Thomas Jefferson. This is a popular tour with many operators – just search Lewis and Clark tours and you will find many options. There are other historic routes to explore as well – the Santa Fe Trail, The Natchez Trace, etc.

View in western Ireland

8. Ancestry tour. Fans of geneology have a natural affinity for this one. Head back to the old country (or somewhere in the U.S.) to see from whence you came. Better yet, research to find some relatives to meet when you are there!

9. 100 great golf courses.. Some of the top 100 golf courses are private and almost impossible to get on. But you could play most of them if you work at it. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama is another fun option. Or if you are a fanatic about another sport, visit all of its shrines, here or abroad.

WWII bunkers at Normandy

10. War Memorials and Battlefields. Veterans and history buffs might want to visit (or re-visit under better circumstances) the great battles of American or world history. The Civil War battlefields are relatively close together. We have thought about going back to Vietnam to see how it has changed since our early 1970’s visit. The sites in Normandy, France, from WWII are just amazing.

Still haven’t enough?
Here are just are few more travel ideas. But the important thing is for you to use your imagination – don’t be limited by what your peers are doing.

– Homes of American inventors

– Cruise on all the Great Lakes

– State capitols

And finally, Fly or cruise around the world. We know several people who have done this – either by air or on a ship. For example, RoadScholar offers a a program of 115 days at sea delving into local cultures and customs. Some airlines offer a deal on worldwide flights, and at least one tour operator does it by private jet. By air you cover a lot of ground fast, by ship it takes a long time but boy do you get to see the world.

Comments? What are your off the wall travel dreams. Please share your ideas in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
For a different take on this list, See “15 Travel Themes” by Craig Stephens
The Travel Category of the Topretirements Blog (17 articles)
Taking Trips That Mean Something (NY Times – some great ideas!)

Posted by Admin on April 6th, 2018


  1. While we do some “check off the box” travel to see the major sites, we also like to squeeze in a winery visit where ever we go. We expecially like the small and out of the way ones where you are likely to be able to tour the vinyards and production facilities and chat with the owners. If they aren’t busy, you can spend an hour or so sampling their wines and leaning about the history of the winery and how the owners got into the business. It’s a great way to connect with people and not just say you’ve been somewhere and seen something. We have visited wineries in many states and in in Europe. Next month we will be on a Rhine river cruise and plan to sample some German wineries along the way.

    Another way we like to connect with people in the places we visit is to stay in B&Bs when we can. The owners of these are naturally outgoing people and enjoy learning about their guests as much as we enjoy meeting them and the other guests over breakfast. Some of these B&Bs are located in historic old mansions and have period furnishings. It’s always fun to learn about the original owners of the property and some history of the surrounding area.

    by LS — April 7, 2018

  2. Hi LS:
    I do so agree about B&Bs and Innkeepers too. They are outgoing, know the area around them well usually and can point out interesting businesses and day trips that one might not have considered. I love wineries too and you are so right–they are a great way to connect with people. I also enjoy staying in monasteries in Europe–Germany specifically. They often have indoor pools, bicycles, homemade ales, bakeries and ice cream and great food in their refectories–no austerity there for guests. They are extremely clean, comfortable, charming and very reasonably priced. They are usually not far from sights and sounds of a village. The monks and nuns are extremely well informed about activities nearby. One I stay at near Garmisch has furniture made by the monks themselves. Here in the US the Trappist monasteries have guest houses that I have found extremely comfortable, quiet with great food. The activities are self directed and no one asks your religion…one just can commune with nature and or God.

    by Jennifer — April 8, 2018

  3. Jennifer,

    How/where do you find these Trappist monasteries? This sounds very intriguing. Are there certain requirements you must meet to be able to stay there? Any elaboration would be helpful. Thanks so much.

    by Donna — April 9, 2018

  4. Hi Donna:
    No one ever has asked me about my affiliation with any church when staying at a monastery. I was Catholic but converted to the Episcopal Church in 2005 because I felt that it was similar to the Catholic tradition but much more inclusive. For those who believe in heaven, I think they would agree there will be no one organized religion there. As for the monasteries just google them near the area where you wish to stay. I stayed in a Benedictine monastery in Germany and I stayed in a retreat house in a Trappist monastery in Virginia twice last year. Both times were very positive. There are many such monasteries in the USA and Europe with guest houses as hospitality is a part of the monastic tradition. If you give me more specific information, I can perhaps assist you. You do have to be open to accepting the Grand Silence in some monasteries and respectful of their customs others have no such restrictions.

    by Jennifer — April 10, 2018

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