As with most things in life, we sometimes apply a “grass is greener” mentality to our travel planning. We often select travel adventures in faraway places that we consider exotic and unusual.

Sure, Indonesia, Iceland and Patagonia are alluring and magical. But, the truth is that “wherever we go, there we are.”

Our travel destinations hold all kinds of expectations. However, what we make of the place is what matters. Sometimes, the least complicated destinations deliver the most powerful learning and transformational experiences. And they are often less expensive and closer to home. This is certainly true if you live in the United States.

 
 

If You Live in the U.S., You Are Already in a Travel Paradise!

Many older women living in the United States feel that they must visit Paris, Venice, India or Italy once in their lives. They have created bucket lists that include mysterious destinations that are usually a 10-hour flight from home.

While the tropical beauty of Bali and unique culture of Kyoto lure us with the promise of exclusive and life changing memories, we often forget that the United States is a land of amazing diversity and sheer beauty. Road Scholar recognizes this and offers over 900 programs in the United States alone.

Here is a fresh look at organizing your travel this year if you live in the United States. Why travel thousands of miles and spend lots of money when you can select a fascinating destination to explore closer to home?

And, if you live in Europe or other parts of the world, perhaps considering an American holiday would suit you too!

What Makes a Vacation Memorable?

Why do you travel? For me, a vacation is memorable if it changes me in some way. I am happy if it introduces me to a new place that opens my mind to a new culture, history or geography.

When travelling, the most satisfaction comes from viewing my own values and beliefs through the lens of a new place. This does not always require going a long distance to an exotic location, but by visiting a place that moves me, inspires and energizes me.

Discover USA’s National Parks

The United States offers so much diversity. One of my most memorable trips, when I lived in the United States, was a photography tour to the Southwest.

We visited the National Parks in Utah – Zion, Canyonlands, Arches and Yellowstone. Every stop left me breathless. I still look at the pictures and recall strong deep memories.

Canyonlands National Park Landscape

It was a road trip that pushed me beyond my day to day world. It led me to emotional depths and to places of beautiful historical significance and stunning geography.

In fact, the National Parks are a highlight of not-for-profit Road Scholar. You can enjoy the mountains, canyons, forest and geysers with a choice of over 200 learning adventures. From rafting on the Colorado River to hiking in the Rocky Mountains or Acadia National Park, there’s something affordable and at your skill and activity level.

Discover the USA

When you make the decision to discover the USA, there are many active tours, cultural experiences and historical adventures to choose from.

Here are some examples of Road Scholar’s learning adventures that celebrate and enable discovery of the USA. From north to south, east to west, there is something for everyone.

North

Hiking in the Beartooth Mountains of Wyoming

Beartooth Mountains

The northern United States can be rugged and dramatic. You can choose to be as active or relaxed as you like. For example, Road Scholar offers a walk through the magnificent Beartooth Mountains and Shoshone National Forest.

With an experienced guide, you learn about unique geology and ecology. Your breath will be taken away by the natural beauty.

Great Lakes and Heritage Waterways: 1000 Islands, Toronto and Niagara Falls

If you want something a little more relaxed, you can experience the unspoiled beauty and grandeur of the 1,000 Islands, St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.

You visit many iconic landmarks and historic sites going back to the war of 1812. In addition to the natural exploration, you also visit Toronto and the picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

This Great Lakes Program also allows you to explore Niagara Falls. There is culture on offer at the highly acclaimed Shaw Festival.

 

South

Signature City New Orleans: An Unforgettable City of Mystery and Intrigue

New Orleans at Jackson Square

The south has its own character and style. This year, New Orleans has been designated Destination of the Year by Road Scholar, so you can expect to be offered truly wonderful experiences.

The real and illusive New Orleans is explored in the Signature City Program. Jazz venues, amazing food and drink and of course the historical landmarks that make New Orleans such a unique place.

On the Road from Asheville to Nashville: The Quintessential South

The southern United States is complex and diverse, like many parts of the United States. The Road Scholar program, From Ashville to Nashville introduces all the familiar things associated with this part of the country. Country music, bourbon whiskey and horseracing are introduced by local experts.

Travelling from Asheville to Nashville, you experience and capture the true essence of the south. You can review the Road Scholar website to get more ideas for exploring the Best of the South.

 

East

The Chautauqua Experience in Fall and Spring

Chautauqua Bear Peak

The eastern United States offers a wide range of learning opportunities. If you have more cultural tastes and love art, music and literature as well as politics and religion, the Chautauqua Experience might be for you. It is a meeting place for lifelong learners.

Situated on the picturesque shores of Lake Chautauqua in western New York, the summer months are very busy. This Chautauqua experience takes place “off-season,” so there is a wonderful peace and quiet.

Bike New York City: A Melting Pot of Culture

If you like more of a big city experience, why not consider New York City – but with a difference?

Road Scholar offers a Bike Experience of New York that allows you to embrace the wonderful high energy culture, food and personality of the Big Apple. The bike program takes you from wonderful character filled neighbourhoods and gives you a chance to try great food and local iconic points of interest.

 

West

The Best of the Pacific Northwest: Seattle to San Francisco

Mt Rainier Pacific Northwest

Having lived in Seattle for 20 years, I know the road from Seattle to San Francisco well. The vistas are so breath-taking and the towns along the way have their own unqiue character.

This program allows you to experience the highlights of the Pacific Northwest from the great cities of Seattle, Portland and San Francisco to Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainer and the Redwood forests along the California coast.

The Best of the Rockies – a Train Journey from Calgary to Vancouver

Many of you know that I am a huge train fan of train travel and love sitting in my moving time machine with a thermos of coffee, great book and packed lunch. This train journey from Calgary to Vancouver is definitely on my bucket list.

You travel from the heart of the Canadian Rockies in panoramic cars and a glass-enclosed gondola! This Road Scholar program allows you to discover glaciers, view wildlife, isolated towns and incredible alpine views. You complete the train adventure with three nights in the fabulous coastal city of Vancouver.    

Women Only Travel Opportunities

Finally, if you are looking for rejuvenation, reinvention and bliss, these United States based programs may just be for you. Discover yourself while discovering the USA. Why not consider Santa Fe, Rocky Mountain Hiking, or California?

Why not make 2017 the year you will discover the magic of travel at home in the USA? Eliminate the long flights, reduce any stress you may associate with international travel and just give yourself a break!

Choose a holiday that allows you to appreciate the sheer and majestic beauty of the United States. If you are a Sixty and Me sister living in Europe, Asia or South America, perhaps this is the year you give the USA a go with Road Scholar!

How much of the United States have you discovered already? Do you prefer domestic or international travel? Which area or state are you looking forward to exploring? Please join the conversation.

Let's Have a Conversation!