Small towns make great travel destinations for everyone thanks to their charming main streets, historic districts, and plenty of local eats. But they are particularly appeasing for travelers over 60 who want to a comfortable and relaxing vibe while staying in one place and without having to spend a lot of time in the car. That's why these older travelers should set their GPS for these 10 best small towns in the U.S. for travelers over 60.
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Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Located just south of Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet is a small, waterfront fishing town that today offers much more than just fishing. While there certainly are plenty of opportunities for fishing, both on and off shore, visitors also can go kayaking, paddle boarding, or jet skiing. For those of the over 60 set who may want to keep the water sports to a minimum, another option is taking a dolphin tour or sunset cruise. And, not surprisingly, Murrells Inlet offers plenty of exceptional dining featuring the area's best seafood. A great way to wrap up the day is by taking a leisurely stroll on the MarshWalk to watch the sunset.
In the 1960s, Leavenworth transformed itself into a Bavarian town to attract visitors. While kitschy, it was tremendously successful. Today, in addition to German vibe, Leavenworth is totally walkable, offers lots of shopping, contains good restaurants, and is not far from hiking, says Joanna Nesbit, a freelance travel writer.
"It also has a great outdoor 'The Sound of Music' production every summer and lots of Christmas stuff in the winter," she adds. In addition, there are plenty of accommodations in town, ranging from bed-and-breakfasts to vacation rentals to RV parks and more.
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Port St. Joe, Florida
Sitting alongside St. Joseph Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, Port St. Joe welcomes older visitors to come enjoy a slower pace of life. You can spend the day strolling through the historic downtown overflowing with local boutiques, day spas, and sidewalk bistros—and every first and third Saturday you can shop at the SaltAir Farmers Market for unique gifts and souvenirs.
Obviously, you'll find plenty of outdoor recreation, ranging from hiking and biking to water sports, fishing, and more. A fun way to explore the area is following the Turtle Trail, which features such attractions as the Gulf County Welcome Center, Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center, and the Florida Coastal Conservancy sea turtle fountain.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Located in the Ozarks, Eureka Springs offers quite the combination of interests and attractions older visitors will love.
"My family really loves Eureka Springs," says travel writer Jen Billock. "It's small, has charming architecture, and a lot of antique shops and small boutiques."
Thanks to its small size, you can stroll the streets of downtown Eureka Springs checking out those shops, boutiques, and architecture. Or you can sit back and relax, touring the town on one of the Eureka Springs Tram Tours. When looking for a place to stay, consider the 1886 Crescent Hotel, complete with its own restaurants, spa, and ghosts.
Morro Bay, California
Named after Morro Rock, an ancient volcanic mound at the end of Morro Rock Beach, Morro Bay sits on the California coast north of Los Angeles. Older travelers will love the uncrowded beaches, where they can watch for whales any time of the year. Birdwatching is another popular activity thanks to the many species of sea and shore birds that migrate through the area.
No wonder the town has been designed as a National Audubon Society's Important Bird Area. Morro Bay is also rich in history and culture, as evidenced by such attractions as the Maritime Museum, Hearst Castle, and the Skateboard Museum.
St. Mary's, Georgia
On the East Coast, St. Mary's brings together history, culture, cuisine, and outdoor recreation in a pedestrian-friendly town. You can start with a self-guided tour filled with St. Mary's historic sites, including the Oak Grove Cemetery, plus many of the town's historic trees.
Simply enjoying the great outdoors is another popular option: St. Mary's has spots on both the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail and the Colonial Coast Birding Trail. Another fun outing is hitting the 11-mile St. Marys Tabby Trail, which connects St. Marys to Crooked River State Park.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Older travelers can't go wrong with Maine as a vacation destination.
"Anywhere in Maine," says Shannon DalPozzal of TravelingMamas. "Prime dinner time at restaurants is 5 p.m., and everything closes by 8. And the speed limit is max 45 mph or less on most roads."
A key example is Bar Harbor, where you can explore the town on a number of boat tours, history tours, and culinary tours. And thanks to its proximity to Acadia National Park, you can get your fill of hiking, biking, kayaking, and more. No wonder it was named No. 1 Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA by U.S. News&World Report.
New Bern, North Carolina
You've probably heard of North Carolina's Outer Banks, but have you heard of the Inner Banks? If not, you're missing out on a great destination for older travelers: New Bern.
"The town is very walkable and full of B&Bs," says Christina Riley of NC Tripping. "There's also an excellent food scene and beautiful riverfront."
Highlights include catching the sunrise over the water at Union Point Park, finding all 60 New Bern bear statues around town, and diving into the past at the North Carolina History Center.
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Steamboat Springs, Colorado
In northern Colorado alongside the Yampa River, Steamboat Springs provides all you can want if you love the great outdoors. Not surprisingly, the winter is popular for skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and sleigh rides. During the summer, enjoy fishing, rafting, and hiking in and around town. And, regardless of season, you'll enjoy a dip in the hot springs at Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Plus, the city runs a complimentary bus system that takes visitors around town and to such local destinations as the Tread of Pioneers Museum. It's easy to see why it was chosen as the No. 9 "Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA" by U.S. News&World Report.
No. 7 on U.S. News&World Report's "Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA," St. Augustine has a lot to love for older travelers.
"There are trams that take people around the city to sites and shops and eateries," says Diane Dobry of Getting Hungary. "There are golf and beach resorts and sailing boat trips. There are also more adventurous activities, but the vibe is relaxed and versatile. You can rent touring bikes to get around. The walking tours are not challenging and the history is interesting."
Plus, there are plenty of hotels in downtown so you can walk to many of the town's attractions, restaurants, and more.