From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boomers and other seniors were among those most at risk from suffering severe illness due to the virus. Then, they were among the first in line to receive vaccines. And now, thanks to the CDC’s green light for fully vaccinated travelers, they are leading the pack in planning trips—and scoring serious deals along the way.
The annual travel trends survey from AARP indicates that seniors are happy to make the most of this next phase. “Emerging optimism for 2021 is apparent,” according to the survey summary, “especially among Boomers (people ages 56–74) who haven’t given up on their bucket lists and dreams of seeing the world.” Fifty-four percent of survey respondents plan to travel in 2021, but “instead of jetting off to crowded international hotspots, they are more likely to take domestic road trips.”
California offers this audience segment countless options. Along with safety protocols in place across all 12 regions, the Golden State offers abundant wide-open spaces, including super-scenic road trips, fresh-air adventures, and under-the-radar things to do in the most popular destinations.
Meanwhile, plenty of California hotels are welcoming seniors with deals, some related to AARP or AAA membership, and others just requiring you show some ID. Marriott-brand hotels—including The Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel and The US GRANT Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego—typically offer a 15 percent discount for senior travelers at most of their locations. Independent properties such as Inn at Schoolhouse Creek & Spa in Mendocino County and Benbow Inn in Humboldt County are trimming up to 10 percent off with a valid AARP card. In La Jolla, The Grande Colonial Hotel has a Have Vaccine, Will Travel Senior Special that takes 10 percent off their best rates.
According to the AARP survey, many seniors are traveling to spend time with family—and some Golden State attractions are offering their own deals for fun things to do while reconnecting. Travelers ages 62 and older can apply for the Golden Bear or Limited Use Golden Bear passes that grant you discounts and special access to California state parks. At the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the ticket price for ages 62 and up has always been $15, while an extra $5 gets you a historic bay cruise, too. For quality time with the grandkids, theme parks offer senior-friendly discounts too, like Buena Park’s Knott’s Berry Farm (set to open on May 21), which offers a small admission discount for both kids and seniors, and 30 percent off for AAA members.