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We’re all victim to the summer travel bug around here, so we thought we’d take a break from our usual Medicare and health discussions to review retirement destinations. Where should you retire? Which destination is the best fit for you? What activities do you want in a retirement location?
It’s important to understand what characteristics are important to you so that, when the time comes, you can retire in the destination of your dreams.
Qualities of Best Retirement Locations
When looking for the best places to retire, you’ll want to make sure they have certain qualities, including:
- Affordable housing
- A selection of good restaurants
- A vibrant arts scene
- Outdoor recreation
- A strong network of doctors and good health care facilities
- A laid-back lifestyle
The cities below are all retirement destinations within an hour or two of a major metropolitan area so that it’s easy to take advantage of big-city amenities when you choose, without having to face traffic nightmares. Check out our choices for the 10 Best Places to Retire in 2017.
Best Places to Retire
Port Aransas, Texas
Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Port Aransas offers quiet beaches as well as a lively cultural scene. With a population of 3,480, Port Aransas has now become a fishing, beach and resort village.
In the summers, you can expect the population to spike with people who come to enjoy the area.
Only 45 minutes from Corpus Christi, you can enjoy the small town atmosphere of Port Aransas, and then adventure over to Corpus when you need a big-city fix.
While in Port Aransas, you can enjoy parasailing, dolphin boat tours, strolling through the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, walking through The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, or just relax by walking around the quaint town or laying on the beach.
If you love small towns, ocean views and playing golf, look no further – Bandon is the place for you.
This 3,000 resident town has a lovely historic Old Town, as well as stunning beaches, golf opportunities and a laid-back small town community.
When you aren’t playing golf at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, you can enjoy tasting handcraft gourmet cheese at the Face Rock Creamery, strolling through the Annual Cranberry Festival which celebrates the cranberry harvest, and storm watching, which is a popular tourist activity for Bandon.
Bandon is known for its beaches and rock formations, including Face Rock State Scenit Point, as well as the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Bonita Springs, Florida
A welcoming beach community in Southwest Florida between Fort Myers and Naples, Bonita Springs is home to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center. Fishing and outdoor activities are popular in Bonita Springs, as are the sparkling beaches.
Bonita Springs is also home to the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, an arts organization that hosts local, regional and national traveling art exhibitions. Bonita Beach Park features a boardwalk, swimming area and coastal vegetation.
Spend your free time exploring the downtown district, kayaking, boating or enjoying the local nature and scenery.
Resting along the banks of the Connecticut River, Springfield is located on the southern doorstep of the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts, a region that’s loved by outdoorsy types for its natural beauty and abundant hiking trails.
The Eastern States Exposition is located in West Springfield, which serves as the New England States’ collective State Fair. Nicknamed “The Big E,” it is currently the sixth largest agricultural fair in America and brings in many tourists each September and October. It features rides, carnival food, music and replicas of each of the six New England state houses.
Other than The Big E, Springfield also hosts many festivals throughout the year, including Hoop City Jazz Festival, the World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast, Bright Nights and more.
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra frequently performs in Springfield Symphony Hall, a venue known for its ornate, Greek Revival architecture and “perfect acoustics.”
Spend your free time touring the Basketball Hall of Fame, visiting the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, and walking along the Connecticut River.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, this city offers an incredible outdoors without sacrificing its vibrant metropolitan culture. To the west, the Rockies form a majestic backdrop. To the east, the plains stretch for miles. Taken together, the setting ensures a mild, sunny climate year-round, and makes skiing and golfing on the same day feasible with no more than a two to three hour drive.
Colorado Springs has a strong cultural scene, between the outstanding Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and the variety of plays and musicals offered at several independent theaters.
The region abounds in natural and man-made wonders, from the red sandstone monoliths of the Garden of the Gods to the space-age architecture of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Cadet Chapel. The most unforgettable landmark is unquestionably Pikes Peak.
Along the banks of the Cannon River lies the charming town of Northfield, Minnesota. With its 150 years of history, art, culture and education, Northfield offers something for everyone. It is a welcoming college town enveloped by pristine nature just outside the Twin Cities.
Whether you enjoy the arts, history, nature or shopping, you’ll find many things to do that suit your interests in Northfield. And when you’re ready to relax, you’ll find one-of-a-kind restaurants and live music and theater.
Nature lovers flock to hike the trails of Cowling Arboretum, bicyclists pursue the varied terrain, foodies savor the dining options and music aficionados come for the lively scene.
In southwestern Pennsylvania, this small town is a nostalgic icon. Full of history and personality, charming shops and fantastic restaurants, you’ll enjoy a laid-back lifestyle in Ligonier.
With a population of only 1,540, it is a quaint and quiet city, but still close to the metropolitan area of Pittsburgh.
Visit a reconstruction of the French & Indian War era fort – Fort Ligonier, and in the fall, go to Fort Ligonier Days, a three-day festival that includes food, crafts, a grand parade and battle reenactments at the Fort. In your spare time, you’ll be able to visit scenic overlooks and take relaxing strolls through Ligonier’s historic downtown.
Sunday evenings in the summer, there are concerts at the Diamond, a small park that serves as a community gathering place. You’ll find mom-and-pop shops all over Ligonier, which just adds to the town’s natural charm. The nearby Laurel Mountain Ski Resort is nestled in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, where you can bike, hike and go whitewater rafting.
In Easton, you don’t have to own waterfront property to enjoy the majestic Chesapeake Bay. The town abounds in shade trees, lush landscaping, flowers, brick sidewalks and welcoming front porches. Much of the county’s land is agricultural, so you can easily be surrounded by nature just outside of town.
You can visit the Tidewater Inn, stroll through the Academy Art Museum, enjoy live entertainment at Art Deco-style Avalon Theater, and more. The nearest metropolitan areas are Baltimore and Washington, D.C. if you need to indulge in some city-living for a bit.
On the weekends, enjoy your time boating with friends along the peaceful Chesapeake Bay.
Hickory, North Carolina
Flanked by the Appalachian Mountains, Hickory’s milder weather makes it pleasant to live in year-round. Hickory is an hour from Charlotte and two hours from the Great Smoky Mountains. You can ski in the tallest mountains on the East Coast and attend a pro game in Charlotte on the same day.
You’ll experience four seasons, but summers are tempered by cool evening breezes, and snowfall is limited by the southern location.
Hickory’s downtown Union Square hosts a farmer’s market and festivals, a summer concert series and more. The SALT Block, a cultural arts complex, houses a library, a science center, an art museum and a regional symphony.
This region is a golfer’s heaven, with 24 courses located within 20 miles of town. Lake Hickory also provides plenty of recreational opportunities.
Seaside Portland is scenic, affordable, progressive and, courtesy of those maritime influences, relatively balmy. Hearty locals venture outdoors year ’round for hiking, kayaking, swimming and skiing.
Additionally, there’s plenty of indoor culture and a vibrant foodie scene. The downtown area of Portland, including the Arts District and the Old Port, have a high concentration of eating and drinking establishments. Portland has developed a national reputation for the quality of its restaurants and eateries. In 2009, it was named the “Foodiest Small Town in America” by Bon Appetit magazine.
You’ll be sure to enjoy beautiful lighthouse and coastal views, with relaxing strolls through the quaint and charming town.