The Top 5 day trips for seniors: The Kalamazoo area provides plenty of destinations for a ‘daycation’ | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly
With gas soaring toward $4 a gallon, a daycation, or one-day vacation, makes financial sense. The problem then becomes choosing a destination. Fortunately, we live in a neck of the woods where many great destinations are easily accessible.
Charged with choosing the top five destinations for seniors based on
for about seven years, I asked Best-Ever Friend Dave to help. It was hard because we’ve had a great time everywhere we’ve been.
Finally we decided on five categories, listed below in alphabetical order.
Our No. 1 favorite day trip is to Amish country in northern Indiana. Shipshewana has the Menno-Hof Museum, Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum, the Center for Traditional Arts and, of course, the flea market.
In Middlebury, you can visit the Middlebury Community Historical Museum, tour RV factories and visit the shops. Howe has the Kingsbury House Gallery and the nearby Greenfield Mills, a historic flour mill.
Bristol features a fantastic local history museum and Chocolate Sensations where you can feed your sweet tooth. Nappanee has Amish Acres where you can visit a historic Amish farm, enjoy an all-you-can eat meal and see a live show in the Round Barn Theatre.
From May to October, you can drive around the countryside visiting the quilt gardens on the annual Quilt Gardens Tour.
For more information, go to
or call 800-250-4827 to request a brochure.
2) Children’s museums
Those of you with grandchildren will enjoy taking them to a children’s museum where you can have fun learning with them. We’ve had a ton of fun in children’s museums in Fennville, Albion, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Lansing, St. Joseph, Saginaw and Detroit.
Be prepared for a tiring day as the kids rush from one fun activity to another. And you will even learn some new things yourself as you help your grandchildren with science and math activities or just have fun playing games.
While there isn’t a website listing only children’s museums, you can go to
and search for museums by city.
3) Local history museums
I’ve learned so much about Southwest Michigan and northern Indiana just by visiting the small, local history museums. Dave always says, “This is real history about real people.”
Here you see how people lived and how their lives were affected by large events — world wars or the Depression.
In these museums, it’s inspiring to learn about Adrian’s automotive history at the Lenawee County Historical Museum or Elkhart’s musical instrument history at the Elkhart County Historical Museum or Otsego’s past as a tourist destination at the Otsego Area Historical Museum.
To find local museums, go online and search the name of the town. Often, the towns and/or the museums will have a website. The smaller museums may only be open in the summer, so be sure to check before you go.
4) Outdoor adventures
State parks are a great destination for outdoor adventures. One we recently discovered is the Waterloo Recreation Area, near Chelsea, which at 20,000 acres is the largest park in the Lower Peninsula. It has 11 lakes, 12 miles of nature trails and 47 miles of hiking trails.
The Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center is the place to start and learn about the wildlife and the park. There are trails ranging from about 1.3 miles to 5.3 miles so you can choose how active you want to be.
Parks along the Lake Michigan shore such as Hoffmaster State Park near Muskegon and Warren Dunes State Park near Bridgman also are favorite outdoor destinations.
Michigan now has a Recreation Passport providing entrance to all state parks and recreation areas for a $10 annual fee, available when you renew your license plate. Previously, an annual pass was $24. For more information about state parks, visit
Dave often refers to us as an “Olympic shopping team.” While we like shopping malls, we also love small town shopping. Sometimes in the summer we will drive to South Haven and wander through the shops.
Nearby Saugatuck and Douglas also lure us for an afternoon of shopping. For information about South Haven visit
. For Saugatuck/Douglas visit
Between South Haven and Saugatuck, there also are many artists’ galleries and workshops for that unique gift or addition to your own art collection. For information about the artists’ galleries, go to
Taking a daycation can keep your fuel costs down, but that isn’t the only way it can save you money. To restate the advice I gave in that very first column:
“Forget the apples. A day away keeps the doctor away.”
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