Thousands of people visit The Villages in Florida each year, some staying with relatives, some visiting on the Lifestyle Preview Plan like we just did and many others renting a home in The Villages.
There is something to do everyday that every baby boomer will find fun.
Here are some 16 tips and places to visit during your stay at The Villages Florida.
1. Pick up a copy of The Villages Daily Sun newspaper, especially the Thursday edition with the Recreation News and schedule for the week.
2. Visit and walk around all three town squares, Lake Sumter Landing which borders Lake Sumter and has a Florida seaport theme and is located centrally. There is the original town square of Spanish Springs on the South side. The newest town square of Brownwood with a wild west theme is on the North side. All three town squares are very walkable and have restaurants, shops and a movie theater. Also there is live entertainment in each square every night of the year!
We took a great trip to Greenville in the Upcountry of South Carolina and then took a mini road trip up to Asheville NC with a couple of stops along the way. Next time you are looking for a 5 or 6 day getaway, this could be a great trip for you.
Driving up I-85 from our home in Atlanta, a brief stop at Chateau Elan, a winery – resort would be a good stop. It is right off Exit 126 in Braselton.
Bucket List Travel Can Improve Your Health, Broaden your Perspective, Even Lead You Into New Careers
If travel is something you long for, I encourage you to do it. Don’t let fears or worries stop you.
Study after study reveals that travel is good for us. It’s good for the body and good for the mind. It lowers stress, strengthens relationships and gives you memories for a lifetime.
Whether you like natural beauty (think rivers, mountains, beaches, waterfalls), cultural experiences (think museums, concert halls, art galleries), or historical sites (think battle grounds or presidential libraries), traveling to these places can enrich and enlarge your life in numerous ways.
Want to be amazed? Fascinated? Awed? Travel somewhere you’ve dreamed about but never actually been. Or, return to someplace wonderful you visited decades back and feel the wonder anew.
My husband, Al, and I began to travel in earnest after we were involved in a serious automobile accident in 2012. That wreck brought home to us how fragile life is. How it can be snatched away in a moment, in the blink of an eye. We decided to stop putting off our travel dreams.
Since then we’ve cruised through the Panama Canal, visited the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, ridden on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, cruised the Mediterranean, driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, and cruised the Mississippi River on an honest-to-goodness steam-powered paddle-wheeler. Next spring, we’ll cruise the fjords of Norway.
We’ve been pleased to learn that travel is associated with lower rates of heart disease, reduced risk of depression, as well as increased brain development. Yes, our brains can develop even at our “seasoned” ages.
Activities such as touring a museum, finding your way through an unfamiliar town, walking along the beach have positive mental, physical and social benefits.
Traveling develops new skills. And that increases confidence.
When we travel and meet people from unfamiliar cultures, we may find new ways of looking at life. And that can give us a different perspective on things. We may find ourselves growing intellectually and emotionally.
Because travel often includes walking, we may find ourselves actually getting in better shape. We may even lose weight and gain muscle as we hike, stroll, walk or amble about.
Escaping the every-day, if only for a weekend, can energize and renew us.
Travel is fun.
And you never know where your travels will take you. Al and I have made friends we never would have met otherwise. And we found our travels so amazing, that we began to write about them.
So travel has turned us into authors. We write travel memoirs, filling them with all the wit, wisdom, discoveries and surprises we experience on our journeys. This year, we’re publishing three books about a trip we took in 2014.
Cruising the Mediterranean, describes our adventures in Amsterdam, Venice, Athens, Istanbul and other places. It was named an Amazon #1 best seller in the senior travel category.
Indie Book Reviewers say that the book is “…full of adventure and life and great advice on traveling.”
In this book, we visit local markets, famous sites, and quiet out-of-the way neighborhoods, staying in Airbnb apartments and using Barcelona’s hop-on hop-off bus to show us around.
Rick Bava, author of In Search of the Baby Boom Generation, said this about the book: “The beauty of these wonderful places shines through every page. I recommend it for Baby Boomers and others whose hearts long to travel. You’ll feel like you’re right there…”
And we have a third book, coming out soon: Cruising the Atlantic, Our Epic Journey from Barcelona to Miami.
I tell you this to underscore how travel can take you places you never dreamed of. Who would have imagined that a wreck caused by a texting driver slamming full speed into us would result in our becoming travel memoir authors sharing our trips with readers around the world?
But there you have it. We’re either writing about a trip, planning a trip, or we’re on a trip, enjoying all the benefits of travel.
At our age, we have the time for travel and we have more money for travel than we had as young adults. Still, we are careful with our travel funds, and try to get the most value for our dollars.
If you have a travel dream, I encourage you to take it. Travel now, while you can. The Internet can make the trip easier than ever. Nearly every city, state or national park has a website where you can check out tours, lodging, points of interest, even maps of the area.
Do some online exploring, plan with care, fuel your sense of adventure, trigger your imagination, then make your dreams come true.
Al and Sunny Lockwood have traveled by foot, car, rail, air and cruise ship. Everywhere they go, they capture unforgettable moments — Al with his camera and Sunny with her reporter’s notebook. Their work has been published in magazines and newspapers. This photograph was taken in an Athens coffee shop, when Al and Sunny ducked inside to escape a sudden downpour. You can contact the Lockwoods at firstname.lastname@example.org
While many dream of traveling around the globe to see such wonders as the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, there is an equally spectacular site in the western hemisphere. And it is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
What is it? The Panama Canal
This 50-mile waterway, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, changed our world. When it officially opened in 1914, it cut nearly 8,000 miles off the shipping routes from New York to San Francisco,
Considered the eighth wonder of the world, today the Panama Canal accommodates more than 14,000 ships a year carrying cargo ranging from automobiles to grain, on their passage between the oceans.
More than 10 percent of all U.S. shipping goes through the canal.
Cruising the Panama Canal
But for travelers who want to not only view interesting places but actually experience them, cruising through the Panama Canal is unforgettable. Cruise lines offer an array of such trips from a variety of starting ports.
Depending on a traveler’s pocketbook and calendar, transits can be partial (where the ship enters the canal, goes to Gatun Lake, then turns around and goes back out the same locks used to enter the canal) or full (entering the canal from one ocean and exiting at the far end into the other ocean).
When my husband and I cruised on Holland America’s ms Zuiderdam in 2012, it took more than eight hours to make the entire transit.
Our 82,000-ton ship barely fit in the locks, and being smoothly lifted and lowered 85-feet as the locks filled or emptied, was like riding a magic carpet.
There are three sets of locks at each end of the canal. Two lanes allow two ships to move through the locks at the same time. Each ship climbs up three locks at the start of the canal, and then down three at the end.
Lock chambers are 1,000-feet long and 110-feet wide.
One of the magical aspects of our transit through the locks, then through the nine-mile cut through the Continental Divide (think Rocky Mountains), then through the huge man-made Gatun Lake, and out the locks at the Canal’s far end, was that we and our ship did the transit exactly like that first ship had when the canal opened on August 15, 1914.
No computers at all. Everything is run by gravity and electricity. Gravity fills and empties the locks, lifting ships 85 feet above sea level at the beginning of the Canal, and then lowering them again at the end. And the electricity that opens and closes lock doors, and runs everything else at the canal is created by the canal’s dams. It’s all very self-sufficient.
Our trip was a spectacular and historic experience.
This centennial year would be the perfect time to visit this engineering wonder of the world. And cruising along its watery pathway is both inspiring and sobering (when you consider that more than 26,000 lives were lost in the building of this most famous short cut).
My only suggestion to make the trip more meaningful, would be to do some historical research into the building of the Canal. As you learn about the dream and how hard it was to make it all come true, you’ll appreciate the amazing journey across the Isthmus of Panama.
About the Author
Sunny Lockwood and her husband, Al, have traveled by foot, car, rail, air and cruise ship. Wherever they go, they capture unforgettable moments – Al with his camera and Sunny with her reporter’s notebook. Their work for newspapers and magazines has won national, regional and local awards. Cruising Panama’s Canal, savoring 5,000 nautical miles and 500,000 decadent calories is their first travel memoir. It’s available at amazon.com.
These two ships are recent additions to Princess Cruises and my wife wanted to sail with the Royal Princess. We just did the reposition cruise on the Royal from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal down to Fort Lauderdale with three stops in the Caribbean.
It is hard to answer when people ask me what is the best cruise line for baby boomers and just as hard to compare ships because it really is up to your personal taste and desires. But having taken 22 cruises and having sailed on the Royal with 2600 guests with Princess Platinum or better cards, here are some observations. The sweet spot of the ages on this cruise was say mid 60’s to early 70’s, so we now fit it perfectly. That is kind of strange since we used to think the people were older, now they are our fellow baby boomers.
The Royal is a nice big glitzy ship with 3560 guests and 1700 crew but you don’t feel too crowded. There are some large spaces like the Piazza atrium which some felt was too much for their taste but most people liked it. We noticed there is no problem finding a seat at the bar lounges and around the Piazza atrium’s three levels. That was nice.
I must say the food and the Royal’s singers and dancers were the best I have seen. Also we had no problem at all with our anything dining getting in without any wait. Those are a big part the cruising experience right there.
Smaller things people were complaining about were no stairs above deck 8 on the center of the ship. Shower curtains rather than glass doors. A small balcony in their cabins.
But as the cruise got on you saw many positives like I have mentioned above with the food, shows and no wait to dine. There is Alfredo’s Pizzeria, a new no fee restaurant with is nice for lunch and a full size Gelateria bar serving ice cream and Italian crepes. The SeaWalk on the side of the ship was fun to walk across and look down 128 feet to the ocean under your feet.
The Movies Under the Stairs on Pool side was amazing. It is the largest movie screen of any cruise ship. It look great even during the day. The sound qualify was amazing and resulted in some great pool parties during the day.
The Princess Theater has the most up to date technology and the digital props on stage were amazing.
I loved the Royal’s ship horn which plays part of the Love Boat Theme which I capture here as we were leaving Antigua. The passengers on the Carnival ship next to us got a kick of it and cheered us goodbye!
The Royal Princess (and Regent Princess) are beautiful ships and you should give them a try. They will be sailing the Caribbean this Winter through April.
Mary Ann and I just got back from a 11 day Western Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Equinox, which is about our 24th cruise. Here are some observations from our trip.
We observed and have heard from 3 other frequent cruisers that the cruise lines are now targeting younger people in the 45 to mid 50s age range. Well after cruising some time with the older people, now we are right in the mainstream being an older boomer of age 67. So the cruise lines want to pass over my age group to target younger people? Doesn’t make sense. As an example, Equinox presented their Modern Luxury theme with a new stage production which has men wearing only girdles and all cast members looking androgynous. Yuk!
Cruise ships do change. Equinox used to be our favorite ship. That is why this was our third cruise on the Equinox. But things have changed. No activity staff at the upper lawn areas or throughout the ship like previous cruises. Cruise staff changes, entertainment changes, ports change, so don’t expect just because you liked the cruise last time you will like the same ship next time.
On many cruises, the best part is meeting the people. We met many people we related to on this cruise and it was nice talking with them. Unless the cruise is really port intensive, you will have time to socialize and meeting people is super easy.
Too much of a good thing is bad. When you first get on a cruise ship, you will love to eat and maybe drink too much. By about day 4, things start to catch up with you and you will have to pace yourself or else a good time turns bad.
Taking too many cruises back to back will burn you out on cruises. I think that is where I am now. Taking a 14 day cruise in Sept, then this 11 day cruise in December, I just decided to cancel my California Coast cruise in March because that is just too much cruising. I will wait until the urge comes back, which won’t be long.