Mature travelers in the Southland are being offered a cornucopia of travel opportunities through an organization called Golden Tours for Senior Citizens. Operating from Alhambra, Golden Tours is a nonprofit travel club whose requirement for membership is an annual $5 fee.
Minimum age to join the club and participate in tours is 50. The 8,000 members took some 20,000 trips last year. Executive director Frank Cawley is a retired banker, age 89, who puts in a full week at the office. "We sell happiness!" says Cawley, and repeat business seems to bear him out.
Travel offerings from Golden Tours include everything from two-hour free slide presentations by travel experts to 24-day trips to New England; Alaska or Panama Canal cruises; South Pacific destinations like New Zealand and Australia, and European travel.
Itineraries are heavy on historic U.S. destinations plus strong emphasis on the Western United States and Canada. All of California comes in for a lion's share of the action, from San Diego to the Redwood Empire north of San Francisco.
Sold Out for Weeks
One-day trips are a big Golden Tour item and are sold out weeks in advance. They include visits to the Hollywood Bowl, Solvang, Marina del Rey (with a cruise), Lawrence Welk's Village with a matinee musical, Hotel del Coronado, Crystal Cathedral and Knott's Berry Farm.
Others are Hearst Castle, Malibu and the Getty Museum, Catalina Island, Seaport Village and San Diego Harbor Cruise, Santa Barbara, and seasonal attractions such as the Laguna Arts Festival, a circus or other event.
Daylong trips include admissions and sometimes lunch and, depending on distance, a coffee stop. Prices range from $14 to $40 per person.
Some outings include one or more overnight stays, mainly within the state of California but sometimes including Nevada and Arizona. These are usually via bus and frequently include scenic, meal or coffee stops.
Lake Tahoe is a three-night/four-day trip. Other three- and four-night sojourns are to San Francisco and a Sacramento River Delta cruise; Monterey and San Francisco; Sacramento and Lake Tahoe; Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park; Reno, including Virginia City and Carson City; Yosemite; Ensenada; Grand Canyon, Lake Powell and Las Vegas, and New Mexico including Albuquerque, Taos and Santa Fe.
Packages may vary each month but most combine visits to two and perhaps three cities, which include San Francisco, Sacramento, Monterey, Carmel, Lake Tahoe, Reno and nearby national parks and other attractions. They may include some meals, cocktails, gifts, admissions to attractions, shows and guided tours. Prices vary with distance, length of tour and what's included, but generally run from $125 to $185 per person double occupancy for the trip of several days.
In conjunction with established tour operators and travel agents, Golden Tours offers long-range trips, mostly by bus but also some including air transportation, and some cruises.
A 10-day Mt. Rushmore/Yellowstone package costs $599 per person; a one-week Colorado Rockies jaunt including a scenic train ride is $499 per person; New England trips for 24 days visiting 15 states plus Ontario, Canada, costs $1,695 per person; Washington, D.C., Gettysburg and Colonial Williamsburg for eight days costs $949 per person.
Other trips are to Kentucky and Tennessee, the Great Lakes, New York and Atlantic City, and Alaska.
Longer tours include Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, the Caribbean and other destinations.
Membership in Golden Tours is required for overnight or one-day trips, as well as "red-eye" gambling trips to Nevada for which no guest rooms are required. (These "turnaround" trips to Las Vegas and the booming new gaming city of Laughlin in Southern Nevada are the most popular, and an average of 10 trips per month are sold out well in advance.)
Travelers wishing to enjoy the day programs or the overnighters can park free at locations arranged by Golden Tours in Alhambra and Pasadena at the departure point of the motor coaches. Participation in any tour requires prepayment.
The current bulletin of Golden Tours trips is eight pages, printed both sides, with prices ranging from free (for a slide presentation and refreshments) to a two-week Orient cruise at just under $3,000 per person.
Travelers will find just about every travel experience they might want between those extremes and have an opportunity to meet new friends and experience some fun times along the way. Write for a free sample copy of the tour bulletin to: Golden Tours, Box 1070, Alhambra 91802, or phone (213) 289-6271.