No matter the destination or the specific sights or desires, no matter the price or budget requirements, there is bound to be some sort of domestic tour for every mature traveler this spring and summer.
My mind boggles and the eyes are weary after two weeks of studying the dozens of tour catalogues and stacks of brochures offering everything from overnighters in Laughlin, Nev., to monthlong motor-coach tours.
Hundreds of departures are available through Southern California tour and travel agencies that plan and operate excursions for the mature traveler (age 50 and over) and the senior traveler (60 and over). That's not counting the multitude of offerings from national tour operators such as the American Assn. of Retired Persons (AARP), Grand Circle, Saga, Collette, Insight and others.
Here's a brief rundown on some of the many tours planned for Southern California's mature travelers, leaving directly from this area. Note: Rates cited for all trips are per person, based on double occupancy. All include transportation from the Los Angeles area unless otherwise noted.
--Tour Masters, serving the mature market for more than two decades and a leader in the budget-price field, offers a 22-day coast-to-coast motor-coach tour for $1,199.
You'll see 20 states and the capital, all the way to New York City and Philadelphia and back, with sightseeing stops along the way, including the Great Smoky Mountains, Nashville, Memphis, the Rockies, Las Vegas and lots more. Departures July 1, Aug. 1 and Sept. 1.
Travel by Coach
There are also two 11-day Canadian Rockies all motor-coach tours for $659 in August and September, plus two 17-day trips in August and September to Nashville, Natchez, Miss., and New Orleans, and including stops in Memphis, Houston and San Antonio, among others. These are $899.
Tour Master's George Demas keeps his prices down with low overhead and by using his own motor coaches. He doesn't skimp on hotels or sightseeing, but holds down on included meals. It's hard to argue with success; he's taken 300,000 people on his tours over the years.
--Trieloff Tours offers something different for its Springtime Tulip Tour to Holland . . . not the one in Europe, but its charming namesake in Michigan. The 12-day tour includes round-trip air to Chicago; then a motor-coach tour through Michigan and Wisconsin that takes in Traverse City, Mackinac Island (staying at the venerable Grand Hotel), Green Bay and Circus World Museum. Priced at $1,599, it leaves May 11.
--Noble Destination Tours offers an eight-day air tour to Washington, D.C., with a weeklong stay at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. In addition to sightseeing in the capital, plus Arlington and Alexandria, Va., side tours are made to Mt. Vernon, the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Baltimore and Ft. McHenry, and the Civil War battlefields of Fredericksburg, Va., and Gettysburg, Pa.
Noble's tour is set for May 13 and costs $1,348.
--Calico Tours' Peggy Kronenberger has a nice balance of short trips within California and longer motor-coach tours. One of the latter is a 10-day tour to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons. There are also stops in Salt Lake City and at Robert Redford's Sundance Institute in Utah. The tour leaves June 27 and is priced at $759.
--California Discovery Tours in San Juan Capistrano has a five-day swing through the Gold Country, over to Sacramento for the Jazz Festival, then on Amtrak's fine Sierra run to Reno, with accommodations at the Bally Resort and sightseeing in Virginia City and Carson City. Priced at $375, the tour leaves May 27.
Visit the Distillery
--Great Western Travel of Pasadena, one of the leaders in Canadian Rockies and Canadian Maritimes trips, also has a 10-day air/motor-coach tour to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. Also included is the blue grass country around Lexington, Ky., the Great Smoky Mountains, Chattanooga and Lynchburg, Tenn., with a stop at the old Jack Daniel's distillery. It goes for $1,295, with departures set for May 29 and Sept. 18.
Even Giovanni Tours, which specializes in all-inclusive foreign tours for the carriage-trade mature traveler, has a pseudo-domestic tour this summer. An eight-day air and rail trip goes to Mexico's scenic Copper Canyon. All meals, plus pre- and post-departure parties, are included in the tour leaving Sept. 1. Price is $989.
Lee Klein, who runs The California Native and specializes in "soft" adventure tours, also has a series of Copper Canyon (Mexico) excursions. His weeklong trips cost $890. Klein has a sizable mature audience, though his trips span all age levels. He offers monthly departures in June, August, September and October.
Mature travelers in the San Diego area should be familiar with Smith Tours, which has a hefty catalogue of one- to 30-day escorted tours this season.