Wonder Valley, a 55-acre resort near Fresno and a member of the Senior Travel and Recreation Council (STRAC), offers all-inclusive holiday packages for senior groups during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.
Normally, the resort is not open for casual one- or two-night stops by individual mature travelers, but there are numerous tour groups leaving from Southern California throughout the year, not just during the holidays.
Trips include accommodations and a pleasant spectrum of entertainment such as bingo, lawn games, craft classes, a casino night, nature hikes, evening dances, hayrides, tennis, fishing, boating and relaxing in the pool or spa.
All meals, including holiday feasts, are served in the Wonder Valley Country Inn and feature farm-fresh produce and meats, home-made breads and pastries.
Optional side visits to Sequoia National Park, the Kings River or other scenic areas can be arranged. Tour groups taking a package tour can choose from a dozen different off-site attractions as part of the package trip.
Senior groups should contact: Wonder Valley, Box 71 Star Route, Sanger, Calif. 93657, (800) 821-2801.
For those individual mature travelers who do not belong to a senior group, Great Western Travel, also a STRAC member, has a Thanksgiving Tour by coach to Wonder Valley, Nov. 21-25. The tour includes transportation, accommodations, all meals, entertainment and attractions for $285 per person, double occupancy. For more information, call (800) 344-7090.
Other STRAC tour operators who frequently offer senior tours to Wonder Valley include Calico Tours, (213) 478-5865; Friendly Excursions, (818) 289-3640; Gadabout Tours, (800) 521-7309; Main Street Tours, (800) 231-7412; Smith Tours, (619) 292-5522, and TourMasters Inc., (800) 992-8877.
Mature travelers looking further afield for Thanksgiving Tours might want to check with Trieloff Tours, also a long-time senior tour operator with STRAC.
Trieloff will serve its senior Thanksgiving meals in Hawaii, Key West, Mexico and Australia. The meals will be served during a 10-day tour to Hawaii, a 13-day Florida tour, a weeklong Mexico cruise and a 22-day tour of the South Pacific. For more details or brochures, call Trieloff at (800) 432-7125.
What's On in Las Vegas is a handy biweekly magazine that lists not only the entertainment and current attractions around town, but much helpful general information, too.
In its regular feature, "What's On For The Young At Heart," it notes that seniors get 25% off regular rates at the St. Tropez Hotel, an all-suite, non-gaming hotel on Harmon Avenue off The Strip. The offer is subject to room availability, so reservations are suggested.
The Palace Station, also off The Strip on Sahara Avenue near Interstate 15, offers seniors a $30 rate Sunday through Thursday. And the Four Queens in downtown Las Vegas has a $35 rate during the same time period.
For low-cost senior dining, the magazine suggests, among others, the downtown Gold Strike Inn, which has a $1.99 senior dinner buffet from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
And for ladies, the magazine tells about the Southern Nevada University of Cosmetology, which gives a 20% discount on all services Thursday and Friday to those age 60 and above. The Academy of Hair Design offers a similar discount on Tuesday and Wednesday, but sets the age at 62 and older.
The column also makes note of the Las Vegas Transit System's sizable senior offer, cited in this column before but worth repeating. All seniors need is a Medicare card to get a 10-ride pass for $4.20. A regular Las Vegas bus ride is $1.10.
If you don't care to ride the bus, the magazine tells of discounts on rental cars, motor scooters, even wheelchairs for $5 a day. Other senior deals are offered on bowling, shopping and various attractions. Pick up a copy at any hotel in Las Vegas or send $2.50 to What's On in Las Vegas Magazine, 610 S. Third St., Las Vegas, Nev. 89101.
Also from Las Vegas is a $2 reference guide published by the Las Vegas Advisor. It's not specifically for mature travelers, but has good tips for those looking for the best deals in meals and entertainment.
The small-but-handy single-sheet guide includes other senior-oriented data, such as the five casinos in town with penny slots. Other features are the costs of all Las Vegas production shows, a map, plus toll-free numbers for all the casinos and other travel services. Send $2 to Huntington Press, P.O. Box 28042, Las Vegas, Nev. 89126
It's only on a trial basis for September, but Alamo Rent A Car is offering mature travelers age 62 and older rates as low as $10 a day for an economy car or $12 for a compact car.
To get the rate, however, rentals must be booked through a travel agent.
Mature travelers who are also American Express cardholders can rent a mid-size car for $12 a day using the charge card. Non-cardholders get 10% off Alamo's regular rate for larger cars.
Alamo's economy car is often a Geo Metro, while the compact car is usually a Geo Prizm. For more information, call Alamo at (800) 327-9633. But remember, reservations must be made through travel agents to get the mature discount.