SENIORS TRAVEL THROUGH MONTANA



Seniors Enjoy Tiny Gardiner

welcome_to_gardiner_sign Senior travelers will find Gardiner in Park County, Montana with a population just under 1,000Gardiner was officially founded in 1880, but the area has served as a main entrance to Yellowstone National Park since its creation in 1872.

Parks’ Fly Shop, one of the oldest fly shops and guiding operations in the Yellowstone area, was started by Merton Parks in 1953.

Yellowstone National Park Heritage and Research Center, which opened May 18, 2005 is located in Gardiner and houses National Park Service archives, Yellowstone museum collections and reference libraries.

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The local Chamber of Commerce welcomes senior visitors from across the country to Gardiner.

They note that the entire area is home to the most diverse herds of large wildlife species in the lower 48 states including bison, bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, and deer.

Seniors See The Roosevelt Arch

Wondering where the town’s name originated? I always do. The name Gardiner derives from Johnson Gardner, a fur trapper who operated in the area in 1830-31. He named the lush headwaters valley of today’s Gardner River Gardner’s Hole. Originally, named Gardner’s Fork, the river took on Gardner’s name although prospectors and explorers who visited the area later in the century were unaware of the trapper Johnson Gardner.

400px-YellowstonenorthIn 1870, when the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition passed through the area they began calling the river Gardiner. On February 9, 1880, a territorial post office was established just outside the park boundary and the beginning of Gardiner, Montana took place.

Today, the Roosevelt Arch is the most famous structure in Gardiner. This Yellowstone Entrance, Gateway or Arch was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt on April 24, 1903. The impressive arch can be visited just two miles north of Gardiner on Highway 89.

Senior Anglers Flock To Yellowstone’s Rivers

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The North Entrance Road Historic District comprises Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance Road from Gardiner, Montana to the park headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, a distance of a little over five miles.

The North Entrance Road was the first major road in the park, necessary to join the U.S. Army station at Fort Yellowstone to the Northern Pacific Railroad at Gardiner.

Bring along your best fishing rod as angling in Yellowstone National Park is a major reason many senior visitors come to the park. In 2006, over 50,000 park fishing permits were issued to visitors. How about that?

The park contains hundreds of miles of accessible, high-quality trout rivers containing wild trout populations—over 200 creeks, streams and rivers are fishable.

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Get brave and take on a rafting expedition. Lots of fun and you are guaranteed to get wet.

Take in a quick view of the village and note the beautiful mountains in the background. Seniors, set your GPS for Gardiner and enjoy great clean mountain air and blue Montana skies. -jeb

SENIORS TRAVEL THROUGH OREGON



Seniors Head For Hillsboro

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Hillsboro, the seat of Washington County, is the fifth-largest city in the State of Oregon. Senior travelers will find Hillsboro in the Tualatin Valley on the west side of the Portland metropolitan area.

The city, population 92,000, hosts many high-technology companies, such as Intel, that comprise what has become known as the Silicon Forest. To the west, the Coast Range’s often snow-covered mountaintops are visible; to the east, Mt. Hood beckons.

Today’s Hillsboro is an easy blend of agriculture (ranches, nurseries, wineries), business and small-town neighborhoods. Downtown Hillsboro provides a healthy and vibrant core of the community. Senior visitors, ask about the Hillsboro Downtown Art Walk, a self guided tour of art galleries and local business that host artists and musicians.

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 Seniors Enjoy The Willamette Valley Wine Country

Thousands of years before the arrival of European-American settlers, the Atfalati tribe of the Kalapuya lived in the Tualatin Valley near the later site of Hillsboro.

The climate, moderated by the Pacific Ocean, helped make the region suitable for fishing, hunting, food gathering, and agriculture.

Settlers founded a community in 1842, later named after David Hill, an Oregon politician. Transportation by riverboat on the Tualatin River was part of Hillsboro’s settler economy.

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 TripAdvisor likes  Hillsboro and notes nearly 50 attractions that senior visitors may find of interest. They start off with A Nose For Wine that offers tours of the local Willamette Valley wine country.

Senior Oenophiles Stop At The Wineries

For oenophiles, there are several country wineries to visit in the Hillsboro area, including Oak Knoll Winery, Gypsy Dancer Estates Winery and Raptor Ridge.

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Latino Cultural Festival offers a chance for the community to welcome and embrace the traditions of the area’s largest minority. The historic Old Scotch Church, organized in 1873 by twelve Scottish settlers from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is one of the oldest continuously used churches in Oregon.

Hillsboro Oregon, located in the middle of the warm, temperate Tualatin Valley. Residents  have access to wind sailing in the Columbia River Gorge, year-round skiing on Mt. Hood, and the spectacular Oregon beaches, all only about an hour away. The city abounds in beauty of every nature.

Hillsboro is home to the Oregon Chorale, the Hillsboro Symphony Orchestra, the Hillsboro Actors Repertory Theatre, Washington County Museum and the Walters Cultural Arts Center. The free concert series known as “Showtime at Shute” occurs during the summer. The Oregon International Air Show is a remarkable and fun event.  Seniors, set your sites on Hillsboro and enjoy all that it offers. -jeb

SENIORS STOP IN HAMMOND, INDIANA



Seniors Enjoy Hammond

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Hammond is a city in Lake County, Indiana, and is part of the Chicago metropolitan area. Senior travelers will find Hammond 20 miles south of Chicago. The population runs just over 80,000 and replaces Gary as the most populous city in Lake County. The city sits within the boundaries of the former Lake Chicago.

The city was named for George Henry Hammond, a butcher, who founded the G. H. Hammond Packing and Slaughter House in 1869, which was the area’s first industrial business and one that helped provide well-paying jobs for workers in Hammond and other nearby suburbs. By 1875 sales were almost $2 million.

It’s bordered to the north by Lake Michigan and to the south by the Little Calumet River. The Chicago loop is approximately a half an hour away from Hammond.

 Seniors Stop At The Indiana Welcome Center

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Hammond boasts some terrific attractions and entertainment choices for senior visitors, including exhibits at the state of the art Indiana Welcome Center. A Christmas Story Comes Home is the annual holiday exhibit which brings scenes from the film to life, including Santa’s Mountain, where kids can slide down after getting some face time with ol’ St. Nick himself.

Let’s take a drive through downtown Hammond to get a feel for the city. Senior visitors can enjoy a planetarium and laser show at Challenger Learning Center, curated art shows at White Ripple Gallery and live performances at The Towle Community Theater. Educational exhibits, holiday fun, live performances, and casino gaming are only a few of the fun and entertaining things to do in Hammond, Indiana.

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The first permanent residents arrived around 1847 to settle on land between the Grand and Little Calumet rivers, on the south end of Lake Michigan. Those first residents were German farmers newly arrived from Europe looking for land and opportunity.

Seniors Enjoy Hammond’s Amenities

Before that time, the area was a crossroad for Indian tribes, explorers, stagecoach lines and supply lines to the West. Convenient location and abundant fresh water from Lake Michigan led to the beginning of Hammond’s industrialization in 1869 with the George H. Hammond Company meat-packing plant following merchants and farmers to the area.

"Aerial photo of Downtown Hammond, Indiana on Hohman Avenue"

The city hosts a five-day Summer Festival, the Hammond Marina provides opportunities for boating, swimming and fishing, and the Gibson Woods Nature Preserve features hiking trails in woodlands, sand dune areas and wetlands.

 The Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird Sanctuary offers senior visitors the opportunity to see a wide variety of birds during migration. Nearby Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore includes an extensive shoreline on Lake Michigan as well as marsh areas, prairies, forest areas and rivers. It features a vast number of bird species and a variety of wildlife. Enjoy the many amenities the city has to offer visitors. -jeb

SENIOR TRAVELERS DRIVE THROUGH OKLAHOMA



Seniors Enjoy Enid

EnidlogoEnid, the seat of Garfield County, with a population of 50,000, is the ninth largest city in Oklahoma. Senior travelers discover that the city was founded during the opening of the Cherokee Outlet in the Land Run of 1893, and is named after Enid, a character in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.

In 1991, the Oklahoma state legislature designated Enid the “Purple Martin Capital of Oklahoma.” Enid holds the nickname of “Queen Wheat City” and “Wheat Capital” of Oklahoma for its immense grain storage capacity, and has the third largest grain storage capacity in the world.

PioneerfamilystatueThe economy of Enid is diverse, but its foundation is the oil and gas industry and agriculture. The city is loaded with history. When Enid participated in the City Beautiful movement in the 1920s, Frank Iddings wrote the city song, “Enid, The City Beautiful”. “You’re right in the center where the best wheat grows and you’ve got your share of the oil that flows,” his lyrics read.

Seniors Learn Some Of The Local’s Secrets

Seniors, Enid is right where the paths of the Chisholm Trail and the Great Land Run cross. It is suggested that you stop at the Visit Enid where they can reveal some of the best kept secrets of the locals.

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And be sure to check out the traveling 80-percent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC that has been retired to a permanent home at the Woodring Regional Airport in Enid

The official tourism website for Enid,, notes a city with boundless opportunities, vibrant shopping, unique places to eat, a bustling music scene and original events and attractions.

Seniors Learn Enid’s Fascinating History

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 Senior visitors discover a city with a fascinating history. The town was a well-known watering hole and overnight stop along the Chisholm Trail and was opened for settlement as part of the Cherokee Strip land run. This heritage has left a lingering Old West flavor that mingles with modern amenities from Oklahoma culinary delights to cultural richness.

I’d want to visit the campus of Northern Oklahoma College with a student body of around 1,000, like my Alma Mater in Iowa (Cornell College).

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I can always count on TripAdvisor’s list of a dozen things you will not want to overlook, that includes Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse & Adventure Quest and the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma. They both sound interesting to me.

A calendar of events shows that there is something going on in Enid all year long. So seniors, set your GPS for Enid and plan to spend some quality time at this Oklahoma stop. -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB



Christmas Island Is Real For Seniors

53d9d1786dec627b149d7c3d_4-christmas-island Senor travelers, Christmas Island might sound like a made-up name, but it’s actually a far-away island northwest of Australia that is famed for an incredible annual red crab migration.

Named in 1643 for the day of its discovery, Christmas Island was annexed and settlement was begun by the UK in 1888 followed by phosphate mining that began in the 1890s. The UK transferred sovereignty to Australia in 1958. Pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee and let’s head off for Christmas Island.

Almost two-thirds of the island has been declared a national park and it’s full of natural attractions. The Island is located about 1,600 miles north of Perth, Australia and 300 miles south of Java, Indonesia.5902980-3x2-940x627

Seniors Fall In Love With This Jewel

Christmas Island is called a Natural Wonder and is known as a “Jewel in the Indian Ocean.”  Senior tourists enjoy watching the annual parade of millions of the brightest red critters on earth as they swarm the beaches to mate and spawn.

The crabs  seem to be everywhere. The migration usually occurs at the beginning of the wet season, in November, December, depending on the whims of nature. It is estimated that 40 – 50 million of these bright red land crabs live in their preferred shady sites all over the island. Crabs aside, there is a plethora of things to see and do on the island.

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Seniors, if you made a list of exotic islands that you wanted to visit, Christmas Island would probably be near the bottom of your list. That is if you’d even heard of it to put it on your list in the first place.

Christmas Island? It sounds made up—like the kind of magical land dreamed into existence just to host a Disney park. But that’s far from the truth. In fact, Christmas Island is real and 63 percent of the Island is a national park which makes for great for hiking.

Seniors Find Beautiful Coral and Abundant Marine Life

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Senior visitors enjoy snorkeling or diving in the Christmas Island Marine Park, which boasts unspoiled coral and abundant marine wildlife.

Phosphate mining was the the reason for the first settlement in the 19th century and remains a major contributor to the local economy. Scenery abounds in all directions of Christmas Island and it is a haven for a relaxing get-away for folks of all ages.

Me, I’d want to tour the island on a rental scooter, said to be the best and most cost efficient way to get around the island. The Christmas Island Tourist Association provides information for senior visitors looking for restaurants and attractions. The Visitor Information Centre features a video viewing room where you can enjoy watching some of the many fascinating documentaries produced about Christmas Island.

So visit with your travel agent and make plans for an adventure to an Awesome Island that will leave you with many pleasant memories. -jeb

SENIORS ENCHANTED WITH NEBRASKA



Seniors Find The Charm In Nebraska

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Nebraska is the midwestern state encompassing the prairies of the Great Plains, the towering dunes of the Sandhills and the panhandle’s dramatic rock formations. Senior travelers find the state is loaded with beautiful scenery and are interested in spending some quality time discovering Nebraska.

Lincoln, the capital and a vibrant university town, is distinguished by its soaring state capitolThe city of Omaha is home to the Durham Museum, which honors the state’s pioneering past in a converted railroad depot. There are many beautiful places to visit in Nebraska and some favorite “Best Cities”, as well.

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Perhaps Nebraska is better known for its wide open spaces, iconic windmills, and its expansive grasslands and prairies.

On the other hand, Nebraska is also home to a host of charming communities. From Scottsbluff in the west to Red Cloud, the town that inspired many a novel, senior travelers will discover one town after the other where you will enjoy a visit with locals and some fine dining.

Seniors Enjoy Small-Town America In Nebraska

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When people think of small-town America, for many, Nebraska immediately springs to mind. The state is full of picturesque little towns where the people are friendly and the main streets are still the center of activity.

Of course every town has its own particular charm and just driving through the state senior travelers will find plenty of small town flavor in most every bend in the road.

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Lincoln, the state capitol, and Omaha are the two main population centers. Each of these are worth a visit, with old historic areas to wander through and vibrant cultural scenes to enjoy.

The Nebraska landscape also holds some fascinating attractions for those who take the time to explore it, from Chimney Rock to the beautiful scenery of the Sandhills. TripAdvisor is a useful link for planning an itinerary with their list of 87 things to do throughout the state.

Seniors Discover An Old West Town

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Ogallala, a small town of less than 5,000 people has some big history, starting with the Pony Express and transcontinental railroad. The town’s Old West heritage is preserved in the fantastic historic Front Street, and the town is conveniently close to Nebraska favorite Lake McConaughy.

Around Christmas time, I’d want to head off to Minden, known as “Nebraska’s Christmas City”, thanks to its dazzling display of more than 12,000 lights in the courtyard square during the holiday season. The town is also home to the delightful Harold Warp Pioneer Village.

Nebraska City is another town that is full of natural beauty, fun activities and historic attractions. One of the highlights is the annual AppleJack Festival which attracts from 60,000 to 80,000 visitors each year and features a wide variety of apple-related foods.

Seniors, set your GPS for Nebraska and enjoy the plethora of amenities in every town you roll into. -jeb

SENIORS LIKE PENNSYLVANIA



Seniors Explore Historic Lewisburg

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This senior enjoys collecting the names of neat cities almost daily from a wide selection of resources. While when it comes time to write a blog on a particular city, I may not remember why it is on my travel bucket list, but I can usually surmise why as soon as I start to explore the city, just as it was for Lewisburg.

Lewisburg is a borough in Union County, Pennsylvania, 60 miles north of Harrisburg on the beautiful Susquehanna River. Historically it was the commercial center for a fertile grain and general farming region.

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Today it  is home to Bucknell University and is near the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. Its 19th-century downtown was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Borough of Lewisburg is what some historians have classified as a “Pennsylvania Town”, a distinct town layout developed in Colonial Pennsylvania.

Seniors Stroll The Downtown Historical District

Senior visitors, plan to stroll around the downtown historical district where you will find specialty shops, bistros, pubs, and restaurants to suit all palates. The historic district has numerous buildings and homes with a Victorian architectural style from times gone by.

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Lewisburg’s Historic District was created in 1985. The district encompasses most of the Borough and a large portion of the Bucknell University campus. The District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, consists of 871 contributing historic buildings, structures and sites.

Downtown Lewisburg features six blocks of beautiful, historic, commercial and residential architecture. The Campus Theatre and the Lewisburg Hotel are two stand-out examples. The Theater, located in the heart of downtown Lewisburg, is one of the few remaining single screen Art Deco movie palaces in the country.

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Seniors Enjoy Strolling Through The Community

My wife would want to visit the three historic museums: Packwood House, Silfer House and the Engle House. Each is stuffed with history and authenticity. Then she and I would take a stroll through the attractive campus of Bucknell University that is a huge part of the community.

Founded in 1784 by Ludwig Derr, the area was then called Derrstown. Much has been considered regarding ‘how’ the name changed from Derrstown to Lewisburg. The most likely is that Derr’s first name “Ludwig” translated into English as “Louis” but, being of German descent, it was spelled “Lewis”.

Later, after Derr’s death, the traditional germanic “burg” was appended to his first name to create Lewisburg.  I have one video to share with you on Lewisburg. I turned down the sound and enlarged by screen and enjoyed the many views of a fascinating town bursting with old-time charm. I hope that you enjoy the scenes of the borough as well. -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States

SENIORS SURPRISED BY BUFFALO, NEW YORK



Seniors Visit America’s Best Designed City

fe3494510f73985ac8e726cd51fc1f4eThis senior has been to Buffalo… with my family years back.  Of course the main reason was to show our children Niagara Falls. We went in the summer as the winter Buffalo is nationally famous for heavy snowfalls.

With a population of 259,000, the folks love their city, snow and all. Buffalo, America’s Best Designed City, received its name from  a nearby creek called Buffalo Creek.

1024px-Buffalo_down_mainWhile that makes perfectly good sense, I learned there are several theories regarding how Buffalo Creek got its name. While it is possible that the name originated from French fur traders calling the creek Beau Fleuve (French for “Beautiful River”), it is also quite possible that Creek was named for the American bison, whose historical range may have extended into Western New York. I liked the French version…but I’m a bit biased, as I taught  French for over 30 years.

Greater Buffalo, which encompasses the City of Buffalo and all of Erie County, NY (population 954,000) was first selected as an All America City and Community in 1996. The Buffalo and Niagara Region (Erie and Niagara counties) was honored again in 2002. Senior visitors will see that there is a lot going on in Buffalo today. 

Seniors Visit Buffalo’s Landmarks

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Buffalo is on the shores of Lake Erie in upstate New York. Its fine collection of neoclassical, beaux arts and art deco architecture speak to its history as an industrial capital in the early 20th century.

Its landmarks include the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed open-plan Darwin D. Martin House and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, a Greek Revival museum with works by Picasso and Warhol.

This senior is a guide at the Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin West. I know a little about FLW, but I was unaware that there were seven of his structures in Buffalo. I must plan a visit to check them all out. Niagara Falls Tourism has more fun things to do in the area and by the way, don’t hesitate to cross over to the Canadian side where there is more beauty and action.

 Seniors Find The New Buffalo

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I found it quite fascinating that in writing this blog and doing research on Buffalo, not much was mentioned about Niagara Falls. I always figured that the Falls was Buffalo…along with the Buffalo Bills, the Sabres and Bisons teams.

There’s a reason to celebrate all year long: from National Buffalo Wing Festival to the Winterfest in February, the locals know how to party. I found City Hall to be very impressive along with the Zoo and Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Do a little research yourself and note all the major attractions in Buffalo. Seniors, if you happen to be a first-time visitor, you are going to experience what is known today as The New Buffalo. -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States

SENIORS VISIT TEXAS HILL COUNTRY



Seniors Search Out Blanco

flagBlanco (pop. 2,200+) is located in the Texas Hill Country on the Blanco River and is famed as the Lavender Capital of Texas. Senior travelers will find Blanco 50 miles (80 km) north of downtown San Antonio and about the same distance west of Austin. The Jewel of the city is the gorgeous Blanco River with its blue-green water.

On the historic Blanco Town Square seniors will enjoy shopping the antique and gift stores and touring the 1885 Historic County CourthouseLovingly restored by the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society, the building now operates as a visitor center, gift shop and community center. The town square is joined to the state park by a two-block City Park, with a nature trail and Xeriscape garden.

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Senior Enjoy The Vineyards And The Lavender Fields

I would want to check out the Texas Hills Vineyard located in the gentle hills of the picturesque Pedernales River Valley in the Texas Hill Country near Johnson City. They are the producer of the only Pinot Grigio in Texas, and for you oenophiles, there is a tasting room on site.

TripAdvisor discovered that the Real Ale Brewing Company is a fun place for a visit as is the Buggy Barn Museum Complex. Senior golfers, toss your clubs in the trunk and play a round or two at the Vaaler Creek Golf Club and bring along your favorite fishing rod, as Blanco’s Trout season is extremely popular.

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Hill Country Lavender Farm,  Texas’ first lavender farm is truly a treat for the senses with panoramic views, live oak trees, and more than 2500 lavender plants. Oh, that aroma, I can smell it already.

Lavender thrives in Texas Hill Country with over twenty lavender farms in Blanco County. The countryside will be bathed in lavender during the Lavender Festival with the whole county participating in the celebration.

Merchants will offer lavender merchandise and restaurants will serve lavender-flavored dishes and selected vendors and artists from across the Hill Country will offer lavender-related pleasures and treasures from the finest craftsmen.

Seniors Enjoy Texas Hill Country

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Blanco was settled 1853 by pioneer stockmen who had to fortify homes against hostile Indians. It was named Blanco (Spanish word meaning white) for the Blanco River.

The town was the Blanco County seat from 1858 to 1891, when the county seat was moved to centrally located Johnson City, Texas. Blanco is now a popular tourist and resort area in the Hill Country.

With our last name being Becker, we just had to include the Becker Vineyards in Hill Country.  We have been there and enjoyed every moment.

Antique stores, art galleries, flea markets, restaurants, and artisans occupy the historic buildings around the old Blanco, Texas courthouse. And get this…the courthouse and 37 other Blanco buildings on or near the square are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  -jeb

SENIORS ENJOY TEXAS



Seniors Feel Welcomed In McAllen

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McAllen, known at the City of Palms, is located at the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. On the Rio Grande River, across from the Mexican city of Reynosa, senior visitors will find McAllen west of South Padre Island and the Gulf of Mexico. McAllen was named one of the top ten safest cities in the country, and that is quite impressive.

En la frontera entre EE.UU. y México florece una cultura única —ni puramente mexicana ni estadounidense, con lo mejor de las dos. Exploremos esta mezcla cultural en la “nación en la frontera”. Just thought that I’d toss that in. How did you do?

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The McAllen Metro Area is the main retail center in the Rio Grande Valley, drawing from a consumer base of over 10 million people within a 200-mile radius, mostly from the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon and northern-central Tamaulipas. McAllen is represented by 40 of America’s top 100 retailers.

 Seniors Enjoy Nature Tourism

The local Chamber of Commerce notes that whether you’re into birding or nature tourism, shopping or great dining, you’ll find it all in McAllen. The arts are alive and thriving and athletes can watch or participate in a wide variety of sports. For a taste of Mexico, you’re just across the border from a terrific day of bargain hunting, sightseeing and zesty dining.

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Texas A&M has a University Campus in town and Kaplan College is in McAllen. A major attraction for senior visitors is the McAllen Nature Center that is offers weekly programs from September 1st through the end of the year.

‘Livability’ finds that McAllen is known for its flourishing arts culture, including its Creative Arts Incubator, which supports aspiring artists in the Rio Grande Valley.

The incubator also houses Techspace, created to provide low-cost space for startups as well as co-working opportunities – and one of several initiatives in place that foster entrepreneurship.

McAllen: A Best City For Jobs

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Named on Forbes magazine’s list of Best Cities for Jobs, the business climate continues to grow, with retail consistently leading the way. Senior visitors will find a downtown entertainment district filled with galleries, restaurants, nightclubs and more.

Senior nature lovers flock to Quinta Mazatlan for butterfly and bird watching. I know my wife would like that.

So set your GPS for McAllen. Neat city. Enjoy your visit.  -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States

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