Search Results for Category: Wine Trips


Seniors Head For “The Happiest CIty In California”

SCruzFlagcolorSanta Cruz is said to be the third happiest city in the nation. Well seniors, let’s head west and check out happy Santa Cruz. Hosting one of the last remaining seaside amusement parks on the West Coast or hiking seven miles inland to admire the redwood forest along with a top-notch farm-to-table cuisine, Santa Cruzans love their life and senior visitors do as well.

 Situated on the northern part of Monterey Bay, the California city of Santa Cruz lies about 30 miles southwest of San Jose and 74 miles south of San Francisco.

Incorporated in 1866, the city is the seat for the County of Santa Cruz. The principal industries of Santa Cruz are tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and education. The University of California at Santa Cruz is located in this city.


 Seniors Are You Into Paddle Boarding

Santa Cruz was founded in 1769 by Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola, who named the area after the Spanish name for “Holy Cross.” In the late 1800s, agriculture, logging, lime processing and commercial fishing were the thriving industries.

Local lore has it that Santa Cruz is the birthplace of mainland surfing. There is a plethora of other things to see and do without getting on a surfboard, for instance a paddle-board.  Have you ever done that?

Kayak Connection offers tours and hourly rentals. I saw photos of people paddling around with a dog riding on the board. In Santa Cruz, they say that  early morning solo paddle is surprisingly serene. On some days you might even see whales floating by.


Santa Cruz is famous for its beaches and for the sport of surfing. The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, housed in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, traces more than a century’s worth of surfing history associated with Santa Cruz. Museum visitors enjoy a spectacular view of the city and the Monterey Bay while overlooking the famed surfing site known as Steamer Lane.

 Seniors Go From Beaches To Mountains

Santa Cruz seniors go from beach life to mountain life in only 20 minutes time. Roaring Camp Railroads is a narrow-gauge steam engine that invites tourists to chug through huge redwood trees that have been in place for hundreds of  years.


The Farmer’s Market has been in place for 27 years and is loaded with certified-organic growers. My wife and daughter would be drawn here with all the organic products. TripAdvisor  suggests that senior visitors not miss the West Cliff Drive and then the Natural Bridges State Beach.

And for those with a demanding palate, we start off with SOIF…which means thirst in French. Chef Patrice Boyle is the former owner of a winery in California. This is a wine bar and restaurant with a shop that features fine wines from around the world.


How about some scratch-made organic ice cream from Penny Ice Creamery? Gayle Ortiz invites visitors to taste her gluten-free chocolate cookies. It is a great stop for the makings of a great picnic. I was impressed with her offering of silly-good deviled eggs.

I just might run into you in Santa Cruz, a great place for fun, food and taking in the crisp air along the Pacific Ocean. -jeb


Seniors Enjoy The Sonoma Valley

img_2651bThis senior was watching a race on TV and noted that it was taking place in Sonoma, California on Sonoma Raceway.

This 2.52-mile (4.06 km) road course and drag strip is located on the landform known as Sears Point in the southern Sonoma Mountains in Sonoma.

Sonoma is a historic city in northern California in the heart of the renowned Sonoma Valley winemaking region. It’s known for its many art galleries and the colonial-era Sonoma Plaza.

oSurrounding this plaza are significant 19th-century adobe buildings including Mission San Francisco Solano and the Sonoma Barracks, once used by the Mexican military. Seasonally, the square hosts a popular weekly farmer’s market.

Seniors Love “The Valley of the Moon”

According to Jack London, who had a ranch there, the Native American word Sonoma means “valley of the moon.” He used it for his book of the same name (1913). The Valley of the Moon remains the mythic and romantic name for the wine-growing Sonoma Valley of California.


Count Agoston Haraszthy, the father of California viticulture, created the first winery west of the Mississippi. He tried many locations but settled in Sonoma with General Vallejo’s assistance. His first winery, Buena Vista, still exists today.

There are more than 300 Sonoma wineries in Sonoma County that are regularly open to the public, just 30 miles from San Francisco. Many of TripAdvisor’s suggestions for senior visitors deal with vineyards, however a hot air balloon ride might better suit your interests or a food tour or a bike tour.

Seniors Stop At The Blue Wing Inn

I’d want to put the Sonoma Barracks, El Cuartel de Sonoma -1836, high on my “must see list.” This two-story, wide-balconied, adobe building faces the central plaza of Sonoma.


The Sonoma Barracks are directly across the street from the Mission that is in the Sonoma State Historical Park.  In 1824, Sonoma became home to the last–and most northerly–link in a chain of 21 Spanish missions built in California by Franciscan padres.

Senior visitors, don’t miss The Blue Wing Inn, one of the first hotels built in the state, north of San Francisco.

What began as a simple adobe residence, transformed with time and the addition of more rooms into a storied landmark. During the California Gold Rush it was used by miners going to and from the gold fields and by the U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Sonoma.


 Senior oenophiles, wine country doesn’t get more real than Sonoma Valley, whose rich soils mark the birthplace of California’s wine industry.

Cradled between the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountain ranges, Sonoma Valley encompasses a rolling patchwork of vineyards, quaint farms and 13,000 acres of scenic parkland just waiting for your visit.  -jeb

Filed under : United States, Wine Trips


Seniors Discover Great Wine


Columbia Valley is the largest of Washington State’s valleys, with almost 11 million acres. It also encompasses smaller valleys, like Walla Walla and Yakima. The Valley is home to Cabernet Sauvignon that this senior enjoys. Grapes have been grown in the Columbia Valley since the 1860s.

Columbia Valley is on the label of one of my favorite red wines. They say that the bold style Cabernet Sauvignon displays great complexity and structure with aromas of dark berry fruits and plum on the nose with chocolate and vanilla on the palate. Wow. Sounds good to me, I like the “dark berry fruits”, my wife likes the “chocolate and vanilla”.


 So senior oenophiles, buckle up as we go to Columbia Valley in Washington state to check out the territory and some fine wines. Columbia Valley is huge, roughly one-third of the state’s entire landmass. Nearly 99 percent of the grapes grown in Washington come from Columbia Valley.

 Seniors Enjoy Beautiful Vineyards

The Columbia Valley, referred to locally as the Columbia Basin, is an American Viticultural Area which lies in the Columbia River Plateau, through much of central and southern Washington State, with a small section crossing into the neighboring state of Oregon.


As Columbia Valley is a dry region, irrigation is often required and this restricts the location of its vineyards. The development of intricate irrigation systems has allowed this Valley to become a premium grape growing region.

Vineyards are planted on predominately south-facing slopes, increasing solar radiation in summer and promoting air drainage in winter. Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most widely planted varietals with a growing season of 180-200 days. has a listing of the major tasting opportunities senior visitors will have in the area. 

 The Valley and valleys, River and rivers

1024px-columbiavalley_lakeThe Cascade Range forms the western boundary of the Valley with the Palouse regions bordering the area to the east. To the north, the Okanogan National Forest forms a border with Canada. The valleys within the Valley are formed by the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Walla Walla River, the Snake River, and the Yakima River.

Wikipedia notes that…the whole region shares the common climate traits of cold winters and long dry growing seasons with low humidity. The warm days and cool nights of the area help retain the balance of acid and sugar levels in the grape which give Washington wines their characteristic balance in flavors.

 Seniors, don’t miss scenic Columbia Valley.  It will be a memorable trip, a scenic trip and a highly tasty trip! -jeb


Seniors Spend Quality Time In Santa Ynez Valley

atmiddleSeniors will find The Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, California, between the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south and the San Rafael Mountains to the north. The Santa Ynez River flows through the valley.

“The picturesque Santa Ynez Valley encompasses six communities clustered closely together like wine grapes. From the charming, tiny gem of rural Ballard, the bustling gateway city of Buellton, the vintage western town of Los Alamos, the arts-influenced wine-infused town of Los Olivos and the turn-of-the-20th-century township of Santa Ynez, to the northern European atmosphere of the city of Solvang founded by Danish-Americans in 1911, it’s relaxing and refreshing to meander and experience each village. Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley was once home to the famed singer.”


Seniors Enjoy Wine, Apples And Beer

Santa Ynez Valley lies two hours up the coast from Los Angeles. Wine tours and tastings are popular and senior oenophiles will do well to spend time sampling in the Valley. The wine industry is a major part of the Santa Ynez Valley’s economy, with over 70 wineries and tasting rooms.

Besides grapes, the valley also has numerous apple farms, many of them with roadside apple stands or “pick your own” programs. And lets do some sampling of craft beer in the Valley.


The Old Mission Santa Ines is loaded with history and scenery. Santa Ynez Valley is driven by agriculture, particularly viticulture, the equine industry, and tourism. For you equestrian folks, you will find a variety of horse stable tours in the Valley.

Seniors Enjoy The Beauty Of The Valley

Color and scenery abound around each corner in the Valley that sprawls over 300,000 acres,  featuring both large estate vineyards and small boutique wineries.


Reminds me of years back when I was a Tour Group Leader for Elderhostel. We would spend two weeks at time on a program called Food and Wine of France. Tough job that somebody had to do and I enjoyed it a dozen times.

I always thought that I did not care much for champagne. I changed my mind after spending two weeks in Alsace-Lorraine sampling champagne every day. The distinct flavor and all those bubbles kinda grows on a person, as do the wines of Santa Ynez Valley where senior visitors learn first hand about about the Stem, Lip, Bowl and Foot.

The various villages in the area celebrate festivals and special events. Seniors, plan some time for the Santa Ynez Valley and enjoy all the activities and scenery this  great valley has to offer you. -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, Wine Trips


Seniors Enjoy Time In Farmville


You may recall that the Vice-Presidential Debates took place in Farmville. Well, I looked up the community and discovered that there were just over 8,000 folks who call it home. Seniors can find Farmville in Prince Edward and Cumberland counties  where the Appomattox River traverses Farmville.

Senior hikers can hike the High Bridge Trail State Park, a more than 30-mile-long (48 km) multi-use trail ideally suited for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Its centerpiece is the majestic High Bridge, (site of one of the last battles of the American Civil War), which is more than 2,400 feet long and 160 feet above the Appomattox River.


Farmville (The Heart of Virginia) was formed in 1798 and incorporated in 1912 and today is the largest municipality between Richmond and Lynchburg. Hampden-Sydney College, a selective private four-year college, was founded in 1776 and Longwood University, chartered in 1839 as Farmville Female Seminary, was the first state teacher training college in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

 Seniors Explore “Heart of Virginia”

The Heart of Virginia Festival on the first Saturday of May has grown every year since it was established in 1978.

debate-opt-v2The festival includes all the traditional fare and concludes with a fireworks show at the Farmville airport. Lots of fun times in Farmville, that’s for sure. “Heart of Virginia” refers to Farmville’s location in the central part of the state.

Facebook helps senior visitors find attractions and things to see and do in Farmville. Me, I’d have to search out The Fishin’ Pig Restaurant just to find out why it is called this name. I understand that Grady’s BBQ is well appreciated by the locals.


I like museums and would explore both the High Bridge Battlefield and Robert Russa Morton Museum, the national center for the study of civil rights in education. It was the site of the first non-violent student demonstration in 1951, leading to the famous Brown vs. Board of Education case.

 For Seniors Who Like Bird Dog Field Trials

Toss in the clubs and play a round or two at the The Manor Golf Club that features an 18 hole championship golf course. For senior dog lovers, the Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area is nationally known for hosting bird dog field trials on its 1,400 acres of diverse wildlife.


One of Virginia’s oldest and largest canoe and kayak specialty stores, Appomattox River Company, is located in Farmville. And then there is Amish Originals, where you can find fine handcrafted solid oak and cherry Amish furniture, and Mainly Clay, a gift and pottery shop.

Welcome to Farmville, senior oenophiles, and all their vineyards. Looks like there is something for everybody. Set your GPS for Farmville Prince Edward County and enjoy all the amenities this small community has to offer.  -jeb









Seniors Check Out Historic Abingdon, Virginia


Abingdon, with its brick sidewalks is a designated Virginia Historic Landmark. Senior travelers will find this historic town of around 9,000, 133 miles southwest of Roanoke.

Senior visitors can enjoy Abingdon’s festivals, concerts and special events. One of the best known is the Virginia Highlands Festival, which takes place each summer. The Abingdon Music Experience hosts performances and jams throughout the year.

In addition, The historic Barter Theatre is just one of the many reasons why Garden and Gun Magazine named Abingdon a Best Performing Arts Town. Barter Theatre alumni include Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine and Patricia Neal.


 Seniors Hike The Virginia Creeper Trail

Also in downtown Abingdon is the luxurious four-star Martha Washington Inn & Spa with 63 rooms and suites each of which feature their own unique character and personality.

 The Virginia Creeper Trail begins in Abingdon, offering seniors outstanding biking, hiking and horseback riding. The Virginia Creeper Trail was just inducted into the Rail-to-Trail Hall of Fame. This former railroad bed begins in Abingdon, and winds its way over 34 miles.

Located at the Virginia Creeper Trailhead on Green Springs Road, Abingdon’s Old Mollie Steam Engine is the same type of engine that pulled the Virginia Creeper Railroad for many years.


Historically, the settlement was known as Black’s Fort and in 1776 (remember that year?) the community of Black’s Fort was made the county seat of the newly formed Washington county. And two years later was incorporated as Abingdon.

Seniors Enjoy Historic Abingdon

The town is quite historic with the Abingdon Historic District and a number of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When you stroll down Main Street Abingdon, you think about the Civil War soldiers involved in nearby battles who were treated by nurses on the grounds of what is now the elegant Martha Washington Hotel.


Abingdon, Virginia is a unique town lying in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia — rich in history, culture, outdoor recreation and old-fashioned hospitality.

The William King Museum of Art (WKMA) is the region’s premier visual arts facility. Visit the Abingdon Muster Grounds and you’ll be able to imagine citizen militia gathering to fight the British for American independence. At Fairview, a living history museum,  seniors can experience the story of the Hagy family, from their migration to America and Washington County, Virginia. In addition, there is the Abingdon Vineyard and Winery.


The Tavern Restaurant is in Abingdon’s oldest building from 1779. If that does not do it, grab a locally made craft beer and see more art plus live music at Wolf Hills Brewing Co. located in Abingdon’s Old Ice House.

I’d want my dinner at Bonefire Smokehouse, located inside the historic 1914 Withers Hardware building that includes a choice of barbecue smoked on-site and a choice of southern side-dishes.

So there it is…enjoy historic Abingdon  -jeb


Seniors Check Out Battle Ground

battle_ground_clark_county_mapBattle Ground, senior travelers learn, is a city in Clark County, Washington with a population of just over 10,000, and growing rapidly. Actually the city was named for the Absence of a Battle.

Sheltered by the Cascades to the East and the Pacific Coast to the west, Battle Ground has rather pleasant weather all year long. Head out on the river for a boating trip, go skiing or fishing or perhaps take off for a visit to Mt. Hood and senior visitors will enjoy some awesome views and adventures. 

A rare tornado swept through Battle Ground on December 10, 2015 and ripped up the city, badly. 36 homes were damaged but luckily, no one in town was injured.

Battle Ground, Washington lies near the geographical center of Clark County, 16 miles northeast of Vancouver. The Cascade Mountains are off to the east and the Coast Range to the west resulting in a climate that is generally mild.


Seniors Learn Of The Battle That Didn’t Happen

At the time of first contact by Euro-Americans the area was occupied mainly by Chinook and Western Klickitat Indians. The name Battle Ground, which commemorates an 1855 “battle” that never actually happened, originally referred to a site northeast of the current city, near what is today called Battle Ground Lake.

Senior oenophiles, Battle Ground is at the epicenter of the growing Clark County wine industry with three wineries and one tasting room. Always worth a visit for some great Washington State Wine Tasting.


Of the eight attractions that TripAdvisor wants visitors to be aware of, half of them deal with wine and vineyards. Both Lewisville Park and Battle Ground Lake State Park are popular spots for unwinding and perhaps a picnic.

Seniors Enjoy Battle Ground Lake

Battle Ground Lake (often erroneously seen spelled “Battleground Lake”) is a small maar volcano of the Boring Lava Field and worth your visit. A maar volcano is the result of hot lava or magma pushing up near the surface of the earth and then coming into contact with underground water. This results in a large steam explosion, leaving a crater that later forms a lake.

battle-ground-lake-state The 280-acre Battle Ground Lake State Park is located 21 miles northeast of Vancouver, Washington. The park offers five miles of horse trails and a primitive equestrian camping area. The spring-fed lake is stocked with trout and is a favorite of anglers, so bring your pole along and give it a try.

Then there is Lucia Falls, another favorite site. It has been said that area offers one of the most idyllic living experiences in America. Seniors, perhaps you will see why when you visit. -jeb


Seniors Check Out Henrico County


Henrico County, officially the County of Henrico, is in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a population of around 307,000. If you, like me, are a senior who loves history, then Henrico County is the place for you to visit.

Henrico County, like all of Virginia, is rich in history. Henrico residents and events have shaped America’s story and its heritage. In 1611, Henrico became one of the eight original shires of Virginia and in 2011, thousands of visitors helped celebrate the 400th anniversary.

Present-day Henrico County curves around the City of Richmond, surrounding it to the west, the north, and the east. The county is bounded by the Chickahominy River to the north and the James River and Richmond to the south.


 Seniors Immersed In History

In Henrico County senior visitors can discover what it was like to work a 19th-century farm or walk the same battlefields as General Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant. Visit the Virginia Randolph Museum, a National and State Historic Landmark that pays tribute to one of the greatest educators in America.

If you have a full day to explore, immerse yourself in a few of our Civil War battle sites in the Richmond National Battlefield Park (Malvern Hill Park and Fort Harrison). During the Civil War, in 1862 Henrico County was the site of seven  battles during the Peninsula Campaign.


Hike the nearby Virginia Capital Trail, a dedicated, paved pedestrian and bicycle trail connecting the Commonwealth’s past and present capitals of Jamestown and Richmond along the Scenic Route 5 corridor. The Trail traverses approximately 52 miles, four jurisdictions, and more than 400 years of history along one of the first inland routes in North America.

 Seniors Find Historic African American Cemetery

East End Cemetery, a historic African American burial site, is a great place for a little historical research. East End is the final resting place of an estimated 13,000 people, among them some of the most prominent black Richmonders of the turn of the 20th century.


Henrico hosts more than 140 tournaments annually from lacrosse to Quidditch to flag football. Then there is Three Lakes Park, a favorite stop for many senior visitors featuring woods, fishing lakes, wetlands and wildlife. It is called by many…a “hidden gem.”

The Old Henrico County Courthouse dates to 1898 in Richmond. Something is going on all year long. Senior oenophiles, the 41st Annual Virginia Wine Festival takes places in September in Run Regional Park in Fairfax and is the oldest wine festival in the state.

So set your GPS for Henrico and enjoy the many amenities that the area has to offer. -jeb


Seniors Arrive in Silicon Valley

images Much of Menlo Park’s economy revolves around the companies on Sand Hill Road. Senior travelers learn those consist of venture capital, private equity, financial services, law firms, and other professional service companies and investment vehicles focusing on  technology in what is called Silicon Valley.  

Facebook with its 6,600 workers, is a major employer who moved its headquarters to the former campus of Sun Microsystems in Menlo Park in December 2011.


Menlo Park is one of the most highly educated cities in California and the United States, with nearly 70% of its residents having earned a degree. It is the home of global business leaders and innovative startups.

Senior travelers will find Menlo Park between the major metropolitan areas of San Francisco and San Jose. Menlo Park is home to a little over 32,000 residents in its 19 square miles.

 Seniors Enjoy Tree City USA


The city benefits from easy access to the nearby cities and towns with which it shares the San Francisco metropolitan area. The word “Menlo” is derived from the former home of two Irish immigrants, Menlo in County Galway, Ireland.

 One of the first things senior visitors notice about Menlo Park is all its gorgeous trees, especially the California Live Oaks – the city tree. This is a city that is justly proud of its “Tree City USA” nickname with over 20,000 publicly maintained beautiful trees.

Bayfront Park – the largest in the city at 160+ acres – offers gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay and the Federal Wildlife Preserve on Greco Island. Burgess Park caters to the sports-oriented visitor.

800px-downtown_menlo_park_california Seniors Also Enjoy Rich Historical Heritage

The stunning natural surroundings of the city afford views of the San Francisco Bay to the east and the Pacific Coastal Range to the west. Menlo Park’s climate is moderate to warm, with an average of 265 sunny days a year.

Menlo Park area‘s rich historical heritage is reflected in Ardenwood Historic Farm and the Dunsmuir Historic Estate. Senior oenophiles can choose from Chouinard Vineyards, the Kathryn Kennedy Winery, the Elliston Vineyards, and the Westover Vineyards.


Don’t miss the Menlo Park Station that was originally built in 1867 by the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad. During the 1890s Southern Pacific added Victorian Ornamentation to the depot in order to make it appear more attractive to students and visitors to Stanford University. The station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and became a California Historical Landmark in 1983.

Enjoy your stop in Menlo Park when you are in the San Francisco area. -jeb


Seniors Check Out Avenal

documentThe City of Avenal was named by Spanish soldiers and explorers. Senior students of Spanish know that “avena” means oats, and “avenal” means oatfield. This area was covered with wild oats, “waist high,” that looked like golden silk and covered the Kettleman Plains.

Avenal is known as “The Oasis in the Sun” and “The Pistachio Capital of the World.” Do you like pistachios like I do? I am addicted. Head for Avenal. Avenal is located close to the exact center of California.


A large employer of Avenal is the State Prison that employs over 1,500.  Avenal’s population runs just over 13,000. The State Prison holds over 4,000 inmates and accounts for about 32% of the total population of Avenal. Inmates are counted as city residents by both the United States Census and the California Department of Finance.

 Seniors Find Town With Rich History

In the early 1980s, “almost everyone” in the town of Avenal desired the prison to be built to improve the economic status of the town. It was reportedly “the first prison to be solicited by a local community”.

As of 1984, the plans were to build “the largest enclosed security compound in the nation.” Although today Avenal and its economy are largely reliant on the Avenal State Prison and agriculture, Avenal was once a booming oil town known as the “Oil Fields Capital.”


Love for the rich history of Avenal is evident when talking to the community members responsible for maintaining the Avenal Historical Society.  This treasure of Kings County would be one of the first places this senior would head for in Avenal.

Seniors Enjoy Avenal’s Rich Surroundings

Avenal has an annual celebration held on the first weekend in May called Avenal Old Timers Day. There are 79 Tourist attractions in or near Avenal: Wineries, Breweries, and Islay Falls and up the road a piece is the large head of John Muir in Visalia. If you happen to be a former fan of James Dean, the last place he stopped for gas, in Lost Hills, is 26 miles from Avenal.


I note that J Lohr Wineries is only 34 miles from Avenal. I’d surely want to visit there for some professional wine tasting. Check out the California For Visitors site, seniors, where you can learn about Kings County as well as California’s Central Valley.

Avenal Sand Drags is a state of the art 300′ sand drag racing facility. Avenal is also home to the Central California Soaring Club headquartered at the Avenal Gliderport, one of the few glider-only airports in the western United States, and one of only a few in the entire US that owns/operates its own airport. A soaring contest is held there every spring.

 Thanks for joining me today, seniors, and enjoy Avenal. -jeb

Find Your Destination

Travel DestinationsTypes of Vacation/Travel
  • Polls

    Where would you most like to travel in 2013?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...