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12 Overrated Retiree Vacation Destinations That Aren’t Worth the Money

6 minute read

By Katie Ormsby

With airfare and hotel prices on the rise, you might be assessing your vacation options more thoroughly these days. After all, who wants to wind up wasting money on a trip that doesn’t live up to the expense?

That’s why we’ve done the legwork to find vacation spots that aren’t worth your hard-earned money. Here are 12 destinations that are overrated, overcrowded, and overpriced. Plus, 12 alternatives that are great for retirees.

Paris

Yes, Paris overflows with romantic old-world charm. But it’s incredibly pricey, thanks to inflation and demand. For example, Hopper says airfare to Paris is 20% more expensive in 2022 than in 2019. That means a round-trip ticket can cost more than $920.

Where to go instead: Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out so much on airfare to get a similar experience. Head to Montreal for cobblestone streets, charming cafes, fascinating museums, and the city’s own Notre-Dame. The source says travelers can get a round-trick ticket for $397.

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Hawaii

If you’re dreaming of sandy shores, then you might have Hawaii on your vacation shortlist. While Hawaii is a beautiful destination with plenty of beaches and golf courses, it’s overpriced. According to KAYAK, the average price of a hotel room in Hawaii is $512 in July.

Where to go instead: You can make your travel bucks go further if you opt for the sandy shores of Puerto Rico. KAYAK says the average price of a hotel room in Puerto Rico is only $149 in July. Check out budget-friendly golf courses and soak up some sun — all without needing a passport.

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Las Vegas

Retirees looking for some excitement might be considering Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Sin City feels more like a theme park than a vibrant cultural destination. Sure, it’s got gambling. But it’s not great for entertainment. Shows are expensive, even though they’re typically limited to 90 minutes.

Where to go instead: New Orleans is an excellent alternative for nightlife and entertainment. Instead of paying a pretty penny to see a Vegas show, listen to top-notch New Orleans jazz on the street and at affordable venues. Additionally, enjoy historic architecture and delicious cuisine.

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Niagra Falls

If you’ve got Niagra Falls on your bucket list, then you might want to reconsider. Whether you stay on the U.S. side or the Canadian side, the surrounding area is incredibly touristy. While haunted houses and wax museums are fun for families, retirees can do better.

Where to go instead: Swap Niagra Falls for Snoqualmie Falls. Located just outside Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is 100 feet higher than Niagra Falls and is surrounded by gorgeous greenery. Get great deals at the overlooking resort and spa in the spring and fall.

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Key West

Key West might spring to mind when you think of Florida vacation spots, but the reality might be a little different than you’re imagining. Those looking for a relaxing beach escape might be disappointed to discover it’s a party city that attracts a lot of young travelers.

Where to go instead: Vist Cape Coral to avoid crowds at the beach. You can also get in some golf at its great courses. Plus, it’s an affordable Florida destination. KAYAK says the average price of a hotel room is $145 in July. That price soars to $407 in Key West, according to KAYAK.

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Tuscany

Longing for winding roads, rolling hills, and romantic wineries? If so, then you’re probably thinking about jetting off to Tuscany. But you might want to hold that thought. Hopper says a round-trip ticket to Tuscany is over $1,100 in 2022.

Where to go instead: You don’t have to leave the States to enjoy an excellent wine region. Savvy travelers can get a similar experience for less in Willamette Valley, Oregon. In fact, the source says you can save $700 in airfare savings alone.

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Philadelphia

History buffs might be on the lookout for a destination with historical significance like Philadelphia. While “the Birthplace of America” checks that box — the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall — it’s overrated. You’ll likely spend more time in a long line than actually looking at the Liberty Bell.

Where to go instead: Head to Williamsburg to experience history for less. Colonial Williamsburg recreates life just before the American Revolution. And KAYAK says the average price of a hotel room in September is $109. That price jumps to $199 in Philly, according to KAYAK.

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Madrid

At first glance, Madrid might seem like a top vacation destination. It has eye-catching European boulevards and pristine parks. But the city doesn’t have distinctive attractions that warrant sinking a lot of money into flying all the way to Spain.

Where to go instead: You can stay much closer to home and still get a gorgeous Spanish-style escape. Instead of Madrid, visit St. Augustine, Florida. It’s brimming with Spanish colonial architecture and culture. Take a walking tour of its historic district and explore its beaches.

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Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a majestic national treasure. But we’re blessed with so many magnificent national parks that you don’t need to contend with massive crowds to take in the beauty of America. As a matter of fact, you can get dramatic canyon views at a much less touristy spot.

Where to go instead: Visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado instead. It offers breathtaking views of deep canyons and impressive cliffs. Either stay at an on-site campground or an affordable hotel in the nearby town of Montrose.

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Rome

Those interested in culture, history, and art might dream of a Roman holiday. Unfortunately, the city is a bit scruffy these days. CNN says visitors may be let down by graffiti and garbage that mars the city’s beauty. Save yourself the steep price tag of a European jaunt and stay in the States.

Where to go instead: Architecturally, it might not seem like the most obvious alternative, but New York City is a fantastic place to immerse yourself in culture, history, and art. Check out countless museums and dig into a wide array of delicious cuisines, including Italian food.

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Turks and Caicos

If you want a beach vacation, then Turks and Caicos might be on your radar. It’s incredibly popular — and pricey. Hotels.com says it tops their Hot Price Index as the most expensive summer getaway. And KAYAK says the average price of a hotel room in July is $598.

Where to go instead: Greece is another option for turquoise waters and sandy beaches. And unlike Turks and Caicos, it has affordable lodging. For instance, KAYAK says the average price of a hotel room in July is $105. That’s nearly $500 in hotel savings per night.

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London

Much like many cities on this list, London is a great destination in a few ways. It has elegant architecture, museums, and culture. But soaring airfare prices make it hard to justify when you can get that British charm without leaving North America.

Where to go instead: Head up to Victoria, British Columbia, for high tea, castles, and history. The inner harbor is chock-full of impressive Victorian architecture, including the Empress Hotel. Also, check out Craigdarroch Castle, Hatley Castle, and the Butchart Gardens.

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Katie Ormsby

Contributor

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