According to a 2017 AARP Travel Research report, 58 percent of baby boomers plan to take their next bucket list trip in two to five years.

With an area of 3.8 million square miles, the United States has thousands of cities and places to visit. But there are always those special places that leave lasting memories on people’s minds and hearts.

Here are four domestic destinations that would be a great addition to any group tour’s bucket list.

Door County, Wisconsin

With miles of shoreline and an area that covers 492 square miles, Door County is no stranger to nature, adventure and history. 

Cave Point County Park, Door County, Wisconsin
[/media-credit] Cave Point County Park, Door County, Wis.

“Door County has long found its’ name on the bucket list of many a traveler,” said Jon Jarosh, director of communications and public relations for Door County Visitor Bureau. “Perhaps it’s the vastness of our 300 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, or the scenic beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities at our five state parks and 19 county parks. Maybe it’s the maritime lure of 11 lighthouses or 34 named islands, or the quaintness of the many waterfront villages dotted along the coast. For some it could be the available arts and cultural attractions, and for others the simplistic beauty of a big water sunrise or sunset that touches the soul. Whatever the reason, for generations Door County has found a way into the hearts of both first-time and long-time travelers and will undoubtedly remain on or atop bucket lists everywhere.”

A must-see activity is the traditional fish boil. It is just one of the experiences that keeps drawing visitors back year after year.

Outdoor activity enthusiasts find plenty to do. Hike at the various parks, hop on a boat for a fun high-speed tour along the shores of the county or explore the natural wonders of underwater caves from a kayak. Even take a shot at yoga on a paddleboard.

For more information, call Door County Visitor Bureau at 920-743-4456 or visit doorcounty.com.

New York City, New York

“New York City is an immensely popular destination for adult groups due to its longstanding, iconic diversity and vibrancy,” said Jerry Cito, senior vice president of convention development for NYC & Company. “It also tops the list of ‘musts’ for many groups, thanks in part to the ongoing, creative contributions of locals whose trailblazing in the fields of art, culture, thought and more result in the continual evolution of the city’s fabric.” 

Lower Manhattan, New York, N.Y.
[/media-credit] Lower Manhattan, New York, N.Y.

Breathtaking views of one of the busiest skylines is just one reason to visit. The Empire State Building, One World Observatory and Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Plaza) are three opportunities for stunning views of the city that never sleeps.

Stop at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site.

See a Broadway show. Group members can experience the rousing entertainment available in Midtown Manhattan’s Theatre District.

The lights, the energy and the advertisements are all pieces of what makes Times Square so amazing. Times Square was ranked in the top 10 “Must See Global Experiences” by CNN, can be seen in hundreds of TV shows and movies.

Central Park is another popular filming location and stop for visitors to NYC. With European-inspired gardens, nature and wildlife in the city, the chance to enjoy free theater or musical performances, and waterfront dining, the park has a lot to offer visiting groups.

For more information, call NYC and Company at 212-484-1200, email traveltrade@nycgo.com or visit nycgo.com.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island, situated between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas in the Straits of Mackinac, has enchanted vacationers since the Victorian era. 

Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island
[/media-credit] Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island, Mich.

A key part of the island’s allure is its ban on cars. Visitors today get around by walking, bicycling or riding in a horse-drawn carriage — just as in 1900, 1950, or 2000.

Grand Hotel and Mission Point Resort were among the island locations for the 1980 movie, Somewhere in Time.

“Mackinac Island is special because it is a unique experience,” said W. Bradley McCallum, vice president and managing director of Mission Point Resort. “That’s what travelers are looking for, and the island is genuinely different.”

Not only is Mackinac Island rich in history, but the entire island keeps alive traditions — think horse-drawn carriages — that elsewhere are relegated to specific attractions.

Within that context, Mission Point Resort stands out due to its setting and its philosophy.

The resort’s sprawling 18-acre campus on the shore of Lake Huron lends itself to pursuing simple pleasures.

“Another thing that stands out is our style, the way we do hospitality,” McCallum said. “It’s informal, yet elegant. And we have great food.”

Ferries transport groups to and from the island. Book a narrated horse-drawn carriage tour, delve into the past at historic places like Fort Mackinac and offer a boating tour or kayak adventure. Fudge shops and other retail locations yield souvenirs.

For more information call Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau at 906-847-3783 or visit mackinacisland.org.

Washington, D.C.

With its many attractions, museums and monuments, the nation’s capital welcomed a record 22 million visitors in 2016. 

Jefferson Memorial, Washington D.C.
Jefferson Memorial

Visit the National Mall and discover the power of the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Washington Monument, closed since mid-2016 due to the unreliability of the elevator control system, is set to reopen in spring 2019. The National Park Service has awarded a contract for the modernization of the monument’s elevator and the construction of a permanent screening facility for visitors entering the landmark.

The Smithsonian Institution offers 11 museums and galleries on the National Mall and six other museums and the National Zoo in the Washington area. From postage stamps to outer space, the Smithsonian has a museum for it — and admission is free. The Smithsonian offers groups discounted packages to its restaurants, IMAX theaters, the planetarium and paid exhibitions.

Don’t forget to see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights at the National Archives Museum.

Other popular D.C. museums are the International Spy Museum, the National Building Museum and the Newseum. The Museum of the Bible opened late last year.

For more information visit Destination DC at washington.org

Article by Dave Hoekman and Steph Lulofs

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