The Coast–The Shore
When it’s less than an hour and a half ride (usually doable for older people who may even sleep part of the way), a drive to the coast offers a change of scenery. Some say the sea air wets the appetite. No doubt fresh fish and clam chowder on the menu help.
Beach towns: attract people of all ages, usually have an abundance of restaurants, interesting shops, and places to stay. Even the smallest, quietest towns have a favorite eating spot. Sticking a toe in the water, or walking barefoot in the sand–independently or on your arm–can be an added bonus for parents. Old-timers said saltwater was good for feet. Breathing the fresh air is another plus.
The options to help aging parents have a change of scenery are only limited by time and interest. Destinations to places of quiet and beauty, charming towns, museums, vineyards, or a ride in the country–are among the possibilities.
Lakes, rivers, mountains, and national parks offer so much natural beauty–with picnic tables at most places of scenic interest and/or dining in nearby small towns. Major attractions like Multnomah Falls in the West (Columbia River Highway out of Portland, Oregon), may have a good restaurant (check to see if reservations are advised). Touristy or not these natural attractions take people “out of themselves” and into what’s real. Clearly a change for aging parents who are inside most of the time and appreciate (or once appreciated) nature.
Driving with my parents to small towns they used to frequent near their home but didn’t get to any more, was a welcome outing. And some towns, like the historic towns in New England, they loved. There are well-known towns like Saratoga Springs, NY (pretty town, famous horse racing track) that, depending on where parents live, can be a short outing to a popular destination. Simply driving around those towns and having lunch or a midday meal, helps parents age well…gives them something to think and talk about for a long time.
Small museums in New England: The Clark’s world class paintings in Williamstown, Mass., the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. and the Bennington Museum in Vermont with its Grandma Moses collection, are gems. The latter should be uplifting. Grandma Moses was still painting at 100.