Planning a San Francisco Staycation Seniors Can Enjoy

institute on aging san franciscoThe routine for an older adult can get especially frustrating in the summertime. As a caregiver I see this all the time: the daily paces of medicine, checkups, naps, and other necessities seem more difficult when the days get longer and brighter, and everyone wants to get outside. The warmer weather makes both professional and family caregivers want to take their loved ones on a trip, to someplace new, to break the routine. Unfortunately, finding a vacation that is both fun and accessible for seniors can be difficult and costly.

This is why people take staycations: to enjoy the benefits of travel, without the costs. A staycation doesn’t have to mean going to Alcatraz and mingling with the tourists. There are ways, specifically designed for older adults, to explore San Francisco and the Bay Area in a new light, that show them the city from different angles, and that break the routine of the summer.

Staycation #1 – For the Foodies

Bon Appétit named San Francisco the “Best Food City” in 2015. With accolades like that, tables and booths in Bay Area restaurants are in high demand. Rather than taking your loved one to popular restaurants that require reservations months in advance or hour-long waits for a table, you should check out a more outside-the-box alternative with the Presidio Picnic which takes place every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Why Presidio Picnic?

  • You and your loved one can skip the drive and take the free and accessible downtown shuttle.
  • It’s all outdoors—the best way to spend a day of good weather in the Bay.
  • 34 local food vendors take part in the weekly event.
  • The picnic offers more than just eating. There are games, music, produce stands, and more.
  • If your loved ones prefer more activity, yoga and hiking trails are also available on site.

Staycation #2 – For the Gardeners

There are a number of reasons why gardening is a great pastime for aging adults, but if you and your loved one are interested in appreciating someone else’s gardening work for a change, consider taking an excursion to see the spectacular flora at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

Why SF Botanical Garden?

  • Open daily with a $6 admission for older adults.
  • They offer special free days and times as well (so make sure to check before you go!).
  • They showcase special plants throughout the year, have monthly plant sales, and also have a bookstore in case you or your loved one is interested in learning more for your own gardening needs.

Staycation #3 – For the Avid Learner

Chances are good that you’re not completely fluent in the Bay Area’s local history, that you haven’t already visited all the great little nooks and crannies worth seeing (there’s just so much of it!). I personally think the best way to experience this is through a guided tour.

Walking tours are a great way to keep your loved ones active while discovering more about the San Francisco Bay. Just make sure to take your aging loved one’s activity comfort level and interests into consideration before picking one. My personal favorite is On the Level SF’s walking tours, as they’re specifically tailored to older adults.

Why On the Level SF?

  • The cost is only $10-15, and most tours run a few hours.
  • There are tours that cover a whole host of activities: movies, sightseeing, history, dining, and more.
  • You have the option of bus tours as well as walking tours, so you have a variety of options to consider for your loved ones.

A Staycation Tailored to Your Loved One

These suggestions above are meant to be just that—suggestions. So if your aging loved one enjoys bicycling, cooking, playing games, or something completely different, get creative with their hobbies and interests and find ways you can transfer those into tourist-type activities around the city. Just remember to keep the following in mind:

  1. Do your research before you go. How steep is the elevation (and will it be a problem to climb)? Will there be too much walking? Is there a handicap or accessibility accommodation available? If your loved one wants to take public transportation, are they willing or able to stand in the long lines for the cable car?
  2. Always have an escape plan. The convenience factor of living where you’re “vacationing” cannot be overlooked. If your loved one doesn’t enjoy an activity or wants (or needs) to leave early, you can! Just make sure you know what your transportation options are ahead of time so you’re not left scrambling to find a way home. That’s the great thing about staycations: the flexibility to do whatever you want, when you want.
  3. Know your loved ones’ limits. I’m not just talking about physical abilities here. If your loved one is more of an introvert, used to the isolation and the quiet of spending peaceful time one-on-one, throngs of tourists can easily prove too much. Unless you know they’ll be okay with it, don’t plan for activities that are swarming with people. That’s why I always try to plan my staycations earlier in the day and during the week, when people are at work and traffic is lighter. And I also try to avoid heavily crowded places like the beach.

The Bay area is ripe for amazing staycations for you and your loved one. Find the spots around your city that you’ve always wanted to explore, and get planning!

If you’re looking for more activities to plan your upcoming San Francisco staycation around, or resources around other aging questions, reach out to us today. Institute on Aging offers resources that can help.


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Institute on Aging

Committed to offering thoughtful discussions and resources to older adults, their families, and their caregivers.

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