Get out there and hit the road however you want. 

If the term elder hostel brings to mind a bunch of gray-haired hippies wandering around Europe, sleeping in questionable accommodations, and lugging a backpack, you are behind the times. Today’s elder hostels are well-planned, well-organized educational and cultural opportunities especially developed to appeal to the 55+ crowd enjoying active adult living.

There are thousands of choices for active adults available in hundreds of places. You might choose to visit Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, South America, or places you have always wanted to explore right here in the USA.


There are all kinds of educational tours that feature local and renowned experts where you can experience learning opportunities that often include in-depth lectures, field trips, and discussions with learned and experienced peers. Cultural tours can focus on music, theatre, or the arts. Study cruises are available so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds; being on a cruise and learning or experiencing something new at the same time. For the athletically inclined, there are walking, biking, hiking, and camping excursions.


Accommodations are very reasonable and are often in local hotels or college campuses. In many instances, most meals are included as well. You won’t have to worry about a thing: activities, lodging, meals, and much more are all covered as a part of the packages.

Active adult living has never been so easy. If you are ready to learn new things, expand your horizons, meet new people and see new places, an elder hostel experience might be just what you’re looking for.

Programs & Trips

Recent programs in the Chicago area sponsored by Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) include the following:

  • The Life and Legacy of Abraham Lincoln
  • 150 Years of Science Exploration and Education: Pioneers in Natural History
  • The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The Times, the Issues, the Impacts
  • Treasures of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Cahokia Mounds: A Prehistoric City and Indian Culture
  • A Sampling of Chicago’s Cultural and Ethnic Diversity
  • Origins of the Mississippi, Beat Your Feet in Mississippi Mud, and Mark Twain, and Huckleberry Finn
  • Baseball Across Generations – Chicago
  • The Southern Illinois Wine Trail and Tracing the Trail of Tears
  • Holiday Sights and Sounds in the Windy City
  • Pedal, Paddle, and Partake
  • Lake Michigan and Beyond: A Nautical Adventure
  • Upper Mississippi: Historic towns, trails, and tales
  • The Ravinia Festival Experience featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Maybe a trip to the American Southwest would be more to your liking. While you’re there, perhaps you’d like to get those cerebral juices flowing and learn about crime scene investigations and forensic science.

Would you like to have an international experience here at home in the United States? Check out the program in New York that provides hostelers with the rare educational opportunity of meeting with ambassadors and discussing foreign policy issues.

If these adventures are not quite what you are looking for, perhaps a trip to explore Mayan ruins, Ancient Egypt, Tibet, or Kenya is right up your alley.

No matter what kind of experience you are looking for, Road Scholar is the best place to start. You can find a trip that goes wherever you want to go, does whatever you want to do, and you will always be with good company. Just be aware that with all the choices available, you may find yourself going back for more active adult living again and again.