Boomer retirement spots with great eats

It’s not hard to find a list of the Top Ten places for baby boomers to retire. But how about the Top Ten with Great Food too? Writing in Huff Post, Moira McGarvey, founder of the retirement planning site Gangs Away, has come up with precisely that. It makes us hungry!

Who doesn’t love to eat? I like food, don’t get me wrong, but I have a few friends who obsess about every last aspect. For some of them, food is the most important thing in the world. It might even sit up on top of world peace. They plan their weekends around it, and don’t even get me started on their itineraries for vacations. While many of us plan a trip to Rome to see the Vatican or the Colosseum, foodies will plan their trips around the restaurants, markets, and cafes.

The landmark Lady & Sons in Savannah, GA.

The landmark Lady & Sons in Savannah, GA.

When it comes to food, my foodie friends want to know where it comes from, if it’s artisan, even what’s for snack between lunch and dinner. They wax poetic about the fact that they just uncovered the best restaurant for hand-crafted, wood-fired, farm-to-table, heritage whatever. They will tell you in detail about the flavor and creaminess of a certain kind of hand-crafted cheese or the flakiness of a special French almond pastry with the kind of passion usually reserved for stories about one’s children. Do you have a Himalayan pink salt cooking slab? Of course! Do you grow your own herbs? Is there any other way?

It got me thinking that, like other passions in life, you wouldn’t want to retire in a food desert if you identify with people like my friends who only get their arugula from a farmer they’ve befriended at his stall in the market on Sundays.

So, what makes a town a good foodie town? It’s not just an abundance of great restaurants, from white tablecloth to diners. It’s about markets — both farmers and specialty food purveyors — and butchers and fish mongers, bakeries, cooking classes and dinner clubs, brewpubs and local vintners. They are all the requirements of a five-alarm foodie.

With that in mind, we decided to see if there are some towns that are both good retirement towns and unexpected foodie havens. Below is list of 10 we uncovered.

Las Vegas, Nevada
las vegasTop of the heap! Why? The surrounding suburbs and towns are affordable and the cost of living and tax situation are good for retirees. Also, the climate is great if you like dry. And the foodie scene in Vegas is booming. All the super famous chefs have restaurants there. The market Artisanal Foods has the truffles you’re looking for, and there are three farmers’ markets, including Fresh 52, an open-air market showcasing organic produce, baked goods, and gourmet stuff.

Eugene, Oregon
Decent cost of living, no sales tax, mild climate; these are good things for retirees. But closer to the foodie’s heart, this University of Oregon college town also has a long-standing love for organics, slow food, the best pinot noir grown and bottled in the U.S., and some great places toeat, drink, caffeinate, and buy the little tool that does that specific little thing.

Boulder, Colorado
boulderBoulder is known for a lot of things as a town: Healthiest, Most Educated, Most Bicycle-Friendly — the list goes on. It’s also been praised as one of Bon Appétit’s Foodiest Towns in America. Boulder is home to a number of innovative food companies (Celestial Seasonings, Izze Beverage Company, and Bhakti Chai), several top-tier restaurants, and one of the best farmers’ markets in the country.

Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville gets all kinds of accolades as a culturally progressive, beautiful town nestled in the hills of western North Carolina, but it increasingly is known for its culinary cool and burgeoning beer scene. Restaurateurs from around the country have taken notice, and moved in.

Traverse City, Michigan.

Traverse City, Michigan.

Traverse City, Michigan
This town has acquired a reputation as one of the country’s up-and-coming foodie towns. Bon Appetit magazine named it one of the Top Five Foodie towns in the country. Chef Mario Batali calls Traverse City a modern gastro-paradise.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor got the Buzzfeed treatment in a post touting the 23 reasons why it is the best food town in all the land. Its University of Michigan students and faculty have sipped beers and lattes at downtown’s sidewalk cafes for years, and while the city retains that college-town vibe, the dining scene has grown up. It’s not just about Zingerman’s Deli any more.

Near Portland, Maine.

Near Portland, Maine.

Portland, Maine
Andrew Zimmern of Food and Wine says …”I’m hard-pressed to think of a small town with as large of an impact on the country’s food scene. I am here often, baseball cap on my head, enjoying a great meal.” And that’s all we need to say.

Port Townsend, Washington
Port Townsend is deemed a great town for post-career Baby Boomers who want a comfortable, seaside place to spend their golden years. And thanks to its rich geographical blessings (mountains ripe for foraging,teeming fishing grounds, fertile farmlands), the region has spawned its ownculinary movement: Olympic Coast Cuisine. Extremely fresh seafood, pulled from the bays that carve into the peninsula, define the menus in homes and restaurants there.

Savannah, Georgia
This Georgian city may be known for its coastal-themed fine dining, but Travel and Leisure’s voters for America’s Favorite Cities love it best for its small cafés — home-cooking “neighborhood diners” with a local-ingredients bent.

The dining room of Elizabeth on 37th in Savannah, Georgia.

The dining room of Elizabeth on 37th in Savannah, Georgia.

[BoomerCafé recommends Elizabeth on 37th in Savannah. Situated in an elegant 19th-century mansion, we believe it’s one of the finest restaurants in the South.]  

Houston, Texas
houstonHouston’s culinary scene is at full throttle. Restaurant menus mirror the city’s diversity, and the liveliest food-and-drink center is Washington Avenue, where you can find tapas, French-Vietnamese cuisine, or, at the BRC Gastropub, quail fried in Dr Pepper. But Travel and Leisure voters got the most excited about the city’s barbecue and its burgers.


  1. Looks great (especially the one in Georgia)! Well, I live all year round in Rome (yes,that’s where I retired!) and I can tell you there’s loads of great places to eat in Rome! Including a new one run by a brilliant Millennial who’s half Italian and half Korean (yes, his Mum is) and he’s a genius in the kitchen and a pro in decorating his restaurant with old Roman atmosphere, you feel like you’re traveling back in time! The address: Apuleus (that’s a Latin name, it refers to a man who was turned into a donkey…) But this is no food for donkeys, very much for humans, and demanding ones at that (I count myself among those!)

  2. I did not expect Las Vegas to mentioned, but the suggestion is right on target. In Los Angeles, a number of people travel to Vegas not just for the shows, but also to eat. The hotels Bellagio and Venetian (and the canals / shopping areas) offer some of the very best restaurants with world rated top chefs. Just bring your wallet …

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