“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
– Abraham Lincoln
Retirement is a time to enjoy things we were too busy to do during our long, arduous working years. Below is my Top Fifteen list of fun things to do in Retirement.
1. Organize a Family Event
For the forty years of our working lives, we were lucky if we were able to visit our respective families over the key holidays as it was usually a shortened visit as we both were returning to work soon.
In retirement, we enjoyed a week-long trip with 16 family members from my wife’s side of the family to the beautiful Tampa beaches over the past two summers as we have enjoyed fishing and kayaking trips. For my side of the family, we helped organize a summer family reunion in 2023 where a group of a dozen family members (from 3 states) could get together and catch up over a summer picnic.
2. Dream Vacation
After working for 40 years, my wife & I have enjoyed several long-awaited vacations:
1) a 10-day trip to several Hawaii islands in 2021, where we visited Maui and Oahu. We enjoyed beautiful sunsets, great meals, and many adventures around the island. A highlight was the “Shaka Driving Tour” on Oahu, where we could visit some remote, albeit beautiful, beaches.
2) a 10-day tour of four Canadian capital cities in Eastern Canada through the Tauck Tour group in 2022. We visited Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, and Toronto. One of the many highlights was visiting the beautiful Niagara Falls with a cruise near the misty sprays of the waterfalls.
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Gardening is a fantastic way to stay busy after retirement. Research shows that exposure to green spaces, particularly gardening, benefits mental and physical health.
Outside, the fresh air and sunshine are a fantastic way to boost your mood. In fact, gardening has been shown to be helpful in reducing the risk of depression.
Also, gardening is a great activity to help us stay physically active in our older years. When you garden, you weed, water, and harvest at least a few hours daily. This gentle, low-intensity physical activity can help strengthen your core and improve your balance.
Finally, one of the greatest joys of gardening is the ability to eat and cook your fresh harvest.
Whether it’s peppers, tomatoes, basil, oranges, enjoying the fruits of your labor makes this hobby all the more special.
4. New Sports
My wife & I decided to pick up pickleball at our Country Club during the summer of 2021. Now we see why this fun activity is the fastest-growing sport in the United States! I
In addition, after a 45-year hiatus, I started playing live chess matches again this year at a local bar in Philly. In addition, I have started a chess club at our 30-floor condominium building, which has been fun and allows us to meet new neighbors. My wife has joined a Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat racing team. We both joined a local gym with many group classes that keep us moving & meeting new folks.
5. Care for a Pet
During our seven years of living in Illinois, while I taught at the University of Illinois, we enjoyed owning two cats, P.K. and Harley, who were very loving pets.
While we currently do not have any pets in our city life here in Philadelphia, we plan on moving to the country next year to own a dog. I grew up on a farm with many dogs and loved playing with them. Since studies indicate that dog owners live longer than non-owners, I am at the age when I hit 65 next year, and walking a dog will be very beneficial to keeping me active.
Education is a great way retirees can discover old and new passions.
Ever wanted to study abroad and learn that language but never got the chance when you were younger? Why not give yourself that second chance in retirement?
Another idea is to return to school and pursue a second career that interests you. With the free time in retirement, it’s the ideal opportunity to get a fresh start and learn the skills you’ve always wanted to learn.
Write in a daily journal to log all your fun-filled retirement activities, including people you have met in your new and varied activities.
If you’re like me, I satisfied a retirement bucket list item of writing a non-fiction book. While this endeavor was much harder than imagined, it took me 17 months to complete my book, CHECKMATE, which is a best seller. The two most difficult things to publish a book are the EDITING phase, which was exhausting over the holiday season in 2022, and the MARKETING phase, which is still ongoing. Lots of work but VERY rewarding!
8. Learn an Instrument
Much of our creativity is lost during adulthood. But with the weight of financial obligations lifted, you’ll have plenty of time to nurture your creative side again.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn an instrument, retirement. Studying music provides a creative outlet. It also bolsters motor and auditory skills and improves cognitive functions. And don’t forget all the amazing new friends you’ll meet as you collaborate with others!
9. Downsize & discover a new city
My wife & I love walking around the city, especially to help combat the ridiculously high gasoline prices during the inflationary times of 2022.
Being new to an interesting city such as Philadelphia allows us the opportunity to check out new restaurants. We attend happy hours & limit our alcohol intake to reduce our bills. Lastly, we love attending live sporting events in the area and supporting the Phillies baseball and Villanova basketball teams!
Cruises offer the opportunity to explore the world and meet lots of new people without having to board airplanes and bother with hotel check-ins.
If you’re worried that you’ll be excruciatingly bored while stuck on a cruise, don’t be. Cruises offer plenty of entertainment, including lounging at the pool, live music, spa, casinos, classes, and more.
Check out our article: 47 Lessons from 47 Days on 3 Repositioning Cruises to learn more about cruises.
11. RV Trips
Did you know that there are 423 national park sites you can see in the U.S.? And what better way to explore them and the country at your own pace than to travel in an RV?
Plenty of national parks and beaches have campgrounds to park, rest, and meet new friends. With so many sites, it’s no wonder many traveling retirees choose full-time RV living. And don’t forget the spectacular views you’ll see along the way.
If you love to see new places and don’t mind the idea of letting go of many of your things and downgrading your life to a few hundred square feet for an extended period, then this activity might just be perfect for you!
12. Get Financially Savvy
While my Accounting and Finance background has led me to take care of the family finances for over 30 years, my wife & I have begun sharing the duties of paying bills online and keeping track of our Retirement Portfolio.
As I’m an older man in our relationship with a poor family health history, I feel it’s VERY important that she feels more comfortable paying the bills and understanding the key components of our retirement portfolio. We both research topics we need to understand better as we age (e.g., Medicare options).
My wife and I enjoy volunteering our time at the local Broad Street Ministry that provides meals and other services (Mailboxes, IDs, etc.) to the homeless. In fact, my wife loved working at the Ministry so much that they recently offered her a PT role in their busy mailroom, which she accepted. We also support local charities financially that help support the underprivileged. Unfortunately, the pandemic and high inflation of 2022 have caused many folks in the 6th largest US city to need basic services to survive.
14. Focus on Your Health
Since we only have one body in this life, it is important to my wife and me that we stay as healthy as possible. Thus, while we do enjoy dining out often in the great culinary city of Philadelphia, we are trying to eat healthier and drink less alcohol in our retirement. In addition, as expressed in our prior activities, we are trying our best to exercise more often, even if it involves walking and bicycling around the city streets. This is when a new gym and owning a dog will be helpful.
15. Give Back or Pay It Forward
My wife and I are very appreciative of all that we have. Thus, it’s important for us to give back to society, whether volunteering at the local Ministry as noted above or donating to our local charities to help those less fortunate than us. One of my favorite days each year is April 28th, or Pay It Forward Day, which is a worldwide celebration of kindness that takes place every year on this date. Not associated with any organization or foundation and free to participate in, Pay It Forward Day exists to encourage people to stand for kindness out of the goodness of their hearts!
Now for those of you who FIRE’d. What are the fun things you do day to day?