The Kirkwood Senior Travel Club was resurrected last fall by employees of Kirkwood Parks and Recreation.
“In 2015, we were doing these trips with other municipalities, and we brought the program back last year with just Kirkwood as a sort of revival,” said Laura Thal Horton, recreation supervisor for Kirkwood.
She said the group typically takes one trip per month, averaging about 30 participants per trip. Travel costs include bus transportation and admissions, and generally all food and beverages.
“Tipping the tour guide and bus driver is at the discretion of attendees, but we pass a bucket at the end to collect name tags and provide a discreet way to tip,” Thal Horton said.
Kirkwood resident Susan High said the club’s trips had been “very informative, relaxing and fun”. High has been on three of the group’s last four trips. She said the tour guide was knowledgeable and she learned a lot more from the group compared to the self-planned trips.
“The time set up at each stop was right – neither too long nor too short – and the restaurants were efficient, while serving great food,” she added.
High said the group was easy-going, so new individuals, couples or other small groups would be welcome.
“Overall, we really enjoyed these trips and highly recommend them,” she said.
The fall trips were led by professional tour guide Linda Koenig, tour manager of St. Louis-based Gateway Tours for 25 years.
“We have a great time on all of our trips, learning special things about each destination, enjoying great food, and having an amazing day with old and new friends,” Koenig said.
She said she views these getaways as educational outings for adults.
“It’s always fun for me, as a former college professor, to hear participants talk about how much they’ve learned every day. They say they are really looking forward to the 2022 day trip listing from the community center,” Koenig added.
In October, club participants joined a trip to historic Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. They visited period homes, an authentically restocked trade store, a church, and rare French vertical timber dwellings.
Lunch consisted of fried chicken, pork loin, salad, potatoes and gravy, a vegetable, rolls, a drink and an apple crisp. Travelers also enjoyed wine tasting at Chaumette Winery, as well as a wine tasting and cellar tour at the on-site Cave Winery. The cost of the fall trip was $95 each for Kirkwood residents and $100 for non-residents.
“We are thrilled to be offering these trips again, and attendees have been thrilled to get out and see new places,” said Thal Horton. “Currently, we require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel, as well as wearing a mask on the coach.”
She said the first trip of the new year will be Stained Glass and Steeples on February 23, again with Koenig as the tour guide.
Thal Horton said the late spring trip will travel to Arthur, Illinois for an authentic Amish experience and enjoy the Strawberry Jam Festival. This trip will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 4.
Prices and times are still being finalized for these two future trips. To register for club outings, visit KirkwoodParksAndRec.org or call 314-822-5855. To sign up for the band’s newsletter regarding all future travel notifications, email [email protected] All trips depart and return from the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S. Geyer Road.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Louis OASIS crews hosted day trips, such as to the haunted Jefferson City Penitentiary, the Budweiser Clydesdale Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville, Missouri, or to nearby wineries. Although the OASIS group has not yet resumed these trips, they do offer periodic walking tours to various parts of the St. Louis area.
A St. Louis-based independent social group called the St. Louis Travelers get together to sample ethnic restaurants, attend travel conferences, and go to benefits or cultural festivals, especially those involving music, the cinema or dance. Organizer Jo Beck said St. Louis travelers also travel together on out-of-state or overseas group tours, and many of its members are looking for travel companions.
To join St. Louis Travelers, call 314-394-1942 or email [email protected]
An online company, SeniorTravelBuddies.com, offers a different option for local adventure seekers. This group dedicates trips to senior travelers who want a local, in-person travel companion.
Conversely, out-of-state companies, such as Senior Excursions Incorporated based in Wildwood, New Jersey, run group trips and tours for seniors in the gateway city. It may be possible to join such ongoing tours in the metropolitan area.