If you're thinking about a road trip this summer, how about a walk in the park -- a national park.
There are 58 federally operated national parks, and while most of them are west of the Mississippi, one -- Acadia National Park in Maine -- is a doable eight-hour drive from Long Island. Acadia is a good choice for older adults because most of the natural beauty can be seen from the comfort of your car. Or, if you get out to explore, the landscape is mostly flat.
"There's no hiking involved," says Bill Rudock, a professional photographer and lecturer who has traveled extensively to many of the National Parks. Rudock recommends Acadia (nwsdy.li/acadia-park) for seniors who would rather see things at their own pace in a self-guided tour. "A lot of seniors who don't want to deal with getting on and off buses and trams can do it in their own car at their leisure." Acadia's vistas include woodlands, lakes, ocean shorelines and the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast.
Rudock, founder of First Light Photography (firstlightphotography.com) in Islip Terrace, and his partner, Gen Benjamin, conduct workshops that teach Long Islanders about the national parks. They will share their expertise -- and some of their scenic photos -- at Long Beach library Tuesday.The free seminar starts at 2 p.m.
Anyone 62 or older can get a Senior Pass from the federal government that gives them free access to every national park and about 2,000 recreation sites (nwsdy.li/natparks-info). The pass has a one-time fee of $10 and never expires. There's an additional $10 processing fee if you order by mail that can be avoided by buying the passes directly at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in Oyster Bay (516-922-4788) or Fire Island National Seashore in Patchogue (631-687-4750). Call to make sure the passes are in stock.
For those up for a longer road trip, Rudock recommends the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, about a 13-hour drive from Long Island. Most visitors head to the main entrance in Gatlinburg, which features nearby amusement parks -- and, not surprisingly, lots of noisy kids, especially in the summer. "A lot of seniors don't want to get caught up in all that," Rudock says. His alternative: The entrance in Townsend, Tennessee. "It's not crowded, and there are nice hotels."