Enjoying the life around you; Austin is flush with activities for seniors to take part in

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The personal finance website, Wallet Hub, called Minnesota one of the best states to retire in, in 2018 — and Austin is a good reason why.

Minnesota ranked first in two out of three criteria. While the  third, affordability, wasn’t quite as high as people might like — Minnesota killed on the other two: healthcare and quality of life.

We all understand good healthcare — but what about this thing we call quality of life? We aren’t sure about exact definitions, but we’re pretty sure we know what it looks like. —and Austin has it.

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Austin is chock full of lots of things to do, whether they are recreational, related to wellness, the arts or learning something new.

Nancy Schnable, head of Discover Austin!, the community’s convention and visitor’s bureau, often hosts senior groups and finds that seniors find a multitude of things to do, from listening to the lunchbox series at the Mower County Historical Society and antiquing, to visiting the Historic Paramount Theatre to finding just the right place to dine.

“There are so many dining options to choose from, Kenny’s Oak Grill, Barleys, the Old Mill, Tendermaid, Bella Victoria … They could go once a week for a year and still not get to all the dining options in Austin! Plus many of them like to go in and “experience” Knauer’s Meat Market,” Schnable said.

Here is a run down of just some of the top draws that make Austin the place to be for those over 55.

• Explore! For about the past eight years, The Jay Hormel Nature Center has offered a lively slate of free activities for seniors — from trail rides via golf cart, to musical and naturalist guests.

This summer, a whole raft of entertainment and talks are scheduled, free of charge.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the center’s amenities otherwise, including beautiful hiking trails — to enjoy wildflowers, bird-watching and if you have a hankering for it, photography.

“I would say that we have an average of 40-50 for a session” of the senior programming, said Julie Champlin, of the center. “Oh my gosh — these programs are among the best things we ever added here. They have become so popular — usually they are only held in the summer, but this year, we added two — one in February and one in April.”

Champlin mentioned that becoming a Friend of the nature center — a group that supports the activities at the center — can also enjoy Friends-only activities. Champlin noted that with three or four days advance notice, there are also private tours given on the trails. Call Julie at 507-437-7519, or go to: www.hormelnaturecenter.org/

Mandie Siems and James Zschunkeight in Summerset Theatre’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” at Riverland Community College’s Frank W. Bridge’s Theatre. Herald file photos

• Theater: Austin is home to a host of theater opportunities, from the Riverland Theatre and Summerset seasons at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre (past performances have included “On Golden Pond,” “She Loves Me,”) at Riverland Community College; to within-a-few-miles of Austin performances.

And, there is always the Matchbox Children’s Theatre whose productions for the younger set – which provide opportunities for grandkids/grandparents get-togethers – will make you Grandparent of the Year.

Austin is also well-located for other theater choices. Twenty miles to the west is the Albert Lea Community Theatre (“The Miracle Worker,” “Beauty and the Beast”); 20 miles to the east is the Rochester Civic Theatre (“Shrek: The Musical,” “The Diary of Anne Frank.”)

Go to: www.summersettheatre.org/


• Music, Music! Austin is your summer destination for its vast array of musical choices, from community band concerts  at Bandshell Community Park, and Peace Garden Concerts at the Hormel Historic Home. But those are just the beginning. The Historic Paramount Theatre sets the stage for a number of musical concerts throughout the year. The Austin Symphony Orchestra is also a favorite treat – who also does a summer concert at the band shell. The Austin Artists Series, almost three-quarters of a century strong, provides year-round concerts that can be enjoyed in Austin, Albert Lea or Osage.





• Read: You haven’t experienced anything like an author’s visit to our Sweet Reads Book and Candy. Owner Lisa Deyo works hard to invite Minnesota authors to book signings and talks. Of course, there are a lot of other things to do at Sweet Reads, from participating (or just listening to) a monthly Poet’s Mic; or enjoying a Sherlock Holmes Mystery session. http://www.sweetreadsbooks.com/

The Austin Public Library – well, you just have to go to see all the resources available to you; there are too many to list here. https://www.aplmn.org/

• Film: Watching your wallet? The Historic Paramount Theatre is also home to $5 classic movie nights, whose offerings in May include a number of beloved films, from “Arsenic and Old Lace,” to  “Gone with the Wind.” www.austinareaarts.org/

Of course, there is always Austin’s cineplex, CineMagic 7.

• Wellness: The YMCA here has exercise – on both “water and land” — throughout the week as part of its Active Older Adults programming, designed to keep you in shape for all the other activities there are to enjoy.

The Y designs programs for low impact fitness activities that improve health and well being. People of all ability and fitness levels can participate. And guess what? In two years, you’ll have a brand new facility to enjoy.

For more: www.ymca-austin.org/y-programs/active-older-adults/

Russell Vaale works on a piece during a meeting of the Woodcarvers Club at the Mower County Senior Center.

• Senior Center: Well, if you are not familiar with the Mower County Senior Center, you are just plain missing out. What don’t they do here? This senior center works hard to address every senior need, from wellness and exercise, to good food, cards, travel and guest speakers. Add to that informative sessions on topics important to seniors. Don’t wait. www.summersettheatre.org/

• Take in a game: It’s summer, and time for baseball! Marcusen Park is home to the Austin Greyhounds; in the winter, hockey with the Austin Bruins is a favorite at the Riverside Arena. And, of course, lots of other high school sports in between. Check out everything Austin’s Park and Recreation Department has to offer: