Golden years at a silver price

Check out our guide to senior discounts in the area for the best deals on museums, recreation, eats and more.

seniors
Photo courtesy of Robert Kneschke/Adobe Stock

The D.C. area can sometimes be seen as a young person’s playground, filled with recent college graduates and summer interns, packed happy hours and busy brunch spots. However, senior citizens aren’t missing from the NoVA scene—recent census data finds that in Fairfax County alone, 11.1 percent of the population is 65 or older. So what’s a recent retiree to do for fun in a landscape filled with bar crawls and networking events (though there’s certainly no age limit on those)? Check out our guide to senior discounts in the area for the best deals on museums, recreation, eats and more.

Theaters and Music Venues

For the music- and theater-loving senior citizen, entertainment options abound throughout Northern Virginia and the District. Crystal City’s Synetic Theater offers those 65 and older a discount of $5 off all performances except for the $10 performances that occur at the beginning of each show’s run. Synetic attendees can look forward to a theater experience that is known nationwide for its nontraditional (think Shakespeare without words) take on classic plays like Hamlet. This summer, check out The Mark of Cain, a Synetic original that opens this month.

Ford's Theatre
Photo by Maxwell Mackenzie

History buffs can enjoy a night out at the historic Ford’s Theatre in Northwest D.C. The 2017-18 season at Ford’s Theatre will include Death of a Salesman, Jefferson’s Garden and The Wiz, all of which have a senior discount available for those age 60 and up. (The theater also offers showings of A Christmas Carol during the holidays, which does not have a senior discount.) Death of a Salesman and Jefferson’s Garden senior tickets will go for $36 on weekends and $33 on weekdays, while The Wiz tickets will be $47 on weekends and $32 on weekdays. As an added bonus, showgoers can also explore the Ford’s Theatre Museum, which features exhibits on the Civil War and Lincoln, including the weapons used by John Wilkes Booth in Lincoln’s assassination.

Interested in ballet, comedy, opera or live music? The Kennedy Center likely has a show for you—and for some seniors, it comes with a discount of 50 percent. Rather than a flat discount on all tickets, the Kennedy Center includes a senior discount for those 65 and older under its Specialty Price Ticket program. The SPT program offers a limited number of half-off tickets per show and show time, which must be purchased in person. Kennedy Center instant charge supervisor Brandon Guilliams recommends that those interested call ahead to make sure that discounted tickets are available for the show and day they’re planning to visit.

Lovers of live entertainment who aren’t interested in D.C. traffic (or perhaps want a more natural setting) don’t have to miss out on award-winning music and theater—Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is located right in Vienna. The indoor/outdoor venue offers a variety of shows all summer, from St. Paul & The Broken Bones to Lionel Richie to Mamma Mia! Senior discounts at Wolf Trap offer a 50 percent off deal for people 65 and up. Interested seniors should arrive at the box office early because discounted tickets are available 30 minutes before showtime and are subject to availability.

Synetic Theater
Synetic Theater / Photo by Johnny Shryock
Theaters & Music Venues

· Synetic Theater: $5 off all performances except $10 performances
· Ford’s Theatre: Discounts vary based on performance.
· The Kennedy Center: Through the Specialty Price Ticket program, there are a limited number of half-off tickets per show, per time.
· Wolf Trap: 50 percent off tickets that are available 30 minutes before showtimes

Galleries and Museums

The D.C. area is known for its great selection of museums and exhibits—namely Smithsonian-owned institutions, which are free of charge. However, ticketed museums can still be affordable, particularly for senior citizens. D.C.’s National Building Museum, known for its Instagram-famous summer installations (remember last year’s Icebergs or 2014’s BIG Maze?), offers a discount for museumgoers aged 60 and up, as well as discounted memberships for senior citizens. Admission prices at the National Building Museum generally increase during the summer (and hadn’t been announced at the time of print), so keep an eye on the website for up-to-date ticket info. When you’re there, make sure to check out the newest summer installation, Hive by Studio Gang. This year, museum members gain access to the installation at no charge.

National Geographic
Photo by Rebecca Hale/National Geographic

The ever-popular Newseum also provides an age-based discount. Rather than paying the general admission price of $24.95, seniors 65 and older can purchase tickets for $19.95, gaining access to many temporary and permanent exhibits on freedom of the press and other communications issues, like current exhibit Louder Than Words, which runs through July 31 and focuses on music’s role in free speech and politics.

If you’d rather spend a summer day exploring both indoor and outdoor areas rather than staying in a museum, consider checking out Mount Vernon. George Washington’s historic Fairfax County estate provides plenty of architecture and decor envy, along with gorgeous gardens, riverside views and working livestock. Seniors can gain entry to the mansion for $19 at the ticket window or $16 online (regularly $20 and $18, respectively).

For those looking to live adventurously (or vicariously through other adventurers), the National Geographic Museum in D.C. provides action shots and exhibits on flora, fauna and other cultures around the world. One-time passes can be purchased for $12 if you’re 62 or older, or save on multiple trips by joining the annual pass membership program (which comes with free entry to the museum) at a 15 percent discount.

Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon / Photo by Buddy Secor
Galleries & Museums

· National Building Museum: Seniors receive $3 off entrance fee.
· Newseum: Seniors receive a 20 percent discount on admission tickets ($19.95).
· George Washington’s Mount Vernon: Senior tickets are available for $19 at the ticket window or $16 online.
· National Geographic Museum: One-time passes are $12, and seniors receive a 15 percent discount on annual passes.

Newseum
Photo by Maria Bryk/Newseum

Restaurants

With all the senior-friendly options in NoVA and D.C., you’re bound to work up an appetite. Luckily, senior citizen discounts extend to some area restaurants. In the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Falls Church, City Diner offers a large menu (with even larger portions) of American and Greek options—think all-day breakfast mixed with dinner specials like stuffed filet Florentine to pork souvlaki, topped off with an extensive dessert display of cakes, pies, tarts and hand-spun milkshakes. Seniors enjoy 7 percent off their bills at City Diner.

Craving something spicier? Senior citizens also receive a discount (which ranges from 10 to 15 percent off) at area Chili’s Grill & Bar locations. Chili’s offers both Tex-Mex and American dishes like fajitas, steaks and more in family-friendly surroundings. Most Chili’s locations also include a separate bar area, complete with multiple televisions for sports fans. Call ahead to check exact discount price, since Chili’s discount amounts can vary based on the franchise.

There are also numerous chain eateries, most of which can be found in the main shopping hubs like malls and town centers, that offer a range of senior discounts. There are so many that the list is too long to name, but some popular ones found in Northern Virginia are: Applebee’s, Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels, Ben & Jerry’s, Bonefish Grill, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts, IHOP—you get where we’re going with this. So when you’re out at a chain, your best bet is to ask as they most likely offer a discount.

And for grocery shopping, all Harris Teeter locations offer a 5 percent discount on Thursdays.

Washington Nationals Park
Photo courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club

Recreation

Senior deals and discounts in the Northern Virginia area aren’t just of the indoor variety—local senior citizens can also enjoy lower prices on recreational activities like sporting events, park entry, league and tournament admission and more. At Fairfax County Park Authority courses, golfers over 65 years old receive 35 percent off nonprime multiround passes as well as the opportunity to join senior-only leagues and tournaments—check the FCPA website to find your nearest event or league.

Along with greens discounts, Fairfax County Park Authority also offers discounts on both single-day and long-term passes at its RECenter locations around the county: Seniors who can provide proof of county residency can access RECenters for an entry fee of $6.50 (normally $10) or purchase a pass at a rate of $69 for one month up to $622 for 12 months (normally $74 up to $669). RECenter offerings vary based on location, so make sure to call ahead if searching for a specific class (like yoga) or facility (like racquetball) option.

Other county park authorities also offer senior discounted rates such as Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Outdoorsy seniors aren’t left out when it comes to discounts. Lorton’s Mason Neck State Park, which includes hiking trails, water access for nonmotorized boating, a picnic area and more, offers a discount for senior citizens 62 and older. The Naturally Yours annual pass provides year-round access to all state parks at just $36 and includes parking and admission. Use it when you take a day trip to local state parks like Mason Neck, Leesylvania, Sky Meadows and any of the other 36 parks in the commonwealth.

If you’re more interested in larger parks, the Northern Virginia area (and beyond) doesn’t disappoint. All national parks (including area favorite Great Falls) offer a National Park Service Senior Pass, formerly known as the Golden Age Pass. This pass provides entry to any national park, national forest or Bureau of Land Management land—basically any national site that charges a fee—for a one-time fee of $10 (meaning you can purchase it for a day trip to Great Falls, then use it again for a weekend in Shenandoah or a road trip to the Grand Canyon). This pass is available to all seniors who are at least 62.

D.C. baseball fans are in luck, too. The Washington Nationals offer both tickets and events for senior citizens, including a special Northern Virginia Magazine discount: Throughout this season, seniors can save on Nats tickets by using discount code SENIORDEALS17 when purchasing online. Play ball!

If just watching the game isn’t enough, make like Bryce Harper and run the bases at one of the Nationals’ Senior Stroll events. Senior Stroll provides the opportunity for Nats fans age 60 and up to receive discounted tickets (that include a concession credit) for a game, plus the opportunity to come down to the field after the game to stroll, walk or run the bases. 2017 Senior Stroll events occur on June 24 and Aug. 30. Check it out online for more info and tickets.

Recreation

· Fairfax County Park Authority Golf Courses: 35 percent off nonprime multiround passes, plus senior leagues and tournament opportunities
· Fairfax County Park Authority RECenter locations: $6.50 entrance fee for county residents, discounted monthly ($69) or annual ($622) passes
· Arlington County Parks and Recreation: Senior discounted rates with 55+ Pass for facilities
· Loudoun County Parks and Recreation: Discounts offered for seniors
· Prince William County Parks and Recreation: Discounts offered for fitness centers and community pools
· Virginia State Parks: Through the Naturally Yours Pass, seniors receive entrance and parking to all state parks for $36.
· National Park Service: Through the Senior Pass, seniors receive entrance to all national parks for a one-time fee of $10.
· The Washington Nationals: Use code SENIORDEALS17 when purchasing tickets for a discount based on the seating chosen.

adult classes
Photo courtesy of Press Master/Adobe Stock

Self-Improvement and Education

At the end of the day, being a senior isn’t all fun and games. New retirees may find themselves missing the workplace or even feeling left behind by new technology. Northern Virginia Community College provides an environment for learning and further education for people of any age, seniors included. Some seniors may even qualify for free tuition—seniors 60 and above can enroll in both credit and noncredit classes and not pay tuition on a space-available basis. This is available for those whose taxable income has not exceeded $23,850 in the previous year (credit courses) as well as seniors who made over the income limit (credit courses for audit, which means the senior does not earn credit, and noncredit courses through Workforce Development). Interested seniors can view a course catalog and apply at nvcc.edu/admissions/apply/seniors.html.

The Osher Lifetime Learning Institute at George Mason University also offers opportunities for furthering education. Through daytime classes, lectures and social events led by OLLI members and George Mason faculty for eight-week terms, seniors can delve into topics such as economics and finance; art and music; history; literature, theater and writing; religious studies; humanities and social sciences; current events; and science, technology and health. Registration through the OLLI program also gives participants access to GMU’s library, a discounted gym membership and other benefits GMU students are offered. OLLI programs are available at the Fairfax, Loudoun and Reston campuses.

Self-Improvement & Education

Northern Virginia Community College: Free tuition is possible on a space-available basis.
The Osher Lifetime Learning Institute at George Mason University: Classes are available to seniors, some at a cost.

(July 2017)

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