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When You Hit 60, Hit the Road to Knowledge : Education: Most Elderhostel domestic programs dwell on entertaining pursuits such as country music and Broadway musicals.

<i> Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks</i>

Any mature traveler with even a slight interest in continuing education should be stirred into action by the latest 144-page Elderhostel domestic catalogue.

Elderhostel is an educational and travel program for people 60 years and over and should not be confused with Interhostel, which runs a similar, but more limited, international tour program for those 50 and over.

Elderhostel’s domestic base includes more than 1,200 colleges and universities, private schools, national parks and a variety of other educational institutions in 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces.

Thousands of programs are offered and are from such contemporary topics as “Understanding the Middle East” and “Changing China” to “Greek Mythology” and “Philosophy of Plato.”

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Most offerings, however, dwell on more entertaining pursuits, such as country music, Broadway musical theater, art, photography, writing, computers, folk dancing, golf and chamber music.

There are no tests, grades or regimented format. Courses are open to all.

The cost of an Elderhostel program, which normally runs Sunday through Friday, averages $235 per person, except in Hawaii and Alaska, where the cost is slightly higher.

Prices include registration, six nights’ accommodations, meals, five days of classes (usually three courses per day, averaging 60 to 90 minutes each) and a variety of extracurricular activities.

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Accommodations are mostly in college dormitories (shared double rooms and bathroom facilities), with access to all the campus recreational and cultural facilities. A few cabins and hostels also are used. Some of them even provide space for people with recreational vehicles.

It’s mostly campus-style food, with occasional cookouts or picnics on field trips. Don’t expect luxury accommodations or haute cuisine .

Transportation is not included in the rates. You’re on your own in getting to an Elderhostel site. Most programs, however, will provide pick-up service at nearby airports and bus and rail stations.

To get a free United States or Canada Domestic catalogue, or the International Summer catalogue, write to Elderhostels, 80 Boylston St., Suite 400, Boston, Mass. 02116. Or call (617) 426-8056 between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m.

For a list of the California and Nevada Elderhostel sites, write to Southern California Elderhostel, California State University Los Angeles, ST F-309, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, Calif. 90032.

(Note: The domestic or international catalogues aren’t available from the Los Angeles address; they must be ordered from the Boston office.)


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