The Ultimate USA Travel Bucket List
Unique summer bucket list ideas to inspire your travels!
Are you planning a trip around the USA and looking to add some off-the-beaten-path destinations to your itinerary? You’re in the right place! I reached out to some of my favorite travel experts and put together this huge, in-depth guide just for you with all the best places to visit in USA.
The United States is full of gorgeous natural beauty and incredible cultural diversity, making it the ideal place to explore. Even if you have lived in the USA your entire life, there is always more to see and do. This bucket list guide contains over 40 destinations in just about every state – guaranteeing you’ll never get bored!
From iconic American landmarks to hidden gems, you’ll find something for everyone on this USA bucket list. Whether you’re looking for insider tips, restaurant suggestions for foodies, the best national park recommendations for nature lovers, or activity ideas for thrill seekers, you’ll find plenty of fantastic suggestions here.
A huge thank you to all the awesome, knowledgeable travel bloggers who contributed ideas for this USA bucket list guide! Be sure to check out their blogs for even more information and wanderlust inspiration.
Without further ado, let’s dive in and explore the best places to visit in the United States!
1. Drive The Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii
The next time you visit tropical Maui, Hawaii, don’t make the mistake of missing out on driving the famous Road to Hana! It’s something everyone should experience at least once. The drive will take you along the north side of the island, heading east through more than 600 curves and almost 60 picturesque bridges, and it is absolutely stunning. Picture a narrow highway lined with lush jungle foliage (and even a bamboo forest!) on one side, and million dollar ocean views on the other.
But it gets even better!
There are tons of places where you can stop along the way to explore Maui’s exquisite scenery close up. Here are some of the most popular stops:
- The lookout at Kaumahina State Wayside Park (you’ll get a swoon-worthy photo op here!)
- A hike and swim at Twin Falls
- Walk along the rugged beauty of the Keanae coastline
- Enjoy hot, fresh-baked banana bread from Aunty Sandy’s all day long
- Go adventuring in a dormant lava tube past mile marker 31 (if you’re not too claustrophobic!)
- Stroll along the jaw-dropping black sand beach, legendary historical sites, and blowhole at Waianapanapa State Park
For the best possible experience, allow yourself the gift of time to explore this part of the island properly. Rather than try to rush through the journey in a single day, stay one night in Hana. This way, you’ll have two full days to enjoy all available sightseeing along the route (one day to drive there, and one day to drive back).
Sheralyn Guilleminot | Paradise Found in Maui
2. Bike Across The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in the world and I think the best way to experience it is on a bike. We rented bikes and did the ride on our own, but there are plenty of bike tours if you prefer. I would recommend renting your bike in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, that way, after you’ve crossed the bridge, you can take the ferry back to return your bike.
The ride from Fisherman’s Wharf to the bridge was flat until the approach to the bridge. Then, it got so steep that I decided to walk my bike. Once I got to the bridge, the bike lane was crowded because it is shared with pedestrians. I stopped to take a few pictures, the views of the bay were breathtaking.
After You Cross The Bridge:
It is nearly all downhill to the adorable town of Sausalito. We stopped there for brunch before catching a ferry back. If you have the energy, keep riding another 10 miles to Tiburon, which is another cute town on the bay. You can also catch a ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf there.
On the ferry ride back, I got another view of the picturesque bridge. I reflected on my accomplishment, it was a challenging ride since I am not an experienced biker. If I can do it, I know you can too. Add biking across the Golden Gate Bridge to your USA bucket list. It’s the best way to see the bridge and burn some calories!
3. Take In The Majesty of Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is one of the premier national parks in the USA. It’s open year-round, but like other high elevation parks in the west, the best time to visit is the summer, when all the roads have been cleared. For Glacier National Park, this is usually in late May or June.
A must-drive is the “Going to the Sun” Road that goes from east to west, or vice versa, through the center of the park with a stop at the very high Logan Pass Visitor Center – it’s hard to believe this building is completely covered by many feet of snow in the winter. (See more on biking this amazing road at #16 below!)
Parking is difficult so you may need to take the shuttle. One of the moderate and most beautiful walks starts from here – up and over the hill to Hidden Lake with views of Bearhat Mountain. Despite being one of the busiest trails in the park, it’s full of wildlife.
You are almost guaranteed to see mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and ground squirrels on this hike. It’s also possible to see more dangerous animals – bears (both Black Bears and Grizzly Bears) or wolverines. For longer hikes, the Many Glaciers area is a favorite base. I also love the Iceberg Lake hike – you walk along a ridge with views most of the day and then end at a basin lake with floating icebergs.
Lisa | The Hotflashpacker
4. Party in Las Vegas, Nevada
A party night in Las Vegas should be on your US bucket list, since you will certainly have a night that you won’t forget! While Las Vegas is rather quiet during the day (unless you visit one of the infamous pool parties in some of the hotels), the city comes alive when the sun is setting.
Most of the famous hotels have their own nightclub, with places such as the Hakkasan Club in the MGM Grand and the XS Nightclub in the Wynn among the most famous clubs in the city. Since these clubs regularly host famous DJs, you might need to buy your ticket in advance. But even if your trip to Las Vegas is rather spontaneous, you’ll certainly find a spot to party.
How To Save Money In Vegas:
Start your night out with some pre-drinks at your hotel, since alcohol in the nightclubs is crazy expensive and you don’t want to spend a fortune on it. However, one party I attended at the Hakkasan Club had such a great atmosphere that I didn’t need any alcohol to have a great time! On your way to the club, make a stop at the Bellagio fountains to take in the famous water show.
The clubs in Las Vegas are different from anything I’ve experienced before. The atmosphere, the people, the money – I even saw an older guy throwing dollar bills through the club from top of his lounge, surrounded by screaming ladies! A party night in Las Vegas is a unique experience and while I had a great time dancing and celebrating, don’t forget to have a look around and watch the other people – you’ll certainly be entertained. A night or two in Las Vegas should definitely be on your US bucket list!
Patrick Muntzinger | German Backpacker Travel Blog
5. Visit Sunny San Diego, California
When most visitors come to California they typically choose San Francisco or Los Angeles and travel to both places by driving. However, San Diego should also be on your bucket list if you’re looking to experience that Southern California lifestyle and vibe we all crave while visiting the state.
San Diego offers so many amazing sights to see and activities you can do, here are just a few examples:
- Drive around the stunning coastal areas
- Explore San Diego wine country
- Make the short drive across the border to Tijuana, Mexico
- Visit the world renowned San Diego Zoo
- Discover all the hip craft breweries in the beer capital
- Check out beautiful Balboa Park and Old Town
- Soak up the stunning coastlines and beaches of Coronado, La Jolla, or Mission Beach
For Adventure Seekers:
You can go diving, surfing, paragliding and biking through miles of beautiful coastal and inland trails. For foodies, there are so many fun neighborhoods to explore with terrific restaurants offering world cuisine! While you are in San Diego, you definitely have to try some of the authentic Mexican restaurants in Old Town or Barrio Logan which is the epicenter for great Hispanic cuisine.
There’s so much to see and do in San Diego!
Noel Morata | Travel Photo Discovery
6. Take In The French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana
The French Quarter of New Orleans is a destination like nowhere else in the USA. Home to notable French, Caribbean, Spanish, Italian, and Native American influences, the French Quarter is known as the home of jazz and debauchery – and you can find plenty of both here.
That’s not all there is to the French Quarter, though – you can also find a long and tangled history, some beautiful architecture, and some of the best food on the planet.
What To Eat & Do in New Orleans:
While you’re in the French Quarter, be sure to taste not only Hurricanes (the drink of choice on famous Bourbon Street), but also jambalaya, a muffuletta, beignets, gumbo, fried chicken, and more.
Learn your way around by taking a tour focused on any number of themes: interested in pirates, ghosts, food, Hurricane Katrina, or anything else connected to New Orleans? There’s a tour for that.
Once you have your bearings, set off on your own to soak in all the French Quarter has to offer: from bookstores to churches to markets to bars with carousels inside them to haunted hotels and beyond, you can find just about anything you’re looking for.
Above all else, the French Quarter has always been a place of indulgence. Whatever that means to you, you’ll find it here.
Kate Storm | Our Escape Clause
7. Explore Stunning Yosemite National Park in California
Yosemite should be on everyone’s USA bucket list. Landscapes don’t come much more striking than this – there’s a reason why pretty much everyone has heard of it. It’s spectacular.
Famously photographed by Ansel Adams, you can see why he loved photographing the park so much. Granite peaks, densely wooded valleys that change colour with the seasons, roaring waterfalls, giant trees: Yosemite is nature on a grand scale.
You’ll have seen pictures of Yosemite Valley: the valley bed cut by the Merced River framed by larger than you thought possible granite faces – Half Dome among them.
How To Avoid The Crowds:
Though many, many people make the trip to Yosemite, it’s easy to grab a slice of it to yourself. Just set off on foot, away from the car parks and the tourist visitor centers and you’ll be surprised how quickly the crowds melt away. The park covers an area of over 3,000 km sq: there’s plenty to go round.
I visited Yosemite as a (rather long) detour on a road trip up the west coast. I’d wavered about making the trip to Yosemite as it added a couple of days and lots of distance onto our already tight itinerary. I didn’t regret doing it – visiting and hiking in the park is one of the most memorable experiences from the trip.
Julianna Barnaby | The Discoveries Of
8. Relax on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
The tiny island of Martha’s Vineyard just off Cape Cod is a playground for the rich and famous and is a must visit on any USA bucket list. ‘The Vineyard,’ as it is affectionately known, is a mix of quaint little towns and secluded beaches and a visit is like stepping back in time.
From the narrow streets of Edgartown to the colourful boardwalk town of Oaks Bluff, Martha’s Vineyard is a lovely mix of old, modern, luxurious and fun. The dramatic coastline, with its sandy beaches and soaring cliffs, is dotted with lighthouses and is beautiful to explore. There are lots of great food options: the seafood on Martha’s Vineyard is amazing and the ice cream delicious.
On A Cinematic Note:
The island will look somewhat familiar to Jaws fans: Martha’s Vineyard acted as the fictional island of Amity in the movie and there are lots of familiar sights! Our favourite Jaws spots were the Jaws bridge between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs and South Beach which was the setting for the opening scenes of the movie.
We have fabulous memories from our days spent on Martha’s Vineyard and loved every second of our time there!
Elaine & David | Show Them The Globe
9. Hike to Stunning Havasu Falls, Arizona
Located down a deep canyon in Northern Arizona,10 miles from the nearest road, is arguably the most picturesque waterfall in the entire United States – Havasu Falls. The turquoise blue water plunges 100 feet down the limestone cliff into the inviting swimming hole below. Travertine formations from large amounts of calcium carbonate give the pools an almost milky appearance, making it such a recognizable and iconic location.
Havasu Falls can only be accessed on foot, by horseback, or via a short helicopter ride. Because it is so difficult to reach, most visitors choose to stay at least a few nights in one of the peaceful, shady campsites along the banks of the river. There are also rooms available in the nearby Havasupai Village for those who prefer more luxurious accommodations.
For those seeking additional adventures, there are several other beautiful falls further downstream although the descent to reach them is not for the faint of heart. Mooney Falls is a little over twice the height of Havasu Falls and every bit as beautiful. And Beaver Falls is the perfect place to have an afternoon swim.
Important To Note:
The entire area of Havasu Falls is managed by the Havasupai Tribe. Due to the fragile nature of the area, the amount of visitors allowed per day is limited. Permits go on sale on February 1st of each year and permits for the entire 9-month season get booked within the first few weeks.
Nick & Val | Wandering Wheatleys
10. Escape to The Outer Banks of North Carolina
The Outer Banks is known as many things, depending on who you ask. Some will call it “The Graveyard of the Atlantic,” thanks to the hordes of shipwrecks found along these barrier islands. Others will call it “America’s First Beach,” as many people come to explore the over 100 miles of coastline sitting on the eastern edge of North Carolina.
There are tons of beaches to explore, and lots of ways to enjoy them. You can see wild horses, explore isolated patches of sand on Cape Hatteras National Seashore, or hang out on the mesmerizing dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
What To Eat & Do:
You should also be sure to grab some Duck Donuts (or other locally produced donuts from somewhere nearby) and enjoy your day by the water. You can also check out Jennette’s Pier (pictured above) up close and in person. Either way, the views are wonderful.
The Wright Brothers Memorial isn’t far away and this is where you’ll learn why many North Carolinians have “First in Flight” printed on their license plates. Drive down NC Highway 12 and you’ll really feel on the edge of the world (or the USA, in this case).
Stop at Bodi Island Lighthouse and you’ll want to take 100 photos of the iconic postcard spot. Keep driving and you’ll be faced with a tough decision: turn back and go home or settle and find a new place to live on the beautiful Outer Banks!
Carl Hedinger | NC Tripping
11. Discover Quirky Marfa, Texas
Marfa is a small artistic oasis in the middle of the vast West Texas desert. It’s a nearly nine hour trek from the more popular Austin or Houston, yet people flock to Marfa from all over the country. And it’s not just cowboys here; artists, yogis, chefs, and hipsters are turning this little town into a must-visit spot (even Beyoncé loves it – so you know it’s good).
You can visit abandoned gas stations converted into art galleries, take the perfect Instagram shot outside Prada Marfa and “glamp” in fashionably retro trailers. While it may seem like it’s new to the scene, Texans have been onto Marfa for years.
Marfa’s Mysterious “Ghost Lights”
The little town has been famous for decades for its mysterious lights. These unexplained “ghost lights” were first reported in 1883 when a cowboy herding cattle saw them in the distance. He thought it was a campfire built by local Native Americans, but as he rode closer the lights moved sharply and disappeared.
The strange phenomenon has never been explained, but not for lack of trying. Reflections from passing cars is a popular explanation (but back in 1883? That seems unlikely). Many say campfires are a possible source, but that doesn’t explain how the lights seem to dance across the horizon and night sky!
You can view the mysterious Marfa lights for yourself at the official viewing station nine miles out of town on Highway 90. According to the official website, all you need to bring with you is an open mind.
Erin Mushaway | Sol Salute
12. Soak Up The Sun in the Florida Keys
While it’s only 113 miles from Key Largo to Key West, this bucket list road trip over the scenic Overseas Highway is meant to be savored. With 42 bridges, stunning over-water vistas and plenty of fun stops along the way – this trip is one that will stay in the memory forever.
Flying into Miami and picking up a rental car is a great way to start your island hopping journey. Key Largo is at the official “northern” end of this gorgeous stretch of island highway. Here, outdoor lovers will find underwater treats galore. John Pennekamp Coral Reef Marine Sanctuary and State Park is available for snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and family camping.
What To See in the Florida Keys:
In the Middle Keys, at the city of Marathon, you’ll find the world famous Seven Mile Bridge spanning the small historic island of Pigeon Key. Here in the “Heart of the Keys” you’ll find some of the world’s best offshore fishing and spectacular sunsets.
For the final and most unique stop on the Florida Keys journey you’ll find Key West. Mile Marker 0 is the place where the Overseas Highway ends and the fun begins. Key West is a treasure for literary buffs and happy vacationers looking for a laid-back experience. There is so much to experience here and when you visit the Florida Keys, you’re always welcome to come as you are!
Lisa Chavis & Cheryl MacDonald | What Boundaries Travel
13. Hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park, Utah
Located in Zion National Park in Utah, Angels Landing is one of the most famous (or infamous) hikes in the national park system. Due to the 1500 foot elevation gain, this 5 mile trail can take up to 5 hours to complete. In comparison, most hikes of this length take only half the time.
To help navigate the most steep and narrow portion of the trail large chains have been bolted into the rock to serve as a railing. In addition to the bragging rights, its the view from the top that makes this physical feat worth it (or so I’m told).
A Great Hike For Thrill-Seekers
I first learned about this challenging trek two years ago when my daughter, Jessica, and her boyfriend, Jake, took a trip to Utah specifically to tackle Angels Landing. They both made it to the top without injury, but my daughter admits that completing the last portion was terrifying.
Just visiting Zion is on my bucket list, but I figure that Angels Landing will make it an even better story when I return home. Better start training now!
Wendy Lee | Empty Nesters Hit The Road
14. Take A Hot Air Balloon Ride in Arizona
If you asked me a couple of years ago to go on a hot air balloon ride I would have answered with a definite “no” and thought that you were a crazy person for even suggesting it! However, hot air ballooning became an ultimate bucket list item for me recently.
On a recent trip to Scottsdale, we had the opportunity to go on a hot air balloon ride. I’m not going to lie, I was terrified. We were picked up super early for our sunrise balloon flight. It was amazing to see the crew prepping this enormous balloon. We embarked on this adventure with 18 strangers that likely had the same fears as me.
My Surprising Experience On A Hot Air Balloon
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a little scared about taking off and floating in the sky! Entering the basket and waiting for take-off, my knees were actually trembling. Once we took off I was at complete ease. I started to relax as the balloon floated its way over houses and mountains.
Seeing Arizona from an entirely new perspective was spectacular. This is a once in a lifetime experience that you have to try. It is exhilarating and peaceful at the same time.
We floated over the desert, canals, roads, and highways for just over an hour taking in the views of the desert, Phoenix, and Lake Pleasant. It was so surreal. Upon our smooth landing, the crew was waiting for us and quickly set up a delicious breakfast that included cracking open some champagne. If you are in Arizona, this is the ultimate bucket list experience that you have to try!
Diana Becevello | Diana’s Healthy Living
15. Go Wine Tasting in Napa, California
Wine tasting in Napa, California has to be on your U.S. bucket list – regardless of whether you are a wine lover or not. Napa Valley has more than 400 wineries, and each one is so different. You can go check out where the wine you purchase and drink from your local grocery store is made, or you can go to local wineries with a small production of wines. You can taste wine at wineries with caves, gondola rides, or in an authentic castle.
Napa Valley isn’t just for wine lovers – you could also spend your days biking up and down Silverado Trail, make wine by stomping grapes, go to spas (mud baths, anyone?) in Calistoga, hiking, and even see an active geyser!
Don’t Forget The Food!
After a long day of tasting wine, you also have so many options for food. You can’t leave Napa Valley without doing a wine and food pairing. The best places to do these are at the French Laundry, Restaurant at Meadowood, and the Napa Valley Wine Train.
You can also have a lot of fun as a family with small kids too.
The best time to visit Napa is in the fall when the leaves turn to all the vibrant fall colors, and the temperature of the area is perfectly around 75 degrees Fahrenheit for sitting outside. There is something to look forward to every season though: Spring is perfect for the bright green leaves and mild temperature, Napa is a perfect summer destination to escape the cold foggy summer days in San Francisco, and Winter is gorgeous with bright yellow mustard flowers blooming.
Napa Valley is something you have to experience at least once in your lifetime, and it’s actually perfect for any time, and anyone!
Emily Jenks | Henry & Andrew’s Guide
16. Bike Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park in Montana is a favourite place for hikers and bikers during the summer. And there is an amazing opportunity to bike through the park right next to giant snow walls and under the waterfalls, the perfect way to cool off during a bike trip.
The Going to the Sun Road goes through a mountain pass at 6,646 feet, is covered with snow most of the year and needs to be plowed. Every year in June, plowers from each side of the Going to the Sun Road meet at Logan Pass and the road is ready for tourists. That’s when bikers get excited!
A Unique Bucket List Item For Cyclists
Every year cyclists take on the challenge to bike the Going to the Sun Road. Some road cyclists bike the road and connect to Highway #2 through Browning, making a loop of 146 miles. Some cyclists just want to have fun biking through the park, like we did.
We biked from St. Mary to Logan Pass (18 miles one way) and then the next day from West Glacier to Logan Pass (32 miles one way). Each side offers different natural attractions to enjoy.
What we enjoyed the most was biking next to the huge snow walls, a snow fight in July (!), biking under the waterfalls and of course, the downhill descents. Even road trippers passing by were envious. Biking under the waterfalls is always better than sitting in the air-conditioned car if you ask me.
Maya Steiningerova | Travel With the Smile
17. Step Back in Time in Wallace, Idaho
We recently went a road trip around Northern Idaho and made a stop in Wallace. Wallace has to be one of the most interesting places I’ve ever seen in the US and is definitely a bucket list destination. The small town is home to less than 1000 people.
The town is called the “Silver Capital of the World” and produces more silver than anywhere else in the world. For over 100 years, Wallace has been the core of silver mining in the United States, and it was eye-opening to see that many are still making their living in mining today.
The Perks of Visiting A Small Town:
The actual town of Wallace is small and walkable. It completely feels like you stepped back in time. To the days of the wild west and perhaps the last frontier. Yes, even saloons are still a thing. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I was in the late 1800s with outlaws and bandits. However the town is not dangerous and actually very charming and well preserved.
We spent the day soaking up Wallace’s beautiful natural landscape, exploring the town’s historic roots, and meeting friendly locals. Right down the street is Lookout Pass, a ski area that is certainly worth a stop on any road trip in the winter – they get more than 400 inches a season!
Natasha & Cameron | The World Pursuit
18. Explore Scenic Seward, Alaska
Seward, Alaska is an amazing destination that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime! The easiest way to get to Seward is to fly into Anchorage and take a rental car down the Seward Highway to Seward. However, if time permits, the train is also an amazing way to travel and experience the beauty of Alaska.
What To Do In Seward
Once in Seward, there is a smorgasbord of fun activities for all ages and interests. During our week-long visit, we kayaked to a glacier, went dog sledding with Mitch Seavey’s personal team of dogs who went on to win the 2017 Iditarod, hiked up a glacier, spent a full day cruising along the Kenai Fjords, and even went kayaking in Resurrection Bay where we found ourselves surrounded by a pod of ball porpoises.
In our “off time,” we explored the Alaska Sea Life Center, where we hand-fed puffins, enjoyed brews at the Seward Brewery, and just plain relaxed as we took in the sights. There really is no end to the number of things one can do and experience in Seward. It should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Nancy Canter | We Go With Kids
19. Hike North Table Mountain in Butte County, California
North Table Mountain in the Butte County (northern part of), Northern California puts on a spectacular show of wildflowers in the spring. Vernal pools and basalt rock and cows compose this ecological preserve in Butte County, near Oroville.
The flowers have prime resources and it shows! A short walk from the trail head (aka, parking lot) takes hikers past purple Sky Lupine, magenta Purple Owl’s Clover, white and hot pink and yellow flowers, and finally the beautiful orange poppies. Then the water puts on its own show—14 waterfalls, if you arrive at the perfect time, a few weeks after a big rain. On a day hike I passed five of the falls, including the more remote Beatson Fall.
The Magic of North Table Mountain
Observe the rocky cliffs of the gorge carefully, and you’ll notice little birds flying into their nests within the cracks. It’s Harry Potter-like, as they vanish into the wall.
All of the falls face west, so arrive in the afternoon to catch them in light, if you’re interested in capturing gorgeous photographs. Otherwise, morning is just fine for enjoying the flowers. Come prepared for any weather, though. There’s little shade on the trail, so bring sun protection as needed.
Jess | Longest Bus Rides
20. Visit The Seven Magic Mountains in Nevada
Las Vegas is on almost everyone’s bucket list, but the Seven Magic Mountains should be too! They are only 35 minutes off the Las Vegas Strip and have the perfect photo op opportunity. The Seven Magic Mountains is a magical art piece by the renowned Swiss artist, Ugo Rondinone.
They are essentially seven 30 to 35 feet high, bright colored boulders stacked on top of each other. This art installation has been a huge success and certainly brings a lot of color into the desert.
The Best Part of Visiting Seven Magic Mountains:
This bucket list attraction is not only awesome, but FREE! The only thing you have to spend to get here is gas. Parking and visitation to the Seven Magic Mountains is completely free. The best time to visit is early in the morning. It is less crowded and you have the nice early morning sunlight for photos. In addition, if you visit during the summertime, it will not be as hot.
Take your time to marvel in the colorful experience. Something about these bright boulders makes you feel young and free! You can walk around or even jump in the air around the boulders, just do not climb them. They are art, after all.
Christina & Adam | Our Sweet Adventures
21. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City
One of the things you have to do in the USA (and yes, it is compulsory in my eyes), is to walk the incredible Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It is one of those memories that lasts a lifetime! Walking the Brooklyn Bridge has been one of my most memorable travel highlights, so I had to add it to this ultimate USA bucket list.
The iconic bridge is not only special because it is one of the oldest roadway bridges in the USA, but because it also connects the two most famous boroughs in New York City: Manhattan and Brooklyn.
When & How To Walk The Brooklyn Bridge
To walk the bridge is always a special activity, but to have the very best experience, I recommend you walk the bridge by going from Brooklyn to Manhattan, and do it in the evening. Why walk the bridge in the evening? I think it looks even more magical when it is dark out and all skyscrapers are illuminated – that’s when New York City wears its best dress.
Walking the bridge at night means quite a few less people to contend with as well, which is nice since you normally have to share it lots of tourists during the day.
As you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, you will have a fantastic view of one the most impressive city skylines in the world: beautiful Manhattan. As you make your way slowly towards Manhattan, don’t forget to soak up every second of the skyline and that special New York City feeling. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a bucket list-worthy thing that you will cherish forever!
Arzo | Arzo Travels
22. Explore Serene Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe New Mexico offers everything a traveler looks for in a vacation destination. We loved the diversity – from the arts, food, Native Indian and Spanish cultures, history, geology, science to outdoor adventures year round.
If you are interested in relaxation and rejuvenation, many opportunities await you from spas, healing arts, yoga, hot springs, to the outdoors and gorgeous scenery.
Santa Fe New Mexico is surrounded by unspoiled wilderness. Adventures abound from hikes at Tent Rocks or Plaza Blanca to hot air ballooning or river rafting, jeep tours, and horseback riding. Our Tent Rocks hike was moderately difficult and it’s worth amazing view from the top.
More To Do:
For art, history or culture, you’ll find plenty in Santa Fe New Mexico. World-class museums on Museum Hill focus on American Indian Art and Culture, Spanish Colonial Culture, Folk Art and a Botanical Garden. A visit to Santa Fe is not complete without a visit to Meow Wolf – a modern, interactive installation that transports visitors to fantastic realms – it’s quite an experience.
I highly recommend a day trip to Abiquiu to experience Georgia O’Keeffe country and her home; the Ghost Ranch tour physically engages visitors in the Painted Desert landscapes that inspired her. I counted 23 Museums of Art and History in Santa Fe alone, plus 100 galleries on Canyon Road.
We visited several Indian reservations and Pueblos, shopping for Native American jewelry or crafts, and exploring the ancient dwellings, and ruins. Within 30 miles of Santa Fe are Puye Cliffs at Santa Clara Pueblo, Bandolier National Monument, Poeh Cultural Center at Pojoaque, Nambe, and San Ildefonso Pueblos.
Santa Fe is also known for its foodie culture.
Some restaurants our group enjoyed included:
- Geronimo – New American fare served in a circa-1756 adobe home
- Café Pasqual’s – Mexican fare made with local & organic ingredients
- Vinaigrette – bright bistro with design-your-own salads
- Harry’s Roadhouse – colorful cafe serving regional eats & weekend brunch with patio seating
- Milrad Persian Bistro – one of New Mexico’s top restaurants
There is so much to do and see in Santa Fe, New Mexico that one week is not enough. It is definitely bucket list worthy!
Wendy Blumenstein-Elliott | Adventurous Retirement
23. Explore the Glittering City of Chicago, Illinois
I might be biased, but I think my hometown of Chicago is one of the best places to visit in the United States. One of the largest US cities, Chicago has tons of things to see and do, friendly locals and is easy to get around either by foot or public transportation.
There are so many things about Chicago that make this city a bucket list worthy destination. You can’t visit Chicago without taking a selfie in front of the Bean, the famous mirrored sculpture in Millennium Park. Another must do is to take an architecture river cruise which is the best way to enjoy the impressive architecture and city skyline, while also learning about the city.
More Things To Do In Chicago:
Other things to add to your bucket list include having a Chicago style hot dog or deep dish pizza, watching a baseball game at historic Wrigley Field, or enjoying a view from above while standing on a glass bottom ledge at Willis Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Chicago.
Chicago is an amazing city that has something for every visitor, no matter your interests. Whether you’re a fan of food, architecture, culture, museums, music, nightlife, festivals, shopping, beaches, sports, outdoor activities or family fun, Chicago is sure to please!
Patti | The Savvy Globetrotter
24. See The Wonder of Bryce Canyon in Utah
Bryce Canyon is not just a canyon but the assortment of colossus natural amphitheaters. The park got its name from Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon Pioneer who started off the settlement in the valley around 1870.
Outdoor and adventure lovers have to have a trip to Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon is stunning! And I’m not exaggerating. I have never seen such unusually beautiful landscape in my life before. It’s truly a beauty that can’t be described in words. You’ve got to see it to believe it!
What Makes Bryce Canyon Unique?
The hallmark of the Bryce Canyon National Park is “hoodoos.” They are the unique rock formations created by the erosion of limestone by the wind and rain over thousands of years. The array of rocks reveals vibrant orange and red shades due to their iron oxide content. On a clear day, the brilliant and vibrant colors of the rocks stand out in contrast to the bright blue skies.
The park is a hiker’s paradise with stunning hikes like Queens’ Garden, The Rim Trail, Mossy Cave Trail, Navajo Loop Trail, and Peek-a-boo Loop Trail. Mossy Cave is apparently the easiest hike to do with the kids.
Breathe in before the views down into the canyon take your breath away. Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Fairyland Point, Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, Rainbow Point are some of the points to get the finest views of the park.
At the extreme end of the park are a beautiful Natural Bridge Arch and Agua Canyon showing two imposing hoodoos known as “The Hunter” and the “Backpacker.”
Bryce Canyon is around 5 hours drive from Las Vegas. Entry to the park costs $30 USD per car / $25 USD per bike / $15 USD for foot or bicycle and it’s free if you have a National Parks Pass. The free shuttle service takes you through the famous viewpoints and trails, however, the schedule changes with the seasons. Summer (June – September) is the perfect time to visit the canyon.
Get there as early as possible because you wouldn’t want to miss the scene when rocks glow in vibrant shades of red in the bright sunrise light. Ironically, Sunrise and Sunset Points don’t give the best views of sunrise and sunset. Head to Bryce Point to witness the best sunrise and Inspiration Point for the best sunset.
Anjali Chawla | Travel Melodies
25. Take In The Lush Beauty of Kauai, Hawaii
Many people have Hawaii on their bucket list, but those seeking the ultimate tropical paradise should look to Kauai, the garden aisle of the Hawaiian archipelago. Kauai is a quieter island, offering plenty of rest, relaxation, and traditional culture. It is also an outdoor explorers dream, where kayaking and hiking are the only way to access some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet.
Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Waimea is a true wonder on this small island, being 10 miles long and over 3,000 feet deep. A single road leads into the state park, enabling access to scenic overlooks.
A Note About Accessibility
However, to truly discover discover the canyon, hiking is necessary. The Iliau Nature Loop affords an opportunity to discover area wildlife and excellent views into the canyon. The Kukui Trail is a long and strenuous hike that leads to the bottom of the canyon, where permit camping is allowed.
The Napali Coast is the most protected area of Kauai, known for its rugged seaside cliffs. Deep, narrow valleys carved by waterfalls wind between the cliffs. Ancient Hawaiians lived between the cliffs, cultivating taro. The only access to these areas is by a challenging hike.
The cliffs of Napali come to a dramatic end at the shore, creating small coves, and isolated beaches. It is said that hula dancing originated here, when the Kauai chief danced to appease the Goddess Pele. Today, access to these beaches is by licensed charter only, but it is well worth it!
Roxanna Keyes | Gypsy With A Day Job
26. Witness The Wonder of Acadia National Park in Maine
The breathtaking beauty of Acadia National Park is an absolute treasure of the Northeast. Acadia is one of the oldest U.S. National Parks, east of the Mississippi River. The majority of the park is located on Mount Desert Island.
Acadia is the highest rocky headland along of the Atlantic coastline of the U.S. and has a large abundance of biodiversity. Here you can explore a range of landscapes, from rocky coastlines, to forests, ponds, marshlands, fields and mountains. It is a true nature lover’s playground.
What to see in Acadia National Park:
- The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse – Visit the charming lighthouse, with views of the rocky coastline, and stay to watch a breathtaking sunset.
- Sand Beach – A gorgeous beach that is nestled between granite mountains and rocky shores.
- Ocean Trail – Walk from Sand Beach to Otter Cliff, with the most breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Thunder Hole – A natural rock inlet where you can see and hear the waves crash with a thunderous boom and high-flying foam.
- Park Loop Road – 27 miles long, this route connects the parks lakes, mountains, forests and rocky shores with many observation points along the way. A great introduction to seeing the beauty of Acadia
- Cadillac Mountain – Drive or hike the impressive Cadillac mountain. This gorgeous mountain sits at 1,5350 ft above sea level and provides stunning views of Acadia. The perfect place to watch the sunrise.
- Bar Harbor – A charming sea side town on Mount desert island, known as the gateway to Acadia.
Kelly Edgar | Roaming Free
27. Explore Great Falls National Park in Virginia
Great Falls Park in Northern Virginia is a stunning natural attraction, just 15 miles away from Washington D.C. The Potomac River churns with waterfalls and rapids here, as it cascades over huge rocks and squeezes into narrow Mather Gorge.
Great Falls is managed by the U.S. National Park Service, with facilities that make it easy to view the falls and explore further. Three overlooks, two of them wheelchair accessible, give visitors awesome views of the falls from several angles.
When To Visit:
The Great Falls landscape changes dramatically throughout the seasons. Peaceful waterfalls and eddies in summer become a raging torrent after spring rains and snow melt.
The beautiful landscape is a popular destination for families, day trippers, and hikers. The River Trail offers spectacular views from the rocky cliffs at the edge of the river and along Mather Gorge. Other trails reach interesting historic ruins.
Great Falls was the site of a canal and lock system created by George Washington after his presidency, and parts of the canal wall remain. When the river levels are normal, expert kayakers shoot the falls while rock climbers scale the cliffs. But those fantastic waterfall views are the primary draw.
Great Falls Park is a bucket list-worthy destination for any nature-loving visitor to the Washington, D.C. region!
Julie McCool | Fun In Fairfax, VA
28. Go Lava Hunting in Hawaii
When you picture Hawaii, the first things you probably envision are pineapples, palm trees and…volcanos? When visiting the Big Island of Hawaii, watching the lava flow was number one on my bucket list but I had no idea just how easy (and cheap) it would be to tick off!
Head to Volcanic National Park at the end of Chain of Craters Road just before sunset, there you will find park rangers who can provide all the info you need to hunt down the lava safely! There is a small fee for a shuttle bus or bike hire to get to the start of the park before you commence a short hike (around 3 miles) over the most insane terrain of igneous rock.
It instantly makes you feel like you are on a different planet. As the sun sets, simply follow the firey glow (or potential crowds) and soon you will be amazed as molten rock oozes from below the earth’s surface. Shouting “Watch out, the floor is lava!” is optional. However, sturdy shoes, plenty of water and a flashlight are not.
Bear in mind you will now have to hike back over the 3 or so miles in the dark before you get back on your bike or shuttle bus returning you to the parking lot. As this is a natural phenomenon, do not be disappointed if during your trip it is not possible to see lava.
While the the park rangers can guide you with their maps and expert predictions, there is no guarantee of a lava flow viewing. This may also mean a slightly longer or shorter hike – so be prepared!
Darren & Lauren | Far Am A Gan
29. Visit The Majestic Grand Canyon in Arizona
The first explorers who stumbled upon this massive chasm in northern Arizona were so awestruck that all they could think to name it was “The Grand Canyon.” And when you visit this top bucket list destination, you’ll understand why.
The Grand Canyon, with its sweeping views of red striped cliffs and drastic drop-offs, is unlike any other place on earth. It’s guaranteed to make you feel small and insignificant, and utterly amazed at the power of the nature. It’s hard to believe that the oh-so-mighty Colorado River could have carved the 18 mile expanse, when all you can see of the river is a glittering speck at the bottom the canyon.
When To Visit The Grand Canyon:
While summer is by far the most popular time to visit the canyon, it’s incredible all year round. In the winter, snow provides a beautiful contrast to the varying hues of red, orange, and brown. Plus, there’s less people, so you don’t have to fight for a good picture spot.
The South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is open year round, and has a road that follows the rim from the entrance north of Wilcox, AZ east to Desert View. The North Rim is only open during the spring and summer, as it gets more snow than the south. Hike part-way into the canyon on one of the many trails, or take a multi-day trek on a mule-ride. If you want a true pioneer experience, spend a couple of nights on Phantom Ranch, located at the bottom of the Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is an unforgettable bucket list item no matter how you choose to spend your time here.
Maggie McKneely | Pink Caddy Travelogue
30. Step Into History in Savannah, Georgia
Established in 1733, Savannah, Georgia is a staple on any historically inclined person’s bucket list. With its famous squares and Spanish-moss lined streets, this coastal city feels thoroughly preserved in time. Take a stroll to check out all of Savannah’s different architectural styles, and make sure to stop by the Olde Pink House.
Do yourself a favor and order the she crab soup! This restaurant isn’t only known for its scrumptious Southern comfort food; it’s also thought to be haunted! In fact, the city itself is frequently said to be one of the most haunted places in the United States, mainly due to its bloody history.
What Else To Do In Savannah:
Locations like the Hamilton-Turner Inn and the Marshall House bring in thousands of tourists, each searching for their own paranormal experience. For visitors who aren’t fans of ghost stories, I recommend taking it slow (as we Southerners do) and hopping on a guided trolley tour.
As one of the few American colonial cities that’s been well preserved, it’s fun to see history come to life in Savannah! After your tour, sample the famous pralines at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen and watch the sunset from River Street. Savannah is the perfect place for any type of traveler to have their first taste of the South.
Leah Shoup | Gringa Journeys
31. Experience the Rush of Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas
Located in north Fort Worth, less than an hour from Downtown Dallas and less than 30 minutes from the DFW airport, Texas Motor Speedway is one unique bucket list items that you must consider. Weather you love NASCAR so simply have the need for speed, you need to visit one of the many events on the speedway.
Texas Motor Speedway is home to two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, two Xfinity Series races, and one Indy Racing League Verizon IndyCar series race. The track also hosts two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races.
You can drive a real NASCAR race car from some of NASCAR’s greatest stars or learn driving with the real Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Cars and the current NASCAR Chevrolet SB2 racing engines from ECR Engines with Team Texas (the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Driving School that operates year-round at the Texas Motor Speedway).
More To Do:
If this isn’t enough, you can camp at the Speedway from one week before the races begin. It is an amazing way to experience the thrilling atmosphere at a very economical cost.
The Big Hoss TV, the world’s largest LED TV – hosts drive-in movies every summer too, and this is another major attraction if you happen to be visiting DFW.
If you happen to be visiting on non-race days, do opt for a personalized track tour that lasts 2 hours and costs just $10.
Deepika Pillai | Deexterous
32. Drive the Spectacular Pacific Coast Highway in California
One of the top bucket list experiences I’ve had in the USA (and I think everyone should do at least one in their life) is a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway. This is the road that hugs the coastline of California and the views are some of the best that I’ve seen in the USA. The stops along the way are also so unique and stunning.
One of my favorite stops along the PCH is the Elephant Seal Vista Point in San Simeon, California. Here you can watch giant, funny looking elephant seals in their natural habitat. They head to this beach every year from November to March to mate. So you’ll be able to see the males, females, and the adorable babies lounging on the beach, making the most hilarious sounds, and doing their elephant seal thing.
A Must-See On Your PCH Drive:
Another one of my favorite stops is picturesque Big Sur, California (seen above). There are a ton of hiking trails and gorgeous waterfalls to awe over. The popular McWay Falls is 80-feet tall and only a 10-minute walk from the highway. You’ll seriously want to stop every 5 seconds while you’re driving through this area because everything is Instagram-worthy!
There is SO much to do and see on this road trip and the views of the Pacific Ocean, the colorful flowers, and the amazing cliff sides are truly a work of art. It’s something you shouldn’t miss if you’re headed to the USA!
Michelle Marcos | Maps & Muses
33. Explore Beautiful Yellowstone National Park
The US has many incredible National Parks with varied landscapes, but Yellowstone National Park will always be on top of my favorite parks list for being the best in the country. And I recommend anyone coming to the US who wants to visit a National Park to consider going to Yellowstone.
It has everything you can think of in a National Park – mountains, waterfalls, geothermal activities, hot springs and geyser, a plethora of wildlife, and a number of hiking trails and fun activities around the park.
If I were to be honest, after witnessing Old Faithful geyser erupt in Yellowstone, I wasn’t stunned by the world popular Strokkur Geysir in Iceland.
How To Get to Yellowstone National Park:
Yellowstone National Park covers a huge area over a few different states. In order to get here, you have to fly into a nearby regional airport and then drive into the park. The closest regional airport is Jackson Hole, WY but it’s much easier and cheaper to fly into Salt Lake City, UT and drive 6 hours to Yellowstone.
Since the park is so huge, give yourself 3-4 days at a minimum to explore the park highlights. Add extra days if you want to include hikes and activities to your trip.
Summer is the best time to visit the park but winter can show a different side of the park with a thick blanket of snow everywhere.
Richa Joshi | My Tickle Feet
34. Hike Up To Potato Chip Rock in California
The Potato Chip Rock is really famous in California – so it was a logical decision to check out this place while I was staying in California for three months. With its location being only one hour by car from San Diego (2:15 from L.A) it’s a perfect day trip.
However, to get to this famous rock that is formed like a potato chip, you will need to hike your way up. The way up there is quite easy to be honest, even for kids or people that are not in the best shape.
There is only one problem: it can get extremely hot there in summer and you can’t buy water once you start your journey. I highly recommend you bring enough water and use sunscreen. I had only around one liter of water with me and it was definitely not enough.
Once you make it up there, you will be rewarded with an extremely nice view – overlooking the entire (remote) area. The Potato Chip Rock is a perfect destination to take funny and creative pictures, as the structure of the rock is really unique and it looks really dangerous – while it actually isn’t.
I therefore would recommend going to the Potato Chip Rock to active travelers, families and everybody else that likes to go out and explore a very interesting viewpoint.
Michael Gerber | MSC Gerber
35. Experience The Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Whether you’re a bourbon lover or a newbie, if you’re looking for the one of the best places to visit in the US in 2018, then look no further than the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Stretching over 200 miles of stunning rolling hills with stately horse farms through the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, the trail hits up distilleries along the “Golden Triangle” – Louisville, Lexington and Elizabethtown.
Distilling runs deep in Kentucky’s history and today the revival of the bourbon industry is making a big splash and making a lot of people quite thirsty! By embarking upon the KY Bourbon Trail, you can learn about the fascinating history of bourbon in Kentucky and the process of distilling bourbon by visiting any of the 10 distillers on the trail – Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve or Four Roses to name a few, as well as 14 craft distilleries reinvigorating the bourbon industry.
If you wish to do a tasting, most distillers require that you take a tour of the distillery. You will be guided through the rickhouses, learn the secrets of aging a barrel of bourbon and getting a whiff of the Devil’s Cut before finally ending the tour in a tasting room where you’ll taste a variety of bourbons.
Be sure to pick up your Bourbon Passport at the first distillery you begin with to be stamped at each location to receive a free Kentucky Bourbon Trail T-shirt to show off all your hard work! I mean come on, someone’s gotta take one for the team!
Lorelei | California Globetrotter
36. Visit Beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff, Arizona is most known for being one of the best bases for day trips to the Grand Canyon, but there are many other reasons to visit Flagstaff than just that! For one, Flagstaff has the gorgeous San Francisco mountains right nearby, and during the peak season you can even take a chairlift up to the 11,500 feet for stunning mountain views.
It’s also a very different climate and landscape than the rest of Arizona, since the city is at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Whereas in other cities in Arizona, you’ll see red rocks and desert landscapes, Flagstaff is home to tons of forests and pine trees. You can even go ziplining through the trees, which is tons of fun!
Another great thing to see in Flagstaff is Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, where you can see lava tubes that were formed thousands of years ago and enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets over the San Francisco mountains.
Downtown Flagstaff is also fun, with great breweries and restaurants for you to enjoy when you’re not exploring the forests or mountains. And if you feel the need to leave Flagstaff, Sedona with its gorgeous red rocks and fancy spas is just a beautiful 30-minute drive away!
Allison Green | Eternal Arrival
37. Explore Nature’s Beauty at Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
Antelope Canyon is one of those spots you have to see to believe. The slot canyon is broken up into two parts: upper and lower, bot5 of which are characterized by orange sandstone wave-like rocks on either side. At certain times of day, the light beams shine down on the canyon floor, making an even more impressive spectacle, as if that were possible!
There are two separate tours to the two separate parts, though both are worth checking out. Both upper and lower are located on Navajo protected land, and both require a guided tour, each of which takes about an hour to an hour and a half. Time matters when picking a tour, as ‘prime time’ occurs at midday when the light beams are shining through the canyon walls.
This is when the majority of those famous photos you see online were taken with the sand slowly falling off the side of the walls and the light shining through to the canyon floor. There are also regular tours and photo tours.
The difference is reflected in the price, and a more VIP experience which allows everyone to get their photos before moving on. For those who are claustrophobic, it’s best to visit when it’s not prime time, or to go in the off season.
Kristin Addis | Be My Travel Muse
38. See The Capital of the USA, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. is USA’s capital city and I consider it a must-see destination for foreign visitors and US residents alike. As the seat of political power, Washington, D.C. attracts a lot of attention but also a lot of people from around the world. D.C. offers a unique melting pot of ethnic cuisine, cultural festivals, along with the expected things to see and do.
Popular Washington, D.C. attractions include the Smithsonian museums (all free of charge), iconic monuments, and the Library of Congress. Some hidden gems include the Botanical Gardens, Einstein Memorial, Exorcist steps (in Georgetown), National Postal Museum (next to Union Station), and old school and eclectic markets (like Eastern and Union).
When you visit Washington, D.C., I suggest you reserve your first day to explore and get an overview, either by a tour bus (some are hop on and hop off), a city bike, or walking.
Eating options range from hot dog carts to ultra-fine cuisine made by world class chefs. For eclectic and ethnic cuisine, make sure you sample fare from the D.C. food trucks, head to H Street or the U Street corridor, or explore Adams Morgan. Some of my personal D.C. food favorites include Ben’s Chili (try a half smoke), any place by Jose Andrés, the cafe inside the American Indian Museum, and lunch at the Supreme Court or Senate Office Building (yes, you can eat there and you never know who you will see).
Oh, and if you are lucky to visit Washington, D.C. when the cherry blossom trees are at full bloom, you will experience one of the world’s most magnificent seasonal events!
Charles McCool | McCool Travel
39. Experience Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota
Located on the western edge of North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a striking landscape filled with rough badlands, wildlife sightings, and absolute beauty. For the animal lover, the park is home to herds of buffalo and deer, a prairie dog town, and a tremendous variety of birds.
History plays an important part in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park was established to memorialize the role the area played in the life of the 26th president, who first fell in love with the rugged landscape during a visit in 1883 and became involved in a local cattle operation. Long before Roosevelt made his visit, the area was utilized by several Native American tribes, including the Mandan, Hidatsa, Crow, and many others.
There are many ways to experience the beauty of the park. Not sure where to start? Take a cruise along one of the scenic drives and learn about the geological formations, then pull over to take advantage of one of the many hiking trails. Visitors can also experience a trail ride, bike the infamous Maah Daah Hey Trail, or camp at one of many campgrounds in the park.
Younger travelers are invited to become a Junior Ranger or pick up a Family Fun Pack at either of the Visitor Centers. The pack includes activity sheets, guidebooks, binoculars, and more!
Crysta Parkinson | Well Worn Suitcase
40. Experience The Rich Culture of Atlanta, Georgia
While it is often overlooked by visitors who are just passing through the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta, Georgia should be on your list of cities to visit in the United States. There are so many amazing places for visitors to check out!
Some of the most famous things to do in Atlanta include the World of Coca Cola (which was invented here), 1996 Summer Olympics sites, Gone With The Wind and Civil War sites, along with the Museum of Civil and Human Rights and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and his birthplace.
But Wait, There’s More!
If you love animals and want to learn more about the ocean, the Georgia Aquarium is one of the biggest aquariums in the world! A bucket list for many people is to swim or dive in the 6.2 million gallon Ocean Voyager exhibit, with four whale sharks, the biggest fish in the sea. They also house several beluga whales, dolphins, and thousands of other amazing animals at the aquarium.
Atlanta is a familiar movie location as well. Many recent movies and TV series were filmed here, such as The Avengers and The Walking Dead. Speaking of entertainment – more adventurous visitors might want to look up the legendary Clermont Lounge in Atlanta!
A big metropolitan and international city feel intertwines with Southern charm and hospitality in Atlanta. The city is rich in history and culture, and people with different backgrounds have assimilated here, making it the biggest city in the Southeastern United States. You should definitely add Atlanta, Georgia as one of your next bucket list cities to visit!
Halef & Michael | The Round The World Guys
41. Visit Otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park
In Southern California, there’s a park that’s larger than Rhode Island, straddles two deserts, and captures the imagination of anyone who’s visited. Joshua Tree National Park is an other-worldly landscape that had been on my personal bucket list for years. In 2017, my husband and I drove cross-country (and I wrote a book about it) and this was one of the few places that we absolutely had to include on our itinerary.
It was beyond what I’d imagined.
There are open valleys of Joshua trees popping up like so many Whack-A-Moles. It was surreal, otherworldly, alien, basically any cliche you can imagine when attempting to describe a landscape that’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. Granite boulders jut out of the ground like ancient creatures trying to escape the molten lava below.
What I Loved Most:
At night, it was absolutely silent. There were no trees rustling, no animals scampering. It was so quiet I heard the wings of a bird flapping as it flew overhead. It could have been eerie. Instead, it was peaceful. Sublimely, supremely and sleepily peaceful. The moon was so bright I prepared dinner without lanterns, and the stars overhead were like a blanket.
We only visited the Mojave Desert part of the park. The Colorado Desert half is a completely different environment, and now that too is on my bucket list.
Theresa Goodrich | The Local Tourist
42. Experience Classic California Vibes at Venice Beach
When visiting Los Angeles, there is one thing you should definitely go and see: Venice Beach. This Southern California seaside gem is a mix of beach, sporting grounds and, above all, a place to see and to be seen.
What started with Arnold Schwarzenegger lifting weights up and down, his muscles shining in the heating sun, has now became a hot spot for basically everyone who thinks his or her talent is one of a kind. Come here for a proper freak show and watch Elvis Presley sing, listen to Michael Jackson impersonators, and watch the kids go crazy in the basketball court or fly through the skate park.
What To Do In Venice Beach:
Also, you might want to take your bicycle for a ride as Venice Beach is a perfect starting point for a beautiful ride to Santa Monica. The bike path is long, wide and easy to ride.
For a sunny day of not doing anything, you can simply stroll through the hippie shops, enjoy a read in the bookshop “Small World Books” or taste your way through the different flavors of beer at the Venice Beach Beer Company.
There are a bunch of hostels right on Venice Beach if you decide to stay nearby. However, if you want to stay elsewhere, simply drive your car down to Venice Beach for a day in the sun, on the bike, skateboard or just relaxing at a pub.
Clemens Sehi | Travellers Archive
43. Step Into History in Salem, Massachusetts
Do you like quirky cities and towns that have a shtick? Well, if you do, then you MUST head to Salem Massachusetts! A town with a tragic and mysterious history, Wiccan enthusiasts, and curious travellers looking for a spell or two, Salem is the hot spot for all things supernatural.
First and foremost, head to the Salem Witch Museum to learn and become educated on the Salem Witch Trials that shaped the city’s identity, giving it the nickname “The Witch City.” Listen to an interactive presentation detailing the torture and persecution the 20 innocent victims endured after being mistaken as witches. A true example of uneducated ignorance. Afterward, head to the Memorial in the Salem Cemetery to pay your respects and humbly acknowledge the heinous actions that took place here in 1692.
Next, if you’re a Bewitched fan (like me!), head to the Elizabeth Montgomery statue located at 235 Essex street. The statue was erected in 2005 by TV Land to commemorate the efforts and recognition the show brought to the infamous Salem witch trials.
After taking a few pics with Samantha Stephens, head to the Hawthorne Hotel and see exactly where the Bewitched cast stayed while filming on location the “Salem Saga.” Right beside the washroom corridor you will find one of a kind Bewitched artifacts which includes their exclusive menu at the hotel’s restaurant.
Enjoy a delightful lunch at the Witch’s Brew! Try the Witch’s Brew signature cocktail – it is GREEN and very satisfying on a hot day.
After lunch, head to the House of Seven Gables where author Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote both “The House of Seven Gables” and “The Scarlett Letter.” Take an educational tour and get an authentic copy of either manuscript officially embossed with a House of Seven Gables location stamp!
Once you have enjoyed some literary magic, walk across the street to the Ye Old Pepper Companie Candies, the oldest sweet shoppe in the United States and Oprah’s favourite! (She orders their specialty truffles to be shipped to her home monthly!) Enjoy homemade confection including fudge, truffles, bars, caramels, international treats, and more. The witch chocolate pops are awesome, just sayin’.
And lastly, if you’re a fan of the film Hocus Pocus, than you must visit for Halloween! Enjoy filming locations, movie trivia and more. Best Halloween film ever!
Janine Good | Fill My Passport
44. Marvel At Nature In Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Utah is known for the Big 5 National Parks that preserve and share a unique landscape. A lesser known park, yet no less intriguing, is Goblin Valley State Park. Entering the park is like stepping onto Mars, if the red planet had oxygen and a $15 entrance fee.
There’s a teaser before the entrance: the Three Sisters formation stands in the valley like abandoned chess pieces, but nothing can prepare you for the sight of the valley itself. There’s a parking lot above the valley, and when you step out of your car you’ll gaze at a basin of goblins frozen in time as if they’d looked askance at Medusa.
What Makes It Unique:
Some think the oddly-eroded hoodoos resemble mushrooms, like a red clay version of the fungi from Fantasia interrupted in between animations. The science behind the scene is less entertaining than a mythical being or an abandoned claymation project. It’s simple erosion: soft sandstone is crowned by hard rock, and water and time gradually chiseled away until what was left was this freakish landscape.
This small valley is the only place in the world you can see these types of formations. Due to the combination of the tidal plane and the composition of the soil, sediment from higher altitudes was dropped off in this section and then carved by time. When I placed a hand on one, it felt like it would crumble away. They are a bit sturdier than that, but not even the Department of Natural Resources knows just how long they’ll last with human interaction.
Theresa Goodrich | The Local Tourist
45. Visit The Big Apple – New York City
New York City is high up on many travelers’ bucket lists, and for good reason. This sprawling metropolis is chock full of culture, food, entertainment, and endless attractions. Visiting NYC can be overwhelming, exciting and jaw-dropping all at once.
There are many well-known New York City classics, such as going up the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center (I prefer Rockefeller Center if you want to get that iconic view of Manhattan), strolling through Central Park, eating as much pizza as possible, attending a Broadway play, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and so much more.
What To Do In NYC:
However, my recommendation would be to get off the beaten path a bit and explore some of the areas not mentioned as often in guidebooks! Wander around the borough of Queens and listen to a sampling of the more than 800 different languages spoken in NYC, experience the 18 ethnic micro neighborhoods of the five boroughs, watch a free summer movie at sunset at Brooklyn Bridge Park while enjoying a hot, fresh pizza from Julianna’s, or wander through Chelsea Market and taste all kinds of delicious cuisine, just to name a few options.
New York City truly has something for everyone. If you need more inspiration, check out this detailed guide to my top 20 favorite delicious and cheap places to eat in New York City and learn how to experience the city like a local with this insider’s guide to NYC, which contains lots of tips and tricks for using the subway, NYC etiquette, where to find the best bagels, and much more!
Sierra (that’s me!) | Passport Voyager
46. Explore Stunning Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
If you are ever in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park should be on your bucket list. Particularly if you are a lover of the outdoors! The park is world-renowned for its amazing range of landscapes with elevations from 7,860 to 14,259 feet.
The drive from Denver is 1.5 to 2 hours. The last 30 miles to the Beaver Meadows park entrance will take your breath away!
If you have 3 hours to spare and are not an avid hiker, try the Four Lake Loop trail. You’ll have to park at the Bear Lake Trailhead lot. Start with a hike around the 0.5 mile Bear Lake loop. It’s a very easy trek. Next, hike to Nymph Lake. It has several lily pads on the lake.
The third lake is Dream Lake, which has even better scenery than Nymph Lake and is bigger in size. And the last lake is Emerald Lake. The view is amazing! You’ll see some glaciers, most of which have melted. There is a small waterfall from afar.
Hiking down takes around 30 to 35 minutes from Emerald Lake the parking lot.
Due to the higher altitude, you might experience altitude sickness and difficulty in breathing. Make sure to take breaks and stay hydrated.
Unless you have the America the Beautiful pass, the cost of park admission varies depending on how many days you will be visiting. It is $20 per car and $10 per person for a 1-day pass. Completely worth it!
Ann | Ann the Adventurist
47. Experience SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas
Hands down, Austin is one of the coolest cities in the States, but there is a standout gig that takes place each March which music, film and interactive lovers should not miss, called South by Southwest! SXSW Festival lasts for just under two weeks and every nook and cranny of the Texan city is crammed with gigs, films, food and frolics.
The best news is that you can actually join in for free! During the day when those have paid for badges are preoccupied at presentations and with networking, cheapos can reap the benefits of the free day shows which are often sponsored by beers and burritos brands. Just keep an eye out on Twitter to assess how big the queue is, then jump in to enjoy a show in the sun.
Side note, Craig and I (Gemma) actually eloped to Austin straight after SX in 2016. Still sorry, Mum!
Gemma Armit | Two Scots Abroad
You made it to the end!
Hope you enjoyed all that USA bucket list inspiration. Looking for more bucket list ideas for international travel? Check out 37 more unique destinations to add to your bucket list!
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