Ultimate USA Bucket List – 50+ Things to do in the USA
With 50 states, you really need a USA bucket list to keep track of this huge country! It would take a lifetime to explore all the national parks and epic towns, our USA bucket list only just begins to showcase what the USA has to offer!
Ultimate USA Bucket List – 50+ Things to do in the USA
- 1 West Coast
- 1.0.1 Visit Hollywood
- 1.0.2 Soak up the Vibes in Venice
- 1.0.3 Explore San Franciso
- 1.0.4 Visit Yosemite National Park
- 1.0.5 Road Trip Along the PCH and Big Sur
- 1.0.6 Day Trip to Napa Valley
- 1.0.7 Adventure to Lake Tahoe
- 1.0.8 Road Trip to Death Valley
- 1.0.9 VIsit Joshua Tree
- 1.0.10 Go to Las Vegas
- 1.0.11 The Grand Canyon
- 1.0.12 Antelope Canyon
- 1.0.13 Explore Sedona
- 1.0.14 Monument Valley
- 1.0.15 Utah National Park Road Trip
- 1.0.16 Bryce Canyon National Park
- 1.0.17 Drive to the top of Pikes Peak
- 1.0.18 Visit Rocky Mountains National Park
- 1.0.19 International Hot Air Balloon Festival
- 1.0.20 Hike Mount Rainer
- 1.0.21 Visit Oahu
- 1.0.22 Hiking the Waimea Canyon on Kauai
- 1.0.23 Spend a Week on Maui
- 2 East Coast
- 2.0.1 Explore Chicago
- 2.0.2 Visit Cleveland
- 2.0.3 See the Statue of Liberty
- 2.0.4 Fall in love with NYC
- 2.0.5 See Niagara Falls
- 2.0.6 Have fun in Miami
- 2.0.7 Visit Key West
- 2.0.8 The Sleeping Bear Dunes
- 2.0.9 Yellowstone National Park
- 2.0.10 Visit Philly
- 2.0.11 Visit The Hot Springs In Idaho
- 2.0.12 Mount Rushmore
- 3 The South
- 4 Midwest
From the Hollywood walk of Fame to Beverly Hills and amazing hikes and eateries, there are so many things to do in LA. We stayed in an Airbnb in LO Feliz during our Los Angeles itinerary for 4 days and did all the tourist and iconic LA things.
For years, Hollywood has been the iconic spot tourist visits thanks to its unique landmarks and attractions, such as the Grove Farmers Market, Universal Studios, Berverly Hills, Paramount Pictures and Hollywood Walk of Fame.
If you like to hike spend the day hiking one of three Hollywood Sign hikes– Mt Hollywood Trail, the Brush Canyon Trail, and the Cahuenga Peak Trail. But if time doesn’t permit you can view the sign from the Griffth Observatory!
Soak up the Vibes in Venice
The seaside communities of Santa Monica and Venice Beach are two of LA’s best beaches. After all, you’ve got palm tree-lined streets, a fresh ocean breeze, miles of sand to frolic in, and oh my gosh, the sunsets are unbelievable!
Though they are neighbours, Santa Monica and Venice have distinctly different vibes. Santa Monica is clean, upscale and trendy, while Venice is a little grittier. But let’s be real, you’ll be bumping elbows with celebrities and tech moguls in both cities.
You can easily explore both cities in a day, but you’ll definitely wish you could stay forever. Start your day in Santa Monica. Grab brunch at one of the sidewalk eateries on Montana Ave. After fueling up, head to the Santa Monica pier for a quick photo opp with Malibu looming in the distance (that’s an adventure for another day!).
Next, rent a bike and cruise south along the boardwalk toward Venice. Once you become overwhelmed with the boardwalk, head inland a couple of blocks to Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
AK is a bit of a scene, lined with trendy eateries and boutiques. If you’re interested in (pricey) souvenirs you’ll have no problem finding something eclectic here. Cool off with a scoop of ice cream from Salt & Straw. Once you’ve gotten your fill of bougie boutiques head to the Venice canals for a relaxing stroll.
In the late afternoon head back toward the beach and post up in the sand, or a bar along the boardwalk to enjoy the sunset!
by Janine from Janine in the World
Explore San Franciso
San Francisco is one of America’s great cities. It contains the blending of cultures that makes America great as well as impressive architecture and natural beauty.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is a major domestic and international hub with many direct flights. Once you land, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) runs directly from the airport to Powell Station, in the heart of the city. From there, you can take light rail, buses, the iconic cable cars or even a walking tour of San Francisco to see the city.
Right around the corner from Powell is the Cable Car Museum and Union Square. Heading down the hill, you’ll pass by China Town, Coit Tower, and Little Italy on your way to the waterfront. On the water, is Pier 39 with its famous sea lions and Fisherman’s Wharf. This corridor is the heart of the tourist zone in SF and loaded with cable car routes to take you up and down the hill.
You can head around the bay in many ways from bike tours to Alcatraz ferries. Make sure you head to the Presidio where you can tour the WWII batteries and see the Golden Gate Bridge. A series of hiking trails crisscross the bluffs of Lands End on the ocean side of the bridge. Taking the interior route back to downtown, you’ll pass more city icons like Golden Gate Park and the ultra-cool Haight-Ashbury District.
by Jenn and Ed from Coleman Concierge
Visit Yosemite National Park
No ultimate bucket list for the USA would be complete without Yosemite National Park. It is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park, attracting around 4 million visitors per year!
Yosemite National Park covers an area of 1,169 square miles (3,029 km2) and almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness. It is an extraordinary place, comprised of dramatic mountains, gushing waterfalls, extensive meadows and forests with some of the largest trees in the country.
Getting to Yosemite is easiest done by car. Most visitors will fly into San Francisco (4 hours away) or Sacramento (3 hours away) and drive from there. While it is possible to get to Yosemite by a combination of public transport, this is a little more complicated. Another option, if you don’t have a car, would be to book a tour.
While the majority of visitors stay within the 7 square miles (18 km2) of the stunning Yosemite Valley, there is much more to see beyond that. There are hundreds of spectacular hiking trails throughout the park, ranging from short hikes easily managed from a car park, to multi-day hikes. Feeling even more adventourous? Try some bouldering or rock climbing at the birth place of the sport! However, if hiking and rocking climbing isn’t for you, there’s plenty to see even just from the roadside.
Yosemite is fairly busy year-round, but during the summer visitor numbers boom. If you are planning to go during the summer, be aware that car parking spaces, campsites and other amenities may be full. Many of the hiking and camping passes are allocated on a lottery system, so you will have to carefully plan your trip if you are wishing to hike or camp certain places.
As Yosemite is a National Park, you will have to pay an entrance fee. If you have other National Parks on your USA bucket list, it would be worth looking into an annual pass.
Road Trip Along the PCH and Big Sur
Driving the Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is on the bucket list for many travelers to the United States. And no wonder: the PCH drive is an iconic California road trip and one of the most scenic drives in the world.
You can do this drive in as little as two days or linger as long as a week. There’s a lot to see and do along the route, so if you can spare the time, longer is better! Also, if your itinerary permits, driving from north to south will result in unobstructed ocean views.
Among the highlights of the trip is driving the Big Sur stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway. You’ll travel through some of the wildest stretches of the road, with gorgeous vistas making you want to pull over every few yards.
Further south, the Central California coast abounds with pretty coastal towns, where you can eat your fill of fresh-caught seafood and laze on golden sandy beaches. Santa Barbara is a must-stop for its stunning beaches and Mediterranean architecture. And at the southern end of the drive, all the glamor and glitz of Los Angeles awaits.
If you’re planning to visit the west coast of the USA, make sure you put the Pacific Coast Highway drive on your bucket list!
Editors Tip: The best way to get around in the USA is to rent a car. We are written some tips for renting a car in the USA to make your road trip stressfree!
Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles
Day Trip to Napa Valley
Visiting wine country in California’s Napa Valley is an essential item on any USA Bucket List. Nestled one hour north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is home to arguably the best wine producers in the country. The unique climate plus the volcanic soil found in Napa Valley create prime conditions for producing amazing cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel and chardonnay, just to name a few.
Tour the grounds of the vineyards, taste grapes straight from the vine and learn about the winemaking process from start to finish to get the full experience. While you’re bound to have an amazing experience wherever you go tasting, venture off the beaten path and visit smaller vineyards like Amizetta, Spring Mountain and Aonair. Pro tip: make an appointment in advance, as most boutique wineries do not accept walk-ins.
The weather in Napa Valley is lovely year-round, but it’s particularly amazing to visit in the fall for “crush season” to catch the vineyards at the time of harvest.
By Meredith from The Longest Weekend
Adventure to Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe straddles the two states of Nevada and California and is one of the most popular year-round destinations in the country. Summer has its own beauty with the gorgeous lake clear of snow and ice and all the roads open.
Cruising the river will give you a great view of everything around, the next best things are parasailing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, simply relaxing on one of the beautiful beaches.
Riding Heavenly Gondola is a cool thing you can do both in winter and summer. In winter you can enjoy skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing at Emerald Bay, sledding and many more snow activities. Kids love playing with the snow just with their gloved little hands. Making a snowman is a favorite things to do for people of all ages. Do not forget to visit Zephyr Cove, Emerald Bay, Taylor Creek, Eagle Falls and Spooner lake.
Driving a car around the lake is a great way to travel here. If you are landing at the Reno airport, try to rent a car for the trip. In winters, make sure you have snow chains for your vehicle.
Road Trip to Death Valley
It would be very strange if you hadn’t heard of Death Valley. Known as one of the points of the earth that reaches higher temperatures in summer, which on the other hand make it very difficult to live there, it is a destination that on many occasions tops the lists of places to visit in the United States.
So impressive that it seems to transport you to Mars, so desert that it seems to be located in the middle of Central Asia, so unique that it deserves a visit. There a lots of things to do in Death Valley including Zabriskie Point Death Valley, Badlands Loop Hike, Badwater Basin and The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
If you dare, avoid exploring it on extremely hot days and choose to do it outside the summer season. Fall, winter and spring are better options.
In addition, if you include it in a Southwest road trip, where in addition to Death Valley you can visit other jewels such as the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park, way better. Enjoy!
By Inma from A World to Travel
VIsit Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree National park is one of the United States’ best parks, and a must on any USA bucket list. Located just 1 hour from Palm Springs and 2.5 hours from Los Angeles, it is an easy overnight or weekend trip. I recommend arriving by car, as the park is quite expansive.
Joshua Tree offers a unique experience, as the Mojave and Colorado desert meet.
You can visit the park during the day or opt to overnight. There are a number of campsites available for this overnighting. There are also a number of cabin or hotel experiences in the town of Joshua Tree that can be booked for those looking for a more luxurious experience.
There is tons to do in the park, from hiking trails and bike rides to horseback riding and bouldering.
The entrance fee to park is $30 per car. While the park can be visited all year round, I recommend visiting in the spring or fall when the temperatures are less intense.
By Taylor from www.tavernatravels.com
Go to Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas. The films would have you believe that Vegas is all about big stakes and high rollers, but the truth is, there’s so much more to this desert city than gambling. There are even loads of amazing things to do in Vegas for couples!
The casino’s themselves are a hive of entertainment, offering everything from gondola rides at The Venetian to a roller coaster at New York New York and some of the worlds top performers such as Penn and Teller, the Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil.
The original old town is experiencing a revival too. Home to some of the original Vegas hotels and Freemont Street where you’ll find free concerts, street performers and a zipline.
Outside the city lies a number of must-see attractions including the Red Rock Canyon, the Seven Magic Mountains sculpture (best described as a colourful Stonehenge) and the impressive Hoover Dam with an intriguing visitor centre that tells how the dam was technologically advanced for its time and the true human cost of building it.
The most convenient way to access Vegas is via its own international airport although it also makes a great stop as part of a US west coast road trip. Don’t forget to stop off at the Viva Las Vegas sign for that signature selfie!
By Kieren from Got My Backpack
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon should be on every traveller’s bucket list. The jaw-dropping landscape of this Arizonan National Park will etch itself into your memory.
Many people visit The Grand Canyon in one day by air or as part of a road trip from Las Vegas or nearby Flagstaff. But the astonishing 29 kilometres wide and 1.6-kilometre deep canyon deserves more time than just one day!
Hike the South Rim to savour stunning views at every turn. Descend into the canyon on one of the rocky trails to gain a completely different perspective of the ancient canyon and its expansive, different colour bands of aged rock. Or, if you are an experienced hiker, complete the challenging hike to the bottom of the canyon floor and enjoy spending the night by the banks of the Colorado River. The Havasu Falls hike in the Havasupai Falls is also a very popular thing to do when visiting the Canyon. You will need a little bit more time to venture out but it is well worth it!
Try to visit the Canyon at sunrise or sunset – or ideally both! The viewpoints will be quieter and dawn and dusk each provide different colour changes to the awe-inspiring canyon landscape.
by Sinead from Map Made Memories
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located near Page, Arizona. The canyon has been carved out over millions of years by flash flooding that caused erosion.
Antelope Canyon is the most popular of slot canyons and this site has gained popularity in the recent years due to Instagram but it has always been a beautiful site to behold.
Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land and can only be accessed on a tour of the canyon. You can visit either the Upper or Lower section of the canyon. Both are known for their red sandstone that is famous in this area but you can also see light beams coming in from above and it makes for great photography.
Tickets to see this natural wonder sell out months in advance especially in the summer months so it is worth booking ahead of time. Antelope Canyon is about a 15 minute drive from Page and you can also access the beautiful Horseshoe Bend from this area near Lake Powell.
by Nicole from Travelgal Nicole
Sedona, Arizona is an incredible destination full of red rock landscapes and winding hiking trails. There’s also a New Age vibe in the city’s quirky galleries and plenty of authentic Native American art.
Just a two-hour drive from Phoenix, this laid-back desert town boasts red rock buttes and incredible landscapes that are said to have healing powers. There are hiking trails everywhere – and because the city is surrounded by nature, you won’t need a guidebook. Pull over on the side of the road and enjoy the breathtaking canyons and pine forests. The 5.6-km Airport Loop Hike is great for beginners and offers incredible views at an easy pace.
At the nearby Crescent Moon Ranch, a narrow pathway will take you to the majestic Cathedral Rock and the waters of Oak Creek. You can also visit the site’s first homestead, where early settlers build a ranch and a water wheel.
For some shopping or lunch, head to the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. This maze of upscale restaurants and shops was modelled after a Mexican village. It’s a charming spot for a rest with its hand-painted tiles and leafy plazas.
Across the street, there’s a line of New Age shops if you want to browse astrology books and crystals. You can also find out about yoga workshops or meditation retreats, held in Sedona year-round.
by Dee from vanillapapers.net
Located not close to anywhere, Monument Valley is a reward for avid travellers prepared to make the journey. Straddling the border of Utah and Arizona, the Monument Valley area is a perfect bucket list item, best visited as part of a broader southwest road trip.
For movie buffs, the area will ignite memories of old John Wayne western movies as well as Hollywood classics like National Lampoon’s Vacation, Back to the Future 3 and Forrest Gump.
But you don’t need to be a moviegoer to appreciate this otherworldly natural landscape. The real highlight for visitors is the Monument Valley Tribal Park. Within the park you’ll find the 17 mile loop, a drive where you can take in some of the most iconic monuments. Some of the more well known are the mittens, three sisters and totem pole. All eroded red rocks that look like their names suggest. Some like Elephant Butte take some more imagination to see their namesake, but that’s all part of the fun of a visit.
Staying a night in ‘the Valley’ is highly recommended. The night sky is filled with more stars than you knew existed. With only two hotel options – The View and Goulding’s Lodge, you’ll need to make sure you’re booking ahead to secure your room in the desert.
by Jeff from Our Passion For Travel
Utah National Park Road Trip
Slot canyons. Fins. Hoodoos. Waterpocket folds. Buttes. Utah is home to some of the most beautiful and bizarre geology you’ll find anywhere on earth. And on a Utah Parks Road Trip, not only will you have the chance to explore five of the best US National Parks, but you’ll also gain access to countless National Monuments, Federal Lands, State Parks, and beyond.
Of course, you could opt to drive on other iconic American routes like the Pac Coast Highway or Route 66, but a Utah road trip is less about roadside attractions and more about tiny towns dropped in otherwise undeveloped land. It’s endless drives past slick rock fields and beneath towers of red rock.
It’s desert camping beneath a universe of stars and extraordinary hikes through arid landscapes. There’s a certain ruggedness to a trip through Utah, but it’s worth every mile.
by Taylor from Travel Outlandish
Bryce Canyon National Park
If you’ve ever wanted to wander enchanted forests made of rock, then you must head to Bryce Canyon National Park. Located in southern Utah, Bryce Canyon is home to several incredible hiking trails, beautiful vistas, and more.
The beautiful pink, red, and orange stone monoliths rise impossibly high out of the pine forests for a spectacle that is like nothing else on earth. Wake up before the sun to see the first light on these jaw-dropping formations from above the canyon, then go for a hike among the sandstone giants along the Navajo Loop or Queen’s Garden trails.
Visitors to the park can opt to camp or stay in the nearby town of Bryce, which offers enough creature comforts for less-outdoorsy travelers. Spend the day hiking the various different trails and don’t forget to visit both Sunrise and Sunset Points at their respective time of day for even more magic.
Keep in mind that although this is the desert, Bryce Canyon is located 8,000 feet above sea level so be sure to drink plenty of water and pack a few extra layers in case the weather is chilly.
by Meg from Fox in the Forest
Drive to the top of Pikes Peak
One of the ultimate things to do in the United States is to drive to the top of Pikes Peak. Standing at just over 14,000 feet, Pikes Peak is one of the tallest mountains in the US that you can drive to the top of.
The reason why we love Pikes Peak so much is because everyone can enjoy it. If you are fit enough and would like to take on a challenge, it is completely possible to hike to the top rather than driving. Although, if a strenuous hike is not in the books for you, driving to the top is also a great way to enjoy the views and wildlife along the way.
If you are looking to drive to the top of Pikes Peak, there are some things that you need to be aware of. Make sure that your car is in good condition as it is a strenuous drive for a car. Also, make sure that you allow yourself ample time as there are many viewpoints and things to see along the way.
You will also want to make sure that you have a full tank of gas when heading to Pikes Peak, as it takes about ½ a tank to get from the top to the bottom.
Getting to Pikes Peak is easy, as it is just outside Colorado Springs or an hour and 15-minute drive from Denver International Airport.
by Jessica from Unearth The Voyage
Visit Rocky Mountains National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country located just a short drive from Denver, Colorado. With majestic peaks in every direction, wildlife roaming the valleys and some of the best day hikes in the USA!
International Hot Air Balloon Festival
STATE: New Mexico
Held in October of every year attracting thousands of people from all different countries, The Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world and should be on everyones USA bucket list. This ten-day event sprinkles the morning sky with hundreds of colourful hot air balloons floating over the famous Rio Grande River.
The festival is the single largest draw of tourists to the state of New Mexico all year long and as such hotels and accommodations sell out extremely fast so booking as far in advance is recommended. The balloons go up each morning as long as the weather cooperates so it’s better to give yourself a few extra contingency days to plan around the weather.
Arrive at the park extra early to avoid the crowds, grab a breakfast burrito, some coffee and snag a picnic table. Be sure to wear plenty of layers because it might be freezing in the morning but as soon as the sun starts to come up over the Sandia Mountains, you will heat up very quickly in that high desert sun but nothing will compare to the magic of that view at sunrise.
by Courtney from www.cocobetty.com
Hike Mount Rainer
Just a two and a half hour drive from Seattle in Washington State will take you to Mount Rainier, which feels about as far away from a city as it’s possible to get. Mount Rainier has an allure that draws you in as soon as you lay eyes on it. In fact, just a glimpse through the often-present thick cloud will leave you feeling awe struck.
Famous for the extinct volcano at the centre of the park (that’s also on the number plates of cars in Washington), Mount Rainier attracts over two million visitors per year, making it one of the most popular national parks in the USA.
The highlight of Mount Rainier are its sub-alpine hiking trails which are simply breath-taking. The most famous is the Skyline trail which will take you up to close to glaciers, waterfalls and offers incredible mountain views throughout (as well as a few feisty marmots along the way). If you only have time for one hike in the park, make it this one.
If you have more time take the steep, but not too difficult hike to Tolmie Peak for one of the best sunset views in the country. Sitting and watching Mount Rainier as the sun sets is a mesmerising experience and many people stay here into the night for some of Washington’s best star gazing.
A tropical vacation in Hawaii should be on everyone’s USA bucket list, and no Hawaiian island has more fun things to do than Oahu.
If this is your first time visiting Oahu, you should definitely start off with a surfing lesson. The waves directly in front of world-famous Waikiki Beach are relatively small and perfect for beginners. You’ll also want to bring your hiking shoes because Oahu has some amazing trails. The most popular hike is to the top of Diamond Head Crater which is a steep uphill climb but you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach at the top. And if you’re feeling more adventurous, try hiking Kau’au Crater – it’s our favourite trail on the island!
Don’t forget about a visit to Oahu’s North Shore. Grab a delicious shave ice from Matsumoto’s and browse the boutique shops in Haleiwa town. Or try diving with sharks, skydiving, or body surfing at Waimea Bay for a real Hawaiian adventure. And at the end of the day, grab a six-pack of Longboard Lager and head to Banzai Pipeline. You can try to spot some pro surfers while watching the sunset over the Pacific ocean.
The Hawaii Archipelago is the most remote island chain in the world so for most people the only way to go there is by plane. Luckily, you’ll find daily flights to Oahu from many major US cities as well as international flights from countries like Australia, Japan, China, and South Korea.
by Nick from Wandering Wheatleys
Hiking the Waimea Canyon on Kauai
If you’re making a USA bucket list, Hawaii is probably on your list. The best thing about Hawaii may just be hiking the Waimea Canyon on Kauai. It’s truly an experience like no other!
The Waimea Canyon is referred to ‘The Grand Canyon of the Pacific’ and it does not disappoint! Hiking it was one of the highlights of my trip to Kauai.
You’ll find hiking trails for every level of physical fitness. You can spend as little as 30 minutes on a trail and get phenomenal views. Or immerse yourself in the canyon and spend all day looking for hidden waterfalls and gorgeous overlooks.
Kauai is a very lush, tropical island so some trails are often closed due to extreme mud. I’d recommend to stop by the Koke’e State Park, pick up a hiking trail map and ask which trails are open. It varies by day.
by Nikki from She Saves She Travels
Spend a Week on Maui
Maui, Hawaii is a total must-see in the United States and it is perfect for all types of travelers. At just under a 6-hour flight from the west coast, this little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is not only the ultimate destination for relaxation, but it is also full of adventure.
Maui is the home to the popular Haleakalā National Park, which one of the best sunrises in the world can be seen. In addition, there are some great opportunities to hike in Haleakalā National Park, and in Maui in general Beaches in this US state are beyond beautiful, and some are great for surfing, snorkeling, swimming or just sunbathing. One of the best things to do in Maui is to take a drive on the famous Road to Hana.
This drive is an epic US road trip winding along the northern coast of Maui and boasts some of the most breathtaking views of the ocean, as well as the opportunity to see tons of incredible waterfalls. Another popular activity to do in Maui is to see the island by helicopter, or by boat.
The views all around the island are unmatched, and overall this state should definitely be on your USA bucket list.
by Amanda from Patsey Family Travels
Chicago is truly one of the best cities in the US with exceptional architectural & cultural history. It brings the Midwest to the world map and you do not want to miss this beauty especially if you are visiting in the summer time. With amazing weather, there are tons of outdoor activities to do in the city from watching the Chicago rooftop views to going on a cruise on Lake Michigan to eating your heart out in Chicago’s amazing food scene.
One of the best activities that I highly recommend when in Chicago is to take the architectural tour of the city. Trust me, even if you are not a fan of architecture or history, the views you’ll see down from the river are phenomenal. These tour boats start from Navy Pier and take you on a ride around the Chicago River meandering through the tall buildings in downtown. There is also a wonderfully developed river walk that has bars and restaurants lined up which makes another great activity in downtown to chill and relax.
Finally, you cannot leave Chicago without trying their deep-dish pizza. Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s are both amazing restaurants for Chicago style pizza.
by Richa from My Tickle Feet
Cleveland, OH deserves a spot on any U.S. bucket list. This is despite the city’s bad rap in the media due to debacles throughout history, including bad moments in sports and the Cuyahoga River catching fire.
What outsiders don’t know though, is that Cleveland is a tight-knit community of hard workers and overall nice people. Over the past decade, the city has only gotten better, with an explosion of local businesses, including over thirty breweries in the area alone.
Of course, Cleveland has had certain gems worth visiting for a while. This includes the beautiful shores of Lake Erie, which can be appreciated from Edgewater Park, as well as the famous Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The restaurant scene is really good too, including several by the likes of Iron Chef Michael Symon and renowned Chef Jonathon Sawyer.
Most people get to Cleveland by driving or flying into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Getting around Cleveland is rather easy by self-driving or grabbing an Uber or Lyft. Plus, the traffic never gets that bad in this somewhat small city, meaning you can easily get from place to place and see a lot during a visit.
Cleveland indeed has a lot to offer any visitor, and may even take you by surprise, so it is simply a must on any USA bucket list
by Theresa from Fueled By Wanderlust
See the Statue of Liberty
STATE: New York
New York City should be one top of every USA bucket list! While in the city, you need to get to the top of the Statue of Liberty, an iconic structure that represents freedom standing over the New York Harbor at a daunting height of 93 meters. No matter if you are taking a romantic trip to USA, you are traveling solo or with a family, you will have lots of fun there.
To avoid long queues and ensure your visit to the Statue of Liberty, book your tickets online and print out the e-ticket. Otherwise, you will need to fall in line at the prepaid window to pick up your tickets. Once you have your ticket, aim for an early start lining up to get into the ferry at either Battery Park or Liberty State Park to make sure you get the best spot to view the Statue of Liberty on the open third level of the ferry.
After getting off the ferry, head to the visitors’ information building, where you can sign up for an informative Ranger Guided Tour of the park outside the Statue of Liberty. Free of charge, this will provide you with some interesting information on the island’s history. For families with children, signing them up for the Junior Ranger Tour is an amazing option that consists of educational activities that will earn them a badge at the end of the tour.
by Karolina from Lazy Travel Blog
Fall in love with NYC
STATE: New York
New York City, has been bucket list destination of mine since I was 12! With my partner working in New Mexico we took a spontaneous trip and I finally got to visit the wonderland that is New York City!
Our New York City itinerary for 4 days included all the iconic tourist spots like Rockefeller Centre, Times Square, and Central Park whilst also exploring all the different neighbourhoods, and trying some local favourites hot spots!
Obviously, you need a lifetime here to explore all of NYC (it’s bloody huge) but 4 days in New York getting lost, and stuffing your face with food and seeing some pretty iconic places is a great start!
See Niagara Falls
STATE: New York
Located near Buffalo, New York, on the border with Canada, Niagara Falls is a can’t miss destination in the United States. Three falls comprise Niagara Falls: the Horseshoe, Bridal Veil, and American Falls. All three falls are located along the border between the two countries. The US National Park runs the immediate area around the US attractions, attractive to hikers and nature lovers alike.
Visitors to the area should visit Cave of the Winds, where they’ll be able to get an up-close and personal look at Bridal Veil Falls. After donning plastic ponchos and waterproof footwear, visitors follow wooden platforms and stairs around the side of the falls. Brave souls will get drenched on the Hurricane Deck.
The highlight of a Niagara Falls visit is a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat tour. Versions of this boat ride began in 1854, making it a long-time family tradition. Blue plastic ponchos issued to guests give the illusion that they will stay dry. But this twenty-minute ride is guaranteed to drench the entire family. The boat trail passes the American and Bridal Veil Falls before turning around in front of the Horseshoe Falls. The sound is deafening! The boats make a slow turn and wait for a few minutes so that guests get the full effect of the power of the Horseshoe Falls. It is an amazing experience! Bring a change of clothes if your plans include anything else that day. Expect long lines, especially during the height of summer vacation and the middle of the day.
by Annick from The Common Traveler
Have fun in Miami
Home to one of the best urban beaches on the planet, some truly fascinating history, and a multicultural vibe that rivals even the most cosmopolitan of cities, it’s not hard to see why spending a weekend in Miami deserves a place on your USA bucket list.
While you’re there, be sure to stretch out on South Beach, walk the South Pointe Park Pier for amazing views of the beach, explore the incredible Art Deco architecture, hang out under the palm trees in Lummus Park, and stroll down Ocean Drive.
Don’t forget to spend time exploring the distinct neighborhood of Little Havana (and seriously, come hungry) or the up-and-coming street-art-slash-hipster neighborhood of Wynwood–both are worthy of your time.
Want to soak in those famous city views from the water? Head out on a boat cruise and enjoy them for yourself! Afterward, consider cooling off at the Venetian, a historical swimming pool, or paying a visit to the interesting Vizcaya Mansion.
If you have enough time in Miami for a day trip, consider heading out to the Everglades for a uniquely Florida national park experience, or to the Florida Keys for a bit of fun in the sun (and one of the coolest road trips in the country).
by Kate from Our Escape Clause
Visit Key West
One of my favorite places in the United States lives inside Florida waayy down at the bottom. Within the Keys, you have over 1700 Islands to choose from but the more known areas are Marathon, Key Largo, Islamorada, Big Pine Key, and Key West. I visited the Florida Keys in December and it was absolutely perfect. 70 degrees and sunny with beaches all around. Visiting Key West feels as if you are visiting a world all on its own. Everyone is on vacation and therefore NO ONE is in a rush. Key West has a very relaxed vibe that you will quickly sink into the moment you get there. It’s time to relax, smell the ocean breeze and take it all in.
From Decadent Key lime pie, bar hopping down Duval Street, and visiting important landmarks such as Hemingway’s house (which still is home to ancestors of his six-toed cats), and touching the Southernmost tip of the Continental United States you will have plenty to do in the Florida Keys.
I highly recommend making the Florida Keys a place you decide to vacation when you need a break from the daily grind of life.
by Brie from Chasing the Wild Goose
The Sleeping Bear Dunes
If you’re headed to Michigan, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is something you’ll definitely want to add to your US bucket list.
The dunes are located near the town of Empire on the west coast of the lower peninsula. The easiest way to get to empire is to drive 25 miles west from Traverse City (which can be reached by car, Greyhound bus, or plane).
Once you get to Empire, make sure to stop at the Visitor Center, where they’ll give you maps and important information.
One of the best activities to do at the Sleeping Bear dunes is to take a ride along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a 7.4 loop with many breathtaking viewpoints.
If you’re looking for adventure (and a killer calf workout), stop at the Lake Michigan Overlook (450 feet above the water), run down the dune, and climb back up. I guarantee it will be an experience you’ll never forget.
by Mitch from Project Untethered
Yellowstone National Park
An ultimate USA bucket list would not be complete without a visit to some of the gorgeous national parks, especially Yellowstone National Park.
Known as one of the most popular National Park in the USA, Yellowstone has plenty to offer. For example, Yellowstone National Park contains over 500 active geyser, which is more than half the world’s geysers. It has 290 waterfalls in the park and more than 10,000 geothermal features such as geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles.
On top of all these exotic features, Yellowstone National Park also boasts a huge variety of species of animals and birds. There are many things to see in Yellowstone National Park but the most impressive feature has to be the Grand Prismatic Spring. It is the third-largest hot spring in the world but not only is it impressive in size, but it is also impressive in color.
The different temperature of the hot spring (cooler on the outside, hotter on the inside) creates a rainbow-like spectrum of colors on the Grand Prismatic Spring.
by Sean from Living Out Lau
Philadelphia is a fantastic destination for anyone visiting the United States of America. It lies between New York City and Washington DC, but it’s more manageable than NYC and more fun than DC. Philly is also very affordable for a major American city which makes it popular amongst tourists.
One of the main draws for Philadelphia tourists is American history. In “Old City” Philadelphia you’ll find what’s referred to as “the most historic building on the most historic city block of the most historic square mile in the most historic city in America”. That building, of course, is Independence Hall, location of the signing of The Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.
Across the street from Independence Hall, you’ll find the Liberty Bell, a symbol of American pride, and the former Presidential Mansion. That’s right, Philadelphia was the capital of the United States prior to the founding of Washington DC. You can view the foundation and tour an exhibit of the home that Geroge Washington once lived in. The Liberty Bell is easily toured with no ticket or entry fee required.
One block north of those attractions you’ll find The Constitution Center and the Independence Visitors Center. The Independence Visitor Center should be your first stop to plan your touring. There you can book a free guided tour of Independence Hall and learn more about the history you’ll encounter. Most museums and attractions are free of charge, and the few which are not can be booked at this visitor center.
by Derek from Robe Trotting
Visit The Hot Springs In Idaho
Idaho is famously known for potatoes, but there is so much more to this state than spuds. The rugged wilderness and lack of crowds are enough to make any nature-lover fall head over hiking boots. And a draw much more exciting than potatoes is the fact that Idaho is packed with hot springs!
Road trip around Idaho and you’ll have your share of places to soak – both popular and accessible as well as those that are seldom visited and take an adventure to reach.
One of the most iconic hot springs in Idaho is Goldbug, which is set atop a picturesque valley and boasts a handful of pools with different temperatures to choose from. Getting there requires a 4-mile round trip hike, but it is possible to carry in a tent and spend the night in paradise (which we’d highly recommend if you have the chance!).
If you make it to this magical place, keep it that way! Be sure to be respectful to other soakers and carry out all trash you bring in. It’s even a nice idea to collect any pieces of rubbish you see along the way to help keep this place beautiful!
by Katie & Ben from Two Wanderings Soles
STATE: South Dakota
Mount Rushmore is an American icon and must be added to any USA bucket list. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore was originally built to create a tourist attraction in the state as a way to counteract the effects of the American Great Depression.
Although a monument on a hillside, it is amazing how long you will spend on the site and how much there is to do than merely being a quick photo stop. You will arrive walking through the Avenue of Flags. A must for any American is to try and spot your flag ordered by incorporation date.
Then explore the studios of the artist to find out more about how the monument was made before going on a short hike to get a better view of the president’s faces.m And finally be sure to stop off for some historic ice cream which to this day is made using a recipe by President Thomas Jefferson.
Discover the town of Missoula
You’ve probably never heard of Missoula and you would probably only end up there if you threw a dart at a map and it ended up landing somewhere in Montana you would then come to realize it was Missoula – and once you end up going you’ll soon see why this place should be on your USA bucket list!
In between the 5 valleys lies this beautiful town in Western Montana that is full of colorful flowers with big trees on every street, hence the nickname The Garden City. Missoula has so much to offer. You can do anything there from hiking, biking, and river rafting to eating delicious food, partying, and visiting breweries. All within walking distance.
You could almost compare Missoula to a mini version of Portland but with it’s own unique vibe to it. And it also may become a new digital nomad hotspot in the future with an inexpensive cost of living and an abundance of outdoor activities!
A few of the places and activities you shouldn’t miss out on are:
- Enjoying a delicious coffee at The Break
- Indulge in Mexican food at Tia’s Big Sky
- Hang out at the Shady Spruce Hostel
- Hiking to the M! This is a fun hike overlooking the city.
And last but not least, you have to Keep Missoula Weird as the locals say!
by Josefine & Dominik from Red White Adventures
Visit Vibrant New Orleans
Any successful trip to New Orleans must include a visit to the infamous French Quarter. It’s very easy to access, being just a twenty-minute drive from Louis Armstrong International Airport and a quick walk or Uber from most New Orleans hotels.
While this area tends to be known for the party atmosphere of seedy Bourbon Street, there is plenty more to be discovered. The French Quarter is actually very historical, as it contains the original city limits from when New Orleans was first settled. A walking tour is a great option for learning more about these early inhabitants and why the French Quarter is filled with Spanish architecture.
For an even more fun alternative, consider doing a pub tour, which will take you around the French Quarter while teaching you the history of famous NOLA libations, such as the Hurricane or Sazerac. If a tour isn’t your thing, you can certainly get a feel for the atmosphere by simply wandering in and out of bars with a perfectly legal drink in your hand. That’s right – there are no open container laws in New Orleans!
Whether you’re looking to get crazy or just want to take in the scene, the French Quarter is always a must-see on your USA bucket list!
by Theresa from Fueled By Wanderlust
Try Authentic Cajun Food in Lafayette
Lafayette is a must-stop destination for serious foodies. This southern Louisiana city is the heart and soul of Cajun country and known for its unique Cajun and Creole heritages. It is also where you can sink your teeth into authentic Cajun dishes! From crawfish etoufee, boudin, to beignets, all kinds of delectable Cajun food can be found there.
To get the best Cajun food in Lafayette, we recommend dropping by Blue Dog Café for a taste of Cajun-inspired seafood dishes and Johnson’s Boucaniere for classic boudin. Of course, you must not miss the chance to pay a visit to the world-famous Buck & Johnny’s for a zydeco breakfast!
Lafayette is located at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Interstate 49, an easy access by car from New Orleans and Houston. The city also has a regional airport (Lafayette Regional Airport) that is serviced by domestic airlines.
by Cat from For Two, Please
If you love music and a city that comes alive by night, Nashville in Tennessee is a must-visit! While it is the world capital for country music, all music lovers will love their time spent in Nashville.
A walk down Honky Tonk highway will be a total sensory delight, with music streaming out every doorway and neon lights leading the way. But don’t wait until night time to explore, as the music starts early in the day when the atmosphere is already welcoming.
A performance at the Grand Ole Opry is a Nashville experience you won’t want to miss. Some of the biggest names in music have taken the stage at the Opry and there are regular performances all year round.
If shopping is on the agenda, head to the nearby Opry Mills for outlets and shops galore. This is also where you will find the Wax Museum for some selfies with famous faces!
A stroll through The Gulch will take you past some cool street art, including the iconic What Lifts You angel wings. Stop in at Biscuit Love for some delicious brunch!
Nashville has something for everyone and should be high on your USA must-see list!
by Holly from Four Around the World
Chattanooga, Tennessee may not be the first destination you think of when you’re coming up with your USA bucket list. But trust me, Chattanooga definitely earns its place on the list!
This city is known for its incredible outdoor lifestyle opportunities from white water rafting to rock climbing to paddleboarding. But…my personal two favorite things to do in Chattanooga are visit Ruby Falls and Rock City. Ruby Falls and Rock City lie on the border of Tennessee and Georgia, so don’t get confused when you’re doing your research! Staying in Chattanooga giving you easy access to these two destinations. If you like exploring underground caverns, Ruby Falls is the place for you. What makes these caverns unique is that Ruby Falls is actually an underground waterfall! I don’t know about you, but you just don’t get to see that every day!
After you tour inside the mountain, head further up Lookout Mountain to “See Rock City”. Here you’ll enjoy a spot where you can “see seven states,” beautiful views, and another epic waterfall. We loved the ease in which you could walk around and enjoy this area. If you love waterfalls, then you absolutely cannot miss Ruby Falls and Rock City in Chattanooga, Tennessee!
by Julie from More than Mainstreet
Rock out in Graceland
There is nothing more USA than Rock n’ Rock and one of the most unique places to visit in the USA is where The King of Rock n’ Roll used to live, Graceland. Graceland lets you get a glimpse into the life and history of the iconic American Elvis Presley.
Graceland is a timestamp of what life was like back in the ‘70s, with Elvis fans and people who flock to his home from around the world. See where he lived and what life was like behind the scenes for this rockstar.
There is a collection of many of his awards, records, cars, his plane and anything you could imagine related to Elvis Presley. It is also his final resting place where fans go to pay their respect to The King. Graceland is such a unique place to visit that even if you’re not a die-hard Elvis fan you can’t help yourself but have some nostalgic for where the king of Rock n’ Roll started it all from.
Graceland is located in Memphis Tennessee where the heart of the blues scene was born in America.
by Nicole from thepassportkids.com
So that was our USA bucket list! What was your favourite thing to do in the USA? Let us know in the comments below!
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