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America is truly beautiful. There are so many incredible USA bucket list travel destinations around this large country that narrowing it down seems impossible. The USA boasts exciting cities, pristine beaches, adventurous national parks, and stunning wine regions. 

In short, there is no shortage of amazing places to visit in the USA. But to sum it up, we’ve got the top 40 of our favorite spots that will make any trip to or around America the best! 

Are you ready for the ultimate USA bucket list?

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Top 40 USA Bucket List Travel Destinations

We’re breaking this incredible list up into 3 categories: cities, national parks, and dream destinations! When it comes to bucket list travel in the USA, you’ll be sure to find something you absolutely love. 

Top Cities in the USA for Your Bucket List

Brooklyn Heights, NYC- USA Bucket List Destinations

1. New York City

There is no doubt that New York City is a real bucket list destination in the United States. This city has so much to offer to any kind of visitor, and whether you are a solo traveler, a couple looking for a romantic break, a group of friends, or even a family traveling with children, you are bound to have a good time.
It takes a while to fully visit the city. The recommendation is to spend at least several days in New York
During that amount of time, make sure not to skip a visit to the Financial District, from where you can hop on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. This is one of the most iconic places in the country. A guided tour can be expensive, so if you are only interested in the sights, make sure to get on the Staten Island Ferry, which is free. Take your camera with you! 
Once you get off the ferry, make sure to head to the World Trade Center and the nearby Oculus. The first one will give you incredible views of the city from its observation deck, and the second is a new, fun place to visit – a mall and transportation hub with a funky architecture. Not far, you will find Chinatown and Little Italy, two must-see neighborhoods. 
Brooklyn, NYC US Bucket List
Fans of Sex and the City should go on a tour of Greenwich Village to discover all the filming locations. 
If you fancy museums, you have plenty to pick from. The Metropolitan, MOMA, and Guggenheim are all interesting for different reasons, but if you have time just for one, you should probably opt for the Metropolitan. 
For stunning views of Manhattan, cross the Brooklyn Bridge and head to Brooklyn Heights Promenade. It’s a lovely neighborhood! 
Submitted by Claudia from My Adventures Across the World
Planning to see a lot of NYC in a short amount of time? Get the New York City Explorer Pass that includes discounts and options for free entrance to many museums and attractions! 
Austin, Texas USA Bucket List

2. Austin, Texas

Austin, TX is one of the only places in the world where you can get traditional (& delicious) breakfast tacos, paddleboard next to the city’s skyline, participate in a game of chicken shit bingo, and go two-stepping at a western dance hall – all in one day. This little capital of Texas is popular with the residents – and visitors – for a BIG reason. 

In the hot summer months, you can cool down at Barton Springs, Lake Travis, Hamilton Pool, or any of the other fantastic watering holes around town. During cooler weather (or hot weather if you can handle it) there is plenty of outdoor recreation inside and outside the city. Zilker Park and the Greenbelt are short drives from downtown Austin, while Mt. Bonnell, Hippie Hollow, and McKinney Falls State Park are less than 30 minutes away. 

When you need a food break, there are honestly too many options to count. From Gordo’s epic doughnuts to Franklin’s Barbecue and all the authentic Tex-Mex in between, Austin is THE foodie hub of Texas. It probably doesn’t need mentioning that Austin’s live music scene is one of the best in the country. Think ACL, SXSW, and all the great venues on and around 6th St – which is a destination in and of itself. 

Austin shouldn’t be left off anyone’s USA bucket list, because there is something for everyone in this uniquely hipster – with a flair of western – city. Hopefully, y’all are now “ready and rarin’ to go” to Austin, Texas.   

Submitted by Ashley and Nick from Impact Winder.

Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC

3. Asheville, North Carolina

When it comes to bucket-list destinations in the USA, Asheville, NC is high on the list. In order to really get a taste of the city, it’s best to spend at least 3 days in Ashville. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a small town that packs a big punch!
You can find things to do at any time of year here whether you prefer outdoor adventure, soaking up the culture, or sightseeing. Start your visit to the Biltmore Estate, the largest home in the USA that was built by George Vanderbilt. From there, head to the River Arts District to admire all the art on display in the galleries as well as the street murals. You’ll never go wrong simply wandering around downtown Asheville checking out the eclectic shops and stopping into some of the many craft breweries.
If you enjoy sunsets and tasty cocktails then you’ll love Sky Bar. Get outside by taking a hike or a cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway, or rent a tube and float down the French Broad River. If you enjoy taking in live music (like I do) there are plenty of options to do so every night of the week. Whether you’re planning a family vacation, romantic getaway, or a solo/friends trip, you can’t go wrong in Asheville!
Submitted by Rachel and Sasha from Grateful Gypsies
Portland White Stag Sign 3 Day Portland Itinerary

4. Portland, Oregon

One city that should be on your USA bucket list is Portland, Oregon. Located in the Pacific Northwest, this city has become widely known as a hip and trendy city within the US. Sitting at the junction of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, it is a city that has it all; rivers, forests, shopping districts, mountains and so many great things to do.

Whether you are visiting Portland with kids or not, there is something for everyone. Some of the best things to do in the city include cycling along the riverbanks, visiting museums such as the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (which has great child-friendly areas), wandering through the Japanese Gardens and Rose Test Gardens in Washington Park or simply finding a place to admire the views of Mount Hood in the distance. You can drive to Multnomah Falls (or take a fun day trip!) of the Columbia River Gorge- it’s a must!

Multnomah Falls, United States, Portland, Oregon

Pop into Downtown Portland for some retail therapy including visiting Powell’s City of Books before grabbing some Voodoo Donuts. Or you could head over to the very trendy Alphabet District to peruse the small, boutique shops there before finding somewhere cool for a coffee or stopping by Salt’N’Straw for some amazing ice cream. Try the salted caramel. It’s divine.

Portland is a really cool city and has something for everyone whether you love shopping, the outdoors, or are visiting as a family. Whether you visit Portland in the fall, spring, summer, or winter, it is a city that will delight all your senses!

Submitted by Cath from Passports and Adventures.

Portland Head Lighthouse in Portland Maine - 3 Days in Portland Maine

5. Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine – a seafood lover’s heaven with a vibrant food scene, old-town charm, dynamic nightlife, and the city’s rich history make for one worthy USA bucket list destination! 

Portland is a fantastic place to visit, but don’t just take my word for it. The city was named the 2018 Restaurant City of the year, according to Bon Appetit Magazine. The food scene is not only exceptional, but many restaurants support local farmers and source most of the ingredients locally. And if that wasn’t enough, Portland boasts many great breweries. If you enjoy a cold one, make sure to visit a few – or many – of the local breweries! 

Check out my foodie’s guide to Portland, Maine for mouthwatering recommendations. 

Portland, Maine- USA Travel Bucket List Destination

If modern cities are not your thing, don’t worry, Portland still manages to retain its old-town charm. Take a stroll in the old town and the old port where you will find galleries, independent boutiques, and other small businesses – the true heart of Portland. Not to mention, the scenic lighthouses on the coast right outside the city. 

If Portland, Maine wasn’t under your radar before, it should be on your US bucket list now! Plus, it is a great spot to start before exploring the incredible Acadia National Park!

Submitted by Diana from In Between Pictures.

Sedona, Arizona

6. Sedona, Arizona

One of the most underrated destinations in the USA is Sedona, Arizona, a region with red rock mesas that contrast against vibrant pine trees. Explore the tens of trails that weave over rust arches to the top of a rock that resembles a cathedral. There’s no shortage of natural features to discover.

When it’s time to rest your legs, the in-town diners are generous when it comes to portion sizes. The Coffee Pot Restaurant, for example, has over 100 choices of omelets! Come dinner time, there are an array of spicy Mexican restaurants to satiate growling stomachs. To escape the midday heat, wander around the Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village, where local artisans sell their work and mystics hawk crystals and offer palm readings.

Have a penchant for supernatural (or just want to dabble in it)? Sedona, Arizona is supposedly one of the most spiritual places in the world thanks to its energy vortexes. Believers in the paranormal claim that when you visit one of the major vortex sites in Sedona, you’ll feel a burst of energy and increased clarity. These vortexes are conveniently found at the most spectacular vistas in the region. Even if you don’t believe, you’ll feel a sense of serenity from the natural beauty alone.

Submitted by Chantae from Chantae Reden

Cupertino, California

7. Cupertino, California

When I think of the United States of America, I think of San Francisco, California. South of San Francisco, more into the Bay Area, is the technology hub of the USA: the Silicon Valley.

The city of Cupertino is a 45-minute drive from San Francisco and is a unique USA bucket list destination. Situated in the backdrop of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Cupertino is known for being the headquarters of the technology giant Apple, Inc. 

This is a rare city in the USA, as it does not have a proper downtown. The two main streets in Cupertino are De Anza Boulevard and Stevens Creek Boulevard. Their intersection marks the business district of this city. 

However, the Apple, Inc. headquarters – “Infinite Loop” and their latest headquarters “Spaceship” are beautiful modern pieces of architecture. Cupertino also has a few attractions like the Museum of Art and the Cupertino Historical Society and Museum for the history buff.

If you are into wines, you could visit the Pichetti Winery Ranch.  What we loved best was going for long hikes in Rancho San Antonio for its extremely picturesque landscape. With fresh air, the relaxed vibes, the solitude, and great food, Cupertino is the perfect destination for offbeat slow travel.

Submitted by Sundeep from Delhi Fun Dos

Las Vegas, Nevada

8. Las Vegas, Nevada

The U.S. is brimming with bucket list-worthy destinations and Las Vegas is one of them. Vegas is an amazing place to visit for several reasons. First of all, there’s something to do here for everyone. Vegas isn’t just about casinos, it also has world-renowned food; I always leave Vegas a few pounds heavier.

In addition, Vegas is close to other vacation destinations such as Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon. Moreover, Vegas is just an all-around fun and vibrant city with a lot to offer. When visiting, you should obviously check out the Las Vegas Strip, walkthrough world-class hotels, and admire the architecture.

Las Vegas, Nevada- USA Bucket List Travel

If you want to escape the busy city for a day, head over to the Hoover Dam. Don’t forget to catch a show or two. Vegas is known for its entertainment. The best way to end your night in Vegas is to watch the fountain show at the Bellagio. Lastly, a visit to Fremont Street is a must. All in all, Vegas is an incredibly fun city with so many things to do.

Submitted by Disha from Disha Discovers

9. Mobile, Alabama

Too often overlooked in favor of New Orleans, its larger and more famous neighbor, Mobile definitely deserves a place on your USA bucket list. It has many of the same charms as New Orleans, but without all the drunken debauchery, so for families, couples, and low-key travelers, it might even be a better option. While Mobile has been part of Alabama for some time now, originally it was the capital of the French Louisiana Territory.

That’s why you’ll recognize a lot of French influences here, especially in the city’s architecture and in its cultural traditions. The most obvious example is Mardi Gras, which locals will proudly tell you has been celebrated here longer than anywhere else in the United States! The parades and other festivities here are family-friendly, though, and local kids love catching moon pies and beads thrown from the floats.

Another local celebration worth timing your visit around is the Azalea Trail Festival, which takes place in the second half of March each year. This is when the pink and white azalea buds bloom on bushes all over the city, and a number of special public openings and tours are held at historic buildings and monuments.

But even if you can’t make it here for either of these celebrations, Mobile makes a great destination at any time of year. The weather is mild year-round, so you can always enjoy the streets lined with old oak trees, the nearby white-sand beaches, and Mobile’s great local restaurants.

Submitted by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

10. Savannah, Georgia

Between its moss-draped oak trees, trickling fountains in garden-filled squares, and historic houses covered in vines, Savannah, Georgia, has definitely earned its title as one of the most beautiful cities in America.

Besides its captivating aesthetics, the culinary scene is to die for, so bring your appetite! Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is a must for lunch, and be sure to grab dinner at Vic’s on the River or at The Grey, a culinary award-winning restaurant. After a scrumptious meal, keep the party going with a drink to go. Open containers, which locals lovingly dubbed “travelers,” are permitted in the Historic District! But it’s also worthwhile to explore the Historic District drink-free, especially River Street where you can enjoy many funky shops and businesses.

Looking to cool down on the water? Opt for a riverboat cruise on the Savannah River or take a day trip to Tybee Island and laze away on the beach. Those who are more active can rent kayaks to visit Little Tybee, an uninhabited barrier island that’s only accessible by water. If you go to Tybee Island, make sure you end the day with a meal at Coco’s Sunset Grille.

Submitted by Brittany from B Out Exploring

Love Statue, Philadelphia USA

11. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Philadelphia is often overlooked for New York City as a must-visit destination, but it shouldn’t be! You can walk through the footsteps of the American Revolution or run up the steps of the Museum of Art like Rocky. People often assume that you can see most of the city in a day, but to really dive into what Philly has to offer, I suggest spending 2 days or more. 

It’s hard not to be in awe at the amount of history in the city. From the Liberty Bell (built-in 1751) in Independence Hall to Reading Terminal Market (opened in 1893) spend a day walking through the birthplace of America. You can even walk down Elfreth’s Alley – the oldest residential street in the U.S. with houses dating back to 1728. 

On the second day, visit one of the most unique attractions in Philadelphia, the Eastern State Penitentiary. Operating from 1829 to 1971, the prison housed famous criminals such as Willie Sutton and Al Capone. Of course, no trip to Philly would be complete without a stop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a picture with the Rocky statue before running up the steps! 

Other iconic things to do in the city include taking a picture at the Love statue, exploring the Franklin Institute, and deciding who has the better cheesesteaks – Pat’s or Ginos! Or better yet, take a cheesesteak tour

Submitted by Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Millenium Park and the Bean

12. Chicago, Illinois 

Chicago is well known as the Windy City, but the city has so much to offer beyond its most popular term. While true that the city experiences quite a bit of wind due to its location on Lake Michigan, the beauty of the city lies in its dozens of attractions and things to do. Spending 3 days in Chicago is perfect to see many of the sights! 

Chicago has one of the tallest towers in the world, Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower. The tower has a glass Skydeck where visitors can move a few feet beyond the building and look down at the city below. Not far from the Willis Tower are the popular State Street and Michigan Avenue shopping locations.  The Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue has dozens of shops and restaurants dotted along the street, including ones that serve Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza.

If visiting in the summer be sure to go during the Taste of Chicago, a food festival that runs for a few days in July.  Then take a boat cruise on the Chicago River or even one out on Lake Michigan.  Visit the free Lincoln Park Zoo or one of Chicago’s famous museums such as the Art Institute, Field Museum, or Museum of Science and Industry. 

Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium are great family-friendly places and located right on the lake, so it’s easy to take a lakefront stroll right after.  Or take in a baseball game with the Cubs or White Sox, some of the best-known teams in the US.

Submitted by Diana from Travels in Poland

New Orleans Steamboat

13. New Orleans, Louisiana 

On a New Orleans trip, you can’t help but walk around with a smile, it’s just got an energy that you don’t feel anywhere else in America. The city has a blend of cultural influences including French, Spanish, and the Caribbean. You notice them all in the architecture, language, music, and food of New Orleans. While many people visit the city to party on Bourbon Street, the city offers so much more than hurricane cocktails on the street (but those are fun).

One thing you should do in the city is taking a riverboat ride on the Mississippi. There are many tours to choose from and some have sunset jazz dinners, others have bottomless mimosa brunches and others give you a history of the city.

New Orleans is super flat and walkable, so tours on foot and even Segway are also popular. One of the best ways to tour the city is with a ghost tour where you can learn all about the legends and folklore of the fascinating city.

It’s also a great city for nightlife, and that also includes jazz music. Catch live music on Frenchman Street and mingle with locals that escape the crowds on Bourbon Street.

For foodies visiting New Orleans make sure to try beignets, deep-fried pastries with powdered sugar. They’re often served with chocolate and the most popular place to try them is Café du Monde.

Submitted by Derek from Robe Trotting

Cherry Blossoms framing the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin in DC- 3 Days in Washington Dc Itinerary

14. Washington, DC

Washington, D.C. is a place everyone — at least every American — should add as a USA bucket list destination and visit at some point in their lives. And not just on their 8th-grade school trip. D.C. has something for everyone from gorgeous architecture to an incredible food scene, and of course, all of the rich history.
While Washington, D.C. is fairly expensive to visit as far as hotel accommodations and prices of food go, it more than makes up for it with the multitude of completely free attractions. For starters, the Smithsonian Institution boasts 17 museums, art galleries, and a zoo, all of which are free to enter.
Note that each of the Smithsonian museums and galleries can get quite crowded from spring through early autumn, particularly its newest addition of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, for which passes often sell out.
There are also other free attractions along the National Mall (which in and of itself is a must-visit and is reminiscent of the Champ de Mars in Paris) including the U.S. Capitol Building Visitor Center, the National Archives, the U.S. Botanical Garden, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and more.
Washington DC White House
D.C. is incredibly walkable and has a fantastic public transportation system, so when visiting, try and explore some of the other gorgeous neighborhoods: Georgetown is quiet and lined with million-dollar row houses; Columbia Heights is trendy and vibrant; Dupont Circle is lined with embassies and delightful restaurants. 

Come to Washington, D.C. with an appetite, too, because it is foodie heaven. D.C. is extraordinarily diverse, which the food scene reflects. From Ethiopian to northern Thai to Brazilian, and everything in between, you can find literally every type of food here. And after your incredible meals, feel free to head over to the U Street corridor for some of the country’s best nightlife. 

Submitted by Adriane from This Wandering Spirit
San Francisco, California

15. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a must-visit USA bucket list destination on the West coast for every kind of traveler. Whether you’re after interesting museums, busy bars, good weather, historic sites, or just good grub, you’ll find it all in San Francisco. 
It’s an absolutely enormous city so there’ll always be more to explore but a few days is enough to get a good taste of all there is on offer. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the top things to see in San Francisco and whether you choose to drive, ride or walk, you’ve got to make the crossing. It’ll be the windiest experience of your life but you’ll get amazing views of San Francisco, and the sea.
It’s not just the wind you’ll have to battle here though as it’s also a famously hilly city. To navigate the city, definitely consider a tram ride which is both fun and practical. It costs around $7 a pop though so it definitely won’t be your main mode of transportation. 
For a fun afternoon out, visit Fisherman’s Wharf. Additionally there’s the Musee Mecanique where you can use up those spare dimes to play old arcade games which are all crammed into one space.  Then you should grab a bowl of clam chowder and stroll around the pier to see a huge colony of sea lions sunbathing. 
Lastly, book a trip offshore to Alcatraz prison, just 1km away from San Francisco’s coast. This island used to house America’s worst criminals and you should take the night tour for extra spookiness.
Submitted by Laura from What’s Hot?
Seattle downtown waterfront

16. Seattle, Washington

As one of the United States’ largest cities that also ranks highly for the best place to live and for walkability, Seattle has a lot to offer visitors! Whether it’s a sunny or cloudy day, the city is beautiful. Everywhere, one has access to incredible vistas that include backdrops of mountains and water, with boats, bridges, and skyscrapers in the foreground. And the weather is mostly mild, so sightseeing is not often hindered by too hot or too cold days.

The list of world-famous things to do in Seattle is lengthy! Here are just a few places to visit in the downtown area:

The top on every list is Pike Place Market. It’s got high-end sit-down restaurants, casual eateries, and curbside counters with food from around the world. The aisles are bursting with hand-crafted items and flowers of every hue.

A couple of blocks away is the waterfront, with more restaurants and shops, a giant Ferris wheel overlooking Elliott Bay, and a variety of boat rides to choose from.

Within walking distance of Pike Place Market is also the Seattle Art Museum, with modern and ancient global art, and the Seattle Aquarium, with otters, tide pools, and an underwater dome.

Seattle is a must-see for anyone’s bucket list! 

Submitted by Sandy at Sleeps 5.

US National Parks to Add to Your Bucket List

Yosemite pic- Top USA Travel Destinations

17. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is located in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California. The national park’s most famous site is Yosemite Valley. Here you’ll find the most famous rock faces in the world – El Capitan and Half Dome. If you’ve ever owned an Apple product, then it is more than likely you’ve come across one of these mountains as default wallpaper. 

You may have also come across El Cap’ thanks to professional rock climber Alex Honnold’s recent movie ‘Free Solo’, where he pushed climbing to new limits by scaling the 7,569ft (2,307m) face without a rope. As well as being a mecca and birthplace of modern rock climbing; Yosemite National Park offers something for everyone, even those wishing to keep two feet firmly on the ground.

Yosemite is perfect for anybody that enjoys nature. There are some challenging, bucket-list-worthy hikes such as Half Dome, as well as some moderate strolls around the valley floor. There’s no better way to enjoy the scenery than by setting up a picnic in the meadows, by the Merced River, watching the climbers slowly turn on their headlamps as they settle in for the night thousands of feet in the air. 

Yosemite is the perfect addition to a US road trip

Submitted by Chris from Global Shenanigans.

Sunset at Arches National Park- USA Bucket List

18. Arches National Park

If you are planning a honeymoon and you love the outdoors, Arches National Park is a must on your list. As one of the most popular national parks in the USA, it’s open year-round. 

While Utah boasts many national parks, being in the pinkish landscapes with more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches means stepping into a world altogether different. 

Love hiking? There are many easy and moderate hikes all around. Start with a hike to the famous Delicate arch early morning to see the sunrise and take a picture together. Then hike the trails of Devils Garden, and discover as many arches as you can. Love bicycling? Ride your bikes on all the paved and unpaved roads in the park. 

Arches has one of the darkest night skies in the whole Southwest. So after a day’s hike, go to the panorama point or the windows section and gaze at a sky full of stars.   

For a night stay, camp in any of the numerous campgrounds in Moab, a gateway town for Arches and all other national parks around. There are honeymoon cabins with hot tubs and glamping options available as well.

And Moab has many great options for a hearty breakfast and everything else you might need. Ready to add it to your USA bucket list?

Submitted by Deb from The Visa Project.

View of Grand Canyon National Park - South Rim

19. Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the top USA bucket list items for many traveling to the States. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for the best-preserved geological wonders, making it a perfect haven for adventure and nature lovers. 

The Grand Canyon has something for everybody – it doesn’t matter if you are new to adventure and hiking, or if you just love the landscape, the Canyons will keep you hooked for more!

The red rock with a multitude of layers and trenches of the Grand Canyon has been a fascination for many explorers for centuries.

Also, the Grand Canyon occupies a vast land surface – roughly about 4,926 km² and has 3 major entrances – north, south, and west. 

The ruggedness of the canyons on the north rim pulls both amateur and professional photographers to its cradle. However, it is not one of the easiest to navigate or access, especially in the winters. 

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon’s west rim is home to the popular tourist attractions – SkyWalk – and it is open all year round for visitors. It also has shorter trails, which are accessible for families with strollers, and can be done in 2 hours or less. 

Las Vegas to the west rim is 125 miles, so it takes about 2.50 hours by car, one way. There are tons of day tours available from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon – West and south rims, to suit every traveler’s budget. 

The south rim of the Grand Canyon has a similar story. It is accessible all year round and is more tourist-friendly with tons of day tours and helicopter excursions available.

Submitted by Mayuri from To Someplace New.

Hot lava from Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

20. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Did you know Hawai’i has a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is located on the south side of the Big Island between Hilo and Kona and it’s just slightly smaller than the entire island of Oahu! While there are about 150 miles of epic hiking trails through arid deserts, huge craters, and even a tropical rainforest, it’s most famous for its volcanoes: Mauna Loa and Kilauea.

While there are tons of things to do at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, your first stop should be the Jaggar Museum and the Visitor’s Center. This is where you can pick up park maps, get hike suggestions, find out about park ranger activities, and learn a bit about volcanoes and lava flows. Next, head to the Thurston Lava Tube where you can walk through a real lava tube!

If you are looking for the ultimate day trip to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, plan on doing the Crater Rim Drive. It will take you from the Visitor’s Center to some sulfurous steam vents, Steaming Bluff, and Ha’akulamanu. At lunchtime, head over to Kilauea Iki Overlook, which is a beautiful spot for a picnic lunch.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park at night

Then, you can see how lava can create new land at the Pu’u Pua’i Overlook. If you want to stretch your legs a bit, head to Devastation Trail and go on a little hike around the desolate land. From there, drive to Keanakako’i Crater and then finish your drive along the Chain of Craters Road.

Submitted by Marcie from Marcie in Mommyland

Painted Desert - USA Bucket List Travel

21. Painted Desert At Petrified Forest National Park

After traveling and living in several states and countries, I can say that the Painted Desert in Arizona is one of the most beautiful natural creations one can visit.
It’s also convenient, being between the Grand Canyon National Park and the Petrified Forest National Park. Actually, some of the Painted Desert is located inside of the Petrified Forest, making it extremely simple to knock both natural beauties off your bucket list.
The landscape is breathtaking, colored with rock formations, petrified wood, and wildflowers, making it perfect for a USA bucket list trip.
Painted Desert in Arizona
Taking I40 (Route 66), you can take a detour through a small, but scenic, part of the park. There are several places to stop and look out over the park – you’ll definitely want your best camera!
If you’re into hiking, that’s also available. You’ll want to visit the visitor’s center for a free permit if you plan to camp. Consider the time of year before making your plans – it’s extremely hot and arid for many months of the year!
Submitted by Rebecca from Innate Moves. 
Joshua Tree National Park

22. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree, California is the perfect place to visit if you enjoy spending time outdoors and love staying in unique accommodations like dome-shaped houses, yurts, and vintage Airstream trailers. It also doesn’t hurt if you love the desert. And if you don’t already, the expansive views of desert and mountains, the perfect sunsets, and the most unique trees you’ve probably ever seen will have you falling in love.

Even though the town is pretty small, there are a ton of things to do in Joshua Tree. The number one thing to do is explore Joshua Tree National Park. Famous for its miles of Joshua trees, a cholla cactus garden, cool rock formations like Skull Rock, and amazing views of the Salton Sea from Key’s View, this park is a must-see. Don’t underestimate the size of it though; if you want to spend some real quality time here you will need a few days.

Joshua Tree at Sunset

Submitted by Heather from That OC Girl.

Scwabachers Landing Grand Tetons - The Stoke Fam

22. Grand Teton National Park

Our USA bucket list has included many National Parks for a while and slowly, but surely, we are crossing them off. However, out of all the parks, we have visited, there are a few that stand out as simply incredible. Grand Teton National Park is one of them.

From the moment we drove into the park and witnessed the soaring jagged peaks against the sky, I was hooked.

If you love adventure and the outdoors, this is a destination you definitely won’t want to miss. When you visit, there are plenty of things to do to take in the beauty of the park. We recommend starting the day watching the sunrise over the mountains at Schwabacher’s Landing, visiting Mormon Row, exploring Jenny Lake, and enjoying one of the excellent hikes in Grand Teton

No matter what you choose to do with your time in Grand Teton National Park, the awe-inspiring landscape is sure to stay in your memory forever.

Submitted by Tiffany from The Stoke Fam.

Yellowstone National Park geyser- USA Bucket List for Travel

23. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most unique national parks in the United States.

The park is best known for its impressive collection of hydrothermal features including geysers, hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and travertine terraces. Must-see sites for a Yellowstone itinerary include the Old Faithful geyser, world-famous for its regular and predictable eruptions, the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces, and the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring.

In addition to its hydrothermal features, the park is also home to plenty of other photogenic landscapes, like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Lamar Valley. There’s also an abundant concentration of wildlife. Bison are often seen alongside the roads while bears, wolves, and bighorn sheep can sometimes be seen in Lamar Valley.

The best way to experience Yellowstone is to simply drive around and visit some of the park’s natural wonders. If wildlife is your main focus, consider booking a wildlife tour that can take you to the best spots for watching animals.

Submitted by Rhonda from Travel Yes Please.

Smoky Mountains National Park

24. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hiking a mountain should be on everyone’s USA bucket list because it truly is a beautiful experience! If you’ve never been hiking in the mountains and have no idea where to go, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to start! There are many trails for varying levels.

Some easy trails go up to an overlook or pass by mountains. Some more difficult trails last for miles and end on a mountain peak that overlooks the rest of the park. Mt. Leconte, the Chimney Tops, and Laurel Falls are the three best hikes for three different difficulty levels. Since this mountainous park is in East Tennessee, you don’t even have to worry much about the temperature during the spring or fall. Gatlinburg is home to many of the trailheads of the Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains

Gatlinburg is also a city full of restaurants, shops, and exciting attractions. This is perfect because you can participate in a bucket list hike one day, and then the next day, you can either hike again or take it easy. Even when you’re not in the mountains, you will have an amazing view of them!

Submitted by Raquel from Meals and Mile Markers.

Zion National Park in Winter

25. Zion National Park

Zion National Park is probably my favorite in the southwestern US, and I think it’s definitely a must-visit for travelers heading to Utah or Arizona. The main feature of the park is Zion Canyon, carved by the Virgin River and surrounded by towering red rocks. It’s a hikers paradise, with a wide choice of trails for all difficulty levels – from easy mile-long walks along the river, to half-day adventures like the Narrows, a hike along the riverbed to the narrowest section of the canyon.
Another popular Zion hike is Angels Landing, a jaw-dropping four-hour trail leading to a scenic viewpoint along a chain-assisted ridge. You definitely need to have a good head for heights if you want to do that hike!
The reason why I love Zion so much is that most of it is accessible year-round, and visiting Zion in winter is actually wonderful – visitors are very few, and you are able to drive around using your own car, as opposed to taking the shuttle bus in summer. 
Submitted by Margherita from The Crowded Planet.
Sequoia National Park

26. Sequoia National Park

When looking for USA bucket list destinations, Sequoia National Park is a place you won’t want to overlook! There are tons of fun things to do in Sequoia National Park, but one of the most essential things to do is simply to see the enormous sequoia trees that give the park its name.

The sequoia trees found throughout this park are giants and can only be found in this one specific corner of the world. Even more interestingly, Sequoia boasts of being the location of the largest tree in the world—the General Sherman Tree!

It currently stands at 275 feet tall and 36 feet in diameter, so although Sequoias aren’t the tallest trees in the world, they are definitely the largest when measured by volume. You will find the sight of them quite breathtaking and indescribable!

Other things you’ll want to do here include hiking and enjoying the outdoors, especially hiking Moro Rock where you’ll find awe-inspiring 360° panoramic views. It is a lovely hike at any time of day, but it’s also one of the most amazing spots to enjoy the sunset. Plus, you’ll also want to see other unique attractions in the park, such as visiting a historic log cabin made from a hollowed-out fallen trunk of a sequoia tree!

This location is unlike any place you’ll find anywhere else in the world, so when you’re looking for amazing bucket list spots to visit in the US you can’t go wrong with adding Sequoia National Park to your list!

Submitted by Abi from Happy Go Abi.

Mesa Arch Canyonlands

27. Canyonlands National Park

Utah has 5 National Parks and even though Zion and Arches are more popular, I think Canyonlands is one of the most beautiful National Parks in Utah. So, of course, it has to be included on a USA bucket list travel guide. 
Canyonlands is divided into three areas – Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. Island in the Sky is the most popular area and only about 30 minutes away from Moab, Utah.
One of my favorite things to do in Canyonlands is the Mesa Arch trail. Mesa Arch is perched on a cliff overlooking the rest of Canyonlands national park. It is an amazing place to visit at sunrise as the colors bounce off the arch giving it an amazing glow. Mesa Arch is one of the best hikes in Utah with its beautiful views, and it is less than a mile round trip.
I also recommend hiking to Grand View. As the name suggests it is a Grand View of the Needles and the Maze. You can find the Grand View at the end of the Island in the Sky. It is a short, paved walk to take in the views. Here you can look out over the amazing scenery in the area.
Submitted by Nicole from American SW Obsessed.
Mount Rainier National Park - USA Bucket List Travel

28. Mt Rainier National Park

One of the best places to add to your USA buck list is Mount Rainier National Park. This park is located in Washington State. It is a breathtaking area with many activities for everyone.

One of the most popular things to do is to hike the Skyline Trail. This trail is phenomenal! You can catch a view of Mount Rainier throughout the whole hike. There is also a waterfall, and you might even get a picture of marmots or black bears. This place is extremely popular for a good reason.

Fremont lookout is another great hike. There is a fire lookout and a great view of Mount Rainier!  It is also one of the best places to catch a sunset. If you are looking for a waterfall, make sure to check out Comet Falls. This waterfall is one of the most beautiful places in Washington. It truly is gorgeous, and the hike through the forest and the river views make this hike even better.

There is so much to do in Mount Rainier. This national park has activities for everyone, and it is one of the most beautiful places in Washington. 

Submitted by Michelle from The Wandering Queen.
Lake Clark National Park, Alaska (1)

29. Lake Clark National Park

One of the best places in the world for brown bear viewing is definitely Lake Clark National Park in Alaska. This unique piece of wilderness can only be reached by bush plane and is known for its amazing landscapes. Volcanoes, sandy beaches, huge mountains, and rivers filled with salmon are a brown bear’s playground.
The best time for seeing them here is mid-June until the end of August. Salmon fishing is usually witnessed from early August onwards, depending on the salmon runs. You can visit Lake Clark National Park on a day trip from Homer or in an overnight visit on a lodge such as the Alaska Bear Mountain Lodge. It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime trip that anyone visiting Alaska should make!
Submitted by Antonette from We 12 Travel.

Dream Destinations to Add To Your USA Bucket List

Whitefish Lake, Montana

30. Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish, Montana is a dreamy and adventurous USA bucket list destination! Montana is the bordering state to Alberta, Canada, so when a long weekend rolled around, we’d hop in the truck and make our way to Whitefish, arriving about 5 hours later.

First of all, Whitefish is a city, but it’s also the name of the ski resort and the lake. The city itself is charming with a small-town feel, while the mountainous backdrop is spectacular.

If you’re feeling active, there are numerous things to do in Whitefish to keep you busy — kayaking, hiking, cycling, skiing, swimming, and rock climbing (to name a few). And, if you’re an angler looking to do some fly fishing around Montana, you’ll be happy to know that there are some awesome rivers and lakes in Whitefish. 

Enjoy the morning wandering around town and grabbing a coffee from one of the cafes before hitting the beach, or the mountain trails.

To round off the day of activities (or beachside sunbathing), grab a craft beer at the trendy Bonsai Brewing Project, followed by a tasty meal at one of the many restaurants in the downtown area.  

Whitefish truly is a year-round destination, with something for every type of traveler.

Submitted by Dariece from Goats on the Road.

Islamorada in the Florida Keys

31. Florida Keys

The incredibly scenic and tropical drive from Miami to Key West through the Florida Keys is one of the best road trips in the USA. The road trip starts in Miami, where you can spend some time hitting the beaches of South Beach or exploring more alternative locations like the Wynwood District and Little Havana.
Leaving Miami you’ll head south and start crossing bridges until you reach Key Largo. From here you can spend your days beachcombing, relaxing, visiting John Pennekamp State Park, and snorkeling in the beautiful reefs that sit off the shores of the island. 
Heading south from Key Largo you’ll get to Islamorada, one of the most beautiful islands on the drive. Here you can find miles of white sand beaches, sand bars, the Florida Keys Brewing Company, the History of Diving Museum, and the famed Robbies where you can feed massive tarpons that jump out of the water.  Continuing south you’ll find yourself on the official overseas highway, a connection of bridges that link the islands of the Florida Keys together over bright Caribbean waters. 
Florida Keys- A Must-Visit USA Bucket List Destination
You’ll approach Bahia Honda State Park, a stunning place to enjoy more of the white sand beach life, before reaching Marathon Key. If you’re looking for a slower experience, take some time here at the Tranquility Bay Resort to unwind and relish in the slow island life over a cocktail and fiery sunset.
Moving on to Big Pine Key, get ready for a more rustic vibe as you set off by kayak to explore the extensive mangrove forests that line the gulf side of the island. 
Finally reaching Key West, get ready to be busy. This island offers you not only the southernmost point of the continental United States, but a wide variety of adventures, activities, and recreations to indulge in during your stay.
Learn about the pirate history, take a boat trip, go parasailing, try sport fishing, take a helicopter ride, party on Duval Street, embark on a ghost tour, and attend the daily sunset party at Mallory Square. You’ll never be left wanting in Key West. 
The Florida Keys offers quintessential Americana paired with a tropical island vibe that is unique to the USA. It is the hallmark of this archipelago and the main reason to spend some time exploring this beautiful region. 
Submitted by Lina and David from Divergent Travelers.

32. Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe is a premier lake attraction in the Sierra high country of California. It’s the largest alpine lake in the US and has lots of outdoor recreational activities for visitors all year round, making it a must for this USA bucket list travel destination.

Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to visit in California with something to do for everyone – the lake is surrounded by mountainous regions, providing lots of options from enjoying activities around the lake, hiking through the mountains, or exploring many of the surrounding historical sites.

The highlight of visiting Lake Tahoe is the lake itself. Visitors can enjoy the massive lake in a variety of ways. Some of the favorite activities to do in Lake Tahoe include swimming, kayaking, or sunbathing on the several beaches around the entire lake. Some of the top beaches on Lake Tahoe include King’s Beach and Pope Beach.

Outdoor recreation is widespread at the lake, with lots of mountains to explore in any season. During the summer, visitors can enjoy multiple state parks located within the Lake Tahoe region, including the DL Bliss State Park, Emerald Bay State Park, and the Sugarpine State Park.

The state parks include scenic walking trails that lead to some of the best scenic viewpoints of the lake and surrounding landscape. There are many natural landmarks to see, such as waterfalls, a balancing rock, and an inner-lake island.

During the wintertime, Lake Tahoe becomes a popular destination for wintertime recreation – it’s home to the famous Squaw Valley, a ski resort that hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960.

There are lots of historical landmarks around the entire lake. The Taylor Creek Visitor Center provides lots of information and exhibitions about some of the top sights to see.

With so many attractions and things to do at Lake Tahoe, it can take several trips to the lake to truly experience it. There are many campgrounds and accommodations for overnight stays so you can enjoy all of the best parts of the park when you visit.

Submitted by Nikki from Attractions of America.

Skyline Drive, VA in the fall- US Bucket List

33. Skyline Drive, Virginia

Skyline Drive, Virginia makes the East coast nature lovers’ USA bucket list as a must-visit! This 105 mile-long drive runs the entire length of Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with 75 overlooks that will take your breath away! Some of the most famous sites to see are Range View Overlook and Hogback Overlook. The drive is marked with mile markers that help you to locate your areas of interest.

Many love to stop at the overlooks, climb the landscapes, and capture amazing photographs! Keep your eyes peeled as you can expect to see an abundance of wildlife and wildflowers. If you are bringing children on this 3-hour drive make sure you have everything you need beforehand. Our favorite time to visit this natural masterpiece is in April or October!

If you love trying regional cuisine, there are a few restaurants in the area, but we recommend you get a taste of the local fare at the Pollock Dining Room followed by drinks and nightly family entertainment at the Mountain Taproom! 

Submitted by Leslie from Super Mom Picks.
Black Hills, South Dakota with Mt. Rushmore

34. Black Hills, South Dakota

The Black Hills in South Dakota is one of the best places for a road trip and has so much to offer.  The best time for a Black Hills road trip would be spring, summer, and fall since almost everything in the area closes in the winter. 
There are at least three places to stay/base yourself for easy exploring: Wall, Keystone, and Spearfish.  They’re all close to a lot of activities.
Some of the best things to do are see Mount Rushmore (of course), visit Wind Cave National Park, Badlands National Park, Wall Drug, Jewel Cave, Crazy Horse, and Spearfish Canyon.  Make sure you drive Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway, or the full Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway.
If you want to do something a little different, you can do a scenic helicopter ride, too. There is so much to do for everyone, no matter their interests, it’s a must-visit region and perfect as a USA bucket list destination.
Submitted by Megan from Red Around the World.
windmill located in downtown Solvang, California

35. Solvang, California

Located in Santa Barbara County, Solvang is an incredible destination to add to your USA bucket list! First of all, it is the cutest little Danish village complete with windmills, pastry shops selling tasty treats, and even an adorable Christmas shop. 

The best part about visiting Solvang, though, is the fantastic wineries! For California, the Santa Ynez Valley and Solvang wineries are a bargain for wine tastings compared to their northern neighbors in Napa and Sonoma. 

What I love about visiting the wineries here is the small-town feel and this part of the world is well known for crisp Chardonnays and earthy Pinot Noirs. Some places for wine tasting in the area include the city of Solvang itself, Los Olivos, and Santa Ynez. 

vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley

Which are our favorites? We loved the Consilience La Presa Petite Syrah at Sanger Family of Wines, the Wayward Son Pinot Noir from Carhartt Vineyard, and the Grenache Rose from Sunstone Vineyards. If you plan to take a road trip around California, this area is a must-visit for your USA travel bucket list.

Maui, Hawai'i at sunset- USA Bucket List Travel

36. Maui, Hawai’i

Of all the islands in Hawai’i, the best one has got to be Maui. Maui offers a little bit of everything and is totally a bucket list destination in the United States. One of the reasons Maui is a US bucket list destination is that it is easily one of the most beautiful places in the country.

Not only that, but it offers a wide variety of activities for all. Maui has some great opportunities for adventure such as hiking, ziplining, surfing, and snorkeling. One of the most adventurous activities in Maui is to drive the Road to Hana. The road lends itself to endless waterfalls, hikes, and breathtaking views.

Beautiful greenery around Maui

Catching the sunrise at the summit of Haleakala and then riding a mountain bike down the mountain is an out of this world experience on the island. But if you are not into the adventure, even just driving the road to Hana and taking in the views is amazing too! There are also a ton of resorts in Hawai’i that are perfect for enjoying the beach and other relaxing amenities.

Another popular thing to do in Maui is to go whale watching (mostly in the winter months) or take a sunset cruise off the coast. Maui also has some impeccable dining options such as Mama’s Fish House in Paia. But in addition to this fine dining option, you can easily find some tasty authentic Hawai’ian food in Maui. If you have not been to Hawai’i yet I highly suggest Maui for the perfect USA bucket list item!

Submitted by Amanda from Patsey Family Travels.

Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho

37. Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

When a former coworker of mine mentioned their love for the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, these peaks moved to the top of my personal hiking bucket list. Now that I have backpacked and hiked in the Sawtooth Mountains myself, I know that this area should be added to every outdoor lover’s US bucket list too!

My favorite experience in the Sawtooths is the hike to Alice Lake. While the ascent up to the lake is definitely steep, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of Alice Lake as well as the surrounding mountains, including Idaho’s version of “El Capitan”. The peaks in this area are commonly called the “Dragon’s Back,” because they look like the ridges you would find on a dragon.

It’s easy to do the 12-mile trail to Alice Lake as a long day hike if you want to. But for a longer adventure, I suggest doing the whole 19-mile Alice Toxaway Loop as a 2-3 day backpacking trip.

You can camp out closer to Twin Lakes for a little extra solitude in the wilderness. It’s a relatively easy-going backpacking trip with tons of gorgeous views! Opt to visit in September if you can to catch the cool Fall temps and avoid the summertime crowds.

After your hike, I highly recommend treating yourself to some delicious food in the nearby town of Stanley, Idaho, followed by a relaxing dip in the hot springs nearby (there’s one nestled right along the river if you can find it!).

Submitted by Allison from She Dreams of Alpine.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

38. Outer Banks, North Carolina

North Carolina’s Outer Banks are a collection of barrier islands with gorgeous beaches, delicious seafood, and some of the most important (and beautiful) historic lighthouses in the country. 

There are important historic sites to explore, like the place where the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane and the site of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. But of course, the real draw are the fantastic beaches like the ones at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

The most picturesque lighthouses here include Bodie Lighthouse, Hatteras Lighthouse, and the charming Manteo Lighthouse. Most lighthouses in the area can actually be toured and offer gorgeous photography opportunities from the tops of the towers. 

And of course, no trip to the Outer Banks is complete without seeing the area’s gorgeous wild horses! You can go on a tour which will help you see them from a safe distance so that you don’t disturb them or get hurt yourself. 

The best towns in the Outer Banks to stay in are Manteo, Nags Head, and Corolla. If you want something a little more secluded, head to Ocracoke which is on a separate island only reachable by ferry. 

Submitted by Stephanie from History Fangirl.

Oahu USA Bucket List Destination- Sierra Schmidt

39. Oahu, Hawai’i

One of the most beautiful bucket list destinations in the US is the Hawai’ian island of Oahu. As the home of the state’s capital city, this tropical paradise is filled with plenty of opportunities for natural beauty, tasty cuisine, beach relaxation, history, and culture.

Nature lovers will love the waterfall hike to Manoa Falls, the sunrise views from the Lanikai Pillbox lookout, and the aquarium-like snorkeling at Three Tables on the North Shore. Those looking for a relaxing day on the beach will love the powdery white sand on the shores of Kailua Beach on the windward side.

Waikiki Beach offers a more action-packed beach day with shops and restaurants lining the sand.

Oahu, Hawai'i Sierra Schmidt

Honolulu offers plenty of options for exploring the history of this beautiful island at the Pearl Harbor Memorial where visitors can take the ferry out to the USS Arizona. Iolani Palace also offers a taste of Hawai’i’s royal past. Tropical Macadamia Nut Farm offers sweet tours of its farms along with a personal fire dancing show and lei making.

Next door at Kualoa Ranch, movie buffs will love exploring the valley via jeep, ATV, or zip line, where many movies were filmed like Jurassic Park and Kong Skull Island.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing destination or an activity-packed adventure, spending your trip on Oahu while munching on shrimp plates, shave ice, and kalua pork, is sure to be absolute paradise.

Submitted by Sierra from Free to Travel Mama.

Disney World castle under the stars

40. Walt Disney World

If there is one place you absolutely NEED to add to your USA bucket list places to see before you die, it has to be the happiest place on earth, right? Located in Orlando, Florida, Walt Disney World has four major parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They also have Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. 

Aside from that, you can stroll around Disney Springs, get a bite to eat on Disney’s Boardwalk, and maybe even check out ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

Epcot across the lake at Disney World

You could definitely spend a full week just exploring the ins and outs of this magical place, but if you’re short on time, our favorite park is hands-down Epcot. We even have a guide all about eating and drinking your way through Epcot on our podcast! 

So whether you’re visiting in January during the off-season or going with kids during summer, this place is nostalgic and fun no matter your age! 

Which of these USA bucket list destinations have you visited? Which USA bucket list spot would you most like to visit? Let us know in the comments! 

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Top USA Bucket List Destinations | Top right photos going clockwise include: main Arch in Arches National Park, brick church, active volcano at night at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Chicago skyline in the evening
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