Post Summary: A bucket list for families to get you inspired and excited to explore.
Are you dreaming of a family bucket list adventure? Curious as to what to do and where to begin? With family vacation time so limited for most of the world, it can be hard to decide where to go on your next family trip.
To help you make your own family bucket list, I’ve come up with a bucket list for families that is sure to delight, tickle, and inspire your sense of adventure.
As a family that lived as nomads for two years, we know a thing or two about creating a life of adventure and travel. These ideas are not simple bucket list ideas for families, but rather big and sometimes bold experiences that will create lifetime memories.
Our bucket list for families is based on adventures to be found in the USA. The world is a big and beautiful place, and I couldn’t include the whole world without writing a 20,000-word blog post. But believe me, my personal family fun bucket list includes a wildlife safari in Kenya, sushi in Japan, and a water balloon fight during Songkran in Thailand.
Read through our 50+ family bucket list ideas and see what stirs up a flutter of excitement in your body. That’s probably a good indicator you should put it on your own family travel bucket list.
*This Bucket List For Families post may contain affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission if you purchase from them. This is at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services we truly think are helpful.
WHAT IS A BUCKET LIST FOR FAMILIES?
A bucket list in its original intention is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” The term has morphed and evolved into a more fluid term and mostly stands for a list of things that you passionately want to do at some point in your life. A penultimate experience that would add so much value to your life that you have to do it.
A bucket list for families would be a set of experiences or adventures your family wants to do together.
HOW DO I MAKE A FAMILY BUCKET LIST?
Well, the easiest thing is to scroll down and get inspired by our bucket list for families!
But if you’re looking to create an evening of making a family bucket list, the important thing to do is have fun and not censor anyone’s ideas.
Make a few different bucket lists where you list destinations as well as activities. While everyone is in brainstorming mode, the worst thing to do is put down someone’s idea. If your kid says, ride a unicorn, say okay, and put it on the first edition list. Creativity and dreaming big lives in the possibility that anything can happen.
Ask leading questions to stir conversation and ideas. Something like- how do you feel about surfing in Hawaii? Or…what excites you more, exploring space or learning about the ocean? Questions that help to provoke conversation and excitement.
Write it all down, and don’t let your mind get caught up in HOW these amazing but potentially expensive trips will happen. That comes later.
Once you have a family bucket list, a great thing to do is make a family vision board. Perhaps you choose one experience or several, and you cut out images and words that represent what this adventure together FEELS and LOOKS like.
You can compile your list and put it in a pre-formatted book, or you can make your own. We use the one pictured above, but unfortunately, it’s not available to buy anymore. You can browse through similar bucket list journals here.
HOW DO I MAKE THESE FAMILY BUCKET LIST IDEAS A REALITY?
Dreaming and planning are beautiful, but there does come a point when you have to get strategic and find a way to make your travel dreams happen. Going into how to make that happen is something that deserves an entire post.
We are not a family with unlimited funds and the ability to travel wherever and however we want. We save and scrimp and worry about our financial future just like most average families. However, travel is a big priority for us, and we will save for YEARS for a single trip. Before we became parents, we saved for two years to take a two-week trip to Croatia.
You can read through our Family Travel On A Budget post to see our best tips for cutting costs on family travel.
THE ULTIMATE BUCKET LIST FOR FAMILIES
1. THE FAMILY ROAD TRIP
The family road trip is iconic. It’s top on our bucket list for families because it’s an economical way that the entire family can be together and see the US. There are many ways to tackle the family road trip. You can go local within your state, or you can go big and take a two-week road trip to explore a certain region. With affordable car rentals, you can even opt to fly to a certain area and road trip through the region.
Bucket list-worthy road trips in the US include taking Route 66 to see kitschy roadside attractions like this Insta Famous one, driving along Route 1 to see California’s breathtaking coastline, doing a Mighty 5 tour in Southern Utah, or delighting in Fall foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway. By the way, we’ve made all of those road trips, and they’re incredible.
2. RV TRIP WITH FAMILY
If the idea of a road trip excites you, but you want more space or to amplify the experience, an RV trip with family is an adventure to remember. Bonus…you can bring your animals with you! The RV lifestyle isn’t for everybody, but I think it’s something to try once in your lifetime. We spent three months driving cross country in our renovated camper, and we loved it! You can see pictures of her in all her pre-makeover 1979 glory here and her farmhouse chic renovation here. We’re pretty proud of her.
Driving in an RV is a great way to explore America’s National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests, and State Parks. You can rent an RV through a website like Outdoorsy, which is basically Airbnb for campers. I like it because there is a good range from budget to luxury choices. Also, you can arrange delivery right to your door!
Some RV Adventures to remember:
- Wyoming and Montana National Parks– Grand Teton + Yellowstone National Park + Glacier National Park
- The American Southwest – Grand Canyon NP + Santa Fe + Zion NP
- New England – Maine + New Hampshire + Vermont + Massachusetts
How I Pulled Off A $650 Camper Renovation
3. GO LEAF PEEPING
This is a great family bucket list item for anyone who lives in a part of the US where Fall isn’t a colorful, showy event. Plan a long weekend or a full week to explore regions of the US renowned for their Fall foliage. A Fall vacation could include renting a cozy cabin through VRBO, roasting marshmallows in the crisp air of Autumn, and going to local pumpkin patches. New England typically ranks number one for its famous Fall colors, but the Blue Ridge Mountains that chart a path from Virginia to Tennessee are a close second. We experienced Fall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Asheville, North Carolina, and it was stunning. Out of this world amazing.
4. THEME PARK HEAVEN
Exploring the outdoors is great and all, but what kid isn’t excited about a theme park! I grew up in San Antonio, where we had two theme parks within an easy drive from our house. Did I love every minute we went to them? YES. Plan an adventure around doing a few different theme parks or one amazing theme park. If you don’t know already, Orlando, Florida is the KING with 10 theme parks, including Disney World and Universal Studios. Here is a brief overview of all the parks in Orlando.
Two alternative theme parks are Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It’s the rollercoaster capital of the world, with 18 roller coasters in the park. Perfect for the thrill-seeking family. Alternatively, there’s Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Named after Hershey’s chocolate brand, it’s the ideal spot for a chocolate-loving family.
5. VISIT AN OLD FASHIONED WATERPARK
If a theme park seems fun, but you’re looking to enjoy summer heat with water thrills, then a waterpark might be the best option for your family. I grew up going to Schlitterbahn, largely considered one of the best waterparks in the world. It’s different than your typical waterpark in that it has an old section and an updated section with typical waterpark rides. The older section is built along the Comal River, and several rides shoot you out into the river. You use old-fashioned black tire tubes, and half of the fun is finding the perfect tube for the day. Schlitterbahn is located in the German town of New Braunfels, a quaint, charming town that’s worth exploring when you’re not zipping down waterslides and tubing the Comal River.
You can also look through this best Waterparks in the US list to see if there are any other waterparks that excite you.
6. NATIONAL PARKS TRIP
The National Parks has been touted by writer and historian Wallace Stegner as “the best idea we ever had.” We wholeheartedly agree. The National Parks are a fantastic way to expose your children to the grandeur and beauty of the natural world. With extraordinary views, epic hiking, staggering waterfalls, and wildlife for days, it can be hard to decide where to go. Which one is the best? All of them. Every single one. You can read through all our National Park content here as well as our specific guides below to help you narrow down where you want to go.
One option is to make a road trip out of it and hit up several National Parks in one trip. With the majority of America’s National Parks in the west, you can choose a section of the US and create an itinerary from there. Popular road trips are a Utah National Parks road trip and a California National Parks road trip.
7. SEE OLD FAITHFUL EXPLODE
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most unique destinations in the world. Sitting on top of a supervolcano, the park is home to a surreal landscape of geysers, vivid hot springs, wildlife, petrified trees, and stunning waterfalls. It’s also home to Old Faithful, the most reliable geyser in the park that goes off every 90 minutes and can shoot 60-90 feet into the air. Between spotting wolves and watching geysers explode, it’s safe to say your kids will love Yellowstone National Park.
8. CAMPING OR GLAMPING ADVENTURE
Get back to basics and go on a camping trip with your family. With thousands of campsites in the US, you can stay close to home and keep costs at a minimum. We like using The Dyrt to find campsites in an area we’re interested in visiting. Your kids will always remember making smores on the fire, sitting around and telling spooky stories, and lazing around on a hammock strung up on a tree. Simple pleasures that kids in this digital age might not always be privy to.
If you’re not a camping person, remember that glamping is getting more and more popular. Glamping is basically fancy camping. Often it’s a big canvas tent with a queen bed and electricity! Under Canvas is the leading provider of glamping experiences, but you can also do a simple search for glamping in the area you want to visit.
Or you can do your own glamping tent in the backyard. We did a DIY Glamping Tent for our son’s 4th birthday and it was a big hit.
9. BACKCOUNTRY BACKPACKING TRIP
If camping with your kids feels like child’s play, take it up a notch with a weekend backpacking trip. Hike into the backcountry, pitch a tent, and teach your kids valuable wilderness skills that they can use for life. If you’ve never been on a backpacking trip, it’s probably best you do it with the help of a guide who is experienced with the outdoors. The plus side of going with a guide is you don’t have to own a lot of the camping equipment since they typically provide the gear. You can check out Wildland Trekking a tour company that specializes in backpacking and hiking trips.
10. SPRING WILDFLOWERS
A vibrant family bucket list item that only takes place in the Spring is to visit an area renowned for its impressive wildflower displays. My favorite memories are when my family would do our annual bluebonnet day and take pictures of the bluebonnets that take over central Texas. It felt magical, light, and free. Some of the best wildflower viewing in the country are the poppies in Northern California, the bluebonnets in the Texas Hill Country, and various wildflowers in Crested Butte, Colorado. Often there are festivals and family-friendly events to coincide with the colorful blooms. You can learn more about where to go wildflower viewing in the US here.
Before you visit wildflowers, make sure your children know all the rules about how to view wildflowers with respect to their continued preservation. It’s illegal in reserves and National Parks to pick flowers and customary to stay on designated trails when viewing wildflowers.
11. SEE THE WORLDS LARGEST TREE
Delight in your child’s sense of wonder when they visit the world’s largest living tree by volume, General Sherman. Located in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, visiting General Sherman and the other majestic trees in the park is a family bucket list item you’ll want to include for any tree-loving child. Beyond General Sherman, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park have some of the world’s oldest and biggest trees.
If you want to stay on the East Coast, you can opt to visit Congaree National Park, which has the distinction of being home to the most “champion” trees anywhere in the US. A champion tree is the largest individual tree of its species.
12. WHALE WATCHING TOUR
See the world’s largest mammals with a guided whale-watching tour. If you want to spot Blue Whales, the largest mammal in the world, you’ll want to go to California, where they migrate annually. You could also opt to see Orca Whales off the coast of Washington, where several different tours are offered. Hawaii is also a fantastic spot to see whales. Be sure to research what time of year is the best time to go whale watching as they will be different in each state. Being able to see these magnificent creatures is a true gift and something your entire family will enjoy.
13. A BAVARIAN CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL
High on my personal family holiday bucket list is to go to a Christmas Market in Europe. The cobblestone streets, hot mulled wine, snow-capped chalets…ahhhh, it sounds so amazing!! Undoubtedly, Christmas in Europe is unparalleled, but the US does have a few Christmas markets and festivals that can come close to the European experience. Top on the list for Christmas markets in the US is the town of Leavenworth, Washington. This Bavarian mountain village has a reindeer farm, lighting ceremonies, sleigh rides, a lantern parade, and more. For two decades, this charming town has been welcoming visitors from across the US to their annual Christmas festivities.
14. HISTORICAL TOUR
If you’ve got a history nut in your family, then going on an American history-themed trip is a great way to do an educational vacation that’s experiential and fun. With a long past to pull from, you could choose from teaching your kids about the Underground Railroad, the Boston Tea Party, the Civil Warm, the original Indigenous natives of the US, and more. This article HERE has great options for exploring historical trips with your kids.
15. DUDE RANCH
Not just for horse lovers, a dude ranch vacation is about enjoying the outdoors and living the American West lifestyle. Typically an all-inclusive vacation, dude ranches can include hiking, swimming, rafting, fishing, rodeos, line dancing, star gazing, and more. High-end luxury dude ranches often include upscale dining, spas, and someone to watch your kids! Highly rated Dude Ranches include Rainbow Trout Ranch in Colorado, White Stallion Ranch and Circle Z Ranch in Arizona. If you’re looking for a luxury dude ranch, check out The Resort At Paws Up in Montana and Alisal Guest Ranch And Resort in California.
16. SPACE CAMP
Space Camp may be one of the most unusual bucket list ideas, but it’s sure to be a dream come true for the kid who loves all things space. With programs for kids ranging from ages 5 to 18, there is sure to be something that delights your child. Located in Huntsville, Alabama, participants can launch rockets and participate in simulated space missions. Older kids can even participate in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer, which simulates the feeling of being in a weightless environment. Check the Space Camp website to see all the different programs that they offer.
17. SEE A ROCKET LAUNCH
If you can’t get to space camp, seeing a rocket launch is next on the list. This is an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime family bucket list item. Take your kid to a rocket launch, and in their eyes, you might become the world’s coolest parents. The Kennedy Space Center is the premier spot to see a rocket launch, but there are several other spots on what is known as The Space Coast in Florida.
18. STARGAZE AT A DARK SKY PARK
Continuing with our outer space theme, going to a dark sky preserve to see the stars the way they’re meant to be seen is sure to dazzle and impress your kids. A dark sky preserve is an area free of light pollution. Free of city lights, buildings, and the industrial world, the night sky becomes a dazzling array of constellations and ancient storytelling. Bring a constellation guide like this one made for kids and spend an evening looking up and exploring the stars. Here’s a list of all the designated Dark Sky Parks.
19. LAZE ON A WHITE SAND BEACH
If you or your kids have never had the pleasure of playing and lazing on a white sand beach, it’s time to book your next summer vacation. Where to go for powder white sand in the US? Hawaii, Florida, and the US Virgin Islands. Pensacola Beach in Florida is famous for its sugar-white beaches and is often touted as the best beach in Florida.
Beyond finding a white sand beach, going on a beach vacation with your family is classic and needs to be on everyone’s family holiday bucket list.
20. LAKE LIFE
If hanging out in a lakeside cabin with long days spent in the water or on a boat seems idyllic to you, you’ll want to book a lake vacation for your family. Iconic lake towns that deliver the goods: South Lake Tahoe in Nevada, Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, Greenville in Maine, and Whitefish in Montana. The US is packed with extraordinary lakes with charming house rentals that will leave lifelong memories for you and your family.
21. UNDERWATER ADVENTURE
Get SCUBA certified together or go on a snorkeling trip. While Hawaii has exquisite reefs, you don’t have to go to a Hawaiian island to learn to SCUBA or snorkel. We snorkeled off Catalina Island in California through thick kelp forests and watched as seals darted through the long waves of seagrass. You could opt for pristine clear water snorkeling in the Florida Keys, or you could also do SCUBA diving in the dark, mysterious waters of the Puget Sound off the coast of Washington.
22. SURFING CAMP
If you’ve got a family that wants to “hang 10” then there’s no better experience than a surf camp. There are several places you can do surf camp, but most are going to be located in Hawaii and California. You can browse through different tours on Tripaneer, a service that specializes in various camps like surfing, kite surfing, yoga, and more.
You could also opt to travel to popular surfing destinations in California and Hawaii and opt for a day or two of personal lessons. A good place to book a personal lesson for your family is through Airbnb Experiences. You can check the reviews and see who is highly rated.
23. SPEND THE NIGHT IN A MUSEUM
A unique family bucket list item is to spend a night in a museum or zoo. If you don’t want to go far, you can contact your local zoo or museum to see if they offer an overnight experience. If you want to make a whole trip out of it, check out this list of museums that offer overnight stays.
24. SEE WILD HORSES
Witness horses in the wild by visiting one of the last remaining spots in America where wild horses roam. The most popular spots to see wild horses are Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland and the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Since these are wild horses protected by the US government, you can view them in all their splendor as long as you keep at least 50 feet of distance.
If you want to have a more hands-on experience, you can do a multi-day horse riding tour that can include different things like horse riding lessons, corralling the farm animals, advanced horse lessons, and more. Browse through these different horse riding tours to see what excites your family.
25. STEAMBOAT CRUISE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Explore America’s greatest waterway on an old-fashioned steamboat cruise down the Mississippi River. With several different routes and different themes on each boat, it’s best to give yourself a small education on Mississippi River cruises to choose the one that’s best for your family. This article gives a good introduction to what happens on a Mississippi River cruise. You can also browse through these cruise options here to see if any of them excite you.
26. ALASKAN CRUISE
If rugged adventure is what your family craves, then a cruise to Alaska needs to be high on your family bucket list. With whale sightings, glaciers, and fjords, there’s staggering natural beauty to explore. Off land, there’s fishing, dog sledding, hiking, and more. This article gives some great tips on what to think about before planning an Alaskan cruise. You can also look at prices and what Alaskan cruises are available here.
27. DISNEY CRUISE
If you have a child obsessed with Frozen or Mickey Mouse, then you might make their dreams come true with a Disney-themed cruise. With an opportunity to meet the characters, watch live shows, onboard classes, and more, it’s guaranteed your kid will love the Disney Cruise experience. In addition to the onboard experience, most cruises are bound for tropical destinations that everyone in the family will enjoy. You can browse through the different Disney cruises and prices here.
28. VOLUNTEERING TRIP
What better way for your family to connect to humanity than to make a volunteer trip? It is a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about the value of selfless service and that there’s a whole big world of people who could benefit from your kindness and time. You’ll want to look for volunteer opportunities that are made specifically for kids. You could work at a farm sanctuary and tend to animals, teach about conservation and the environment with The Nature Corps, or help create magic for kids with life-threatening illnesses at Give Kids The World Village.
29. FARM STAY
If you’re a city dweller, a farm stay for the entire family could be just the thing to transport you into another world. Farm stays typically include activities where you can pitch in with farm life like milking cows and collecting eggs, or classes to learn how the farm makes their cheese. If you’re looking for an immersive experience, it’s best to choose a farm stay where they cater to visitors and create events to make it interesting. Liberty Hill Farm in Vermont and Hull-O Farms are family-friendly farm stays that offer many activities for kids.
You can also look for farm stays near your house on VRBO as many small, local farms will offer the same type of experience but don’t advertise as heavily. We found this award-winning farm stay on VRBO in Luray, Virginia. I love the sunset hayrides and nightly campfires.
30. WINTER RETREAT
If you live in an area where snow is something you only see in the movies, taking a winter trip is a must-do for your family bucket list. The joy of playing with fresh snow, sledding, skiing, hot chocolate by the fire, and cozy cabin nights are something your kids will love. You can visit popular snow destinations like Aspen and Breckenridge in Colorado, Lake Tahoe in California, Sun Valley in Idaho, or Taos in New Mexico. If you want something off-the-beaten-path try out destinations like McCall, Idaho, and Waitsfield, Vermont.
The Ultimate Winter Cabin Packing List
31. GO TO THE DESERT
If a winter wonderland isn’t the place for you, then head west to show your kids the barren beauty of the desert. Top on our list for desert destinations is to explore the red rock playground of Southern Utah. With 5 National Parks, 7 National Monuments, and countless State Parks, there’s playful adventure everywhere you turn. Even though it’s a desert landscape, there are plenty of fun water activities to be had in places like Lake Powell. You could also visit Sedona, Arizona, or Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a red rock destination with more city amenities. In another direction is the desert of California. Visit Joshua Tree National Park or Death Valley National Park to experience an extreme landscape with little water. If you want something a little less extreme, head to Palm Springs for a relaxing spa and pool vacation.
Why You Need To Visit Arches National Park In Winter
32. TOUCH A DINOSAUR BONE
If you have a budding Paleontologist, then visiting Dinosaur National Monument in Utah is sure to be on your family bucket list. While many fantastic natural history museums are worth visiting, Dinosaur National Monument is where you can get up close and personal with dinosaur fossils. The Quarry Exhibit Hall is where you can view dinosaur bones exposed in rock. For certain sections, you can even touch the bones!
Dinosaur National Monument is located in a remote section of Utah and Colorado, so if you’re looking for something a bit easier to access, you can visit Dinosaur Journey in Fruita, Colorado. They offer fun, immersive experiences where you can be a Paleontologist For A Day. Check their website for what they are currently offering.
33. SPORTS VACATION
Delight your little sports fanatic with a trip to see their favorite professional team in person. Many sports teams have events where you can meet the players, so it’s best to look up their favorite team, see what kind of community outreach programs they have, and if they offer any sports camps or opportunities to connect with the players.
34. THE WASHINGTON MONUMENTS
Admittedly, going to see a bunch of monuments might not be the top thing on your child’s list of fun activities. That being said, there are ways to make touring the monuments an adventure! You can opt for a bike ride tour or segway tour to keep it physical and fun. The Einstein monument is always a favorite of kids because you’re free to climb all over Einstein’s head. Plus, when your kids are done, you can always add a trip to the zoo or the natural history museum. Both of which are free! Extra bonus points if you visit DC when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
35. KAYAKING ADVENTURE
Go on a multi-day kayaking adventure and learn about endurance and the beauty of the natural world. Plus, so much fun water play! With abundant rivers in the US, you can search for a kayak tour close to you or try out this magical kayaking tour in the San Juan Islands through REI Adventures.
36. FORAGING AND FRUIT PICKING
Delight with your kids in the simple pleasure of freshly picked fruit. If you live near an area with fruit farms, you can look for a u-pick farm that invites you to pick your own fruit. We LOVE doing this and forage for huckleberries every year. If you want to create more of an experience, travel to a state specializing in a certain fruit or food item. Travel to Vermont and experience what it is to tap a maple tree, forage through Glacier National Park during huckleberry season, or visit Capitol Reef National Park when the 3100 fruit trees are in bloom and open to the public to pick.
37. ANCESTRY TOUR
A unique family bucket list idea is to go on an ancestry tour to learn more about your family lineage. You could even get a membership to Ancestry and a DNA kit to pinpoint where your family is from and make a trip to explore these places. If you already know where your family hails from, you could travel back with your kids and show them where their great grandparents come from and any important landmarks to your family.
38. HOT SPRINGS
Visit a natural hot spring or road trip your way through a hot spring paradise. The western USA has a higher concentration of hot springs, but you can find hot springs everywhere in the US. We visited two of the best hot springs near Boise, Idaho and they were extraordinary. Our toddler loved playing in the warm water, and now he only wants hot water activities. You can opt to go the resort route and stay in a manicured environment where the natural hot springs are funneled into human-made pools, or you can opt for natural hot springs that occur in nature and range from easily accessible to deep in the forest.
39. HIKE A SLOT CANYON
Be transported into a magical world by taking a hike through a family-friendly slot canyon. Traversing a narrow canyon will absolutely delight your kids, who will enjoy zipping through thin hallways and climbing over large boulders. You’ll want to find a canyon that is appropriate for the age of your kids. The most popular family-friendly slot canyon hike is Little Wild Horse in Utah. You can see a video of us hiking through it HERE. It’s a great addition if you’re visiting Arches or Capital Reef National park. There’s also Red Hollow and Furniture Draw, which are both located in Utah.
40. SURF SAND DUNES
Finding a sand dune to surf is a great family bucket list item for anyone looking for adventures that are off the beaten path. We tried it at Bruneau Sand Dunes in Idaho and had a blast. Bruneau Sand Dunes is a short day trip from Boise that boasts the tallest freestanding sand dune in the US. You can learn more about Bruneau Sand Dunes here.
Learn about other great sand dunes in the US in this article from REI.
41. STAY IN A TREEHOUSE
Have a Robinson Crusoe adventure by staying in a treehouse. Renting a funky treehouse is growing in popularity, and you can find them in every state. Use a rental service like VRBO to find fun treehouses in an area you want to explore. Looking for some inspiration? Check out this Canopy Treehouse located in Blue Ridge, Georgia, a Luxury Treehouse in Pigeon Forge, TN, this Cozy Treehouse near Asheville, NC, or this Treehouse Retreat in Whitefish, Montana.
42. GO SPELUNKING
Once you’ve tapped out on sights above ground, the only option left is to go caving with your kids. There’s bound to be a cave exploring sight near where you live, but if you want to go to the “Cave State” you’ll need to head to Missouri. With 6400 known caves, there are plenty of places to stop if you want to do a full cave tour. Popular caves in Missouri are Meramec Caverns, Marvel Cave, and Fantastic Caverns. There’s also Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, and Luray Caverns in Virginia. Or, for those in the Southwest be sure to check out Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.
43. SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Watch the sky put on a dazzling light show with the Aurora Borealis. While Northern Light sightings are unpredictable, the best place to see them is in Alaska. You could make an adventure trip out of it and visit Denali National Park with the hopes of seeing this glorious night display. While you could get lucky while you’re there, it’s best to go on a tour with someone who’s educated on the best way to spot the Aurora Borealis. You can browse through different Northern Light tours offered through Viator, a Trip Advisor company.
Other places to view the Northern Light in the US can be found here.
44. SUNRISE OR SUNSET HIKE
Wake your kids up early one day (like 4:00 AM) and hike up a gorgeous mountain to see the sunrise. Yes, it will feel awful to get up that early, but the reward will be more than worth it. For years you’ll love talking about that time you woke up so so freaking early to take a hike. Popular spots for sunrise hikes are Acadia National Park in Maine and Haleakala National Park in Maui.
If getting up that early sounds too painful for you, you can opt to go for a sunset hike. Half the fun is to don headlamps for the walk down and enjoy the thrills of an early evening walk through the forest.
You can always opt to do a guided sunrise/sunset tour if you would prefer to be in the company of other people for these early morning/evening hikes.
45. HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
Take to the skies with your family and enjoy the view on a hot air balloon ride. Several states have annual hot air balloon festivals, most notably Albuquerque, New Mexico. No need to attend a festival only, as many places, including Albuquerque, do daily rides. Here’s a list of 10 picturesque cities that do hot air balloon rides.
46. WHITE WATER RAFTING
A family rafting trip is a wet and wild family bucket list item that will have you working together to create an adventure of a lifetime. IF you’re traveling with young kids or a family that doesn’t want big thrills, stick to a Class I float. If you want light thrills, look for a Class II or III trip. For the daredevils, look for Class IV and V rapids. Some of the best places to have a white water rafting trip are Utah’s Green River, Idaho’s Salmon River, Maine’s Kennebec River, and the Gauley River in West Virginia.
47. TOUR A MUSIC DESTINATION
Broaden your children’s relationship to music by touring a destination famous for a particular style of music. Maybe that’s New Orleans to show your kids where Jazz originated or Memphis where many Rock and Roll heavy hitters got their start. You can choose from Motown in Detroit to Country in Nashville to Appalachian music in the Blue Ridge Mountains. America has a rich history of music to choose from. You could even go back to the ’90s and explore grunge in Seattle.
48. SEE A SHOW ON BROADWAY
Explore the “Great White Way” and take your kids to see a family-friendly Broadway show. A visit to the Big Apple is an iconic American trip and worth it to see amazing shows plus all the other incredible sights of New York City. If seeing a Broadway show with your family runs your budget dry, then check out the shows Off-Broadway and Off Off-Broadway (yes, that’s a real thing!) to see if there are any family-friendly shows that fit into your budget.
49. STAY ON A YACHT
A fun adventure on water that doesn’t require going on a cruise is to stay on a fully equipped yacht. No need to buy your own yacht! With peer-to-peer rental services, you can rent your own yacht. Think of it as a hotel room that’s different and unlike anything else you’ve done. This yacht offered on VRBO in Florida is perfect for families with a full kitchen, multiple rooms, and water toys.
50. FAMILY SABBATICAL
Last on the list and the most epic item on our bucket list for families, is an extended time traveling together. While not everyone will have the time or privilege to take a year off work, even a trip that lasts for longer than 4 days (that’s the average time of a family trip!) can be a much-needed break from the routine of life. There’s something about slow travel that lasts for two weeks to a month that transforms your family times and allows for surprising moments of bonding and connection.
TIP: You can often get 30-40% off VRBO rentals if you stay for a month. You can even search for a destination, click on filters, and scroll down to the bottom, where you can filter for properties that offer month-long discounts.
We hope you enjoyed our bucket list for families! Now it’s time to plan your own epic family bucket list. Happy dreaming!
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