USA Bucket List: 15 Must See Places for Families
As a family travel blogger, I am incredibly passionate about encouraging families to create a USA bucket list! The following article is an example of our United States bucket list with ideas on how to execute it.
Because we realize the amazing benefits of traveling with kids, there are certain places we absolutely want to experience as a family. As a result, we created our U.S. bucket list based on this ideal.
Every family is different, however, and your bucket list may look entirely different once you have a chance to sit down and create it.
Simply use our U.S. bucket list as a guide to help inspire your family travels. The next thing you know, you’ll be on your way to creating lasting family memories!
USA Bucket List: Inspiration
With the kids getting older, my husband and I realize the years are dwindling before they will eventually leave the nest.
Consequently, once they ditched the diapers, bottles, and naps, we kicked our family travel goals into high gear. In came the creation of our family’s USA bucket list!
With a glass of wine and I-pad in hand, we sat down to create our family’s US bucket list. These are the places and things that we absolutely want to see and do together as a family. The goal, that we would complete the list before our oldest child turns 18.
Because a United States bucket list comes in all shapes and sizes, it is best to get creative, follow a basic bucket list template, and consider the endless possibilities!
First, we pondered the popular landmarks, national parks, theme parks, and beloved cities. Oceans? Mountains?
We want to experience it all.
Last, we decided on a tentative year to visit each destination based on the respective ages and maturity of the kids.
Additional planning tip: The first 2 destinations on our United States bucket list are places that are near to our hometown and require minimal travel time.
We chose these destinations based on the young ages of our children.
I encourage you to substitute your U.S. bucket list with convenient early childhood destinations near your hometown.
USA Bucket List: Accountability
Naturally, time for traveling together as a family is limited due to work, sports, friends, and school. By creating a United States bucket list, however, it holds us accountable to accomplishing our travel goals despite our busy schedules.
In addition, it urges us to set aside the appropriate funds to make our travel goals happen.
Our U.S. bucket list is a chronological outline of the fabulous adventures that we have already taken, as well as the ones we have yet to take.
Therefore, it is a work in progress. We would love to add exploring Utah and experiencing Hawaii if our time and budget allow.
For detailed travel itineraries on the places that we have already visited, please go to my Destinations homepage. It is here that I outline the specifics on how you can make each destination a reality for your family!
USA Bucket List: Duluth/Lake Superior/Canal Park (Minnesota)
Dubbed the “Best Outdoor City in America,” and “The Craft Beer Capital of Minnesota”, Duluth, MN is one of our absolute favorite family travel destinations. Moreover, it is well known for its great outdoor activities, unique arts and culture, and delicious dining.
Duluth sits on the north shore of Lake Superior, which is the largest of the 4 Great Lakes of North America. It is an active port city where families can witness oceangoing vessels transporting coal, iron ore, and grain.
Ages of children: We started visiting this United States bucket list destination when the kids were 6, 4, and 2 years-old.
Keep in mind that in the early years of your children’s lives, it is oftentimes easier to stay somewhat close to home when traveling.
Choose destinations for the first part of your family’s bucket list that do not require a lot of work to get there.
Duluth, MN Itinerary
We’ve done this exact same itinerary with our kids every summer beginning in 2013.
Must-do recommendations: Canal Park and the Aerial Lift Bridge, Enger Tower, Canal Park Brewery, North Shore Scenic Railroad, and the Lakewalk.
In addition, Duluth is the starting point for vehicle trips along the North Shore Scenic Drive.
USA Bucket List: Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin)
Splash and play to your heart’s content in Wisconsin Dells, the Water Park Capital of the World!
A popular Midwest tourist destination, the Dells has so much more to offer than just its famous water parks.
Laidback locals, awe-inspiring natural beauty, and year-round attractions lead many families to return here year after year. This popular Midwest travel destination is a great option for a family-friendly United States bucket list destination.
Ages of children: Once again, the earliest destinations of your U.S. bucket list should be chosen based on the fact that your children are still very young.
Choose places that have several family-friendly activities and amenities, with the ultimate goal being to start creating lasting family memories.
We started visiting the Wisconsin Dells annually when the kids were ages 7, 5, and 3 years-old.
Wisconsin Dells Itinerary
We’ve been visiting Wisconsin Dells every spring or summer beginning in 2014.
- A sample itinerary and other fun things to do in the Dells
- Accommodations: Great Wolf Lodge or Wilderness Resort
Must-do recommendations: Stay at one of the many water park resorts, see the Tommy Bartlett water ski show, play MagiQuest, take a Dells duck boat tour, go to Noah’ Ark Waterpark, and finally, eat at Monk’s Bar and Grill and Moose Jaw Pizza.
Your family will simply not run out of things to do when visiting Wisconsin Dells.
USA Bucket List: The Black Hills and Mount Rushmore National Memorial (South Dakota)
The Black Hills are a small mountain range in western South Dakota that extends into Wyoming. This is a travel region that is so spread out, yet packed of family travel ideas.
In other words, you’ll want to read up on the Black Hills before visiting.
The Southern Hills is home to Mount Rushmore National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, and Mammoth Springs, the world’s largest mammoth research facility.
Further, attractions in the Northern Hills include Spearfish Canyon, historic Deadwood, and the Sturgis motorcycle rally.
Ages of children: We had success visiting this United States bucket list destination when our 3 kids were 8, 6, and 4 years-old.
The Black Hills, SD Itinerary
Must-do recommendations: The South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Dinosaur Park and Storybook Island (both free!) in Rapid City, SD, driving Needles Highway in Custer State
This is a great family vacation destination for tweens and teens too! Several of the attractions here are featured in U.S. history lessons at school.
USA Bucket List: San Diego (California)
San Diego is on the coast of the beautiful Pacific Ocean in Southern California. The city is known for its mild year-round climate, exciting culinary scene, and extensive beaches.
A visit to San Diego should not be limited to the city alone, however.
Instead, I recommend that you and your family be sure to take excursions to the surrounding communities of Coronado, La Jolla,
Ages of children: We visited San Diego when our 3 kids were ages 9, 7, and 5 years-old.
We will definitely return here as a family sometime before they leave the nest!
San Diego, CA Itinerary
- San Diego with Kids: Our 6-day Itinerary
- Accommodations: VRBO vacation rental home adjacent to Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas, California.
Must-do recommendations: Legoland Hotel and Theme Park (Carlsbad, CA). Watching morning surfers and spending a morning at Moonlight State Beach (
Similarily, San Diego Zoo, Old Town San Diego, Balboa Park, Sea World, and touring the U.S.S. Midway naval ship were family favorites as well.
USA Bucket List: Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
One of the world’s natural wonders, the iconic Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most famous and most visited attractions in the United States.
Carved by the copper-colored Colorado River, the colorful rock layers expose billions of years of history.
Most visitors see the Grand Canyon from the “South Rim” which is open all year and easily accessed by personal vehicles or shuttles.
On the other hand, the “North Rim” is less populated by tourists because it is in a more remote location and has a shorter tourism season.
Ages of children: We visited the Grand Canyon with kids when they were 10, 8, and 6 years-old. If you’re wanting to do extensive hiking, I recommend that your kids be a bit older.
Grand Canyon Itinerary
Along with all of the best things to do at the Grand Canyon with kids, my must-do recommendations
USA Bucket List: Disney World in Orlando (Florida)
Walt Disney World is the world’s most famous family-friendly destination, which is why it is part of our United States bucket list.
Encompassing 4 major theme parks in 1, it is a theme park paradise that appeals to both kids and adults.
Not only is Orlando home to the famous Walt Disney World, but there are tons of things to do on Disney non-park days!
Ages of children: We visited the Disney theme parks in Orlando, FL for the first time when our 3 children were 12, 10, and 8 years-old.
Orlando, FL Itinerary
- Orlando with Kids: 6-day Itinerary
- 1-day Magic Kingdom Itinerary
- One-day Epcot Itinerary
- 1-day Animal Kingdom Itinerar
Transportation: 22-hour drive from our hometown!
Accommodations: Holiday Inn, Lake Buena Vista, an amazing and affordable off-site Disney hotel.
USA Bucket List: Sightseeing in Chicago (Illinois)
The magnificent city of Chicago receives recognition as being the “Best Big City in the U.S.”, as well as the “#1 World’s Best City for Having it All”.
As an avid family traveler, my personal opinion is that it is also one of the most family-friendly big cities that we have ever visited!
Chicago has a vibrant downtown and amazing architecture. Its vastly preserved green space creates a welcoming atmosphere for the young and old alike.
Magnificent family-friendly attractions like visiting the iconic Navy Pier will keep you and your family entertained for hours!
There is literally so much to see and do on a family vacation to Chicago. Be sure to check out our Chicago 3-day itinerary on exactly how to see the best of Chicago!
Chicago, IL Itinerary
USA Bucket List: Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
- Upcoming: Summer 2020
- Ages of children: 13, 11, 9 years-old
- Transportation: 13.5-hour drive from our hometown
USA Bucket List: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
- Upcoming: Summer 2021
- Ages of children: 14, 12, 10 years-old
- Transportation: 16-hour drive from our hometown
USA Bucket List: San Francisco and Yosemite National Park (California)
- Upcoming: 2021 (2 United States bucket list trips this year!)
- Ages of children: 14, 12, 10 years-old
USA Bucket List: Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park (Maine)
- Upcoming: Fall 2022
- Ages of children: 15, 13, 11 years-old
USA Bucket list: Sightseeing in Washington, D.C.
- Upcoming: 2023
- Washington D.C. 6-Day Itinerary
- Ages of children: 16, 14, 12 years-old
USA Bucket List: Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam (Nevada)
- Upcoming: 2024
- Ages of child
ren: 17, 15, 13 years-old
USA Bucket List: New York City (New York)
- Upcoming: 2025
- Ages of children: 18, 16, 14 years-old
Have you visited any of these places before? What are your family must-do recommendations? I’d love to hear from you!Jen
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*
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