Travel U.S. Cities

Our United States Bucket List: 15 Exciting Places for Families

June 9, 2021

Are you looking for ideas for a United States bucket list of places to see before your kids grow up?

The following article is an example of our United States bucket list with sample itineraries that include ideas on where to stay and what to do.

We created this bucket list as a means to spark our creativity, create financial travel goals, and dream of future travel.

Use these ideas as a starting point to customize and plan your family vacation bucket list that includes nearby destinations and attractions, as well as your favorite cities, towns, and national parks.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. For more info, see disclosure.

Read on for a fun and detailed United States bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan!
A Florida sunset

Inspiration For Our United States Bucket List

With the kids getting older, my husband and I realize the years are dwindling before they will eventually leave the nest.

Likewise, because we realize the amazing benefits of traveling with kids, there are certain places we absolutely want to experience as a family.

Consequently, once they ditched the diapers, bottles, and naps, we kicked our family travel goals into high gear.

With a glass of wine and Ipad in hand, we began creating our family’s USA bucket list!

The goal…that we will complete the list before our oldest child turns 18.

First, we pondered popular landmarks, theme parks, national parks, and beloved U.S. cities that we’ve read about and daydreamed about visiting.



We want to experience it all.

Next, we decided on a tentative year to visit each destination based on their location as well as the respective ages and maturity of the kids.

Pro Tip: When your children are young, customize your family vacation bucket list to include destinations that are close to your local area. Our first two bucket list destinations are within driving distance to our hometown and are places that we continue to love to explore to this day.

Bucket List Family Trips: Accountability

Naturally, time for traveling together as a family is limited due to work, sports, school schedules, and other commitments.

Creating a United States bucket list, however, holds us accountable for accomplishing our travel goals despite our busy schedules.

In addition, anticipating future travel motivates us to set aside the appropriate funds to make our travel goals happen.

The following 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.

All of the following itineraries and travel tips are ones that we have experienced while being mindful of cost and the conveniences necessary when traveling with kids.

Pro Tip: Allow for flexibility and spontaneity in your plan for a United States bucket list. When unexpected ideas or invitations to travel come up – similar to our multi-generational family trip to Dreams Playa Mujeres – by all means…go for it!

A fun and detailed United States bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan!

1. Duluth & Lake Superior (Minnesota)

  • Ages: We started visiting Duluth, MN annually when our kids were 6, 4, and 2 years old due to the multitude of things to do with kids in Duluth, as well as its close proximity to our hometown.

Dubbed the “Best Outdoor City in America,” and “The Craft Beer Capital of Minnesota”, Duluth is one of our absolute favorite family travel destinations.

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 ships transporting coal, iron ore, and grain underneath the harbor’s famous lift bridge.

Duluth is well known in the Midwest USA for its great outdoor activities, awesome cultural scene, and delicious dining.

Duluth Family Vacation Itinerary

Save yourself the work of planning from scratch by checking out our 2-day Duluth itinerary that is perfect for families with kids both young and old.

Our must-do recommendations include:

A fun and detailed United States bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan.

2. The Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin)

  • Ages: We started visiting the Wisconsin Dells annually when the kids were ages 7, 5, and 3 years old. This is a great place to visit with small children as there are shallow areas and splash pads at every waterpark and attraction.
  • Accommodations: Great Wolf Lodge (best for visiting with kids ages 3-10) or The Wilderness Resort (our favorite for school-age kids and teens).

Splash and play to your heart’s content in Wisconsin Dells, the Water Park Capital of the World, our second bucket list family vacation!

After all, the Dells has more configurations of indoor and outdoor waterparks per capita than anywhere else on the planet.

As another popular Midwest USA tourist destination, the Dells has so much more to offer than just its famous water parks, however.

Laidback locals, awe-inspiring natural beauty, and year-round attractions lead many families to return here year after year.

Wisconsin Dells Family Vacation Itinerary

We haven’t yet officially put our Wisconsin Dells itinerary into writing.

You can’t go wrong, however, in simply using your waterpark hotel as a base to then add in other fun area attractions as time permits.

Memories are sure to be made in this epicenter of family fun!

Our must-do recommendations include:

  • Noah’s Ark Waterpark
  • This list of the best indoor activities in the Dells (perfect for cold or rainy days!)
  • Great Northern Railway train ride
  • Explore Witches Gulch
  • A Dells boat tour
  • Pizza and brews at Moose Jaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Co.
Read on for a fun and detailed United States bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan!
Mount Rushmore

3. The Black Hills and Mount Rushmore National Memorial (South Dakota)

  • Ages: We had success visiting this famous United States bucket list destination when our 3 kids were 8, 6, and 4 years old. This is a destination that can be enjoyed at any age, however.

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 with family travel opportunities.

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.

Black Hills Family Vacation Itinerary

Don’t head to this area without an itinerary in mind.

There are literally so many amazing things to do in the Black Hills with kids that you’ll want to go there prepared.

The area’s best landmarks, attractions, and state parks can all be visited during this perfect 4-day Black Hills Itinerary that we made with families in mind.

Our must-do recommendations include:

  • The South Dakota Air and Space Museum
  • World-famous Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Dinosaur Park and Storybook Island (both free!)
  • Driving Needles Highway and experiencing that amazing Custer State Park
  • Visiting Cosmos Mystery Park in Keystone, SD.
Read on for a fun and detailed United States bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan!
California, U.S.A.

4. San Diego (California)

  • Ages: We visited San Diego when our 3 kids were ages 9, 7, and 5 years old.

San Diego is on the coast of the beautiful Pacific Ocean in Southern California.

The city is known for its mild year-round climate, extensive beaches, and a multitude of family-friendly theme parks and activities.

A visit 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, Encinitas, and Carlsbad.

Each one of these cities has something fun and delightful to offer.

San Diego Family Vacation Itinerary

Be sure to fit in visiting all of the amazing coastal communities (that I mentioned above), by checking out our epic 6-day San Diego itinerary!

Our must-do recommendations include:

  • SeaWorld San Diego
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Touring the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
  • Spending an afternoon on Coronado Island
  • Going to Legoland Hotel and Theme Park (Carlsbad, CA).
  • Hiking at Torrey Pines State Reserve
  • Watching the sea lions in La Jolla Cove
Read on for a fun and detailed USA bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan!
The Grand Canyon

5. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

  • Ages: We visited the Grand Canyon with our 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.

One of the world’s natural wonders, the iconic Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most famous attractions in the United States.

This giant canyon carved by the copper-colored Colorado River exposes billions of years of history in its layers of colored rock.

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.

Either way, witnessing the splendor of the Grand Canyon is an absolute must on your family’s United States bucket list.

Grand Canyon Family Vacation Itinerary

Check out this itinerary if you only have 1-Day to visit the Grand Canyon.

Our must-do recommendations include:

  • Hiking the Bright Angel Trail
  • Check out the Hopi House
  • Walking the Trail of Time
  • Visit the National Geographic Visitor Center
  • Ride the free Hermit Road shuttle bus (Red Route)
  • Explore nearby Slide Rock State Park and Sedona, Arizona
A fun and detailed United States bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan!
Cinderella’s Castle

6. Disney World in Orlando (Florida)

Ages: We visited the Disney theme parks in Orlando, Florida for the first time when our 3 children were 12, 10, and 8 years old.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn, Lake Buena Vista (An amazing and affordable off-site Disney hotel.)

Walt Disney World is the world’s most famous family-friendly destination, which is why it may be of no surprise that it is part of our United States bucket list.

Encompassing 4 major theme parks in 1, Disney 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 in Orlando on Disney non-park days!

Orlando Family Vacation Itinerary

After our visit, we created an amazing, action-packed, 6-day Orlando itinerary that you can customize with the parks and places of your family’s preference.

Our must-do recommendations in Orlando include:

Read on for a fun and detailed United States bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan!
Chicago, IL

7. Sightseeing in Chicago (Illinois)

Ages: We toured Chicago when our 3 kids were ages 13, 11, and 9 years old.

Accommodations: Best Western River North (Central location and ultra-affordable.)

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 – which is why I recommend going on a family vacation here!

Chicago has a vibrant downtown that is home to amazing architecture that even kids will find fascinating.

Likewise, its vastly preserved green space and play spaces create a welcoming atmosphere for the young and old alike.

Magnificent family-friendly attractions sprinkled throughout Navy Pier and Millennium Park will keep you and your family entertained for hours!

Pack like a pro for your next family vacation! Click the following image to get your FREE family vacation packing list that is both customizable and printable!

San Diego Family Vacation packing list

Chicago Family Vacation Itinerary

Check out our awesome 3-day Chicago itinerary that is perfect for visiting Chicago with kids.

Our must-do recommendations include:

Read on for our list of bucket list family trips that is perfect for families - from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in Glacier National Park

8. Glacier National Park (Montana)

Ages: We visited Glacier National Park when our 3 kids were ages 14, 12, and 10. These are great ages to go, as they were all able to hike on their own without complaining.

Accommodations: During our family vacation to Montana, we had the opportunity to stay at two amazing properties.

We stayed at both Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Montana, and The Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish, Montana. You’ll love reading about them to determine which would be best for you and your family!

Glacier National Park is located in the northern Rocky Mountains in northwestern Montana.

Not only is Glacier National Park home to active glaciers, but it’s also comprised of stunning valleys, towering mountain tops, cascading waterfalls, colorful wildflowers, and majestic wildlife sightings.

In our opinion, it is the most beautiful place that we have ever been to – and we recommend adding it to your USA bucket list as well!

Glacier National Park Itinerary

Our 3-day Glacier National Park itinerary includes the best scenery, family-friendly hikes, glaciers, and must-see stops to help you plan the perfect visit.

In addition, check out our must-do recommendations:

  • Explore the 23-best stops on Going-to-the-Sun Road (Glacier’s world-famous scenic drive)
  • Hike Trail of the Cedars, Avalanche Lake Trail, and Hidden Lake Overlook
  • Go whitewater rafting in Glacier National Park
  • Enjoy the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana that includes swimming in a huge glacial lake
  • Visit St. Mary Lake and take a Rising Sun Boat Tour
  • Go horseback riding in Many Glacier
United States bucket list destination:  The U.S. Capitol Building.
The U.S. Capitol Building

9. Washington D.C.

Ages: I visited Washington D.C. on a solo trip with my 15-year-old son. This was a fantastic age for him to visit and we both learned a ton!

Accommodations: Residence Inn by Marriott at Washington, DC National Mall. A 5-minute walk to the National Mall, indoor pool, kitchens with full-sized refrigerators/freezers and microwaves, complimentary evening reception, and complimentary buffet breakfast.

A family trip to Washington D.C. is a US bucket list destination for many American families – including ours!

The District of Columbia (in between the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia) was set aside as the nation’s capital so that the federal government would not be located in any single state.

National symbols such as the U.S. Capitol Building and the White House are accessible to visitors, along with dozens of other tourist attractions, which include world-class museums and important monuments.

With so many amazing opportunities for exploration, it’s important to understand the general layout and to know what there is to do there before your arrival.

Washington DC Itinerary with Kids

The main tourist area of Washington DC is enormous, requires a lot of walking, and definitely requires taking into consideration the individual ages and interests of your family members.

It is absolutely essential to consult our Washington DC family vacation itinerary for spending 1 – 7 days in the nation’s capital to help you prepare for this iconic family trip.

Our must-do recommendations include:

  • Get reservations for a U.S. Capitol Building tour
  • Spend time at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
  • Photograph The U.S. White House
  • Take an evening walk around Washington D.C.’s monuments and memorials
  • Go to the National Museum of American History (and other free Smithsonian Museums)
  • Attend a performance at The John. F. Kennedy Center
A family vacation bucket list featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan: Colorado rocky mountains
Rocky Mountain National Park

10. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

Ages: We visited Rocky Mountain National Park when our 3 kids were ages 15, 13, and 11. You could also go when your kids are a bit younger as there are several kid-friendly hikes and popular attractions for young kids nearby.

Accommodations: I highly recommend staying in the nearby town of Estes Park, Colorado when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.

There are 5 entrances into Rocky Mountain National Park that are within 5 miles of Estes Park, making it the ultimate gateway city.

We love it so much that we’ve written an entire 7-day Estes Park itinerary to use when visiting there!

This includes all of the best things to see and do in Estes Park, as well as summarizes our amazing adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Bucket List Family Vacations featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan: Yellowstone
Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone National Park

Future United States Bucket List Destinations

We have yet to explore the following destinations that we have on our United States bucket list.

Once we do, we will edit this article to include our crafted itineraries and lists of must-do attractions. (Follow us on our social to stay in touch!)

In the meantime, check out the places that we are looking forward to visiting as a family before the kids leave the nest.

  • An Alaskan Cruise – Booked for June 2023!
  • Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
  • The Mighty 5 Utah National Parks
  • Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam (Nevada)
  • New York City (New York)

Have you done any of these bucket list family trips before? What are your family must-do recommendations? I’d love to hear about what’s on your family vacation bucket list!


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A fun and detailed United States bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan.
A fun and detailed United States bucket list from Top U.S. Family Blog, Travel With A Plan.
USA Bucket List for families featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan.

  1. Reply

    Maria Dunlap

    July 24, 2021

    We’ve visited Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park several times with our kids since moving to CO a few years ago – highly recommend both! We grew up on the East coast and have been excited to explore the west now that we’re out here. We’re driving to Seattle this week! Don’t know much about the gems in the Midwest, so your post has been so helpful.

    • Reply


      July 30, 2021

      Thanks so much for reading Maria! I am so happy to hear that you are looking forward to exploring the Midwest USA! Feel free to reach out if you need additional tips 🙂

  2. Reply

    Lisa Goodmurphy

    June 11, 2021

    Great bucket list! We’re Canadian and haven’t travelled as much as I would like in the U.S. so I was surprised that I have actually done 8 of the trips on your list!! You will love the Alaskan cruise – it was one of our favourite trips. We were supposed to cruise Alaska for a second time this summer but it was cancelled because of COVID. And we love New York City – such an amazing city!!

    • Reply


      June 14, 2021

      Thanks Lisa! We had an Alaskan cruise booked on Norwegian that was cancelled due to COVID too! I am sure hoping to cruise again soon!

  3. Reply


    June 11, 2021

    What a great article! I don’t think we’ve done ANY of these with the kids yet. Our USA experience is pretty limited with them at this point. We have focused a lot on international. But I will keep this list handy when we explore the States! Thanks for putting this together 🙂

    • Reply


      June 14, 2021

      Thank you so much Linzey! Yes, some definite ‘musts’! I’m curious what your favorite family vacation has been? 🙂

  4. Reply


    June 10, 2021

    This is such a great US bucket list for families! We’ve never been to some of the national parks- they’re definitely on our list!

    • Reply


      June 10, 2021

      Thank you!! We are so excited for Glacier National Park in just a few weeks! I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

  5. Reply

    Sarah Blevins

    June 10, 2021

    This is a great list! We have done 4 of them so far. We definitely need to visit more National Parks. I kick myself for not getting to more while we lived out west.

    • Reply


      June 10, 2021

      We have a 4th grader this year, so we are using the free 4th grader National Park Pass! Check it out if you don’t know about it – free admission to all US National Parks!

  6. Reply

    Sarah Wilson

    September 23, 2019

    Love all of the National Parks on this list!

    • Reply


      September 24, 2019

      For sure! I love exposing the kids to history and beauty all in one!

  7. Reply


    September 23, 2019

    The national parks are a big on for us! One day we will all get there!

    • Reply


      September 24, 2019

      I think every family bucket list should include a few National Parks, right?

  8. Reply


    September 23, 2019

    This is a fantastic list. I bet it wouldn’t take you long to double it though!

    • Reply


      September 24, 2019

      I know! The Utah National Parks are a big one that I am currently missing on the list! I need to find a time to fit them in 🙂

  9. Reply


    September 23, 2019

    So many amazing places to see! I’m really hoping to take my daughter to some US National Parks soon so this is so useful

    • Reply


      September 24, 2019

      Have fun! National Parks are definitely memory makers!


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Hi, I'm Jen - founder of the award-winning travel blog, Travel With A Plan! I help families plan fun & fulfilling family vacations by sharing our exact itineraries and "best things to do" lists to popular US vacation spots. Take the stress out of planning a family vacation by using our detailed destination guides and ultra-convenient packing lists to help you travel better. We'll show you how hassle-free family travel is possible - when you travel with a plan!

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