USA Travel bucket list: best places to see and experience to have at least in a lifetime to add to your travel wish list.
I love traveling around the USA.
It is always a big deal for us, to fly across the pond to experience the beauty of the USA but no matter how many times we go, we always seem to want more!
In the last few years, we have been lucky enough to explore many places and have many experiences, from walks in urban Boston to road trips in Utah and Arizona.
However, our USA bucket list is long and there are many places for us still to visit!
This is the list of my dream places to see in the US
Important: This is a wish list for future travel. Follow official travel rules for your place of departure, transit and destinations and do not travel at all unless it is officially deemed safe to do so.
USA bucket list by virtual travel
Sometimes, no matter how much you want to travel, life gets in the way!
When this happens, a virtual trip to a place can be a great way to get a taste for it nonetheless.
You can take your pick of virtual trips around the US on the following articles:
My USA travel bucket list
These are the places I dream of when I dream of a USA vacation.
Admire the breathtaking granite peaks of Yosemite NP, CA
Yosemite National Park is the first National Park I ever visited and the first is one I brought the kids to.
It is a wonderful park with pristine mountain scenery, so impressive and beautiful it is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site as a place of outstanding universal value.
It has incredible valleys, imposing granite peaks and views so beautiful, it simply had to open this USA travel bucket list!
is Yousenite on your won USA bucket list? If so, our article can help you plan! Have a look at:
Drive famous California Highway 1, CA
Nothing screams USA travel to me than a road trip and one of the most iconic in the famous Pacific Coast Highway in California.
Following the breathtaking California coastline from Oregon to San Diego, it is the iconic coastal route you see in all the movies and it is as amazing as it looks!
We drove PCH1 in 2 days from San Diego to San Francisco and the scenery is as breathtaking as the photos suggest: sweeping views of the ocean, wonderful and varied coastlines with stunning rocky formations and large beaches and beautiful and wild nature in the area of Big Sur.
Discover wonderful San Francisco, CA
It might be because of that incredible Bay Location, or because of the mightily golden gate Bridge, or the quirky hilly streets but San Francisco has a piece of my heart!
There is so much to do in the city, all you can do here is take your time and experience it all.
Where would you start? Cycling along the Golden Gate Bridge? Taking a ride on the iconic cable car, exploring China Town?
Or maybe you can take the kids to San Francisco and explore the Exploratorium and visit the sea lions!
Go wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma, CA
If you fancy a good glass of wine and a day winding down in a stunning vineyard, then you simply have to head to Napa and Sonoma.
Blessed with beautiful hills, delicious farm to table food and cute towns, this is a wonderful place for wine lovers but an easy one to enjoy for non-drinkers too.
We went to Sonoma with the kids and found it to be a pretty and pleasant historical town with delightful wineries, cycling opportunities and a beautiful mission and historical buildings worth seeing.
Admire the tallest living things in Muir Woods, CA
California is famous for is sky craping redwoods and one of the most mystical, beautiful places to see these marvels is Muir Woods, near San Francisco.
As well as stunning, Muir Woods has great historical significance: during the UN San Francisco conference of 1945, the delegates gathered here to pay tribute to F.D. Roosevelt as ‘apostle of lasting peace for all mankind’.
A plaque still recalls this moving event.
Feel like you are in a movie in wonderful LA, CA
What would a USA travel bucket list be, without wonderful LA?
Vast, overwhelming, familiar and alien all at the same time, LA is a world in itself and a city that can definitely do with it own bucket list!
Here, you can cycle in Santa Monica, discover quirky Venice Beach, stroll around downtown LA, enjoy laid back Hermosa Beach, visit Hollywood or get away from the hustle and bustle of the city in glorious Malibu.
You can also discover the family-friendly side of LA or indulge in the huge choice of amazing California food on offer here.
Discover the otherworldly landscape of Joshua Tree NP, CA
The most common word used to describe Joshua Tree National Park is ‘otherwordly’ and indeed, you do feel like you are on a different planet when you visit this stunning stretch of the California desert!
In only takes one day to visit Joshua Tree but it is enough to hike and get a taste of its unique Joshua trees, boulders and feel the eerie quiet of the place.
We visited in the height of summer and my USA bucket list item is not to go back in spring or fall.
If you are planning a visit, have a look at our articles:
- How to see Joshua Tree NP in one day
- Best places to stay near Joshua Tree
- Tips for visiting Joshua tree with kids
- Fun and interesting facts about Joshua Tree
Experience crazy and fabulous Las Vegas, NV
My husband wasn’t particularly drawn to Las vegas but I knew no matter what it would be like, I simply wanted to experience it at least once in my lifetime!
And indeed, it is worth a stop but you sure need to be in the mood to embrace it.
But when you have a plastic Venice, a plastic Paris and blinding lights in the middle of the desert, how can you not at least go see it once?
Marvel at the human feat that is the Hoover Dam, NV
Did you know the vast majority of the electricity powering the American South West come from Hoover Dam?
The dam was built to harness the power of the Colorado River and it is an incredible place to see.
If you want to feel tiny and at the same time marvel at what building work humans can achieve, this is a place you cannot miss.
Make sure you take a tour of the museum to learn lots of fun facts about Hoover Dam: they truly make the magnitude of the building achievement come to life.
Let your jaw drop looking at the Grand Canyon, AZ
The Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world, a Unesco places of outstanding natural value and yes, it is as stunning and worth visiting they say except, even more!
I absolutely adored the Grand Canyon and believe it is a must-see place n The USA everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime.
Layers and layers of geological history are hidden in the rocks of the canyon, all thanks to the erosion from the Colorado River that created it and still flows at the bottom os this 1+ mile deep, 227 miles long, 18 miles wide canyon!
if you ahead that way, we can help! Have a look at our articles on:
- How to spend one day at the Grand Canyon
- Tips for visiting the Grand Canyon with kids
- Grand Canyon packing list
Discover all about the Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon NP, UT
Do you have a hoodoo in your USA travel bucket list! I do or rather I did, since I had the chance to see these stunning rock formations last year in Bryce Canyon!
A natural amphitheater filled with red rocky columns shaped by wind and water, the hoodoos, Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful and unique places you can see in Utah and the USA.
A walk along the rim and a hike to get up close and personal to these natural wonders is a must-have US travel experience.
A walk along the Rim Trail and the easy hike to Mossy Cave are doable even with just one day in the park and well worth it
Go hiking in the natural wonder that is Zion NP, UT
Lonely Planet defined Zion NP as an overload of awesomeness and indeed, that’s exactly what it is!
Stunning red peaks, canyons, hikes, mountain lions and scenery so beautiful and vast words fail to describe it all.
Whether you take the Zion scenic drive, relax at Zion Lodge or take in one of the most demanding hikes, such as the famous Narrows or Angel’s Landing, you can be guaranteed Zion National Park will stay as a highlight of any tips to the US.
If Zion is in your plans, our articles can help! Have a look at:
- How to see Zion National Park in one day
- Where to stay in and near Zion National Park
- Great, hikes in Zion National Park
Take a road trip in the American Southwest
The American Southwest is a wonderful part of the country that is simply perfect for road tripping.
There area has long scenic roads and plenty of attractions that range from deserts to forests and stunning peaks.
Page, Sedona, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park and many of the beautiful US destinations are in this area and while you will need several days to properly see them all, even just a long weekend in some of these destinations can make you see some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country
Experience the mind-bending beauty of horseshoe bend, AZ
One of the most photographed places in the USA, horseshoe bend is imposing and unique.
Here, an indredible bend of the Colorado River makes you feel as if you stepped into a place of hyper-reality.
A USA travel bucket list item for anyone without a fear of heights….
Experience the wonderful red rocks of Sedona, AZ
Beautiful mountain scenery, an alternative vibe, energy vortexed and spas: I didn’t need much else to put Sedona on my USA travel wish list!
And indeed, Sedona delivered on all of its promises and more.
The drive from Flagstaff is one of the most scenic in the country and alone worth coming this way!
We only had one day in Sedona and my bucket list item is to come back and stay longer to take more hikes and experience its famous vortexes.
Hike to the otherworldly rocks of Arches National Park, UT
In Europe, I am used to arches being a man-made creation but this is not the case in Arches National Park in Utah, where the arches are made by the forces of nature!
The red formations in Arches Nationa park are unique and one of the places I most dearly want to visit in the American Southwest.
See the sunrise in Monument Valley, AZ
I can still remember the first time I saw a photo of Monument Valley: I was a child and it was in a book about the wonders of the world.
On that day, Monumental Valley entered my travel bucket list and when I finally got to go, it was even more wonderful than I ever thought it would be!
Remote and stunning, seeing the sunrise on the mittens is a wonderful memory I will always cherish.
If planning to go, take a note of our articles to help you plan:
Marvel at the otherworldly landscape of White Sands National Park, NM
If, like me, you are into otherworldly natural landscapes that make you feel the mighty power of nature, then you should not miss White Sands National Park.
Here, you find over 200 miles of white sand dunes made of gypsum, the largest gypsum dune field in the world and one of the most beautiful places in New Mexico!
You can discover the park hiking, cycling, driving and the park offers the excellent junior ranger programs, which is fantastic if you are discovering the US with kids as it is a very engaging, well though out way to connect with the park and learn about it (we always get our kids to do to program and it is amazing the thing we also get to learn from it!).
See the many National parks of Colorado, CO
Colorado is home to the Rocky Mountains National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon, offering some of the emosy diverse scenery in the world, all within the State.
Admire the stunning peaks of Glacier National Park, MT
If Glacier and Grand Teton are anything like photos suggest, then they must be one of the most beautiful places for mountain scenery in the US if not the world!
Endless sky, pristine lakes, tall rocky peaks: a summer trip to this gorgeous part of Wyoming is most definitely on my travel wish list.
Get mesmerized by the powerful nature of Yellowstone NP, WY
Geysers, bison, bears: this and much more is Yellowstone, the very first National Park to be established in the USA (in 1872!).
Stretching over more than 3500 sq feet, Yellowstone is famous for incredible scenery ranging from mountains to forests and to alien-looking geysers.
My personal bucket list has a trip to see the powerful Old faithful and take in the otherworldly colors of Grand Prismatic Spring.
Catch a train ride across the country on board of the California Zephyr
Ever since I saw the images of the USA trains and their panoramic carriages, I have wanted to take a train ride across the country.
Out of the many Amtrak journeys, my heart is set on the California Zephyr, crossing some of the USA most impressive scenery from Chicago to San Francisco, via Dakota and Utah!
Admire the otherwordly Dakota’s Badlands, SD
Dakota is home to the pinnacles and buttes of the badland and the largest prairies in the US, protected by the South Dakota Badlands National Park.
Stunning, empty and unique, this is a travel bucket list item for anyone looking for undisturbed natural landscapes.
Discover Chicago, IL
There are so many things I want to do in Chicago, I don’t even know where to start: look at this Chicago bucket list and you will soon see what I mean!
Maybe a river cruise, to see all the stunning architecture for the water?
Or maybe watch a baseball game, taste Chicago’s famous pizza (seriously, I want to know if all the fuss about it is worth it!), or discover the city’s museums?
With all this and more to choose from Chicago is one the US cities I would most dearly like to visit and one I know the kids will love too: I hear Chicago is wonderful for kids.
Have a music fix in Nashville, TN
I am not a huge music fan but I would love to visit the capital of country music: Nashville!
I hear the music hear is out of this world but I also hear the city used to be known as the Athens of America as it has a reproduction of the Parthenon!
So weird and wonderful I simply have to visit one day.
Walk around the New Orleans’ French Quarter, LA
Our whole family is simply obsessed with the idea of visiting New Orleans.
Our bucket list item is starting with a walk around the French quarter and a stop to taste New Orleans’ famous beignet, to then dive deep into the music, culture, architecture and food of this fascinating city.
Drive down the Florida Keys, FL
Endless water kissed by the sun, long stretch of beaches and palms swaying in the breeze this is where I would start a Florida road trip!
But this is not where it would end.
Once in this beautiful state, I would also make sure to visit St Augustine’s, Florida’s oldest town, Miami’s peculiar architecture in the city’s art deco historic district and of course adventure in the one of a kind Everglades!
Experience the magic of Disney
We are not big theme park people but a day (or two, or three!) at Disney was high on our USA travel bucket list and it stayed as one of the best family experiences we had!
We spent one day in Disneyland California and one day would love to visit Orlando, and the Disney overload that is Disneyworld.
Admire the incredible foliage of New England
I love the warming colors of foliage and my US travel bucket list cannot be complete without a trip to see the best of it in New England.
Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Main are all famous for their stunning fall colors and an autumn trip here would be a dream!
Take a walk along the Charles River in Boston, MA
Many years ago I visited Boston and went on a long walk between the city and Harvard, along the Charles river.
It was one of the most beautiful days and bringing the kids and my husband there to experience it again is one of my US travel dreams!
Experience exclusive Martha’s Vineyard, MA
A small island off the coast of Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard has been a magnet for Presidents’ families for years and indeed, it looks like a wonderful place for a secluded, elegant vacation.
Here you find retro charm, plenty of walks, lovely ocean views and a laid back, picture-perfect country living type of experience mixed with the presence of professionals for the nearby cities and the many celebrities who elected it as their escape of choice.
It very much sounds like my kind of place and one I believe belongs in a USA travel bucket list for sophisticated travelers!
See the cherry blossoms in Washington DC
There are very many things I would like to see in Washington DC: the White House, the stunning city museums, but out fo all of them, the photo that captured my heart is that of Washington in spring, with cherry tree blossoms!
So this is my bucket list item for the city: a spring trip to see this blooming extravaganza.
Breath in the unique atmosphere of NYC, NY
I have been to New York City many times but no matter how many trips there we take, there is simply too much in this city to ever get bored of it!
My NYC bucket list is as long as the bucket list for the whole of the US but how can I not dream of seeing Manhattan again, go for a run in Central Park, visit the Statue of Liberty, see a show on broadway, go out in the Village, walk the High Line, see the MOMA, eat a NYC hot dog, visit film locations, discover Brooklyn and climb to the top of the Empire State?
We crammed as much as we could during our day in NYC with the kids but thereat was definitely not enough to quench our thirst for this amazing city!
Admire icy Alaska, AK
As I approach the end of this list I head back to the extreme North and the extreme North and the extreme west of the country, the land of icy wonders that is Alaska.
While I don’t usually like the cold, I would make an exception to take in the marvels of Denali National Park and the Alaskan fjords. I know they would be worth every shivering minute!
Experience the wonderful nature of Hawaii
For our tenth anniversary, we really wanted to go to Hawaii but that trip never happened so I am still longing to go!
inspired by this Hawaii bucket list, I would love to try my hand at surfing, explore Volcanoes National park, admire the beauty of those powerful peaks against the backdrop of the ocean and of course chill on those dreamy Hawaiian beaches. Bliss!
I hope you enjoyed this personal take on a US travel bucket list and maybe gave you travel inspiration for your own. Happy travel dreaming!