The Best Bucket List Adventures in Every State from The Best Bucket List Adventures in Every State

The Best Bucket List Adventures in Every State

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The Best Bucket List Adventures in Every State

We all have a dream place we want to explore, thrilling adventure we would love to embark on, and an iconic site we wish to see. To us, these are once in a lifetime experiences, things we only dream of doing but never actually make the effort to accomplish. Whether you are a daring or laid back traveler, there is a bucket list adventure that will fit your desires.

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Alabama- Cave Tour, Cathedral Caverns State Park

You can’t visit Alabama without going on one of their famous Cave Tours in Cathedral Caverns State Park. The entrance to the Cathedral Caverns is huge – measuring 126 feet wide and 25 feet high, according to alapark.com. Inside the cavern you will see beautiful formations and amazing sites, some of which include “’caveman’ perched atop a flowstone wall, a ‘frozen’ waterfall, a large stalagmite forest and a most improbable stone formation - a stalagmite that is 27 feet tall and 3 inches wide,” the website says.

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Alaska- View the Northern Lights

Regardless to where you are in Alaska, you can view this spectacular display. However, the most reliable spot to see them is Fairbanks. Take the Northern Lights Tour and follow your guide to some of the best locations to view the aurora. Tip: Visit in the winter when it is cold and dark for peak viewing.

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Arizona- Visit Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s natural wonders, a top must-do on many adventurous travelers bucket lists. The park offers a variety of things to do and an abundance of sites to explore. Go rafting, camping, biking, summer and winter hiking and take a guided tour. But make sure that you take a walk on The Grand Canyon Skywalk – a glass walkway that extends over the rim of the Grand Canyon and enables individuals to walk beyond the canyon walls.

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Arkansas- Kayak on the Mulberry River

The Mulberry River is approximately 55 miles. Spend an entire day kayaking along a free flowing stream or venture out to the rapids for a wild whitewater rafting experience. Other things to do there include swimming, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

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California- Visit the Sites Located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area is the protected Golden Gate National Recreation Area, also known as one of the largest urban parks in the world. It gets more than 15 million visitors each year. It is comprised of numerous sites, some of which include Alcatraz, Fort Mason, the Marin Headlands, and the Nike Missile Site. Tourists can also go camping, hiking, and sightseeing.

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Colorado- Skiing or Snowboarding in Vail

What people love about Vail is that even the newbies can go to the top of the mountain and ski down. The best snow is there and the resort has a lot of different green runs. The resort is huge; it is among the largest in the world with more than 5,200 acres of developed ski and snowboard terrain, including seven legendary Back Bowls. They are the best option to escape the crowds. The north facing Blue Sky Basin is also very quiet and has endless backcountry trails, in addition to its many advanced terrains. The resort leaves some of its land totally ungroomed for the most advanced skiers out there.

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Connecticut- Mountain Biking in Nepaug State Forest

Nepaug is a very famous location, especially Nepaug State Forest. Nepaug is known for its variety of mountain biking trails. Regardless of your experience level, there is a route for you. More specifically, New Hartford’s Nepaug State Forest Trail is a moderately trafficked loop trail that runs for approximately 1.8 miles. Capture views of beautiful scenery and gorgeous wild flowers.

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Delaware- Climb an Observation Tower, Cape Henlopen State Park

Open sunrise to sunset, the Cape Henlopen State Park is a popular spot for sightseeing, biking, and surfing. The observation towers, reaching almost 100 feet tall, were built during World War II. Climb to the top for panoramic views. 

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Florida- Visit Walt Disney World

If you’re visiting Florida, most likely, Walt Disney World is on the top of your bucket list; it’s where the magic happens. There are so many parks to choose from and so many secret spots to explore. Visit Magic Kingdom for awesome rides including Space Mountain. Take a family picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Book a Character meal and eat lunch with your children’s favorite characters. Visit Animal Kingdom and go on the Kilimanjaro Safari, then don’t forget to watch the amazing Fantasmic! in Disney Hollywood Studios.

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Georgia- Visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta, Ga.

Travel to Georgia in the spring to experience meadows and tulips in the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Go on a beautiful garden tour, walk through orchids at the Orchid Society Show and experience the Bonsai Society Show. On the weekends, visit the Orchid Market and choose from a variety of live orchids from local growers. Also shop around for bird houses, artwork, and Georgia fruits.

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Hawaii- Drive the “Road to Hana,” Maui

Famous for its stunning landscapes and towering waterfalls, the Road to Hana is one of the most popular things to do when visiting Hawaii. Some of the most popular sites to see on your road trip include Twin Falls, Ho’okipa lookout, Honomanu Bay, and the Garden of Eden Arboretum.

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Idaho- Whitewater Rafting the Salmon River

Whether you are looking for easy and scenic or challenging and thrilling, the Salmon River has it all. The “Middle Fork” is said to be the best river trip in the world due to its Class III and IV whitewater. Take a 6-day river trip to experience Salmon River at its fullest. Bonus: Bring your waterproof camera because the trip ends at the Impassable Canyon. Another popular whitewater rafting location is Snake River Canyon.

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Illinois- View Chicago’s Skyline from the Willis Tower

Visit the Skydeck on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower for the best view of Chicago’s skyline. Walk out on to the ledge and enter into a glass balcony at 1,353 feet off the ground that will allow you to capture views of Navy Pier and Wrigley Field. Also make sure you explore their interactive family-friendly exhibits.

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Indiana- Explore the Marengo Cave

The Marengo Cave is a U.S. National Natural Landmark. Visitors enjoy walking tours – Crystal Palace and Dripstone Trail, cave exploration trips, canoeing on the Blue River, and gemstone mining. There are also plenty of lodging options – camping and cabins.

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Iowa- Hiking and Sightseeing in Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park is a 4.1-mile trail located near McGregor Iowa. Hikers enjoy spectacular scenic views. A review on alltrails.com said: “Such a beautiful park. The overlooks are amazing! At one point you can see where the Wisconsin River empties into the Mississippi River.”

Kansas- hiking

The best hike in Kansas is the point to point Elk River Hiking Trail. The trail is accessible year-round. Visitors say that it’s not difficult but it is lengthy. Cross small streams and narrow canyons. Also view forests, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, wildflowers and tons of wildlife. There are also great camping sites nearby.

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Kentucky- Attend the Kentucky Derby, Louisville

The Kentucky Derby is more than just an annual sporting event, where you watch horses race. It is a “celebration of southern culture and a true icon of America,” according to kentuckyderby.com. It’s the longest running sporting event in the United States, beginning in 1875. The race is known in the U.S. as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” or “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.”

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Louisiana- Mardi Gras, New Orleans

Experience the ultimate excitement and adventure of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Participate in the festivals, join in on the parades and even take a city tour. Then if you’re up for it, go on a Cajun Pride Swamp Tour and venture your way through the Manchac Swamp; get a close-up look at alligators and giant bull frogs.

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Maine- Skiing at Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf is the highest peak in Maine. It consists of over 1,200 acres to ski on. Plan your vacation at Sugarloaf as it is the perfect destination for kids or couples that need a getaway. Some of their most popular activities include indoor rock climbing, trampolines, skate park, basketball court, volleyball court, and bowling.

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Maryland- Hike the Appalachian Trail

If you have always wanted to embark on a tough and adventurous hike, consider Maryland’s portion of the Appalachian Trail. It covers approximately 40 miles. There are designated overnight sites for camping along the trail as well.

Massachusetts- Camping on the Beach

Horseneck Beach State Reservation is spread across approximately 600 acres of barrier beach and salt marsh. The regular camping season is from mid-May through mid-October, according to mass.gov. Take up a new water activity and try wind surfing, or go birdwatching in this premier birding location in New England.

Michigan- Snow Sailing

Snow sailing includes sailing, skating, skiing and snowboarding. You just do them directly on ice or on ice covered with snow. You can do it anywhere where the wind is strong enough, and Michigan is an ideal location for the sport where winters are sufficiently cold.

Minnesota- Dogsledding with Huskies

Embark on a short ride or a multi-day trip – Minnesota has plenty of dog-sledding options. Venture through forests, over icy bogs, and across frozen lakes. Some of the best dog-sledding outfitters include White Wilderness, Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, Positive Energy Outdoors, and Endurance Kennels.  

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Mississippi- Go on a River Cruise

Hop on board and explore one of the most famous rivers in the U.S. – the Mississippi River. American Cruise Lines will take you on a luxurious history and culture trip through Mississippi and Ohio aboard two paddlewheeler river boats. USA River Cruises also offer different trips. There are plenty of variations, including going from Memphis to Nashville on a ship.

Missouri- Hike Cathedral Canyon

For people who believe to be advanced hikers, Cathedral Canyon is the hike for them. It’s a deep canyon situated in the St. Francois Mountains and, according to localtrekshiking.com, it’s also a “seemingly remote part of the Mark Twain National Forest.” There are high rock bluffs that tower over a boulder billed stream and, according to visitors, the scenery is magical.

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Montana – Hike the Continental Divide Trail

If you are looking for a rejuvenating and inspiring trip that will keep your heart rate up, go backpacking the Montana-Idaho border on the Continental Divide Trail. The entire CDT actually runs for 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada, but in Montana it crosses the Triple Divide Peak mountain. Soak up the stunning vistas, blue and clear skies, with Montana on the right and Idaho on the left.

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Nebraska – Work on a Ranch

Forget about yoga, golf, or spa days, and experience the life at a real working cattle ranch. Don’t just play cowboy for a day or two, be one for a week. You will learn to work cattle, ride, rope, brand, drive the herd, and sort cattle. You’ll do all of it mounted on a trained quarter horse that’s yours for as long as you stay. One place you can do that is at the 1+1 Ranch in Burwell.

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Nevada – Desert Racing

The Nellis Dunes National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation area is the place to be if you are going on a trip to Las Vegas and like extreme outdoor adventures such as riding in a desert. It boasts over 10,000 acres just 15 minutes from “The Strip.” The terrain consists of beautiful sand dunes and canyon trails. Bonus: Camping is allowed.

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New Hampshire – Hand-glide above Connecticut River Valley

The adventures Morningside Flight Park offers – from hand gliding and paragliding to zip lining and kayaking – will leave you breathless. Few recreational activities can compare to soaring above the stunning Connecticut River Valley, the longest river in New England. Lessons are offered to everyone. Gift Certificates never expire and are fully transferable. Sign up for their outdoor Laser Tag league in the summer.

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New Jersey – Learn to fly a helicopter

How many people in your group of friends know how to fly a plane or a helicopter? Don’t you want to be the person who can take anyone on an impulsive trip as long as there is a flying object around? You can learn how to do that at many locations in the Garden State. Companies offer various packages that range from hands-on helicopter experiences to simple photo flights.

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New Mexico – Hot air ballooning in Albuquerque

Long before Breaking Bad there was the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, home to the largest ballooning event on earth. The city is the premiere destination for all things hot air balloon. Visit during the first week of October to see more than 500 elaborately colored balloons take flight during the festival. The show is magnificent to watch from the ground, but it’s even better to be part of the sky-bound display.

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New York – Kayak the Hudson River Valley

The historic Hudson River is one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. where you can connect with nature. Kayaking in the Westchester Country is a breathtaking experience. Learn the local history, meet new adventurous people like you, enjoy the sun and soak up the gorgeous views. The Hudson River Greenway Water Trail is perfect for day-long paddlers and long-distance adventurers alike. It spans 256 miles of the notorious New York river.

North Carolina – Test your limits during the Mountain Sports Festival

If you think you are up for a challenge and are fit enough to compete, sign up for the Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville May 26-28. You’re going to have to run or bike, rock climb, play dodgeball, disc golf, and more. The free festival showcases the terrain, environment and unique culture of the beautiful city and the surrounding mountains. There is a Frisbee Open, Sand Volleyball Tournament, Dancing Trees SUP Yoga, and TriCross Crossfit Challenge, to name a few.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Roderick Eime / CC BY 4.0

North Dakota – Bike along the Maah Daah Hey

Bike the Maah Daah Hey, known as North Dakota’s best kept secret. The name means "Grandfather" or "an area that has been or will be around for a long time.” Along the 96-mile singletrack trail you’re likely to see mule and whitetail deer, antelope, wild turkeys, beaver, prairie dogs, golden eagle, red tail hawk, bighorn sheep, and elk.

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Ohio – Connect with nature in Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills will take your breath away. Outdoor enthusiasts go for the trails that take them though forests, caves, and odd rock formations. The especially rugged section marked by cliffs, gorges, caves and waterfalls is a popular recreation area with fewer visitors in the winter. The state park system has over 25 miles of marked trails that are open year-round and a scenery that makes it a rewarding place to hike even in cold weather.

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Oklahoma – Sail on Lake Hefner

Lake Hefner is where you want to be if you like sailing and you live in Oklahoma. The gorgeous lake is a popular spot in the city. No need to go on a private charter; you can learn how to sail on the lake as well. You’ll know steering, knots and lines, upwind and downwind sailing. Advanced sailing lessons are also available. Lake Hefner is bustling with life – you can find fishing docks, picnic areas, grills, restrooms, playgrounds, nature trails, running tracks, a softball field, golf course, airplane field, and soccer field.

Photo Modified: Flickr / ビッグアップジャパン / CC BY 4.0

Oregon – See the Milky Way at Crater Lake

Stargazing and camping at Crater Lake are amazing adventures when undertaken separately. A combination of both in one trip will leave you breathless and full of stories to tell for years to come. What makes this experience unique is the fact that it doesn’t happen every night. Check the weather and moon phase for perfect conditions and pick a good spot along the Rim.

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Pennsylvania – See the Northern Lights at Cherry Springs State Park

This is probably the most surprising location for seeing some of nature’s best work. It’s not the Arctic after all. The park is classified as a Gold Level International Dark Sky Park, the highest designation given by the International Dark-Sky Association, according to Travel + Leisure. Over the year, Northern Lights occurrences, usually in purple, red, and dark pink hues, have been documented.

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Rhode Island – Cliff Walk in Newport

Try cliff walking for 3.5 miles along the eastern shore of Newport. This is a very popular public access walk, a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District that combines the natural beauty of the coast with the architectural history of the city’s golden age. Wildflowers, birds, and geology will make the trip even more charming.

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South Carolina – Paddle the state’s revolutionary rivers

The Revolutionary Rivers Trail is 66 miles of untainted time travel. It follows the picturesque Lynches River to the cypress and tupelo-laden stomping grounds of Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion, whose guerilla warfare and nack for disappearing into these very same cypress swamplands earned him the name of the Swamp Fox and helped turn the tide against the British.

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South Dakota – Go backcountry camping in the Badlands

Have you ever been backcountry camping or spent a whole night under the stars? Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park is the place to be in the summer. Night sky viewing is offered on Friday through Monday nights, according to NPS. After the evening ranger program, you are welcome to stay and continue to enjoy the stars. Telescopes are provided. The entire campground is equipped with 96 level campsites, and each offers striking views. On any given night, you will be stunned by more than 7,500 stars.

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Tennessee – Try the rapids in Ocoee River

The Ocoee River in in the Cherokee National Forest is among the most popular whitewater rafting destinations – and among the most dangerous – in the country because of its more than 20 continuous rapids. More than 300,000 people go every year. The rapids are categorized as Class III, but Mickey’s is Class IV. Adventurers get to choose between a 5-foot ledge drop into a deep hole or a rocky descent down a 4-foot ledge.

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Texas – Scuba diving in Jacob's Well

This swimming hole near Austin may not look like much from the surface but looks are deceiving. It is actually one of the most dangerous dive sites in the world. There are four different entryways to explore. Narrow spaces can be a huge problem, especially after the third one. The gravel is loose and you can very easily kick it causing visibility problems. Divers can’t see, get confused, panic, and breathe too fast using up the oxygen they have in the tank.

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Utah – Hike Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

The 4.8-mile round trip is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes within the U.S. Red rock fans, and dare devil hikers love it. The narrow and eye-popping hike in Zion’s main red rock canyon will test your limits when it comes to its dizzying drop-offs and deep chasm views. With sheer cliffs on both sides, hikers have a narrow trail to follow to get up to the best views. Hikers enjoy spring at Zion for the temperate climate and sparse greenery.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Kris Arnold / CC BY 4.0

Vermont – Ski the length of the Catamount Trail

Go cross-country skiing on the Catamount Trail. The country’s longest ski trail – about 300 miles that run through the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains – is also the most brilliantly conceived, according to National Geographic. End-to-end skiers receive a certificate, a CTA lapel pin, acknowledgment in the CTA Newsletter, and plenty of glory. 

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Virginia – Be a Civil War soldier

Virginia is all about America’s history. See what it was like to be a Civil War soldier. The Civil War Adventure Camp at Pamplin Historical Park takes you back 140 years to become a buck private. Dress in either a Union or Confederate uniform, participate in drills, period games and skirmishes. Sleep in a platform tent, eat the Civil War era meals, and learn military codes and communications.

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Washington – Surfing

People will normally think of Hawaii or California as a great surfing destination but the Pacific Ocean storms bring thrilling big waves to Washington, too, and more specifically the coastal city of Westport. Put on the neoprene suit – the water gets cold – and try a more adventurous version of the exciting sport. Favorite locations are Westhaven State Park, Half Moon Bay, and Finger Jetties, according to ExperienceWA. Westport’s annual Clean Water Classic brings surfers together to help preserve oceans.

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West Virginia – BASE Jumping off the New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge Bridge, which is 876 feet tall, has been the most popular and insane BASE jumping spot in the country every year in October since 1980. This year’s Bridge Day is on October 21. This is the only day you’re allowed to leap off the bridge. Go there and see jumpers leaping more than 800 feet into the New River Gorge below. Rappelling, skydiving, and more adventures abound.

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Wisconsin – Ice caving

Bayfield Peninsula Sea Caves are some of the most jaw-dropping sights you can witness in the country. In the winter, they are morphed into ice caves. The incredible formations and the splendor of the crystal clear ice will astonish you.

Photo Modified: Flickr / m01229 / CC BY 4.0

Wyoming – Go llama trekking in the Wind River Range

With national treasures such as Grand Tetons and Yellowstone national parks, Wyoming is all about wild nature. Go on a different hiking adventure and take llamas as your trusted companions. The best place is the Wind River Range, a huge backcountry area encompassed by the Shoshone and Bridger-Teton National Forests. Several companies in Absaroka Country organize trips and offer lessons.

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District of Columbia – Go on a river cruise around D.C.

The nation’s capital is all about patriotism. Visiting for Fourth of July should be on every American’s bucket list. But don’t just take a walk to see the national monuments, get a unique perspective – away on a boat. The popular Potomac Cruise features highlights such as the Jefferson Memorial, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Washington Monument, Memorial Bridge, and the 14th St. Bridge.

The Best Bucket List Adventures in Every State