50 Bucket List Spots You Must See in the U.S. from 50 Bucket List Spots You Must See in the U.S.
50 Bucket List Spots You Must See in the U.S.
The United States is a gigantic and equally diverse melting pot of scenic lands, beaches, mountains, rivers, bustling, cities, and vast oceans. The country has a lot of popular and secret gems – natural wonders to amaze the most experienced travelers, sports events to make the least athletic people excited about football, horses and race cars, and iconic sights to astonish history buffs.
Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska
The striking ice caves inside the 12 miles long glacier are constantly on the move as Mendenhall inches towards Mendenhall Lake and changes shape along the way. The best way to access the shimmering blue walls underneath is from the West Glacier Trail with the help of a guide.
General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park
Stop by General Sherman, the largest living tree on Earth by volume. It is slightly over 52,500 cubic feet and 274.9 feet high above its base. The circumference at the ground is 102.6 feet, and the diameter of its largest branch is 6.9 feet, according to NPS.
Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii
As the most active volcano in Hawaii, Kilauea has had a history of eruptions. Try hiking the Kīlauea Iki Trail. You will descend through a lush rainforest to the floor of the solidified, however still steaming Kīlauea Iki Crater lava lake, according to NPS. Bring water, food, hat, sunscreen and rain gear.
Underwater Caves in Florida
Visiting a water-filled cave is a thrill. North-central Florida is a leading cave diving destination when it comes to diver-traffic, according to Dive Advisor. The Devil’s Eye cave system is on all cave divers’ lists of places to explore. Ginnie Springs is usually referred to as "the world's favorite freshwater dive” because of its pristine water and astonishing natural exquisiteness.
Rainbow Bridge in Arches National Park
This is the largest stone arch in the world and one of the largest known natural bridges. It is approximately 290 feet tall and 42 feet thick at its top point. The bridge is well-known to local native tribes. About 85,000 people from around the world visit each year, according to NPS.
Sahale Glacier Camp in Washington
This is one of the most dangerous camping places in the world. Sahale Glacier is on the south slope of Sahale Mountain, North Cascades National Park. There is no camping at Cascade Pass, but the best camping place is close enough about 5.7 miles in and 7,600 feet high. The views of alpine meadows, snow-covered summits and lakes are absolutely incredible.
Canoe the Boundary Waters in Minnesota
Over 1 million acres in size, it has over 1,200 miles of canoe routes. Because this area was set aside in 1926 to preserve its primitive character and made a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964, it allows visitors to canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French Voyageurs of 200 years ago, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada
Did you know that you can actually get paid to live the city near the falls? Even if you choose not to, visiting should be a must-do. Formed by receding glaciers, the Niagara Falls, which link the international border between the U.S. and Canada, is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world.
Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park
Located in Yosemite National Park is one of the world’s tallest waterfalls – standing at 2,425 feet – Yosemite Falls. It is made up of three separate falls: The Upper Yosemite Fall, the middle cascades, and the Lower Yosemite Fall. If you’re up for it, take an all-day hike to the top of the falls for incredible views.
Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio
Also known as the “Roller Coaster Capitol of the World,” this is one of the world’s most popular amusement parks. It contains 18 world-class roller coasters and a variety of family-friendly rides. Ride the Millennium Force – one of the world’s most thrilling roller coasters. It is a 310-foot ride that reaches speeds of 96 mph and features an elevator cable lift system that helps you get to the top faster.
Overseas Highway, Florida
Also known as “the Highway that Goes to Sea,” the Overseas Highway gives you the opportunity to explore the beauty of the 113-mile highway carrying U.S. Route 1 all the way through the Florida Keys. Open your windows as you drive over 42 overseas bridges and cross over coral and limestone islets.
Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the highest point in Tennessee and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi, according to NPS. It rises at 6,643 feet. The observation tower is spectacular. It offers incredible views, but climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top for an even better view.
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park
The park’s hydrothermal systems are among the most mysterious places on Earth. The eruptions reach as high as 130 feet, clearing 180 feet. One way to see the geyser’s power is to join the crowds of tourists. The thrill-seekers may want to consider the mile-long hike out to Observation Point for a bird's-eye view of the Upper Geyser Basin.
The Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, California
Drive Big Sur’s length via twisting Highway One. The rocky stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon is a stunning place to visit. Make it a part of a once in a lifetime road trip if you have an extra day. The Bixby Bridge, completed in 1932, is a favorite spot for photos. Artists and writers often go there for inspiration.
The Rocky steps in Philadelphia
Run the 72 stone steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art just like Rocky did in the Oscar winning film. This is definitely among the most famous scenes in cinema’s history. The Rocky statue is deservedly one of Philadelphia's biggest tourist attractions. The bronze statue was commissioned by Sylvester Stallone himself.
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Take the 17-mile long Iron Mountain Road, also known as 16A, to one of the most patriotic places in the country. Millions of people go every year to see the figures of former U.S. presidents, who laid a foundation for the country, carved in stone on Mount Rushmore.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake, one of the most spectacular lakes in the world, is the deepest in the U.S. with a measured depth of 1,949 feet. The water is so blue because there is hardly anything else in it - just water, according to the NPS. Boat tours, swimming, fishing, ranger talks, evening programs, camping, and other activities are offered. Explore old-growth forests or wildflower meadows, and climb mountains for great views of the lake.
Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee
The 1.8 miles are a significant stretch in the city's history, is the known as the “official home of the blues.” Back in the 20’s, the flourishing nightclubs, theaters, restaurants prospered alongside gambling, drinking, crime and voodoo. Enjoy the vibe and dance your heart out. See a Memphis jug band, Memphis blues or W.C. Handy Blues.
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville
Known as America’s largest home, George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre estate is nestled in the mountains of Asheville. The original plans in 1900 to create an inn never materialized while he was alive. The dream was finally realized with The Inn on Biltmore Estate, which offers guests a personal taste of Vanderbilt hospitality. It costs about $500 a night.
The White Horse Tavern, Rhode Island
This is America’s oldest tavern. It opened in 1673, back when the U.S. was a boisterous collection of English colonies and when taverns played an important role. The White Horse was a regular haunt for Colonists, British soldiers, Hessian mercenaries, pirates, sailors, founding fathers and all manner of early American folk.
Ice caves, Apostle Island National Park
They are located at the western end of the Mainland Unit of the park, in far northern Bayfield County. By February, an ice bridge may have formed to connect Sand Island to the mainland, according to the NPS. The lake surface is usually a frozen white expanse, which is a stunning view in itself. A dreamland of needlelike ice columns forms inside and they change every day.
Alcatraz Island offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse built fort on the West Coast, the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public, and the history making 18 month occupation by Indians of All Tribes, according to NPS. Rich in history, there is also a natural side to the Rock—gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay views beyond compare.
Bryce Canyon Amphitheater, Utah
This is by far the most visited section of Bryce Canyon National Park. It contains many of the most famous structures in the park. The Amphitheater is one of a series of “breaks” eroded into the eastern slope of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, according to Utah.com. Over millions of years, softer spots have eroded away. Harder rock has remained and has been chiseled by wind and water into interesting shapes – the cliffs, hoodoos and castles that make Bryce famous.
Na Pali Coast, Hawaii
This 17-mile stretch of coast on the island of Kauai is a national park with remote beauty and sheer cliffs. The caves and waterfalls around the cliffs can be explored via kayak, catamaran or raft, while the formidable 11-mile Kalalau foot trail allows for expeditions inland. Some describe it as one of the best hikes in the world.
Denali peak, Alaska
The magnificent Denali peak is the continent’s highest peak at 20,320 feet up close. This is coldest peaks on the planet, and most dangerous in the U.S., with temps dropping to -75 degrees in the winter. The best time to attempt to climb it is in May and June. Most people choose the West Buttress route.
Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park
The basin in Death Valley National Park is the lowest point in North America, with a depth of 282 feet below sea level. During your walk you’ll see something that looks like snow. It’s actually leftover salt from the evaporated water.
Jockey's Ridge in North Carolina
People living on the East Coast, who are looking to experience the desert, should head to Jockey’s Ridge. The park resembles the Sahara Desert, but is also on the shore of Roanoke Sound, according to the North Carolina Parks Department. Fantastic sunsets and the tallest sand dune on the Atlantic coast draw visitors from all over the country.
Paper House in Rockport, Massachusetts
The name cannot be more literal than this. The Paper House is an actual house made from newspaper. It was built by Mr. Elis F. Stenman, a mechanical engineer who designed the machines that make paper clips, began building his Rockport summer home out of paper as a hobby in 1922. The paper was meant to be good insulation. The furniture is also made from paper.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
Whitewater and smoothwater raft trips are a must-do in the Grand Canyon, a natural feature big enough to be seen from space. Hike the (dangerous) Bright Angel Trail, which leads hikers from the south rim down to the Colorado River, over the course of 9.5 miles. Visit the Grand Canyon Village for the best lodging options and take a bike tour to see the Grand Canyon on two wheels.
The Queen’s Bath in Hawaii
Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada
Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire
It is often referred to as “the Kanc.” Drive along the Kancamagus Highway and enjoy 35 miles of scenic byway displaying breathtaking scenery. Known as one of the best fall foliage viewing areas in the entire country, the road is a commerce-free climb past colonial farmhouses, scenic covered bridges, and miles of hardwood and evergreen forest.
Dunes Drive, White Sands National Monument in New Mexico
This 8-mile scenic road leads from the visitor center into the heart of the world's largest gypsum dunefield. The round-trip drive takes approximately 45 minutes, according to NPS. But you’ll definitely need more time to explore the dunes and learn about the natural and cultural history of the filed. The first five miles are paved and the last three miles are a hard-packed gypsum sand road. The road is suitable for cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, and buses.
Ash Cave in Ohio
It is the largest, most impressive recess cave in all of Ohio. You can see stunning displays of wildflowers on the valley year-round. The horseshoe-shaped cave measures 700 feet from end to end. It is 100 feet deep from the rear cave wall to its front edge with the rim rising 90 feet high.
Mohegan Bluffs in Rhode Island
Local always recommend that people go see the Mohegan Bluffs if they want a complete picture of Block Island. Standing about 150 feet above the beach below, the clay cliffs offer one of the most dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean in all of Rhode Island. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Montauk at the tip of Long Island.
Pearl Fryar Topiary Gardens in South Carolina
Hamilton Pool Preserve in Texas
The Palouse region in Washington
This is one of the Seven Wonders of Washington State. The region is the most serene and pastoral of them all. It is characterized by gentle rolling hills covered with wheat fields. Seen from the summit of 3,612 foot high Steptoe Butte, they look like giant sand dunes. They are lush shades of green in the spring.
Whitaker Point in Arkansas
Locals know it very well. The trail crosses over streams eventually leading to a crag overlooking Whitaker Creek and the Upper Buffalo Wilderness. It’s a 3-mile roundtrip that takes about an hour – or two because of the stunning views you’ll be stopping along the way to see.
The National Corvette Museum in Kentucky
This is “America's true sports car.” See over 80 Corvettes in periodic settings, including mint classics, one-of-a-kind prototypes and modern-day wonders of engineering and design. Test your knowledge at interactive trivia kiosks, and don’t miss the chance to try a Corvette on. Displays continually rotate so no two visits are the same.
Santa Rosa Blue Hole in New Mexico
This 82 feet deep gem is in the middle of a desert. Once known as Blue Lake, it is one of seven sister lakes connected underground by a vast system of water. Water always is in a land of little rain. The lake is unsurpassed for its clear, pure water.
NY Transit Museum in Brooklyn, New York
Want to see every kind of train that has been operating ever since the subway opened more than 100 years ago? NY Transit Museum is the place to be. Learn about the extraordinary engineering feats, workers who labored in the tunnels, and communities that were drastically transformed. Board the vintage cars, sit at the wheel of a city bus, and step through a time tunnel of turnstiles.
The Vista House in Oregon
From its surrounding vantage point 733 feet above the Columbia River, sightseers enjoy a step back in time. The Vista House was built as a rest stop observatory for travelers and as a fitting memorial honoring Oregon’s pioneers. The architect, Edgar M. Lazarus, had described it as “a temple to the natural beauty of the Gorge.”
Luray Caverns in Virginia
This is where you get to hear the haunting sounds of the world’s only Stalacpipe Organ. One of the most surreal caves in the world, they are located deep beneath Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. They are a U.S. Natural Landmark and the largest, as well as the most popular, caverns in Eastern America, according to Visit Shenandoah.
Freedom Trail in Boston
Walk the 2.5-mile long Freedom Trail in Boston and visit more than 15 colonial sites in this historic small state. Visit the museums and meetinghouses, see the old churches and burying grounds as well as the ship and historic markets. Learn about the rich history of the American Revolution; every step has a different story.
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
This is definitely one of the most famous, and most gorgeous, bridges in the world. The suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean is an iconic U.S. landmark. The name is even protected by Streets and Highway Code.
Grand Ole Opry in Nashville
If you are in Nashville you probably like country music. In that case, you absolutely must make it to the Grand Ole Opry. It hosts a concert once a week. Its nickname is “Time Square with a Southern flair.” It began as a simple radio broadcast in 1925. You’ll hear country legends as well as contemporary chart-toppers.