Protect Your Trip »

50 bucket list family adventure trips.

Forge lifelong memories on a one-of-a-kind journey together.

Family preparing to fish at lakeside below mountains.

(Getty Images) |

Take the kids on the transformative trip of a lifetime.

Whether you want to push your limits on a heart-pounding African safari, surf trip, ski retreat or national park vacation, there are plenty of boundary-pushing vacations well-suited for families of all ages, interests and budgets. While some places cater to clans craving enrichment with cultural cred and striking natural wonders, others lure thrill-seeking families in pursuit of adrenaline-pumping activities and wildlife encounters in far-flung locales. No matter your goal, the best memories will be "when you're taking in awe-inspiring sights and doing things you never knew were possible," says Leigh Barnes, the North America regional director at Intrepid Travel, an adventure outfitter. With that in mind, these 50 once-in-a-lifetime trips are guaranteed to give you – and the kids – a fresh perspective.

San Diego downtown skyline at sunrise with boat in harbor.

While San Diego may not spring to mind as an outside-the-box bucket list vacation destination, with ample opportunities to learn to surf along gentle breaks, a spectacular 70-mile coastline and an iconic zoo filled with 3,500 fascinating animals and a safari park in nearby Escondido, the Southern California hot spot is a crowd-pleasing playground for thrill-seekers of all ages. Head to La Jolla to take a lesson at an acclaimed surf school or catch pros skimming the waves. And for more leisurely outdoor exploration, tag along on a sailing lesson at Mission Bay Aquatic Center, visit Balboa Park or grab your camera and take family photos at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park as the sun goes down.

Hawaii, Oahu, Honolulu, Waikiki Beach

Oahu, Hawaii

You may associate the Aloha State with seaside landscapes, opulent hotels and secluded sands filled with honeymooners. But here's a secret: Oahu's famous North Shore offers plenty of unforgettable, action-packed experiences for adventure-loving broods. In winter, the area draws pro surfers with its massive swells. But if you arrive in summer, you can enjoy calmer waves and learn how to skim the waves together. At Turtle Bay Resort , you and the kids can enjoy private or group surf lessons, take guided surf tours, try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding or bond while kayaking, horseback riding or biking. After soaking in the great outdoors, check out must-see historical attractions, like 'Iolani Palace and Pearl Harbor in Honolulu.

Three sisters mountain cliffs in Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia.

In Sydney , you'll find rip-roaring adventures catering to every adventurer in your group. After visiting classic attractions such as the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach, embark on a kayaking expedition in the harbor or venture to Sydney Olympic Park, where you and the kids can swing across a zip line or take an archery lesson. For more thrilling pursuits, hike in the nearby Blue Mountains (about a two-hour train ride from Sydney), where you can marvel at the Three Sisters rock formation and inspiring waterfalls. And if you're traveling with animal lovers, you can't miss checking out the Australian Reptile Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (about an hour drive outside of the city), which houses kangaroos, koalas and wombats.

A woman ziplines in a rainforest in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica offers endless opportunities for exhilarating encounters in the wild. While daredevils may want to glide through a canopy of trees on a zip line, nature enthusiasts can take in enchanting butterfly farms or hike through lush rainforests. Jeremy Brady, the national sales manager at small-group adventure tour outfitter G Adventures, suggests Costa Rica for families with kids under age 10 looking for a blend of high-octane activity, cultural immersion and wildlife-viewing. Get your heart racing as you zip line or stroll along the misty Sky Walk (a hanging bridge) through Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, which teems with howler monkeys, colorful birds, sloths and 2,500 plant species. Then soak in the sunshine and surf along the Nicoya Peninsula.

Hikers at the end of the Harding Icefield trail. Kenai Fjords National Park

With dramatic glaciers, fascinating wildlife and awe-inspiring landscapes, Alaska captivates nature lovers of all ages. Whether you're dreaming of catching sight of the northern lights or cruising past glaciers and whale-filled waters in Kenai Fjords National Park, you have plenty of reasons to take the kids to Alaska. On National Geographic's eight-day Alaska: Denali to Kenai Fjords Family Expedition (from $5,845), you and your crew can take guided hikes to a ridgeline summit in Denali National Park and Preserve's interior and take a cruise through the Kenai Fjords, where sea lions, orca and gray and humpback whales are often spotted. After an exhilarating day outdoors, you can enjoy downtime at Denali Backcountry Lodge.

Bartolomé Island, Galápagos Islands.

The Galápagos

With its spellbinding landscapes and captivating creatures – from giant tortoises to penguins to sea lions – the Galápagos Islands have long enamored thrill-seekers in pursuit of one-of-a-kind wildlife adventures. Barnes highlights Charles Darwin's playground as an ideal choice for wildlife-loving broods looking for an off-the-beaten-track getaway. With Intrepid Travel's eight-day Galapagos Family Holiday package (prices start at $2,680), families can get an adrenaline rush as they "witness some of the rarest creatures in the world, snorkeling at one of the largest sea lion colonies, spotting giant tortoises and looking out for marine iguanas, whales, dolphins and sharks," Barnes explains. For unforgettable, up-close animal counters, you won't want to miss Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island or snorkeling near Santa Maria Island.

An aerial photo of Tunnels beach. Tunnels is located on Kauai's North Shore and is named after the 'tunnels' that snorkelers and divers can observe when navigating the reef.

Getty Images |

Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai may draw outdoorsy couples with its captivating coastlines and postcard-worthy sunsets, but the less-trodden tropical paradise isn't just a romantic hideaway. Budding thrill-seekers will find plenty of adrenaline-pumping pursuits to pique their interest, whether they're itching to try their hand at surfing at Hanalei Bay, traverse the Waimea Canyon or swim in the Queen's Bath, a lava rock-bordered tide pool on the island's north shore. Everett Potter, a columnist for Forbes and author of the website "Everett Potter's Travel Report," highlights sea kayaking, snorkeling and zip lining as classic adventure-filled recreational pursuits the whole crew will enjoy.

Washington DC, USA at the tidal basin with Washington Monument in spring season.

Washington, District of Columbia

Not just a mecca for high-profile politicians, the nation's capital offers world-class cultural attractions and a dizzying array of family-friendly museums, from the National Museum of History to the National Gallery of Art. Breaks from admiring the District's marbled monuments can include catching a show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and wandering along the Tidal Basin (arrive in spring to catch sight of pink-hued blooms draping the city). And for more thrilling escapades, venture 15 miles outside of the District to the Billy Goat Trail, where you can enjoy biking, climbing and hiking, or tack on a trip to Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, just 75 miles outside of the nation's capital.

Northwestern Montana's Rocky Mountains.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Get away from it all and soak in the snow-capped peaks, alpine glaciers and plummeting waterfalls on an epic family adventure in Glacier National Park. On Backroads' five-day Glacier Family Multi-Adventure Camping Tour (from $1,998 per person), horseback riding in Many Glacier Valley, peddling among glacier-sculpted valleys and taking in riveting vistas on Going-to-the-Sun Road are on the itinerary. If you would rather craft your own itinerary, a few must-sees include the Trail of the Cedars, which is suitable for all skill levels and is conveniently located near Lake McDonald Lodge, and Grinnell Glacier, a photogenic hike that weaves past Logan Pass. Best of all, youngsters can tag along a variety of ranger-guided programs, including snowshoe hikes in winter.

Iguazu waterfalls in Brazil.

Iguazú Falls, Brazil and Argentina

With 275 jaw-dropping waterfalls, UNESCO Heritage status and the chance to enjoy biologist-guided jungle treks and river kayaking expeditions, it's no wonder these cascading falls along the Argentina-Brazil border hold a firm place on the adventurer's bucket list. If you don't mind misty surroundings, consider visiting during the less in-demand rainy season (December to February). There are plenty of ways to experience the falls in their full glory, but for an upscale, stress-free option, consider embarking on an guided tour. At the new all-inclusive Awasi Iguazú, an eco-friendly resort, you can stay in a rainforest villa and take a guided excursion to the waterfalls and beyond.

Main Square, Hvar, Hvar Island, Dalmatia, Croatia, Europe

Croatia offers a winning blend of historical attractions, architectural gems and cinematic backdrops. For a memorable family adventure, Barnes highlights Croatia as an out-of-the-ordinary pick. Intrepid Travel's nine-day Croatia Family Holiday trip (from $2,195 per person) "takes families beyond Dubrovnik and guides them through less-visited but equally adventurous sites like the vineyards, olive groves and tranquil coves of Korčula Island, the Renaissance architecture and beautiful beaches of Hvar Island and the waterfront promenade of Split," he explains. If you're looking to up the thrill factor, take the kids to Krka National Park in central Dalmatia to marvel at striking waterfalls. And no trip would be complete without strolling through Dubrovnik's iconic Old City or checking out Diocletian's Palace in Split.

Autumn morning in the Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – the country's most popular national park, with roughly 10 million visitors each year – tempts adventurous families with seemingly endless opportunities to embrace the great outdoors. Whether you and the gang want to enjoy horseback riding, hiking or biking expeditions, there are a number of activities to keep you busy. For the ultimate bonding experience, time your trip for late May or early June, when 19 different species of fireflies flash in sync to create a bright flickering color against the evening sky at the Elkmont Campground. If you can't snag a pass, which are distributed via a lottery system, take the kids to other can't-miss attractions, such as the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and Grotto Falls.

People relaxing at the Blue Lagoon spa in Iceland.

With its geothermal hot springs, active volcanoes, iconic lagoon and surreal landscapes, it's no wonder Iceland holds a top spot on many traveler's lists. On Intrepid Travel's seven-day Summer Iceland Family Holiday trip (prices start at $2,850), you can soak in the country's spectacular natural attractions, from bubbling geysers to cascading waterfalls to icy glaciers. Highlights include meandering through a glacial lagoon, riding the rapids along the Hvita River (participants must be 11 or older) and trekking on a glacier in Skaftafell National Park. And though you and the kids might feel jet-lagged once you arrive, you can recharge in the Blue Lagoon before embarking on an adrenaline-fueled trip.

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

Dramatic coastlines, awe-inspiring parks (Acadia National Park, we’re looking at you) and rugged landscapes beckon to adventurers of all ages. Potter suggests embarking on a multiday sea kayaking trip on the coast of Maine for an unforgettable getaway. He highlights the 375-mile Maine Island Trail – a recreational water trail that links more than 200 isles and sites – as an especially worthwhile adventure. For more land-based excursions, take the kids to Acadia for heart-pounding hikes and bike rides. Trekking to the staggering 1,560-foot Cadillac Mountain, exploring the robust 57-mile network of carriage roads and snapping family photos at Otter Cliff are must-dos. After embracing the great outdoors together, kick back at a family-friendly hotel like Balance Rock Inn .

Iconic Queenstown cityscape at dusk, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

When it comes to choosing an action-packed family-friendly destination, it's hard to top this fun-loving city. Adventure junkies of all ages can unleash their inner daredevil with snowboarding, kayaking and biking. If you and the gang aren't afraid of heights, climb aboard the Skyline Queenstown, a mountain cable car that soars 1,500 feet and offers awe-inspiring vistas of Coronet Peak, Queenstown and the Remarkables from an observation area at Bob's Peak. In winter (June to September in the Southern Hemisphere), you can enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding at the Remarkables, located about 15 miles from Queenstown. And in summer, consider paragliding with a reputable company, such as GForce Paragliding, Coronet Peak or Skytrek.

Lagoa do Fogo, aka Fire Lake, is a crater lake on Sao Miguel, Azores. It is the highest lake on Sao Miguel and is in a nature reserve.

The Azores, Portugal

While most jet-setters have heard of Lisbon, the Azores ' under-the-radar archipelago offers unique experiences for nature-loving families. Barnes highlights Intrepid Travel's eight-day Azores Family Holiday trip (from $2,610) as ideal for those who want to "visit working farms where agriculture is a core part of the local economy, hike up majestic volcanoes and swim with dolphins off the coast of São Miguel [Island]." If you would prefer to travel on your own, head to São Miguel to explore natural geothermal springs or make your way to Pico, which boasts a 7,700-foot summit – the highest in the country. For more relaxing outdoor pursuits, visit Varadouro, a coastal town on Faial Island with a craggy coastline and black basalt rock-framed pools.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Switzerland

For a quintessential active alpine getaway – complete with hikes to snow-capped peaks, glacial lakes and serene meadows – add Switzerland to your travel list. Adventure travel company Backroads offers a six-day Switzerland Family Walking & Hiking Tour during the summer season (from $4,498 per person), where you can admire glistening glaciers and enchanting waterfalls, explore Zermatt (and take in awe-inspiring vantage points of the Matterhorn) and explore Gornergletscher glacier's ice field. While the hikes are challenging, you and the gang will be accompanied by experts. Plus, at the end of each day, you can retreat to upscale accommodations, making it an ideal choice if you're looking to experience the Swiss Alps in comfort.

Samburu National Reserve

Nairobi, Kenya

Few family adventure trips can rival spending a week on a dreamy safari. If you're traveling with budding wildlife lovers, splurge for a stay at one of the Elephant Watch Camp's eco-friendly tents within the Samburu National Reserve. Dedicated guides at the camp highlight elephants passing by and offer immersive activities, such as treks to the Ol Doinyo Mountain, walks with Samburu warriors, game drives and camel treks. Aside from roaming elephants, leopards, cheetahs, lions, zebras and giraffes are often spotted across the 70-square-mile reserve.

Aerial view of Macchu Picchu ruins in remote landscape, Cusco, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

For intrepid families, Peru is a must-see bucket list destination, Brady says. After all, it's hard to match taking an expert-guided tour through the Amazon, Machu Picchu and Cusco. On G Adventures' nine-day Peru Family Experience (starting at $1,999 per person), participants ages 3 and up can raft, kayak, hike and bike on a naturalist-led tour in the Amazon jungle before taking the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu to catch sight of the "lost city of the Incas" and admire sacred temples and agriculture areas. After taking in commanding views of Machu Picchu's ruins, visitors can enjoy other must-see attractions in Cusco like the Sacsayhuamán ruins or explore the lively Plaza de Armas.

Italy, Cinque Terre, Manarola, Townscape at sunset

Cinque Terre, Italy

Imagine waking up to colorful cliff-side villages gazing over the Ligurian Sea and spending your days exploring together as you soak in breathtaking backdrops followed by pizza and gelato. While Cinque Terre 's cluster of five villages may be a popular romantic retreat, the charming small towns afford a once-in-a-lifetime family adventure as you hike from village to village. Though some treks are steep and not well-suited for novices or the faint of heart, fret not because you and the kids can opt to board a train or arrange a private boat tour. Consider booking a private tour with a venerable outfitter like Country Walkers to hike along olive-flanked paths, snorkel in the Ligurian and trek to medieval castles without sweating the details.

Tanah Lot temple in Bali

Jetting off to Bali with your brood to explore sacred temples and towering volcanoes might not seem like a practical family getaway, but with many immersive activities geared toward the young – and the young at heart – there are plenty of draws for planning the trip of a lifetime. With Intrepid Travel's Bali Family Holiday with Teenagers package, travelers can stay active with heart-pounding adventures, Barnes says. "In between snorkeling, hiking and whitewater rafting, take part in cultural excursions like chocolate-making at a Balinese factory [on the tour]," he says. If you would rather arrange your own itinerary, don't miss taking the kids to Uluwatu Temple or getting acquainted with Sumatran elephants at Elephant Safari Park.

The quays in Dublin City, Ireland at dawn with the sky reflected in the River Liffey.

With dramatic cliffs, ancient ruins and picturesque trails, the Emerald Isle is an adventure-lover's playground. After getting your culture fix in Dublin, take the kids to a real-life fairy tale by staying and sleep over in one of Ireland's enchanting castles. At the sprawling 450-acre Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate in County Clare, the whole crew can partake in archery, falconry, tennis, mountain biking and other recreational pursuits. And at the 800-year-old Ashford Castle, you can up the family fun factor with zip lining, carriage rides, falconry, horseback riding and other kid-friendly pursuits. After embracing the great outdoors, little ones ages 12 and under can get pampered with personalized bedtime story books, homemade cookies and even a LEGO menu.

 Jotunheimen National Park

Jaw-dropping landscapes punctuated by scenic fjords and magnificent glaciers tempt nature enthusiasts of all ages and interests to jet off to Norway. With G Adventures' seven-day Norwegian Fjord Trekking excursion (from $2,299), participants ages 12 and up can take a guided hike along the frosty Buer Glacier and explore the Trolltonga Troll's Tongue formation, which rises 2,300 feet over Lake Ringedalsvatnet. And while even finicky teens will be hard-pressed to find a reason not to immerse themselves in their surroundings, other draws for planning an action-packed trip to Norway include the chance to spot reindeer at Jotunheimen National Park and admire walruses and polar bears in Svalbard, nestled between Norway and the North Pole.

Two leopards on tree watching tourists in jeep.

South Africa

If an African safari is on your bucket list, journey to Kruger National Park with a reputable outfitter that can guide you to pristine game reserves to spot the Big Five: lions, Cape buffalos, leopards, rhinoceroses and elephants. Brady highlights a 12-day G Adventures expedition in partnership with National Geographic Journeys (starting at $3,059 per person) from Cape Town to Victoria Falls as especially enticing. Guided by a knowledgeable expert, participants can marvel at penguins on Cape Town's Boulders Beach and take the picturesque wildlife safari drive in Kruger National Park to spot giraffes, lions and elephants. Spectacular wildlife-viewing aside, the trip offers the chance to explore Victoria Falls by kayak, river safari, canoe or whitewater rafting expedition.

Dordogne, France

If you want to raise culture-loving kids, it's a great idea to skip across the pond to Paris. But if you've already gotten your art fix at world-renowned institutions in the City of Light, such as the Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, skip Paris and take in an active getaway in the lesser-known Dordogne region in southwest France (about a 90-minute drive east of Bordeaux), which teems with castles, caves and storybook châteauxs. Youngsters will enjoy exploring the labyrinth-like gardens of Marqueyssac, checking out the 25 painted caves and 147 prehistoric sites in the Vézère Valley and releasing any pent-up energy cycling, canoeing and hiking in one of 33 parks and gardens in the area.

People rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River through deep canyons. Idaho, USA.

A trip along the Salmon River is a guaranteed one-of-a-kind adventure trip for all ages, Potter says. Along the Salmon River, you'll create long-lasting memories as you plummet through Class III rapids. The best way to experience the area's inspiring desert scenery on a heart-racing rafting expedition is with an experienced outfitter like O.A.R.S., he adds. The company offers four- and five-day trips on the lower Salmon River. If you're a first time rafter, consider the company's Gorges of the Lower Salmon River Rafting Trip (from $899 per person), which is designed for ages 7 and up. By day, you can enjoy whitewater rafting, swimming, paddleboarding and wildlife spotting, and after dark you can bond beneath the stars at riverside campsites.

Family riding ski chairlift and waving at viewer

Vail, Colorado

If your family comprises avid powder hounds and snow bunnies, Vail should top your travel bucket list. You and the gang can enjoy the ultimate snowboarding and ski break at Vail Ski Resort. And after shredding powder, take the kids to the Eagles Nest Wilderness or venture to neighboring Beaver Creek for kid-friendly activities like nature hikes from the Beaver Creek Nordic Center. Best of all, the area offers a variety of family-friendly accommodation options, from the Sonnenalp , which offers movie nights and arts and crafts at its kids club, and The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch , which offers marshmallow roasting around a fire pit and a Ritz Kids program with ski lessons, photography, scavenger hunts and other activities.

Cityscrape waterfront reflection image of Tokyo with skyscrapers and Tokyo Sky tree illuminated, Tokyo, Japan.

With world-renowned attractions – from Kyoto's iconic Buddhist temples to Tokyo's neon-lit cityscapes and skyscrapers – Japan's best places to visit beckon to culture-loving globetrotters of all ages. Barnes highlights Intrepid Travel's 11-day Japan Family Holiday (from $4,910 per person) as an especially memorable adventure. On the trip, travelers "can take part in activities few have the chance to experience, such as cooking okonomiyaki on a Tokyo Bay boat cruise, taking a dip in the soothing waters of the onsen (Japanese hot spring baths) in Hakone and learning the art of calligraphy," he explains. If you're craving more memorable experiences, take on a few extra days in Tokyo to check out can't-miss gems, such as the Sensoji Temple, the Imperial Palace and the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

Niagara falls

Niagara Falls, Canada

Thrill-seeking families in search of impressive waterfalls will be hard-pressed to find a more dramatic photo op than Niagara Falls . And while you should expect tourist kitsch (and heavy crowds), the magnificent natural wonder is a quintessential bucket list attraction for good reason. Whether you want to see the striking falls on a Maid of the Mist boat tour for a spray-filled ride to Horseshoe Falls or from a sky-high observation with a Journey Behind the Falls tour, there are many ways to experience the falls in all their splendor. Beyond the falls, check out kid-friendly attractions such as Niagara SkyWheel and Old Fort Niagara.

bucket list trips for families

Morocco charms visitors with its colorful markets in Marrakesh, its dramatic dune-filled desert landscapes in the Sahara and its elaborate architecture in Casablanca. For a one-of-a-kind, action-packed trip – that doesn't require a small fortune – Barnets highlights a budget-friendly Morocco Family Holiday eight-day itinerary. The tour (starting at $665) includes camel riding along sandy dunes, exploring the iconic Djemaa el Fna main square and taking a respite at Zaouit Ifergane, a relaxing oasis with swaying palms. Carve out extra time in Marrakesh for plenty of kid-friendly enticements, such as treasure hunting for souvenirs and catching performances at lively bazaar market stalls, admiring the ornate mosaics at El Badi Palace and strolling through the cacti-filled Le Jardin Majorelle.

Frederiksborg Castle

With its dramatic cliffs, striking fjords and plunging waterfalls, Denmark offers plenty of thrilling diversions for adventurous families. Aside from checking out Copenhagen's must-sees, such as the Little Mermaid statue, the Tivoli Gardens and Strøget, you and the kids can retreat to the enchanting Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød or walk among the cinematic cliffs flanking the isle of Møn's eastern coastline. On National Geographic Expeditions' nine-day Denmark and Norway Family Expedition, suited for ages 7 and up (starting at $6,590), highlights include peddling in the mountains outside of Bergen, learning about Scandinavia's fascinating seafaring heritage with an expert archaeologist, taking the Flåm Railway from Oslo to Myrdal and embarking on a scenic cruise along Sognefjord.

Parthenon

For a mix of art, history, ancient ruins and idyllic beaches, embark on an unforgettable odyssey in Greece. Make Athens your home base for visiting must-see attractions such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Or if you would rather leave the logistics to an expert, consider booking National Geographic Expeditions' 10-day round-trip Greece Family Expedition for ages 7 and up (starting at $5,990 per person). The trip includes guided tours at iconic attractions in Athens, sightseeing in Delphi and a stop in Santorini – the volcanic isle known for its striking cliff-side sunsets, blue domes and whitewashed buildings. Even better, youngsters can enjoy cultural immersion with the Kid-to-Kid Connection program, where participants can interact with Greek locals and participate in hands-on activities.

The Great Holy Relics Pagoda Nabhapolbhumisiri, North of Thailand in the Chiangmai Province.

When you imagine Thailand, picture-perfect beaches, golden temples and opulent resorts may spring to mind. But the country's diverse landscapes, lush forests and lively markets beckon to fickle teens looking for blend of culture and adventure. On Intrepid Travel's 11-day Highlights of Thailand tour for participants ages 15 and up (starting at $1,795), you and the kids can enjoy an interactive cooking lesson in Chiang Mai, cycle past ancient ruins and visit Friends of Asian Elephant, a hospital that aims to protect animal welfare in a safe habitat in Sukhothai. For a more adrenaline-fueled journey, consider embarking on an eight-day biking expedition with outfitter Backroads that weaves past temples and rice fields in the Golden Triangle.

A young woman walks up a narrow stair set winds down to a overlook of Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Yellowstone National Park

One of the America's most prized national parks, Yellowstone's striking natural wonders and surreal geothermal features, from its bubbling hot springs to its rust-colored canyon walls, entice visitors of all ages to embrace the great outdoors. And with versatile wildlife-viewing opportunities and more than 3,000 square miles of waterfalls, canyons and geysers, Yellowstone offers plenty of ways for adventure-seekers to experience its sprawling natural playground. A fun, family-friendly way to take in the park is with a rafting trip along the Yellowstone River or an expert-led backcountry hike. If you want to stay at one of Yellowstone's lodges, you can enjoy other bonding experiences like dinner cookouts around a crackling campfire.

Pyrenees

The Pyrenees, Andorra and Spain

Forget the Alps. For an awe-inspiring, heart-pounding hike, consider an out-of-the-ordinary trip in the Pyrenees, the beautiful mountain region tucked between Spain and France. Barnes highlights Intrepid Travel's eight-day Summer Pyrenees Family Holiday package (starting at $895) as a choice option. On the trip, designed for ages 10 and older, activities include whitewater rafting, zip lining, biking and hiking. Highlights include peddling to Engolasters Lake in the Cortals Valley and embarking on an exhilarating whitewater rafting journey across the border in Spain from the village of Sort ("luck" in Catalan). If you have a stringent budget, the off-the-beaten-path, bucket-list adventure is attached to a reasonable all-inclusive rate that includes accommodations, meals, daily activities and transportation.

Wild elephants in Tanzania.

Tanzania, East Africa

If you're traveling with wildlife lovers, you may be hard-pressed to come up with a more memorable family vacation than a safari. On Intrepid Travel's eight-day Tanzania Family Safari (from $2,095 per person), "families can take a safari across the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater for a chance to watch the endangered black rhinoceros in their natural habitat," Barnes says. "They can see an astounding array of animals in the Serengeti National Park, too, and pass through the ancient homeland of the Maasai," he adds. Aside from game drives at dawn, educational opportunities abound, including learning about the Great Rift Valley, the destination for the Great Migration, when about 2 million wildebeest, gazelles and zebras traverse the Serengeti.

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo

Borneo, Malaysia

Animal-loving families in search of the ultimate off-the-beaten-track wilderness adventure should consider venturing to Borneo. "In Borneo, families have the chance to see animals up close at an orangutan rehabilitation center, a monkey sanctuary and a bear conservation center," he explains. On Intrepid Travel's 10-day Classic Borneo itinerary for ages 10 and up (prices start at $2,074 per person), you can meet traipse through jungles and float along the Kinabatangan River, which is home to macaques and orangutans, among other fascinating creatures. "Families will stay at an eco-camp in the thick of the jungle and will enjoy a homestay in a Malay village," he adds. Other bucket-list worthy highlights include exploring an authentic tea plantation and snorkeling near Manakan Island to admire colorful coral and tropical fish.

Cowboys riding a horse over the mountains

For quality family bonding time in the great outdoors, Potter suggests taking youngsters to a dude ranch out West. Lone Mountain Ranch in Montana, which is tucked between Big Sky and Yellowstone, is an especially attractive choice for broods with its wide range of kid-friendly activities, including cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, horseback riding, mountain biking, fly-fishing and white-water rafting. "The trails are incredibly well-groomed," Potter adds. If you're planning a summer escape, consider the Summer Discovery Package, which includes a tour of Yellowstone, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, horseback riding, all meals and an Outdoor Youth Adventures Program designed for ages 4 to 12, where kids can connect with like-minded peers and enjoy age-appropriate activities.

Landscape Arch in the Arches National Park, Utah, United States.

You – and the kids – have seen dreamy pictures of the spectacular sandstone rock formations and iconic domes, buttes and arches in Utah's five famed national parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef. For an outdoor adventure the kids won't soon forget, head to Arches to admire one of the 2,000 famed spires the park is known for, such as Delicate Arch and Balanced Rock. For more unforgettable backdrops, check out Bryce's surreal hoodoo rock formations, or if you're feeling brave, hike the challenging Narrows in Zion National Park. Consider making nearby Moab your base camp to enjoy ample opportunities for stargazing, hiking, biking and rafting, among other outdoor escapades.

Taj Mahal on a sunny day with beautiful sky

Northern India

Northern India offers the right mix of captivating landscapes, iconic attractions and fascinating wildlife, catering to explorers and culture vultures of all ages. On Intrepid Travel's 10-day Northern India Family Holiday expeditions (starting at $1,080 per person), you can cross plenty of world-renowned attractions off your bucket list, from the Taj Mahal in Agra to India Gate in New Delhi to the elaborate City Palace in Jaipur. The trip also includes a stop at Ranthambore National Park, where you can meander past storied temples and embark on early morning game drives to look out for antelope, leopards, gazelle and Bengal tigers. If you have extra time, tack on a few extra days to experience Delhi's vibrant bazaars and attractions.

Sayulita, Mexico

Sayulita, Mexico

Sayulita – the little-known surf town along the Pacific that's often overshadowed by popular Puerto Vallarta – is a dreamy escape for an off-the-beaten-track adventure trip removed from heavy tourist crowds. Aspiring surfers can take lessons along the beach with reputable surf schools like Lunazul Surf School & Shop. And for more exhilarating adventures, take the kids on a jungle biking trip with outfitter Wild Mex Wilderness and Surf Mexpeditions, which offers tours geared toward moderate and advanced riders. Other outdoor activities can include soaring through treetops on a zip line in the Sierra Madre forest, beachside yoga and snorkeling. Wrap up your days with a stay at an authentic casita vacation rental or boutique hotel like Villa Amor.

Tasmania

Tasmania, Australia

For some of the best nature- and wildlife-viewing on earth, take the kids to Oz. With sublime backdrops, unique geological features and diverse wildlife (think: wallabies and Tasmanian devils), Tasmania offers an extraordinary trip for adventurers of all kinds. You and the kids can sprawl along sandy beaches and admire striking granite mountains before hitting the trails at Freycinet National Park, including the challenging but rewarding Wineglass Bay Lookout trail. For less adrenaline-pumping pursuits, consider venturing to the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, near Hobart, where you can feed the local four-legged residents and admire other animals, like kangaroos. Paddling by kayak along Coles Bay at sunset with a reputable outfitter like Freycinet Adventures also offers a memorable outdoor excursion.

Beautiful, magnificent view of Pitons in St Lucia, seen from hotel restaurant at top of island.

On the surface, St. Lucia, with its palm-lined beaches, lavish resorts and rum cocktails, may not seem like an ideal destination for families. But don't let its romantic reputation throw you off. Outdoorsy travelers of all ages will enjoy adrenaline-fueled rainforest hikes, treks to the Piton Mountains and touring the island's active drive-in volcano at Sulfur Springs Park. If you're looking to splurge, consider taking your crew to Anse Chastanet (open to guests ages 10 and up or 6 years or older from July to September), a luxury resort that boasts room with plenty of age-appropriate activities, from jungle biking to guided hikes to open-water dives at the surrounding marine reserve.

Antarctica

If you're looking for a transformative, off-the-grid trip, a cruise to Antarctica should top your travel list. The adventure-focused cruise line Hurtigruten offers voyages from the Drake Passage to the Antarctica Peninsula. And travelers get the chance to hike along remote, unspoiled landscapes, marvel at melting icebergs and admire Gentoo penguins, leopard seals and other fascinating creatures. On the 14-day Frozen Land of the Penguins itinerary, youngsters ages 7 to 13 can also learn about the geological makeup of the Southern Ocean, join sustainable-driven community services onshore and attend enriching historical, environmental and wildlife-focused educational lecture series centered on climate change with the Young Explorers Program.

Horizontal view of famous Grand Canyon at sunrise, horizontal view

Grand Canyon National Park

If you're searching for an inspiring outdoor adventure in one of America's prized national parks, the Grand Canyon is a no-brainer. Marveling at the crimson- and ochre-hued, 277-mile-long chasm and soaking in its natural and geological splendors is nothing if not enchanting. Potter suggests planning a whitewater rafting trip along the Colorado River with a reputable guide to give kids the chance to experience the grandeur, striking side canyons and streams of the Grand Canyon. On O.A.R.'s five-day Grand Canyon Rafting – Whitmore Wash to Lake Mead (starting at $2,440 per person), participants ages 7 and up can hike, horseback ride and take a helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Vancouver, British Columbia

If you want a mix of cosmopolitan gems and outdoor wilderness on your next family getaway, set your sights on Vancouver, where daily activities can include everything from learning to surf to soaring over the peaks of Grouse Mountain on a zip line tour. For less extreme but equally stimulating adventures, take a canopy walk along the 450-foot-long, 230-foot-high Capilano Suspension Bridge, where you can admire striking evergreens and forest and river vistas as you traverse seven suspended footbridges. If you would rather stay on terra firma, bike or walk in Stanley Park, pausing at Brockton Point to marvel at the totem poles. When you need a break, recharge at Granville Island Public Market.

Camel in front of the treasury or Al Khazna, it is the most magnificant and famous facade in Petra Jordan, it is 40 meters high.

Petra has long attracted history lovers and serious daredevils. After all, it's the iconic setting from the 1989 hit "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." On Intrepid Travel's eight-day Jordan Family Holidays (starting at $1,435), you'll get off the beaten track and "journey beyond Petra to Wadi Rum on a four-wheel-drive safari," Barnes says. Plus, travelers have "the chance to camp in the middle of the desert under the stars," he adds. The trip begins in Amman Jordan, continues onward to Jerash for a hike weaving past ruins dating back more than 2,000 years, then on to Petra and Wadi Rum to take in spectacular rock formations, before wrapping up at the Dead Sea.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

For an outside-the-box adventure in Southeast Asia, Brady highlights Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand as choice destinations. Whether you want to trek through the Cardamom Mountains, admire the ancient temples at Angkor Wat or explore Phnom Penh's outdoor markets, there are plenty of inspiring landscapes and historical attractions to cross off your list. On G Adventures' 17-day Essential Vietnam & Cambodia trip (starting at $1,959), participants ages 12 and up cruise along the Mekong Delta in Ho Chi Minh City, float in a junk boat on Halong Bay and visit the Angkor Wat temple complex. Best of all, the guided trip caters to novice hikers, with light walking and hiking.

The picturesque Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, dominated by the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains on the north part of the Gobi Desert.

Trekking to Mongolia with kids on a nomadic adventure offers an unforgettable vacation. With the 14-day Discover Mongolia G Adventures trip in partnership with National Geographic Journeys (from $4,199), activities include visiting the Flaming Cliffs paleontology site, marveling at Mongolia's wild horses at Hustai National Park and touring the Erdene Zhu monastery with a Buddhist monk. Best of all, the trip offers plenty of learning components with educational lectures and visits to camel-herding families. And Mongolia's remote and diverse landscapes – from the isolated dunes in the Gobi Desert to the dramatic Altai mountains, green valleys and striking gorges in Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park – do not disappoint.

Whale in the ocean.

(M.M. Sweet | Getty Images)

Sea of Cortez, Mexico

For a one-of-a-kind outdoor excursion, consider sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, Potter says. The venerable travel outfitter O.A.R.S. offers a Baja Sea Kayaking and Whale Watching expedition that includes a mix of paddling near the cliff-flanked coast of Espíritu Santo, swimming with sea lions at a rookery and whale spotting at Magdalena Bay as Pacific gray whales migrate from the Arctic. On the nine-day trip (from $1,395 per person), you can also catch sight of sea turtles, dolphins and manta rays and paddle on an expert-led kayaking excursion before exploring rugged sand dunes along the Baja coast. Best of all, guests of all ages can stay engaged after the sun goes down with evening lectures.

More From U.S. News

bucket list trips for families

50 Unexpected Family-Friendly Vacations

bucket list trips for families

50 Off-Season Vacation Ideas

bucket list trips for families

50 American Adventures in 50 States

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

You May Also Like

The best carry-on backpacks.

Rachael Hood , Erin Evans , Catriona Kendall , Amanda Norcross and Leilani Osmundson March 29, 2024

bucket list trips for families

Best Chicago Boat Tours

Holly Johnson and Marisa Méndez March 29, 2024

bucket list trips for families

The Best Alaska Cruises for Families

Gwen Pratesi March 29, 2024

bucket list trips for families

The 14 Best Maui Tours

John Rodwan March 28, 2024

bucket list trips for families

Monos vs. Away Comparison Charts

Rachael Hood and Amanda Norcross March 28, 2024

bucket list trips for families

The Best Weekender Bags for Women

Rachael Hood , Erin Evans , Catriona Kendall , Amanda Norcross and Leilani Osmundson March 27, 2024

bucket list trips for families

What to Pack in a Carry-on Bag

Rachael Hood March 27, 2024

bucket list trips for families

15 Best Nashville Tours

Lyn Mettler March 26, 2024

bucket list trips for families

The Best NYC Helicopter Rides and Tours

bucket list trips for families

The 6 Best Kauai Helicopter Tours

Holly Johnson and Marisa Méndez March 25, 2024

bucket list trips for families

The Global Wizards – Travel Blog

Family Travel Bucket List: 50 ideas for the best family adventures

Our family travel bucket list ideas such as Krabi in Thailand with kids

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Please read our affiliate disclosure and privacy policy for more information

Who doesn’t like a bucket list? I’m guilty! Can’t resist reading a “list of things to do before I die”! And since we travel with our kids, I absolutely wanted to have our own family travel bucket list !

We took the time to sit together and listen to each other’s ultimate bucket list ideas. And we came up with our top 50 family adventures . Trips and experiences we want to do with our kids before they grow up. These are just a part of all our ideas, but we have to start somewhere!

Some ideas might be easy to fulfil, others are far more out of reach. But one step at a time, I am convinced we will achieve (almost) all the items on our family travel bucket list!

The list will be updated constantly. Every time we can check an item on our list, we’ll add a picture and link to our family adventure article.

Some amazing travel ideas with kids we forgot? Feel free to leave us a comment and maybe we can add it to our family travel bucket list!

Table of Contents

Our Family Travel Bucket List

1. watch an erupting volcano in guatemala or hawaii, 2. swim with whales in tonga, 3. explore uluru in australia and learn about the aboriginals.

Sunset by Uluru or Ayers Rock with kids in the Outback of Australia

In 2018, we did a road trip for 3 months in Australia . During our epic journey through the outback on the Stuart Highway from Darwin to Adelaide, we stopped for 3 days at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Read more: Stuart Highway: an epic outback adventure

Everything about this place exceeded our expectations! There is something special about the area. If you come here, take your time to explore the area. Do the base walk, learn about the indigenous culture, indulge yourself in the magic, …

Uluru certainly deserves its place on any family travel bucket list!

Read more: Travel Diary: Stuart Highway and Uluru

Check different tours and activities around Uluru here.

4. Buy a converted bus and road trip from Alaska to Mexico

5. see the northern light, 6. visit the faroe islands, 7. road trip with an original kombi campervan, 8. take one of the great railways, such as the transmongolien express, the amtrak railway across the usa or the old ghan railway, 9. visit jerusalem.

Discovering Jerusalem with kids is a family travel bucket list idea

During our second visit to Israel in 2017, we had the chance to explore Jerusalem. It was everything we hoped for!

Jerusalem breaths history and religion and the kids learned a lot on the subject. But we also enjoyed the vibrant streets, colourful markets and lovely restaurants and bars.

Check different tours and activities in Jerusalem here.

10. Stay at Giraffe Manor

11. experience dia de los muertos in mexico, 12. learn how to surf.

Bucket list experience family surfing lesson at Surfers Paradise Gold Coast Australia

During our stay in Australia in 2018, we got our first surfing experience. It had been on our list for a long time and finally, we got the chance to try it out, at Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast of Australia, of all places!

Together with Go Ride a Wave we took a beginners family surfing lesson. Boy did we have fun! If you have never done this, we can highly recommend it! Should be on every family travel bucket list!

Read more: Our first family surfing lesson with Go Ride a Wave

13. Explore Yellowstone National Park

14. visit machu picchu in peru, 15. travel through italy with an original vespa, 16. island hop between the greek islands, 17. take a cruise to an exotic location, 18. volunteer as a family at a wildlife conservation centre, 19. go camel trekking in the sahara and spend the night under the stars with the berbers in the desert., 20. sail to the galapagos islands and discover the wildlife, 21. spend a night in an overwater bungalow in an exotic location such as the maldives, fiji or bora bora, 22. watch gorillas in their natural habitat, 23. spot wildlife in borneo.

Bako National Park Proboscis Monkey Borneo Wildlife

In 2018, we visited Malaysian Borneo and spotted lots of wildlife in Bako National Park and during our 3D/2N Kinabatangan River experience . We spotted the orangutan, proboscis monkey, saltwater crocodile and many more!

The kids absolutely love this family adventure. We can highly recommend Borneo with kids for your next family trip!

Read more: other articles about Malaysia and Borneo

Check different tours and activities in Borneo here.

24. Road trip through Iceland

25. visit the great wall near beijing, 26. do a horse trekking in mongolia, 27. trek to the mount everest base camp and stay overnight, 28. explore the temples of angkor in cambodia.

The temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia are a family travel bucket list experience

In 2008, we already visited Angkor as a couple. The kids, however, didn’t have the chance to see these amazing temples. So we definitely want to go back.

29. See the Taj Mahal by sunset

30. discover the amazon rainforest, 31. float in the dead sea.

Floating in the Death Sea with kids in Israel

Friends of ours lived in Israel for a few years, and we got to visit them two times. During both our trips, we drove to the Dead Sea to explore this strange environment.

Floating in the Dead Sea is a special experience, it deserves its spot on this family travel bucket list. The mud baths afterwards were lots of fun as well.

I have to be honest though, you have to be careful with young kids. They can’t have the water in their eyes and if they have any little wounds, that will hurt!

Our youngest had a lot of mosquito bites (scratched open) and these bites started to hurt a lot when she entered the salty water. But in the end, she did have a lot of fun! So if you have the chance, definitely come over here!

Check different tours and activities around the Dead Sea here.

32. Visit Tibet

33. stay on a ranch in the usa or australia, 34. dive the great barrier reef, 35. drive from chicago to la alongside the old route 66, or what’s left of it..

Travelling along Route 66 with kids in the US

Route 66 can’t be missed on any travel bucket list. We didn’t drive all the way down from Chicago to LA, but we did do a part of the legendary Route 66 with our 11-month old daughter in 2011.

The part we did was promising, so we’ll have to come back with our daughters to do the whole route.

36. Visit New England in the fall

37. visit harry potter at universal studios, 38. see the cherry blossoms in japan, 39. do a family safari in africa, 40. road trip through australia with our own 4wd with rooftop tent or bus.

Litchfield National Park 4WD with rooftop tent

Going to Australia had been a dream for quite a while. Doing so with our own jeep or bus even more! So when we landed in Darwin in 2018, ready for a 3-month road trip, we were very excited to buy our own jeep with a rooftop tent.

Although it didn’t all go according to plan (we had a car break down and were stuck for three weeks in Katherine ), we loved our time in Australia and can’t wait to go back to Australia. This time we want to buy ourselves a Toyota Coaster and explore Western Australia and the tropical North End. To be continued…

Read more: All of our articles about Australia

41. Visit Lapland during Christmas or wintertime

42. explore antarctica, 43. experience dog sledding in one of the scandinavian countries, iceland or alaska, 44. travel along the silk road through uzbekistan and kazachstan, 45. do a road trip through new zealand.

We find a Kiwi sign on our road trip through New Zealand with kids

New Zealand is about as far as we can go from our home country Belgium and had been on our family travel bucket list for a long time. So we were very happy to explore the North and South Island of New Zealand for 5 weeks in total in 2019.

It has been one of our most interesting and amazing trips ever! On the South Island, nature is simply breathtaking. On the North Island, we learned a lot about volcanos, thermal activity and geysers. And of course, we tried to find a Kiwi!

Read more: Our articles about New Zealand

46. Take a cruise through Halong Bay in Vietnam

47. rent our own island for a couple of days, 48. fly a hot air balloon through cappadocia in turkey or bagan in myanmar, 49. walk on salar de uyuni in bolivia, 50. island hop in hawaii.

Other articles you may like:

The ultimate guide to family travel on a budget

How to improve your family vacation pictures: 25 tips

The best family travel planning resources and inspiration

Share on Pinterest

Want to remember this family travel bucket list for later? Pin it to one of your favourite boards here or click on the image!

Our 50 best family travel bucket list destinations with kids

Related Posts

Plan Long Term Trip Kids The Global Wizards

10 essential steps for planning long term travel with kids

Travel Apps General Best Blog

10 Best Travel Apps for 2021

Best Family Travel Podcasts 2019 Inspiration

10 Family Travel Podcasts you should listen to

Travel Family Families Fulltime Vlog Video Youtube

Our Favourite Travel Families On Youtube in 2019

1 thought on “family travel bucket list: 50 ideas for the best family adventures”.

#44 Is one of our dreams, probably just the two of us?

Leave a Comment Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Privacy Overview

Love Life Abroad

23 Bucket List Trips for Families Who Love the Outdoors

Are you looking for the perfect bucket list trips for your family?

I get it! As an adventure family, our family adventure bucket list keeps getting longer and longer.

There are so many amazing places to discover around the world that it can be hard to decide where to go. The more I plan trips, the more I want to go explore the entire world with my kids.

Having a bucket list for family trips helps plan future adventures, but it’s also perfect for daydreaming.

It’s why, with the help of other traveling families, we’ve listed amazing family adventures for your bucket list.

So, let’s start dreaming with some family travel bucket list ideas around the world.

Disclaimer: Just a heads up, this free article contains affiliate links . If you purchase after clicking one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost . Also, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Your support helps me continue to provide helpful and free content for you .

family-travel-bucket-list

USA Family Vacation Bucket List Trips

Below is the family bucket list of some of the best USA family vacations to add to your bucket list. From swimming with stingrays to discovering national parks and road-tripping across the Western USA , your family will love the following ideas.

If you are looking for unique outdoor family adventures in the USA, check out our article here .

 1. Swim With Stingrays in Grand Cayman

Suggested by Chantelle Kincy from Flannels or Flip Flops

A stingray swims in blue water, its wings moving up and down smoothly.

Stingray City is a sandbar located 25 miles off the coast of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. The water is only 2-4 feet deep, so even non-swimmers can enjoy this activity.  

Throughout the years, fishermen would stop at this sandbar to clean their catch before heading home.  The local stingrays would then come to eat the scraps of food.  They grew accustomed to this routine, and now about 50 stingrays make Stingray City their permanent home.  Others come and go as well, so numbers can fluctuate.  

The stingrays that make their home in Stingray City can be up to 6 feet wide! They are silky smooth and like to rub against you.  They do not have teeth but instead have a mouth that sucks food in. You can put food in your hands or between your toes, and they will glide over you and suck it out.  

There is a multitude of tours that leave Grand Cayman and head out to Stingray City. It makes an excellent stop as a cruise excursion. Most tours include the boat ride out to the sandbar and then a lesson on the stingrays and the ability to get in the water and interact with them.

Some tours also include snorkeling to go see starfish .

You can interact as much as you like. We had fun holding them and petting them, as well as feeding them.  If you don’t want to touch them, the Cayman waters are crystal clear, so you can enjoy watching them from the boat!  Stingray City is a must for all family bucket lists!

Kids and adults of all ages will love this experience!

2. Hike the Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA

Suggested by Karee from Our Woven Journey

A photo of Antelope Canyon with orange and red rock walls that have been shaped into wave-like forms by years of water erosion, casting beautiful shadows and light.

Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona, is easily one of the most fascinating places to see in America! There are almost 1,000 slot canyons in the United States, which is one of the most famous. However, many Americans have never even heard of it, much less visited it.

Located in Navajo territory, anyone wanting to visit either Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon or Canyon X will need to book a guided tour:

  • Guided tour of Lower Antelope Canyon
  • Guided tour of Upper Antelope Canyon
  • Guided tour of Antelope Canyon X

Exploring the canyons on your own isn’t allowed. However, the tour guides are very knowledgeable and share many facts about the area and its history that is worth paying to take the tour. 

When traveling with children, you’ll want to check recommendations before deciding which one is right for your family. If your little one isn’t walking yet, you’ll need to carry them the entire length of the canyon. The Lower Canyon also has some pretty steep stairs that younger children may not be ready for.

Also, remember that selfie sticks, tripods, and backpacks aren’t allowed on tour, but there are tours available just for photographers. 

Right now is a great time to plan outdoor vacations , and while you’re planning your trip, be sure to make time to see Horseshoe Bend. It’s only seven miles away, and although it’s very different from Antelope Canyon, it’s another amazing Arizona landmark you’ll want to see!

3. Explore the Underrated Museums in St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Suggested by Rebecca from Whatever Packs Your Bag

A photo of the St. Louis skyline, including the iconic Gateway Arch, with buildings and parks under a bright sky.

St. Louis, Missouri, is a great budget-friendly family destination. All the Museums in St. Louis are FREE (well, not all, but a huge majority of them). The St. Louis Science Center is amazing, especially for younger kids, ages 4-10, who will love this experience.

They have amazing rotating exhibits, and for a small fee ($14 for both) you can see a movie in the Omnimax theater and experience an amazing trip through space in the Planetarium.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. There are smaller gardens throughout that are inspired by gardening styles from all over the world. The Japanese Garden and the Koi Fish Feeding Bridge are must-see hits. There is something so tranquil about it. There is also an Asian Lantern Festival every year, and if you can go and see the beautiful lanterns, it’s a must-see hit for sure.

The Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) is another must. They have the most remarkable Egyptian Wing with a real sarcophagus! The kids will love these Egyptian treasures.

The Iconic St. Louis Arch is big, historic, and super fun to take pictures of. They have revamped the entire park surrounding the Arch, so if you haven’t been in the last 5+ years, then you are in for a treat. The line to get into the Arch can be very long and inside can be a little claustrophobic.

There are Steamboats that run along the Mississippi River, and the kids loved them. This is an extra cost, but it was worth it for the opportunity to sit down and relax a bit while still having a beautiful view.

The last must-see is Ted Drewes custard. It is a St. Louis institution and gives the kids something to look forward to after a long day.

4. Hike around Sedona, Arizona, USA

Suggested by Brittany from Travel By Brit

"A woman standing at a high viewpoint, gazing at the red rock formations and greenery of Sedona below a clear, blue sky.

Hiking in Sedona, Arizona, is an unforgettable, scenic family travel bucket list experience, especially for families with adventurous preteens or teenagers. 

Sedona has tons of hikes through the beautiful red rocks and Oak Creek Canyon to ensure all skill levels can participate: 

  • West Fork Trail is an easy, 7.2-mile hike where you’ll cross a river several times to end up in a large, breathtaking canyon.
  • Devil’s Bridge is an iconic, 4.2-mile hike that’s moderately difficult and perfect for a photo!
  • Cathedral Rock is a strenuous, 1.2-mile climb where you’re met with stunning views of the Sedona skyline after gaining nearly 750 feet in elevation. 

After hiking, there are plenty of things to do in Sedona to fill your vacation. Take a swim at Slide Rock State Park, go on a Pink Jeep Tour, shop at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, and grab some authentic Mexican food in Uptown Sedona. 

And while you’re in Arizona, don’t miss the chance to visit The Grand Canyon. It’s a two-hour drive from Sedona, and you’ll find plenty more hikes to experience while you’re there!

5. Visit the Iconic Statue of Liberty in New York City, New York, USA

Suggested by Daphna from A Tiny Trip

The Statue of Liberty stands tall against the New York City skyline, a symbol of freedom and democracy, with her torch held high.

Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York City is one of the quintessential American experiences and should be on every family travel bucket list. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom and one of the most famous monuments in the United States.

To get to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, you’ll need to take the ferry from Battery Park in Manhattan or Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Expect to arrive early and wait in line, as there is thorough airport-like security. Plan to purchase tickets ahead of time if traveling during a busy season. Note that all cruises go to both islands.

You can also book a tour from Pier 36 .

Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with kids is a great family activity, as you can enjoy the ferry rides and explore the islands. However, note that the exhibitions are not geared toward small children. Ellis Island, in particular, is best suited for ages 8 and over. Older children will appreciate being able to read about the history of immigration in America.

Combine your visit to Liberty Island with all the other fun things there are to do in New York City! Check out museums, restaurants, shows, and more in one of the most exciting cities in the world!

Some of the best attractions for families in New York City include:

  • Visiting to Empire State Building (and skipping the line)
  • The Lion King Broadway Tickets
  • Top of the Rock Observation Desk
  • American Dream SEA LIFE Aquarium

6. Do a Road Trip across Colorado, USA

Suggested by Meg from Fox in the Fores

Colorado waterfalls surrounded by trees adorned with vibrant fall colors, as golden leaves cascade down with the flowing water.

Road-tripping Colorado is a magical experience at any age, but even more so if you do it with kids! There are so many beautiful Colorado road trip stops that are kid-friendly that you could spend an entire month hitting up the best places, and it still wouldn’t be enough time.

A road trip through Colorado is great for children of any age, but to be able to see and do more (there are a ton of hiking options here for kids!), it’s best for kids aged 8+.

A few must-sees in your itinerary are Glenwood Springs, where you’ll find many outdoor adventures like fishing and horseback riding, as well as the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Next, head to Grand Junction , where you can drive around to hit some of the best viewpoints, offering jaw-dropping vistas of insane-looking red rock formations.

For an in-depth history lesson, visit Mesa Verde National Park next, where you can find easy hikes that lead to ancient dwellings and petroglyphs, and finish off the day with a train ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

For a kid-friendly desert adventure, head to Great Sand Dunes National Park, where you’ll find sandboarding adventures at a mini desert in the heart of Colorado. Don’t forget to spend a day exploring Denver, where you’ll find a ton of museums and activities to choose from:

  • Children’s Museum of Denver,
  • Denver Botanic Garden
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science,
  • Rocky Mountain Zipline Adventure
  • Downtown Aquarium, and
  • the Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park are musts for kids!)

Bucket List Places to Visit in Canada

Below is a Canada travel bucket list of trips you should do in your life.

7. Drive along the Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada

Suggested by us, Love Life Abroad

The Icefields Parkway covered in snow, with towering mountains and frozen lakes creating a stunning, winter wonderland scene.

Driving along the Icefields Parkway is considered by many “a drive of a lifetime”. The Icefields Parkway is a 230-km scenic road from Lake Louise, in Banff National Park , to Jasper , in Jasper National Park. To have experienced it this winter, we can only agree.

While not all kids like to be stuck in a car for hours, this drive is a pretty cool one for the whole family. The idea when driving on the Icefields Parkway is not to get from point A (Lake Louise) to point B (Jasper), but rather to make the drive the journey in itself and to take advantage of the breathtaking views and attractions on the way.

This drive includes a lot of fun stops:

  • Hike to Peyto Lake Lookout and admire the view.
  • Stop at Tangle Falls and take a few clichés of the waterfalls right by the road.
  • Do a guided tour of the Columbia Icefield glacier
  • Take a small hike to the Athabasca Falls

The drive is beautiful, but it’s in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, so the weather can be super unpredictable. Take your time, enjoy the ride, and take plenty of pictures along the way.

8. Chase Waterfalls at Well Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

Suggested by Debbie from World Adventurists

"A waterfall at Wells Gray Provincial Park with a rainbow in the mist, surrounded by green trees.

Wells Gray Provincial Park is British Columbia’s fourth largest provincial park, with 5000km² of mostly untouched Canadian wilderness.  With 41 named waterfalls, Wells Gray is known as a waterfall paradise. Experiencing the power and beauty of the waterfalls is an excellent trip for families and kids of all ages.

It’s also nice to know that several waterfalls are easily accessible with only a short walk or easy hike from the car. Even the fourth largest waterfall in Canada, the iconic Helmcken Falls, is a short walk to the viewing platform. Other popular waterfalls are Spahats Falls, Moul Falls, and Dawson Falls.

You’ll also find alpine meadow hiking, guided wilderness safaris, boat tours of Clearwater Lake, and clear lakes for a refreshing swim on a hot day.

The best way to experience Wells Gray with family is by camping while you experience the beauty and power of nature and connect over a blazing campfire.

To experience all of the highlights of Wells Gray, you’ll want at least a few days to explore. However, there is SO much to see that you’ll likely want to return for more.

If you’re venturing from Vancouver, you will start on Highway 1, then take the Coquihalla (Highway 5) to Kamloops, and continue on north to Clearwater. It is a five-hour drive from Vancouver.

9. Snorkel (or Scuba Dive) in Cuba

Suggested by Carley from Home to Havana

A beautiful Cuban beach with white sand, clear blue waters, and coconut trees swaying gently in the breeze.

While often overlooked as a scuba diving and snorkeling destination in the region, Cuba is home to some of the Caribbean’s best and most untouched reefs, and with the growing tourist sector, they’re easier than ever to explore.

Best for kids at least ten or older or in their early teens, exploring Cuba’s reefs with scuba diving lessons or certification, or even snorkeling excursions, is a fantastic way to get an entirely new take on Cuba and the Caribbean as a family.

One of Cuba’s best destinations for exploring the ocean is Jardines de la Reina – “the Gardens of the Queen” – known for having some of the Caribbean’s great diversity of species. Excursions close to shore or further out along the archipelago of the island on Cuba’s southern coast are easily designed for divers of all levels.

This is also a destination for an adrenaline rush, as certain areas of the Jardines de la Reina are known for Caribbean reef sharks, and dive excursions can take you to close for an unforgettable experience with older kids and adventure seekers.

For an excursion closer to Havana, the famous white Playa Coral sand beach at Varadero also offers some incredible snorkeling destinations. At the same time, Playa Coral might not look like much from the shore.

Under the water, you’ll find countless species of colorful fish and coral. Make sure you have travel insurance for Cuba that specifically covers scuba diving or snorkeling before you arrive – Cuba requires travelers to show proof of health coverage valid on the island when entering the country.

Europe’s Family Travel Bucket List

10. spend a day among dinosaurs at dinopark funtana, croatia.

Suggested by Martina & Jürgen from Places of Juma

Dinosaur statues at Dinopark Funtana, surrounded by plants, and the park's car make it look like a scene from a long time ago.

A really cool place for an unforgettable family trip is the lovely Dinopark Funtana . This park is located in Istria, Croatia , just 2 kilometers from the resort of Vrsar, and is a really popular attraction, especially among families with children.  Both – young and older ones – will love this park, where you can spend some fun hours.

On an area of 80,000 m², this great amusement park offers a variety of life-size and movable dinosaur statues, which are guaranteed to amaze children. You walk along a 1.5-kilometer-long wooden path and discover, in the middle of the Croatian forests, 80+ real-size dinosaurs.

Some of them move and make noises, which is fascinating. You almost feel like you are in the real Jurassic Park. And it’s an authentic and unforgettable experience to see these wonderful creatures!

In addition to dinosaurs, you can even expect several more highlights! Don’t miss visiting the pirate ship TORTUGA, having an adrenaline ride at the DRAGON COASTER and TWISTER FLY carousel, as well as the Stone Station ride and the Mini Train. There’s also a really cool dinosaur cinema and a small museum with various dinosaur shows. Great fun for the whole family!

❤️  You may also like to read: ❤️ What to Do in Drumheller: Playgrounds, Dinos, & More!

11. Pretend to Be a Royal Family at the Kings and Queens Promenade of Chateau de Fontainebleau, France

Suggested by Elisa from World in Paris

The Kings and Queens Promenade at Chateau de Fontainebleau, with elegant statues and gardens alongside a peaceful lake, reflecting the grandeur of the French palace.

If you visit Paris with the family, you will love the day trip to Château de Fontainebleau . Because who doesn’t like a fairy tale castle in the middle of the forest with princes and princesses?

Château de Fontainebleau is located 68 Km southeast of Paris, and it is straightforward to reach by train + shuttle bus. Once there, get ready for magnificent rooms and halls richly decorated. After all, Fontainebleau is considered the true home of the French Kings!

From the 12th century, with the construction of the first keep to the Second Empire, Fontainebleau has been a royal residence, and all members of French ruling dynasties have lived within these walls for longer or shorter periods. Even the Sun King loved to visit Fontainebleau, at least before the construction of Versailles!

To make the visit more entertaining for the kids, Fontainebleau offers period clothes for rent. Kids love to wander through the long corridors in their royal clothes or do some pirouettes in the dancing room.

After visiting the château , don’t miss the surrounding gardens, with plenty of space for running, jumping, and more pictures. The area close to the canal is ideal for a picnic on the grass.

For the most adventurous, France Montgolfières offers flights over Fontainebleau’s forest on a hot air balloon – from April to the end of October – and the meeting point is just in front of Château of Fontainebleau.

Although flying over the château is not guaranteed (the itinerary depends on the wind), it is truly a magical experience

12. Experience the Van Life around Switzerland

Suggested by Kat from Wandering Bird

A man and woman were posing together in the middle of a hanging bridge in Switzerland, with the scenic mountains as a picturesque backdrop.

One of our best family experiences was campervanning around Switzerland with our daughter. We spent 4 weeks exploring this gorgeous country, and there’s so much to do. 

Switzerland is a fantastic choice for a family trip- the scenery is a combination of breathtaking mountain views, turquoise lakes, and picturesque towns, but many people speak excellent English, and they are wonderfully welcoming people. 

Our daughter was a teenager when we visited, but most of our activities could have been done with kids of any age. She loved camping in our van high up in the mountains and walking to the lakes to take photos- a new hobby she fell in love with. 

Some of the other highlights from our trip included a trip up the famous Gelmerbahn Funicular- one of the steepest mountain railways in the world (with an incredible lake at the top), standing on a platform in the middle of the Rhine Falls- one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe, and eating chocolate. Lots and lots of delicious chocolate. 

Campervanning is a perfect way to explore, as it allows you to move at your own pace without having to book expensive hotels in advance. It also allows you to spend quality time together as a family- we played more games and talked about random stuff on that trip than we had for years. It was a wonderful way to reconnect.

13. Learn How to Make Authentic Belgium Waffles in Brussels, Belgium

Suggested by Tanya from TravelsAndTreasures

Freshly made Belgian waffles on a plate, golden-brown and crisp, showcased in the bustling atmosphere of Brussels.

Delicious food, quaint streets, historic architecture, outdoor markets, and famous frites (or fries) are just a few reasons to visit Brussels, Belgium.  Sign up at the Waffle Workshop for a fun family experience that is memorable and tasty for all ages.  You may never want to eat another frozen waffle again!

Did you know that there is not one but two types of Belgian waffles? You will learn all about them on your mini-tour, which starts from the Grand Place.  The stroll down Waffle Street, where these airy, fluffy bites are sold as snacks for just one euro and will get your taste buds twirling. 

At the workshop, families may work as a team together or partner with other participants in the kitchen.  Your knowledgeable instructor will teach you how to operate the waffle iron, the importance of the ingredients, and how to make them perfectly. 

You’ll have everything you need to whip up a batch (this is when the real fun begins)!  The collection of toppings is vast – from butter, syrup, and whipped cream to bananas, strawberries, caramel, and chocolate.  From the kitchen, the Lotus Biscoff cookie butter is a must-try. 

Whether you make cute faces or pile the mixings high, make sure you start the workshop hungry because there will be lots of waffles to eat!  It’s an engaging and creative family experience.

You can also do a Belgian chocolate workshop .

14. Take a Dolphins and Whales Watching Tour in Madeira Island, Portugal

Suggested by Edyta from Say Yes To Madeira ,

Victoria, BC, draws crowds of avid whale watchers year-round, offering a front-row seat to the captivating world of these majestic whales. Join this people who flock to these pristine waters for an unforgettable whale-watching experience.

Madeira Island, Portugal, is a lovely all-year-round destination, and there is one activity that the entire family should enjoy – dolphin & whale watching tours .

There are many ways to observe sea animals on Madeira: catamarans, private yachts, or RIB speedboats being the most popular ones. Multiple operators offer such tours in the Port of Funchal or Calheta. Speedboats may not be the most suitable choice for families with small kids, but they will be an adventure for everyone else.

Some speedboat tours allow you to even swim with dolphins in open ocean waters. However, I would only recommend it to older children who know how to swim well, how to use a snorkeling set, and are not afraid of water. It is a great way to see those magnificent animals underwater without visiting attractions that keep them in captivity.

If there are small children in your family, I would recommend a catamaran or a private boat, as those are more child-friendly. Catamaran are slower but bigger and more comfortable, usually have a bathroom, a small bar, and provide some shade.

On a catamaran, even if you are not lucky enough to spot any sea animals, you can relax on a comfortable catamaran net . It is a lovely way to spend a day on Madeira, which both kids and parents can enjoy.

15. Create Your Own Castle Hunting Tour in Belgium

Suggested by Caroline Muller from Veggiewayfarer

A large castle in Belgium with tall towers and stone walls, surrounded by lots of green trees and plants.

The little Kingdom of Belgium has much to offer if you are traveling with a family. It has a wealth of history, delicious cuisine, and no less than 3000 castles to explore! Why not allow the kids to indulge in their princess and knight fantasies while teaching them a little bit about the history of Belgium?

The easiest way of exploring the castles is by using Brussels as a basis. While most of the castles are accessible via public transport, it might be more convenient to rent a car for a day to explore as many castles around Brussels as possible. Every castle is just that little bit different and adds to the fascinating story that Belgium has to tell.

If you want to give the kids a real feel of what it was like to live in a castle, make sure to head to Gaasbeek Castle. If romantic turrets and dreams of Prince Charming are on the menu, take a drive to De Viron Castle.

For a more sturdy castle worthy of a knight, Bouchout Castle is the place to be! The castles are sure to capture the attention of kids of any age, and even parents might just find this family travel bucket list experience good fun!

16. Learn How to Make Delicious Italian Pasta in Rome, Italy

Suggested by Olivia from Girl With Blue Sails

People gathered around a table in Rome, skillfully making fresh, homemade pasta, rolling and shaping the dough into classic Italian varieties.

On your family travel bucket list should be an Italian pasta-making class in Rome . Following instructions together, getting hands-on, and sharing your delicious creations with each other is such a fun bonding experience. The instructors are always local chefs, the groups are always kept small, and the memories made last a lifetime. 

Rome is on many family bucket lists to see major sights like the Colosseum or the Roman Forum . One underrated activity, however, is the group pasta-making class , where families really get to dive into the Italian culture. There are many popular pasta-making classes in Rome from which to choose. All will include a couple of types of pasta, some include deserts, and almost all include wine for the parents. 

The ages of the kids who will enjoy a pasta class can vary greatly, but it seems pasta classes are good for kids aged 7 and up. Stools or booster seats can be used for the little ones, and if they lose interest, there is no harm done as the rest of the group will be making plenty of pasta to share. 

A typical Italian pasta course begins with making the dough, where families get to mix flour and egg right on the table with their hands. Next is the sauce, which always fills the room with delicious spiced aromas. Once the pasta is done and ready, the group always gathers together to enjoy their meal with their new group of friends.

❤️  You may also like to read: ❤️ Truffle Hunting in Italy: Our Complete Wishlist of Stops

17. Hop from Island to Island in Greece

Suggested by Dymphe from Dyma Abroad

 beautiful view of Greece with white buildings, blue waters, and bright skies.

Island hopping in Greece is a family experience you should definitely add to your bucket list! Greece is a country that is wonderful to visit, and there are many beautiful places in Greece . Also, there are lots of islands in the country. In total, there are about 6000 islands.

You can visit a lot of them, and each island has something unique to offer. Some are very well-known, such as Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete. Traveling to a Greek island is a wonderful experience, but what’s even better is to see multiple islands in one trip when island hopping.

You’ll take a ferry from one island to another, and each journey by ferry lasts a few hours or less. Kids will have a lot of new experiences when they see several islands during one trip.

For example, it’s very fun to see the typical Greek houses of Mykonos, to see the beaches of Santorini, or to see ancient ruins on Naxos. Also, the trip by ferry on its own is very fun for kids. Who doesn’t like to hop on board and see the sea from the boat?

18. Visit Paleolithic Cave Art in Dordogne, France

Suggested by Erica from TripScholars

A picture of colorful and detailed ancient cave paintings of animals and symbols on the walls of Lascaux in France.

An ultimate family travel bucket list experience is a visit to the prehistoric sites and decorated caves of the Vézère Valley. This UNESCO World Heritage site lies in the idyllic Dordogne region of France and contains some of the best paleolithic cave art in the world.

Your visit will have a powerful impact on all family members and inspire memories to last a lifetime.

Families will visit Lascaux, often called the Sistine Chapple of Prehistory. Although the original cave is now closed to visitors, Lascaux IV offers both an inspiring reproduction and a multi-media educational museum that is engaging for kids of all ages.

Decorated caves that you can still visit today are centered around the idyllic town of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, also known as the “Capital of Prehistory.”  It is well worth the effort to research ticket availability in advance to share the profound experience of seeing cave art with your family.

Everyone, but especially those with mobility issues or smaller children, can enjoy Rouffignac Cave. You ride in a small train deep into the cave to see remarkable cave art and cave bear dens.

The Dordogne is also filled with story-book castles, medieval villages, stunning natural scenery, living history exhibits, as well as historic vineyards and farms.

The region can be enjoyed by children of all ages, but school-age kids and older will appreciate the tours for educational resources to enhance your trip and learn more about the area. Visit Tripscholars . Crafting a perfect family vacation around the caves is a fascinating addition to your family bucket list!

19. Do a Husky Sledding Ride in Lapland, Finland

Suggested by Catherine from Passports and Adventures

led pulled by huskies through the snowy woods in Lapland, Finland.

An amazing experience to have on your bucket list for family travel is husky sledding in Lapland . Most families I know would love to visit Lapland with kids , and enjoying a husky sledding experience is just one of the most amazing things to enjoy while combining your trip with a visit to see Santa himself.

Husky sledding involves racing through the snow of forests and over frozen lakes in a sled pulled by a team of husky dogs. This is what they are trained for and is something they clearly love. It is a thrilling ride and can be enjoyed with kids from around the age of four, with one parent driving the sled while the other holds the child tight in the sled.

You do need to choose the company carefully to ensure they are reputable and ethical and look after their dogs well. But once you do your research, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience. Most experiences last about 40 minutes to 1 hour , which is sufficient, given the cold and wintery temperatures outside.

Other things to do in Lapland as a family include seeing Santa, of course. You can also attend Elf School, enjoy reindeer sleigh rides, visit cultural museums in the capital of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi, and also enjoy snowball fights and make snow angels.

Lapland is a magical place in winter, especially just before Christmas, and is a bucket list place to visit.

❤️  You may also like to read: ❤️ Boundary Ranch in Kananaskis: What to Do Year-Round

20. Walk Down the Gorge in Wales, UK

Suggested by Rachel from Average Lives

People exploring a scenic gorge in Wales, UK, surrounded by steep rocky walls, rushing water, and greenery.

Gorge walking in Wales needs to be on your family travel bucket list because it is a unique and extraordinary experience. In a nutshell, gorge walking is an adventure activity where you follow a journey through incredible rock formations.

You can help support each other as you ramble through the gorge and have an epic adventure together. A great place to go gorge walking is in the spectacular Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales because it is a natural playground and has different routes for different ages and groups. 

It is useful to know that you should always book to go gorge walking with a company guide and not attempt it yourself. The guides are certified safe and will tailor the course depending on the people they have in front of them.

They also provide all the equipment so your family can stay safe and warm. Most companies recommend that children are aged 10+, and the activity lasts between 3 to 4 hours, depending on your group size.

The Brecon Beacons National Park is known as waterfall country. Therefore, if you decide to add this to your family bucket list, you can explore the nearby Four Falls Trail, and if you’re not too tired from the scrambling, you can hike up the spectacular Pen y Fan.

Are you ready for an unforgettable family adventure? Even adults can unleash their inner child!

Asia & Africa’s Family Travel Bucket List

21. hike mount fuji, japan.

Suggested by Cortney from Tin Can Living

A mother and daughter standing together in the majestic Mount Fuji Japan.

Every family should add hiking Japan’s Mt. Fuji on the island of Honshu to their bucket list.  It is the highest mountain in Japan at 12388 ft. The views are just magical. It is a perfect family activity for parents with teenagers.  The switchbacks and trails make the climb less difficult and possible for someone with no physical limitations.

Most people begin their hike at station 5. This is where the restaurants and shops are. When at station 5, purchase a hiking stick. This is a stick that you take with you to each station and have a symbol burned in. This makes the best souvenir of your trek.

These stations are a great place to have a rest, take in the view, adjust to the altitude, and hydrate. There are 10 stations in total on the Mt. Fuji hike. There are several different trails that you can take. You will need to do some planning before you hike. 

It can take up to 10 hours to complete the entire hike. There are huts, if you reserve in advance, that you can stay overnight and catch the sunset in the morning. Some people choose to do this and complete their hike the next day.

If you choose to do it in one day, plan to keep a steady pace and start early. When you climb up, you have to come back down. It is very difficult to come down in the dark. Great pictures, great memories, and wonderful stories await. Do your research and get to climbing with your family. You won’t regret it!!

22. Join a Safari Tour in Kenya

Suggested by Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go

On a Kenyan safari, with large elephants and striped zebras roam freely in their natural grassland habitat.

Going on an African safari is a bucket list adventure for most people and is a fantastic activity to do as a family. When thinking of a safari destination, Kenya is a firm favorite amongst travelers, and with 23 National Parks , 28 National Reserves, 4 marine National Parks, 6 marine National Reserves, and 4 national sanctuaries, it is easy to find the perfect family-friendly safari.

Lots of safari offers are long stays, being either 7, 10, or 14 days. This is not ideal for families with younger children as safari days themselves are long and tiring even for adults. The best option for a family safari is a 3-4 day safari covering just one national park or reserve.

This will allow plenty of time to see the big five and enjoy the safari lodges in Kenya . Some safari companies and lodges will not allow guests younger than 10 years old, so bear that in mind when choosing a safari.

Family safari accommodation can range from budget to luxury. Still, the ideal family accommodation would be one with a pool to keep children entertained when you are not out spotting wildlife.

Another thing to consider is the food served. Safari Lodge food can often be very basic, with only a few choices. Go with a lodge that serves a buffet, so picky eaters have plenty to choose from. Again, consider Kenya in your bucket list trips with kids.

23. Ride aboard the Trans Mongolian Express, Russia, Mongolia & China

Suggested by Lotte from Phenomenal Globe

A train attendant of the Trans Mongolian Express.

Riding the Trans Mongolian Express with kids is definitely a bucket list-worthy and once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will get to discover three countries (Russia, Mongolia, and China) and cultures, see a huge variety of landscapes, and cover a distance of no less than 7621 kilometers.  

From the impressive Kremlin to the seemingly endless birch forests along the Moscow to Irkutsk stretch, the vastness of Lake Baikal and the rolling green plains of Mongolia, and the ancient history of the Forbidden City in China, there is no shortage of highlights when traveling the Trans Mongolian Express.

Staying in a yurt in Mongolia is probably something your kids won’t ever forget (and neither will you). If you have kids with an adventurous mind, they might even be brave enough to try fresh yak milk… 

Regarding the best age for this trip, we did this family travel bucket list journey with our 10-month-old and thought it was a very convenient age. Our son slept wonderfully during the train journey (probably due to the comforting rocking motion), and he could safely crawl around our compartment.  

I don’t particularly recommend this trip for kids 1.5-5 years old as they will probably get bored. However, kids aged 6 years and older will enjoy this trip as you can teach them about the history of the train line, follow the train route on a map, play card games together, and much more.  

A final word of advice when traveling with a baby: either bring a very small travel stroller or a baby carrier, as the compartments aren’t big enough to fit a large pushchair.

FAQs: Family Travel Bucket List

How do i make a family bucket list.

To make a family bucket list, first decide what activities your family would like to do together. Talk with each family member and brainstorm ideas for things to do inside and outside the house. Brainstorm different activities that everyone wants and can contribute to. Once you have collected all the ideas, devise a plan for accomplishing them in time. Think about how much time each task will take and how much money should be used. Lastly, ensure you are realistic about what is possible in the given timeframe.

How do I make my family trip memorable?

To make your family trip unforgettable, I suggest you plan more fun activities for everyone in the family. You could hike in a scenic location or visit some local attractions. Document the trip with pictures and videos and relax with your family because that’s what will create happy memories for all.

What is a travel bucket list?

A travel bucket list is a list of places and experiences, including anything from visiting a large city or historical monuments to visiting a remote island or going on an adventure in the wilderness.

Why have a travel bucket list?

Having a travel bucket list is a great way to stay motivated and inspired to explore the world! It helps you determine what you want to do on your trips so you can make the most of your time away. A travel bucket list can also give you ideas for new places and different cultures to experience. Plus, it helps you plan and budget for future trips and keep track of all the fantastic places you’ve already seen.

Final Thoughts: Family Travel Bucket List

Taking a bucket list trip with your family is a perfect way to create lasting memories and explore the natural world at its finest.

With our list of 23 Bucket List Trips for Families Who Love the Outdoors, you’ll find an adventure your whole family will enjoy – whether visiting the Antelope Canyon, Arizona, or hiking through Sedona, in Arizona.

No matter your interests, there’s something on this list for everyone.

Now let us know – what is on your family’s bucket list? Share your ideas in the comments section below!

Related Articles

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like to read the following articles:

  • Driving Across Canada Tips for an Epic Family Road Trip
  • USA Road Trips with Kids
  • 39 Unique Things to Do in California With Kids: Add Them to Your List

✍️ Meet Emilie, the founder of Love Life Abroad ✍️ Emilie is the founder of Love Life Abroad. She’s a born wanderer. From an early age, she wanted to be on the move. Whether searching for a condo in California (at age 16) or flying to Ireland to see musician Damien Rice, she’s always looked for any excuse to pack a bag and explore. Now, she has two boys, who are planning epic road trips and adventures as much as possible. Emilie helps families with young children to plan unique road trips and outdoor adventures because who said adventuring had to stop once we have kids?

Emilie Brillon

Emilie is the founder of Love Life Abroad. She helps moms plan epic road trips and outdoor adventures with their families. Because who said adventuring had to stop once we have kids? She’s based in the Canadian Rockies and shares her love for the region as well as other unique places in Canada & USA. She works with tourism boards and outdoor brands to inspire families to experience new unique destinations and outdoor activities.

5 Lost Together

  • Family Travel
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Netherlands
  • Work With Us

bucket list trips for families

21 Bucket List Experiences for Families that Love Travel

This post may contain affiliate links, for which we earn a small commission at no additional expense to you. Click here to read our Disclosure.

Does your family have a case of wanderlust?  Are you constantly adding new experiences and destinations to your already long bucket list?  Or maybe you are dreaming about getting started traveling with your family and just need a little inspiration.

We asked some of the biggest family travel bloggers what has been their favorite bucket family vacations.  The result is 21 bucket list worthy experiences from all over the world that we are sharing with you today.  From trekking in the Himalayas to experiencing New Year’s Eve in Sydney, these are epic experiences to put on your list.

  • 1 Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  • 2 South African Safari
  • 3 Ziplining at Ankor Wat, Cambodia
  • 4 Wadi Rum Bedouin Camping, Jordan
  • 5 Sleep in a Bubble
  • 6 Trekking in the Himalayas
  • 7 Elephants in the Wild in Sri Lanka
  • 8 Walk with Lions, Zimbabwe
  • 9 Road Tripping the North Island of New Zealand
  • 10 Visiting Machu Picchu
  • 11 Christmas in NYC
  • 12 Climbing Hills in Scotland
  • 13 Overnight Hut Hike in the Alps
  • 14 Cruising Halong Bay, Vietnam
  • 15 Hiking in Iceland
  • 16 Canoeing Lake Louise, Canada
  • 17 The Australian Outback
  • 18 Surfing in Ireland
  • 19 Seeing Puffins in Scotland
  • 20 Yellowstone National Park
  • 21.0.1 Enjoyed Reading this Post? SIGN UP for more.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef and exploring its underwater wonderland should definitely be  on your family travel bucket list.  Global warming is impacting the Reef and this is one experience you should plan to do soon, sadly.  The 2,300 km size of the barrier reef is almost unfathomable, with its turquoise waters, coral cays and marine life.

We recommend experiencing the Reef from Cairns in far north Queensland where numerous family friendly tour operators run tours to the Outer Reef.  The best way to see the Reef is by getting wet and snorkeling or diving, but there are ways to see the Reef by staying dry too.  Our kids loved seeing huge sea turtles, vibrant coral and many different fish.  Most importantly, out visit provoked a rich discussion and ongoing interest in the health of our oceans and coral reefs.

South African Safari

South African safari

There is nothing like seeing animals roaming in their natural environment and there’s no more bucket list worthy way to do this than on an African safari!

We recently went on a safari in Pilaneberg National Park in South Africa with our three kids aged 1, 5 and 7. It was more amazing than we expected with the kids loving to spot wildlife.

It’s also awesome to stay in a lodge in a park so you can be greeted by animals by our porch or at breakfast time (we had an elephant interrupt our breakfast one morning!).

We worried our kids might be too young but it worked out very well. Shorter, private drives are the best way to go with young kids if you can.

It has definitely been the highlight of our family travels so far and I recommend you do it too!

Ziplining at Ankor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat with kids

When we visited Siem Reap in 2016, I was very concerned the kids would get ‘templed out’ and not enjoy Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples as much as I would. I searched for things that would appeal to them and found zip lining in the Angkor Archaeological Park with Angkor Ziplining (previously called Flight of the Gibbon).

The kids were very excited about zipping through the tree tops and flying free as a bird on one of the 10  zip lines with 21 platforms and 4 bridges connecting them. It put the kids out of their comfort zones and challenged them to overcome their fear and let go and have fun. We were lucky we had another family with us who had zip lined before and our kids happily followed along with them. I think this was the perfect break from the temples and the kids still talk about it today.

Wadi Rum Bedouin Camping, Jordan

Jordan with kids

I’ll admit we’re more your resort kind of family than camping, but when we read up about the magnificent Wadi Rum desert in Jordan and the opportunity to spend the night with local Bedouin camping under the stars, I knew it was something we had to try at least once in our lives! First, a day trip around the highlights of the desert, we are taken to Lawrence Springs, giant sand dunes for sand boarding, natural rock arches, siqs, camel trekking and historic buildings from the Lawrence of Arabia era before making our way to our evening camp below the mountains.  Throughout the day and the deeper into the desert we go, the sands and the mountains change colour and we are left with the most magnificent glowing red sunset.  Soon we are blanketed in stars with crystal clear skies while our traditional zarb dinner is cooked underground and Bedouin teas and coffees are served.  After all the running, climbing, insect then star spotting, we crawl into our family sized tent – made of hand woven goats hair. Is it any wonder this was one of the best night’s sleeps of our lives!

Sleep in a Bubble

Family bucket list

Sleep in a Bubble  is a small Glamping site where guests can sleep in inflated domes with transparent ceilings and walls allowing for the ultimate stargazing session just outside Liege in Belgium. The highlight of our stay was getting snuggled up for the evening then watching the sunset followed by the stars all from the comfort of our own bed. We spent a good hour all sharing the same bed and just chatting about the scene before us as the sky changed colour and the stars appeared. It was a fantastic opportunity to spend some close time as a family enjoying aspects of camping which might otherwise be very difficult with a small child… we certainly couldn’t star gaze with a two year old around a camp fire! The experience is something we’ll all remember for a long time. Best of all the welcome from our hosts was outstanding.

Trekking in the Himalayas

Nepal with kids

I’ve had a life-long love for the high Himalayas. Our first taste of altitude trekking, the Annapurna Circuit back in 2000, served only to wet my appetite for more and I longed to return to the mountains. Then kids came along and plans had to go on hold until the boys were big enough and strong enough to take on the steep trails. When they were 10 and 12 we finally made it, a dream come true trip to the Everest region, including that white knuckle Kathmandu to Lukla flight. Nepal with kids isn’t easy, I won’t pretend it is, but it’s an unbeatable experience. Sharing the triumph of climbing to Tengboche Monastery with my son, seeing Everest through a brief break in the clouds, it was magical, spiritual and of immense value to growing boys. Their self confidence got an enormous boost in that 10 days, they know they can take on just about anything and conquer it. We’ll be back for Everest Base Camp next year. An absolute family bucket list highlight.

Dawn’s Note: We were so inspired by World Travel Family, that we visited the Everest Region with our kids in 2019.

Elephants in the Wild in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka with kids

Sri Lanka is one of the best destinations to see elephants in the wild, all at a fraction of what it would cost in Southern or East Africa. We loved our visit to Udawalawe NP where you are pretty much guaranteed to see them and, sure enough, only twenty minutes into our safari, a Mummy elephant and her calf appeared from behind a bush and stood just a few metres away from us. It was rather emotional watching such a majestic, powerful creature in their natural setting and her peaceful nature created a serene atmosphere in the early morning light. I was struck how my two boys (aged two and three years old) instinctively knew to whisper, so as not to disturb the magical moment. The safari was just three hours long, the perfect length of time for little ones.  Kids under 5 are free, so the total price for entrance fee, private jeep and safari guide was LKR7500 for our family of four. If you ask my three year old for the highlight of his Sri Lanka travels, he answers straight away: Mummy Elephant.

Walk with Lions, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe lions

A visit to Antelope Park in Zimbabwe is a supreme bucket-list opportunity for adults and kids alike. If there is one thing I love to include in my travels it is the opportunity to see or interact with amazing wildlife and at Antelope Park you can get closer and more hands on with lions than you ever dreamed possible.

Antelope Park  just outside of Gweru in Zimbabwe is committed to the preservation of the natural environment and their walk with lion program is part of a larger rehabilitation and release back into the wild effort that they sustain with the help of volunteers, donations and proceeds from the guests who come to stay at this private reserve.

The ‘walk with lions’ experience is truly magical as you get to stroll along with the adolescent lions for their afternoon walk whilst they explore the reserve.

If cute and cuddly (and sometimes a bit scratchy!) is more your thing then you can opt to spend some time with the baby lion cubs for playtime – something you might never do again in one lifetime. Watching the big cats race out for meal times is also a popular experience offered at Antelope Park.

Road Tripping the North Island of New Zealand

NZ with kids

A road trip in a camper van was always a dream of ours, and NZ is the perfect country for road trips, so we just packed up our dog, our 4 kids and did it. We rented a camper and drove around NZ’s North Island for 2 weeks. It’s a lot more work than we’d anticipated, but it was so much fun! Driving your whole house wherever you go, and stopping anywhere because we needed to rest, and end up spending the night comfortably was just amazing! NZ is safe and RV friendly, so it is just the ideal combination!

Visiting Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu with kids

Machu Picchu with its mysterious history as a lost city is a place many kids dream about visiting! But why wait until your kids are grown? Visiting as a family you can fulfill one of your own bucket list dreams!  Breath-taking mountain scenery, incredible history and soft adventure to arrive at this city are all reasons why we would recommend adding Machu Picchu to your family bucket list.  Having visited Machu Picchu twice with children (once with one child, once with 2 kids) we had memorable experiences in this stunning place, as well as being able to tick off our own bucket list at the same time.  Machu Picchu can be reached by train (which was the highlight of the trip for the small kids) or by a trek along the famous Inca trail which was doable with a baby, but should only be attempted by older children.

Christmas in NYC

Winter in NY

I don’t have many ‘must do’ trips with my kids but if pushed I’d have to say spending Christmas in New York City would have to be one of them.  We were lucky enough to score a house sit there so could take in all the city had to offer over the holiday period.

It was all we hoped for, amazing store decorations, a really lovely atmosphere, we even got snow as we walked up 5th Avenue!  We’re a big movie fan family so we scouted for movie locations, saw the big tree at Rockefeller’s and generally just wandered around in awe at being there.  One of my favourite things to see was the Big Piano at FAO Schwarz!

It was extremely cold so bear that in mind, much colder than we are used to back home in the UK.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat though!

Climbing Hills in Scotland

Scotland with kids

We highly recommend hiking and climbing some of the hills in Southern Scotland as a family. We are lucky enough to have brought up our son in a valley for the past two years and have managed to get him out hiking and climbing many times. We found that it gave him a sense of adventure and built up his confidence for longer hikes and days out. The hills in rural Scotland are not overrun by tourists so you can explore totally secluded places without any distraction. You will be rewarded with incredible views for following simple trails through the forests and hills. Get out in the fresh air, work in a little fitness and  spend some time together as a family in Scotland.

Overnight Hut Hike in the Alps

Tyrol hike

Hiking to an overnight hut in the Austrian Alps has been one of our best family travel experiences. Our hike started in the Stubai Valley near Innsbruck in Tyrol. It followed the Wild Water Trail past 2 amazingly beautiful waterfalls to the Sulzenauhütte at 2191m above sea level. The kids enjoyed clambering over rocks, getting close to mountain goats and racing each other to get to the hut first. Fortunately, there is an Alm (traditional mountain restaurant) half way to the hut where one can stop for lunch. The Sulzenauhütte also caters for all meals, so there is no need to carry food in backpacks. Once there, the mountains, pastures, and streams are the kids’ playground. We highly recommend an Austrian hut hike for families who love the outdoors and spending time away from technology.

Cruising Halong Bay, Vietnam

Vietnam with kids

Cruising through the beautiful waters of Ha Long Bay, a stunning area of over 1,600 islands, limestone pillars and inlets should be on every family’s travel bucketlist!

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO heritage site in Northern Vietnam and taking a few days to cruise around is a great way to discover more about this beautiful area.  

Along with the stunning scenery, many cruises offer additional fun activities like kayaking, cycling on Cat Ba Island, visiting local floating villages and exploring centuries old caves with amazing rock formations hidden inside.

On board the boat we also experienced fun activities like a Vietnamese cooking class where we learned to make fabulous spring rolls, and late night squid fishing off the back of the boat which our kids absolutely loved.

Boats range from budget backpacker style to luxury 5 star cruises, so there’s an option for every budget.  This is another great trip to add to the bucket list for families.  

Hiking in Iceland

Iceland hiking

There are few places in the world that offer the epic hiking that Iceland does. But hiking in Iceland isn’t just for grown-ups. Whether you are looking to explore one of the stunning waterfalls, wander through fields of Icelandic horses, or climb a mountain to see where volcanoes have torn the earth in two for miles, hiking in Iceland is an experience that the entire family can enjoy.

Iceland offers the chance to hike among puffins in Latrabjarg. Or you could stand beneath the massive statue of the Icelandic giant Bardur and learn about the mystical beliefs of many of the Icelandic people in Arnarpstapi. Whatever you choose during a family-friendly hike in Iceland, you are guaranteed to enjoy it with a smile on your face!

Canoeing Lake Louise, Canada

Lake Louise with kids

Visiting Lake Louise in Banff National Park is a truly incredible experience year-round, but during our summer visit, we were able to experience the lake in the most memorable way: by canoe. The boat dock next to Lake Louise offers hourly canoe rentals that you can bring the whole family on to enjoy. You can choose from sunrise or daytime canoe rides, depending on what interests you most. Canoeing through the lake, between the massive Rocky Mountains and away from the crowds is so breathtaking. Not only does it get you away from the crowds, but you’ll also have plenty of time to sit, relax, and enjoy the view. This should be included on every good family bucket list!

The Australian Outback

Outback with kids

This is such a great experience for families, to travel hundreds of kilometers’ without passing a single other car, sometimes down dirt roads, stopping at small outback towns along the way.  Families can visit iconic Australian sights such as Uluru, Kings Canyon, towns like Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin and the fantastic landscapes of national parks such as Litchfield and Kakadu.

This is a great opportunity for families to learn about Australia history including Aboriginal culture and how locals live in the harsh environment of the Australian outback. For anyone travelling through Australia, you must include a road trip through the Australian outback – particularly through the red centre.

Surfing in Ireland

Ireland with kids

Surfing was the number one activity we wanted to check off in our bucket list as a family. While visiting the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry, Ireland we came across this huge stunning beach called Inch beach. It is a heaven for surfing! There are local surfing instructors available in the beach with all the equipment you need for surfing (wet-suits and boards). The lessons are available for small groups and we booked for the whole family. It starts with the basics of surfing techniques and safety tips on the sand. Afterwards the group goes to the water where the instructor helps each member to catch waves and improve their techniques. Our daughter got to stand and surf many times while us parents weren’t so lucky (or skilled)! Nevertheless it was an amazing experience for all of us and we had a great time surfing together.

Seeing Puffins in Scotland

Scotland puffins

Broad orange beaks, curious eyes and a walk like a determined toddler make puffins one of the cutest birds you will see. My kids fell in love with puffins when we happened across the Irish children’s cartoon Puffin Rock on Netflix. Puffins stay at sea for many months of the year, so when we realised we would be in Scotland during Puffin season we were all excited. Staying on the gorgeous Isle of Mull we took a guided tour to one of the uninhabited islands nearby. An easy walk to the top of the cliff. We found our spot to watch the puffins returning to their burrows. Unlike other wildlife encounters patience isn’t required here, making puffin spotting great for kids. Since our presence near the burrows keeps the predator gulls away the puffins take the opportunity to rest on land and return with tiny silver fish to feed their pufflings.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone with kids

Yellowstone National Park has everything a family could want on a vacation.  It has prime wildlife viewing from bison to grizzly bears to the cute chipmunks and if you are really luck wolves.  There geothermal features such as Old Faithful Geyser to the rainbow pools of water.  Yellowstone offers a range of hikes to fit all ages from the boardwalks in the geothermal areas to the multi-day hike along the Yellowstone River.  The hikes all offer astounding views of the national park.  A plus is that cell service is very limited in the park, so everyone in the family has to put down the cell phone and interact with each other.  Camping in the park offers a chance to get away and experience nature without distractions.

Just remember that all the wildlife is wild and should be kept that way so no feeding or touching them.

NYE in Sydney

NYE Sydney

The single biggest “WOW” event of our ‘round-the-world (RTW) journey was spending New Year’s Eve in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is an especially great location to experience a family New Year’s Eve for the following reasons:

1) It’s summer Down Under so you can also explore Sydney’s fabulous beaches and other outdoor adventures,

2) The backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are second-to-none, and

3) Sydney provides TWO complete fireworks shows on NYE—one at 9 p.m. for the kids, and another at midnight!

Things to know:  Rooms with harbor views book up a year in advance and typically run $700-1,000+  per night ,  with a 5-10 night minimum . Definitely not budget friendly! Fortunately, scoring an inexpensive room in Sydney isn’t completely impossible. For tips on how you can celebrate a  Conde Nast  style New Year’s Eve with a  Budget Travel wallet, visit 4 Worn Passports (above).

I hope you are inspired by these awesome bucket list vacations for families and are ready to start planning your next trip.  

What awesome bucket list experience have you done together as a family?  What’s on your future bucket list?  I would love to hear, in the comments below.  

Save this for later. PIN this to Pinterest!

Family travel bucket list

Enjoyed Reading this Post? SIGN UP for more.

Email address:

  • Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Sweepstakes

21 Life-changing Trips Everyone Should Experience at Least Once

From African safaris to must-visit cities, these once-in-a-lifetime trips will make you want to plan your next great adventure.

Elizabeth Rhodes is a special projects editor at Travel + Leisure , covering everything from luxury hotels to theme parks to must-pack travel products. Originally from South Carolina, Elizabeth moved to New York City from London, where she started her career as a travel blogger and writer.

bucket list trips for families

What's next on your travel list? With so many places worth traveling to, it can be hard to narrow down your top spots to visit.

Sometimes, it's the famous attractions, delicious food, and stunning hotels that draw us to a certain destination, and other times, it's the bragging rights that come with checking off every continent, country, or state. Whatever your motivation, we've rounded up 21 incredible trips, complete with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and iconic sights you won't find anywhere else in the world.

So, what makes a trip truly life-changing? That answer varies from traveler to traveler, but one thing is for sure: From African safaris to classic road trips, this list will make you want to plan your next great adventure.

Deciding between the historic cities of Rome, Venice, Naples, and Florence for the top destination to visit feels impossible, so the entire country of Italy deserves a spot on your list. Start in the Eternal City and head north through the rolling hills of Tuscany to visit Florence, followed by Milan or Venice, or go south to the beaches of the beautiful Amalfi Coast and Sicily.

New York, New York

Visiting the Statue of Liberty , standing at the top of the Empire State Building, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge: These are just a few of the things you can only do in New York City. Whether you dream of visiting all the places you've seen on screen, catching a Broadway show, or eating your way through the city's diverse neighborhoods, there's no doubt that NYC deserves a spot on your list.

Tokyo, Japan

Old and new come together in Japan's bustling capital city. Historic temples and shrines, busy shopping districts, delicious food, and some of the world's best theme parks and attractions — whatever your interests, there's something for you in Tokyo.

Paris, France

From watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle and viewing famous works of art at world-renowned museums to eating delicious French pastries, there are innumerable reasons that Paris deserves a spot on your list. Of course, other dreamy French destinations like Mont-Saint-Michel, Chamonix, and the Riviera are well worth a visit, too.

Busy medinas, intricate architecture, and a unique combination of cultural influences make Morocco unlike anywhere else on the planet. Whether you're traveling to bustling Marrakesh, pretty coastal cities, or remote desert towns (or hopefully, all three), a trip to Morocco is bound to be one to remember.

Monica Farber/Travel + Leisure

From the whitewashed homes of Santorini to the Ios party scene to the relaxing atmosphere of Milos, there's a perfect Greek Island for every type of traveler. Island hopping gives you the chance to experience more of what the country has to offer, but plan to spend a couple of days in Athens at the beginning and/or end of your trip.

T+L Backpack Quiz

Rory Fuller/Travel + Leisure

Machu Picchu

Seeing the historic ruins of the Incan Empire set among the breathtaking Andes at Machu Picchu is an undeniably life-changing experience. The stunning citadel ruins of Machu Picchu are worth the journey — and for some travelers, that trip, often taken by train or on foot as a multi-day trek , is a big part of the experience. Editor’s note: Machu Picchu is currently closed due to civil unrest in Peru. Visit the  official website  for the latest news and reopening details.

African Safari

Seeing majestic animals like lions, elephants, and rhinos in the wild is a dream best accomplished with an African safari . South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Kenya are among the most popular safari destinations — and in each of those countries, you'll find incredible lodges and tour operators who can help you spot these creatures in their natural habitat.

Whether you dream of cruising down the famed Nile River, seeing the Pyramids of Giza, or visiting the ancient Valley of the Kings, Egypt's historic wonders make the destination completely unique (and worthy of a spot on your travel list).

Unlike many of the action-packed trips on this list, the Maldives is synonymous with relaxation, luxury, and romance. A stay in an overwater bungalow set atop turquoise blue waters is the ultimate getaway that's worth the long-haul flight and oftentimes pricey accommodations.

Antarctica Cruise

Hoping to visit all seven continents? Cross Antarctica off your list with a cruise. Several major cruise lines have journeys to Antarctica, offering incredible views of the ice and wildlife from the comfort and safety of a ship. Travelers typically fly in and out of Buenos Aires en route to Ushuaia (where most cruises depart from); we recommend spending a few days in the fascinating Argentine city before your expedition.

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

Dubbed one of the natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is a can't-miss for many wildlife lovers. Of course, Australia's gorgeous coastline, the iconic Sydney Opera House, and fuzzy creatures like kangaroos and koalas are also reasons to head to the destination. Fly into Sydney and spend a few days there before heading out to explore more of this expansive country teeming with natural beauty.

Galapagos Islands

Incredible and diverse plant and animal species make the Galapagos Islands another must-visit for nature-loving travelers. This stunning archipelago off the coast of Ecuador is best explored by cruise, so you can take in as many breathtaking landscapes and animals as possible during your trip.

Like the other countries on this list, India has countless destinations worth exploring, but one of the most famous attractions that travelers dream of seeing for themselves is the Taj Mahal. This 17th-century white marble mausoleum has drawn visitors to Agra for years. Luxury travelers might consider a train trip aboard the Maharajas' Express (with a stop at the Taj Mahal) as the ultimate experience. Travelers planning to visit the Taj Mahal or take the luxurious train ride will want to fly into Delhi, India's capital territory.

Petra, Jordan

The stunning ancient city of Petra is made up of several impressive structures carved into sandstone rock faces, including the famous Al-Khazneh. The city dates back thousands of years, making this UNESCO World Heritage site a must-visit for history buffs.

Passing through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Bhutan, and Nepal, the Himalayas are home to some of the world's highest peaks — and that means breathtaking mountain views, too. For adventurous and active travelers, climbing Mount Everest (or at least trekking to Everest Base Camp) is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

American National Park Road Trip

The classic American road trip is a mainstay on many travelers' lists — and for good reason. The country's incredible national parks , including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite, are best explored on road trips with stops at charming small towns and kitschy roadside attractions.

Great Wall of China

Stretching across China for thousands of miles, with sections dating back nearly 2,000 years, the Great Wall is regarded as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Visitors can hike along parts of the wall — some areas are located within driving distance of Beijing, so it's a perfect day trip from the city.

Easter Island

The hundreds of monolithic moai statues have drawn curious visitors to Easter Island for years. This remote Polynesian island is worth the lengthy trip for travelers hoping to see these impressive human figures, while also soaking in some incredible coastal views.

Northern Lights Trip

Catching a glimpse of the elusive northern lights is possible in several destinations close to the Arctic Circle, including Alaska, Iceland, Canada, Greenland, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. All of these places have incredible viewpoints (and even hotels where you can see the phenomenon from your bed ), in addition to great, wintry scenery. (The lights are best viewed from late fall through early spring.)

Thailand and Vietnam

A trip through Southeast Asia is a must for any traveler, especially foodies who love street eats. While you could spend weeks in each of these countries, Thailand and Vietnam can easily be paired for an exciting trip packed with lush scenery, cultural experiences, and delicious food. Have a little extra time to spare? Add Cambodia to the mix and include a visit to expansive Angkor Wat.

FLT Logo 189x60

  • Massachusetts
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Washington D.C.
  • Washington State
  • Niagara Falls
  • Playa Del Carmen
  • Paris, France
  • Rome, Italy
  • Venice, Italy
  • Florence, Italy
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Seville, Spain
  • London, U.K
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Cayman Islands
  • Saint Lucia
  • Turks and Caicos
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Cartagena, Colombia
  • New Zealand

bucket list trips for families

  • All Inclusive
  • National and State Parks
  • RV Vacations
  • Skiing/Winter Activities
  • Summer Vacation
  • Winter Travel
  • Spring Break
  • Animal Encounters
  • City and Culture
  • Virtual Vacations
  • Weekend Getaways

bucket list trips for families

  • Packing Tips
  • Road Trip Tips

Family Travel Tips

  • Travelling With Babies
  • Travelling With Toddlers
  • Gifts and Gear -Travel Gift Ideas
  • Submission Guidlines

25 Best Bucket List Experiences For Your Family In the United States

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

Mother and daughter stand together with an expansive view of Zion National Park behind them.

Travelers in search of epic adventures can’t miss these best bucket list experiences for your family in the United States! Curated by the “Families Who Love To Travel” group , this list is a collection of the most recommended travel experiences across the United States, as shared by its enthusiastic member families. From canyoneering in Moab, Utah to diving into the vibrant underwater world of Florida, there are endless options across the country for adventurous and outdoorsy families who are seeking an adrenaline rush. Plus, these adventures are not just destinations; they are gateways to creating unforgettable memories with your loved ones. Here’s what families like yours have cherished the most! 

Utah’s Outdoor Adventures

If you’re looking for bucket list experiences that will leave a lasting impression on your family, Utah’s outdoor adventures are an absolute must. From stunning red rock landscapes to jaw-dropping canyons and majestic national parks, this state offers a plethora of thrilling activities suitable for everyone. Here are some of our favorite bucket list adventures in Utah! 

Horseback Riding in Bryce Canyon

A group of riders on horseback in Bryce Canyon, Utah. It's one of the best bucket list experiences in the United States for your family.

If you’re seeking an extraordinary adventure that combines breathtaking landscapes with the thrill of horseback riding, then look no further than Bryce Canyon in the United States. This iconic national park is not only a geological wonder but also offers unforgettable horseback riding experiences for families of all ages and abilities. 

Canyon Trail Rides offers 2-hour and 3-hour guided horse and mule rides into the Bryce Amphitheater along a dedicated horse trail and the Peekaboo Loop Trail. These guided trail rides usually start in April and run through the end of October, depending on the weather. 

Jeeping and Exploring Slot Canyons

A young boy in Peekaboo Slot Canyon, Kanab. It's one of the best bucket list experiences in the United States for your family.

Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

Families looking for a thrilling adventure in the United States should include a visit to Utah’s slot canyons on their must-do list. This breathtaking natural wonderland boasts several iconic canyons that will leave families wanting more. 

Viator offers a Peekaboo Slot Canyon Jeep Tour from Kanab. Families can cruise in a Jeep to the Peekaboo Slot Canyon, appreciating the sights along the way. Then, you’ll get to enjoy a walk through the canyon, with its mesmerizing red sandstone walls. 

Rock Climbing and Canyoneering In Moab

A dad an his son go canyoneering in Cañon City.

Look no further than Moab for your next family bucket list experience in the United States! Renowned for its gorgeous red rock landscapes and outdoor adventures, this destination holds infinite possibilities for families seeking adrenaline-fueled excursions.  

Rock climbing and canyoneering stand out as two activities that will not only challenge your physical limitations but also create lasting bonds together as a family. Various companies around Moab such as Moab Desert Adventures and Moab Canyon Tours teach kids the basics about hiking, rappelling, etc. Keep in mind kids must be 7 years or older for this activity. 

Check out our One Week Itinerary in Zion and Bryce With Kids ! 

Hiking The Narrows In Zion

A hiker wading through the river in The Narrows, Zion National Park.

The Narrows, aka the narrowest section of Zion National Park in Utah, is certainly a bucket list experience families will remember forever! This iconic hike isn’t for the faint of heart, but it offers a unique and exhilarating experience that combines natural beauty and physical challenges. 

If you’re not looking to stay overnight, the Bottom-Up Zion Narrows Hike is the best option. Depending on your chosen path, the hike can last anywhere from 10 miles to 2 miles round trip. To see the iconic Wall Street section of the canyon, you need to hike at least 6 miles round trip, 4 of which require wading in the Virgin River surrounded by massive sandstone cliffs. Remember to wear sturdy water shoes, boots, and walking sticks, or rent them from right outside the park. The Riverside Walk , a 1.9-mile loop, is great for smaller children. 

Book East Zion: Crimson Slot Canyon Exploration and UTV Tour through Getyoruguide here!

Arizona’s Desert Wonders

Arizona’s Desert Wonders should be at the top of your bucket list experiences. With its breathtaking landscapes and unique opportunities for exploration, this southwestern gem offers endless possibilities to create unforgettable memories. Keep reading to find out more! 

Cliff Jumping and Hiking in Sedona

A young girl looks at the red rocks in Sedona.

Photo Courtesy: (L) – Christi Flanary, (M) – Julia Mylnarsky, (R) – Lauren Lanier

Our Families Who Love To Travel group members rave about the combination of natural beauty and adrenaline-pumping activities in Sedona! There are plenty of hiking trails in Sedona to choose from, each one ranging in difficulty. One popular option is the Cathedral Rock Overlook , accessible via the Cathedral Rock Trail. This 1.2-mile hike is rated as intermediate, as there are some steeper uphill parts. The Sedona View Trail is an easy hike at around 1.2 miles. It leads to a picturesque viewpoint that overlooks Chimney Rock, Coffee Pot Rock, and Thunder Mountain. 

Cliff jumping is another popular activity among daredevils in Sedona, though we only recommend it for teens or older kids who know how to swim well. The Fossil Creek Waterfall, accessible via a one-mile hike from the parking lot, is a well-known spot. 

ATV Rental in Sedona

Two adults sit in an ATV exploring the Sedona desert.

ATVs are a popular way to get around Sedona, especially through stunning backcountry areas. Members of our group recommend companies such as Sedona ATV Rentals , but there are plenty of other rental companies to choose from. Some offer ATVs to rent and drive, while others offer tours around Sedona. Either way, it’s a fantastic way to travel through the rugged and beautiful Red Rock Country, especially with preteens or teens. 

Book this Red Rock West Jeep Tour with Getyourguide here!

Here is an ​​ Exciting 5-Day Sedona Itinerary For Families !

Antelope Canyon Tour

A Father and a son at Antelope Canyon, Arizona. It's one of the best bucket list experiences in the United States for your family.

According to our Families Who Love To Travel group members, another must-do activity in Sedona with kids is touring Antelope Canyon. Tucked away in the heart of Arizona, this slot canyon boasts mesmerizing rock formations and sunbeam-filled crevices, creating an otherworldly sight that captures the imagination of both adults and children alike.

Antelope Canyon offers guided tours of the Upper Canyon, which last around an hour and 45 minutes. First, you’ll be driven to the canyon in a truck, then, with your guide, you can explore the iconic sandstone walls, shaped by years and years of water and wind. Kids will love taking cool photos and learning more about the canyon! 

California’s Coastal and Forest Retreats

What better place to take a bucket list adventure in the United States than the stunning coastal and forest retreats of California? With its diverse landscapes and countless attractions, this West Coast state offers an abundance of experiences that cater to all ages! 

The Cave Store in La Jolla

The Cave Store in La Jolla surrounded by beautiful waves. It's one of the best bucket list experiences in the United States for your family.

Families in search of a unique bucket list experience in San Diego can’t miss The Cave Store in La Jolla! This fun gift shop is also the easiest way to visit Sunny Jim Cave, the largest sea cave in San Diego. Shop while you wait for your turn to go in the cave, and then around 10-12 people go down at once. You have around 15 minutes to view the cave, which is just enough time to snap some cool family photos!

Hiking In Muir Woods

A view of the towering trees at Muir Woods near San Francisco.

Known for its towering redwood trees and various species of wildlife, Muir Woods National Monument is certainly a contender on our list of bucket list experiences for your family in the United States. 

This natural preserve showcases several paths that wind along Cathedral Grove, Bohemian Grove, and Redwood Creek. There are over 6 miles of trails, and most of them are easy, making them ideal for hiking with all ages or skill levels. There’s a 1/2-hour loop that’s popular with families, a longer 1-hour loop, and a 1 and 1/2-hour loop. Plus, families can also trek some longer hikes that extend into Mount Tamalpais State Park. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in one of the many picnic areas! 

Book From San Francisco: Muir Woods and Sausalito Half-Day Trip with Getyourguide here!

Fallen Leaf Lake, South Lake Tahoe

A view of someone standing on the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe.

One of the most remarkable bucket list experiences for families in the United States is a visit to Fallen Leaf Lake, nestled in the breathtaking surroundings of South Lake Tahoe. This hidden gem offers an unparalleled opportunity for families to reconnect with nature. 

One of the best ways to see the lake is by hiking. Take the Angora Ridge from just behind the Chapel on the Angora Lake Trail and within a few hundred yards, you’ll get a beautiful view of the lake. At the top of the ridge, you can keep following the trail to Angora Road, turn right, and continue on the road to Angora Lakes. In the summer, make sure you have money to buy fresh-squeezed lemonade at the Angora Lakes store. What a refreshing reward for your adventure! 

Wyoming’s Wild Nature

Wyoming’s wild nature offers an awe-inspiring adventure like no other. As recommended by our group members, this majestic state is home to remarkable national parks and stunning landscapes, making it the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Horseback Riding in Yellowstone

Two kids stand smiling with the Grand Prismatic behind them at Yellowstone National Park.

Few experiences can rival horseback riding in Yellowstone National Park! An iconic destination on many bucket lists, this adventure offers a truly unique way to explore the park’s breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife. 

Yellowstone National Park Lodges offers one to two-hour horse rides at Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon. On your adventure, you’ll be greeted by stunning landscapes comprising mountains, valleys, and vibrant geothermal features. Riding through these landscapes allows your family to connect with nature at its finest while immersing yourselves in the park’s rich history and diverse ecosystems! 

Boiling River in Yellowstone

A mother and daughter posing by the Boiling River sign in Yellowstone National Park.

Tucked away within Yellowstone’s borders lies a natural hot spring where hot water from geothermal vents mixes with the cold waters of Gardner River, creating an otherworldly experience. The result is a stretch of river where you can soak and swim amidst steamy waters while surrounded by stunning wilderness, The Boiling River . While you can’t currently swim in the river due to the effects of recent floods, you can still appreciate its beauty from afar and snap a photo. 

Kayaking in Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons

Two kids splash in Jenny Lake, one of the best things to do in Grand Tetons National Park with kids.

Whether you love the mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers, or forests, your family will never forget the striking landscapes of Grand Tetons National Park . One unique opportunity to see the park, available from mid-June through mid-September, is to canoe or kayak on Jenny Lake . 

Rental boats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Also at Jenny Lake, check to see if the scenic cruises are operating. If so, take one of these tours and learn the history of the park and see incredible scenery along the way. 

Colorado’s Mountain Excursions

One bucket list destination that shouldn’t be overlooked is the beautiful state of Colorado. Known for its majestic mountains and breathtaking scenery, Colorado offers a plethora of exciting opportunities for families seeking thrilling adventures while surrounded by nature’s finest landscapes. Here are some more of the best bucket list experiences for your family in the United States! 

Whitewater Rafting

Several people raft down a river in Colorado with Glenwood Canyon Rafting.

Another adventure that should make its way onto your list is whitewater rafting in Colorado. This magnificent state boasts numerous spots that offer thrilling rapids and breathtaking scenery, making it the perfect destination for an adrenaline-pumping experience. 

Among the many remarkable locations is the Arkansas River, which has rapids suitable for all skill levels. Families can opt for a guided trip through Brown’s Canyon , where they will navigate class III whitewater while marveling at picturesque views of towering cliffs and lush forests. For more advanced adventurers seeking an epic challenge, Clear Creek provides exhilarating class IV rapids combined with stunning mountain landscapes near Denver. The Royal Gorge section of the Arkansas River is equally impressive, featuring intense class IV-V rapids as well as the iconic suspension bridge towering 1,053 feet above this legendary waterway. 

For a family friendly adventure, try Family Float: Beginners River Rafting Adventure through Getyourguide!

Exploring Mesa Verde National Park

A stunning view of the remaining indigenous buildings at Mesa Verde National Park, one of the best things to do in Colorado with kids.

Mesa Verde National Park is known for housing the Cliff Palace , the largest cliff dwelling in North America. Families will find this stunning archaeological recreation surrounded by wilderness in Montezuma County , in the southwestern corner of Colorado. Since it’s pretty big, we recommend a mixture of driving and hiking to get the most out of your visit. 

Families can also book a guided tour, which will make it easier to traverse the park and learn more about its importance. Of course, Cliff Palace will be your main destination, as it’s the biggest and best dwelling in the park. Three overlooks you can reach for the best view are Sunpoint, Sun Temple, and Cliff Palace. Though the road to Cliff Palace is closed in the winter, you can still see it from Mesa Top Sites. 

Hawaii’s Island Adventures

Whether it’s snorkeling or hiking, the beautiful islands of Hawaii offer an array of incredible activities that cater to all ages. If you’re searching for extraordinary bucket list experiences for your family in the United States, don’t miss this tropical paradise! 

Off-Roading In Lanai

An off-roading adventure in Lanai, Hawaii.

When it comes to bucket list experiences for your family in the United States, one adventure that should not be missed is off-roading in Lanai, Hawaii. This island paradise offers a unique and thrilling opportunity to explore its rugged terrain by vehicle! 

Families can rent 4×4 vehicles and explore on their own, or choose to do so with a guide. North Lānaʻi has the most off-road paths to explore. Kānepuʻu Preserve is 4.8 miles and 20 minutes away from Lānaʻi City on a dirt path. Another five minutes down the path, you’ll find the dramatic landscape of Keahiakawelo. Adventurous families can head 35 minutes and 4.7 miles even further to reach the remote white sands of Polihua Beach. 

Boat Ride Along The Na Pali Coast

A view of the mountains and emerald blue waters of the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii.

If you’re looking for an awe-inspiring adventure for your family, a boat ride along the Na Pali Coast should be at the top of your bucket list experiences. Located on the breathtaking island of Kauai in Hawaii, this scenic coastline stretches 17 miles and boasts towering cliffs, lush green valleys, and pristine turquoise waters.

Tour companies such as Capt Andy’s , Na Pali Riders , and Viator all offer different options for exploring the coast, whether you want to take a dinner cruise, explore the caves, or go snorkeling. You’ll feel like an explorer as you cruise past hidden sea caves and secluded beaches accessible only by water! 

Snorkeling or Swimming With Manta Rays, Turtles, and Dolphins on Big Island

A close up of a young boy wearing lime green snorkel gear while snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii.

In search of memorable bucket list experiences for your family? Snorkeling or swimming with manta rays, turtles, and dolphins on the Big Island of Hawaii is an adventure that will create lasting memories. Known for its crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life, the island offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats.

Families who want to see manta rays up close can take a manta ray night snorkeling tour through companies such as Hawaii Tours or Coral Reef Adventures . You’ll get to see this majestic marine life off the coast of Kailua-Kona, where they’ll be glimmering in the moonlight! Also in Kona, families can snorkel with turtles at Kahalu’u Beach Park. Or, if you’d rather swim with dolphins, check out Dolphin Quest at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. 

Book Big Island: Kona Half-Day Boat Tour with Snorkeling tour through Getyourguide here!

Relaxing at Kaanapali and Poipu Beach

A clear day at the Kaanapali Beach, with sand in the foreground and bright blue water in the background.

When it comes to bucket list experiences for a family visiting the United States, few destinations can rival the beauty and serenity of Hawaii’s beaches. Sun, sand, and turquoise waters combine seamlessly in this idyllic setting, perfect for family fun! 

Located on the picturesque island of Maui, Kaanapali Beach offers a perfect blend of stunning coastline, crystal-clear waters, and golden sand. Families can soak up the sun while building sandcastles or enjoy thrilling water activities like snorkeling and paddleboarding. Meanwhile, on the tropical paradise known as Kauai lies Poipu Beach – a true haven for relaxation seekers. Here, families can unwind amidst palm trees and indulge in leisurely beach picnics surrounded by breathtaking ocean views.

New Mexico’s Sky-High Experience

Looking to create unforgettable memories with your loved ones? Look no further than New Mexico, one of the best bucket list experiences for your family in the United States! Keep reading for our group members’ suggestions! 

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Balloons soaring in the sky at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is surely one of the best bucket list experiences for a family visiting the United States! Happening in October, this annual nine-day event takes place in New Mexico and showcases a mesmerizing display of hot air balloons like you’ve never seen before. 

From balloon rides with breathtaking views to special events such as balloon glow where illuminated balloons light up like giant lanterns at dusk, there is no shortage of enchantment here. For kids, there are interactive exhibits and educational experiences that teach them about the science behind ballooning and allow them to get hands-on with various aspects of aviation. There are also carving competitions, drone light shows, and more sights that are sure to impress kids! 

Use Expedia to reserve your hotel stay in Albuquerque now!

Florida’s Underwater Exploration

Florida’s underwater exploration should surely feature on your bucket list experiences for family adventures. With its vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs, the Sunshine State offers a plethora of opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts of all ages! 

Snorkeling in Dry Tortugas National Park

A mom and child snorkel underwater at Dry Tortugas National Park.

Just a quick boat ride away from Key West (2.5 hours) is Dry Tortugas National Park, one of the most unique national parks in the United States. It comprises 7 islands across 100 square miles. This stunning national park is also home to beautiful reefs, crystal clear waters, and an abundance of sea life. 

One of the main draws here is exploring Fort Jefferson , a 19th-century fort built to protect the Florida Keys from enemy ships. There are also plenty of opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking in the clear blue waters. Little explorers can learn more about the island through the Junior Ranger Handbook (available online or from a park ranger on-site). Plus, families who love to camp can spend the night camping in Garden Key ! 

North Carolina’s Coastal Charm

With its enchanting blend of stunning beaches, rich history, and vibrant culture, North Carolina’s coastal charm is an absolute must. Here are our favorite bucket list experiences for your family in the United States! 

Sandboarding In The Outer Banks

A mom and toddler son build a sand castle on a beach in the Outer Banks while staying at the Sanderling Resort Oasis Suites Hotel.

Sandboarding in the Outer Banks is another bucket list experience for your family in the United States! This picturesque coastal region, stretching along North Carolina’s coastline, offers endless sandy dunes that are perfect for this exhilarating activity. One particularly popular spot among our Families Who Love To Travel group members is Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the largest natural sand dune system in Eastern America. 

Families can rent sandboards from companies such as Kitty Hawk Kites on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s thrilling, but also incredibly safe for all ages and skill levels – making it an ideal activity to bond over during your stay in these beautiful coastal islands! 

Looking for a homestay in the Outer Banks? Use Vrbo to book your vacation home here!

Wild Horse Tour in Outer Banks

A truck with a seating arrangement over the back views wild horses enjoying a beach in the Outer Banks.

Animal lovers visiting the Outer Banks can’t miss a chance to take a wild horse tour. Recommended by our Families Who Love To Travel group members, this excursion promises a mesmerizing encounter with majestic wild horses roaming freely in their natural habitat. A lot of tours take families through the scenic town of Corolla, where you’ll get to see these creatures and learn more about them through knowledgeable guides. 

Companies like Wild Horse Tours or Corolla Wild Horse Tours take families to otherwise inaccessible areas of the beach on a 4×4 vehicle so they can see the horses up close. It’s truly an amazing experience for wildlife enthusiasts of all ages! 

Alaska’s Icy Adventures

Few destinations in the United States can compare to the breathtaking wonders found in Alaska. Featuring vast landscapes and abundant wildlife, this icy paradise truly encapsulates numerous once-in-a-lifetime encounters! 

Dog Sledding on Mendenhall Glacier

A musher with huskies in Alaska for a dog sledding excursion.

Families looking for an extraordinary adventure in the United States should consider dog sledding on Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska. Located in the rugged wilderness of Juneau, this outing offers an incredible blend of natural beauty and thrilling outdoor activity.

With companies like Alaska Shore Excursions , Temsco Air , and Juneau Shore Tour , you’ll get two epic adventures in one. First, you’ll visit the helicopter base, and then after a safety briefing, you can ride in the helicopter to the glacier base! Once you reach the glacier, you’ll start the dogsledding portion of the tour. Not only will you get to travel through Alaska’s gorgeous wilderness in a fun and exciting way, but the dogs are adorable, too, and very receptive to cuddles! 

Michigan’s Scenic Dunes

An unforgettable adventure awaits in the beautiful state of Michigan, where the scenic dunes offer an enchanting experience for all ages. These towering sand hills, stretching majestically along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, present a thrilling opportunity for not only enjoyment but also connection with nature. Keep reading to find out more! 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Beautiful view from a beach dune of Lake Michigan

Families who want the unique experience of visiting a sugar sand beach in the Midwest can’t miss Sleeping Bear Dunes . Located along Lake Michigan, it’s where you’ll find The Dune Climb , a favorite among our Families Who Love To Travel group members! 

While this climb is strenuous, you can turn around anytime and kids will have a blast running back down. In addition to climbing the dune, families can also hike other trails within the park. Then, when you’re ready to relax at the beach and splash in the water, choose from several beaches where you’ll find clear water, lots of sunshine, and plenty of fun to keep your kids happy. 

Read these 16 Fantastic Places To Visit In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With Kids ! 

Northeastern US’s Marine Life

From majestic whales to adorable seals, the East Coast of the United States offers a multitude of exciting encounters. Here are some more bucket list experiences for your family in the United States! 

Kayaking and Whale Watching in Bar Harbor, Maine

A whale jumps out of the ocean near Bar Harbor, captured by Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor with kids.

In terms of thrilling bucket list experiences for your family in the United States, Bar Harbor should be at the top of your list! According to our Families Who Love To Travel group members, this charming coastal town in Maine offers a ton of adventures the whole family can enjoy together. One example is kayaking along the stunning coastline, where kids will get to spot harbor seals, porpoises, bald eagles, osprey, and other wildlife. Coastal Kayaking Tours and Maine State Sea Kayak offer different options, including ones at sunset. Or, book a tour with Bar Harbor Whale Watching Co. to spot whales, puffins, dolphins, and more! 

This list is a testament to the adventurous spirit of families who love to travel. Each destination comes highly recommended by those who have experienced and cherished these moments first-hand, ensuring that your family’s adventures will be nothing short of spectacular.

These are some Amazing Things to Do in Bar Harbor with Kids ! 

Happy Travels!

Two people climbing atop a large rock formation in Utah.

We hope you liked this article on the 25 Best Bucket List Experiences For Your Family In the United States! From Colorado to Maine, these suggestions by our Families Who Love To Travel group members are sure to be a hit with your family. Enjoy your next bucket list adventure! 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

A mother and her child hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Planning a Sedona itinerary for families is a great way to ensure that everyone enjoys their time in this beautiful Read more

Large family enjoying family dinner

Wondering how to recharge your batteries as a family before school starts? With many vacation plans disrupted due to COVID-19, Read more

In the Summer of 2017, my family took a two-week trip-of-a-lifetime to California, where we stopped for 3 days in Read more

Everyone knows that Yellowstone National Park makes for a classic family vacation. Strolling the boardwalks around Old Faithful and taking Read more

Thanks for reading!

Love our content?

Stay in the know by  subscribing to our weekly newsletter .

Immerse yourself in a world of limitless exploration by joining us on  Instagram at families.love.travel .

Join our vibrant  Facebook community, "Families Who Love to Travel,"  (where family travelers like you can ask for advice and share tips with other families!).

Plus, you can read our latest articles by following our  Facebook page .

Shop for Family  Travel  Memorabilia  on Shop Families Love Travel.

Latest Articles

How to plan a yellowstone national park family vacation.

Everyone knows that Yellowstone National Park makes for a classic family vacation. Strolling the boardwalks...

Best Beaches® Turks and Caicos Review By A UK Family

Beaches Turks and Caicos may not seem like a typical vacation destination for a UK...

Three children swimming in blue water in Cayman Islands.

All About the Cayman Islands With Kids: Important Information You Need to Know

If you’re traveling to the Cayman Islands with kids, there’s some important information you need...

  • Next »

Travel Gift Ideas

A young boy plays with legos on his airplane tray table during a flight.

18 Exciting Travel Toys For Young Kids That Will Keep Them Entertained The Whole Trip

A mom and her little girl read a book together on a comfy chair.

Top Travel Books for Little Kids

Little ouse on the Prairie book set for teens

Top Travel Books for Tweens and Teens

National park with kids.

Three children on a hike enjoying the view at Acadia National Park

6 Days in Acadia National Park with Kids

One week itinerary in zion and bryce with kids.

A mom holds her infant son on an airplane.

Use These 10 Tips For Your Baby’s First Flight

Families Who Love To Travel contributor Meghan Oaks provides her 10 best tips for your...

A young boy plays with legos on his airplane tray table during a flight.

When you're planning a family vacation, it's important to pack travel toys that will keep...

Baby girl with floral headband chewing on string of wooden cheese toy

6 Best Travel Toys for Toddlers on a Road Trip

What are the best travel toys for toddlers? With help from our Facebook community, Families...

bucket list trips for families

Families Love Travel Team

Last Updated on 2 months by Kasumi

  • Work With Jen
  • USA Bucket List
  • Follow Us On Instagram

Our United States Bucket List: 15 Must-See Places for Families

This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy .

Are you looking for a list of must-see places to add to your family’s United States bucket lis t?

The following article contains our actual (still in progress) United States bucket list of places that we’re committed to visiting as a family before the kids leave the nest.

It includes our exact itineraries to the places we’ve already visited and have checked off the list.

Use these ideas to help customize your very own USA bucket list which will include the U.S. cities, towns, and National Parks you dream of visiting.

Happy travels!

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!

Table of Contents

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.

When your children are young, customize your family vacation bucket list to include destinations that are close to your hometown.

Our first two bucket list destinations are within driving distance of our hometown and are places that we continue to love to explore to this day.

The remainder of the places that we’ve visited, and have yet to visit, on our USA bucket list are all well-known and what we consider – “must-see” for all.

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.

Allow for flexibility and spontaneity in your 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.
  • Accommodations: The Suites Hotel at Waterfront Plaza (Awesome pool area and hot breakfast included with your stay.)

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 in Duluth, MN include:

  • Canal Park and the Aerial Lift Bridge
  • Climbing Enger Tower
  • Sipping brews at Duluth’s craft breweries
  • Visiting the Great Lakes Aquarium
  • Riding the North Shore Scenic Railroad
  • Exploring the must-see stops on the North Shore Scenic Drive

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 in Wisconsin Dells, WI 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!

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.
  • Accommodations: Cambria Hotel Rapid City (Central location with a huge indoor swimming pool and hot tub.)

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 in Black Hills, SD 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!

4. San Diego (California)

  • Ages: We visited San Diego when our 3 kids were ages 9, 7, and 5 years old.
  • Accommodations: VRBO vacation rental home adjacent to Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas, 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, 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 in San Diego, CA 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!

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.
  • Accommodations: Thunderbird Lodge (Family-focused lodge in an excellent location.)

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 at Grand Canyon National Park 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!

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.

We’ve also found that there are dozens of awesome things to do in Orlando for adults if you’re visiting there when older.

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, FL include:

  • 1-day at Magic Kingdom
  • 1-day at Epcot
  • 1-day at Animal Kingdom
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Going to Gatorland
  • Spending a day at Discovery Cove
  • Riding the ICON Observation Wheel
  • Hitting up the thrill rides at Universal Resort’s Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure

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

7. Sightseeing in Chicago (Illinois)

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

Accommodations: Embassy Suites Chicago (Downtown River North or Magnificent Mile – both are great and very family-friendly!

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.

And, be sure to check out our list of the best t hings to do in Chicago in winter if you’re visiting there during the colder months.

Our must-do recommendations in Chicago, IL include:

  • Millennium Park (Crown Fountain, the Bean, etc.)
  • Spending an afternoon at Navy Pier with the kids
  • Going on an Architectural River Cruise
  • Eating a Chicago hot dog and other famous Chicago foods
  • Visiting 360 Chicago and riding TILT
  • Exploring the many things to do in Chicago at night

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!

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.

Our must-do recommendations when visiting Glacier National Park include:

  • 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.

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.

In addition, we’ve written about the BEST things to do in Washington D.C. with kids , as well as things to do in Washington D.C. in winter .

Our must-do recommendations in Washington D.C. 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

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 easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park and other popular attractions geared toward small children enjoy.

Accommodations: The Ridgeline Hotel in Estes Park, CO

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 do in Estes Park , as well as summarizes our amazing adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

You definitely do not want to visit Rocky Mountain National Park without a plan.

With heavy crowds and with so many areas of the park to explore, it’s important to have a good idea of how to get around, where to park, etc.

We write about the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park and include our 1-day Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary here.

Our must-do recommendations in Estes Park, CO include:

  • Horseback riding at Sombrero Stables
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Mustang Mountain Coaster
  • Visit Downtown Estes Park and do the Riverwalk
  • Explore Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Hike Bear Lake Loop
  • Drive Train Ridege Road

Bucket List Family Vacations featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan: Yellowstone

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!)

Check out the remaining places that we are looking forward to visiting as a family before the kids leave the nest.

  • An Alaskan Cruise – Complete in June 2023 – article coming soon!
  • 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! 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.*

If you enjoyed our USA bucket list as well as our Bucket List Family Trips , click here for our best family travel tips:

  • Top 10 No-Fail Family Road Trip Tips
  • 16 Tips for Effortless Flying with Kids
  • The Ultimate Guide for International Travel with Kids
  • Family Vacation Packing Tips: How to Pack Like A Pro
  • Road Trip Food List: Mess-Free Meals and Snacks

Pin it!

Jen Brommer is a family travel expert. She has been featured as an authority on several notable travel websites and is a member of the Family Travel Association (FTA), Midwest Travel Network, and TravMedia global media network.

A prominent content creator and influencer on Instagram, Jen has over 150K unique monthly blog readers from countries all over the world. She has spent the last 16 years planning fun, and hassle-free family vacations for her family of 5.

Similar Posts

Summer Camping Activities & How to Get the Most From Your Outdoor Adventure

Summer Camping Activities & How to Get the Most From Your Outdoor Adventure

Sarasota Vacation Itinerary + Best Tips For Your Visit

Sarasota Vacation Itinerary + Best Tips For Your Visit

9 Best Restaurants in Canal Park Duluth, MN Everyone Will Love!

9 Best Restaurants in Canal Park Duluth, MN Everyone Will Love!

The Ultimate Siesta Key Family Vacation | Itinerary + Tips For Your Visit

The Ultimate Siesta Key Family Vacation | Itinerary + Tips For Your Visit

25 Best FREE Things to do in Duluth, MN This Summer

25 Best FREE Things to do in Duluth, MN This Summer

15 Easy Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park for the Whole Family

15 Easy Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park for the Whole Family

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 Comments

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.

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 🙂

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!!

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!

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 🙂

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

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!

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

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.

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!

Love all of the National Parks on this list!

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

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

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

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

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 🙂

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

Have fun! National Parks are definitely memory makers!

Find Even More

Find your next vacation destination!

Connect on Instagram

Find out where we’re traveling now!

Jen and family sitting on couch smiling at each other.

Make the memories now

You don’t have to wait until your kids are more grown up or you have a ton of money saved to start traveling.

With a little planning and a lot of love, lifelong family vacation memories can be made at all ages, stages – and places both near and far.

Destinations

  • Attractions
  • Girls’ Trips
  • U.S. Cities
  • All-Inclusive Resorts
  • Universal Orlando

Free Printable

Free packing list printable when you subscribe for the latest travel updates!

Travel With A Plan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Family Vacation Packing List!

Travel With A Plan

  • Privacy Overview
  • Strictly Necessary Cookies

This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful.

Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.

If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.

Live A Wilder Life

THE ULTIMATE BUCKET LIST FOR FAMILIES: USA EDITION

Post Summary: A bucket list for families to get you inspired and excited to explore.

Are you dreaming of a family bucket list adventure? Curious as to what to do and where to begin? With family vacation time so limited for most of the world, it can be hard to decide where to go on your next family trip.

To help you make your own family bucket list, I’ve come up with a bucket list for families that is sure to delight, tickle, and inspire your sense of adventure.

As a family that lived as nomads for two years , we know a thing or two about creating a life of adventure and travel. These ideas are not simple bucket list ideas for families, but rather big and sometimes bold experiences that will create lifetime memories.

Our bucket list for families is based on adventures to be found in the USA. The world is a big and beautiful place, and I couldn’t include the whole world without writing a 20,000-word blog post. But believe me, my personal family fun bucket list includes a wildlife safari in Kenya, sushi in Japan, and a water balloon fight during Songkran in Thailand.

Read through our 50+ family bucket list ideas and see what stirs up a flutter of excitement in your body. That’s probably a good indicator you should put it on your own family travel bucket list.

*This Bucket List For Families post may contain affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission if you purchase from them. This is at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services we truly think are helpful.

WHAT IS A BUCKET LIST FOR FAMILIES?

A family going on a bucket list adventure. A hip father taking selfie with mountains, wife, and toddler in background.

A bucket list in its original intention is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” The term has morphed and evolved into a more fluid term and mostly stands for a list of things that you passionately want to do at some point in your life. A penultimate experience that would add so much value to your life that you have to do it.

A bucket list for families would be a set of experiences or adventures your family wants to do together.

HOW DO I MAKE A FAMILY BUCKET LIST?

Well, the easiest thing is to scroll down and get inspired by our bucket list for families!

But if you’re looking to create an evening of making a family bucket list, the important thing to do is have fun and not censor anyone’s ideas.

Make a few different bucket lists where you list destinations as well as activities. While everyone is in brainstorming mode, the worst thing to do is put down someone’s idea. If your kid says, ride a unicorn, say okay, and put it on the first edition list. Creativity and dreaming big lives in the possibility that anything can happen.

Ask leading questions to stir conversation and ideas. Something like- how do you feel about surfing in Hawaii? Or…what excites you more, exploring space or learning about the ocean? Questions that help to provoke conversation and excitement.

Write it all down, and don’t let your mind get caught up in HOW these amazing but potentially expensive trips will happen. That comes later.

Once you have a family bucket list, a great thing to do is make a family vision board. Perhaps you choose one experience or several, and you cut out images and words that represent what this adventure together FEELS and LOOKS like.

You can compile your list and put it in a pre-formatted book, or you can make your own. We use the one pictured above, but unfortunately, it’s not available to buy anymore. You can browse through similar bucket list journals here .

HOW DO I MAKE THESE FAMILY BUCKET LIST IDEAS A REALITY?

Dreaming and planning are beautiful, but there does come a point when you have to get strategic and find a way to make your travel dreams happen. Going into how to make that happen is something that deserves an entire post.

We are not a family with unlimited funds and the ability to travel wherever and however we want. We save and scrimp and worry about our financial future just like most average families. However, travel is a big priority for us, and we will save for YEARS for a single trip. Before we became parents, we saved for two years to take a two-week trip to Croatia .

You can read through our Family Travel On A Budget post to see our best tips for cutting costs on family travel.

THE ULTIMATE BUCKET LIST FOR FAMILIES

1. the family road trip.

woman looking out of passenger side window of green SUV with steam rising up from a hot spring behind the car

The family road trip is iconic. It’s top on our bucket list for families because it’s an economical way that the entire family can be together and see the US. There are many ways to tackle the family road trip. You can go local within your state, or you can go big and take a two-week road trip to explore a certain region. With affordable car rentals , you can even opt to fly to a certain area and road trip through the region.

Bucket list-worthy road trips in the US include taking Route 66 to see kitschy roadside attractions like this Insta Famous one , driving along Route 1 to see California’s breathtaking coastline, doing a Mighty 5 tour in Southern Utah , or delighting in Fall foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway. By the way, we’ve made all of those road trips, and they’re incredible.

RELATED ROAD TRIP POSTS: The Best Cross Country Road Trips In the US How To Road Trip With A Toddler Like A Boss The Only Road Trip Packing List You’ll Ever Need

2. RV TRIP WITH FAMILY

bucket list trips for families

If the idea of a road trip excites you, but you want more space or to amplify the experience, an RV trip with family is an adventure to remember. Bonus…you can bring your animals with you! The RV lifestyle isn’t for everybody, but I think it’s something to try once in your lifetime. We spent three months driving cross country in our renovated camper , and we loved it! You can see pictures of her in all her pre-makeover 1979 glory here and her farmhouse chic renovation here . We’re pretty proud of her.

Driving in an RV is a great way to explore America’s National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests, and State Parks. You can rent an RV through a website like Outdoorsy , which is basically Airbnb for campers. I like it because there is a good range from budget to luxury choices. Also, you can arrange delivery right to your door!

Some RV Adventures to remember:

  • Wyoming and Montana National Parks – Grand Teton + Yellowstone National Park + Glacier National Park
  • The American Southwest – Grand Canyon NP + Santa Fe + Zion NP
  • New England – Maine + New Hampshire + Vermont + Massachusetts

RELATED POSTS: How I Pulled Off A $650 Camper Renovation

3. GO LEAF PEEPING

bucket list trips for families

This is a great family bucket list item for anyone who lives in a part of the US where Fall isn’t a colorful, showy event. Plan a long weekend or a full week to explore regions of the US renowned for their Fall foliage. A Fall vacation could include renting a cozy cabin through VRBO , roasting marshmallows in the crisp air of Autumn, and going to local pumpkin patches. New England typically ranks number one for its famous Fall colors, but the Blue Ridge Mountains that chart a path from Virginia to Tennessee are a close second. We experienced Fall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Asheville, North Carolina, and it was stunning. Out of this world amazing.

RELATED POST: How To Spend 36 Glorious Hours In Asheville, North Carolina

4. THEME PARK HEAVEN

Exploring the outdoors is great and all, but what kid isn’t excited about a theme park! I grew up in San Antonio, where we had two theme parks within an easy drive from our house. Did I love every minute we went to them? YES. Plan an adventure around doing a few different theme parks or one amazing theme park. If you don’t know already, Orlando, Florida is the KING with 10 theme parks, including Disney World and Universal Studios . Here is a brief overview of all the parks in Orlando .

If visiting Orlando, Florida, isn’t right for you, you could opt for a trip to Southern California to visit Universal Studios in Los Angeles, Disneyland in Anaheim, and Sea World in San Diego.

Two alternative theme parks are Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It’s the rollercoaster capital of the world, with 18 roller coasters in the park. Perfect for the thrill-seeking family. Alternatively, there’s Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Named after Hershey’s chocolate brand, it’s the ideal spot for a chocolate-loving family.

5. VISIT AN OLD FASHIONED WATERPARK

If a theme park seems fun, but you’re looking to enjoy summer heat with water thrills, then a waterpark might be the best option for your family. I grew up going to Schlitterbahn , largely considered one of the best waterparks in the world. It’s different than your typical waterpark in that it has an old section and an updated section with typical waterpark rides. The older section is built along the Comal River, and several rides shoot you out into the river. You use old-fashioned black tire tubes, and half of the fun is finding the perfect tube for the day. Schlitterbahn is located in the German town of New Braunfels, a quaint, charming town that’s worth exploring when you’re not zipping down waterslides and tubing the Comal River.

You can also look through this best Waterparks in the US list to see if there are any other waterparks that excite you.

6. NATIONAL PARKS TRIP

Woman walking on cliff overlooking water in yellowstone with kid

The National Parks has been touted by writer and historian Wallace Stegner as “the best idea we ever had.” We wholeheartedly agree. The National Parks are a fantastic way to expose your children to the grandeur and beauty of the natural world. With extraordinary views, epic hiking, staggering waterfalls, and wildlife for days, it can be hard to decide where to go. Which one is the best? All of them. Every single one. You can read through all our National Park content here as well as our specific guides below to help you narrow down where you want to go.

One option is to make a road trip out of it and hit up several National Parks in one trip. With the majority of America’s National Parks in the west, you can choose a section of the US and create an itinerary from there. Popular road trips are a Utah National Parks road trip and a California National Parks road trip.

RELATED: The Best National Parks For Kids The Must-See National Parks Of The West The Must-See National Parks Of the East

7 . SEE OLD FAITHFUL EXPLODE

Old Faithful Geyser exploding at Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most unique destinations in the world. Sitting on top of a supervolcano, the park is home to a surreal landscape of geysers, vivid hot springs, wildlife, petrified trees, and stunning waterfalls. It’s also home to Old Faithful, the most reliable geyser in the park that goes off every 90 minutes and can shoot 60-90 feet into the air. Between spotting wolves and watching geysers explode, it’s safe to say your kids will love Yellowstone National Park.

RELATED: 10 Adventures To Have In Yellowstone With Kids

8. CAMPING OR GLAMPING ADVENTURE

bucket list trips for families

Get back to basics and go on a camping trip with your family. With thousands of campsites in the US, you can stay close to home and keep costs at a minimum. We like using The Dyrt to find campsites in an area we’re interested in visiting. Your kids will always remember making smores on the fire, sitting around and telling spooky stories, and lazing around on a hammock strung up on a tree. Simple pleasures that kids in this digital age might not always be privy to.

If you’re not a camping person, remember that glamping is getting more and more popular. Glamping is basically fancy camping. Often it’s a big canvas tent with a queen bed and electricity! Under Canvas is the leading provider of glamping experiences, but you can also do a simple search for glamping in the area you want to visit.

Or you can do your own glamping tent in the backyard. We did a DIY Glamping Tent for our son’s 4th birthday and it was a big hit.

RELATED POSTS: All The Tip and Tricks For Camping With A Toddler How To Go From Camp To Glamp (In Your Backyard Or At Camp)

9 . BACKCOUNTRY BACKPACKING TRIP

If camping with your kids feels like child’s play, take it up a notch with a weekend backpacking trip. Hike into the backcountry, pitch a tent, and teach your kids valuable wilderness skills that they can use for life. If you’ve never been on a backpacking trip, it’s probably best you do it with the help of a guide who is experienced with the outdoors. The plus side of going with a guide is you don’t have to own a lot of the camping equipment since they typically provide the gear. You can check out Wildland Trekking a tour company that specializes in backpacking and hiking trips.

10. SPRING WILDFLOWER S

bucket list trips for families

A vibrant family bucket list item that only takes place in the Spring is to visit an area renowned for its impressive wildflower displays. My favorite memories are when my family would do our annual bluebonnet day and take pictures of the bluebonnets that take over central Texas. It felt magical, light, and free. Some of the best wildflower viewing in the country are the poppies in Northern California, the bluebonnets in the Texas Hill Country, and various wildflowers in Crested Butte, Colorado. Often there are festivals and family-friendly events to coincide with the colorful blooms. You can learn more about where to go wildflower viewing in the US here .

Before you visit wildflowers, make sure your children know all the rules about how to view wildflowers with respect to their continued preservation. It’s illegal in reserves and National Parks to pick flowers and customary to stay on designated trails when viewing wildflowers.

11. SEE THE WORLDS LARGEST TREE

Delight in your child’s sense of wonder when they visit the world’s largest living tree by volume, General Sherman. Located in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park , visiting General Sherman and the other majestic trees in the park is a family bucket list item you’ll want to include for any tree-loving child. Beyond General Sherman, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park have some of the world’s oldest and biggest trees.

If you want to stay on the East Coast, you can opt to visit Congaree National Park, which has the distinction of being home to the most “champion” trees anywhere in the US. A champion tree is the largest individual tree of its species. 

12. WHALE WATCHING TOUR

See the world’s largest mammals with a guided whale-watching tour. If you want to spot Blue Whales, the largest mammal in the world, you’ll want to go to California, where they migrate annually. You could also opt to see Orca Whales off the coast of Washington, where several different tours are offered. Hawaii is also a fantastic spot to see whales. Be sure to research what time of year is the best time to go whale watching as they will be different in each state. Being able to see these magnificent creatures is a true gift and something your entire family will enjoy.

13. A BAVARIAN CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL

bucket list trips for families

High on my personal family holiday bucket list is to go to a Christmas Market in Europe. The cobblestone streets, hot mulled wine, snow-capped chalets…ahhhh, it sounds so amazing!! Undoubtedly, Christmas in Europe is unparalleled, but the US does have a few Christmas markets and festivals that can come close to the European experience. Top on the list for Christmas markets in the US is the town of Leavenworth, Washington . This Bavarian mountain village has a reindeer farm, lighting ceremonies, sleigh rides, a lantern parade, and more. For two decades, this charming town has been welcoming visitors from across the US to their annual Christmas festivities.

14. HISTORICAL TOUR

If you’ve got a history nut in your family, then going on an American history-themed trip is a great way to do an educational vacation that’s experiential and fun. With a long past to pull from, you could choose from teaching your kids about the Underground Railroad, the Boston Tea Party, the Civil Warm, the original Indigenous natives of the US, and more. This article HERE has great options for exploring historical trips with your kids.

15. DUDE RANCH

Not just for horse lovers, a dude ranch vacation is about enjoying the outdoors and living the American West lifestyle. Typically an all-inclusive vacation, dude ranches can include hiking, swimming, rafting, fishing, rodeos, line dancing, star gazing, and more. High-end luxury dude ranches often include upscale dining, spas, and someone to watch your kids! Highly rated Dude Ranches include Rainbow Trout Ranch in Colorado, White Stallion Ranch and Circle Z Ranch in Arizona. If you’re looking for a luxury dude ranch, check out The Resort At Paws Up in Montana and Alisal Guest Ranch And Resort in California.

16. SPACE CAMP

Space Camp may be one of the most unusual bucket list ideas, but it’s sure to be a dream come true for the kid who loves all things space. With programs for kids ranging from ages 5 to 18, there is sure to be something that delights your child. Located in Huntsville, Alabama, participants can launch rockets and participate in simulated space missions. Older kids can even participate in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer, which simulates the feeling of being in a weightless environment. Check the Space Camp website to see all the different programs that they offer.

17. SEE A ROCKET LAUNCH

If you can’t get to space camp, seeing a rocket launch is next on the list. This is an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime family bucket list item. Take your kid to a rocket launch, and in their eyes, you might become the world’s coolest parents. The Kennedy Space Center is the premier spot to see a rocket launch, but there are several other spots on what is known as The Space Coast in Florida .

18. STARGAZE AT A DARK SKY PARK

Continuing with our outer space theme, going to a dark sky preserve to see the stars the way they’re meant to be seen is sure to dazzle and impress your kids. A dark sky preserve is an area free of light pollution. Free of city lights, buildings, and the industrial world, the night sky becomes a dazzling array of constellations and ancient storytelling. Bring a constellation guide like this one made for kids and spend an evening looking up and exploring the stars. Here’s a list of all the designated Dark Sky Parks .

19. LAZE ON A WHITE SAND BEACH

A big claim shell being held up to camera with a clear blue beach behind it.

If you or your kids have never had the pleasure of playing and lazing on a white sand beach, it’s time to book your next summer vacation. Where to go for powder white sand in the US? Hawaii, Florida, and the US Virgin Islands . Pensacola Beach in Florida is famous for its sugar-white beaches and is often touted as the best beach in Florida.

Beyond finding a white sand beach, going on a beach vacation with your family is classic and needs to be on everyone’s family holiday bucket list.

RELATED POST: 10 Awesome Things To Do With Kids On St. John Island Toddler Beach Essentials You’ll Wish You Had Brought

20. LAKE LIFE

If hanging out in a lakeside cabin with long days spent in the water or on a boat seems idyllic to you, you’ll want to book a lake vacation for your family. Iconic lake towns that deliver the goods: South Lake Tahoe in Nevada, Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, Greenville in Maine, and Whitefish in Montana . The US is packed with extraordinary lakes with charming house rentals that will leave lifelong memories for you and your family.

21. UNDERWATER ADVENTURE

a woman snorkeling in clear water with fish surrounding her.

Get SCUBA certified together or go on a snorkeling trip. While Hawaii has exquisite reefs, you don’t have to go to a Hawaiian island to learn to SCUBA or snorkel. We snorkeled off Catalina Island in California through thick kelp forests and watched as seals darted through the long waves of seagrass. You could opt for pristine clear water snorkeling in the Florida Keys, or you could also do SCUBA diving in the dark, mysterious waters of the Puget Sound off the coast of Washington.

22. SURFING CAMP

If you’ve got a family that wants to “hang 10” then there’s no better experience than a surf camp. There are several places you can do surf camp, but most are going to be located in Hawaii and California. You can browse through different tours on Tripaneer , a service that specializes in various camps like surfing, kite surfing, yoga, and more.

You could also opt to travel to popular surfing destinations in California and Hawaii and opt for a day or two of personal lessons. A good place to book a personal lesson for your family is through Airbnb Experiences . You can check the reviews and see who is highly rated.

23. SPEND THE NIGHT IN A MUSEUM

A unique family bucket list item is to spend a night in a museum or zoo. If you don’t want to go far, you can contact your local zoo or museum to see if they offer an overnight experience. If you want to make a whole trip out of it, check out this list of museums that offer overnight stays .

24. SEE WILD HORSES

bucket list trips for families

Witness horses in the wild by visiting one of the last remaining spots in America where wild horses roam. The most popular spots to see wild horses are Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland and the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Since these are wild horses protected by the US government, you can view them in all their splendor as long as you keep at least 50 feet of distance.

If you want to have a more hands-on experience, you can do a multi-day horse riding tour that can include different things like horse riding lessons, corralling the farm animals, advanced horse lessons, and more. Browse through these different horse riding tours to see what excites your family.

25. STEAMBOAT CRUISE ON THE MISSISSIPPI

Explore America’s greatest waterway on an old-fashioned steamboat cruise down the Mississippi River. With several different routes and different themes on each boat, it’s best to give yourself a small education on Mississippi River cruises to choose the one that’s best for your family. This article gives a good introduction to what happens on a Mississippi River cruise . You can also browse through these cruise options here to see if any of them excite you.

26. ALASKAN CRUISE

If rugged adventure is what your family craves, then a cruise to Alaska needs to be high on your family bucket list. With whale sightings, glaciers, and fjords, there’s staggering natural beauty to explore. Off land, there’s fishing, dog sledding, hiking, and more. This article gives some great tips on what to think about before planning an Alaskan cruise . You can also look at prices and what Alaskan cruises are available here .

27 . DISNEY CRUISE

If you have a child obsessed with Frozen or Mickey Mouse, then you might make their dreams come true with a Disney-themed cruise. With an opportunity to meet the characters, watch live shows, onboard classes, and more, it’s guaranteed your kid will love the Disney Cruise experience. In addition to the onboard experience, most cruises are bound for tropical destinations that everyone in the family will enjoy. You can browse through the different Disney cruises and prices here .

28 . VOLUNTEERING TRIP

What better way for your family to connect to humanity than to make a volunteer trip? It is a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about the value of selfless service and that there’s a whole big world of people who could benefit from your kindness and time. You’ll want to look for volunteer opportunities that are made specifically for kids. You could work at a farm sanctuary and tend to animals, teach about conservation and the environment with The Nature Corps , or help create magic for kids with life-threatening illnesses at Give Kids The World Village.

29 . FARM STAY

If you’re a city dweller, a farm stay for the entire family could be just the thing to transport you into another world. Farm stays typically include activities where you can pitch in with farm life like milking cows and collecting eggs, or classes to learn how the farm makes their cheese. If you’re looking for an immersive experience, it’s best to choose a farm stay where they cater to visitors and create events to make it interesting. Liberty Hill Farm in Vermont and Hull-O Farms are family-friendly farm stays that offer many activities for kids.

You can also look for farm stays near your house on VRBO as many small, local farms will offer the same type of experience but don’t advertise as heavily. We found this award-winning farm stay on VRBO in Luray, Virginia. I love the sunset hayrides and nightly campfires.

30 . WINTER RETREAT

If you live in an area where snow is something you only see in the movies, taking a winter trip is a must-do for your family bucket list. The joy of playing with fresh snow, sledding, skiing, hot chocolate by the fire, and cozy cabin nights are something your kids will love. You can visit popular snow destinations like Aspen and Breckenridge in Colorado, Lake Tahoe in California, Sun Valley in Idaho, or Taos in New Mexico. If you want something off-the-beaten-path try out destinations like McCall, Idaho, and Waitsfield, Vermont.

RELATED POST: The Ultimate Winter Cabin Packing List

31 . GO TO THE DESERT

bucket list trips for families

If a winter wonderland isn’t the place for you, then head west to show your kids the barren beauty of the desert. Top on our list for desert destinations is to explore the red rock playground of Southern Utah. With 5 National Parks, 7 National Monuments, and countless State Parks, there’s playful adventure everywhere you turn. Even though it’s a desert landscape, there are plenty of fun water activities to be had in places like Lake Powell. You could also visit Sedona, Arizona, or Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a red rock destination with more city amenities. In another direction is the desert of California. Visit Joshua Tree National Park or Death Valley National Park to experience an extreme landscape with little water. If you want something a little less extreme, head to Palm Springs for a relaxing spa and pool vacation.

RELATED POST: Why You Need To Visit Arches National Park In Winter

32. TOUCH A DINOSAUR BONE

If you have a budding Paleontologist, then visiting Dinosaur National Monument in Utah is sure to be on your family bucket list. While many fantastic natural history museums are worth visiting, Dinosaur National Monument is where you can get up close and personal with dinosaur fossils. The Quarry Exhibit Hall is where you can view dinosaur bones exposed in rock. For certain sections, you can even touch the bones!

Dinosaur National Monument is located in a remote section of Utah and Colorado, so if you’re looking for something a bit easier to access, you can visit Dinosaur Journey in Fruita, Colorado. They offer fun, immersive experiences where you can be a Paleontologist For A Day. Check their website for what they are currently offering.

33 . SPORTS VACATION

Delight your little sports fanatic with a trip to see their favorite professional team in person. Many sports teams have events where you can meet the players, so it’s best to look up their favorite team, see what kind of community outreach programs they have, and if they offer any sports camps or opportunities to connect with the players.

34 . THE WASHINGTON MONUMENTS

Admittedly, going to see a bunch of monuments might not be the top thing on your child’s list of fun activities. That being said, there are ways to make touring the monuments an adventure! You can opt for a bike ride tour or segway tour to keep it physical and fun. The Einstein monument is always a favorite of kids because you’re free to climb all over Einstein’s head. Plus, when your kids are done, you can always add a trip to the zoo or the natural history museum. Both of which are free! Extra bonus points if you visit DC when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

35 . KAYAKING ADVENTURE

Go on a multi-day kayaking adventure and learn about endurance and the beauty of the natural world. Plus, so much fun water play! With abundant rivers in the US, you can search for a kayak tour close to you or try out this magical kayaking tour in the San Juan Islands through REI Adventures .

36 . FORAGING AND FRUIT PICKING

Apple Picking in Asheville

Delight with your kids in the simple pleasure of freshly picked fruit. If you live near an area with fruit farms, you can look for a u-pick farm that invites you to pick your own fruit. We LOVE doing this and forage for huckleberries every year. If you want to create more of an experience, travel to a state specializing in a certain fruit or food item. Travel to Vermont and experience what it is to tap a maple tree, forage through Glacier National Park during huckleberry season, or visit Capitol Reef National Park when the 3100 fruit trees are in bloom and open to the public to pick.

RELATED POST: Where To Go Apple Picking Near Asheville, North Carolina

37 . ANCESTRY TOUR

A unique family bucket list idea is to go on an ancestry tour to learn more about your family lineage. You could even get a membership to Ancestry and a DNA kit to pinpoint where your family is from and make a trip to explore these places. If you already know where your family hails from, you could travel back with your kids and show them where their great grandparents come from and any important landmarks to your family.

38 . HOT SPRINGS

bucket list trips for families

Visit a natural hot spring or road trip your way through a hot spring paradise. The western USA has a higher concentration of hot springs, but you can find hot springs everywhere in the US. We visited two of the best hot springs near Boise, Idaho and they were extraordinary. Our toddler loved playing in the warm water, and now he only wants hot water activities. You can opt to go the resort route and stay in a manicured environment where the natural hot springs are funneled into human-made pools, or you can opt for natural hot springs that occur in nature and range from easily accessible to deep in the forest.

39 . HIKE A SLOT CANYON

Be transported into a magical world by taking a hike through a family-friendly slot canyon. Traversing a narrow canyon will absolutely delight your kids, who will enjoy zipping through thin hallways and climbing over large boulders. You’ll want to find a canyon that is appropriate for the age of your kids. The most popular family-friendly slot canyon hike is Little Wild Horse in Utah. You can see a video of us hiking through it HERE . It’s a great addition if you’re visiting Arches or Capital Reef National park. There’s also Red Hollow and Furniture Draw, which are both located in Utah.

40 . SURF SAND DUNES

Sand Dunes Near Boise Idaho

Finding a sand dune to surf is a great family bucket list item for anyone looking for adventures that are off the beaten path. We tried it at Bruneau Sand Dunes in Idaho and had a blast. Bruneau Sand Dunes is a short day trip from Boise that boasts the tallest freestanding sand dune in the US. You can learn more about Bruneau Sand Dunes here .

Learn about other great sand dunes in the US in this article from REI .

41 . STAY IN A TREEHOUSE

Have a Robinson Crusoe adventure by staying in a treehouse. Renting a funky treehouse is growing in popularity, and you can find them in every state. Use a rental service like VRBO to find fun treehouses in an area you want to explore. Looking for some inspiration? Check out this Canopy Treehouse located in Blue Ridge, Georgia, a Luxury Treehouse in Pigeon Forge, TN, this Cozy Treehouse near Asheville, NC, or this Treehouse Retreat in Whitefish, Montana .

READ NEXT: A tiny cabin with kids? Yes, if it’s at a Getaway House.

42 . GO SPELUNKING

Once you’ve tapped out on sights above ground, the only option left is to go caving with your kids. There’s bound to be a cave exploring sight near where you live, but if you want to go to the “Cave State” you’ll need to head to Missouri. With 6400 known caves, there are plenty of places to stop if you want to do a full cave tour. Popular caves in Missouri are Meramec Caverns, Marvel Cave, and Fantastic Caverns. There’s also Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, and Luray Caverns in Virginia. Or, for those in the Southwest be sure to check out Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

43 . SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

Watch the sky put on a dazzling light show with the Aurora Borealis. While Northern Light sightings are unpredictable, the best place to see them is in Alaska. You could make an adventure trip out of it and visit Denali National Park with the hopes of seeing this glorious night display. While you could get lucky while you’re there, it’s best to go on a tour with someone who’s educated on the best way to spot the Aurora Borealis. You can browse through different Northern Light tours offered through Viator, a Trip Advisor company.

Other places to view the Northern Light in the US can be found here .

44 . SUNRISE OR SUNSET HIKE

bucket list trips for families

Wake your kids up early one day (like 4:00 AM) and hike up a gorgeous mountain to see the sunrise. Yes, it will feel awful to get up that early, but the reward will be more than worth it. For years you’ll love talking about that time you woke up so so freaking early to take a hike. Popular spots for sunrise hikes are Acadia National Park in Maine and Haleakala National Park in Maui.

If getting up that early sounds too painful for you, you can opt to go for a sunset hike. Half the fun is to don headlamps for the walk down and enjoy the thrills of an early evening walk through the forest.

You can always opt to do a guided sunrise/sunset tour if you would prefer to be in the company of other people for these early morning/evening hikes.

45 . HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE

Take to the skies with your family and enjoy the view on a hot air balloon ride. Several states have annual hot air balloon festivals, most notably Albuquerque, New Mexico. No need to attend a festival only, as many places, including Albuquerque, do daily rides. Here’s a list of 10 picturesque cities that do hot air balloon rides.

46 . WHITE WATER RAFTING

A family rafting trip is a wet and wild family bucket list item that will have you working together to create an adventure of a lifetime. IF you’re traveling with young kids or a family that doesn’t want big thrills, stick to a Class I float. If you want light thrills, look for a Class II or III trip. For the daredevils, look for Class IV and V rapids. Some of the best places to have a white water rafting trip are Utah’s Green River, Idaho’s Salmon River, Maine’s Kennebec River, and the Gauley River in West Virginia.

47 . TOUR A MUSIC DESTINATION

Broaden your children’s relationship to music by touring a destination famous for a particular style of music. Maybe that’s New Orleans to show your kids where Jazz originated or Memphis where many Rock and Roll heavy hitters got their start. You can choose from Motown in Detroit to Country in Nashville to Appalachian music in the Blue Ridge Mountains. America has a rich history of music to choose from. You could even go back to the ’90s and explore grunge in Seattle.

48 . SEE A SHOW ON BROADWAY

Explore the “Great White Way” and take your kids to see a family-friendly Broadway show. A visit to the Big Apple is an iconic American trip and worth it to see amazing shows plus all the other incredible sights of New York City. If seeing a Broadway show with your family runs your budget dry, then check out the shows Off-Broadway and Off Off-Broadway (yes, that’s a real thing!) to see if there are any family-friendly shows that fit into your budget.

49 . STAY ON A YACHT

A fun adventure on water that doesn’t require going on a cruise is to stay on a fully equipped yacht. No need to buy your own yacht! With peer-to-peer rental services, you can rent your own yacht. Think of it as a hotel room that’s different and unlike anything else you’ve done. This yacht offered on VRBO in Florida is perfect for families with a full kitchen, multiple rooms, and water toys.

50 . FAMILY SABBATICAL

a family of three looking out at the mountains

Last on the list and the most epic item on our bucket list for families, is an extended time traveling together. While not everyone will have the time or privilege to take a year off work, even a trip that lasts for longer than 4 days (that’s the average time of a family trip!) can be a much-needed break from the routine of life. There’s something about slow travel that lasts for two weeks to a month that transforms your family times and allows for surprising moments of bonding and connection.

TIP : You can often get 30-40% off VRBO rentals if you stay for a month. You can even search for a destination, click on filters, and scroll down to the bottom, where you can filter for properties that offer month-long discounts.

We hope you enjoyed our bucket list for families! Now it’s time to plan your own epic family bucket list. Happy dreaming!

PIN IT FOR LATER

Pinterest Graphic with family bucket list adventures like hiking, surfing, and fruit picking.

READ NEXT: Family Travel On A Budget: How To Afford Family Travel

' src=

Hi, we’re Christina and Brad, Idaho based writers and photographers who live to explore. We did a short stint of traveling full time with our two year old and discovered we're much happier as part time nomads. What does that mean? We travel a lot! And then we go home. We love helping fellow parents and everyday adventurers discover new places and experiences.

Similar Posts

THE 25 BEST THINGS TO DO IN BOISE WITH KIDS (That Are Also Super Fun For Adults!)

THE 25 BEST THINGS TO DO IN BOISE WITH KIDS (That Are Also Super Fun For Adults!)

Discovering Idaho’s Gems: The Best Day Trips From Coeur d’Alene

Discovering Idaho’s Gems: The Best Day Trips From Coeur d’Alene

LOVE CRAFT BEER? TRY THIS HIP BOISE BREWERY THAT’S RISING TO THE TOP

LOVE CRAFT BEER? TRY THIS HIP BOISE BREWERY THAT’S RISING TO THE TOP

THE ULTIMATE YELLOWSTONE PACKING LIST

THE ULTIMATE YELLOWSTONE PACKING LIST

GRAND TETON WITH KIDS: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO AN EPIC FAMILY ADVENTURE

GRAND TETON WITH KIDS: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO AN EPIC FAMILY ADVENTURE

Unearthing Treasure: Digging For Idaho Star Garnet At Emerald Creek Garnet Area

Unearthing Treasure: Digging For Idaho Star Garnet At Emerald Creek Garnet Area

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What should I prepare for a family trip? The Bucket List Family knows better than most.

bucket list trips for families

Jessica Gee only wanted to do “a little bit of traveling.”

“Those were her words,” her husband, Garrett Gee, chimed in. “She should have known better because I always take whatever she thinks up and take it to the extreme.” 

In their first vlog as The Bucket List Family in 2015, he announced, “We’re going to sell everything we own in our little apartment and then we’re going to go westward.” 

They set out from Provo, Utah, with their then two kids and a plan to share their adventures on social media with family, friends and “whoever wants to tune in back home.” Millions of people have followed along.

“We wanted to see what else was out there, explore a little bit, learn from different cultures and people,” Jessica told USA TODAY. 

Now she’s sharing her tips and tricks in her new National Geographic book, “ Bucket List Family Travel .”

“As soon as you start to see what's out there, you realize, oh, there's so much more," she said. "You're so excited to just be a part of it.”

Here’s some of what they’ve learned.

Trying something new

“Growing up, my family was like a Disney World family . We made that trip every year,” Jessica said, adding that she still loves it and visits with her kids, but they try to switch up other destinations. 

“As we've traveled more of the world, we've kind of made an unspoken family rule that we try our best not to go back to places because it's been so rewarding to experience new places,” Garrett said. 

The Gees have visited more than 90 countries and gone on adventures like surfing in Fiji and safaris in Tanzania with her kids Dorothy, Manilla and Calihan, whose ages range from 6 to 11.

“Trying something new, I feel like it's never been a bad thing for us,” Jessica said.

After three years of full-time travel, that new thing was settling down in Hawaii.

“The thing that we missed the most was community,” Jessica said. “Garrett and I both grew up in very traditional American homes with good friends and being a part of sports groups and stuff. We always planned on that for our kids.”

The family still travels about 12 weeks of the year , juggling what they call a double life of wanting to travel but not miss Field Days and birthday parties.

“We travel almost every school break. Last year we went to 12 countries," she said.

They spent last summer in Africa and are presently on a 25-day trip to Antarctica .

“Our oldest, she definitely grasps like, ‘I will most likely never go back to Antarctica. And the fact that I get to do that with my family on this beautiful boat, I get it.’ She gets it,” Jessica said. 

Family vacations: Why some families keep going back to the same place

How to afford more travel

The Bucket List Family’s level of travel may not be possible for most families, but traveling abroad can cost less than some domestic theme park trips.

“Some of those trips are very expensive, and you could do a really incredible international trip where you see a new culture and try new foods in a whole new place that you might just fall in love with for probably the same price, if not less,” Jessica said. 

A lot depends on the destination, Garrett pointed out.

“If you’re traveling to Southeast Asia … depending on where you’re coming from, it could be expensive. But once you're there, it can be incredibly cheap, where you have this beautiful private villa all to yourself, a private chef, overlooking the rice fields for just a fraction of the price that you would spend most anywhere else.”

Jessica adds airlines occasionally offer deals , and credit card rewards points add up.

“If you're signing up for the right credit cards and using points, and just spending your money appropriately, it's set up now in the world where you can get airlines and hotels covered,” she said. “So if you're just a little bit savvy with how you're spending your money, that's a brilliant way to start.”

Another option she recommends is booking through travel agents , many of whom don’t charge clients for their services.

“I loved nickel and diming and making the spreadsheets,” she said. “But now, I’ve realized that going through an agent, who it’s their absolute profession to do things A to Z, they can actually get a better rate.”

How do you plan a trip with kids?

“Start now or start early,” Garrett said. “If you start earlier than later, then they just grow used to it and accustomed to it. And oh my gosh, traveling with kids adds just such a joy to it. When you can experience something through the eyes of a child, they just have a whole new level of joy and curiosity.”

Jessica noted, kids can also help break the ice when traveling.

“People are so much more willing to talk to you and open up to you,” she said. “They see our little kids running down the street or at a restaurant and they're way more friendly and willing to talk (than) had it been just Garrett and I.”

They try to stay flexible traveling as a family.

“A lot of parents really depend almost too much on a very strict routine. It can work, but the tough thing is, as soon as you break that routine, then you’re dealing with a very difficult child,” Garrett said. “Our travels almost forced us to just kind of do away with routine. And when a child is hungry, they eat and when a child is tired, they take a nap.”

Their kids never got to the beige phase of only wanting things like chicken nuggets or french fries. 

“They either eat something new or they don't eat at all,” Garrett said, noting that they always try to eat locally. “You don’t have to eat it all, but you at least have to try it once.”

He credits travel with their kids’ adaptability, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

“Parenting is parenting no matter where you are,” Jessica said. “My kid’s going to throw a tantrum at the grocery store or he's going to throw it in Italy.”

Practical tips for traveling with kids

Jessica always starts trips with the best-laid plans.

“A lot of that is props to Jess and why she was able to do such a good job writing this book, because she experienced everything that could go wrong in family travel.” Garrett said. “The fact that she packs a second outfit for each of the kids can basically tell you, oh, you've traveled with a child with diapers and something has gone horribly wrong on that long flight.” 

Jessica also carries what she likens to a small pharmacy , with things like allergy medicine and bandages.

“When I check bags, I take a picture of the luggage receipt. I take a picture of my bag. I always now have an AirTag inside,” she said. Garrett recommends tying a colorful ribbon on luggage, so it stands out. 

When things go awry, Jessica encourages choosing a good attitude.

“The kids are going to feed off your energy,” she said. ”So if you're like, ‘Oh no, we're stuck on the tarmac for another two hours,’ you're not the one complaining, but you're like, ‘OK. That’s OK.’ Just trying to be as upbeat as possible.”

When that’s not possible, she recommends taking turns losing it, like when an airline made them check their carry-on luggage only to misplace it.

“Garrett will give me my space,” she said. “He could tell I was really frustrated and just needed a minute, so he takes the kids, he gets them out of the way, he lets me handle it. … And then we come back together and I was able to change my attitude in like an hour, but that was not fun. That was five days wearing the same clothes in Botswana.”

Is traveling good for child development?

In one of their early videos from Bali , Garrett said: “We take our kids on this adventure and these travels, and you hope that it’s good for them. You hope that they’re benefitting from it, but you never know.”

But a particular memory sticks with Jessica from Bali, when they were volunteering at an orphanage.

“It was kind of Dorothy's first school experience and to have her with kids the same ages, (who) didn't look the same, didn't talk the same, but at the same time they were dancing together, they were singing together, they were doing art together, it was just the most magical thing for Dorothy at such a young age – I mean she was 3 – to see that race and language and beliefs, they all vary, but at the end of the day, we're all the same people.”

Their family has found so much in common with people they’ve met all around the world, but Garrett said travel has also taught their kids to embrace what makes them unique.

“Because if you were to ask our kids, they consider themselves very weird and very different than the kids at school, but they love it and they're proud of it and that's what makes them special,” he said. 

Travel has changed how he and Jessica see things as well.

“When you're only hearing the negative about these other places, you just kind of think that they're dark, scary places with a lot of violence,” Garrett said. “Oh my goodness, as we've just traveled from country to country and just seen nothing but so much goodness and been welcomed with such friendly, amazing people and made really good friends, it's just definitely changed our perspective on the world.”

  • Visit Family Vacation Critic on Facebook!
  • Visit Family Vacation Critic on Twitter!
  • Visit Family Vacation Critic on Instagram!
  • 1 Subscribe to stay up to date!
  • Best Family Vacations

8 Bucket List Things to Do with Your Kids

bucket list trips for families

Mar 3, 2021

See recent posts by Alene Laney

Traveling with kids brings magic into life. Their eyes sparkle with wonder and their imaginations see endless possibilities with every new experience. 

Even though bringing kids on trips can be hard, there’s nothing quite like seeing the world through the eyes of a child again. Here are a few ideas for catching some magic with your kids while they’re still young. 

Editor’s note: Save these ideas for when it’s safe to travel again, and always follow all COVID-19 restrictions, rules, and safety regulations both at your destination and upon returning home.

Sleep in a Glass Igloo Underneath the Northern Lights in Lapland, Finland

Overnight in a glass igloo

Visiting the home of Santa Claus in Lapland, Finland may be one of the most unique adventures you can have with your kids. With the Aurora Borealis visible more than 200 days every year (about every other day), it’s almost a sure bet you can catch one of the most beautiful phenomena known on earth. Many accommodations include glass ceilings where you can view the northern lights at any hour of the night. You can also enjoy a reindeer sleigh ride, cross the arctic circle, enjoy a meal at an ice hotel, and visit Santa’s Village. 

Pro tip: Scandinavian Airlines (Or SAS) often runs a sale where kids fly free when accompanied by an adult. 

Walk the Cobblestone Paths of Mont Saint-Michel, France

Mont Saint-Michel, France

Mont Saint-Michel is a dramatic, 1,300-year-old abbey built into a small, granite island off the coast of France. You’ll know it from pictures taken of the island when it is surrounded by water, but you’ll remember it for the cobblestone pathways, imposing towers, hidden spiral staircases, light-filled cloisters, and quaint pubs filled with all the charms of a modern-day Hogwarts. You may also recognize it from the Disney animated feature Tangled , which draws inspiration from the unique island. 

Climbing the steep, cobbled paths of Mont Saint-Michel will make your kids feel like they stepped into a fairy tale. Whether they’re immersed in the adventures of Harry Potter or enamored by the tale of Rapunzel , they will truly feel transported in this unique landmark in France. The stairs aren’t too much for kids, and when they tire, you can let them loose in the sand outside the island. 

Pro tip: Book a hotel located directly on the island. You can watch the sunset, sneak out at midnight to see the abbey lit up, and wander around in the morning before the tourists arrive.

Climb the Great Wall of China 

The Great Wall of China

One of the best things about the Great Wall of China is you can actually climb it. Little and big kids with lots of energy will tire out on the steep climb near Beijing. There are towers to explore and lookouts for playing pretend games. You can stop where you need to and go back when they’re tired. If you’re not feeling as adventurous, there’s a great cable car up and a toboggan ride down.

Pro tip: Plan to arrive early in the morning, if possible. The light will be amazing for pictures and you’ll avoid any crowds that may come your way. 

Cruise the Galapagos

A sea turtle off the coast of the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador near the equator. They’re known for unusual volcanic formations and a variety of flora, fauna, and wildlife on which Charles Darwin wrote The Origin of Species , the premise for the theory of evolution. 

Your kids will never tire of seeing the bold, unusual wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. From a safe distance, they’ll get to see marine iguanas, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, tortoises, rare birds, and possibly dolphins and sharks.

Pro tip: The Galapagos Cruise Links are a great way to find a ship and a date to take your trip. There are strict regulations for cruising the Galapagos to prevent harm to the ecosystem, thus, any cruise you’ll find yourself on will be limited in the number of passengers. Although there are a few larger cruise lines gaining access to the Galapagos (such as Disney , Celebrity , National Geographic , and Silversea ), there are quite a few smaller cruise ships that may interest you as well. If you’re on a budget, you can save a lot of money by staying in a city on one of the islands and by booking individual tours when you arrive. 

Fly Above Cappadocia, Turkey in a Balloon

Hot air balloons over Cappadocia, Turkey

The photos of hot air balloons floating over the unique landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey have captured the imagination of Instagrammers the world over. Kids will love the Star Wars-like landscape, fairy chimneys, underground city, and easy, interesting hikes. There are countless caves and you can hike, explore, and climb anywhere you want. Even if you decide to forgo the balloon ride, you’ll love the view from the ground. 

Pro tip: Book a cave hotel for some extra ambiance. 

Hike through Petra, Jordan

Al Khazneh (The Treasury) at Petra, Jordan

Petra, an iconic ancient city carved of red sandstone more than 2,000 years ago, will leave your whole family full of awe. 

You may know it from an Indiana Jones movie, but you’ll be surprised at how much more there is to the city. Once a thriving center of trade with more than 30,000 residents , the extensive site includes cave dwellings, tombs, temples, an amphitheater, a monastery, a treasury, and more. If you want to adventure through time with your kids in one of the most incredible archaeological sites in the world, this is the place to do it. 

There is a lot of walking involved with visiting Petra, so be prepared with appropriate hiking shoes. You may also want to consider hiring a horse, donkey, or camel. Also be aware if you’re taking children that there are steep drop-offs and you’ll need to keep a close eye on your little ones. 

Pro tip: Buy tickets for Petra By Night to explore the city by candlelight. 

Walk with Penguins at Boulder Beach  

A group of penguins on Boulder Beach

Boulder Beach near Cape Town, South Africa is the only place in the world where you can get close to African penguins. The picturesque beach is home to a colony of nearly 3,000 penguins. Your kids will be absolutely mesmerized by the penguins walking on the beach–and you don’t have to go to Antarctica to see them! 

Pro tip: Combine this trip with a South African safari for more wildlife activities. 

Explore the Ancient Temple Complex of Angkor

The temple Angkor Wat near the city of Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor is one of the largest religious archaeological complexes in the world. It was originally built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple designed to represent the home of the gods. The soaring, sandstone complex near Siem Reap, Cambodia is filled with secret rooms, hidden passageways, interesting paths, and trees growing right through the walls. It’s every kid adventurer’s dream. Your kids will also love the overly-friendly monkeys and tuk-tuk rides. 

Pro tip: Avoid the hot season , if you can. The oppressive heat will make visiting with kids much harder. It does rain a lot in this region–especially during monsoon season–and there’s always plenty of mud. The locals wear flip flops for easier cleaning. 

You Might Also Like:

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.

Related Articles

Family jumping together on the beach, backlit by sunset

The 10 Best Family Vacation Destinations in the U.S.

People hiking in Portage Pass

Family Vacations Are Bigger and Better in Anchorage

Family of four sitting in the trunk of their car with suitcases nearby

11 Best Road Trip Games for Families

Stowe, Vermont in autumn

The 7 Best Weekend Getaways in New England

Your personal family vacation planning starts now.

Get expert advice, handpicked recommendations, and tips for your family all year round!

Get family travel & tips from our experts

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use .

Thanks for signing up!

  • Skip to primary navigation
  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to primary sidebar
  • Skip to footer

TravelAwaits

Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

19 Unique And Fabulous Experiences In Moscow

bucket list trips for families

  • Destinations

Thinking of visiting Russia? When visiting such a famous city, one must, of course, visit the iconic landmarks first. Moscow has plenty of those, most of them in the center of the city, which is very well-planned for tourists. Once you’ve seen the sights that are on most travelers’ lists, it’s time to branch out and visit some of the lesser-known sites, and there are some fascinating places to see and things to do.

I know this list is long, but I just couldn’t help myself. You probably won’t have the time to see them all. But that’s okay. Just scroll through the list and choose what sounds the most interesting to you. Where possible, make sure to book in advance, as things can get crowded, especially during high season.

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

1. The Red Square, Kremlin, And Surroundings

Red Square (Krasnya Ploshad) is the heart and soul of Russia, and where much of the country’s history has unfolded. This is the most famous landmark in Moscow and indeed the whole country, it’s an absolute must-do! The square is always full of people and has a rather festive atmosphere!

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

This is the famous church with the rainbow-colored, onion-domed roof. The cathedral was commissioned in the 1500s by Ivan the Terrible and according to legend, the Tsar thought it was so beautiful, that he ordered that the architect’s eyes be cut out afterward, so he could never build anything more beautiful! He wasn’t called Ivan the Terrible for no reason!

Lenin’s Mausoleum

The “love-it-or-hate-it” of tourist attractions in Russia. A glass sarcophagus containing the embalmed body of Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin. It may seem a bit bizarre to display the mummy of a person, but it has been there for almost half a century and the 2.5 million visitors who come each year, clearly feel the queuing and thorough body search are worth it, to be in Lenin’s presence.

Pro Tip: no photos and no loud talking are allowed inside the Mausoleum.

Eternal Flame

There is an Eternal Flame in honor of an unknown soldier on the left side of Red Square. The hourly changing of the guards is worth seeing.

The Kremlin is the official residence of the Russian president. You can see it from the outside, or you can take an excursion to one of the museums located inside. This is the biggest active fortress in Europe, and holds a week’s worth of attractions! Once behind the 7,332-feet of walls, there are five squares, four cathedrals, 20 towers, various museums, and the world’s largest bell and cannon to see. Worth a special mention is the Armory Chamber that houses a collection of the famous Faberge Eggs.

Pro Tip: You can only go inside the Kremlin if you are part of a tourist group.

Interior of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscos

2. Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre translates to “The Big Theatre” in Russian, and the building is home to both the Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera — among the oldest and most famous ballet and opera companies in the world.

Pro Tip: It’s hard to get an inexpensive ticket, so if you’re reading well in advance of going to Moscow then try buying tickets on the official website . Last-minute tickets cost around $250 per person. If this is out of your budget, about an hour before a performance, you can try buying a ticket at the entrance from a reseller. Most can speak enough English to negotiate the price.

Tour the Bolshoi Theatre: You can take a group guided tour of the Bolshoi Theatre which focuses on the history and architecture of the theatre and behind the scenes. There’s an English language tour that lasts 2 hours and costs around $300 for a group of up to six.

GUM, a popular department store in Moscow

3. Luxury Shopping At GUM And TSUM

Russia’s main department store, GUM, has a stunning interior that is home to over 100 high-end boutiques, selling a variety of brands: from luxurious Dior to the more affordable Zara. Even if shopping is not on your Moscow to-do list GUM is still worth a visit; the glass-roofed arcade faces Red Square and offers a variety of classy eateries. TSUM, one of the biggest luxury malls in town, is right behind the Bolshoi and GUM. It’s an imposing building with lots of history, and worth a visit just for its design and its glass roof.

Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow

4. Christ The Savior Cathedral

This is one of Russia’s most visited cathedrals and is a newer addition to the gorgeous array of Muscovite cathedrals, but don’t let its young age fool you. After perestroika, in the early 90s, the revived Russian Orthodox Church was given permission to build a cathedral on this site. It did the location honors and built the largest temple of the Christian Orthodox Church. The façade is as grand as you’d expect, but it’s the inside that will mesmerize you, with its domes, gold, gorgeous paintings, and decor!

The cathedral is located just a few hundred feet away from the Kremlin and was the site of the infamous Pussy Riot protest against Putin back in 2012.

Pro Tip: Bring a shawl to cover your hair as is the local custom.

Gates at Gorky Park in Moscow

5. Gorky Park

Moscow’s premier green space, Gorky Park (Park Gor’kogo) is the city’s biggest and most famous park. There is entertainment on offer here for every taste, from outdoor dancing sessions to yoga classes, volleyball, ping-pong, rollerblading, and bike and boat rental in summer. In winter, half the park turns into a huge ice skating rink. Gorky Park is also home to an open-air movie theater and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. There is also Muzeon Art Park, a dynamic contemporary space with a unique collection of 700 sculptures. It is located right in front of Gorky Park.

6. Sparrow Hills Park

If you take a walk from Gorky Park, along the Moscow River embankment, you’ll end up in the city’s other legendary park, Sparrow Hills. Although the park doesn’t offer as many activities as its hip neighbor, it has a great panoramic view of the city

Pro Tip: You can take a free walking tour to all of the above attractions with an English-speaking guide.

River cruise in Moscow

7. River Cruising

One of the best ways to experience Moscow, and see all the famous landmarks, but from a different angle, is from the Moscow River. Take a river cruise. Avoid the tourist crowds. There are little nameless old boats that do the cruise, but if you are looking for a more luxurious experience take the Radisson Blu cruise and enjoy the sights with some good food and a glass of wine.

Moscow Metro station

8. Metro Hopping

Inaugurated in the 1930s, the Moscow Metro system is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the world. Started in Stalinist times, each station is a work of art in its own right. I’d recommend touring the stations between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. This way, you’ll be able to properly see it without the crowds. Ideally, I’d recommend taking a tour with a knowledgeable guide with GuruWalk, who will tell you stories of forgotten stations and how the history of the country is interconnected with the metro development. If going by yourself, then I definitely recommend checking out: Mayakovskaya, Ploschad Revolutsii, Kievskaya, Kropotkinskaya, Kurskaya, and Novoslobodskaya stations.

Visit the free Moscow Metro Museum: For real train enthusiasts, located in the southern vestibule of Sportivnaya station is a small free museum. Here you can take a peek into the driver’s cabin, see a collection of metro tokens from different cities, and see different models of a turnstile, traffic lights, escalator, and more.

Moscow State University at dusk

9. Moscow State University View

In his effort to create a grander Moscow, Stalin had seven skyscrapers built in different parts of town; they’re called the Seven Sisters. The largest of these buildings and the one with the best view is the main building of the Moscow State University. Although this is a little outside the city center, the view is more than worth it.

Izmailovsky Market in Moscow, Russia

10. Izmailovsky Market

Mostly known for the city’s largest flea market, the district of Izmaylovo is home to a maze of shops where you can get just about anything, from artisan crafts to traditional fur hats, handcrafted jewelry, fascinating Soviet memorabilia, and antiquities. It’s also one of Moscow’s largest green spaces. There are often no price tags, so be prepared to haggle a bit. Head to one of the market cafes for a warming mulled wine before continuing your shopping spree.

The History of Vodka Museum is found here, and the museum’s restaurant is the perfect place to sample various brands of the national drink.

Once you’ve covered the more touristy spots, Moscow still has plenty to offer, and the places below will also be full of locals! So for some local vibes, I would strongly recommend the spots below!

The skyscrapers of Moscow City

11. Moscow City

With a completely different vibe, Moscow City (also referred to as Moscow International Business Center) is like a mini Dubai, with lots of impressive tall glass buildings. Here is where you’ll find the best rooftops in towns, like Ruski Restaurant, the highest restaurant both in Moscow City and in Europe. Moscow City is great for crowd-free shopping and the best panoramic views of the city.

Art in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow

12. Tretyakov Gallery

Tretyakov Gallery started as the private collection of the Tretyakov brothers, who were 19th-century philanthropists. They gave their private collection to the government after their deaths. If there is just one museum you visit in Moscow, I recommend this one!

Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve, former residence of Catherine the Great

13. Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve

Tsaritsyno was a residence of Catherine the Great more than two centuries ago. It became derelict during the Soviet era but has now been fully renovated. With its opulently decorated buildings, gardens, meadows, and forests, Tsaritsyno Park is the perfect place for a green respite in Moscow.

Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve in Moscow

14. Kolomenskoye

A 10-minute metro ride from the city center is Kolomenskoe Museum-Reserve, where you can get an idea of what Russia looked like 200 years ago. You’ll find ancient churches (one dating back to the 16th century), the oldest garden in Moscow, and the wonderful fairytale wooden palace of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great.

Ostankino TV Tower in Moscow at night

15. Ostankino TV Tower

Built in 1967, Ostankino TV Tower was the tallest free-standing construction in the world at the time, it’s still the 8th tallest building in the world and the highest in Europe. It’s also the best observation deck, with a glass floor and 360-degree views. The speedy elevators take you 1,105 feet in next to no time.

Pro Tip: You need to book in advance; entrance is based on specific ticket times and the capacity is limited and only a certain number of tourists are allowed per day. Don’t forget your passport, you’ll need it to get through security.

The floating bridge of Zaryadye Park in Moscow

16. Zaryadye Park

Zaryadye is a newly opened, landscaped urban park so new you won’t find it in a lot of tour guides. The park is near Red Square and is divided into four climatic zones: forest, steppe, tundra, and floodplains, depicting the variety of climatic zones in Russia.

These last three suggestions are a little quirky, but all are really worth checking out.

17. Museum Of Soviet Arcade Games

Release your inner child playing on 66 arcade machines from the Soviet era! What a great way to spend a couple of hours when tired of visiting museums and palaces. The staff speaks excellent English and are happy to explain how the games work.

The rooftops of Moscow, Russia

18. Moscow Rooftop Tour

Take a 1-hour private Moscow rooftop tour with an experienced roofer. I can just about guarantee none of your friends will be able to say they’ve done it! For your comfort, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes. Take your camera, there are some amazing photo opportunities out there!

A pool at Sanduny Banya in Moscow

19. Sanduny Banya

This classical Russian bathhouse opened its doors in 1808 and is famous for combining traditional Russian banya services with luxurious interiors and service. If you enjoy spas and saunas, then you should experience a Russian bathhouse at least once in your life! Go with an open mind and hire a specialist to steam you as it’s meant to be done — by being beaten repeatedly with a besom (a leafy branch)! This is said to improve circulation, but is best done by a professional!

So there you have my list of things to do in Moscow. I could have gone on and on and on, but I didn’t want to try your patience! There are so many things to do in this vibrant city that you’ll definitely need to allocate several days for exploring.

Here are some other reasons to visit Moscow and Russia:

  • 7 Reasons To Put Moscow On Your Travel Bucket List
  • Russia 30 Years (And 30 Pounds) Ago
  • Massive Mysterious Craters Appearing Again In Siberia

Image of Sarah Kingdom

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, before moving to Africa at the age of 21, Sarah Kingdom is a mountain climber and guide, traveler, yoga teacher, trail runner, and mother of two. When she is not climbing or traveling she lives on a cattle ranch in central Zambia. She guides and runs trips regularly in India, Nepal, Tibet, Russia, and Ethiopia, taking climbers up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro numerous times a year.

  • >", "name": "top-nav-watch", "type": "link"}}' href="https://watch.outsideonline.com">Watch
  • >", "name": "top-nav-learn", "type": "link"}}' href="https://learn.outsideonline.com">Learn
  • >", "name": "top-nav-podcasts", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.outsideonline.com/podcast-directory/">Podcasts
  • >", "name": "top-nav-maps", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.gaiagps.com">Maps
  • >", "name": "top-nav-events", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.athletereg.com/events">Events
  • >", "name": "top-nav-shop", "type": "link"}}' href="https://shop.outsideonline.com">Shop
  • >", "name": "top-nav-buysell", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.pinkbike.com/buysell">BuySell
  • >", "name": "top-nav-outside", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.outsideonline.com/outsideplus">Outside+

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? >", "name": "mega-signin", "type": "link"}}' class="u-color--red-dark u-font--xs u-text-transform--upper u-font-weight--bold">Sign In

Outside watch, outside learn.

  • >", "name": "mega-backpacker-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.backpacker.com/">Backpacker
  • >", "name": "mega-climbing-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.climbing.com/">Climbing
  • >", "name": "mega-flyfilmtour-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://flyfilmtour.com/">Fly Fishing Film Tour
  • >", "name": "mega-gaiagps-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.gaiagps.com/">Gaia GPS
  • >", "name": "mega-npt-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.nationalparktrips.com/">National Park Trips
  • >", "name": "mega-outsideonline-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.outsideonline.com/">Outside
  • >", "name": "mega-outsideio-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.outside.io/">Outside.io
  • >", "name": "mega-outsidetv-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://watch.outsideonline.com">Outside Watch
  • >", "name": "mega-ski-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.skimag.com/">Ski
  • >", "name": "mega-warrenmiller-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://warrenmiller.com/">Warren Miller Entertainment

Healthy Living

  • >", "name": "mega-ce-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.cleaneatingmag.com/">Clean Eating
  • >", "name": "mega-oxy-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.oxygenmag.com/">Oxygen
  • >", "name": "mega-vt-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.vegetariantimes.com/">Vegetarian Times
  • >", "name": "mega-yj-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.yogajournal.com/">Yoga Journal
  • >", "name": "mega-beta-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.betamtb.com/">Beta
  • >", "name": "mega-pinkbike-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.pinkbike.com/">Pinkbike
  • >", "name": "mega-roll-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.rollmassif.com/">Roll Massif
  • >", "name": "mega-trailforks-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.trailforks.com/">Trailforks
  • >", "name": "mega-trail-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://trailrunnermag.com/">Trail Runner
  • >", "name": "mega-tri-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.triathlete.com/">Triathlete
  • >", "name": "mega-vn-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://velo.outsideonline.com/">Velo
  • >", "name": "mega-wr-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.womensrunning.com/">Women's Running
  • >", "name": "mega-athletereg-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.athletereg.com/">athleteReg
  • >", "name": "mega-bicycleretailer-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.bicycleretailer.com/">Bicycle Retailer & Industry News
  • >", "name": "mega-cairn-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.getcairn.com/">Cairn
  • >", "name": "mega-finisherpix-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.finisherpix.com/">FinisherPix
  • >", "name": "mega-idea-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.ideafit.com/">Idea
  • >", "name": "mega-nastar-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.nastar.com/">NASTAR
  • >", "name": "mega-shop-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.outsideinc.com/outside-books/">Outside Books
  • >", "name": "mega-veloswap-link", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.veloswap.com/">VeloSwap
  • >", "name": "mega-backpacker-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.backpacker.com/">Backpacker
  • >", "name": "mega-climbing-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.climbing.com/">Climbing
  • >", "name": "mega-flyfilmtour-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://flyfilmtour.com/">Fly Fishing Film Tour
  • >", "name": "mega-gaiagps-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.gaiagps.com/">Gaia GPS
  • >", "name": "mega-npt-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.nationalparktrips.com/">National Park Trips
  • >", "name": "mega-outsideonline-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.outsideonline.com/">Outside
  • >", "name": "mega-outsidetv-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://watch.outsideonline.com">Watch
  • >", "name": "mega-ski-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.skimag.com/">Ski
  • >", "name": "mega-warrenmiller-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://warrenmiller.com/">Warren Miller Entertainment
  • >", "name": "mega-ce-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.cleaneatingmag.com/">Clean Eating
  • >", "name": "mega-oxy-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.oxygenmag.com/">Oxygen
  • >", "name": "mega-vt-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.vegetariantimes.com/">Vegetarian Times
  • >", "name": "mega-yj-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.yogajournal.com/">Yoga Journal
  • >", "name": "mega-beta-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.betamtb.com/">Beta
  • >", "name": "mega-roll-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.rollmassif.com/">Roll Massif
  • >", "name": "mega-trail-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://trailrunnermag.com/">Trail Runner
  • >", "name": "mega-tri-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.triathlete.com/">Triathlete
  • >", "name": "mega-vn-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://velo.outsideonline.com/">Velo
  • >", "name": "mega-wr-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.womensrunning.com/">Women's Running
  • >", "name": "mega-athletereg-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.athletereg.com/">athleteReg
  • >", "name": "mega-bicycleretailer-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.bicycleretailer.com/">Bicycle Retailer & Industry News
  • >", "name": "mega-finisherpix-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.finisherpix.com/">FinisherPix
  • >", "name": "mega-idea-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.ideafit.com/">Idea
  • >", "name": "mega-nastar-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.nastar.com/">NASTAR
  • >", "name": "mega-shop-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://shop.outsideonline.com/">Outside Shop
  • >", "name": "mega-vp-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.velopress.com/">VeloPress
  • >", "name": "mega-veloswap-link-accordion", "type": "link"}}' href="https://www.veloswap.com/">VeloSwap

2-FOR-1 GA TICKETS WITH OUTSIDE+

Don’t miss Thundercat, Fleet Foxes, and more at the Outside Festival.

GET TICKETS

OUTSIDE FESTIVAL JUNE 1-2

Don't miss Thundercat + Fleet Foxes, adventure films, experiences, and more!

A glowing canvas glamping tent set amid a southwestern landscape near Kanab, Utah.

5 Fun, Affordable Alternatives to Pricey Bucket-List Destinations

These Alpine, Caribbean, and glamping getaways have all the amazing scenery and none of the over-the-top prices

A glowing tent with two camp chairs out front sets a cozy scene amid southwestern Utah's desert.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the Outside app available now on iOS devices for members! >","name":"in-content-cta","type":"link"}}'>Download the app .

We all dream of visiting the world’s best places. But in what’s shaping up to be the most expensive year to travel since before the pandemic, it’s also good to branch out. One of the biggest travel trends of 2024 is destination “dupes”—affordable alternatives that are just as dreamy and beautiful as the most popular places but aren’t as expensive or crowded.

Europe in particular is filled with historical, lively cities that can serve as stand-ins to their well-known counterparts. For example, if you long to visit Amsterdam for its river scene and cafés, you might try Rotterdam, just 50 miles to the southwest. If you like Munich for its beer culture and jaw-dropping Baroque buildings, check out the German cities of Nuremberg or Stuttgart. If you’re drawn to Vienna for its music and art scene, try Graz, in Austria’s eastern Alps. In the U.S., music lovers might check out Memphis, Tennessee, rather than Nashville.

Which destinations will offer the most bang for your buck this year? I looked at some popular bucket-list trips and have come up with alternative destinations and itineraries that will be just as much fun and cost you less.

Summer Hiking in Europe

Dreaming of: The Italian Dolomites Try This Affordable Alternative:  The Slovenian Alps

A view of Slovenia’s Bled Island and the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary

The limestone peaks of the Slovenian Alps are similar to those found in northern Italy. Slovenia is half the size of Switzerland (and half the cost), and it’s incredibly easy to get around its hills, thanks to more than 6,200 marked trails. Members of Slovenia’s Alpine Association help manage a network of nearly 180 mountain huts , such as Triglav Lodge at Kredarica, located near the nation’s highest peak, 9,400-foot Triglav.

This country also has some of the nicest glamping accommodations I’ve ever seen. Garden Village Bled, a short walk from Lake Bled, feels straight out of a Grimm’s fairy tale, with riverfront tents starting at $120 and family-friendly treehouses starting at $260. And with nearly 60 Michelin-starred restaurants in the immediate surrounds, you can have insanely good food for a serious bargain. The nine-course tasting menu at Hisa Linhart, for example, costs $140.

Adventure Intel: The 167-mile Juliana Trail made its debut four years ago and wends through both quaint towns and Triglav National Park. One Outside writer spent nearly three weeks trekking it and enjoying the sites and local hospitality. If cycling is your thing, now’s the time to get wheeling on the Trans Dinarica Route through the Balkans; the northern terminus is Slovenia’s Soca Valley. We mention details and outfitters on the entire 1,250 miles in this year’s travel awards .

Glamping in the Southwest

Dreaming of: Camp Sakira, Utah Try This Affordable Alternative:  BaseCamp 37, Utah

A BaseCamp 37 glamping tent with two chairs and a grill fire out front sets a cozy scene amid the southwestern desert landscape near Kanab, Utah.

Five nights in one of the five nice safari tents at BaseCamp 37 , a remote glampground 15 minutes from Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument will cost you about $1,000. That’s dramatically less than one night at Camp Sakira, where tents start at $7,547 per night for double occupancy (and includes amenities like airport transfers, all meals, and adventures like a full-day national-park tour). You won’t have a private plunge pool, but BaseCamp 37 does have a mini pool where you can cool off, plus Wi-Fi, grills, and two indoor kitchens. Another economical option is Zion Wildflower Resort , located 15 minutes from the south entrance of Zion National Park. It has a pool and a hot tub and hosts live music and movie nights. Its covered wagons (with A/C) and canvas tents start at around $200.

Adventure Intel:  Our Ultimate Guide to Zion National Park will set you up with must-have intel on everything from iconic spots like the Narrows and Subway to slickrock side options that leave the crowds behind. And if you haven’t yet read about the Aquarius Trail , it’s time you did. This nearby bike-packing hut system is open from early July to late September and is just the place to take your hardtail for the adventure of its life.

A Family Road Trip

Dreaming of: The California Coast Try This Affordable Alternative:  British Columbia’s Vancouver Island

A woman walks up a set of wooden stairs while gazing up at the surrounding rainforest near Ucluelet, British Columbia.

Given the strength of the dollar, a road trip along the western coast of Vancouver Island provides more bang for your buck, and with its old-growth forests and wild beaches, it rivals the Cali coast in terms of scenic beauty. I suggest the two-hour drive from Victoria to Port Renfrew, stopping en route to explore the hiking trails and beaches of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and camping at China Beach ($20 per group). Wild Renfrew lodging is conveniently positioned between two coastal trailheads: the challenging West Coast Trail and the more mellow Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, and its cozy wharfside cabins feature kitchenettes and start at $190. Continue another 210 miles north to the surf town of Tofino, and consider tacking on a stay in the neighboring town of Ucluelet, at the Nami Project , a collection of oceanfront, self-catering suites and cabins right next to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Rates start at $343.

Adventure Intel: Those old-growth trees have their own support system—activists blocking clearcutting and provoking 2021’s War in the Woods —the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Our reporter embedded with them to get some perspective on that island movement. And if your B.C. vacation takes you into the interior, we’ve got nine choice suggestions on how to maximize your options. Bear-watching is one of them. Try not to think about the mountain biker in coastal B.C. who survived an attack by a grizzly by using his pocketknife. (That tale’s a good one for the campfire.)

A Caribbean Beach Getaway

Dreaming of: The Bahamas Try This Affordable Alternative: Colombia

A boat waving the Colombian flag prepares to pull up to the sandy shore of the Rosario Islands.

This South American nation may not be the first place that comes to mind when you hear the words “Caribbean vacation.” But the country’s turquoise waters and white-sand beaches could easily be mistaken for any stretch of gorgeous shoreline in the Bahamas. Deborah Gellis, a travel agent with Embark Beyond, says that its activities, dining, and hotels offer prices unseen in Mexico and the Caribbean in more than ten years. Many people day-trip to the Rosario Islands from Cartagena via a 45-minute boat ride. This archipelago of 27 powdery-sand islands is surrounded by incredibly clear waters and boasts pristine coral reefs. Stay at Fragata Island House , where a sea-view room will cost less than $200. You can walk out the hotel door and be  snorkeling and paddleboarding in minutes. Or stay closer to Cartagena on Tierra Bomba, reached via a 25-minute boat shuttle from the city’s port; on the island’s western shore lies Blue Apple Beach House , where a beach-club day pass costs $25 (and includes transfers) and rooms start at $159. A residency program allows musicians and artists to share their talents in exchange for free stays.

Adventure Intel: A few Caribbean destinations have been grappling with crime in recent years, including the Bahamas. This spring we reported on its level 2 advisory (reconsider travel)  and exactly where the trouble there has been occurring. If you’re still set on a dream trip there, read this first . We also like Todos Santos, Mexico, for affordable beach getaways. Check out our guide to a good time there from a writer who chose to work remotely from the Baja town for a few months. It’s true, that water isn’t Caribbean blue. So maybe you head to Puerto Rico , where the water hue is one you dream of, you don’t need a passport, and lodging and food won’t set you back an arm and a leg. We like that idea, too—Puerto Rico is another one of our choices for travel in 2024 .

A Ski Weekend

Dreaming of: Big Sky, Montana Try This Affordable Alternative:  Morzine, France

A couple in ski wear pause on snowy slopes overlooking the resort village of Morzine, France.

Lift ticket prices at almost any European ski resort are cheaper than in the U.S., especially if you skip big-name spots like Chamonix, France, for lesser known destinations like Morzine , just an hour north. Part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski area that straddles the Swiss border, Morzine offers everything from gentle groomers to serious off-piste action. Compared to a three-day lift ticket at Big Sky ($644 in March, not including an extra ticket to access terrain off the tram), which has 5,800 skiable acres, a three-day pass at Morzine costs less than $200 and includes access to all 12 resorts that comprise Portes du Soleil—in total, nearly 100,000 skiable acres. Because this is France, meals are a highlight, but instead of paying $20 for mediocre food-hall tacos, you might opt to spend $35 on wood-fired beef rib for two at the cozy mountain hut Chez Nannon.

Adventure Intel: You’re not far from Switzerland in Morzine, and we wouldn’t blame you for crossing the border just to eat  älplermagronen, or herdsman macaroni. You can read about that gooey goodness here . Want to look like a local while you’re swooshing the slopes? The key piece of gear might be these glacier glasses from Julbo; the Chamonix company invented that particular kind of eyewear protection. Warning: unlike the places we’re pitching in this article, they’re not cheap. But they are cool.

The author poses at a sign that says "Grand Tour of Switzerland," with a view of the Matterhorn behind her.

Jen Murphy is Outside’ s travel-advice columnist. She’s explored the famous mountains of France, Switzerland, and Italy, but believes the lesser known Julian Alps in Slovenia are equally awesome and the country’s food and wine just as delicious.

  • British Columbia

Popular on Outside Online

>", "path": "https://www.outsideonline.com/health/wellness/1000-hours-outside-challenge/", "listing_type": "recirc", "location": "list", "title": "don’t project your mountain town envy onto your kids"}}'> don’t project your mountain town envy onto your kids, >", "path": "https://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/hiking-and-backpacking/carson-city-nevada-pay-hikers-5000-pacific-crest-trail/", "listing_type": "recirc", "location": "list", "title": "nevada offers travelers $5,000 to hike the pacific crest trail"}}'> nevada offers travelers $5,000 to hike the pacific crest trail, >", "path": "https://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-gear/cars-trucks/two-oregon-pros-return-home-for-adventure-rally/", "listing_type": "recirc", "location": "list", "title": "two oregon pros return home for adventure rally"}}'> two oregon pros return home for adventure rally, >", "path": "https://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-gear/cars-trucks/ready-for-adventure/", "listing_type": "recirc", "location": "list", "title": "ready for adventure"}}'> ready for adventure.

Global Shorty; Dirty Tennis Fans are All Over the World‪!‬ Dirty Tennis. Clean Living. The Podcast!

Ashley and Dena swap their tennis racquets for passports, so grab your favorite travel mug, because you're about to join our global Dirty Tennis family on a journey through bucket list wonders and the future of our show. We're rolling out the red carpet for our fans from nearly 400 cities (!) to contribute their worldly aspirations and laughter to our tennis-loving community. Prepare to be immersed in a world where every serve comes with a side of wanderlust. So cheers, dear listeners! Keep those stories and questions coming, and remember to pack your sense of humor—traveling with us is always an adventure!

  • More Episodes
  • © 2024 Dirty Tennis Podcast

IMAGES

  1. 23 Bucket List Trips for Families Who Love the Outdoors

    bucket list trips for families

  2. Summer Bucket List

    bucket list trips for families

  3. 50 family travel bucket list destination ideas

    bucket list trips for families

  4. 25 Amazing Ideas for Our Family Travel Bucket List

    bucket list trips for families

  5. 5 Bucket List Trips for Families

    bucket list trips for families

  6. 30 Simple Bucket List Ideas For Families

    bucket list trips for families

COMMENTS

  1. 50 Bucket List Family Adventure Trips

    On G Adventures' 17-day Essential Vietnam & Cambodia trip (starting at $1,959), participants ages 12 and up cruise along the Mekong Delta in Ho Chi Minh City, float in a junk boat on Halong Bay ...

  2. Ultimate Family Travel Bucket List: 119 Adventures Around the World

    24. See the Northern Lights. Seeing the swirls of the northern lights is definitely a family travel bucket list item! We hoped to see them during our time in Iceland, but no luck. Northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard in Norway, and Abisko, Sweden are locations with a high chance of seeing this phenomenon. 25.

  3. 32 epic bucket list family vacation ideas

    By Faith at 3 Tickets Please. From the wonder of Machu Picchu to the dense rainforest of the Amazon, Peru is an ultimate bucket list trip for families. Adventurous families can sleep above a clay lick in a camouflage house under the Amazonian stars. Or train to Machu Picchu to one of the new seven wonders of the world.

  4. 10 Bucket List Family Vacations around the World

    Add in a two-bedroom beach villa with a private garden, an under-the-stars outdoor shower, and a private turquoise pool, and you have the makings of the most magical and memorable family vacation on the planet. 3. Paris and Normandy, France. A trip to Paris should be on every family's vacation bucket list.

  5. The Bucket List Family

    THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FAMILY TRAVEL. In this indispensable guide by Jessica Gee of the Bucket List Family, discover expert tips for traveling with kids and 50 not-to-be-missed destination itineraries. Written by one of the world's most traveled families, this book will inspire you to create new and lasting memories with your family for years ...

  6. Family Travel Bucket List: 50 ideas for the best family adventures

    Uluru certainly deserves its place on any family travel bucket list! Read more: Travel Diary: Stuart Highway and Uluru. Check different tours and activities around Uluru here. 4. Buy a converted bus and road trip from Alaska to Mexico 5. See the Northern Light 6. Visit the Faroe Islands 7. Road trip with an original Kombi campervan 8.

  7. 23 Bucket List Trips for Families Who Love the Outdoors

    Taking a bucket list trip with your family is a perfect way to create lasting memories and explore the natural world at its finest. With our list of 23 Bucket List Trips for Families Who Love the Outdoors, you'll find an adventure your whole family will enjoy - whether visiting the Antelope Canyon, Arizona, or hiking through Sedona, in Arizona.

  8. The Bucket List Family Told Us Their Best Travel Tips for Families

    In her book, readers get expert advice on how to make their own bucket list travels happen. The illustrated guide offers 50 family-friendly itineraries to destinations like South Africa, Alaska, and so many more, along with helpful family travel hacks they've picked up along the way. Jessica Gee.

  9. 11 Trips to Put on Your Family Bucket List

    These family bucket list trips to mostly far-flung destinations take time to make reality—oftentimes years—to plan and save up for. But as much energy and money as you spend, you can be guaranteed far more magic in return. Snorkeling with sea turtles, hiking with alpaca, learning to surf in the Indian Ocean, digging for dinosaur bones ...

  10. 21 Bucket List Experiences for Families that Love Travel

    From trekking in the Himalayas to experiencing New Year's Eve in Sydney, these are epic experiences to put on your list. Contents [ hide] 1 Great Barrier Reef, Australia. 2 South African Safari. 3 Ziplining at Ankor Wat, Cambodia. 4 Wadi Rum Bedouin Camping, Jordan. 5 Sleep in a Bubble. 6 Trekking in the Himalayas.

  11. 21 Life-changing Bucket List Trips Everyone Should Experience

    21 Life-changing Trips Everyone Should Experience at Least Once. From African safaris to must-visit cities, these once-in-a-lifetime trips will make you want to plan your next great adventure.

  12. Bucket List Family Travel: Our Top 10 Epic One-on-One Trips

    Except that we'll still take full-family trips several times a year. 1. Brazil's Amazon Rainforest. This is my favorite kid trip ever, and my youngest daughter's third-favorite trip. We started in Manaus and then spent a week in the Amazon Rainforest, both on a boat on the Rio Negro and in a jungle lodge.

  13. Best Bucket List Experiences For Your Family In The United States

    Fallen Leaf Lake, South Lake Tahoe. One of the most remarkable bucket list experiences for families in the United States is a visit to Fallen Leaf Lake, nestled in the breathtaking surroundings of South Lake Tahoe. This hidden gem offers an unparalleled opportunity for families to reconnect with nature.

  14. Our United States Bucket List: 15 Must-See Places for Families

    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.

  15. The Ultimate Bucket List for Families: Usa Edition

    A family rafting trip is a wet and wild family bucket list item that will have you working together to create an adventure of a lifetime. IF you're traveling with young kids or a family that doesn't want big thrills, stick to a Class I float. If you want light thrills, look for a Class II or III trip.

  16. EPIC MOSCOW Itinerary! (2024 Guide)

    In 1990, UNESCO designated Russia's Red Square as a World Heritage site. Visiting this historic site is a true bucket-list event and essential addition to your itinerary for Moscow! Day 1 / Stop 2 - The Moscow Kremlin. Why it's awesome: The Moscow Kremlin complex includes several palaces and cathedrals and is surrounded by the Kremlin ...

  17. Bucket List Family shares their best tips from life on the road

    The Bucket List Family's level of travel may not be possible for most families, but traveling abroad can cost less than some domestic theme park trips. "Some of those trips are very expensive ...

  18. 10 U.S. Bucket List Vacations Every Family Should Take

    These bucket list U.S. family vacations are bound to create lifelong memories everyone will treasure well after the kids have flown the nest. 1. Bright Lights, Big City. Some may argue that New York City is the greatest city in the world. Whether you believe that or not, it certainly makes most travel bucket lists.

  19. The Best Bucket List Trips to Take With Kids

    The soaring, sandstone complex near Siem Reap, Cambodia is filled with secret rooms, hidden passageways, interesting paths, and trees growing right through the walls. It's every kid adventurer's dream. Your kids will also love the overly-friendly monkeys and tuk-tuk rides. Pro tip: Avoid the hot season, if you can.

  20. The Bucket List Family: How to travel the world with three kids

    Jessica and Garrett Gee and their three children Dorothy, Manilla and Calihan are known as "The Bucket List Family." Aside from a one-off trip to Europe, the furthest Jessica Gee ever traveled ...

  21. The best things to do and places to visit in Moscow, Russia

    16. Novodevichy Convent. Novodevichy Convent, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Moscow. Located south west of the centre you'll find this stunning monastery. Inside you'll find a cathedral and several churches, surrounded by high walls and 12 towers.

  22. Travel Itinerary For One Week in Moscow

    Day 6 - Explore the Golden Ring. Creating the Moscow itinerary may keep you busy for days with the seemingly endless amount of things to do. Visiting the so-called Golden Ring is like stepping back in time. Golden Ring is a "theme route" devised by promotion-minded journalist and writer Yuri Bychkov.

  23. 19 Unique And Fabulous Experiences In Moscow

    5. Gorky Park. Moscow's premier green space, Gorky Park (Park Gor'kogo) is the city's biggest and most famous park. There is entertainment on offer here for every taste, from outdoor dancing sessions to yoga classes, volleyball, ping-pong, rollerblading, and bike and boat rental in summer.

  24. The Ultimate 2024 Summer Bucket List for Teens (Printable PDF)

    When my daughter was small, every summer we created a family summer fun list full of outings, day trips, and fun activities around the house. Over the years, our summer fun list faded into the background as summer camp, road trips, sports, and other priorities came to the forefront.But with graduation fast approaching, it was time to rethink the summer fun list and turn it into a summer bucket ...

  25. 5 Affordable Alternatives to Pricey Bucket-List Destinations

    Garden Village Bled, a short walk from Lake Bled, feels straight out of a Grimm's fairy tale, with riverfront tents starting at $120 and family-friendly treehouses starting at $260.

  26. ‎Dirty Tennis. Clean Living. The Podcast!: Global Shorty; Dirty Tennis

    Ashley and Dena swap their tennis racquets for passports, so grab your favorite travel mug, because you're about to join our global Dirty Tennis family on a journey through bucket list wonders and the future of our show. We're rolling out the red carpet for our fans from nearly 400 cities (!) to con…