30 Bucket List Ideas To Do Before Your 50th Birthday


How do you feel about turning 50? Are you ready to grab for the gusto and live the rest of your life with vigor and excitement? Or are you researching end-of-life planning checklists and advance directives?

Hopefully, you're approaching this milestone birthday with a combination of excitement and responsibility. For most, 50 is considered “middle-aged,” and you have a lot of time left to achieve goals and experience life. At the same time, it's much easier for our family members if we leave our affairs in order when we die. 

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So, of course, be responsible and write a will and purchase long-term care insurance. Also, consider creating a bucket list of the items you want to complete before your time on Earth comes to an end.

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Bucket List Ideas for Your 50th Birthday Party

Some of you may have begun to plan your 50th birthday party as soon as you finished blowing out the candles on your 40th birthday cake. Here are some ideas on how to spend your 50th birthday that may put your 40th birthday party to shame.

1. Celebrate by parachuting out of an airplane.

President George H.W. Bush celebrated many of his birthdays parachuting out of a plane. In fact, he completed this feat when he was 90 years old. If President Bush could skydive at 90, surely you can do it at 50! Shout, “I’m 50!” as you descend toward Earth.

2. Climb a mountain on your birthday.

Perhaps you have always dreamed of climbing a particular peak. Why not save that trek for your 50th birthday? Of course, make sure you complete adequate training leading up to your climb. Otherwise, you will feel older by the end of the day instead of energized and proud.

3. See your favorite entertainer or show.

Maybe you don’t splurge very often, and the idea of paying $300 for a play or concert ticket seems crazy to you. Why not use your birthday as an excuse to see Hamilton or Elton John’s farewell concert? Hold up a sign saying, “it’s my birthday” at the show to see if you get any special attention. 

4. Rent a party bus.

You’ve still got some wild times left in you. Consider renting a party bus for your 50th birthday party. Gather up your favorite group of friends and show those Millenials how Generation Xers like to celebrate.

5. Plan a girls’ or guys’ weekend.

Your high school friends will all be turning 50 at the same time, so why not celebrate together? Head to the beach or Nashville, Austin, or Vegas. Spend time laughing, sharing memories, and listening to live music. You’ll be able to think back on your fun weekend when you are old and gray.

6. Host a party.

Throw the ultimate house party for your 50th birthday. Make a playlist with your favorite songs and hire a bartender. Serve your favorite foods, and be a King or a Queen for the evening. You could irritate your friends by making it a theme party and having others dress up for the event.

7. Spend your birthday on your own.

Maybe you are always surrounded by your friends and family, and you need a break to recharge. Consider spending your 50th birthday exploring a new city. Shop, go to museums, listen to live music, and create your own agenda. Just because someone is alone, doesn’t mean they are lonely. 

8. Spend your birthday at a spa.

When was the last time you pampered yourself? Consider spending your 50th birthday at a spa. Get a massage, facial, mani, and pedi. Drink cucumber water all morning and champagne all afternoon. Walk around in a plush robe as you listen to flute music.

9. Spend your birthday volunteering.

Spend your birthday serving others. We all have causes near to our hearts, so why not celebrate by making the world a better place? Whether you spend your day at your local historical society or animal shelter is up to you. You may consider asking your friends and family to donate to your favorite charity instead of buying you a birthday gift.

10. Reserve a room at your favorite restaurant.

Ask your friends or family members to help you celebrate your milestone birthday at your favorite local restaurant. Consider organizing an open house so people can drop in when they are available instead of having a formal sit-down dinner.

11. Stay at a destination hotel.

Grab your honey and book a room in the nicest hotel in your area for the weekend. Stay in bed all day and enjoy room service or play “tourist” in your own city.

12. Go shopping.

Is it time to update your wardrobe? Make sure you don’t look older than you are by wearing dated clothes. Ditch your old duds and go on a shopping spree. Take along a friend who has excellent taste and allow him or her to dress you in items you wouldn’t have considered on your own.

13. Get a makeover.

Maybe it is time to change your hair and makeup. Make an appointment at your favorite cosmetic counter and ask for makeup advice that will make you look refreshed. Then visit a salon for a new cut and style. 

14. Write a gratitude list.

Instead of spending your birthday thinking about things you haven’t accomplished, why not spend the day thinking about all the things for which you are thankful. Make a long, detailed list. 

15. Get rid of stuff.

Are you feeling bogged down with all your belongings? Get rid of the extra weight in your house by spending your birthday hauling items to Goodwill.

» MORE: Your family has 500 hours of work to do after you die. Learn how you can make it easier for them

Bucket List Ideas to Do Before Your 50th Birthday

No one’s bucket lists are the same. While some people’s bucket lists are full of travel destinations, others may be full of physical accomplishments. Here are some ideas of goals that you may or may not have before turning 50.

16. Visit all 50 states before turning 50.

If your 50th birthday is approaching, you may want to make travel plans that you wouldn’t typically make. Have you never been to Kansas or Missouri? Spend a weekend in Kansas City going on a BBQ tour. Are you missing South Dakota and North Dakota on your list? Take a drive through the Badlands and climb White Butte (yes, this is really the name of the highest point in North Dakota.)

17. Visit all seven continents before you turn 50.

Have you never left North America? Make it a goal to go to at least one other continent before you turn 50. A trip through Europe sounds like a perfect 50th birthday gift to me!

18. Learn how to scuba dive.

You are missing out on one of the most amazing experiences ever if you don’t know how to dive. Sign up for lessons today, and go on a SCUBA trip for your 50th birthday.

19. Go on a hot air balloon ride.

Spend your 50th birthday floating peacefully above the countryside in a hot air balloon. Not only will you see the world from a whole new angle, but you will also be able to take the most amazing selfies ever. Grab a bottle of champagne and your favorite person, and celebrate the second half of your life in style

20. Learn to dance.

Do you watch Dancing With the Stars and think, “I could do that!” Take lessons and learn to do the cha-cha and the mamba. 

21. Finish your degree.

Are you just a few credits shy of your bachelor’s or masters? Why not take the required courses and finish your college education before you turn 50. Maybe you could enroll in some of the same classes as your college-aged child. Your son would love to have you as his classmate!

22. Get your spiritual life in order.

Maybe you have avoided thinking about the higher power because it makes you feel uncomfortable. There’s no time like the present to think about your place in the universe. Talk with a spiritual leader in your community to receive guidance. 

23. Attend that festival you’ve been thinking about for years.

Have you always wanted to go to Sturgis? What about the Austin City Limit Festival? Maybe your life-long dream is to attend the Spam Festival? Check that festival off your bucket list by going this year.

24. Learn how to play a musical instrument.

Now that we have YouTube, you have no excuse for not knowing how to play the piano or guitar. Don’t let your kids or spouse make fun of your desire. You have to start somewhere - even if it means you play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star ten times a day for the first week. 

25. Make amends with an estranged family member or friend.

Life is too short to hold grudges. It may be time to make amends with that estranged family member. 

26. Get a tattoo.

By the time you are 50, you are smart enough to know what is a proper tattoo design and what is not. Surprise your kids by showing up with a tattoo on your next family gathering.

27. Sing karaoke.

You sing in the shower and the car. Why not try your hand with singing karaoke? Go to a new city or state if you are concerned about singing in front of someone you know.

28. Visit all of the National Parks.

There are 58 National Parks in the United States. Purchase a National Park Passport and get stamps at all of them.

29. Research your ancestry.

Find out where you came from by learning about your family history. 

30. Attend the Olympics.

Make plans to travel to Tokyo, Beijing, or Paris for one of the next three Olympic games.

» MORE: A will is not enough. Get all the documents you need.

Here’s to 50 More Years

Whether you are 49 or 29, there is no time like the present to achieve the goals of our lives. Do something today that moves you in the right direction to complete one of your bucket list goals.

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