28 Must-Do Retirement Bucket List Ideas


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Are you dreaming of retirement? If so, you’re probably thinking a lot about what you plan on doing during those golden years. Since you won’t be working full-time anymore, what do you plan to do with your free time?

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It could be beneficial to plan for your retirement by creating a bucket list. For those who aren’t in the know, a bucket list is a list of things you want to accomplish before you “kick the bucket.” 

Maybe you have been working on accomplishing the items on your bucket list for your whole life. Perhaps you have separate lists in different categories such as a travel bucket list, a food bucket list, or a movie bucket list. 

Regardless, it is time to think about what you want to accomplish during your retirement years. Even though there isn’t one right way on how to make a bucket list, here are some ideas to include on yours.'

Tip: As we grow older and eventually retire, we also watch as our friends and family members grow older, too. And unfortunately, that often means coping with more loss and grief than we're used to. If you know a retiree who's facing a loss, our post-loss checklist may be able to help.

Bucket List Ideas for Adventurous Retirees

Are you ready to retire because you are excited about having new adventures? If you are tired of living a predictable life, consider shaking things up with some of these bold ideas.

1. Learn a new water sport

Have you been water skiing or wakeboarding? Have you operated a jetski? Have you been snorkeling or scuba diving?

If you are adventurous, you may have already mastered these sports. If you have, consider going to the next level. Why not go diving at night or in a cave?

2. Learn how to fly

Have you always wanted to earn your pilot’s license? Perhaps you never had time while you were working every day. Now you can finally cross this item off your list and sign up for flying lessons today.

3. Hike the Appalachian Trail

You’ve always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail since reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

Take the next several months to walk from Maine to Georgia (or Georgia to Maine). Read our guide on travel bucket list ideas for more inspiration.

4. Hike to Machu Picchu

Travel connoisseurs say that the only way to visit Machu Picchu is on foot, but that is not without difficulty. It will take training, time, and planning, but once you see this hidden city, you know that it was worth the effort.

5. Visit the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is one of the only man-made wonders that can be seen from space. Check out the tours that are available for this trek, which is typically completed in six days. 

6. Drive the Haul Road into the Arctic Circle

Explore the real Alaska instead of just getting a peek at the state from a cruise ship. Fly into Fairbanks and rent a car that you are allowed to drive up the Haul Road.

Be prepared to lose cell phone coverage immediately and make sure you have a shortwave radio and several spare tires. 

7. See African elephants in their natural habitat

What would it be like to live in a place where elephants and lions roamed free? We don’t know either, but wouldn’t you be willing to see what it was like for a week or two? Perhaps a tour would be the best way to knock this off your bucket list. 

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Funny Retirement Bucket List Ideas

Funny Retirement Bucket List Ideas

Bucket lists are personal. No one’s list should be the same. Do you have no interest in hiking the Appalachian Trail after you retire? Don’t worry about it. Create your own list.

8. Hold your own funeral

Invite your friends and family to a pre-funeral. Encourage them to bring you flowers and write messages that most would wait until you were gone to share with you.

9. Write a blog

Are you funny? Why not share your sense of humor with the world. Write a blog of your witty observations.

Remember, blogs can be anonymous, so your neighbors don’t have to know the funny things you notice about them.

10. Raise chickens

Have you always secretly dreamed of being a farmer? It’s a little challenging to do if you don’t have the land to do it.

One thing that you may be able to do in the city is to raise chickens. Your neighbors will think you are crazy until you start giving them fresh eggs. 

11. Visit every restaurant in your town and write Yelp reviews about each visit 

Sure, this idea is not a great one for everyone, especially if you live in San Francisco or a teeny town in South Dakota. If you enjoy food (and who doesn’t?), why not check out the offerings in your local community?

You may find out about a few hidden gems in your city. Share your reviews with the rest of the community. You may help your local businesses with your positive reviews. 

12. Go on a ghost tour in every city you visit

The ghost tour industry has taken off, and they are available in cities and towns of all sizes. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, it is a hoot hanging out with people who do believe. Attend a ghost tour and try to keep an open mind.

13. Read a whole section of books at the public library 

Are you an avid reader stuck in a rut? Pick a shelf at the local library and start from one side and go to the other. If you pick a section of non-fiction books, you will be an expert in the subject by the time you finish reading. 

14. Make a movie

Editing video is easier than ever before. Why not make your own movie? Tell the story of your family in the film. 

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

Bucket List Ideas for Retirees with Grandkids

If you are retired, and you have grandkids, you will have no problem filling your days. Here are some things to do with your grandchildren to make memories and develop a strong relationship. 

15. Take each grandkid on a separate vacation

Take each of your grandkids on a special trip when they turn 10 or 12. Kids this age are old enough to travel comfortably but young enough not to be too busy or too cool to hang out with grandparents. 

16. Volunteer weekly at your grandkid’s school

Your grandkid’s teacher may have you cut out laminated items or test kids on sight words.

Volunteering at a grade school may not be the most exciting work, but your grandchild’s teacher would appreciate your help. Schedule your visit over lunchtime so you can eat a meal with your grandkid. 

17. Take your grandkids to popular live events

Make a schedule of events that you want to share with each of your grandkids. Go to the circus, the Nutcracker, a rodeo, Disney on Ice, and take them to their first concert. 

18. Teach your grandchildren how to bake bread

Perhaps you aren’t a bread baker, but maybe your family is known for making another dish. Share this recipe and cooking knowledge with your grandkids. 

19. Create a holiday tradition with your grandchildren

Kick the parents out of the house so they can go Christmas shopping, and schedule a fun-filled day each year with your grandkids.

Decorate gingerbread houses or cookies, watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, and buy each child a pair of Christmas jammies. Repeat the same events each year. 

20. Take your grandkids camping

Ask your grandkids to leave their devices at home and take your grandchildren on a camping trip. Stare up at the stars. Cook s’mores over an open fire. Sing songs and make memories. 

21. Volunteer with your grandkids.

Teach your grandkids the importance of volunteering.

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Retirement Bucket List Ideas To Do with a Partner

Retirement Bucket List Ideas To Do with a Partner

Whether you go with your spouse or your best friend, consider these bucket list ideas with your favorite partner in crime. 

22. Spend the night in a haunted castle

If you love watching Downton Abbey and Ghosthunters, find a place to stay that will fulfill appeal to both sides of your psyche.

Do your research, and consider some of the oldest countries with amazing castles such as England or Germany. 

23. Drive around Ring Road in Iceland

Iceland is a country roughly the size of Virginia with as many different types of weather as there are hot springs.

Rent a car and traverse all around the country and stop by each major city and geothermal springs. You’ll be satisfied to sink into a hot spring after a long day of driving and stopping to take pictures of the majestic landscapes.

24. Visit Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell is full of kitschy, fun experience that everyone should see at least once. Of course, they have a UFO museum, and yes, you need to go there.

25. Dress up and attend a Comic-Con

We know. Some people travel the country visiting Comic-Cons and dressing up at each stop. But what if your friends or family would never suspect that you would want to dress up like Thor or Wonder Woman?

26. Raft down the Amazon River

If the closest that you’ve gotten to the Amazon is typing it in your search engine once a week, it’s time to change that. There are tours available to help you raft down the Amazon.

I’m guessing your tour guide is going to recommend that you buy some superpower bug spray off of Amazon before you go on your trek.

27. Go skydiving

President George H.W. Bush spent his 90th birthday skydiving. Isn’t that inspiring? Why not begin your retirement by jumping out of a plane?

This would not only knock an item off your bucket list, but it would also set the tone for your adventurous retirement.

28. Take an unplanned flight

Pack your bags with a variety of clothes and go to the airport. Pick a flight at random and spend the weekend at your destination. Every city has something to offer. Go to a sporting event, eat in the best restaurants, and enjoy an art museum.

Have Fun During Your Retirement

While you are having fun during your retirement, don’t forget to take a few days to get your final affairs in order. While you are end-of-life planning, consider pre-paying for your funeral. Decide whether you want to be cremated or buried. Pick the music for your memorial service and the flowers for your casket. 

Write your will or create a trust. Make sure all your documents are easily found. Then, get back to take care of the items on your bucket list. 

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