65+ Best Travel Bucket List Destinations in the US & Beyond

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Whether you’ve caught the wanderlust bug permanently, are daydreaming about life outside of the office, or need inspiration for your next trip, we’ve come up with a guide that covers a big chunk of the beauty planet earth has to offer. 

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Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” What are you waiting for? Leave a trail on these 65 unique and adventurous bucket list destinations.

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Travel Bucket List Destinations in the U.S.

If you don’t want to stray too far from home, there are incredible destinations right in your backyard. From colorful reefs to sweeping views, these U.S. destinations deserve a spot on your bucket list

1. See where angels land at Zion National Park in Utah

Visit beautiful sandstone cliffs in shades of pink, red, and orange at the first national park in Utah. If you’re brave enough, you can climb Angel’s landing. Chain cables are the only thing stopping hikers from falling off this 1,488-foot cliff. Surprisingly, this is one of the most underrated hiking destinations in the US.

2. Visit waterfalls at Yosemite National Park in California

Home to the largest waterfall in North America, this popular park won’t disappoint you. There’s plenty to do for both the occasional outdoorsman and avid hiker. You can access Yosemite Valley by car to see the most famous cliffs and waterfalls in the park. If you’re feeling brave, hike the Half Dome 5,000 feet above the valley.

3. Take a picture at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan

This national park is an all-season destination. You can ski, hike, canoe, or camp at these 42-mile-long rock formations. Explore rock arches and sea caves, or watch boats pass at the many lighthouses on the shore of Lake Superior.

4. Jazz up your next vacation with a visit to Chicago

Home to the best deep-dish pizza, a vibrant music scene, and astounding architecture, the city of Chicago is sure to please any city dweller. For an adrenaline rush, You can see four U.S. states (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan) from the deck of the 110-story Willis Tower. Take in spectacular skyline views at Northerly Island park afterward.

5. Sail to the Statue of Liberty 

Standing on Liberty Island, the 305-foot statue is a symbol of American freedom, and nearly 3.5 million bask in her glory every year. After you ferry from New York City to the island, step into the past at the Statue of Liberty Museum. Immerse yourself at a walkthrough theatre and see first hand how lady liberty was made.

6. Hike your way to the Nā Pali Coast in Hawaii

The rugged coastline of these spectacular sea cliffs is only accessible by an 11-mile hike, boat, or helicopter ride. You can snorkel with sea turtles, explore caves, and greet dolphins in the secluded wilderness park. The producers of Jurassic Park (and Jurassic World) didn’t underestimate the beauty of this park when they choose to film here. 

7. Savor Southern hospitality in Savannah, Georgia

Dive into history in one of the most haunted cities in America. Savannah was a port city during the American Civil War and still exhibits an old-world charm. Walk along the cobblestone streets or take a horse-drawn carriage ride. This is a piece of American history you want to check off the bucket list.

8. Snorkel in the Keys

Witness an underwater world in the Florida Keys. After you lay on Miami's famous beaches, drive 15 miles south to North America's only coral reef.

9. Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge 

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark known around the world. The signature orange bridge connects San Francisco to neighboring Marin County, California. It’s only a two-mile bike across the bridge to the bay town of Sausalito where you can enjoy a sunset dinner and take the ferry back to the city. 

10. Drive in the desert 

America’s darlingthe enormous Grand Canyon in the desert of Arizona is one of seven wonders of the world. Take in the sunset hues of the canyon with a 25-mile scenic drive or hike from the bottom 5,000 feet up to truly experience its immense size. 

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Travel Bucket List Destinations in Europe

If you’re looking to cross the Atlantic, Europe will keep your bucket list busy. Check out our guide on how to store your wishes and make a bucket list before you go.

Even though it’s the second smallest continent, Europe has two times the population of the United States. The architectural wonders below are just a slice of the incredible history and rich culture you’ll experience there.

11. Visit Russia’s culture capital 

Saint Petersburg, Russia, is home to the Hermitage Museum, which boasts the largest collection of paintings in the world. The city offers a mix of beautiful palaces, cathedrals, and sprawling waterfront views.

12. Travel to Medieval Europe in Kotor 

This UNESCO world site (one of over four hundred in Europe) in Montenegro dates back to the middle ages when Kotor was an artistic and commercial hub. Visit the medieval fortress of Saint Ivan or walk along the city walls. 

13. Take a tour of Dracula’s castle in Romania

High above the village of Bran sits a gothic fortress rumored to be Dracula’s castle. Make sure to pack some garlic in case you encounter Dracula under one of the many secret passageways in the castle. 

14. Soak your worries away in Hungary

If you’re feeling jet-lagged, then a luxurious bath in one of Hungary’s 1300 thermal spas may be the cure. Let the medicinal properties of these mineral-rich waters melt your worries away.

15. Get lost in a Croatian forest

Known for its lakes, waterfalls, and wooden boardwalks, Plitvice Lake National Park is a magical getaway in the Balkans. Snap a picture of one of the 16 lakes as they turn different shades of blue, green, and turquoise throughout the day. 

16. Visit a magical island in France

Mont-Saint-Michel is an isolated medieval monastery. This architectural marvel used to be a holy site, but now millions of tourists visit each year. As you reach the island by a narrow bridge, you will see the 302-foot spires of the abbey soar towards the heavens. It makes for an unforgettable sight. 

17. Boat through a Blue Grotto in Italy

The Blue Grotto in Capri is an island sea cave, and when sunlight strikes the cave at just the right angle, it illuminates the waters in the cave a turquoise blue. Picture yourself on a romantic Italian gondola as you boat through the peaceful blue waters of this magical marvel. 

18. Take in a breathtaking view in Iceland

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets. The jagged rocks and ethereal moss that cover the canyon will make you feel like you’re in another world.

19. Ride a cable car up a Swiss mountain 

For an unforgettable experience, you can hike up two miles or take a cable car up the Monte San Salvatore mountain in Switzerland. This spectacular vista point offers sweeping views of the Alps and charming town of Lugano.

20. Climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris

No bucket list is complete without a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. Did you know it’s possible to climb to the top? One thousand six hundred sixty-five steps to be exact.

Travel Bucket List Destinations in Asia

With its colorful culture, unique cuisine, and magnificent views—the continent of Asia tops any bucket list. From edible insects to multicolored landscapes and nature walks with monkeys, we’ve compiled an action-packed list of adventures you’ll never forget. 

21. Care for elephants in Thailand

Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand is a conservation project for the endangered Asian elephant. Go on a jungle walk or give these majestic animals a moisturizing mud bath. You can even play with them in their very own custom-built swimming pools!

22. Pay a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal

One of the seven wonders in the world and a tribute to love. An Indian emperor built this incredible marble mausoleum for his wife that died in childbirth. We recommend skipping sleep (and the crowds) by coming at sunrise, where you’ll see the smooth white marble turn a magical pink hue. 

23. Cruise through Hạ Long Bay

This dreamy seascape is a UNESCO world heritage site in Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin. Admire the jagged limestone formations as you sail through turquoise waters on a traditional wooden junk boat. 

24. Walk on glass in Shanghai, China

The Oriental Pearl Tower is the gem of Shanghai’s skyline. With a revolving restaurant, sightseeing deck, and glass floor overlooking the cityscape—this is an adrenaline-rushing addition to your bucket list. 

25. See a sea of stars 

The Maldives is a chain of islands nestled among sandbars and lagoons. Gaze over the Indian Ocean to see millions of plankton light up, causing a star-like effect over the waters. 

26. Fly in a hot air balloon

Cappadocia, Turkey, is a magical landscape of cliffs, mountains, and river valleys. Experience the stunning Turkish sunrise in flight as you ride a balloon over one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

27. Discover Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur

Take in the historic temples, sample local cuisine, or see wild monkeys at the local park. The capital city of Malaysia has no shortage of bucket worthy attractions.

28. Receive blessings in Bali 

The most famous island in Indonesia has enchanting villas, tree houses, green terraces, and tropical beaches. Spiritual Bali Hinduism is central to the island, and you can receive blessings from a high priest in a magical one-of-a-kind Balinese experience.

29. Visit rainbow-colored mountains in China

Thousands of years of rain and wind formed layers of different colored sandstone to make China’s Danxia landforms. Also called “rainbow mountains,” this multi-colored landscape range is a unique addition to your bucket list. 

30. Smell the cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Japan

Thousands of cherry blossom trees in Japan bloom in spectacular shades of pink, white, and red all throughout spring. Stroll or boat through Tokyo’s famous lush gardens as you enjoy the blizzard of pink petals and the seemingly unending picnics. 

Travel Bucket List Destinations in Africa

When thinking of African travels, safaris might come to mind. With a rich history and incredible climate, Africa offers much more than that. If you aren’t familiar with the 54 African countries here’s a bucket list to get you ready for your next African adventure. 

31. Stroll around Morocco’s most vibrant market 

Marrakech is a North African hub of Arabic culture. Whether you’re visiting a mosque, adventuring in the desert, or shopping around in the medina, also known as Jemaa el-Fna, this is a must-see spot on your bucket list!

32. Ride a camel 

The pyramids of Giza in Egypt are the last remaining ancient wonder of the world. Take a half or full-day tour on your very own camel while you admire the incredible views.  

33. Explore history in Cairo

The sprawling metropolis of Cairo is the largest in Africa. Visit the Egyptian museum to see mummified monkeys or shop at the exotic, open-space Khan el-Khalili bazaar. You won’t be disappointed. 

34. Take a helicopter ride over Cape Town 

The best way to view the majestic landscape of Cape Town or the “Mother City” in South Africa is by helicopter. Bathe in glistening waters or take a day hike in the mountains and experience the joys of Cape Town. 

35. Play with lemurs in Madagascar

Lemurs are found virtually everywhere in Madagascaran island country off the coast of East Africa. These adorable little creatures love bananas and that’s what you can hand feed them on Lemur Island, a reserve in Andasibe National Park. 

36. See a “moonbow” at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe 

This massive waterfall is famous for being the largest in the world. It’s best to visit in the evening during a full moon where you can see a unique moonbowa night-time rainbow. 

37. Camp in a safari tent at Amboseli National Park in Kenya 

Instead of the typical safari jeep outing, why not camp in the wild brush instead? Amboseli Bush Camp is in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, right on the border of Kenya and Tanzania, and can be an incredible adventure off the beaten path. 

38. Discover a volcanic giant in Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and a world UNESCO site. If you’re an experienced hiker, make a plan to climb its snowy peaks or opt for a magical hike in the mountain forest surrounding it instead.

39. Scuba dive in the Seychelles

It’s easy to forget that this archipelago of 115 islands is part of Africa. The islands are a diver’s paradise with all types of marine life living in the turquoise Indian Ocean. 

40. Sample a taste of Africa 

One of the best places to try new food is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Try injeratraditional sourdough flatbreador legume stew and raw beef, to broaden your palate. Is it an adventure if you don’t try the local fare?

41. Cruise in a Keke in Lagos, Nigeria

Locals and tourists in Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, cruise down the streets in rickshaws or “Kekes.” Take your very own Keke for a spin on Lagos’ sandy beaches. 

Travel Bucket List Destinations in South America

If you’re looking for an adventure closer to home, then check South America off your bucket list. Whether you have time to backpack across the colorful landscapes or have time for one visit, the rich culture (and affordability!) of these countries won’t disappoint. 

41. Journey to Machu Picchu 

Machu Picchu is an archeological gem tucked away in the Andes Mountains. You can reach the top of this spectacular mountain citadel by train or walk in the steps of the Incan tribe via hike. 

42. Take a four-day hike in Chile 

The Torres del Paine National Park is the place to reconnect, reflect, and rejuvenate. See the iconic mountain towers and glaciers as you trek on the “W circuit,” a once-in-a-lifetime backpacking adventure you’ll never forget. 

43. Sandboard in nature’s oasis 

Drive five hours south of Lima, Peru and in the middle of the desert, you’ll reach Huacachinaa dreamy oasis in a sea of sand. Bring out your inner child and slide into the dunes, face-first, on a sandboard!

44. See Christ in Rio 

Christ the Redeemer is a marvel of Brazilliian and French engineering. This iconic statue is a symbol of Christianity around the world (and for more about Christianity, check out our guide on Christian funerals). The best way to cross this wonder off your bucket list is by a train ride to the top.  

45. Wonder at the Iguazu Falls in Argentina

Approach this natural wonder of the world from either Brazil or Argentina. The raised walkways are retractable and make for a breathtaking one-of-a-kind experience. 

46. Visit a volcano 

As you fly into Ecuador’s capital, Quito, you’ll notice a snow-capped cone shape that’s part of the everyday landscape, Pichincha Volcano. If you’re feeling brave, climb to one of the top peaks of this active volcano; for a tamer, experience visit the wild horses at the base of the park.

47. Sample seafood in Cartagena 

Cartagena is known for its beautiful beaches and charming old city center, but if you’re willing to travel off the beaten path, you’ll find the best seafood fare in Colombia. Fifteen minutes from Cartagena’s city center is Bazurto, a bustling seafood market, with the best locally caught seafood in Colombia. 

48. Learn to Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you’re looking for a sweet adventure with your partner, the vibrant capital city (and the birthplace of tango) has you covered. Put your dance skills to the test at a tango dance club, also known as a milonga, or sip wine, eat traditional empanadas, and watch a tango show. 

49. Enjoy a wine tasting in Santiago, Chile

Chile’s seaside climate and unique landforms are the perfect mixes to produce some of the world’s most delicious wine. Travel outside of the city and experience breathtaking views of valleys and mountains in wine country. Also, enjoy some locally produced bubbly on a downtown wine tour. 

50. Get lost in the jungle 

For a unique jungle adventure travel to Bolivia’s Amboró National Parka hidden gem that receives few tourists. The best way to experience the Amazon rainforest is with a multi-day tour.  You might see spider-monkey, pumas, or even a jaguar! 

Travel Bucket List Destinations in North America (Non-US)

If you’re looking for even more chances to tick off your bucket list you don’t have to go far. Our list is a mashup of Candian and Central American experiences (including hidden gems!) that is sure to quench your thirst for adventure on this side of the Atlantic. 

51. Explore Mayan ruins in Tikal, Guatemala

Visit mysterious Mayan ruins at this untouched world UNESCO site. It’s rumored to have been the largest city in the Mayan empire. As you walk through the rubble of temples and palaces you’ll feel transported back in time. 

52. Walk on a suspension bridge in Vancouver, Canada 

High above the West Coast rainforest, the 450-foot swaying Capilano suspension bridge is a thrill-seekers dream. It’s the go-to experience to get your adrenaline rushing. 

53. Discover the Canadian Rockies at Banff National Park 

Canada’s flagship national park in Alberta isn’t a destination you want to miss. If hiking isn’t your thing then walk along the river, watch wildlife, or ride a gondola up the ethereal Rocky Mountain peaks. 

54. Walk in the clouds in Costa Rica

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a magical destination for local flora and fauna. Walk over a hanging bridge, bird-watch, find sloths, and chase waterfalls all while feeling like you’re in a cloud. 

55. Visit a Mayan village in Guatemala 

Nestled between mountains and volcanoes in Guatemala's western highlands is Lake Atitlán. Walk around the city and you’ll find locals in traditional Mayan garb or venture to the sacred caves to immerse yourself in a fire ceremony.

56. View the Salvadoran coast

The best way to view El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua is on top of a volcano. The Volcán de Conchagua in El Salvador is a bucket list find not to be underestimated. The volcano features a spectacular panoramic point that will take your breath away.

57. Take a free walking tour 

León, Nicaragua is the understated capital of culture and politics in Nicaragua. As you walk past the churches, monuments, and murals, marvel at the colonial architecture in one of the oldest cities in Central America. 

58. Step into history in Panama

Old meets modern in the buzzing metropolis that is Panama City. Casco Viejo, the ancient heart or “old quarter” of Panama, has a vibrant nightlife, charming streets, and palaces for you to enjoy.

59. Relax in Tulum, Mexico

If you’re tired from too many bucket list adventures, then grab a hammock, a good book, and head to Tulum. Known for its yoga retreats, green juices, and eco-resortsIt’s the perfect sunny destination on the Carribean coastline.

60. Montréal, Canada

A two-hour flight from New York is the French-Canadian island Montréal. Enjoy the colonial architecture and local cuisine (poutine anyone?) It’s a bucket list adventure that’s only a hop, skip, and jump away from home!

Travel Bucket List Destinations in Oceania

Adding Oceania to this bucket list will only make it harder for you to decide your first destination! The smallest continent in the world is mighty with adventures and here are the must-dos. 

61. Hike a fiord in New Zealand

The rugged beauty of the Milford Sound (sea cliffs formed by glaciers) is incredible. Despite its name, it is actually a fiord located within Fiordland National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage site. At Milford Sound, you can hike to your heart’s content! 

62. Swim with sea life in French Polynesia 

From Tahiti, swim on a high-speed ferry to the remote island of Mo’orea. As the locals say: La vie heureuse, happy life, and it truly is when you’re swimming in the most beautiful coral reef in French Polynesia. 

63. Let glowworms light your way in New Zealand

Glowworms line the walls and ceilings of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves to give the illusion of stars or pearls. This fairy-tale experience is high on any bucket list as people travel from around the world to see these tiny otherworldly creatures.

64. See a show at the Sydney Opera House

The iconic shell structure is the hallmark of Australia's capital, Sydney. Take in a show or tour and then have dinner at a seaside restaurant. This bucket-list destination is Oceania’s jewel.  

65. Relax in Cairns, Australia

Cairns is a tropical city with plenty of indigenous history, local markets, and sandy beaches. It’s a relaxing getaway as you near the end of your bucket list journey. 

Live in the Present, Plan for the Future   

The best way to enjoy the present moment is when you’ve planned for the future. Before you begin this bucket list, start your end-of-life-planning.

You can also check out this handy list of advance directive forms (medical decisions in case something happens to you) before boarding your next flight. It’s always a good idea to plan your medical care and death wishes before leaving the country.

Cake has your end-of-life planning needs covered so that you can fully get lost in your next bucket list adventure. Bon voyage and happy planning! 


Sources

  1. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. www.en.unesco.org
  2. National Park Service. www.nps.gov/index.htm
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