The United States is filled with so many fantastic travel destinations. There are so many incredible bucket list places to visit in the US ranging from hidden gems to more popular places and it would take a lifetime to explore everything my home country has to offer.
From beaches to deserts to mountains to cities, the United States offers a unique experience for every traveler. With fifty states, fourteen territories, six time zones, and 3.8 million square miles, this country has a lot of land to cover and much of it is filled with unique and jaw-dropping things to see!
While these 3.8 million square miles might seem overwhelming at first, creating a US bucket list can help you narrow the places and attractions down. To get you started, here are 20 bucket list places to visit in the US.
In This Post:
20 Bucket List Places to Visit in the US
There is no shortage of astonishing places to see in the USA and I’ve only included a few of my favorites in this post. How many of these places will you cross off of your USA bucket list?
1. New York City, New York
New York City is arguably the most iconic city in the United States and one of the absolute best getaways on the East Coast. With the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, Broadway, the Empire State Building, and a slew of other iconic places, New York City is a place that you simply must add to your USA bucket list.
I lived in New York City for a summer and I fell in love with this city. I constantly miss NYC and it’s always my first choice for a quick weekend getaway. This city has something to offer for everyone and you’ll leave wanting to come back ASAP.
2. Las Vegas, Nevada
There’s no place quite like Las Vegas. Also known as “Sin City,” this unique city in the middle of the Mojave Desert is mostly known for The Strip, the road lined with dozens of hotels, bright lights, and massive billboards. Escape the desert heat by venturing indoors for the gambling, shopping, and drinking that Las Vegas is known for.
If you’re not into drinking or gambling, don’t worry! Vegas will still be a fun place for you to visit. There are plenty of museums to keep you entertained and it’s fun to just explore the ornate lobbies of the various hotels. Plus, the food scene is incredible in Vegas. Honestly, my only motive for visiting Vegas is to indulge in the food.
Las Vegas is known as the ultimate playground and this city has it all. There’s no shortage of things to do here, but there are plenty of day trips from Vegas as well if you need a break. Some of these getaways include the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and more.
3. Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
The Kalalau Trail on the island of Kauai, Hawaii is one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. This 12-mile hike gives you access to the Na Pali Coast, a stunning green mountain range with deep grooves that is only accessible on foot, by boat, or by helicopter. When it rains, these deep grooves create hundreds of waterfalls and a magical picture!
And as if that weren’t enough to convince you of the Kalalau Trail’s place on this list of bucket list places to visit in the US, this trail is also home to some of Hawaii’s most beautiful hidden beaches and waterfalls.
4. Havasu Falls, Arizona
While just about every United States bucket list includes the Grand Canyon, this list has a bit of a variation with Havasu Falls.
Located within the Grand Canyon, Havasu Falls is a 100-foot waterfall with stunning turquoise pools at the base. It takes a couple of days of hiking to reach Havasu Falls, and during that time you’ll see miles of the stunning Grand Canyon landscape before reaching your destination.
5. Niagara Falls, New York
Situated on the border between the US and Canada, Niagara Falls is one of the best bucket list places to visit in the US. This 167-foot waterfall is actually a collection of three different waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
While the breathtaking Horseshoe Falls crosses the border between the two countries, the cascading American Falls and Bridal Veils falls are firmly on the American side of the border.
If you’re able to, definitely visit Niagara Falls from the Canadian side. In my opinion, the Canadian side is far superior compared to the American side. You’ll see stunning panoramas of the falls and you can get pretty close to Bridal Veil Falls.
6. Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii
The road to Hana may be one of the most iconic drives in the United States – and for good reason. This winding Maui road has tons of amazing stops, many of which can’t be found anywhere in the country outside of the state of Hawaii.
Relax on black and red sand beaches, wander through a lava tube, enjoy a loaf of the world’s best banana bread, and stare in awe at countless towering waterfalls.
7. Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Walt Disney World is definitely one of the top bucket list places to visit in the US. Just about every kid grew up watching their favorite Disney characters and experiencing the alluring Disney magic through their screen.
At Walt Disney World, this Disney magic can come to life in person through the four theme parks, two waterparks, dozens of resorts, and Disney Springs.
8. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is known for its honky-tonks, country music, hip bars, delicious restaurants, and live music. Even if you’re not a country music fan, you’ll enjoy a trip to Nashville.
In addition to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, you can go shopping at one of the many boutiques in the city. Or, you can go on a beer crawl and sample all kinds of craft beer. Also, Nashville is home to yummy food. Be sure to try biscuits and the infamous Nashville Hot Chicken. Finally, be sure to check out one of the many murals scattered throughout the city.
9. Yosemite National Park, California
As one of the most popular national parks, Yosemite National Park is often found on USA bucket lists.
Some of the most exciting things to do in this national park include tackling the life-changing Half Dome hike, rock climbing at El Capitan, and staring in awe at the fire-like Horsetail Fall at sunset.
10. Northern Lights, Fairbanks, Alaska
The magical, colorful phenomenon known as the Northern Lights is relatively elusive. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, these bright whisps of green, blue, and pink tend to make appearances in the northern parts of the globe in the winter.
In other words, Alaska is the perfect place to see the Northern Lights in the United States. While there are quite a few places where you can see the Northern Lights in Alaska, the city of Fairbanks is the most consistent.
11. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
The Northern Lights is far from all that Alaska has to offer. The 49th state is also home to the most beautiful glaciers in the country!
Located in the town of Gustavus, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is home to a whopping seven glaciers. These icy masses are unlike any other natural landscape in existence! If you don’t have time to see all seven of the glaciers, make Margerie Glacier your priority.
12. Everglades National Park, Florida
While the Everglades isn’t among the most popular national parks, it’s very different from the rest of the national parks, making it worthy of a spot on this United States bucket list.
This marsh landscape is filled with tons of Florida wildlife, including alligators, manatees, and Florida panthers. To have the best chance of spotting these exciting creatures, consider taking a wildlife tour by boat.
13. Washington D.C.
A list of bucket list places to visit in the US wouldn’t be complete without the capital city of the United States: Washington D.C. While it is most well-known for being the home of the presiding president of the United States, Washington D.C. offers so much more than the history and politics associated with it.
Instead, explore the many national museums, pay your respects at the slew of national monuments, check out the blooming cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, and explore the delicious food scene in Georgetown.
14. Charleston, South Carolina
There are many different regions of the United States, and all of them deserve a spot on this list of bucket list places to visit in the US. The lovely city of Charleston is here to represent the South.
While there is so much more of the South to experience than Charleston, this South Carolina city is a wonderful blend of culture, character, and history. Take a tour of the Antebellum architecture while riding in a horse-drawn carriage. Stop by the Fort Sumter National Monument, where the Civil War began. And considering that Charleston is one of the best foodie cities in the country, be sure to dive into the booming food scene.
15. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Along with the Statue of Liberty in New York and the White House in Washington D.C., the bright red Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco may be one of the most iconic attractions in the United States.
Built in 1937, this bright red suspension bridge spans the length of the Golden Gate Strait. While its purpose is to transport people from San Francisco to Marin County, it is more well-known for its place as the focus of many majestic pictures.
16. Boston, Massachusetts
As one of the original 13 colonies in the United States, Massachusetts is home to a ton of history, much of which is concentrated in the capital city of Boston.
Spend some time at the Bunker Hill Monument, ride on the first subway system in the country, and see the many sights on the famous Freedom Trail.
17. Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado
So far on this list of bucket list places to visit in the US, I’ve included big cities and national parks, snowy glaciers and island paradises, but we’ve yet to include something high up in the mountains.
Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado is home to the towering, snowcapped Rocky Mountains, tons of unbelievable hiking trails, and many breathtaking species of Colorado wildlife.
18. Zion National Park, Utah
Utah is filled with amazing national parks, and Zion National Park is one of the best. The bright red rocks and the spatter of green plants create a contrasting, yet picturesque image.
While at Zion National Park, be sure to hit all the highlights: hike through the slim gap known as the Narrows, stop to take dozens of photos at the Canyon Overlook Trail, and get your adrenaline pumping at Angels Landing.
19. New Orleans, Louisiana
What comes to your mind when you think of New Orleans? Is it Mardi Gras? Or is it Bourbon Street with its parties? Maybe it’s the world-renowned music or the historic French Quarter?
Whatever it may be, New Orleans is certainly a unique destination that belongs on your United States bucket list. This is another one of those American cities that caters to all kinds of wanderers.
There are so many fun things to do in New Orleans and you won’t be left bored. Party into the wee hours of the morning on Bourbon Street. You can also take a haunted tour of the city and visit haunted cemeteries and hotels. Or, you can spend the day exploring the art galleries and museums.
Don’t even get me started on the food! New Orleans is home to some of the best food in the country and it should be your goal to try as many delicious Creole dishes as you can. Lastly, don’t forget to try a beignet while you’re at it!
20. Austin, Texas
Austin, the capital of Texas, has become an up and coming city in the United States and for good reason! This city has a young and hip vibe to it and it’s gradually becoming home to more and more tech corporations.
This city has it all — fantastic barbeque, amazing craft beer, tons of outdoor activities, and more. One of the most fun things to do in Austin is to do some stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Austin.
You can spend your evenings at one of the upscale restaurants around the city or you can grab something from a food truck. You can also hang out at Sixth Street and jam out to live music at one of the bars. If you’re looking for a truly unique Austin experience, watch the bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge.
What are your favorite bucket list places to visit in the US? Let me know in the comments below!
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Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.