There’s no doubt about it, family time is important. But what’s the best way to spend quality time with your loved ones? Create a bucket list for your family. Some families might prefer to stay close to home, while others might want to explore new and exciting places.
No matter what kind of family you are, everyone could use some new ideas for spending quality time together. That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate bucket list for families. From outdoor adventures to fun day trips, we’ve got something for everyone.
So pack your bags and get ready for some unforgettable family memories. Whether you’re a nature lover or a city slicker, we’ve got you covered.
Check out our list and start planning your next adventure today!
- What Are the Top 10 Bucket List Items?
- What is a Family Bucket List?
- How Do I Make a Family Bucket List?
- How Do I Make My Bucket List Dreams Come True?
- The Ultimate Bucket List for Families
- At Home
- Around Town
- Attend a Sports Event
- Visit a Waterpark
- Visit an Amusement Park
- Visit an Aquarium
- Visit a Botanical Garden
- Visit a Zoo
- Watch a Parade
- Go to a Circus
- Go to a County Fair or Carnival
- Attend a Fireworks Show
- Eat at a Food Truck
- Try a New Ethnic Food (or Restaurant)
- Picnic in the Park
- Visit a Flea Market
- Visit a Farmer’s Market
- Visit an Art Studio
- Visit a Planetarium
- Take a Sunrise or Sunset Stroll
- Attend a Symphony
- Buy Tickets to a Stage Performance
- Tour a Factory
- Tour a Winery, Brewery, or Distillery
- Go Tent Camping
- Go Glamping
- Take a Road Trip in an RV
- Go Geocaching
- Go Hiking
- Plan a Backpacking Trip
- Road Trip Coast to Coast
- Star Gaze in a Dark Sky Park
- Visit a National Park (or all of them)
- Visit a National Forest (or all of them)
- Visit a State Park (or all of them … good luck!)
- Spend a Day on the Beach
- Hunt for Beach Treasure with a Metal Detector
- Swim in the Ocean
- Canoe or Raft a River
- Go Paddle Boarding
- Go Tubing
- Go Horseback Riding
- Travel to a 3rd-World Country
- Travel by Train
- Go Snorkeling
- Book a Cruise
- Explore a Cavern
- Visit a Bat Cave at Dusk
- Experience Old Faithful Erupting
- Stand on the Rim of the Grand Canyon at Sunrise and Sunset
- Hug the World’s Largest Tree
- Take a Marine Wildlife Cruise
- Swim with Dolphins or Sea Turtles
- Visit a Living Farm or Working Ranch
- Experience a Rodeo
- Travel to the Islands
- Travel to Another Country (or Multiple)
- Hike in the Desert
- Explore a Jungle, Forest, or Rainforest
- Visit the Mountains
- Bathe in Natural Hot Springs
- Visit an Orchard
- Stay Overnight in a Treehouse
- Experience the Aurora Borealis
- Go Ziplining
- Make the World a Little Bit Better
- Discover New Skills
- Plant a Vegetable Garden
- Raise Livestock
- Repair Something Yourself … with Your Kids!
- Take Self Defense Lessons
- Take a First Aid and CPR Class
- Master Tai-Chi
- Learn to Fly a Kite
- Learn to Fish
- Learn to Make Homemade Ice Cream
- Learn to Ice Skate or Rollerblade
- Learn to Snow Ski
- Learn to Water Ski
- Learn to Bowl
- Learn a Marksman Sport
- Learn to Cook … from Scratch!
- Learn an Instrument
- Learn Survival Bushcraft
- Learn a New Language
- Learn a New Sport
- Learn Woodworking
- Learn an Artform
- Learn How to Sail
- Family Heritage and History
- Research Your Family Genealogy
- Make a Family Tree
- Research the Meaning of Your Names
- Compile a Family Scrapbook
- Visit the City/State/Country of Your Family Origins
- Create a Family Mural
- Make Contact with Your Oldest Living Ancestors
- Write Letters to your Future Selves
- Make a Family Time Capsule
- Post a Family Travel Map
- Post a Family Bucket List
- Cultural Heritage and History
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- Pearl Harbor
- Tour the National Mall and Monuments
- Remember the Alamo
- Smithsonian American Art Museum
- The Statue of Liberty
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Visit Alcatraz Island
- Visit the American Civil War Museum
- Gettysburg, VA
- Arlington National Cemetery
- Independence Hall
- Jamestown, VA
- Henry Ford Museum
- National Museum of American History
- The Freedom Trail
- Fort McHenry
- Kennedy Space Center
- Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial
- Visit the Biltmore Mansion
- Visit Disney World
- World Heritage and History
- Health and Lifestyle
- Wrapping Up Bucket List for Families
What Are the Top 10 Bucket List Items?
- The Great American Road Trip
- Travel to Another Country
- Explore the Outdoors
- Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Take a Self-Defense Class
- Master a New Skill
- Research Your Family Genealogy
- Take a Cruise
- Start a New Family Tradition
What is a Family Bucket List?
A bucket list is a list of activities and experiences that families can do together to create lasting memories.
The items on the list can vary from simple things like going to the park, to more adventurous activities like hiking or white water rafting, to extreme experiences like sky diving or mountain climbing!
The important thing is that the items are things that the whole family can enjoy doing together. The bucket list should also challenge your family to break free of the “box” that life’s obligations tend to trap us in.
Life is about the experience, and experiences create memories, and memories create an unbreakable bond between mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters.
How Do I Make a Family Bucket List?
There’s no right or wrong way to create a Bucket List for Your Family, so long as every member of the family contributes to the items on the list. So, gather around the dining room table, and put your heads together!
Step 1: Jump-Start the Conversation
A good question is all you need to get the family talking:
“What are some things that you would like to do together as a family?”
The context for ideas can be things you want to do as a family before the kids move out and begin lives of their own AND ideas for things to do together after they have done so.
This question is broad enough to allow for any and all responses, so be prepared for some crazy ideas!
Step 2: Brainstorm
Brainstorming will naturally occur once the conversation begins. Write down every suggestion that comes up, no matter how outlandish it may seem.
Step 3: Research
It helps to do a little research, too. If you’re interested in traveling, for example, look into world heritage sites or popular tourist destinations. The more information you have, the easier it will be to plan an adventure your family will never forget.
Step 4: Prioritize
Once you’ve created your list, it’s important to prioritize these activities.
Items that are more accessible and affordable should be placed at the top of the list, while items that require more planning, preparation, and saving should be placed further down the list. Just don’t neglect preparing for them!
Also, consider the age of your kids and the family’s overall fitness level. If some of your bucket list items are physically demanding, technical, or age-restrictive, they may have to be scheduled for a time down the road when everyone’s in good physical condition and of an appropriate age.
Step 5: Put It on the Calendar
Once you’ve compiled and prioritized a list of ideas, it’s time to start planning.
Make a calendar and start scheduling your adventures. Consider if some items can be accomplished in a single trip or season … perhaps you can kill two birds with one stone!
No matter how you do it, make sure you schedule these moments and let nothing stand in your way of seeing it through.
Step 6: Start Saving
Finally, do a little digging to estimate how much completing a bucket list item will cost. Commit to putting away a little each month so that, when the time comes, a lack of funds doesn’t stand in your way.
How Do I Make My Bucket List Dreams Come True?
You could compose the most epic, exhilarating bucket list on the planet; but, if you don’t put it on the calendar and set aside the funds to make your dreams come true, they will remain just that—dreams.
Additionally, once it’s on the calendar, it’s critical to put in for that time off from your work as far in advance as possible.
Be purposeful in making your family’s bucket list a non-negotiable and you can be confident that you’ll see it through!
The Ultimate Bucket List for Families
Home is where the heart is. And, if that’s true, it better be a place worthy of the only life you get! If it’s not, then make it worthy!
Stargazing is an easy, fascinating item to add to a bucket list for families. It’s also a fun and educational activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Add a star-gazing app, and you and your family can turn just looking into learning as backyard astronomers.
Whether you make a meal from scratch or grab some take-out, there are few things more satisfying than spreading a picnic blanket on the ground and enjoying a meal on a clear, sunny day.
Build a Fort
Building a fort is one of the most fun things you can do with your kids, and it’s also a great way to make memories.
The best part? It doesn’t require any special skill set or tools. All you need is some cardboard boxes, chairs, and blankets (or whatever else you can find) and creativity!
Build a Treehouse
Building a treehouse is a great way to spend time with your kids and give them a fun, safe place to play. It’s also a good way to teach them about construction and teamwork.
If you’re new to woodworking, this may take some study and research. Still, involve your kids in the process so that they can feel the accomplishment of building something with you!
There are innumerable simple treehouse designs up for grabs online!
Organize a Neighborhood Cookout
Neighborhood cookouts are an excellent way to foster a sense of community. Neighbors get the chance to hang out together and share recipes, while also learning about each other’s lives. It is also a great opportunity for kids to have fun outdoors with their friends and make new ones.
Here are some tips on hosting your own neighborhood cookout:
- Plan ahead and send out invitations to your neighbors well in advance.
- Ask each family to contribute one other thing besides food: cups, eating utensils, paper plates, etc.
- Survey those you invite to see who has folding tables and chairs that they could bring.
- Set up a designated cooking area for each family to use.
- Encourage guests to bring their favorite recipes to share.
- Provide plenty of outdoor games and activities for kids to enjoy.
- Make sure some tunes are pumping on a quality speaker
Play in the Rain
Among the simpler family bucket list ideas, there’s something about playing in the rain that just feels right. Maybe it’s the sense of freedom you feel as the water drenches your clothes and hair. Or maybe it’s the joy of being carefree and running around like a kid again.
No matter what it is, there’s something about getting caught in a rainstorm that just brings out the kid in everyone.
Play in the Snow
Playing in the snow is a beloved winter tradition for families around the world.
Build a snowman. Create snow angels. Sculpt a snow fort. Wage a snowball war.
Then gather inside for some hot cocoa and a movie (for some reason, that just seems the right thing to do after a day in the snow).
Write a Story Together
Every family bucket list should include creating something original together!
This is a great way to bond and connect. By working together to create a story, you’ll be able to share your creativity, your ideas, and your thoughts with one another. And who knows, maybe the story will be so good that it’ll become a bestseller!
And if you’re still stuck in coming up with ideas, we love these Story Cubes that make the creation easier.
When it’s finished, have each member of the family pick a part of the story to illustrate.
Finally, have the final work bound into a real book using a service like StoryJumper.com.
Read a Whole Novel Together
When families read books together, they are sharing an experience, and that helps create stronger connections between them.
They are also communicating with each other in a different way than they usually do, and that can help build trust and understanding.
Another benefit of reading novels together is that it helps children learn to read. By reading books together, parents can help their children get a better understanding of the stories, and this can make it easier for them to learn to read on their own.
Don’t make this a one-time event. Make it a regular trait of your family culture!
Attend a Sports Event
Sports are a unifying force that can bring people of all ages together, and there is nothing more exciting than watching your favorite team or player compete live.
In addition, sports provide a healthy and fun outlet for emotions, and they can teach children important life lessons such as teamwork, discipline, and perseverance.
Whether you attend a professional game or a local high school match-up, make sure to add this experience to your family bucket list!
Visit a Waterpark
Waterparks provide hours of entertainment for people of all ages, and there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you want to ride the slides, play in the pool, or just relax in the sun, a waterpark is a perfect place to spend a day or afternoon.
Visit an Amusement Park
Amusement parks offer a variety of different activities for families to enjoy together and are a must for a fun bucket list.
If the cost is keeping you from adding this to your bucket list, consider packing your own food and keeping it in a cooler in the car rather than purchasing the over-priced (and often low quality) park food.
Also, check online for discounts and coupons that can relieve some of the admission fees.
Visit an Aquarium
The whole family can enjoy an aquarium visit. The fish and sea animals on display are educational and entertaining, and the aquarium is usually filled with other activities such as touch tanks or diving shows.
The largest aquarium in the U.S. is the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA. Or, you can cross the sea and visit the world’s largest, the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in southern China.
Visit a Botanical Garden
Botanical gardens are a great way for families to learn about nature, the environment and enjoy themselves.
Many of them offer educational opportunities that allow you to explore plants from all over the world as well as have a picnic in a quiet and beautiful location.
Families can also enjoy special exhibits, workshops, and demonstrations that are often offered.
If you want the biggest, add the New York Botanical Garden or the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England to your family bucket list!
Visit a Zoo
Zoos are a family bucket list must-have!. You can see lots of animals up close, learn about them from the experts, and sometimes even get to touch them.
Zoos also offer educational programs and activities for kids, as well as places to eat and shop.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium boasts the largest animal collection in the U.S. while the Chester Zoo in England boasts over 35,000 animals! The largest worldwide!
Watch a Parade
Parades are a long-enjoyed tradition that celebrates local history and culture.
Whether you attend one in your own town or one you visit on a road trip, parades grant an intimate glimpse into the pride, history, and unique characteristics of a county, town, or city.
Go to a Circus
The circus is a fading part of our nation’s heritage. A circus is a place where you can see amazing things like acrobats and clowns. There is also usually a show with animals like lions and tigers and even elephants!
A little online digging can help you find a circus near you so you can add it to your family bucket list.
Go to a County Fair or Carnival
There’s something for everyone at the county fair or carnival. Rides, games, food, and exhibits provide hours of fun for the whole family.
And, let’s face it: you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten some of that deep-fried fair food. Funnel cakes, donut burgers, fried Oreos … you can always go for a jog later.
Attend a Fireworks Show
If you haven’t been to a live fireworks show, it’s time. Sure, on TV they seem magical and exciting; but, nothing beats the real thing.
It gives you a sense of patriotism that can’t be replicated from your couch or computer screen. You get to see all of the colors in person as opposed to seeing them through a camera lens for a fraction of a second.
Plus, if you’re a pyro like me, it’s really fun to watch loud things explode in the sky.
Eat at a Food Truck
Food trucks are a fun and affordable way for families to enjoy a meal together. They offer a variety of food options that often cannot be found in a typical restaurant.
Food truck chefs are typically super passionate about their craft and unique recipes; so, it’s almost always a good bet that you’re in for a treat.
Just Google “food trucks near me” to begin your search for those close by.
Try a New Ethnic Food (or Restaurant)
There are so many different cultures and cuisines in the world, and trying new ethnic food is a great way to expand your horizons … and palette.
You may find that you love the food, or you may not like it at all. But either way, you’ll have experienced something new and unique.
But don’t try surstromming. Don’t. Just don’t.
Picnic in the Park
A picnic in the park is a fun, affordable way to enjoy the outdoors and have a relaxing day together. There are plenty of parks in every city, so you’re sure to find one that’s close by.
Pack some sandwiches, fruit, drinks, snacks, and a good picnic set, and you’re good to go
Visit a Flea Market
Flea markets are a great place to find bargains on all sorts of items, but they can also be a great place to do some treasure hunting.
You can explore all sorts of different booths, chat with the vendors, and enjoy the atmosphere.
And who knows? You might just find a proverbial diamond-in-the-rough.
Visit a Farmer’s Market
Farmers’ markets provide fresh, local produce and products. They are also a great place to meet your community and get to know your neighbors. Farmer’s markets are typically held once a week, so they are a convenient way to get your produce for the week.
Just Google “farmers’ markets near me” to see what’s available locally.
Visit an Art Studio
Art studios are a welcome break from a world where everything seems mass-produced and nothing seems original or authentic. They also awaken a spark of creativity within ourselves that we may not have recognized otherwise.
Let the creativity of others make an impression on you and see what inspiration arises. Put it on your family bucket list!
Visit a Planetarium
A planetarium is a place where you can learn about stars, planets, galaxies, black holes, and everything else that makes up our universe.
It’s a great place to take your kids for a learning experience that they will never forget.
You can usually find local planetariums by doing a quick Google search.
Take a Sunrise or Sunset Stroll
Early or late in the day is typically when we are kept indoors and rarely venture outside.
The world is different at dawn and dusk. Bathed in the light of a rising or setting sun, the world is calmer and, in a way, magical.
You’ll see the normal world differently, observe animals you may not have known live around you and, who knows, stumble on something you’ll make a part of your daily routine.
Attend a Symphony
Like being a patron of an art studio, attending a symphony performance is a cultured activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The music here is not the same as mass-produced noise that’s pumped through popular radio stations every day.
The compositions are meant to be listened to and savored for their beauty, complexity, and authenticity.
One concert will leave a lasting impact on your family that will open your eyes and broadens your horizons.
Buy Tickets to a Stage Performance
Trade a night at a movie theatre for an old-fashioned stage play.
Whether it is a classic like The Nutcracker or something more modern like Wicked, seeing a performance live will give your family a thrilling, organic experience to remember.
Tour a Factory
Touring a factory can be interesting because you can see how things are made and learn about the process. Some factories also have tours where you can learn about the history of the company or the products that they make.
There are LOTS of factories that offer tours of their facilities. Plan a trip to the Jelly Belly, Hershey’s Chocolate, or Boeing factories and prepare for an eye-popping experience.
Tour a Winery, Brewery, or Distillery
Unless alcohol is on your no-no list, there’s no reason not to enjoy some feel-good sips while checking something off that bucket list.
If you’re looking for a fun and educational activity to do with your family, then consider touring a winery, brewery, or distillery.
These places offer fascinating insights into the production of alcoholic beverages, educate folks in a healthy appreciation of alcohol, and you may be inspired to try your hand at some home-brewing!
In addition, many of them have beautiful grounds that are worth exploring.
Get off the couch, get outside, and tell your addiction to being comfortable goodbye! Finally, see and feel something that will change your life!
Go Tent Camping
Going on a family camping trip is indispensable to any bucket list for families.
Time slows down when your camping and distractions are minimized so that family and the natural surroundings become the primary focus.
There are plenty of parks and campgrounds that provide established campgrounds, so there’s no need to worry about finding a place to go.
Check out our Complete Beginners Guide to Camping and our Essential Camping Checklist for Families to get you started!
If roughing it is a bit too rough for you, then “Glamping” may be your better option.
Glamping is a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping,” and it’s just what it sounds like: camping, but with a bit more glamour.
Whether you’re in a yurt, cabin, teepee, or safari tent, glamping can provide the opportunity to enjoy nature while indulging in some modern comforts.
Once you’ve decided what park or forest you’d like to visit, check their website to see what glamping rentals are available on-site or close by.
Take a Road Trip in an RV
Glamping on wheels! If you have never taken a road trip in an RV, it is definitely something to put on your family bucket list. This is the perfect way for families to travel together and see all the sights America has to offer.
Traveling by RV frees you of having to make expensive hotel reservations in exchange for staying in RV parks and resorts that are MUCH less expensive … and often more enjoyable to stay in!
Also, if the RV is adequately equipped with a bathroom, kitchen, and holding tanks (for fresh and wastewater), finding a place to stay for the night is as easy as finding a wide-open parking lot somewhere!
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices (such as a phone equipped with a geocaching app).
Participants navigate to a specific set of coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Geocaches can come in all shapes and sizes, from small Tupperware containers to ammo cans buried five feet underground.
The game can be played by anyone of any age and is a great way to get outside and explore your local area … or any area worldwide!
Be sure to educate yourself on Geocaching rules and etiquette before venturing out!
Hiking is the quintessential way for families to get exercise and explore the natural wonders of the world.
Time seems to stop when you’re hiking along a beautiful, secluded, quiet path through the woods.
So find some good trails at a state or national park nearby, gear up, and hit the trails!
Plan a Backpacking Trip
Backpacking is essentially hiking with your campsite in a pack on your back. It’s a great way to experience places that most people never see on typical day hikes.
Since you’ll be carrying all of your gear with you, backpacking provides the freedom of going further than the average hiker and experiencing more beauty and breathtaking wonders that the average hiker misses out on.
It’s authentic adventuring that promises unique, eye-opening, inspiring experiences!
Road Trip Coast to Coast
The Great American Road Trip is a must for any family bucket list.
There are so many amazing things to see in this great country of ours, and what better way to see them all than by hitting the open road?
The best part is that you can tailor the trip to your own family’s interests and needs. Want to visit every national park in the country? Go for it! Prefer to stick to the coasts? That’s great, too!
If you need help packing, check out our Road Trip Essentials post!
Star Gaze in a Dark Sky Park
A Dark Sky Park is a park that has been designated by the International Dark-Sky Association as a place where the night sky can be seen in all its natural glory.
Many of these parks are located in remote areas, making them perfect for stargazing.
If you’re looking to add this experience to your family bucket list, be sure to check out one of the many Dark Sky Parks located throughout the United States!
Visit a National Park (or all of them)
A sizable chunk of a bucket list for families can be accomplished in one of our 63 awe-inspiring National Parks.
Protected and stewarded by the National Park Service since 1872 when Yellowstone National park was first established, the parks offer families a chance to experience first-hand the unequaled natural beauty of the American continent, Alaska, and the Hawaiian Islands.
They are also a great place for family bonding experiences, providing endless opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Document the parks as you experience them with a National Park Scratch-Off Map.
Visit a National Forest (or all of them)
Like the National Parks, our country’s National Forests are a sight to behold.
And unlike the National Parks, they usually don’t require any entrance fees.
There are 155 National Forests in the United States, so you’re sure to find one close to home. So load up the family truckster and hit the open road!
Visit a State Park (or all of them … good luck!)
There are over 6,600 state parks across the 50 states covering 14 million acres of American soil!
I don’t think they make a Scratch-Off Map for these … it would be MASSIVE!
Spend a Day on the Beach
Thirty of the 50 U.S. states have coastline offering 95,000 miles of shoreline.
That’s a lot of beach!
Don those ridiculously bright board shorts, lather on a healthy smattering of sunscreen, load up the cooler, and go work on that farmer’s tan!
Hunt for Beach Treasure with a Metal Detector
While you’re sharpening the lines on that farmer’s tan, try your hand at some scavenging and treasure hunting.
A decent metal detector can be had for a reasonable price and, who knows, you might strike it rich!
Warning: this can become addicting very quickly!
Swim in the Ocean
Don’t be a landlubber. If you’re going to make the trek to the beach, get the full experience!
Grab a boogie board and get your cowabunga on!
Canoe or Raft a River
Whether you rent one or bring your own, piloting a canoe or raft down a river is a unique, exhilarating experience …
… and it will teach you some pretty epic skills.
Kick it up a notch by taking along some backpacking gear, breaking up the trip into multiple days, camping on the river banks at night.
After all, checking things off your family bucket list should earn you some bragging rights!
Go Paddle Boarding
The sport of paddleboarding is one of the most under-experienced and under-appreciated outdoor past times.
The experience is a peaceful, calming, and renewing interaction with nature that can only be explored around the calm leg of a river or lake.
Paddleboards can be rented; however, owning your own can make things much simpler to embark on last-minute excursions.
Unleash your inner river rat!
Grab an inner tube, some friends, and a cooler of cold ones and hit the nearest river for a day of lazy floating.
Most tubing-conducive rivers will have tube rentals nearby, or you can take your own set of tubes. If you’re a frequent tuber, owning your own will save money over the long run.
Go Horseback Riding
Get your yee-haw on!
Riding a horse through nature is an experience that should not be missed and was checked off my family bucket list as a child.
There are outfitters all over the country that can provide guided trips on everything from mellow wilderness trails to rugged mountain paths.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, try cowboying up and camping overnight on the trail.
Travel to a 3rd-World Country
At some point, every human needs to experience the wider world outside of this bubble we were born in.
If you are reading this right now, you are blessed. Nothing paints this in sharper contrast than a trip to places where material wealth is rare or nonexistent.
Don’t be one of the families that miss out.
Travel by Train
Whether you want to experience a particular state, National Park, or take an epic journey coast-to-coast, traveling by rail is a nostalgic way to explore the country.
But start saving your pesos. It’s not cheap!
Set aside some time to visit a local lake or the slow, shallow leg of a river and explore the magical world below the surface.
If you’re a treasure hunter, take your snorkel gear to a favorite tubing spot when traffic is light and see what slipped out of pockets during the last river rat rush!
Book a Cruise
A proper family bucket list should include a smidge of the luxurious.
Treat your family to the unprecedented fun and luxury offered on one of today’s massive cruise ships.
While many cruise lines offer amenities suitable for families, Disney Cruise Lines is the go-to or most.
With everything from swimming pools and casinos to theaters and restaurants, a cruise is an ideal way to escape for a few days while enjoying plenty of quality family time.
Explore a Cavern
If the idea of traveling millions of years back in time tickles your fancy, exploring one of the many caverns in the US is a must for your bucket list. A few suggestions listed by popularity are:
- Mammoth Cave (Kentucky)
- Meramec Caverns (Missouri)
- Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)
- Ruby Falls (Tennessee)
- Wind Cave (South Dakota)
- Kartchner Caverns (Arizona)
- Luray Caverns (Virginia)
- Niagra Cave (Minnesota)
- Natural Bridge Caverns (Texas)
- Fantastic Caverns (Missouri)
- Jewel Cave (South Dakota)
- Blanchard Springs Caverns (Arkansas)
- DeSoto Caverns (Alabama)
- Craighead Caverns (Tennessee)
- Ohio Caverns (Guess where …)
Visit a Bat Cave at Dusk
I’m sure Bruce Wayne won’t mind if you stop by for a visit.
While you may not run across the Dark Knight himself, you’re sure to see thousands if not millions of his small furry, flight-full friends. Discover a bat cave close to you:
- Bracken Cave Preserve (Texas)
- Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)
- Lava Beds National Monument (California)
- Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)
- Timpanogos Cave National Monument (Utah)
Experience Old Faithful Erupting
Check this one off your bucket list while scratching Yellowstone National Park off your hit list.
The Old Faithful geyser was discovered in 1870 and draws millions to witness the heart-thumping power erupting from below the earth’s crust (where the world’s largest underground mega-volcano lurks).
Witness the geyser’s power launch 3,700 gallons of super-heated water 180 feet into the air every 60-90 minutes. And then try to stop watching … if you can.
Stand on the Rim of the Grand Canyon at Sunrise and Sunset
There are two popular ways to experience this 1,904 square-mile, 1-mile deep gouge in the earth’s crust: the cooler, wooded North Rim, and the arid, desert climate of the South Rim.
Now that you’ve done what the typical family does at the Grand Canyon, step off the edge!
Take the awe-inspiring Kaibab Trail down to the bottom to feel smaller than a grain of sand!
Hug the World’s Largest Tree
General Sherman in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California will take your breath away!
At 275 feet tall and 36 feet in diameter (!!!) at its base, it took the General an estimated 2,200 years to become the regal, redwood leviathan it is today.
While the park service protects the tree by preventing visitors from touching the tree, you can walk up to several of his smaller (still massive) cousins around the area.
Being in the presence of living things this ancient evokes a sense of humility and awe in the soul that is rarely felt.
Take a Marine Wildlife Cruise
If you take a trip to the coast, look up local day cruises that focus on wildlife viewing. You’re likely to see dolphins, sea lions, whales, and maybe a shark or two.
Swim with Dolphins or Sea Turtles
Or skip the boat altogether and get up close and personal with these playful creatures in their natural habitat.
Dolphins can be found all over the world, while sea turtles are more common in tropical and subtropical waters.
You’ll need to do some digging and planning to check this off your bucket list, but it’s worth it!
Visit a Living Farm or Working Ranch
Take a hiatus from the world of convenience and easy-living and hang out with some of the hardest working folks from an era all-but-forgotten.
Living farms and working ranches offer a peek into the lifestyles of our ancestors and the challenges they faced on a day-to-day basis. From milking cows to churning butter, you can experience it all!
Bonus: many of these places also offer overnight stays and home-cooked meals straight from the farm!
Experience a Rodeo
A classic piece of the West’s heritage, rodeos are now popular all over the world. From bronc-riding to bull-taming, these events are sure to get your heart racing (and maybe a little bit of dust in your mouth).
Find a rodeo near you and strap on your boots!
Travel to the Islands
The Galapagos, Maldives, Bora Bora, Palawan, Seychelles, Santorini, or the Cook Islands. Whichever you choose, visiting one island may turn one bucket list item into many!
If you don’t believe in paradise on earth, one visit will have you converted!
Travel to Another Country (or Multiple)
While 27% of Americans never leave our borders and experience foreign cultures and traditions, 19% only visit one foreign country in their lifetime.
That accounts for 151,570,000 US citizens that miss out on the full spectrum of human life and culture featured on Earth!
That’s just not right.
Hike in the Desert
It may not sound like much fun, but give the desert a chance. The arid climates possess a unique beauty and wonder that is under-valued.
Go all out in the Gobi Desert in Northern China, the Sahara (the world’s largest) in Tunisia and 3 other countries, the Kalahari in South Africa, or keep it stateside by visiting Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Arches, Zion, or Bryce Canyon National Parks.
Explore a Jungle, Forest, or Rainforest
Once you’ve emptied the desert sands from your sandals, experience its polar opposite by exploring a jungle or forest.
from the rain-soaked wooded mountains of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the 200-foot-tall Ponderosa Pines of Sierra National Forest in California, there is plenty of options state-side.
To see a proper jungle or rainforest, however, your best bet is to hitch a ride across the Atlantic.
Look into Daintree National Park in Australia, Morne Trois Pitons National Park on Dominica Island, Harapan Rainforest in Indonesia, Khao Yai National Park in Thailand, and many, many more!
Visit the Mountains
Aside from the Swiss Alps, the North American continent boasts some of the most majestic mountain ranges on the planet.
From the glacier-carved Canadian Rockies to the Waterfalls and silver granite cliffs of the Sierra Nevada, the grandeur of these extreme landscapes will keep you coming back year after year.
Much further south, the Andes of Latin America spark wonder with 50 volcanoes and mystical Incan ruins like the 15th century Machu Picchu.
Across the waves, discover the Himalayas of Nepal (the highest in the world at 20,000 feet above sea level), the jutting pinnacles of the Italian Dolomites, or the uncompromised view (zero light pollution!!) of our galaxy from the vantage Mt. Cook National Park in the New Zealand Alps.
Bathe in Natural Hot Springs
If you enjoy that hot tub on your back porch, don’t put this one on your bucket list. It will ruin you!
Chena Hot Springs in Alaska, Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado, Umpqua Hot Springs in Oregon, Weir Creek in Idaho, and Olympic in Washington are just a sampling of the vast options here in the US.
Elsewhere, Pamukkale in Turkey, Kerosene Creek in New Zealand, Kraus in Canada, and Uunartoq in Greenland are just a few across the globe.
Visit an Orchard
There is something innately satisfying about savoring fruit straight from the tree.
Visiting an orchard promotes a healthy appreciation for where food comes from and lets you and your family enjoy the fruits of your labor … pun intended.
Stay Overnight in a Treehouse
Has anyone ever seen the Ewok Village in Star Wars and not dreamed of living high up in the trees above the forest floor?
Now you can make your dream a reality by spending the night in a treehouse.
From luxury treehouses that offer all the amenities of a high-end hotel to rustic options with no electricity or running water, choices are abundant when it comes to sleeping among the branches.
Check out Airbnb to easily reserve a treehouse near you!
Experience the Aurora Borealis
Seeing it on TV or on the internet does NOT do it a bit of justice.
Words fail to describe the first-hand experience of standing under a clear northern night sky and witnessing the bombardment of the sun’s charged particles on our atmosphere, lighting up the night with colossal light-ribbons of green and pink.
The best spots to view this spectacular natural event in North America are Fairbanks, Alaska or Yellowknife, Canada.
There’s been a recent explosion in adventure parks that offer an adrenaline rush in the form of zipline courses that send you flying through dense forests or over the yawning mouth of a canyon.
Check out usabynumbers.com to start planning your zipline experience.
Make the World a Little Bit Better
Our country is a selfish one.
We are raised to build our own kingdoms, seek our own dreams; but, what about those who don’t have the means to build their own kingdoms or chase their dreams?
Here are some ideas of things you can do as a family to make the world a little bit better for those who don’t have it as good as you.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Your local animal shelter is always in need of volunteers to help take care of the animals.
Duties can range from feeding and watering the animals to cleaning their cages and walking them.
You can also contact your local humane society to see if they have any specific needs that you could help with, such as foster care or fundraising.
Blood banks are always in need of donations, not just of blood and plasma, but financial donations are also welcome.
Blood donations require donors to be a minimum of 16 years old, so this may need to be put on your bucket list’s back-burner if you have young ones.
You can easily find a blood donation center near you by using the American Red Cross locator.
Volunteer and Give
Giving of your time and energy is the most sacred gift you can give towards making the world a better place.
There are countless opportunities nationwide that are looking for people to help with feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, housing the homeless, and providing disaster relief.
Volunteering and giving to charities gives something in return: the opportunity to become part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.
In a culture that nurtures egocentrism and materialism to an almost religious level, the opportunity to make someone else’s life better at the expense of our time, energy, and finances chips away at our self-centered tendencies and opens us up to a wider, fuller way of living.
To begin your planning, consider these organizations when you add this one to your bucket list (hopefully at the top!):
Join a Litter Clean-Up Organization
Speaking of giving of our time and energy, the planet needs some TLC as well.
Check with your city or county website for opportunities to get involved with litter clean-up along highways, rivers, parks, and even neighborhoods.
We recommend the Adopt-a-Highway opportunities made available by most states. There’s a deep sense of pride that comes from driving down a road that looks better because of you and your family!
Write to a Soldier
Not all soldiers get letters and care packages from home. Some may not necessarily have someone back home. I can’t imagine what it’s like watching your platoon buddies open letters and boxes of homebaked goodies while you sit there with … nothing.
Make sure they know that their sacrifice does not go unnoticed. Here are a few ways to get involved:
Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Sharing a meal is one of the most uplifting, soul-healing human traditions.
Helping to provide someone with a warm meal in a safe place feeds more the just the belly, it fortifies the soul.
Google “soup kitchens near me” to see what opportunities are available in your area.
Buy a Homeless Person a Meal
Regardless of where you live, a drive through town will bring you across someone on the side of the road bearing a cardboard sign asking for money, food, or some type of help.
Giving them money is never a good idea … you can’t be sure they will use it to improve their situation.
But, it’s a safe bet they could use a bite to eat or some fresh water to drink.
Make a note of their location, pull into a nearby restaurant or grocery store, pick up a meal (or enough for several), and deliver it to them.
You won’t know what “Thank you” truly means until you see someone’s eyes spill over with gratitude.
Put Clothes on Someone’s Back
When you’re delivering that meal to the guy on the side of the road, take stock of his situation: how are his jacket, clothes, and shoes. Does he need a backpack? A toothbrush? Deodorant? Bodywash?
Go the extra mile: visit a local Walmart or thrift store, buy a backpack, and stuff it full of necessities.
Who knows: you may have just provided him the chance to look presentable enough to apply for a job somewhere.
Do Something Thoughtful for Your Neighbors
According to a recent study, 25% of Americans under 30 living in the suburban areas know NONE of their neighbors!
The houses in suburbia are only 10 feet apart on average!!! How can this be?
First, do some recon. Next time you see them, strike up a conversation … break the ice!
Then, as future conversations occur, you’ll gain bits of info that will help you decide what types of good-will they might appreciate, among which might be:
- Bake something home-made
- Provide a small gift of appreciation
- Invite them to lunch or dinner
- Treat them at a restaurant
- Help out around the yard (especially if they’re older)
- Schedule a playdate (if they have children)
- Offer a listening ear
- Invite them to volunteer with your family
Then, do some recon on the neighbors. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Volunteer at a State or National Park
State and National Parks thrive off of people who volunteer to take care of the park and visitors. National Parks in particular could use your help to keep up with the increasing number of visitors.
There are opportunities for all sorts of people who want to volunteer their time:
- Trail Stewards
- Hiking Guides
- Fishing Guides
- Interpretive Program Guides
- Campground Hosts
If there’s a National Park near you, visit the NPS Volunteers page.
If there’s not a National Park near you, contact your state park authority and ask how you can help out.
Discover New Skills
Equip yourself and your family: to be more self-sufficient, to fix what’s broken, to enhance the world around you.
Stop relying on others to fix your problems. Become masters of life and watch as the horizons open!
Plant a Vegetable Garden
Hands down, there’s nothing better than fresh vegetables picked straight from the garden … especially when it’s YOUR garden!
Not only does this provide you with a sustainable source of healthy food, but it’s also a great way to teach your children about where their food comes from and the importance of sustainability.
Plus … it just feels good to get your hands dirty!
If you’re new to gardening, begin with this helpful article.
Even if you don’t have room for horses or a herd of cattle, you can still raise livestock!
Try raising chickens, turkeys, goats, or rabbits.
If you want to join a group of others in your venture, enroll your kids and volunteer with your local 4-H or FFA.
Not only will you and your kids learn a TON of new skills and build long-lasting relationships, but your kids will also even have the chance to earn scholarships!
Repair Something Yourself … with Your Kids!
The oven. The washing machine. The ice maker. The lawnmower.
Next time something bites the dust, jump online and do some research. Attempt to fix it on your own rather than chucking it or calling a repair service.
Not only will you save a ton of money, but you’ll also experience a natural high from your newfound self-sufficiency and resourcefulness.
Take Self Defense Lessons
Karate. Wrestling. Muay Tai. Aikido.
Martial arts builds discipline, mindfulness, confidence, physical strength, and agility.
Check the web for dojos near you!
Take a First Aid and CPR Class
This is one of those skills you hope you never need; but, to need it and not have it …
Knowing that you, your spouse, and your kids are equipped to save lives in an emergency is like having a superpower.
Find a local first-aid and CPR training center and sign up today!
If you’re looking to lower your family’s stress level and develop a self-defense skill, Tai-Chi is a graceful form of exercise that can provide both.
It’s also been shown to improve balance, flexibility, and strength.
Many communities offer Tai-Chi classes for all ages and experience levels.
Learn to Fly a Kite
Simple, yes. But not insignificant.
Plus, the varieties of kites out there are mind-boggling! Start with something simple like the traditional diamond kite, and once you’ve mastered it, go crazy with something like a cellular kite or a stunt kite.
Learn to Fish
Need a main dish to go with those fresh veggies you picked from your garden?
Fishing is a simple sport that you can make as technical as you wish. Stick to fishing for small bluegill and panfish or branch out into the wide world of angling for catfish, trout, and bass.
Never fished before? Start here.
Learn to Make Homemade Ice Cream
After a meal of your own home-grown veggies and fresh-caught fish, follow it up with some homemade ice cream!
Trust me: the stuff in the grocery store freezer aisle doesn’t hold a candle.
Learn how to make it and you might find it becomes a family tradition!
Learn to Ice Skate or Rollerblade
I hate jogging. I’m 6-foot-5 and typically a little over 200 lbs. Running, gravity and my joints hate each other.
Put some wheels on my feet or blades on an icy lake, and it all changes.
Give it shot. It’s a rare type of freedom!
Learn to Snow Ski
Speaking of a rare type of freedom … and a thrilling one at that!
Try it. Just try it. You’ll be hooked!
Learn to Water Ski
Requiring more gear than snow skiing: a boat, and a pilot to say the least (don’t forget a lake), this may take more planning and prep; still, it’s a blast.
You’ll be sore the next few days. But, it’s a good sore.
Learn to Bowl
I used to volunteer at an old-fashioned 9-pin bowling alley in Texas as a pin boy. Basically, a pin boy risks life-and-limb dodging ricocheting bowling balls and heavy pins to reset the pins and return the ball for a few measly tips.
These days, computer-controlled robots have relieved the pin boys of the risk (and tips), setting and resetting the pins.
I miss the good ol’ days.
But bowling is still a ball … that’s so punny.
Learn a Marksman Sport
My son’s first sport was with our local 4-H Shooting Sports chapter, learning archery, rifle, and pistol marksmanship.
Volunteer as a coach and a parent, and you can share the experience with your kids. There are also medals and scholarships waiting to be won!
Learn to Cook … from Scratch!
One of the main reasons for the obesity and disease epidemics in America is the dependency on processed, pre-fab, and processed foods.
We’re not made to eat that stuff.
Do yourself and your kids a life-long favor. Learn to cook real food in your own kitchen using recently-alive-and-well (r.a.w.) ingredients and discover what our culture has long forgotten: real food!
Need a jump start? Check out Eating Well’s guide for beginner cooks.
Learn an Instrument
My parents paid for piano lessons when I was young.
I hated it.
Then, I watched a drummer play at our church. My heart pounded!
I told my parents I wanted to play the drums. They paid for lessons and connected with a family that gave me a 1985 CB-700 drum set.
When I look back on my life and search for the fondest memories, it’s in my bedroom, drumsticks flying to the beat in my headphones plugged into my CD player.
Later, I became the frontline drummer in my youth group and church. I played before 1,000+ kids at our youth camps.
I’ve never been so happy, so content, so liberated. I felt the same before the crowd and alone in my bedroom, jamming away to a song that hit home.
Music is the stuff of life. Making music with your own hands … that’s a life worth living!
Learn Survival Bushcraft
Can you start a fire without matches or a lighter? Do you care?
Maybe not; but, succeed at doing so and you’ll be blindsided by the pride you feel at accomplishing something both primitive and necessary to survival.
Bushcraft encompasses more than fire-building, however. Equipping yourself to survive in the wild without the aid of modern conveniences instills a sense of independence and self-sufficiency that will set you apart from all the others.
Pass this on to your kids, and you’ll become a family to be reckoned with … and admired.
Learn a New Language
Our world is more integrated than ever. Those that can speak only one language are severely limited in scope when it comes to opportunity and world-community involvement.
Where does your family want to go? What nationalities other than your own are represented in your area? What language(s) would make you more likely to coalesce with the nationalities that you’re likely to cross paths with?
Break out of your cultural barriers by learning a new way to communicate.
Learn a New Sport
Whether it’s a court sport, field sport, or non-competitive sport, what are the sports that are popular in your area? What are the sports that are played by the people in your circles?
Get out there and try something new! Who knows, you might just fall in love with it.
The ability to craft something from wood stands right up there with the ability to start a fire with sticks. It’s primitive, it’s necessary, and it’s satisfying.
Beginning woodworking is a skill that can be learned relatively easily and doesn’t always require expensive tools or equipment. With the right instruction, you and your kids can be crafting beautiful pieces of furniture, toys, and more in no time.
If you’re new to woodworking, begin with The Crucible to get on your way.
Learn an Artform
We are born into an entertainment culture. Conditioned to watch and observe through screens and electronic media, we are robbed from day one of experiencing the wonder and magic of creation at our fingertips.
Break the mould. Escape the prison. Create something that has never existed before your mind and hands made it come to life!
Learn to draw, paint, sculpt, encode. Express your true self in a way that will outlive yourself.
Then, stand back and feel something you’ve never felt before.
I can’t describe it. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself.
Learn How to Sail
On the northern coast of Jamaica, my wife and I took a retreat to the Grand Rose Resort. I had nothing in mind but lazing the days away on the beaches swimming and reading a good book.
On a morning walk along the shore, I came across Christy, a teenage Jamaican boy who offered a sailing lesson for $40. I couldn’t resist.
In an hour, he taught me to pilot a 14′ Catamaran single-handedly. Once he was satisfied that I had the concept firmly in my grasp, he instructed me to drop him off onshore.
Then, with me still, on the boat, he shoved me back into the surf with a decisive shove of his foot and told me to have it back before sundown.
I sailed the northern-coast blue waters alone among sharks and dolphins, weathered a fast-passing thunderstorm, and returned with an experience I will never forget.
Later that afternoon, I took my wife out for a bluewater cruise that we will never forget.
Try it. Just try it!
Family Heritage and History
A wise man once said, ” You will never know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”
Hm. Let’s take a long look in the rearview mirror.
Research Your Family Genealogy
Maybe you’ll find your family lineage is a source of pride and inspiration.
Maybe, not so much.
If it’s not, it’s time to turn the tide.
If your family history is a source of pride, continue it. If it’s not, make it one beginning with you and your children.
A first step might be here.
Make a Family Tree
Life is a journey. And it encompasses more than just the one you live.
A family tree is a journey that should be a source of pride, even if the past has some less-than-desirable events.
Include it all, and let the lessons of the past enrich the lives of the future.
Research it, make it, and hang it on the wall for all to see!
Research the Meaning of Your Names
I knew that Joshua was a biblical, Christian name; but I never really knew what it meant.
When I researched it, I discovered it meant, “God is Salvation.”
Regardless of my religious affiliation, I have spent most of my life as a teacher, been on suicide watch for multiple students, defended students in court against abusive parents, and have even protected elderly women against an assault from a gang of violent teens in a grocery store parking lot.
Hm. I wonder. I just wonder.
What about you and the names you chose for your kids? Is it a coincendence?
Compile a Family Scrapbook
Don’t let all that research and heritage go to waste. Compile it into a family scrapbook and bind it with love.
Include photos, articles, clippings, drawings, recipes, and any other piece of ephemera that will add to the story of your family.
Create a legacy for your children and their children: a tangible piece of history that will be passed down for generations.
Visit the City/State/Country of Your Family Origins
Your journey through your family history isn’t over. You’ve just begun.
If you can, visit the city, state, country of your family origins. If not, learn as much as you can about it from books and the internet.
Create a Family Mural
After all this, your heart should be pumping with purpose and legacy, either past or yet-to-be!
Designate a wall in your home, preferably in the living area, and remove all the stops!
Clear it off! Buy some paint and turn it into a blank life-canvas. Allow your family to fill it with representations of your family’s past and dreams of your family’s future!
If you ever move, make sure you document it and carry the tradition to your next home!
Make Contact with Your Oldest Living Ancestors
The richest, deepest reservoirs of our heritage lie in our oldest surviving family.
Drop the grudges and fears and sit at the feet of those who have gone before.
You don’t have to agree with everything they believe, but, listen to the ones who lived in this world in the last 100 years.
It used to be bigger. More beautiful. Wilder.
They saw it. You didn’t.
Write Letters to your Future Selves
By the time you are the age of your grandparents, the world will be alien, strange, and, most likely, something less.
Have your family document what they know, see now, and what they hope for the future.
Send a message to who they will become. Tuck them away in a safe memorable place.
Who knows: you might start a future revolution.
Make a Family Time Capsule
The treasure of information you compile from researching your family heritage, discerning the meaning of family names, and documenting future hopes is priceless!
Lock it away, not to be forgotten, but to be remembered decades later.
Select a water-tight, resilient container, dig a hole in a place that you will certainly remember, and make safe the history and future.
Post a Family Travel Map
If your bucket list involves visiting as many places in the world as possible, a scratch-off travel map is an intriguing way to document your accomplishments.
Enhance your map with actual photographs, and post it near the dinner table. Every meal will be filled with thrilling discussions of past memories.
Post a Family Bucket List
Since we’re on the subject, post your family travels in a way that sparks conversation at dinner as well as with guests.
Poster-ize your family’s bucket list.
Who knows, you may inspire others to live bigger and better as your family has!
Cultural Heritage and History
Americans have a proud, and often controversial, history and heritage.
You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is dedicated to the memory of the 2,977 people killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993.
The Memorial includes two reflecting pools with the largest man-made waterfalls in North America as well as The Survivor Tree, a pear tree that survived the attacks.
The Museum tells the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives, and interactive exhibits.
The Pearl Harbor Memorial, also known as the USS Arizona Memorial, is a national monument located at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The memorial commemorates the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and pays tribute to the 2,403 service members who were killed in the attack.
The soul-searching memorial sits atop the sunken hull of the USS Arizona and is accessible only by boat.
Tour the National Mall and Monuments
The National Mall and its monuments are located in Washington, D.C., and commemorate the history of the United States.
The National Mall is a 2-mile long, open-air park that stretches from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and includes the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
The monuments honor American presidents, soldiers, scientists, and others who have made significant contributions to the United States.
Remember the Alamo
Remember more than just the Americanized version of it. Many more than Texans fought and died. It was a clash of people and cultures. Mexicans, Texans, and Native American Indians paid a dear price.
The battle of the Alamo is one of the most significant events in Texas and American history.
The Alamo is located in downtown San Antonio and is now a museum that tells the story of the 1836 battle.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the largest art museum in the United States and houses one of the most important collections of American art in the world.
The museum features work by some of the country’s most famous artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and Andy Warhol.
The museum is located in Washington, D.C., and is free to the public.
The Statue of Liberty
A gift from the people of France, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous symbols of freedom in the world.
The statue, which is located in New York Harbor, was dedicated in 1886 and commemorates the centennial of the United States.
The statue is made of copper and stands more than 305 feet tall. Visitors can climb to the top of the statue’s pedestal and enjoy stunning views of New York City.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The holocaust was one of the darkest moments in human history.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is dedicated to preventing future genocides and remembering the six million Jews and millions of others who were killed in the Holocaust.
The museum is located in Washington, D.C., and is free to the public.
Visit Alcatraz Island
Why would you want to take your family to the world’s most famous prison?
Hm … well, because it’s fascinating!
Alcatraz Island is located in San Francisco Bay and was home to the United States Penitentiary from 1934 to 1963.
The island is now a popular tourist destination and offers excellent views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Families can explore the abandoned prison buildings, check out the cells, and learn about life on Alcatraz Island.
Visit the American Civil War Museum
The American Civil War was one of the most important events in American history.
The American Civil War Museum tells the story of the war from the perspective of both the Union and the Confederacy. A critical hinge-point on which American history turns, the Civil War decided the fate of slavery and racial equality in American history.
The museum is located in Richmond, Virginia, and is free to the public.
Gettysburg , PA was the site of one of the bloodiest and most important battles in American history that decided the outcome of the Civil War.
The Battle of Gettysburg lasted three days and resulted in more than 50,000 casualties.
Arlington National Cemetery
Pay tribute and express gratefulness to our fallen soldiers who pay and have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 American service members and their families.
The cemetery is located in Arlington, Virginia, and is open to the public year-round.
This is where it all OFFICIALLY began: our freedom in pen and ink on parchment.
As a nation, this is our birthplace. For better or for worse, it is the inscrutable element of our heritage as a people.
Beginning life on this continent was no picnic. We were soft from our British heritage and had to earn our right to survive in America.
We did it. Through dogged determination, perseverance, courage, and, oftentimes, questionable means … but we did it.
Will we have to do it again? Learning from the past never hurts and always helps.
Henry Ford Museum
The automobile was first conceived by the venerable Italian savant Leonardo de Vinci in the 15th century.
Four hundred years later, Henry Ford made it a marketable reality.
The automobile is the single most influential invention in world history. Explore a fascinating history at the Henry Ford Museum.
National Museum of American History
Preserving more than 1.8 million artifacts displayed on three-shelf-miles of collections, the museum of our national heritage is an eye-opening wonder!
Don’t miss out on learning from our past as a people and nation!
The Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is a one-of-a-kind itinerary that includes exhibitions, churches, meeting houses, burial grounds, parks, a ship, and historic monuments that tell the tale of the American Revolution and other events.
Set aside a full day to relive a sizable serving of our nation’s history!
O! say can you see, … here lies the birthplace of our National Anthem composed by Francis Scott Keys over 200 years ago!
See the Stars and Stripes fly over the same battlements as they did back then Contemplate our past and what’s to be of our future!
Kennedy Space Center
More Americans have explored outer space than earth’s own deepest oceans!
Why are we more interested in the stars than our own planet?
You might find out at the Kennedy Space Center!
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park
Our nation’s history is a crucible of conflict and social struggle for equality and integration.
United We Stand; Divided We Fall. There once was a man who gave his whole life to this dream.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
I once tried to sculpt a human face out of a half-pound blob of clay.
It took me three days in a high school art class.
It turned out … weird.
In 1867, a man by the name of John de la Mothe Borglum was born. He took a 5,725-foot mountainside and sculpted the 4 faces (each 60 feet tall with 20-foot long noses) of our most iconic presidents in 14 years …
It turned out … a bit better than mine! Okay, more than a bit.
Don’t miss it!
Visit the Biltmore Mansion
If you could travel back to 1895, purchase 8,000 acres of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, and build a private home …
… and had $16 billion in today’s dollars to burn …
what would you build?
Hard to fathom?
Then tour George Vanderbilt’s idea of opulent American luxury and ask yourself, “Could I have done better?”
Damn. That’s a good question.
Visit Disney World
From Vanderbilt to a cartoon mouse?! … who wrote this blog?
Disney World encompasses 43 square miles (Yes … MILES!) of U.S. soil. And for the last 50+ years, it has thrilled Americans of all ages with its unbridled imagination.
Mickey Mouse is an integral part of our American iconography. While we may be the product of the tough, rebellious cowboys who braved the violent resistance of pre-established nature and culture; still, we know how to have some serious fun!
Experiencing Disney World is an indisposable part of every American childhood dream!
World Heritage and History
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) curates over 1,100 world heritage sites across the globe.
While the list above does include some that are protected under UNESCO, many more wait to be discovered and experienced outside of the U.S.
Use the UNESCO World Heritage Site List to select some international gems for your family’s bucket list.
Health and Lifestyle
Conquer a Fear or Limitation
What is it?
The water? The dark? The spiders? A debilitating handicap?
You get one life. So did Erik.
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice that has its origins in India.
It is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline that aims to integrate the body and mind.
The practice has many benefits for the practitioner, including increased flexibility, strength, and concentration.
Join the millions who have experienced yoga and add it to your bucket list!
Try a New Sport
I’m not a sports fan … at least when it comes to the competitive sports popularized on TV.
I just never could find an appreciation for them and the culture that surrounds them.
So, for my son and me, trying a new sport meant looking outside of the box: we took up shooting sports (archery, rifle, and pistol), and my family as a whole loves the sport of hiking.
Find a sport that your family can jive with. Here’s an extensive list of all recognized sports in the world to get you started!
Go Vegetarian for a Month
Giving up meat for a time is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and get a little healthier in the process.
The benefits of becoming a vegetarian are varied and many, and include increased heart health, reducing the risk of cancer, diabetes prevention, lower blood pressure, stronger bones, and more!
Try it for a month or two; you might just discover a new way of life!
Give Up Plastic for a Month (This is a real eye-opener!)
Fact: In 1997, boat captain and oceanographer Charles Moore was crossing the Pacific Ocean halfway between Hawaii and California …
… and he made a horrifying discovery.
Stretching before him was an island, three times the size of France, comprised of 1.8 billion pieces of plastic waste! The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
It’s still there, growing bigger every day. Now it’s considered the 8th continent.
All of this plastic works itself into the earth’s water cycle to such an extent that scientists have estimated the average human consumes 5 grams of plastic a day (that’s one LEGO brick a week and 40 lbs. in a lifetime!)!
How does this affect you and your family? You need to read this.
And then start living a life free of plastic!
Give Up Screens for a Week (another eye-opener!)
Technology Addiction: This may well be the single greatest obstacle we face when it comes to living open, active, full lives.
The average American spends 7 hours of each day on a screen, either for work or play (or both). That’s almost 50 hours a week.
What could you do with your life if you did something else for half of that time each week. That would be 1,300 hours (54 days) a year.
At this rate, with the average American lifespan ending at 78 years, 11 years of life are spent in front of a screen!
Challenge your family to give up screens for just a few days and you might see why the term “addiction” is applied here.
Take the Screen-Free 1-Month Challenge.
Forgive a Grudge
“When we hold onto grudges and resentment, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.”
-Angela Buttimer, MS, NCC, RYT, LPC
Forgiveness heals the mind and body just as much as the soul. Conversely, grudges are arsenic.
Learn more about the healing process of forgiveness and drop the ball and chain.
Conquer an Addiction
If you’re lucky, it’s just about quitting the nail-biting. For many of us, it’s substantially bigger than that.
Still, addictions are, at root, bad habits that are costing us more than we want to pay (emotionally, psychologically, relationally, and financially).
B.J. Fogg runs the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University and has developed and published a revolutionary approach to breaking the chains of bad habits.
His book “Tiny Habits” guides you through recoding your brain, ridding yourself of life-compromising habits, by chipping away at them one manageable bit at a time.
Make Christmas Better for Someone Else
As the end of each year approaches, families gather together to focus on each other, reminisce over their most recent trip around the sun together, and celebrate the coming of a new year.
Most families, anyway.
There are many in our society and the world over whose lives are devoid of this experience, and many who, choosing to live in service of others, have sacrificed this precious time with their families.
If this time of year is one of love, joy, and abundance for you and your family, spread some goodwill!
Opportunities abound; however, here are a few ideas to get get you started!
It’s time to resurrect a long-lost American tradition.
Invite some friends and neighbors, select some classics, and spread some cheer.
Carol acapella or inject some tech and take along a phone and a Bluetooth speaker for backup.
Build a Gingerbread House
If you’re new to this one, there’s no shame in buying a Gingerbread House Kit. Just know that they never turn out like the picture on the box … NEVER!
Or, earn some Christmas street cred and build one from scratch!
Make Your Own Christmas Decorations
Growing up, my family’s Christmas tree was never one to earn a photoshoot with Better Homes and Gardens.
No magazine-worthy themes or matching bows and baubles on this tree.
Small clay sculptures of holly, toilet paper roll “candles,” painted popsicle sticks framing school pictures, construction paper snowflakes, pine cones covered in glue and glitter, and woven cardboard stars.
It was a beautiful mess! And every ornament encapsulated a memory … one much more significant and heart-warming than any store-bought, mass-produced fabrication could ever hope to offer.
Need some ideas to make your family’s own beautiful Christmas tree mess? Start here!
Make Homemade Christmas Cards for Everyone in Your Family
After 11 years as a teacher, I have received THOUSANDS of gifts from students and their families.
The best ones weren’t the generous gift cards, the innumerable coffee cups, or the shameful amount of candy …
… it was the handmade gifts that my students made with their time, creativity, and own little hands.
They’re that important to me, and they’re not even from my own children.
This year, give something better than what the store has to offer. Make something with your stamp of originality all over it!
Celebrate a Holiday Recognizing Its Origins
Ironically, Halloween originated as a Christian holiday (this is ironic because I was raised Christian and my parents wouldn’t let my sister and I celebrate it!!!)
All Saints’ Eve (as it was originally dubbed)was a time for honoring dead saints and martyrs with remembrance. Back in the 4th century, families would walk to the local cemeteries and adorn the graves of lost loved ones with flowers and candles, spending the time in prayer.
It has changed over the years … just a little. I wonder, for the better?
Research the origins of your family’s favorite holidays and try honoring that time as it once was.
Go Wild Flower Hunting
Here in Texas, Spring is the perfect time to take a road trip down Texas’s famous highways.
In April, our state is engulfed in an explosion of color as 2,700 species of wildflower burst from the ground, some blooming all the way through October!
Sadly, very few Texans are even aware of it.
Every state has its natural gems. If your state doesn’t put on a wildflower firework show, come on down and visit us!
And grab some barbeque while you’re here. Life’s too short not to.
Wrapping Up Bucket List for Families
There’s more. LOTS more. But, my hands have gone numb from typing and, to be honest, there’s no way to get it all.
The world is too big, too wondrous, and too unmissable.
Start with ours or build your own. Either way, a family bucket list is a penultimate way to remind your family to shake things up now and then, break the monotony of the day-to-day routine, and live like it’s your last day.
Now, get out there!