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USA Travel Bucket List for Families

There’s only a limited amount of time to travel with your kids (18 summers is typically the number you’ll hear). While you probably have some ideas of places that you’ll want to go, you may be looking for a good starting point. This list of USA travel bucket list destinations for families includes some once in a lifetime trips as well as smaller road trip destinations.

Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include all bucket list destinations. We’ve excluded a few, like the French Quarter in New Orleans and Las Vegas, because they aren’t necessarily family destinations. You should also change or modify this list based on your family’s preferences. For instance, I wouldn’t visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame if you don’t have baseball or sports lovers in your family. If you do, however, you may also want to include some stadiums.

Note that we may be visited some of these destinations at no cost over the years, but all opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.

USA Travel Bucket List for Families, including attractions in Florida, New York City, Tennessee, and Arizona.

USA Travel Bucket List for Families

Yosemite National Park, California

This beautiful National Park, located in the Sierra Mountains, is one of three California destinations on this list. Whether you are a nature lover, or just a travel lover, this park definitely should be on your list. There are several lodging options available, including RV sites and tent camping spots. Some require advance reservations, while others are first-come first-served. Do your research in advance to make sure you have the reservations that you need.

Yosemite is almost 1,200 square miles, and it includes waterfalls, sequoias, wildness, meadows, and much more.

The bottom line:
Why visit: Awe inspiring scenic views
Where to stay: See hotels in and near Yosemite

 San Diego zoo statue

San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA

My kids have always enjoyed our trips to the various zoos around the country. But the San Diego Zoo sticks out as their favorite. This enormous zoo offers so much for kids to see, including the famous panda exhibit.

When you visit, you may consider taking a double-decker bus tour of the property. That way, you’ll have a good overview of what you can see. There’s also the Skyfari skyride, which is a good way to get from one end of the park to the other. The San Diego Zoo offers several different ticket options, so check those out before visiting.

More information: Tips for a visit to the San Diego Zoo.

The bottom line:
Why visit: It’s one of the best zoos in the country
Where to stay: See hotels in San Diego . We stayed at the Bahia

The Space Needle, Seattle, WA

When I first moved to Seattle in the late 90s for an internship, I couldn’t wait to visit the Space Needle. This icon offers beautiful views of the city. Be sure to visit on a clear day, for better visibility of the Cascade Mountains.

While you are there, you’ll also want to visit Pike Place Market, another famous attraction in the city.

To save money on attractions, look at the CityPASS Seattle.

The bottom line:
Why visit: It’s one of the most recognized landmarks in the US
Where to stay: See hotels in Seattle, WA

Mount Rushmore, Keystone, South Dakota

We haven’t yet traveled to Mount Rushmore, but it (along with the rest of South Dakota) is on our list. These famous carvings, among the Black Hills of South Dakota, are iconic. Featuring George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, Mount Rushmore is definitely a must-visit.

The bottom line:
Why visit: Beautiful views and one of the most unique attractions anywhere
Where to stay: See hotels in Keystone.

Bridge over River Walk

River Walk, San Antonio, TX

Before I’d been to the San Antonio River Walk, I had visited other River Walks in the United States. None of them compare to the one in San Antonio.

This beautiful spot is the  most popular tourist attraction in Texas, and is home to countless hotels, restaurants, and shops. Located one story below street level, the San Antonio River Walk initially gained popularity during the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio. During your trip, I recommend taking a river boat tour. You can also walk a few blocks to visit the Alamo.

The bottom line:
Why visit: Fun atmosphere
Where to stay: See hotels in San Antonio (we stayed at the Omni La Mansion Del Rio).

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA

I’ve included the bridge as a specific attraction, but all of San Francisco should be on your family travel bucket list. This fun city offers so much for families to do, including Alcatraz, cable car rides, and boat tours.

To save money, look at getting the CityPass San Francisco.

The bottom line:
Why visit: So much to see and do
Where to stay: See hotels in San Francisco, CA

washington DC Lincoln Memorial

Tidal Basin/National Mall, Washington DC

It’s impossible to pick a single attraction in Washington DC to see. The National Mall and Tidal Basin are definite must-sees on your Washington family vacation. During our trip to DC, my kids loved seeing all of the monuments, as well as the Smithsonian Museum. While it’s not free, we also really recommend visiting the Spy Museum. If you visit at just the right time, you’ll be able to see the cherry blossoms in bloom.

The bottom line:
Why visit: As our nation’s capital, kids’ can learn so much history in DC
Where to stay: See hotels in Washington DC (we stayed at the Gaylord National outside the city).

The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville

Grand Ole Opry, Nashville

Although my kids aren’t country music fans, they loved our backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry. This facility, which is located outside of downtown, is home to some of the biggest country acts in the world. The backstage tour teaches you about the significance of being inducted into the Opry, and takes you through the different dressing rooms.

You can also see a show at the Grand Ole Opry. When we visited, over Thanksgiving, there was a special Christmas show taking place on the stage. So the regular Opry performances temporarily moved to the Ryman. But, during most times, you can see a show right there.

The bottom line:
Why visit: The best place to learn about the history of country music
Where to stay: We loved our stay at the adjacent Gaylord Opryland

Dolphin leaping in aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Clearwater, FL

On a recent family trip to Tampa, FL, I knew that I had to take my kids to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This aquarium is famous for being home of the dolphin Winter from the Dolphin Tale movies.

It’s unlike other aquariums, because its focus is rehabilitation and releasing animals back into the wild. Some animals at the aquarium are currently being rehabilitated, while others (like Winter) can’t be released at all.

You can save money on admission by purchasing a CityPASS.

The bottom line:
Why visit: See Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale movies
Where to stay: The Opal Sands Resort or the Sandpearl Resort

Plimoth Plantation yard

Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA

It’s hard to pick a spot in the Boston, MA area, because there are so many historical landmarks. I’d recommend a trip down to Plymouth, MA, on the way to Cape Cod. While you may think it would be worth visiting Plymouth Rock, I’d skip that. It’s a bit of a disappointment.

Plimoth Plantation is a great educational experience, however. Historical interpreters bring history to life while showcasing what life was like back in the 17th Century. It’s located about an hour from Boston, so you can visit during a Boston family vacation.

The bottom line:
Why visit: Learn about life during the 17th Century.
Where to stay: The John Carver Inn

The Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY

We are a family of baseball lovers, so we can’t wait to take a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. The museum includes baseball exhibits as well as plaques for each Hall of Fame member. Check out the events calendar to see when various talks and other programming is happening.

The bottom line:
Why visit: Must-see for any fans of America’s pastime
Where to stay: see hotels near the Baseball Hall of Fame here

Disney Cinderella Castle

Walt Disney World, Florida

You absolutely can’t have a USA travel bucket list without including Walt Disney World. I’d recommend that every family visit all four parks at some point. While you can combine a trip to Walt Disney World with other things to do in Orlando, I’d suggest staying on property at least once. Be sure to do plenty of research in advance of your trip.

The bottom line:
Why visit: Awe inspiring scenic views
Where to stay: See our hotel recommendations here

The Mall of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota

When I first heard about the Mall of America in 1992, I absolutely wanted to see it. My kids are the same way. This mall includes so much more than retail shops – there are also experiences. These include Nickelodeon Experience, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, the Lego Store, Fly Over America, and the Crayola Experience.

The bottom line:
Why visit: So much under one roof
Where to stay: Radisson Blu Mall of America

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indiana

The world’s largest children’s museum offers hands-on exhibits as well as a brand-new sports legends experience. This 472,900 square-foot facility includes 11 galleries.

The bottom line:
Why visit: An experience that kids won’t forget
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza, Omni Severin Hotel

The Henry Ford Museum bus

The Henry Ford, Dearborn, MI

The Henry Ford complex includes the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation™, Greenfield Village, and The Ford Rouge Factory Tour™. During a press trip to Detroit Michigan, I was so impressed with the museum. It includes such artifacts as the Lincoln rocker, and the original Rosa Parks bus.

The bottom line:
Why visit: Amazing artifacts
Where to stay: During our visit, we stayed at the Westin Book Cadillac

The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Every family should venture to the Grand Canyon at least once. Families can stay at the park, or just visit for the day. It offers lodging right inside the park, which books up well in advance.

The bottom line:
Why visit: One of the most spectacular sites in the world
Where to stay: In the National Park, or see these local hotels

Times Square, NYC

It was nearly impossible to pick one thing in New York City. Ultimately, I decided on Times Square, because I remember my kids’ reactions to seeing it. They were absolutely in awe. Of course, there’s so much more that you’ll want to do with kids in NYC, including a Circle Line Boat Tour, the Empire State Building, and the American Museum of Natural History. My kids also loved eating at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Eataly NYC, and visiting the Museum of Math.

Save by purchasing an NYC CityPASS.

The bottom line:
Why visit: It’s NYC!
Where to stay: So many options – check out reviews here.

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