The All-American Bucket List: 50 Iconic Adventures for Each of the 50 States
If “visit all 50 states” is already on your list, here’s what to do, see, and experience while you’re in each one.
Georgia: See the Spanish moss
According to Southern Living, Jones Street in Savannah, Georgia, is the “most beautiful street in North America.” Savannah itself—known for its hanging Spanish moss and historic town squares—is a worthy bucket list item in its own right. The city also has more than a few ghost stories. Make sure you check out the 22 most haunted cities in America.
Hawaii: Pay your respects at Pearl Harbor
Pay tribute to the events of December 7, 1941, by visiting the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Honolulu, Hawaii. The USS Arizona Memorial, accessible only by boat, marks the final resting spot for 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the ship.
Idaho: Take a scenic gondola ride
Reaching the top of Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho, would ordinarily be a trek. But with the help of a gondola lift, the ascent is a bit easier. The 3.1-mile journey is the longest gondola ride in North America. Once you reach the top, you’re free to bike, eat, tube, or just breathe in the crisp mountain air. Looking for more adventure? Check out the 50 hidden gems in every state.
Illinois: Sip a drink 95 stories up
Visit the John Hancock Center in Chicago, Illinois, to get a mile-high drink at the 95th floor bar and lounge. The Signature Room is known for its stunning panoramic views of the city. By the way, one drink here is cheaper than admission to the top of the Sears Tower, the second tallest building in the country and another of Chicago’s world-renowned views.
Indiana: Visit a quirky record holder
Visit the world’s largest painted ball in Alexandria, Indiana. Michael Carmichael began the project more than 50 years ago after dropping a ball in paint. The baseball now weighs 4,000 pounds and has a 14-foot circumference.
Iowa: Ride the shortest railroad in the world
The 296-foot long Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque, Iowa, is claimed to be the shortest and steepest railroad in the world. The elevator was built in 1882 for private use and opened to the public two years later. From the top you’ll see Dubuque’s historic business district, the Mississippi River, and three states. And make sure to add these best train rides to take across America to your bucket list ideas.
Kansas: Venture 65 stories below ground
The Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, is built within one of the world’s largest deposits of rock salt, and happens to be one of our favorite bucket list ideas. To get there, you’ll take an electric tram 650 feet below ground. Once there, you’ll learn about Kansas’s salt beds and the history of mining. The facility is also home to underground vaults guarding the original camera negative of many movies, such as Gone with the Wind, as well as valuable documents from America and other countries.
Kentucky: Bet on some horses
Grab your hat and head to Louisville, Kentucky, for the Kentucky Derby. This historic race, also known as the greatest two minutes in sports, has been run every year since 1875 and is held annually on the first Saturday in May. If horse racing isn’t your style, the Kentucky Derby Festival, which takes place during the two weeks leading up to the race, is bound to have something up your alley.
Louisiana: Mardi Gras
Depending on the date of Easter, Mardi Gras can fall on any Tuesday between February and March. But it’s not just a one-day affair—parades and parties take place up to two weeks ahead of the big day. For a more low-key experience in New Orleans, plan your trip around the springtime festivities. Love to party like they do in NoLa? Check out the best festivals and fairs in each of the 50 states.
Maine: Eat a Maine lobster
Nosh on this coastal classic at a lobster shack by the water. Maine Today recommends The Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Portland.