The Ultimate Bucket List for USA Travelers

The USA’s most famous attractions beckon with a variety of experiences. From the iconic Pacific Coast Highway drive to lazing on bronzed Santa Monica beaches and Mediterranean architecture in St Augustine. The Grand Canyon offers a breath-taking landscape that’s sure to leave you speechless. Discover lofty sandstone cliffs in Zion National Park and hike the canyon’s jaw-dropping scenery.

San Francisco

From iconic vistas to historic neighborhoods, Michelin-starred restaurants to world-class museums, this compact seven-mile by seven-mile metropolis packs in a lot of awe-inspiring experiences. The City by the Bay has been at the forefront of American history, transforming from a quiet Spanish mission and pueblo into a cosmopolitan city with a storied past in less than 300 years.

Iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Victorian ‘postcard row’ aren’t to be missed. But so are lesser-known attractions like the famous sea lions sunbathing at Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf, and the enchanting Palace Hotel, which hosts an afternoon tea service with fine china and sterling silver.

A variety of waterfront activities, including whale watching, offer a new perspective of the Bay Area. And don’t miss a visit to the de Young Museum, which features an extensive collection ranging from Mayan antiquities to 19th-century Hudson River landscape paintings.

San Francisco’s green ethos is evident in the many urban parks that dot the cityscape. The San Francisco Zoo & GardensOpens in new window and the California Academy of SciencesOpens in new window will entertain kids with birds, snakes, fish, and even a four-story rainforest under one roof. Or, take the family for a stroll around Blue Heron Lake, where you can spot different bird and turtle species. And if you’re a fan of movies, you can even see where some of your favorites were filmed.

Los Angeles

The Entertainment Capital of the World is home to a diverse range of things to do. A trip to LA is an opportunity to see Hollywood landmarks, incredible street art, and take in a baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Make the most of your trip when you leave the city cleaner than you left it.

For those with a love of history and culture, downtown LA is a must-visit destination. Museums like the Getty Center and the Broad have impressive collections that will keep you captivated. The Getty Villa is particularly interesting because it is designed to look like a Roman countryside house, complete with beautiful gardens.

Los Angeles also boasts a strong arts and music scene. The Music Center campus hosts the Los Angeles Philharmonic during its regular season from October through June. Visitors can also take in a performance at the nearby Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Another must-visit destination for culture vultures is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). With a collection that spans thousands of years, this museum will inspire visitors with its sheer diversity. The awe-inspiring Getty Villa is also part of the LACMA complex and is modeled after a Roman countryside residence.

Thrill seekers can go to one of the city’s many theme parks, including Disneyland and Universal Studios. Then, there’s also a wide range of shopping opportunities in the affluent neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. In recent years, upgrades to public transportation and the addition of a Metro Bike Share in downtown Los Angeles have made it easier than ever to explore the city.

New York City

With its iconic skyline and 8.4 million people who call it home, New York City is a culturally rich American destination. There are endless ways to experience NYC, from the quintessential attractions you’ve seen in movies and TV to hidden gems waiting to be uncovered.

Take in the vibrant lights of Times Square and the incomparable spectacle of a Broadway show or scale 30 Rockefeller Plaza’s Art Deco skyscraper to Top of The Rock for incredible panoramic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. Museum lovers will love exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art’s stunning collections.

Located in Memphis, Tennessee, Graceland is the mansion that once belonged to rock legend Elvis Presley and now serves as a National Historic Landmark where you can see his personal memorabilia and pay your respects at his gravesite.

If you’re a fan of Asian culture, head to Chinatown for an authentic taste of the region or visit Mmuseumm, a small museum that exhibits quirky objects like counterfeit beauty products and selfie sticks.

As a hub for theatre, music, and fashion, the Big Apple is also famous for its gastronomic scene and offers many culinary experiences that can only be found in this diverse city. If you’re a sports fan, book a tour of Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden or soak up history at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.


This rocky island off the coast of San Francisco is home to many interesting attractions. Most notably it was the site of the most famous prison escape attempt in history when inmates Frank Morris and John Anglin managed to exit the prison walls and swim into the icy bay waters.

In addition to exploring the former jail you can also see the gardens on the island which were started by prisoners and are still maintained today. You can also download a free National Park Service app that will tell you stories and facts about the cellhouse from the point of view of former inmates and guards.

Other top sights include the lighthouse, which was first built by the Army and is now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the ruins of the former military hospital. The best way to see Alcatraz is by taking one of the ferry cruises that depart regularly from San Francisco.

For a fun road trip that’s filled with plenty of photo opportunities, make your way along the Pacific Coast Highway in California. The sweeping ocean views are breathtaking and the windswept coastline is home to some picturesque villages. If you’re visiting in autumn, don’t miss out on a visit to the spectacular Yosemite National Park which is ablaze with colour as the trees change into their fall colours.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is a natural wonderland in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains with sky-scraping trees, crystalline glaciers, and stunning rock formations. The co-managed park offers everything from the iconic General Sherman Tree dominating Giant Forest to the underground Crystal Cave and sweeping park views on Moro Rock.

For a real treat, visit Tunnel Log where visitors can walk (and even drive) through a fallen sequoia that fell across the road in 1937. The tree was too large to move so workers simply carved the trunk into an incredible tunnel. Then there’s the Parker Group Sequoias along Crescent Meadow Road, where you can see 2 curious curiosities that make for amazing photos: Tharp’s Log, a little cabin built into a fallen tree, and Chimney Tree, where you can sit down for some quiet reflection.

The Giant Forest Museum is an important stop for anyone visiting the park as it explains the importance of the giant sequoias and how they’re protected. Another museum highlight is the Centennial Stump, an enormous stump of one of the park’s famous cut trees that was transported to the World’s Fair in 1876.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon are a four season destination with hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and other outdoor adventures possible year-round. However, the best times to visit the parks are spring, summer, and fall when recreation opportunities expand dramatically.

Monument Valley

The southwestern USA’s iconic landscape is a vision of sandstone spires and mesas that straddle the Arizona-Utah state line. The land has long been home to the Navajo people and captured the hearts of Hollywood filmmakers in movies like the John Wayne classic, Stagecoach. You can explore the region on your own by driving the 17-mile unpaved park loop or joining a tour to places like John Ford’s Point, the Mittens, and Teardrop Arch. A wealth of Ancestral Pueblo ruins can also be found on short hikes. The sandstone formations have a transcendent beauty and inspire pondering of timelessness, the frontier, and the mythology of the American West.

A must-see sight, the sandstone sentinels at Monument Valley resemble enormous mittens reaching out of the desert. The mittens are complemented by Merrick Butte to the south, which looks as if it has been intentionally placed for a sense of balance and symmetry.

There’s a lot to do in the area, including visiting a local Navajo community and exploring ancient petroglyphs on hikes or on a horseback ride. Navajo guides can help you get the most out of your trip and provide an authentic cultural experience. The best time to visit is spring and fall when the weather is warmer but not too hot. It’s also possible to take part in a hot air balloon ride, which is a truly incredible way to see the vistas of Monument Valley.