We all get to a time in our lives where we start writing our “bucket list.” The bucket list is a list of things we want to do, see, or accomplish before our time on this earth is up. When adding vacation destinations to your bucket list, you want to be able to choose from places that will give you the best experiences the world has to offer from the best family theme parks, to places filled with history, and even some of the wonders of the ancient world. You want your vacation bucket list to be well rounded–enjoying exotic and tropical beaches, bustling cities, and tranquil country sides. Seeing the best the world has to offer can be accomplished through these vacation spots!
1. Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali National Park in Alaska is one of the best places in the world to witness the Northern Lights. The national park encompasses six million acres of nearly untouched land. A single road bisects the vast wilderness allowing visitors to experience the taiga forest, alpine tundra, and the highest North American mountain elevation at more than 20,000 feet high–Denali. Take a cruise to Alaska from Washington or Oregon in the United States, or the Western Coast of Canada. Denali offers guided hikes, sled dog activities, camping, and wildlife sightseeing. Most visitors see Caribou, bears, wolves, sheep, and moose at a distance on Ranger led tours or bus tours. Denali National Park is just 3 hours from Fairbanks Alaska and 5.5 hours from Anchorage with bus and rail service to the park.
2. Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
There aren’t many places left in the world that are completely wild, but the Amazon Rainforest and Amazon River are one of the largest untouched wildernesses left in the modern world. Found in Brazil, South America and is the largest tropical rainforest on earth. The city of Manaus is the largest Jungle city and where most tourist decide to stay. Manaus has an airport and many options for tour operators that offer boat rides on the Amazon river or tours of ancient historical places like Jau National Park, A World Heritage Site. There is also a white sands beach at Alter de Chao, deeper in the Amazon and known as the Caribbean of the Amazon.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is a great place to visit in The Netherlands because people speak both English and Dutch. There are many cultural reasons to visit Amsterdam including a visit to The Anne Frank House, The Vincent Van Gogh Museum, the iconic coffee shops, and legendary nightlife. Many visitors enjoy the Floating Flowers Market, Canal cruises, the famous Hermitage Museum, Artist Royal Zoo, and the hundreds of different festivals held in Amsterdam annually. The city is best known for its laid-back atmosphere and hospitality, amazing beers and Dutch food, and the largest historical inner city in all of Europe with more than 6,000 structures still preserved from the 16th century. Even with its infamous red-light district, Amsterdam is still considered a family destination as one of the safest cities in the world.
4. Nassau, Bahamas
The capital of the Bahamas and most popular tourist location in the Bahamian Island, Nassau is the ideal destination for vacationers looking for a tropical getaway on resort properties. Most major cruise ship companies stop in Nassau where snorkelers and divers can enjoy the plentiful coral reefs, white sand beaches, turquoise waters. The city is known for its pastel colored British Colonial architecture, upscale boutiques along Cable Beach, and Straw Market where locals sell handcrafted items and souvenirs.
5. Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City should be on every family’s vacation bucket list. The city is full of history and entertainment with popular tourist attractions such as Navy Pier, Wrigley Field–Home to the 2016 World Series winners the Chicago Cubs, The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, The Museum of Science and Industry and shopping along Michigan Avenue. Chicago even has beaches along it’s Lake Michigan Coast and hosts many festivals celebrating food and Drink, such as The Taste of Chicago and the Chicago Blues Festival annually.
6. Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Whether you are a child or an adult, everyone wants to see the iconic Cinderella’s Castle and visit Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The park is as large as San Francisco sprawling 50 square miles total. There are more than 30,000 hotel rooms at Disney Properties on site and many other options around Orlando for accommodations as well. Make the most of your family vacation by staying several days and visiting Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom, and Universal Studios.
7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
If you love resort life, you will love the Dominican Republic. There are resorts available through the island perfect for busy families looking for excitement or couples on their honeymoon who want to enjoy seclusion and privacy. Punta Cana is one of the most popular tourist destination in Dominican Republic and offers adult-only as well as family resorts. The international airport is also found in Punta Cana, along with cruise ship ports, snorkeling, diving, and tremendous nightlife.
8. Dublin, Ireland
If you want to visit a non-tropical island, Ireland is a great choice. Known for its emerald green pastures, rolling hills, mountainous coast, and gorgeous seascape, Ireland is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Dublin is a great option for visitors to Ireland because it is a metropolitan city with historic preservation. Families can enjoy the modern amenities of big cities with plenty of options for dining and entertainment while easily able to get out of town and see the gorgeous countryside and national monuments such as Rock of Cashel, Giant’s Causeway, Glendalough Monastery, and Down Cathedral.
9. Edinburgh, Scotland
A great place to experience ancient European history is Edinburgh Scotland. As the world’s leading festival city, there is nearly always something to do for entertainment in Edinburgh, home to the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh also is an access point for The Royal Mile, which follows a trail left by an extinct volcano and is where The Britannia, Queen Elizabeth II yacht, is docked. Visitors can also enjoy cultural attractions such as The National Gallery and St. Gilles Cathedral.
10. Florence, Italy
Tourists who love art and wine must visit Florence, Italy. Known as “the cradle of the renaissance,” Florence because of the amazing sites and architecture that remains standing in the city including The Duomo and Palazzo Medici Riccardi. The city is the capital of the Tuscany region with more than 1.5 million people living in the metropolitan area. Florence was one of the wealthiest cities of the Renaissance period and much of that heritage can still be witnessed today. Visitors who love fashion will also appreciate a trip to Florence as it is one of the fashion capitals of the world.
11. Hawaii, United States
Hawaii is often referred to as paradise for good reason. People on the Hawaiian Island live longer and are happier than any other people in The United States. The most popular of the Hawaii beaches is Waikiki although the waves for much of the year are too high for swimming. A trip to Hawaii isn’t complete without a visit to the serene beaches of Archipelago, the most isolated land in the world. Snorkeling, diving, and boat cruises are popular tourist activities with tour operators available almost everywhere. Surf lessons are also abundant as well as guided hikes of volcanic remains and mountains.
12. Negril, Jamaica
Honeymooning is popular in Negril, Jamaica where the sunsets are considered some of the most romantic in the world. Negril has many options for both adults only and family resorts and hotels. Take romantic horseback rides on the beaches, swim off the coast of seven-mile beach, or take private sightseeing tours of Blue Mountain. Adventure loving tourists will enjoy ATV tours, diving, snorkeling, parasailing, hang-gliding, zip-lining and other amazing experiences that Jamaica offers.
13. Las Vegas, Nevada
While Las Vegas Nevada is known for The Vegas Strip and Casinos every 10 feet, there is much to do in Sin City that doesn’t involve dice or cards. Las Vegas offers many opulent hotels featuring art galleries, fine dining, and world class entertainment. Celebrity chefs from all over the world including Gordon Ramsey, Wolfgang Puck, and Emeril, have set up restaurants on and off strip. The Mob Museum, Secret Garden, Shark Reef Aquarium, M&M store, Titanic Exhibit, Bodies Exhibition, and Miracle Mile Shoppes are some other popular attractions visitors can enjoy. There are even many hotels and activities geared towards children and free entertainment options such as the Bellagio fountains, Treasure Island pirate show and Volcano outside of The Mirage.
14. London, England
London, England is one of the best places for historical sightseeing. Many people enjoy visiting England because the country is still home to a traditional Monarchy. London has many royal and historical sites that are open to the public including The Tower of London, Big Ben, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and more. London is also home to Warner Bros Studios where the Harry Potter experience is located. London is one of the best cities for families to visit with attractions that also provide great entertainment for children such as the 400 species aquarium Sea Life and The London Dungeon. Hampton Court and Kensington Palaces are also open to the public.
15. Madrid, Spain
Madrid should be on your vacation bucket list if you love food, arts, and culture. Some of the best attractions that Madrid has to offer include Museo Reina Sofia–a contemporary arts museum, Museo Del Prado–a Classical arts museum, A street filled with art galleries called Calle del Doctor Fourquet, and El Rastro–one of Europe’s largest outdoor markets. Madrid is also known for its amazing Latin foods with most tour operators offering food and wine tours of the city. Madrid also has some of the best botanical gardens in the world. If you want to experience real Spanish culture, skip Barcelona, and put Madrid on your bucket list.
16. Miami, Florida
Miami Florida is found on the tip of the panhandle and offer visitors an urban culture that is vibrant and fused with Latin American culture. There are miles of pristine beaches found in Miami, some of the best fusion foods in the world including Cuban and Dominican, the sun shines all year, and there is a party every night. Miami beach is known as a spring break destination for college students and one of the party capitals of the world with extravagant clubs and bars hosting celebrities from all over the globe nearly every weekend. Miami is bordered by the everglades and Biscayne National Park creating many options for adventure seekers just outside the city.
17. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee must be on your bucket list if you love country music and BBQ. There is always live music in Nashville, especially downtown where nearly every pub hosts live musicians on the weekends spanning genres from country to Christian to pop and rock. Nashville is also a celebrity hotspot with many musicians and actresses having homes in the city. Known as one of the friendliest cities in the U.S., Nashville is a great place to make new friends, sample amazing southern food and BBQ, and visit cultural landmarks. One of the most popular landmarks is The Country Music Hall of Fame. Nashville is also less than four hours from the Smoky Mountains.
18. New Orleans, Louisiana
There isn’t a city in the United States that is less rooted in lore and culture than New Orleans, Louisiana. The city began as a French-Creole settlement and those culture beginnings are still vibrantly celebrated through Mardi Gras every year. The iconic celebration began in New Orleans but is now celebrated all over the United States. The city is also known for it’s dark folklore including vampires, bayou werewolves, and New Orleans Voodoo and witch craft. Visitor’s to New Orleans usually visit for the southern creole food, blues and jazz music which began in Congo Square, and nightlife associated with Bourbon Street.
19. New York City, New York
Vacationers who love entertainment like Broadway and Opera must have New York City on their vacation bucket list. People from all over the world visit the city where the iconic Statue of Liberty is found on Manhattan Island. Known as the Big Apple, New York City’s most visited attractions are Time’s Square, Central Park, The Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York City is also the site of the Terrorist Attack on American known as commonly around the world as the 9/11 Attacks. The twin towers site now includes a memorial to those who lost their lives in the attack as well as first responders who were lost in the rescue effort.
20. North Island, New Zealand
While the entire country of New Zealand should be on anyone’s bucket list, the North Island is where visitors must go if they are limited on vacation time. New Zealand’s North Island is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world and is known for being the filming location for The Lord of The Rings movies franchise. Visitors must go snorkeling or diving in the Bay of Islands as well as the big city of Auckland which is heaven for any food lover. There are also many adventures to be had in New Zealand from water sports, to hiking in the World Heritage Sites, and experiencing Maori culture first hand.
21. Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls is commonly found on many bucket lists and should be on yours. Niagara Falls was created more than 12,000 years ago and is considered one of the Natural Wonders of the World. Three waterfalls combine to form Niagara Falls which carries waters from the Niagara River. There’s a world-famous restaurant overlooking the falls, boat cruises of the river, and opportunities to travel down 150 feet through a system of tunnels to see Horseshoe Falls from an amazing, lower vantage point. There are also many great wineries, golf courses, and casinos found around Niagara Falls State Park in New York City.
22. Paris, France
Paris, France is known as the city of love and the center of culinary training and classic gourmet dining. French art has been known throughout the word for a millennium with The Louvre being one of the most visited museums ever. No one goes to Paris without sampling gourmet french good and traditional French Pastries. Cafes can be found on nearly every corner serving Parisian gourmet coffees and pastry delights. Couples visiting the city for romance should enjoy a boat cruise on the River Seine and enjoy a romantic dinner atop the Eiffel Tower.
23. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a history steeped in ancient history and culture. Vacationers who have Eastern Europe on their bucket list must make Prague a stop on their tour. Old Town Prague is home to some of the most amazing architecture in Eastern Europe with skylines full of towers, spires, and peaks. Prague is also extremely affordable compared to other European cities such as London, Paris, Rome, and Madrid. Free from Communist rule just 30 years ago, Prague is beginning to have a booming tourist economy while still preserving their historic buildings and landmarks.
24. Pyramids Of Egypt
When historical landmarks are on your bucket list, Egypt must be at the top of your options. One of the oldest monuments in the world, the pyramids of Giza are the last remaining Wonders of the Ancient World with the largest being built for Pharaoh Khufu 2550 B.C.E. Visiting Egypt transports people back in time to the ancient world where they can see history they’ve only read about in their textbooks. The Great Sphinx is also located near the Pyramids of Giza and the Khan Al-Khalili is one of the biggest bazaars in The Middle East. Visitors to the market bazaar can find exotic spices, foods, handmade goods, precious metals, and perfumes.
25. Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy is one home to some of the most historically significant monuments in the world. At the top of many people’s vacation bucket lists, Rome is known for its ancient architecture such as St. Peters Basilica, The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and The Forum. The entire city of Rome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the major landmarks can be seen in just a day or two as most are in very close proximity to each other. Rome is also home to many museums that still highlight original work from some of the most famous artists in the world including Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Caravaggio. Not only does the culture and history pull you in, but the food in Italy is some of the best in the world. No one does pizza and pasta like the Romans.
26. Santorini, Greece
Santorini Greece is one of the most picturesque towns in the Mediterranean and is a popular destination wedding spot. The beautiful Greek City is an island that overlooks the Aegean Sea. Vacationers can find luxury boutiques and hotels, the famous whitewashed cave homes, iconic blue dome cathedrals, and amazing food and wine. The coasts of Santorini Island are made from volcanic ash that has created mineral beaches where vacationers can rent private cottages and cabanas.
27. Cape Town, South Africa
Africa is a must-see destination for every vacation bucket list and Cape Town, South Africa is the best place to earn your Africa check mark. The port city is located on the southwest coast of South Africa and is located beneath Table Mountain. Cable Cars take travelers up and down the mountain and boat tours to Robben Island offers visitors a chance to see the prison turned museum dedicated to Nelson Mandela. Nature lovers must go hiking in the mountains and visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden where wine is produced. The castle of Good Hope is another popular tourist destination. The castle was built by the Dutch during the 17th century. Visitor’s looking for a real African Safari can visit Kruger National Park in South Africa where Elephants, Rhinos, Lions, Leopards, and Buffalo can be seen.
28. Sydney, Australia
If the opera is on your bucket list, Sydney, Australia should top your list of vacation spots. Besides the Sydney Opera House, the entire continent is known for it’s beautiful landscapes from mountains, to deserts, and beaches. Sydney is the largest city in Australia but offers many natural wonders including the Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains, Sydney Harbour, Royal Botanic Gardens, and more. The city is also known for the Vivid Sydney Festival which lasts for 23 days and combines art, music, and technology in free to the public art displays during early winter. Families will not want to miss Taronga Zoo, considered one of the best in the world.
Gothic literature lovers will have Transylvania, Romania as a must-see vacation destination on their bucket list. The infamous city is the backdrop of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a novel that launched the vampire craze in literature. Transylvania’s tourism industry centers around the legends of werewolves, vampires, and witches. Bordered by the Carpathian Forest, the landscapes of Transylvania are rugged and feels unexplored. Visiting the city is taking a journey back in time through ancient eastern Europe and is considered the last truly medieval landscape in Europe. Make sure to bring a Hungarian language book with you as most of the city signs are only in Hungarian and many natives do not speak much English. Transylvania is also a romantic hotspot offering thermal spring resorts and spas, boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. Don’t forget to check out Bran’s Castle, which is touted as the inspiration behind Dracula’s Castle in the novel; although the real home of Vlad Dracula was in Wallachia at Poienari Citadel.
30. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan is a unique city in that it combines the most innovative technologies and modern cityscapes with ancient temples, gardens, and shrines. The Roppongi Hills Mori Tower stands 54 stories tall and houses the headquarters of many of the world’s leading technology companies including Google Japan and Pokémon. The skyscraper also includes the Mori Art Museum and an observation deck that offers 360-degree views of Tokyo in the only open-air environment in the city. Most visitors enjoy The Central Park of Tokyo where the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is located which features 1,500 cherry blossom trees. Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples are also abundant including Shinto Shrine Meiji Jingu which was constructed to be home to the souls of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. The bustling tourist city is also known for its progressive fashion, music, and competitive Karaoke.
I hope you enjoyed our list of best vacation spots, if we have missed your favorite city please let us know in the comments.