Destinations

The Most Popular Bucket-List Activities in Each US State

By
Scott's Cheap Flights
|
SCF Team
giant trees in California
December 2, 2021
|
8 min read

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Even as more countries around the world slowly begin to re-open to international visitors, for many US residents, 2021’s travels will center on exploring the wide expanse of the USA. 

Luckily there’s a whole lot to explore. 

To help you narrow it down, we surveyed 3,000 members of Scott's Cheap Flights to find out which states and cities they’re most interested in visiting this year, and the activities and experiences that are at the top of their USA bucket lists. Want to hit the road and go see it all? Read our guide to RVing in the US.

Which US states top travelers’ bucket lists? 

Those who’ve long claimed the West Coast is the best coast won’t be too surprised to see California and Hawaii far-and-away the top places travelers want to visit in 2021. 

Outdoorsy spots like mountains and beaches where it’s easy to social distance also top the list. Colorado, Florida, Utah, Alaska, Washington, Arizona, Oregon, and Montana were the number one pick of many travelers eager to get back out into nature. On the East Coast, Maine and ever-popular New York are top travel spots for 2021. 

Much of the Midwest, Great Plains, and Mid-Atlantic—like North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—was left off travelers’ dream destinations, but perhaps that’s good news for those who love those states and want to explore without the crowds. 


graphic of states people want to visit the most



The most popular city in each state

In many states, the city travelers are most excited to visit is one you might expect: it’s the biggest or most famous city, like Chicago in Illinois, Seattle in Washington, and NYC in New York. 

But in other states, the winner was surprising. In Maine, for example, Bar Harbor inched out Portland. In Florida, Key West trounced Miami. And in California, San Diego left LA in its dust. 

Check out the map of top cities below, and scroll down for more details on the top bucket-list activities in each state. 

graphic of the best cities to visit in each state
(Note: For Hawaii, travelers chose their top island rather than the top city.)


The top bucket-list experiences in each state  

After spending a year conditioning ourselves to avoid other humans, it’s not so surprising that most of us still want to focus on activities that are centered around nature. 

Roughly 70% of the top bucket-list activities chosen by travelers are outdoor activities such as roadtripping, hiking, or visiting beaches, national parks, and mountains. Historic sites, particularly civil rights history, along with cultural attractions, food, and drinks are also at the top of the list for many travelers. 

Here are the top experiences in each state, plus tips on how to make each one happen.

Alabama: Explore 32 miles of white sand on the Gulf Shores beaches

Alabama gulf coast.
  • First runner up: Learning about civil rights history in Selma, Birmingham, or Montgomery
  • Second runner up: Feasting at the state’s best barbecue restaurants 

Getting there: Alabama has several major airports, including Huntsville International Airport (HSV), Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), and Mobile Regional Airport (MOB). We’ve previously sent members fares as low as $97 roundtrip nonstop to Mobile, which is about 90 minutes from Gulf Shores. 

Alaska: Spotting the Northern Lights in the Alaskan Arctic

northern lights over Alaska.
  • First runner up: Exploring the interior wilderness in Denali National Park
  • Second runner up: Cruising along the Inside Passage, looking for whales and eagles 

Getting there: We frequently send Scott’s Cheap Flights members deals to Alaska for under $300 roundtrip, even in peak summer. Recent deals include $197 roundtrip nonstop to Anchorage from LA and $278 roundtrip from Nashville to Fairbanks.  

Arizona: Marveling at the majesty of the Grand Canyon 

east rim of the Grand Canyon.
  • First runner up: Seeing the rock formations at Monument Valley or Antelope Canyon
  • Second runner up: Hiking among the red rocks of Sedona 

Getting there: We frequently see deals below $100 to Arizona’s major airports, like $59 roundtrip nonstop to Phoenix from Salt Lake City, or $238 roundtrip from NYC to the Grand Canyon (Flagstaff airport). 

Arkansas: Soaking in hot springs at a local spa in the aptly named town of Hot Springs 

hot springs, Arkansas.
  • First runner up: Exploring old-growth forests, waterfalls, and caverns in Ozark-St. Francis National Forest 
  • Second runner up: Searching for diamonds and other crystals at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Getting there: The major airports in Arkansas include Clinton National Airport-Little Rock (LIT) and Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA). We’ve sent members deals as low as $58 roundtrip nonstop to Little Rock, which is an hour from Hot Springs. 

California: Standing under giant redwood or sequoia trees in Muir Woods, Sequoia National Park, or Mendocino County 

giant sequoia trees in California.
  • First runner up: Hiking and checking out the waterfalls of Yosemite National Park
  • Second runner up: Road tripping the Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco

Getting there: We frequently find deals under $200 roundtrip to California from across the country, and even lower fares from states in the West. Recent examples include $89 roundtrip nonstop from Philadelphia to San Francisco and $78 roundtrip nonstop from Las Vegas to Fresno, which is about an hour from Yosemite.  

>> Read our travel guide to California's Napa Valley.

Colorado: Hiking among rock formations in the Garden of the Gods or Red Rocks Park

Garden of the Gods, Colorado.
  • First runner up: Exploring the ancient cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people at Mesa Verde National Park
  • Second runner up: Skiing the slopes of a mountain resort like Vail, Breckenridge, or Aspen

Getting there: Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks Park are both under an hour from Denver, and we’ve sent members lots of great deals to the city’s airport, like $98 roundtrip nonstop from cities including Chicago, Atlanta, Des Moines, and Fort Lauderdale.  

>> Read about the highlights of Colorado

Connecticut: Trying New-Haven style pizza or eating a Connecticut lobster roll

Mystic Seaport.
  • First runner up: Visiting the seaside town of Mystic Seaport (pictured above)
  • Second runner up: Wine tasting at one of the three dozen wineries on the Connecticut Wine Trail 

Getting there: We’ve previously sent members deals like $158 roundtrip from Dallas or Houston to Hartford. Another option is to fly into Boston, which is about 90 minutes from Hartford. 

Delaware: Exploring white sands and quaint beach towns like Rehoboth and Dewey

Rehoboth Beach.
  • First runner up: Checking out historic 18th-century buildings in the colonial town of New Castle
  • Second runner up: Visiting the Nemours Estate to see the largest formal French garden in North America

Getting there: Wilmington is only about 30 minutes from Philadelphia, making PHL a great option, and we’ve sent members deals as low as $59 roundtrip nonstop to PHL from Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. 

Florida: Visiting Key West, the southernmost point in the continental US

Key West.
  • First runner up: Soaking up the sun on beaches like Miami Beach, Destin, or Sanibel Island
  • Second runner up: Spotting wildlife like manatees in Crystal River or alligators and panthers in the Everglades

Getting there: There are nonstop routes to Key West (and we’ve sent our members deals like $187 roundtrip from Newark) but many people prefer to take the scenic drive from Miami, which takes a little over three hours. (Get tips on finding cheap flights to Miami.)

Georgia: Relaxing on the white sands of Jekyll Island, Cumberland Island, or Tybee Island

Tybee Island.
  • First runner up: Searching for ghosts in the historic parks and squares of Savannah
  • Second runner up: Visiting the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta to see the activist's childhood home

Getting there: Georgia’s best islands are all a reasonable drive away from Savannah, which has its own airport (SAV). Past deals we’ve sent members include $98 roundtrip nonstop from Baltimore and Nashville. 

Hawaii: Driving the twisting Road to Hana on Maui past dozens of waterfalls and beaches

road to Hana.
  • First runner up: Exploring active and dormant volcanoes like Kīlauea, Mauna Kea, or Haleakalā 
  • Second runner up: Whale watching or searching for sea turtles on land or under the sea

Getting there: Regardless of which island you want to visit, flights from the West Coast to Hawaii frequently dip below $200 roundtrip (and as low as $124 roundtrip nonstop). From elsewhere in the US we’ve sent members deals like $305 roundtrip from DC or Bozeman to Honolulu or $383 roundtrip from Boston to Kauai

>> Read our travel guide to Maui or find out how to find cheap flights to Hawaii.

Idaho: Marveling at Shoshone Falls, the "Niagara Falls of the west"

Shoshone Falls.
  • First runner up: Paddling and swimming on Lake Coeur d'Alene
  • Second runner up: Seeing the Sawtooth Mountains along the 115-mile Sawtooth Scenic Byway

Getting there: Shoshone Falls is located about two hours from Boise while Lake Coeur d’Alene is at the opposite end of the state, less than an hour from Spokane, Washington. We’ve sent our members great deals to both, like $97 roundtrip nonstop from Sacramento to Boise or $77 roundtrip nonstop to Spokane from San Francisco

Illinois: Eating your way around Chicago, from classic comfort food like deep-dish pizza and hot dogs to cuisine from top chefs 

Chicago deep dish pizza.
  • First runner up: Seeing Chicago's skyscrapers on an architecture river cruise or from above at the Willis Tower or John Hancock Building
  • Second runner up: Hiking among waterfalls and unique rock formations in Starved Rock State Park

Getting there: Deals to Chicago are common, and we’ve seen roundtrip nonstop fares as low as $59 from Minneapolis, Nashville, Detroit, Phoenix, Austin, Atlanta, and dozens of other cities. 

>> Read our travel guide to Chicago.

Indiana: Exploring 15 miles of sandy Lake Michigan shoreline at Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes State Park.
  • First runner up: Visiting the 31 covered bridges in Parke County, the "world capital of covered bridges”
  • Second runner up: Touring the Notre Dame campus and football stadium

Getting there: Indiana Dunes State Park is less than an hour from Chicago by car. For spots further south, fly into Indianapolis. We’ve sent members deals like $152 roundtrip from Charlotte and $161 roundtrip nonstop from Seattle. 

Iowa: Attending the 11-day Iowa State Fair

fried dough at the state fair.
  • First runner up: Checking out the covered bridges of Madison County
  • Second runner up: Visiting the baseball field and set of the 1989 movie Field of Dreams

Getting there: The Iowa State Fair is held in Des Moines, which has its own airport. We’ve sent members deals as low as $95 roundtrip nonstop from Phoenix

Kansas: Viewing the 70-foot tall rock formations in Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark 

lavender fields.
  • First runner up: Wandering through the fragrant and very instagrammable lavender fields (pictured above) outside of Topeka
  • Second runner up: Visiting the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka to learn about the US Supreme Court decision to end segregation

Getting there: Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark is right between Denver and Wichita, about four hours’ drive from either. We’ve previously sent members deals like $162 roundtrip to Wichita from Las Vegas

Kentucky: Exploring part of the longest known cave system in the world at Mammoth Cave National Park 

bourbon tasting in Kentucky
  • First runner up: Drinking your way across the state's Bourbon Trail
  • Second runner up: Watching a horse race at Churchill Downs or Keeneland or learning more about horses at the Kentucky Horse Park

Getting there: Mammoth Cave is less than two hours from either Lexington or Louisville. Deals to Louisville (SDF) are often under $200 roundtrip, like this previous deal from dozens of cities around the US. 

Louisiana: Exploring the food, music, and culture of Cajun country in places like Eunice, Mamou, and Lafayette 

cajun food.
  • First runner up: Strolling down Bourbon Street drinking a Hurricane or Sazerac, or eating beignets
  • Second runner up: Listening to jazz at Preservation Hall, The Spotted Cat, or one of dozens of other jazz clubs in New Orleans

Getting there: Cajun country is about two hours from New Orleans. You can fly into Lafayette (LFT) or New Orleans (MSY), though deals to New Orleans are more common, like $97 roundtrip nonstop from Miami, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, and several other cities. 

Maine: Eating fresh lobster rolls at a seaside shack 

Maine lobster roll.
  • First runner up: Hiking the 26 peaks and 158 miles of trails of Acadia National Park
  • Second runner up: Visiting Pemaquid Point Lighthouse or one of the other 60+ historic lighthouses along the coast

Getting there: The closest airport to Acadia National Park is Bangor (BGR) but Portland and Boston are also options. Previous deals we’ve sent to Acadia include $93 roundtrip nonstop from DC or $198 roundtrip from San Francisco

Maryland: Watching the wild horses that roam the beaches in Assateague State Park 

wild horse on the beach.
  • First runner up: Strolling the cobblestone streets of Annapolis along the Chesapeake Bay
  • Second runner up: Tasting the state's signature steamed blue crab in Baltimore

Getting there: Assateague State Park is under three hours’ drive from Baltimore and deals to the city are common, like $97 roundtrip nonstop from Houston or $103 roundtrip nonstop from LA

Massachusetts: Relaxing on the hundreds of miles of beaches in Cape Cod, Nantucket, or Martha's Vineyard 

Cape Cod lighthouse.
  • First runner up: Following the 2.5-mile-long Freedom Trail past important spots for US history like the site of the Boston Massacre 
  • Second runner up: Looking for whales, dolphins, and seals in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Park

Getting there: Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have their own airports (MVY and ACK) and we’ve sent members deals as low as $169 roundtrip nonstop to Martha’s Vineyard from NYC or $180 roundtrip to Nantucket from across the US. Flying into Boston is also an option. 

Michigan: Visiting natural wonders like Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes, or Tahquamenon Falls 

Pictured Rocks national seashore.
  • First runner up: Splashing in one of the state's 11,000 lakes, include the five Great Lakes 
  • Second runner up: Exploring the rich history of Detroit at the Henry Ford Museum or Motown Museum, or checking out art at the Detroit Institute or Arts or an open-air street art gallery

Getting there: Michigan’s major airports include Detroit (DTW) and Grand Rapids (GGR). Traverse City (TVC) and Marquette (MQT) are among the airports serving the more northerly parts of the state. Some previous deals we’ve sent to Michigan include $136 roundtrip from Dallas to Grand Rapids or Traverse City, $178 roundtrip to Marquette from several cities, and $98 roundtrip nonstop from DC to Detroit

>> Read our travel guide to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Minnesota: Exploring the 900 islands of Voyageurs National Park, or the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of 1,000+ lakes 

Boundary Waters Canoe Area
  • First runner up: Hiking the trails along Minnehaha Creek and taking in the 50-foot cascade of Minnehaha Falls
  • Second runner up: Driving the 150-mile North Shore Scenic Drive from Duluth to Two Harbors past seven state parks 

Getting there: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Voyageurs National Park are both north of Duluth, which is about two hours from Minneapolis. Deals to Minneapolis (MSP) are common, like this past deal under $100 roundtrip nonstop from Las Vegas, Phoenix, LA, Denver, Atlanta, and St. Louis. 

Mississippi: Playing in the sand on the 62 miles of shoreline that make up Mississippi’s Gulf Coast 

beach near Biloxi.
  • First runner up: Following the Mississippi Blues Trail along Highway 61 or checking out the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale
  • Second runner up: Learning about the fight for civil rights at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson 

Getting there: Gulfport–Biloxi International Airport (GPT) is the closest airport to the state’s beaches. We’ve sent members deals like $97 roundtrip nonstop to Gulfport from Charlotte or Dallas. 

Missouri: Seeing the view from the world’s tallest arch, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis 

Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
  • First runner up: Exploring the 3,700-acre Ha Ha Tonka State Park set on the Lake of the Ozarks
  • Second runner up: Tasting your way along the Hermann Wine Trail, or touring and tasting at the Budweiser Brewery in St. Louis

Getting there: Previous deals to St. Louis include $118 roundtrip nonstop from Atlanta and $169 roundtrip nonstop from Seattle. 

Montana: Exploring the 700 miles of trails, 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun road, and more than 700 lakes in Glacier National Park 

Glacier National Park.
  • First runner up: Looking for bison, bears, and wolves in West Yellowstone
  • Second runner up: Skiing, snowshoeing, or dog sledding in Big Sky

Getting there: Glacier National Park is less than an hour from Kalispell while Big Sky and West Yellowstone are closer to Bozeman. Previous deals we’ve sent to either include $137 roundtrip nonstop from San Diego to Bozeman and $187 roundtrip nonstop from Minneapolis to Kalispell. 

Nebraska: Hiking past unique rock formations at Scotts Bluff National Monument or Chimney Rock National Historic Site

Chimney Rock National Historic Site.
  • First runner up: Attending the annual Nebraska Star Party in Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, one of best spots for stargazing in the Midwest
  • Second runner up: Watching the spring migration of more than 500,000 Sandhill cranes over the Rowe Sanctuary or Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center

Getting there: Scotts Bluff National Monument or Chimney Rock National Historic Site are on the far west side of Nebraska, closer to Cheyenne, Wyoming or Fort Collins, Colorado. 

Nevada: Hiking or biking among the red sandstone rock formations of Valley of Fire State Park or Red Rock National Conservation Area 

Valley of Fire.
  • First runner up: Gambling, seeing a show, or dining at a celebrity chef's restaurant in Las Vegas
  • Second runner up: Swimming and boating on Lake Mead or Lake Tahoe

Getting there: Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock National Conservation Area are both less than an hour from Las Vegas, which sees frequent deals as low as $57 roundtrip nonstop from LA or $77 roundtrip nonstop from Newark

>> Read our tips on cheap flights to Las Vegas

New Hampshire: Strolling among 17th- and 18th-century buildings in the historic port city of Portsmouth 

Portsmouth.
  • First runner up: Skiing or hiking in the White Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains range
  • Second runner up: Visiting "America's Stonehenge"—an archaeological site of man-made rock and stone structures thought to be 4,000 years old

Getting there: Portsmouth has its own airport—Portsmouth International Airport (PSM)—but you can also fly into Manchester (MHT) or Boston (BOS), which are each about an hour away. We’ve sent members deals to Manchester including $97 roundtrip nonstop from DC and $257 roundtrip from Portland, Oregon

New Jersey: Hitting the beach in seaside towns like Cape May, Point Pleasant, or Wildwood 

Cape May.
  • First runner up: Strolling the boardwalk, gambling, or seeing a show in Atlantic City
  • Second runner up: Visiting the Thomas Edison National Historical Park to see the former home and lab of the famous inventor

Getting there: New Jersey’s best beach towns are no more than two hours from Newark or Philadelphia. Both see frequent deals like $125 roundtrip nonstop from Grand Rapids to Newark and $69 roundtrip nonstop from Denver to PHL

New Mexico: Visiting the 1,000-year-old (and still inhabited) Taos Pueblo or viewing some of the 3,000-year-old petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument 

Taos Pueblo.
  • First runner up: Exploring some of the 100 caves within Carlsbad Cavern
  • Second runner up: Going up in a hot air balloon—or just visiting the Balloon Museum—in Albuquerque

Getting there: Petroglyph National Monument is just outside Albuquerque, while Taos Pueblo is about two hours north. Roundtrip flights to Albuquerque are frequently below $200 from across the US

>> Read our travel guide to Santa Fe

New York: Seeing a Broadway play or visiting world-class museums like the American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC

Met museum in NYC.
  • First runner up: Getting sprayed by Niagara Falls, the largest waterfall in North America 
  • Second runner up: Hiking, camping, or exploring small towns in the Adirondacks or Catskills

Getting there: Deals to New York abound, like $99 roundtrip nonstop to NYC from San Francisco$115 roundtrip to Niagara Falls from Atlanta, and $128 roundtrip nonstop from Chicago to the Catskills

North Carolina: Exploring the 200 miles of barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks 

lighthouse in the Outer Banks.
  • First runner up: Taking in the mountain views from Chimney Rock State Park or the top of Linville Gorge 
  • Second runner up: Exploring the 8,000 acres and 250 rooms of the Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned home in the US, in Asheville

Getting there: The Outer Banks are about three hours from Raleigh or Greenville, North Carolina, or two hours from Norfolk, Virginia. We’ve sent members deals as low as $97 roundtrip nonstop from Denver to Raleigh

North Dakota: Exploring the 70,000 acres of canyons, mountains, and Badlands that make up Theodore Roosevelt National Park 

Theodore Roosevelt State Park.
  • First runner up: Wandering among the 150,000+ flowers in the International Peace Garden on the border with Canada 
  • Second runner up: Following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark at the Fort Mandan Overlook State Historic Site, where the two pioneers met Sacagawea

Getting there: Theodore Roosevelt National Park is about two hours from Bismarck. Previous deals include $136 roundtrip to Bismarck from Phoenix or Dallas

Ohio: Visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to learn how enslaved people escaped from the South 

Cincinnati.
  • First runner up: Screaming on the thrill rides at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky
  • Second runner up: Rocking out at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland 

Getting there: Previous deals we’ve sent to members for travel to Ohio include $93 roundtrip from Charlotte to Cincinnati and $103 roundtrip from San Francisco to Cleveland.

Oklahoma: Hiking, canoeing, fishing, or camping at Beavers Bend State Park 

Beavers Bend State Park.
  • First runner up: Driving some of the 400+ miles of Route 66 that pass through Oklahoma
  • Second runner up: Checking out the Victorian architecture in Guthrie, which has one of the nation’s largest Historic Preservation Districts

Getting there: Beavers Bend State Park is four hours from Oklahoma City or about three hours from Little Rock, Arkansas or Dallas, Texas. We’ve previously sent members deals like $162 roundtrip to Oklahoma City from Las Vegas. 

Oregon: Marveling at the cerulean water of the 7,700-year-old Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the US 

Crater Lake.

Getting there: Crater Lake is about 90 minutes from Medford, which has its own airport (MFR). We’ve previously sent members deals like $198 roundtrip to Medford from Austin, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and St. Louis. Alternatively, it’s about four hours from Portland. 

Pennsylvania: Admiring the architecture of Fallingwater, the home considered to be Frank Lloyd Wright’s greatest work 

Fallingwater
  • First runner up: Trying a Philly cheesesteak—a roll with ribeye beef, melted cheese, onions, cooked mushrooms, ketchup, and peppers—at Pat's King of Steaks 
  • Second runner up: Seeing the two-ton Liberty Bell, said to have been rung to celebrate the Declaration of Independence, in Philadelphia

Getting there: Fallingwater is about an hour outside of Pittsburgh or four hours from Philadelphia. We frequently find deals to both under $100 roundtrip, like $97 roundtrip nonstop from Boston to Pittsburgh and $78 roundtrip nonstop from Charlotte to Philadelphia. 

Rhode Island: Exploring the beaches, lighthouses, and quaint town on Block Island 

Block Island.
  • First runner up: Attending WaterFire, a community art event that includes 80 floating bonfires on the river on scheduled nights in downtown Providence in summer and fall 
  • Second runner up: Strolling the 3.5-mile scenic walkway that makes up the Newport Cliff Walk, a National Recreation Trail

Getting there: Block Island is about two hours from Providence or three hours from Boston. Previous deals to Providence include $158 roundtrip from Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Tampa, and more. 

South Carolina: Relaxing on beaches at spots like Kiawah Island, Sullivan's Island, Hilton Head, Isle of Palms, or Myrtle Beach 

Myrtle Beach.
  • First runner up: Seeing fireflies sync their lights at Congaree National Park, one of the few places this rare phenomenon happens
  • Second runner up: Following the South Carolina BBQ Trail to a few of the 200+ barbecue restaurants and trying all four of the state’s official sauces

Getting there: Hilton Head is closest to Savannah, Georgia, while Kiawah Island, Sullivan's Island, and Isle of Palms are all less than an hour from Charleston. Myrtle Beach has its own airport, and we’ve sent deals as low as $51 roundtrip nonstop from Dallas or Philadelphia. 

South Dakota: Searching for wildlife like bison and bighorn sheep in the moonlike landscape of Badlands National Park 

South Dakota Badlands.
  • First runner up: Visiting Mount Rushmore to the see the massive bust of four presidents carved into the mountainside 
  • Second runner up: Checking the progress on the still-unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial honoring Native American culture and the famous Lakota leader Crazy Horse

Getting there: Badlands National Park is about an hour from Rapid City. We’ve previously sent members deals as low as $103 roundtrip from Salt Lake City or Albuquerque. 

Tennessee: Hiking, camping, and watching for black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park..
  • First runner up: Tasting your way across the state's Whiskey Trail with stops at spots like Jack Daniel Distillery and Nelson’s Green Brier 
  • Second runner up: Testing your taste buds with fiery Nashville hot chicken where it was invented at Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville

Getting there: The Great Smoky Mountains are about an hour outside of Knoxville or three hours from Nashville. Previous deals to Knoxville include $97 roundtrip nonstop from Newark and $107 roundtrip nonstop from Miami. 

Texas: Strolling along the San Antonio River Walk, or taking it in while floating slowly down the river 

San Antonio River Walk.
  • First runner up: Exploring the rugged beauty of West Texas, including Big Bend National Park, the Chisos Mountains and the Chihuahuan Desert 
  • Second runner up: Touring Space Center Houston, home to NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and Mission Control

Getting there: Deals to San Antonio under $200 roundtrip aren’t uncommon. In the past we’ve sent members deals like $97 roundtrip nonstop from Denver and $151 roundtrip from Minneapolis.  

>> Read our travel guide to West Texas.

Utah: Hiking among the sandstone cliffs, hoodoos, and rock formations of Zion National Park, Arches National Park, or Bryce Canyon National Park 

Zion National Park.
  • First runner up: Hitting the slopes, or the bars, spas, and shops, in Park City
  • Second runner up: Looking for bison, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and antelope on Antelope Island, the largest island in the Great Salt Lake

Getting there: Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are closest to St. George airport (SGU) while Arches National Park is closer to Moab (CNY) or two hours to Grand Junction, Colorado (GJT). We’ve frequently found deals to each, such as $185 roundtrip from Seattle to St. George, $198 roundtrip nonstop from Denver to Moab, and $83 roundtrip nonstop from Phoenix to Grand Junction

Vermont: Following the five-mile Middlebury Tasting Trail through the Green Mountains to seven producers of wine, beer, cider, and spirits

Vermont.
  • First runner up: Visiting the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury for a behind-the-scenes tour and lots of samples
  • Second runner up: Checking out the more than 100 covered bridges in the state—the densest concentration of covered bridges anywhere in the US

Getting there: Burlington International Airport (BTV) is about an hour from the Middlebury Tasting Trail and only 30 minutes from Waterbury. You can also fly into Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, about two hours away. 

Virginia: Camping or hiking along the 500 miles of trails in Shenandoah National Park 

Shenandoah National Park.
  • First runner up: Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway along the Blue Ridge Mountains and through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
  • Second runner up: Visiting the former homes of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and George Washington at Mount Vernon

Getting there: Shenandoah National Park is about an hour from Charlottesville or Washington DC. The latter has frequent deals under $100 roundtrip, like $99 roundtrip nonstop from LA

Washington: Exploring the towns, beaches, mountains, waterfalls, and rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula 

Olympic National Park.
  • First runner up: Whale watching in the San Juan Islands
  • Second runner up: Eating your way through Seattle's Pike Place Market at spots like Beecher's Cheese and Pike Place Chowder

Getting there: The Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands are both about 2-3 hours from Seattle. We frequently find our members deals under $200 roundtrip, like $87 roundtrip nonstop from Salt Lake City and $98 roundtrip nonstop from Chicago

Washington DC: Visiting the Smithsonian Museums like the National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of African American History and Culture 

DC Museum.
  • First runner up: Touring monuments and memorials like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and World War II Memorial
  • Second runner up: Sampling half-smoke—a sausage on a bun with mustard, onions, and chili—at the original location of Ben’s Chili Bowl

Getting there: Deals to DC are abundant, like $97 roundtrip nonstop from Denver and $98 roundtrip nonstop from Detroit.  

West Virginia: Exploring the deep river gorge and surrounding forests and waterfalls of the New River Gorge National River

New River Gorge National River.
  • First runner up: Touring the Greenbrier Bunker, a secret bomb shelter created under a luxury hotel to shelter Congress in case of a nuclear attack
  • Second runner up: Hiking or camping in the Monongahela National Forest in the Allegheny Mountains

Getting there: New River Gorge National River is about three hours from Charlottesville, North Carolina or Greensboro, South Carolina. We’ve sent members deals like $159 roundtrip from Columbus to Greensboro

Wisconsin: Hiking, camping, or boating among the glacier-carved sandstone rock formations of the Wisconsin Dells 

Wisconsin Dells.
  • First runner up: Shopping for flowers, produce, cheese curds, and more at the Dane County Farmers Market, the largest producer-only market in the US, in Madison
  • Second runner up: Seeing the evolution of Frank Lloyd Wright's work at his 800-acre Taliesin estate where there are buildings from every decade of his career

Getting there: The Wisconsin Dells are about an hour from Madison or two hours from Milwaukee. We’ve previously sent members deals like $147 roundtrip nonstop from Denver to Madison and $137 roundtrip nonstop from Houston to Milwaukee. For more options, fly into Chicago, which is about three hours away by car. 

Wyoming: Seeing the geysers, hot springs, and wildlife of the 2.2 million acres of Yellowstone National Park 

  • First runner up: Skiing, snowmobiling, whitewater rafting, fishing, camping, or hiking in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park
  • Second runner up: Wandering around preserved ghost towns like Kirwin, Atlantic City, and South Pass City to see Wild West history frozen in time


Getting there: While Yellowstone National Park is in Wyoming, the closest airport is actually Bozeman (BZN) in Montana. Previous deals we’ve sent members include $78 roundtrip nonstop to Yellowstone from Denver or Las Vegas and $175 roundtrip from cities across the US.

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Last Updated 
December 2, 2021
The Most Popular Bucket-List Activities in Each US State
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