10 Bucket List Trips for Kids

Since there are only so many years when kids will be kids, we’ve put together 10 must-tak bucket list trips that are perfect for kids and families. 

By: Erin Gifford

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Spend a Week at a Dude Ranch

Ride horses, dine under the stars at chuck wagon dinners and learn the basics of horse care during a week-long stay at a dude ranch. It’s a must for any kids’ bucket list. Elk Mountain Ranch in Colorado offers so much for families ranging from daily trail rides and cookouts to fishing trips and a kids’ rodeo at the end of the week. The Hideout in Wyoming boasts trail riding, cattle drives and riding lessons for all levels. Beyond horses, look for photo workshops, dino digs, canoeing and daily rodeos in the summer. 

Set Sail on a Caribbean Cruise

Kids love cruises. There’s so much to do on-board and at each port, making a Caribbean cruise a must for any child’s bucket list. Book a sail on the new Carnival Vista, the largest of their ships, which boasts a ropes course, mini golf and several waterslides. Or, try the Disney Wonder, recently updated with AquaDunk, a new water slide, and Marvel Avenger’s Academy, a part of the Oceaneer Club for kids. Disembark at each port for horseback riding, kayaking and fun explorations.

Take a Family Ski Vacation

There are many amazing ski resorts across the country, making a ski vacation a must for any bucket list. Hit the slopes, but save time for snowcat rides, snowmobiling, fat biking and snow tubing. Colorado is already getting loads of snow and Keystone is a great ski destination for families. Camp Keystone boasts a world-class ski school, a massive snow fort and ice skating. On the East Coast, try Seven Springs in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, which has lots of snow, great skiing, sleigh rides and snowshoe tours.

Build Rockets at Space Camp

What kid doesn’t dream of going to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama? For an out-of-this-world experience, look for three- and four-day family camps where kids can train like astronauts, launch simulated missions and learn all about space exploration. Kids as young as fourth grade can go on their own to a six-day Space Camp where they build model rockets, learn what it’s like to live on board the International Space Station, even train like a real-life astronaut on the 1/6th Gravity Chair and Multi-Axis Trainer.

Go Camping in a National Park

Every child should go tent camping under the stars at least once. All the better if you can score a campsite inside one of our iconic national parks, like Grand Canyon or Yosemite. Many take online reservations – the most popular sites book up months in advance – though some do have first-come, first-served campgrounds, which can fill up by noon each day. Not ready for camping? Rent an RV from Apollo, which has pick-up locations within an easy drive of many major parks. 

Go on a Rafting Adventure

Whether an easy float or a more adventurous rafting ride, there’s something for everyone when you’re looking to get out on the water as a family. Adventures on the Gorge in West Virginia offers rafting adventures for children as young as six. As a bonus, look for treetop canopy tours, ziplines, fishing, hiking and rock climbing. Or, go west for a half-day rafting adventure in Arizona with Colorado River Discovery, which books rafting trips along the Colorado River. 

Experience the Holidays in New York City

It’s hard to get more magical and bucket list-worthy than visiting New York City during the winter holidays. Take selfies in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, then walk along Fifth Avenue to see the holiday window displays at each of the department stores. Get tickets to the Christmas Spectacular, featuring the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall (kids will be wowed by the living nativity), then warm up on board The Ride, which is far from your typical sightseeing tour of New York City. 

Mush a Team of Dogs on a Dog Sledding Trip

Mush your own team of dogs or ride in the sled at Nature’s Kennel in McMillan, Michigan. Kids as young as 10 can drive their own team of sled dogs as part of a 10- or 20-mile sledding trip into the snowy forest. Even better, book an overnight adventure and kids can help feed and care for the sled dogs. Another idea is Arctic Paws Dog Sled Tours, which runs sled dogs in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. 

Embrace the Magic of Walt Disney World

No bucket list for kids would be complete without a visit to “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Pick up park-hopper passes and take the kids to each of the four parks at Walt Disney World, including Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, as well as Disney Springs, which boasts a variety of new restaurant concepts. Stay on-property to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours so you can arrive early or stay late at a different park each day.

Catch a Wave at Surf School

Kids will love learning how to catch the waves and ride them onto the beach at the five-night Endless Surf Camp in San Clemente, CA. There are even day camps available to kids ages 10 and up that are good for both surfing newbies and those who want to up their skills. You'll also find incredible surf schools for kids in beach locales, like Huntington Beach and Hawaii. Or, head to the east coast of Florida for Ron Jon Surf School in Cocoa Beach. Hang ten!