Load up on ideas for fun activities to do with kids of all ages with this carefully curated bucket list for families. Take the ideas from a brilliant bucket list for summer and extend them throughout the year.
The Perfect Bucket List for Families
We all want to live life to the full and look back with memories that fulfil and delight us. But sometimes, even the zestiest among us lack inspiration. That's where this bucket list for families comes in. It's a hand-picked collection of great ideas that families can do together, from travelling the world to enjoying a rainy day at home.
How to create your family bucket list
No two family bucket lists should be the same. Bucket lists, despite the ugly name, have beautiful intentions. They're to help you pursue what matters the most in life. In your life. So, you can add things like skydiving, water balloon fights or seeing the seven wonders of the world if that's what truly makes you happy.
But those can also easily become tokens. An empty checklist of trinkets to chase after, distractions from what matters most to you.
When creating the right bucket list for families, it makes sense to, you know, actually involve and ask your family. But also to have some ideas that are there because they bring you joy. Not instagram likes. Not peer approval. Just clean and simple joy.
Here are some ideas, some bucket list activities. Now, let's go and live that life and live it well.
Travel family bucket list Ideas
The first part of this bucket list for families is quite general. Wherever you are in the world, you should be able to follow along. I've also created some travel bucket list sections for Europe, the US, Asia and Africa. Then, in the final section, we're talking about creative ideas that can help you plan a personal bucket list no matter what.
Please remember that ticking off everything on the list is unlikely to be possible for most families with young children. Or even desirable! That's simply not the point.
The idea is to help you zone in on what things you are most likely to enjoy with children so that you can create your own bucket list based on both dreams and reality. Don't let it make you feel bad. That's defeating the object!
General Travel Bucket List Ideas for Families
Take a Road Trip
Whether you're driving the length of Patagonia or simply heading to the next town, planning a road trip together is always a fun bucket list activity. Load up on road trip essentials, including snacks, map out the route, the stops, the activities and the destination. And inspire each other with these road trip quotes.
While you're on the road, keep everyone happy and entertained with 101 fun road trip questions and quizzes.
Plan an Epic Adventure
Use this family travel bucket list to plan something absolutely amazing. Even if it takes you three years or five years to do it. Enjoy the planning process and relish the anticipation. Everyone gets to choose something they like and somewhere that they would love to go.
choose an endangered species
One of the most interesting ways to "save the world" is to adopt an endangered species and make it your own. As a family, you can follow the news about its progress, donate, run education programmes at school and plan to see the animal in the wild (in a safe and sustainable manner, of course.)
Unconvinced? Check out this article on the benefits of sustainable tourism and this one about how you can save endangered species with a few easy steps.
Let's face it, there's nothing quite as bonding as sleeping beneath the stars and snuggling around a camp fire together. And if heating your own water and dealing with the toilet doesn't sound like your idea of fun then look into glamping instead. I won't tell.
Find a secret beach
And get there at dawn to have the place to yourself. Draw your names in the sand, skim stones on the water and make dens from shells and seaweed. Pack snacks and a thermos of hot tea if you're British/ bring iced drinks if you live somewhere more hospitable.
Climb a mountain together
Few things beat the sense of joint endeavour and breathless excitement as reaching a mountain summit. If the skillset or the geography puts this out of reach, then just bear in mind that some places have quite large hills that they call mountains. Yes, Wales. I'm looking at you. It could be an option!
Some really beautiful mountains to climb that work well on a family bucket list (because you don't need specialist kit):
- Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa
- Mount Sinai in Egypt
- Mount Fuji in Japan
Take a boat trip
Nothing bonds a family together like clinging to each other and trying not to be sick ;-)
European Family Bucket List Ideas
See the Blue Whale at the Natural History Museum in London
London is a city is great for any bucket list for families. Despite its reputation for being expensive, you can find free things to do every day of the week and twice on Sundays. But the most famous activity for families involves heading into the Natural History Museum, the great "cathedral to nature."
For years, a dinosaur stood in the great hall; now a blue whale skeleton hangs from the ceiling. But dinosaur lovers needn't despair - there's still a roaring, animated T-rex on standby.
Make sure to check out the Diana Memorial Playground in nearby Hyde Park as well.
Stand beneath the Eiffel Tower
Likewise, Paris works well with young children, once you're passed the pushchair/stroller stage (their Metro can be unforgiving in terms of steps and barricades.)
You can climb the Eiffel Tower but little ones will enjoy it just as much from ground level. Another great idea involves taking a boat ride along the Seine. Many of the main sights can be seen from here and, well, safe and steady boat trips are always a good idea.
Visit a Christmas Market in Austria or Germany
Truthfully, you can find festive Christmas markets across Europe, from east to west, north to south. But the markets in Germany and Austria are the most magical, all dripping with lights and hanging lebkuchen hearts.
Munich is one of the largest but for a cosy family setting, I'd recommend the Salzburg Christmas Market or perhaps the one in medieval Nuremberg.
Swim in a Lake
While millions head to the beach in the summer, in Austria, families head to the lakes. High in the mountains, the water is pristine, calm and easy to get in and out. By day you can cycle, hike or frisbee as well. Then cosy up in a warm wooden chalet as night falls, watching the stars sprinkle lights across the peaks of mountains.
Eat Pizza and Pasta in Italy
Show me a child that doesn't like pizza or pasta and I'll... be meeting a child I haven't met yet! If picky eaters make dining out hard, then travel to Italy. Not only is the food some of the best in the world but it's also the kind most kids like. Plus, the whole approach to children is one of inclusion instead of the "seen and not heard" style of life.
Visit Stonehenge at Dawn
Take advantage of your built-in alarm clocks and get up at dawn to see the mists swirl around the sunrise at Stonehenge. Little ones will love the stories of Druids and mystery and, well, it's not too bad for adults either ;-)
Feel welcome in Greece
It's sad but true that children, despite being living, feeling human beings, are not welcomed as such all across Europe. In some places, they're seen as a nuisance.
Not so in Greece. Amid the brilliant blue seas, white walls, endless olive groves and good food, you'll also find a warm welcome pretty much wherever you go. We've travelled there several times with baby Lab and often struggled to get an order in at a restaurant because of the time staff spent cooing over our child.
See also Portugal, southern Spain, and southern Italy. All great places to go with kids.
See the whimsy of Gaudi's Work in Barcelona
Some architecture leaves kids cold, but the whimsical swirls and bright colours of Gaudi's work in Catalunya changes all of that. Barcelona is a great addition to any bucket list for families because of its easy access to the beach and family friendly, in the right sense of the word, architecture, history and culture.
Feel the roar of the Colosseum in Rome
Perhaps one for slightly older children, the Colosseum in Rome stands much the same today as it did during those gladiatorial days.
Follow the Harry Potter Trail
Is someone in your family a Harry Potter fan? Visit platform 9 3/4 in London. Or the impossibly swirling staircase in a bookshop in Porto. Or the cafe in Edinburgh where J.K.Rowling sketched out her plans. Europe has plenty of Harry Potter moments, so you'll find one to add to your family bucket list.
Take a Journey of Remembrance
It's difficult but also important to teach the next generation about the things that went wrong. Taking a journey to a powerful historical site, like the concentration camps at Auschwitz, can be a profound thing to do together as a family, as long as you remember to do it in an age appropriate way.
American Bucket List Ideas
Go Ice Skating at the Rockefeller Center
It's an iconic fun bucket list activity, taking to the ice beneath that gold statue in the Big Apple. And one I have very fond memories of, so perhaps I'm a little biased.
But children also love Central Park, the Flatiron building and the ferry trip to see Lady Liberty herself. A trip to New York makes for a great fun family bucket list activity.
Watch Baseball with the Whole Family
This is pretty much the TV picture of family life in the US. So why not pick up some peanuts and cracker jack and root, root, root for the home team.
Taste some Key Lime Pie in Florida
And learn to blow a conch shell while you're at it. The Sunshine State is made for families, from the well know theme parks and resorts to the secrets that wait along this west coast Florida itinerary.
Visit a Space Center
We've kind of taken it for granted by now but it's actually pretty mind blowing to imagine that people have made it into space and onto the moon. Visit the planet's largest space museum in Huntsville as part of a road trip through Alabama.
See the Hollywood Stars
Love 'em or hate 'em, the Hollywood stars are a major influence on the world - and that includes your kids. Travel to LA and stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Then look at the white letters of the famous Hollywood sign.
Head to a Dude Ranch
Children love playing cowboys and, if we're completely honest here, so do most adults. But did you know that you can play cowboy for the weekend? Head to a Dude Ranch (serious name) and hone those horsey skills, cowboy.
learn the real story of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is one of the major landmarks in the American calendar but the telling of the traditional story has evolved over the years. As the colonial whitewashing wears off, pay a visit to the Plimouth Foundation open air museum to hear the story of the Wampanoag tribe from their descendants.
Drive along the Great River Road
The Great River Road in Louisiana travels alongside the Mississippi in a whole world of beautiful live oaks, mint juleps and resplendent plantation homes. But there's a serious story to be told. Take older kids and teens to the powerful Whitney Plantation to take stock of the history of slavery in building up the wealth of the plantations.
Australian Family Bucket List Ideas
If you’re not sure where to start on your family adventures, then Australia is an amazing country for family travel. It is very safe, has excellent facilities and is brimming with experiences you simply can’t find anywhere else in the world.
Here are some of the highlights for your family bucket list but also check out the complete list of Australian landmarks over here.
Snorkel The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s last great natural wonders, with over 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish. It's so big it can be seen from space and is the world’s largest single structure made by living organisms!
However, this natural wonder is fragile and you need to plan a trip responsibly.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) can help you to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site responsibly.
Sing at Sydney Opera House
What’s the most famous building in Australia? Why, the Sydney Opera House, of course, one of the the most iconic buildings in the world. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts millions of visitors each year.
From the opera house, you can enjoy stunning views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour. And you can also explore the inside of this magnificent building to take in the historical architecture and artwork on display.
The Opera House opened to the public in 1973 amid a storm of controversy and criticism of its original architect. So there’s a useful lesson for kids, here, about resilience, persistence and not giving up in the face of setbacks.
Cuddle Koala Bears
Known for their adorable cuddliness and the fact that they only live in Australia, koala bears are bucket list animals, for sure. You could get lucky and spot one while exploring the country (I saw them at the side of the road) or you could book a dedicated tour. Spend some time admiring them and you will realise why so many people list them as one of their travel bucket list items!
Drive The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic drives to take in Australia. It runs for 243km (151 miles) along the south-eastern coast of Australia from Torquay to Warrnambool, and provides a stunning coastal drive with mesmerising coastline views. You can go on a self-drive family road trip or take a guided tour.
The bucket list highlight is the sight of the Twelve Apostles, a rock formation that juts out from the sea. The views are spectacular, even more so by helicopter, and the sandy beaches are easily accessible. It is perfect for a family road trip.
Who doesn’t love a bouncy kangaroo?! They’re simply amazing!
It’s well known that you can only find kangaroos in Australia, but you may be surprised at how easily you can find them.
You’ll see them bouncing along the side of the road on the drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road, for example. And you’ll also find them in many of the fields and farmlands within reach of Sydney.
Asian Family Bucket List Ideas
Stand on the Great Wall of China.
Alas, it turns out that you can’t see the Great Wall of China from outer space but who cares? It’s still one of the wonders of the world.
You can visit from many different places but crowds can build up in peak months. For this reason, it’s probably a place to visit with a baby in a sling or with much older children. It’s not such a good fit for toddlers and preschoolers.
Visit the Taj Mahal
To see the sun rise or set over the Taj Mahal is a truly unforgettable experience - if you’re old enough to remember things like that, of course. India is a rich, diverse and intoxicating place. I’d recommend visiting with children over eight and taking your time with your itinerary there.
Take a Singapore Harbour Cruise
Singapore is the perfect city-state to add to your family bucket list. It is compact, highly developed and utterly fascinating.
Kids of all ages will love the city’s icon, the Merlion, and enjoy a night cruise around Clark Quay. After that, you can split the city’s highlights according to age. But everything is close at hand, making it the perfect destination for a trip with kids of different ages, plus grandparents as well.
Visit the A Bomb Museum in Hiroshima or Nagasaki
Both cities are captivating places in their own right. But each also owns a poignant museum about the atom bomb drops that took place in these cities towards the end of World War Two. Both are powerful places that everyone should visit. As you would expect, it’s better for older children and teens but still a great addition to a family bucket list.
See an orangutan in the wild
Sadly, the orangutan population has decreased dramatically over the past few decades to a total of around 13 000. We're big believers in the idea that responsible tourism can actually help save endangered animals, so put a wildlife sighting onto your family bucket list guilt free.
However, it’s not easy to see orangutans in the wild. They are shy, elusive, and live in dense rainforests filled with trees. For this reason, one of the best places to try is the orangutan rehabilitation centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
In order to make the most of the safari experience, children should be older than eight and able to stay still and quiet.
See Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is one of the most iconic mountains in the world. It’s a symbol of Japan, and if you’ve ever looked at any Japanese art or seen pictures of Japan before, you’ve seen Mt. Fuji somewhere in the background.
Mt. Fuji is also a symbol for people who are trying to pursue their dreams. The mountain represents the notion that there are obstacles that will come your way, but if you keep going, you will find success at the end.
You can climb Mount Fuji as a a teen or adult in a day. And all ages can admire its silhouette from the parks that surround it.
Walk barefoot in the Maldives
There are many reasons why you should visit the Maldives. From witnessing its beauty to experiencing its culture, there is something for each generation.
Witness natural wonders like turquoise lagoons, white sand beaches and picturesque sunsets and relax with one another beneath the stars.
See Panda Bears in China
"If you don't see a panda in the wild, you'll never know if you're missing out on something special. And that makes me really sad."
This quote by Jack Cheng summarises the importance of seeing one of these lovely creatures for yourself. Pandas are a threatened species with a shrinking population
A panda sighting in the wild is not a common occurrence and it's not easy to spot them. The best place to start is in Chengdu in China at the dedicated sanctuary and viewing platform.
Discover the Mysteries of Petra
Petra is one of the world’s most famous ancient cities and archaeological treasures. For centuries, it lay forgotten in the hills of southern Jordan until an explorer named Jean-Léon Gérôme "rediscovered" it in 1812.
Today, more than 154,000 people visit each year for its unmistakable beauty. A visit involves a long walk on uneven ground in hot weather, though, so probably not one for a family bucket list for toddlers and babies. Come back when they're older.
Float in The Dead Sea
As the lowest point on dry land, the Dead Sea is a landlocked salt water lake that stretches between Israel and Jordan.
The salt concentration is so dense that you can easily float on top of it, which makes for a lot of fun and some comedy reading the newspaper photos.
The water can sting and burn the mouth, though, so it’s not ideal for young children to splash around in. Once children are five or so, though, they’ll have the time of their life!
South American Family Bucket List Ideas
See the Sun Rise Over Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu is one of the most recognisable landmarks in South America, as a staggeringly beautiful 15th century Inca citadel built into the mountains of the Andes. Its high altitude makes it more of a challenge if travelling with very young children but teens will love the sense of adventure.
See the Sparkling Salt Flats in Bolivia
The Salar de Uyuni is a vast expanse of salt crust overlaying a bed of lithium-rich brine in southwestern Bolivia near its borders with Chile and Peru. It's also also known as ‘the world’s largest mirror’ because it reflects the sky and clouds so well.
The salar was formed by transformations between several prehistoric lakes and it covers a staggering area of 10,582 sq km or 4,086 square miles.
Feel the mist of Iguazú Falls
The Iguazú Falls splash their way right through the border between Argentina and Brazil and can be seen from both countries. Surrounded by lush jungle and blue skies, around 275 waterfalls combine to make this phenomenon in South America.
Despite the fairly remote location, access is easy and well managed, making this a possible adventure for families of all ages, including intergenerational travel.
Play on the Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro, the fifth most populous city in Brazil, is a marvellous city with a collection of iconic landmarks ripe for a scavenger hunt.
First, the statue of Christ the Redeemer on the peak of Corcovado Mountain. The statue was inaugurated on October 12th, 1931 and it overlooks the city from a height of 710 meters high.
Then, the Pan de Azucar or Sugarloaf Mountain with its scenic views and striking shape.
Add in Copacabana and Ipanema beach and you have a world class city to add to your family travel bucket list.
Explore The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world. It covers about 2.1 billion acres, which is roughly 40% of all the rainforests left on earth. The Amazon River, which starts in Peru and ends up in Brazil, flows through this rainforest and shares its water with millions of species of plants and animals that live there.
And you can visit. The rainforest itself includes parts of Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela but arguably the easiest access point is from Manaus in Brazil.
You do need quite a few vaccinations, though, so may be one to postpone for very little children.
Play in Cartagena
The colourful coastal city of Cartagena is situated in the north of Colombia and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in South America. Founded by Pedro de Heredia in 1533 for the Spanish Empire, its mix of Spanish, Caribbean and South American cultures make it a fascinating place to visit.
Cruise The Galapagos Islands
The exceptional Galapagos Islands lie around 1000 kilometres off the western coast of Ecuador and are perhaps most famous for inspiring Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Originally formed by an uplift of oceanic crust that's been gradually rising and building since the last ice age (approximately 18-19 million years ago) today, they are a wildlife spotter's paradise.
The best time to go to the Galapagos Islands is from December to April. That's the dry season, which means it will be less humid and you'll have a better chance at seeing some of the native wildlife.
Rules on the islands are very strict, however, in order to protect the rare wildlife. For this reason, I'd suggest that you add this onto a teenage bucket list rather than one for younger children.
African Family Bucket List Ideas
Ride Camels in the Sahara
The Sahara is the second largest desert in the world after Antarctica and it stretches from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. In total, it occupies one third of Africa’s landmass. And it is deeply, deeply beautiful.
The desert has been an important trade route for centuries and you can echo these ancient practices by travelling into the Sahara by camel from Morocco. Probably best done with children over the age of around 8.
Find the Big Five
Can anything really compare to seeing the cast of the Lion King for real in the savannah? The Big Five refers to lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and African buffalo, some of the most dangerous animals to hunt and kill.
Thankfully, the killing part does not belong on your family bucket list. Instead, you can help some of these endangered animals by taking an ethical safari, while delighting your children at the same time. There are usually strict age requirements, though, so this may be a dream to put on hold until children are at least twelve.
Visit the Ngorogoro Crater
Housed within the caldera of the Ngorogoro Crater, the Conservation Area of the same name is an absolute beauty to behold. Tip over the crater's edge to discover lakes lined with flamingoes, rows upon rows of zebra, black specks of wildebeests and the roar of lions. This UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tanzania deserves a place on every travel bucket list going.
Follow Nelson Mandela's Footsteps
Known as Madiba in South Africa, Nelson Mandela remains a powerful icon with a powerful story to be told. In Johannesburg, you can visit his former home in Soweto, the Lilliesleaf Farm where we was captured,and families can also confront the realities of Apartheid at the city's award-winning museum.
In Cape Town, you can take a boat trip across the scenic waters that surround Table Mountain to Robben Island, the prison where Mandela spent most of his 27 prison years.
Visit the Pyramids
What more can be written about the pyramids in Egypt? Just that these incredible works of stone lie within reach of Cairo, itself a city that houses astonishing treasures from ancient Egypt, from mummies to gold. Oh, and that if you travel further south you'll find the Valley of the Kings and burial treasure, lost islands and enormous statues in the cliffs at Abu Simbel.
A trip to Egypt really does have something for the entire family and as long as you avoid visiting during the peak summer months, it's suitable for all ages.
See the Snows of Kilimanjaro
The lilac peaks of snowy Kilimanjaro rise out of the sticky tropical plains in Tanzania like a mirage. You really can go on safari in the morning and be climbing the mountain towards the snow in the afternoon... but you won't reach it for several days.
Climbing Kilimanjaro does not require any specific climbing skills, it's more of an arduous hike and scramble, but the altitude of the highest point in Africa (at 5895 metres) is not to be overlooked.
It's one of the most strenuous family activities suggested here but is well within reach of teens.
Hike the Atlas Mountains
Often overlooked, the fragrant and relatively gentle Atlas mountains in Morocco provide plenty of hiking routes for families with younger children. In Ouirgane Valley, you can wander through Berber villages, stopping for coffee and almonds by day, and soaking away in rose petal baths by night.
Drift Along the Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is the largest delta in the world and it stretches its blue and green patchwork of land and water across Botswana like a tantalising quilt. Safaris take place in traditional boats, called mokoros, as well as on foot. For this reason, children need to be a little older than usual for safaris, but it is an incredible way to spend time together.
Musical Family Bucket List Ideas
Head to a music festival
Music festivals have changed enormously over the years. Once only suitable for drunk and disorderlies, many now have young families in their focus and make for a great weekend away. Pick up a pair of noise-limiting safety headphones for very little revellers.
Go to a concert together
Whether it's classical or rock, take the time to go and watch live music with your kids. Teach them how it's done!
Watch a panto
Now, I'm not sure if this is an international thing but in the UK, panto is a rite of passage for families. Some children love them, others not so much. But it's worth going to see one at least once. (Oh no it isn't, oh yes it is etcetera etcetera...)
Foodie Family Bucket LIst Ideas
Then, whenever life hands you lemons, you already know what to do...
Create or revive a family favourite meal
Try out a recipe a week until you land on something that can definitely be yours. This recipe can then be handed down through the generations. Or, if grandma (or grandpa) already left you something like that then dig it out and reinvent it for the next generation.
Snuggly Family Bucket List Ideas
Sometimes you need a rainy day bucket list or, these days, a quarantine family bucket list. Here are some ideas of what you can get up to inside your own home.
Create a snuggly den
In your own house. Either set up a tipi or designate a corner and fill it with cushions, some throws and some cosy lighting. The main idea is that it's for children, but in all honesty, don't we all need somewhere to escape to from time to time?!
Just watch a film
Sometimes, it's fine to be simple and lazy. And just snuggle on the sofa and watch a film. Sure, you can jazz that up with mocktails and nibbles, fancy dress and special viewing screens. But it's also absolutely OK to forget all of that and just snuggle.
Create a dinner tradition
This one isn't about the food. It's about making sure you sit down together and spend time in each other's company. A good way of doing this involves asking each person what they enjoyed today.
People Based Family Bucket LIst Ideas
Focus on the First Five Minutes
At pick up, let your kids speak first. Don't bombard them with questions and try not to focus on the million and one other things you need to get done. If you only take one idea from this bucket list for families, make it this one. Let them say what they want to say, however silly it sounds.
Write cards to everyone you admire
This world is quick to complain, slow to admire. As a family, sit down and write letters or cards to everyone you feel has done something worth noticing.
Tell them you love them
A cliche? Maybe. Important, for sure. Bond with each other and learn about who is important to other family members by asking them who they love. Then, go and tell those people.
Crafty Family Bucket List Ideas
Create your own family Christmas tree decorations
Or choose another festival if Christmas isn't your thing. They will then be packed away and enjoyed again each year. If they survive, they can even be passed on as family heirlooms.
Create a family mural
If you're feeling really bold, choose a wall in your home to decorate together with pictures and symbols than mean something to you. If that seems a step too far, then paint pebbles instead and use those to brighten up the garden.
Make a Quilt
Have each family member contribute a square of cloth, print photos onto canvas of happy family moments and put the whole lot together in one big family quilt.
Create a Family Souvenir Picture
Gather together ticket stubs, photos, chopstick wrappers... any keepsake that reminds you of happy family times together. Glue to a white cardboard base and frame and voila. Instead of all those souvenirs hiding in a cardboard box somewhere, you can put them on the wall and enjoy the memories more often.
The Best Travel Family Bucket List
Is the one you make yourself. Go, enjoy, explore the world. Then come back and tell us all how it went!