USA Outdoor Bucket List by Best Month to Visit

Is there anywhere in the world more diverse and exciting than the United States of America? From coast to coast, the USA is packed with landmarks, natural wonders, and city excitement that are just waiting to be explored. If you’re looking for a travel bucket list that will take you all over this amazing country, look no further! We’ve put together a list of some must-see destinations in the USA, from iconic sites to hidden gems and the best months to visit. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your adventure today!

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Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Washington

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USA Outdoor Bucket List

Do you have a bucket list? We sure do, and we are sharing all of our favorite places with you!

Keep reading to discover epic destinations by the best months to visit based on less crowds and pleasant weather!

Best US Destinations to Visit Each Month of the Year

January – Florida Keys

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Florida

The Florida Keys will whisk you away to a tropical beach getaway without necessarily having to get on a plane and fly across an ocean (if you live in the U.S.).

The Florida Keys are a 125-mile-long chain of islands. Visitors will find white sand beaches, clear blue water, beachfront accommodations, national parks, and temperatures in the 70s-80s.

The Keys offer a fun and romantic winter escape from the snowy cold parts of the U.S., which is why this tropical escape ranks best for January. Key West is a great place to enjoy in January.

Who is ready to go to Florida right now?! Florida has some of the best beaches in the world.

February – Maui, Hawaii

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Snorkeling La Perouse Bay, Maui

The Hawaiian Islands in February make for an epic winter getaway. February is the off-season, so visitors can find cheaper accommodations with fewer crowds.

February is also prime time for whale watching.

Are you thinking about visiting Maui? Maui has incredibly fun outdoor things to do!

February is our favorite time to go to Hawaii. If you like to hike, there are some great trails on Maui. Be sure to visit Haleakala National Park. It will take your breath away!

March – South Padre Island, Texas

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Horseback riding along South Padre Island beaches

South Padre Island is a tropical gem of the Lone Star State. It is also known for being a spring break paradise and not just for college students. South Padre Island boasts fun for everyone.

There are many exceptionally fun outdoor things to do in South Padre Island. Visitors spend the days fishing, surfing, dolphin watching, taking boat tours, stand-up paddle boarding, hanging out on the beach, soaking up sun rays, and playing in the sand.

Be sure to add South Padre Island to your USA outdoor bucket list during March! It is a really fun and affordable beach getaway.

April – Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Washington

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Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Washington’s best-kept secret, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, will make you believe you have been transported to Holland.

The tulips begin blooming in April. Visiting the fields is free.

Plan a road trip, grab your partner, and experience the most beautiful fields of flowers you could ever see.

Visiting the Mount Vernon area in April makes for a lovely romantic weekend getaway! Don’t forget your camera!

May – Utah National Parks

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Canyonlands National Park

May is the best season to visit Moab, Utah. The desert is just starting to warm up, and you can most likely beat 100-degree Fahrenheit weather. Mornings are still crisp, as well as the evenings for camping and hiking, making May a wonderful time of year for vacation or holiday.

Moab, Utah, is known for its majestic red rock and canyon country, with the La Sal Mountain range in the background.

Moab is also world renown for two natural wonders including, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. It is also home to Dead Horse Point State Park, with a famous overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park.

The Moab area is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. There is plentiful hiking, mountain biking, rafting, rock climbing, and sightseeing galore. Check out our article on fun outdoor adventure things to do in Moab and how to plan a 5-day summer road trip to Moab.

Be sure to add a visit to Moab, Utah, to your USA outdoor bucket list for the month of May because canyon country will take your breath away.

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June – Black Hills of South Dakota

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Black Elk Peak lookout tower

Plan a beautiful camping, hiking, and sightseeing getaway to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

June is a perfect time to visit this ‘island in the sky.’

South Dakota is famous for Mt. Rushmore National Monument and is home to many other National Parks including, Jewel Cave and Wind Cave.

Hike Black Elk Peak, visit Crazy Horse Monument, Jewel Cave, Wind Cave, and Custer State Park. There are so many amazing outdoor things to do in the Black Hills.

June has great weather. The days are warm and the evenings are cool making for a perfect summer getaway.

July – Western Colorado

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Maroon Bells

Escaping the summer heat to the Rocky Mountains is always a treat. Plan a trip to western Colorado and visit Ouray or Aspen. Bask in views of the high mountain peaks while soaking in the natural hot springs in Ouray or Glenwood Springs. There are a few hot springs to choose from.

Ouray is about an hour and a half from Telluride, Colorado, if you want to visit the high mountain box canyon ski town. Check out our guide to visiting Telluride and the surrounding area when you only have 24 hours!

There are great things to see in the Aspen area including visiting the Maroon Bells or hiking to Hanging Lake.

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August – Whitefish, Montana

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Glacier National Park

August is one of the most beautiful times of the year to be in the Rocky Mountains. Not only is Whitefish, Montana, known for its pristine powder ski resort as well as Glacier National Park, but it is also known for its huckleberries! Visit Whitefish in August for prime berry picking season.

Berry picking is fun for everyone. Be sure to purchase local huckleberry jams, wines, and treats to take home.

While you are there, don’t miss a visit to Glacier National Park!

September – Gulf Shores, Alabama

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Orange Beach, Alabama

Are you looking for white-sand beach fun in the sun without super southern summer heat?

Visit Orange Beach, Alabama, and Gulf Shores in September for comfortable temperatures in the 70s-80s. September will have fewer summer crowds with folks returning to school.

Be sure to watch out for hurricane season, though.

Fall also has fun festivals.

October – Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Bandelier National Monument

Plan the perfect fall escape to New Mexico. Santa Fe makes for an incredibly fun and romantic fall weekend trip.

There are awesome day trips to take from Santa Fe, including visiting Bandelier National Monument, hiking, and driving the many scenic by-ways to view breathtaking fall foliage while experiencing local history.

Enjoy excellent New Mexican food, art, architecture, and culture.

October is the perfect time to visit the Santa Fe area.

November – Arkansas Ozarks

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Whitaker Point Arkansas Ozarks

If you like camping and hiking, visiting the South during November can be a real treat. Depending on the year, you can camp and hike with warm weather all the way into November.

Have you ever read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls? Hike the iconic Dripping Springs Falls, which is where parts of the movie were filmed.

Another hike captured by Disney in the film Tuck Everlasting is the famous Whitaker Point trail to Hawkbill Crag. Camp at Buffalo National River or stay in the quaint mountain town of Eureka Springs while enjoying the fall foliage of the Arkansas Ozarks.

November is a great time to visit the Ozarks.

☀️ Check out these popular articles on the Ozarks:

Best Places to Camp Along the Buffalo National River

Hiking the Goat Bluff Trail

Best Hikes in Arkansas

December – New Orleans

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Air boating outside of New Orleans

When most people think of New Orleans, they think Mardi Gras. However, visiting New Orleans during December is probably one of the local’s best-kept secrets.

Why, might you ask?

First off, December is when New Orleans restaurants are known for their French-inspired Réveillon (REV-ee-on) menus, which only happens during December.

That’s right, eat and drink some of the best food from world-renown chefs in the U.S.

Next, New Orleans decorates for Christmas! Check out impressive light displays at the beautiful hotels from places such as The Roosevelt Hotel, The Ritz Carlton, The Bourbon Orleans, and Hotel Monteleone, to name a few.

New Orleans is not hot in December, which (we think) makes for a fantastic trip.

For the outdoor adventure, book a tour to the swamp and cruise in an airboat with local Cajuns. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators and other wildlife of the bayou. Definitely, a fun way to experience Louisiana! We did a tour with Airboat Adventures. It was crazy fun!

Get Gear for Your Trip!

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Water Bottles

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, our picks for the best outdoor bucket list adventures in the USA by month. We hope this article has inspired you to get out and explore some of America’s most amazing natural landscapes. Now it’s time to start planning your next trip!

Which adventure are you most excited to check off your list?

  1. January – Florida Keys
  2. February – Maui, Hawaii
  3. March – South Padre Island, Texas
  4. April – Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Washington
  5. May – Moab, Utah National Parks
  6. June – Black Hills, South Dakota
  7. July – Ouray and Telluride, Colorado
  8. August – Whitefish, Montana
  9. September – Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama
  10. October – Santa Fe, New Mexico
  11. November – Ozark Mountain, Arkansas
  12. December – New Orleans, Louisiana

Thanks for reading!

Ashlee & Pablo


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We would love to hear from you!

Have you been to any of these places?

Did any of our recommendations make your USA outdoor bucket list?

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function based in Oklahoma. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking.

20 Comments

  1. Cristina Sala on January 1, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    Quede encantada con Los Callos de La Florida.
    Los tulipanes de washington Utah
    Dakota del Sur y
    En el mes de diciembre LA NAVIDAD , que bellos se los ve a ustedes



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 2, 2021 at 12:42 pm

      ¡Hola Cristina! Gracias por leer. ¡Estos son algunos de nuestros lugares favoritos!



  2. Josy A on January 2, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    Great post. You have so many amaaaazing places to visit for outdoor adventures in the States! Now we just need the covid-19 madness to calm down so we can explore more in 2021. 🙂



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 2, 2021 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Josy! Thanks for commenting. Yes, I know – I hear you. We are super hopeful for a better year traveling. We have been cooped up all year staying safe from COVID.



  3. Cristina on January 2, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    This is such a great blog post! It makes me want to explore more the USA when I have the chance 🙂 I’m saving your recommendations for the future.



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 2, 2021 at 2:39 pm

      Hi Cristina – awesome, so glad you could read our post for fun USA outdoor bucket list inspiration! Hope you have a nice year.



  4. Hannah on January 2, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    All of these look incredible! Although the Bandelier National Monument Alcove Trail Hike looks a little hair-raising! Unfortunately, as I’m based in the UK, I doubt I’ll be able to travel to the US this year with all of the restrictions. The Florida Keys in January 2022 sounds like something to aim for though! Thanks for the great guide!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 2, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Hannah – we are looking forward to being able to travel again too. You are probably right with 2022 being more realistic… Thanks for reading all the way from the UK 🙂



  5. Taylor on January 2, 2021 at 5:09 pm

    This is such an awesome list! I’m actually heading to Hawaii in March this year and I’m so excited. Also, Florida is another great spot in the winter. 🙂



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 2, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Taylor – oh, how wonderful. Thanks for stopping by. Have a safe trip. Maui is one of our favorite places.



  6. Nikki on January 2, 2021 at 10:02 pm

    Great list! I’ve been to several of these locations during the months you suggest! My favorite is Maui in February. 🙂



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 4, 2021 at 8:57 am

      Hi Nikki! Thank you – that is so cool. Thanks for sharing. Agreed, Maui in February is a dream 🙂



  7. Amanda on January 2, 2021 at 10:34 pm

    This is such a cute idea for people who know when they want to travel but aren’t picky about where!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 4, 2021 at 8:58 am

      Thank you, Amanda! 🙂 We put it together based on our experiences in these places.



  8. Joanna on January 3, 2021 at 5:50 am

    I would love to start the year in a warm location, such as Florida Keys. I have never been to the states but I’ve been to Cuba in January, and I can imagine the climate is the same as in Florida.



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 4, 2021 at 8:58 am

      Hi Joanna – we hear you! A nice sunny warm beach is always a welcomed break from the cold.



  9. Juli on January 28, 2021 at 9:37 pm

    The list looks and sounds like extremely fun places. I really want to experience all that i have not been to.
    With that said, I am a snow freak and would add a trip to the Upper Peninsula (UP) of MI to see ice caves on the shores of Lake Superior, nordic ski on super fun and fantastically groomed trails, eat pasties (Finnish meat or veggie pies), slip into a HOT sauna after skiing or snowshoeing and check out the local breweries. I know most folks want to go to warm weather in the winter yet I am a “reverse snowbird”. Hey what can I say I grew up in MN!!!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 1, 2021 at 8:04 am

      Hi Juli! Thanks for reading and commenting! So nice to see your name! 🙂 Haha, on the snow freak comment. Everything you mentioned about the UP sounds super fun. We have not had a chance to explore that part of the US. We will add it to our bucket list. Thank you!



  10. Farrah on January 30, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    hehe, May definitely would’ve been a better month to visit Moab! (I went in late August, hahaha.) I did make it to Black Hills in June and Colorado in July though! Would love to check out the other places someday!



    • Ashlee Fechino on February 1, 2021 at 8:05 am

      Hi Farrah – I bet Moab was super hot in August 😉 At least it is a dry heat. So cool you visited the Black Hills!