Do you think you need a passport in order to get a bucket list-worthy experience? Think again! The USA is filled with amazing places and incredible experiences that may be easier and cheaper to access than booking an international flight. To help you plan a budget-friendly and epic trip, here are five USA bucket list ideas that also reveal the amazing diversity of this country.
1. Street Art Exploring In Bushwick, Brooklyn. NYC is an obvious destination for anyone visiting America. How about getting off the beaten path with a street art tour of Bushwick, Brooklyn? There’s no better place in the five boroughs for urban creativity than Bushwick, especially with groups like JMZ Walls and the Bushwick Collective literally leaving their mark on the neighborhood’s walls for an immersive and interactive experience.
If you’d like to see this area with a guide, Jessie on a Journey’s own Jessie Festa has created a Bushwick Beer, Bites & Street Art #InstaWalk for photo-loving visitors who also enjoy coffee, chocolate, rum, meat and beer pairings, urban art, history and more.
If you’re still hungry after the tour, stroll over to Roberta’s Pizza, which may not look like much from the outside but is one of the area’s legendary hotspots. Picture reclaimed wood communal tables under bare bulb lights, an outdoor patio with tiki bar and a Brokeback Mountain portrait done in pizzaface with a wood-fire oven dishing out pizzas topped with iconic ingredients like Italy’s Prosciutto di Parma and Spain’s Jamon Iberico mixed with honey and additions from their own aviary and garden. Yum!
2. Savoring Green Chili Culture in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Albuquerque‘s claim to fame may be its balloon festival and the charm of its historic Old Town, but one thing is for certain: you can’t leave without tasting its famous green chili. Don’t worry about forgetting because you’ll be constantly reminded — welcome signs on the interstates feature huge chiles, strings of dried chiles hang from adobe homes and even McDonalds offers green chile on its burgers. “Red or green?” is a standard question in restaurants and “Christmas” is an appropriate response if you’d like to try both.
In Albuquerque, you can head to Wagner’s seasonal farm stand. People come from miles to roast chiles onsite, armed with garbage bags and coolers to bring home their treasure. Locals will feistily defend their favorite spots for salsa, sopapillas (fried bread that can be stuffed with or soak up flavors), tamale or margaritas. Fortunately it’s pretty hard to go wrong and visiting a few — like El Pinto and Sadie’s of New Mexico, both of which make their own delicious salsa — is part of that fun. Late summer or fall is the best time for the full chile experience, so you can see fields of peppers ripen and be harvested by farmers. Hatch, the self-declared “Chile Capital of the World,” hosts a festival early in September each year.
3. Sandboarding At Great Sand Dunes National Park In Mosca, Colorado. An 83,000-acre stretch of desert might be the last thing you’d expect to find alongside the Rocky Mountains; but sure enough, Colorado has its own slice of the Sahara. Just a four-hour drive south of Denver, Great Sand Dunes National Park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America at up to 750 feet. All year long you can try sand sledding, sandboarding and sand skiing anywhere without vegetation, so feel free to blaze your own trail. Just outside the park entrance, the Oasis Store rents boards from April through October. After a day of sledding, head to the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool for a hot water soak or a refreshing swim.
4. Attending The Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. While Mardi Gras might be the biggest party in New Orleans, it’s not the only festival worth attending. The music we know as jazz was born in late 19th-century New Orleans and continues to flourish year-round in the French Quarter. The spirit of the Jazz & Heritage Festival began in 1970 when one of the world’s greatest gospel singers Duke Ellington joined a brass band parade at the city’s Heritage Festival. Throughout the years, the festival gained popularity and global acclaim as an important cultural celebration. The floods and damage of Katrina in 2005 have not dampened the ebullient spirit of its residents. During the 10-day festival in late April, Dylan, Springsteen and Paul Simon come together with natives like Harry Connick Jr. and the Neville Brothers for an incredible music party. Sensational sounds are complemented by local cuisine, which itself is worth a NOLA trip.
5. Road trip the Pacific Coast Highway, California. Road trips are an amazing way to explore America, and one of the country’s greatest All-American Roads is the Pacific Coast Highway. Route 1 stretches over 1,000 miles from Oregon to Mexico, hugging the west coast on a ribbon-thin road. Big Sur is an unmistakable highlight with a rugged ocean coast on one side and a string of mountains on the other. The ornate Hearst Castle at San Simeon is another high point, with opportunities for hiking and cycling in the San Luis Obispo District of State Parks and visiting the 17,000 elephant seals that migrate to the Piedras Blancas Rookery each year.
Have a USA bucket list adventure to add? Please share in the comments below!
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