The Ultimate Retirement Bucket List: 18 Ideas

If you are like most people, you have probably been looking forward to retirement for a long time; maybe even decades! Whether you are freshly retired, looking forward to retirement in the near future, or growing bored with retired life and looking for some new ideas, you’ve come to the right place. 

What Is a Bucket List?

Have you heard of this term before? Though it might seem like it’s been around forever, it’s actually a relatively new concept. There was a movie that came out in 2007 called The Bucket List.

In the movie, one of the main characters (an older man coming to terms with an extended illness) is making a list of all the things he wants to do in life before he kicks the bucket. Morbid? Maybe. But the term has taken on new life and has come to have more positive connotations. 

Now, when we refer to bucket lists, we are talking about hopes and dreams, the things that we want to do in our lifetimes, and the memories we want to make. 

Why Is It Important for Retired People To Keep Busy?

You probably thought that you would never grow tired of relaxing on the couch or tooling around in your garden. But you know what? As nice as it is to get a little relaxation time in, eventually you do need to make some plans.

Retirement can last longer than you might think. The average age of retirement is 62, with the average life expectancy being 79. However, retirement can also last much longer than 17 years.

Here’s something to think about: A 65-year-old woman has a 50% chance of living to 86 or even older! Do you think that you will remain satisfied with planting petunias and watching jeopardy episodes for the next 20-25 years? 

Let’s face it. 60 is the new 50! You definitely want to keep making plans and staying active, for both your physical and mental health. Many of us have dreams about things that we want to accomplish in our lives. Well now is the time! Let’s take a look at some of the absolute best bucket list plans you can make. 

Our Top 18 Bucket List Ideas

1. Travel to Alaska

Alaska truly is the final frontier. One of the world’s premier destinations, it is absolutely breathtaking, and its beauty is hard to describe. The best part about visiting Alaska is that you can truly make the experience what you want it to be. 

Luxury vacation desired? Check out the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. Looking for something more rustic? Take a fishing tour and stay in a rustic lodge. Though most people are familiar with Anchorage and Fairbanks, we also recommend visiting Talkeetna.

2. Get a Tattoo

Go ahead, take a walk on the wild side. What do you have to lose? Years ago, tattoos used to conjure images of drunken sailors or biker babes, but this is no longer the case. 

Think of something that has important meaning to you, and commemorate it with a tattoo. You’ll look even better in a swimsuit with a little ink. 

3. Sleep Under the Stars

You might think of camping out as something for younger people with strong backs and joints, but don’t let this idea pass you by. Find a location far, far away from any light pollution, and sleep under the stars — no tent! 

Depending on the location, you may want to consider a mosquito net, though. And if you’re worried about how you’ll feel the next morning, grab an air mattress or a camping cot. 

4. Visit the National Parks

It might not be the most unique idea, but there’s a reason for the parks’ popularity. America the beautiful certainly earns its name with these gorgeous locations. 

If you enjoy seeing wildlife up close and personal and relish fine views, you definitely want to think about road tripping it to the parks. Though they are all amazing, we are partial to Acadia, Rocky Mountain, and Yellowstone.

5. Write Your Own Cookbook

This one might only apply to those with a certain degree of kitchen skills, but if you have family recipes (or your own secret recipes!), it would behoove you to write them down. You don’t have to necessarily get your cookbook published, but how amazing would it be to have all of those recipes in one spot?

Most cookbooks also have little stories that go along with the recipes, and writing those down would be a fun experience, and wonderful to pass down to future generations.

6. Take a Train Across the Country

If road tripping isn’t exactly your style, you might want to try traveling by rail. Amtrak offers their USA Rail Pass, which is good for 30 days and allows you to visit more than 500 different destinations.

You don’t necessarily have to travel for a whole month, but if you choose to, it’s a pretty good deal. $499 gets you 30 days of travel and up to 10 segments (trips) by train. Imagine the possibilities!

7. Stay in an Over-the-Water Bungalow

If you do happen to have a little retirement money to burn, check out the over-the-water bungalows in places like the Maldives, Tahiti, or Bora Bora. A stay at one of these resorts is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They are definitely pricey, so make sure you do your research first to decide which location would best suit you, then suit up in your favorite swimsuit. Coverup optional!

8. Learn a Brand New Hobby

All of us get stuck in our ways at one point or another. Maybe you’ve loved playing golf for the past 20 years. That doesn’t mean you can’t branch out a little! Try playing pickleball, or even frisbee golf. 

Love knitting? Give needlepoint a try. You might even consider taking a class to learn your new hobby. It could give you the opportunity to make new friends as well.

9. Become a Tourist in Your Hometown

Most of us do a surprisingly small amount of touring our hometown or state. We just don’t really think about all of the great things to do right where we live, and we spend so much time vacationing elsewhere. 

If you’re from Boston, we bet that you’ve never ridden in a swan boat. You’d be shocked to know that many Los Angeles residents have never visited the Hollywood Sign or the Santa Monica Pier. Take a look around; you’ll probably see more than you ever thought you would!

10. Hike the Appalachian Trail

Depending on your level of athletic ability, it may or may not be completely feasible to hike the entire trail. If you can through-hike the whole thing, more power to you!

People who have hiked the AT have so many stories and memories about the experience. If not, choose a segment to hike, even if it’s only for a day or two.

11. Read That Book

Is there a book that you’ve been meaning to read for years? Or perhaps a book that you were supposed to have read in high school but…well… you just didn’t? Now’s the time to pick it up. With a little more free time in retirement, you have a chance to do all that reading you’ve been putting off.

12. Teach Your Grandchildren How To…

…Bake! Or how to change a flat tire. Or the best way to put a puzzle together. Or how when you put Queen Anne’s Lace into water and food coloring, it changes the color of the tiny white petals. Whatever you have to teach, teach it to your grandchildren. They will appreciate it, we promise! 

13. Walk the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall is one of the only man-made wonders of the world that can actually be seen from outer space. The best part is that there are tours offered, so you don’t have to worry about planning a thing. It usually takes about six days to walk the entire length of the wall, so if you’re feeling adventurous, look into a tour.

14. Cruise Around the World

Do you have the time and ability to leave town for a few months? The privilege of an impressive travel budget? If so, you should look into international cruising. There are cruise lines that offer multi-month cruises that go to 25+ countries. 

The benefit of cruising? Someone else handles all the planning, you get to stay in a luxury stateroom, and you can go to many countries while only having to unpack your bag once. 

15. Cruise Somewhere More Attainable

If it’s not in your budget to travel the world, consider taking a more local cruise. If you happen to live along the coast, there are many cruise ports that might be within driving distance, which means you can save money by not having to take a flight. Cruise lines are pretty much always offering some kind of special deal or promotion, so you can usually find a great bargain. 

Some prime cruise destinations that you can usually find for a good price include Bermuda, Cozumel, Key West, and Barbados. If you’re not into the hot sun, you could try a cruise that visits New England and Canada, or even a cruise from Seattle to Alaska.

16. Ride an Elephant

Anyone can ride a horse, so why not ride an elephant? Maybe if you’re scared of heights this one isn’t for you, but otherwise, you might want to try it. 

If travel is on your personal bucket list, you can add Thailand to your list and go to the Patara Elephant Farm, one of the world’s largest elephant sanctuaries. Since their mission is to take care of, rescue, and rehabilitate elephants, you can also feel good about supporting them.

17. Buy the Vehicle of Your Dreams

Again, this one might only work for you if you have saved up a good chunk of retirement change. Have you always wanted a 1969 Chevy Impala? If you have the cash, splurge on the thing, especially at this point in your life. Maybe you have always dreamed of traveling the country in a big, bold RV. Go for it!

18. Explore Your Local Beaches

Retirement is a great time to check out some places you may have never considered. Even if you don’t live on the coast, explore lakes near you. We can practically guarantee that you will find some true hidden gems, and maybe even discover your new favorite weekend getaway. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit!


Many people look at retirement as the “end of the line.” But there’s so much more to retirement than lazy days, crossword puzzles, and naps on the couch. Get out there, explore, and have all the fun. You’ve earned it!



What to Do in Retirement: Retired & Bored | ACTS Retirement

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Six Surprising Facts About Retirement | Investopedia