Are you on the hunt for some retirement adventures?
Is your vision of your post-work life filled with action and new experiences?
Do you want to spend your silver years enjoying every last morsel of life’s marrow?
We get it, and we’re here to help you come up with some great bucket list ideas.
So grab something to drink and pull up a screen — because we’re unpacking the benefits of having a bucket list and 99 possibilities to add to your list.
- What Is a Bucket List for Retirees?
- What Are the Benefits of Having a Bucket List for Retirement?
- What Are the Top Ten Things People Do When They Retire?
- 99 of the Best Retirement Bucket List Ideas
What Is a Bucket List for Retirees?
Where did the term “bucket list” originate?
British-American screenwriter Justin Zackham coined the phrase in 1999 when writing a piece that became the 2007 film The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
Zackham recounts writing down a list of things he wanted to do before dying and labeling it “Justin’s List of Things to Do Before I Kick the Bucket.”
Having a keen editor’s eye, he eventually shortened it to “Justin’s Bucket List,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
So what, exactly, belongs on a bucket list? The possibilities are endless. Common categories include:
- Travel destinations
- Foods to try
- People to meet
- Experiences you want to have (i.e., a week-long silent meditation retreat, attending the Super Bowl, et cetera)
- Things you want to tell people
What Are the Benefits of Having a Bucket List for Retirement?
Is making a bucket list a good idea?
We think it is — for both meticulous planners and folks who fall on the spontaneous end of the scale.
Brainstorming about everything you want to do, see, taste, and feel is an excellent idea for anyone, no matter their age. It gives your life direction, and looking it over every so often keeps you motivated to accomplish each.
What are some other benefits of a bucket list?
- Improved Cognitive Function: Remaining active slows the aging process, and your brain cells don’t atrophy as rapidly as those who do nothing.
- Better Physical Health: People who make and tick off items on their bucket lists are happier and healthier.
- Increased Life Satisfaction: People are most satisfied doing precisely what they want.
- Better Mental Health: All the above bullet points result in better mental health.
What Are the Top Ten Things People Do When They Retire?
Before we dive into our list of 99 bucket list ideas for retirement, let’s review what most seniors currently do after hanging up their work shoes for good.
- New Car: Many retirees swap their family cars for something more fun or with better gas mileage for road trips.
- Join Clubs: Why are most community boards and clubs filled with seniors? They have the time!
- Start Exercising: There’s no better time to get into great shape.
- Enjoy Community Events: Mature individuals with time on their hands tend to attend more community events.
- Visit Family: Seeing family is much easier when you have the time.
- Go on a Big Trip: Many newly “free” retirees take a dream trip to celebrate their years of raising kids and hard work.
- Downsize Living Space: Why maintain a huge home that takes lots of effort when the kids are gone and you plan to travel?
- Lean Into Their Lawn and Landscaping: Gardening and landscaping are fun and meditative; plus, they offer people a sense of accomplishment for a job well done.
- Make a Budget: Many retirees make short-term and long-term budgets since they’re on fixed incomes.
- Relax: You deserve it!
99 of the Best Retirement Bucket List Ideas
We’ve laid out the bucket list basics. Now, let’s turn to actual items. What should land on your list?
Our picks are below. We hope they spark some ideas for you.
Culinary Bucket List Experiences
1. Pick a cookbook and commit to making every recipe contained within.
2. Visit every winery in your state or province. If there aren’t any, pick the closet option.
3. Try insect cuisine. Some people swear by it; plus, it’s a high-protein meal!
4. Seek out dive diners and places to eat. Just because a place isn’t fancy doesn’t mean the food isn’t spectacular.
5. Spend a week eating your way through either Paris or Tuscany.
6. Take cooking lessons.
7. Travel to New York City for a Lombardi’s pizza pie — arguably (absolutely) the best in the world.
8. Try seafood in Cancun, one of the best places on the planet for it.
9. Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
10. Dine at Geranium, voted the best restaurant in the world in 2022.
11. Become a from-scratch candy maker.
12. Start brewing your own beer or making your own wine.
13. Become a spice expert and travel the world to get unique samples.
14. Perfect the art of making beef wellington from scratch.
15. Create your own cocktails and have friends over to rate them.
16. Try raw oysters or sushi.
17. Start making pasta from scratch.
18. Become a regular at a local restaurant and try to get a meal named after you.
19. Try gourmet truffles.
20. Go on a culinary tour — through Las Vegas!
21. Go for a food tour through Mendoza, Argentina, one of the most underrated culinary destinations in the world.
22. Start keeping preserves — and try your hand at making Marilla Cuthbert’s raspberry cordial.
Hobby, Business, and Volunteer Bucket List Ideas
23. Start your own Etsy shop.
24. Take painting lessons.
25. Visit every museum within a 100-mile radius of your home.
26. Join the local community theater.
27. Learn to play a musical instrument or re-learn one you played as a kid.
28. Take a self-defense class. (It’s also good exercise.)
29. Take swimming or diving lessons.
30. Go skydiving.
31. Go on a helicopter ride.
32. Go to a convention of your favorite SciFi series or brand.
33. Join a gaming group for seniors. (It’s a great way to keep your mind sharp.)
34. Write that novel you’ve been threatening to pen for decades.
35. Volunteer at an animal shelter or sanctuary.
36. Finally, do that big DIY project you’ve been threatening to do for years.
37. Start a book club and vow not to read anything serious!
38. Raise money for a charity close to your heart.
39. Become an election poll worker.
40. Learn to fly a plane.
41. Go on a volunteer vacation to help the sea turtles in Bali.
42. Mentor up-and-coming stars in your field.
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Nature Bucket List Experiences
43. Go camping in another country.
44. Plant an exotic garden or working kitchen garden.
45. Go white-water rafting.
46. Climb a mountain.
47. Become a cycler and enter races.
48. Train for a marathon.
49. Take your grandchildren fishing and cook what you catch.
50. Go on a camel ride.
51. Meet a group of alpacas or llamas, two of the most sensitive species on the planet.
52. Go on a hot-air balloon ride.
53. Take photographs of the sunset and sunrise in gorgeous locations.
54. Go on a dolphin cruise.
55. See the Redwood Forest.
56. Stand on an Alaskan glacier.
57. Plan a trip to see Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) in Australia.
58. See the most beautiful part of the Rockies at Banff National Park in Canada.
59. Catch some rainbows at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
60. Scuba or snorkel in Belize’s Great Blue Hole.
61. Walk on the clouds at Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.
62. Do double takes at the otherworldly Shilin Stone Forest of China.
Travel Bucket List Ideas
63. Explore your neighborhood meticulously. Eat at every restaurant and go to every store.
64. Stay at the five best-rated bed and breakfasts within 200 miles of your home.
65. Spend one week each in all the states bordering yours.
66. Take a short cruise to somewhere warm on a whim. (Many cruise lines have sensational standby passenger prices.)
67. Go to Egypt and see the Pyramids in Giza.
68. Go to Mexico City and see the pyramids at Teotihuacan.
69. Get ideas for a his-her house by visiting Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera’s Studio Museum.
70. Have drinks and dinner at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
71. Go on a tour of the painted churches of Texas.
72. Visit the world’s top five aquariums.
73. Go to a foreign country for half a year and teach English as a second language.
74. Travel to Svalbard, the northernmost town in the world. Go in the summer to experience 24-7; go see supersized northern lights and 24-7 darkness in the winter.
75. Spend a few days in the city that never sleeps, New York City.
76. Head to Cape Town, South Africa, and learn about the country’s complex history. Be sure to check out the brightly colored Bo Kaap neighborhood.
77. Stay in an out-water bungalow in Bora, Bora, French Polynesia.
78. Take a sustainable tourism trip to Bhutan to marvel at the landscape and monasteries in the Paro Valley.
79. Check out the caves in Waikato, New Zealand.
80. Enjoy the best cosmopolitan travel in Santiago, Chile.
81. Spend time soaking in some “Scandi cool” in Copenhagen, Denmark.
82. Experience the most biologically diverse regions on the planet, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (It’s also the only place you can still see the critically endangered mountain gorilla in the wild.)
83. Step into a Nordic fairytale in Lauterbrunnen Valley.
84. Turn your travel dials to the 1950s and head to Niagara Falls.
85. Walk the Great Wall of China.
Family and Romance-Related Bucket List Ideas
86. Renew your vows somewhere special.
87. Have a second honeymoon in the same place as your first.
88. Take dance lessons as a couple.
89. Gather the whole family for a huge reunion somewhere fun.
90. Ask your grandkids to give you monthly technology lessons.
91. Research your family tree, and then plan a trip to the country of your ancestors.
92. Get portraits painted of yourself and every member of the family. You can also get oil paintings made from photos of deceased family members. Then have a cocktail party to unveil them. (Art: It’s not just for royals.)
93. Make a pilgrimage to your hometowns and take your grandkids.
94. Move somewhere near your kids and grandkids.
95. If your family immigrated to North America before air travel, recreate their trip by taking an ocean liner across the Atlantic with the whole family.
96. Take the grandkids to Disney World.
97. Go to a monster truck or drag show with your family.
98. Go on a cross-country trip with your kids and theirs.
99. Charter a family yacht for a week-long cruise through the Greek and Mediterranean islands.
What lands on your bucket list is 100% your choice. After all, you’re the retiree in control. Just make sure whatever makes the cut is your or your partner’s genuine wish.
Like most people, you’ve probably spent decades following the rules and letting an externally defined “should” be your guide. But now it’s your time to do what you want! So get out there and enjoy yourself — as you see fit!