The US Bucket List: 30 things to do in America before you die

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No 6. Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.12
No 6. Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

From Soul Food to Alaska’s fjords, Nicola Brady picks 30 things to do in the USA before you die.

1. Hike into the Grand Canyon

There are countless ways to see the Grand Canyon (pictured above) – you can fly into it on a helicopter, drive up to its edges or kayak deep within its core. But if you have nerves of steel and a couple of days to spare, then hiking down into its belly is a once in a lifetime experience… the original, and still the best.

While you’re at it: Check out the lesser-known Antelope Canyon in Arizona – its undulating colours are out of this world.

Do it: Arizona Outback Adventures offers guided hikes. See aoa-adventures.com.

2. Eat a proper New York slice of pizza

Want to start a fight in New York? Strike up a debate about the best slice in the city. It’s no secret that New Yorkers love their pizza, and boy, do they do it well – huge slices come fresh from the embers, with a charred, chewy crust and bubbling cheese. You could get fancy, but in my opinion the best slice is one that costs $3, eaten while standing at the counter. Try Joe’s Pizza (joespizzanyc.com) in Greenwich Village – it’s been a local staple since 1975.

While you’re at it: Hit Chinatown for a Dim Sum feast.

Do it: Find package holidays to New York with americanholidays.com and gohop.ieamong others.

3. Party at a Honky Tonk in Nashville

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Everyone needs to dance with a real life cowboy at some point in their life. And there’s no better place to tick this off the bucket list than at a spit and sawdust honky tonk bar in Nashville. It may look like a tourist trap, but this is where everyone heads when they’re looking for a good time. Tip the band, take a shot of Fireball (cinnamon whiskey) and grab the nearest guy in a Stetson. You won’t regret it.

While you’re at it: Take in a show at the infamous Grand Ole Opry.

Do it: Learn more at visitmusiccity.com

4. Take an All-American road trip

Maybe it’s the ease of America’s wide, open roads. Maybe it’s the countless movies we’ve seen, from Easy Rider to Sideways. Maybe it’s the sheer size of the land itself. Whatever the reason, a road trip in the States is unlike a road trip anywhere else on earth. For stunning backdrops, try the Columbia River Scenic Highway in Oregon, the Taos Loop from Santa Fe, or the Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to North Carolina.

While you’re at it: It’s the 90th anniversary of Route 66 this year, the perfect time for a trip down the Mother Road.

Do it: Find fly-drive options with trailfinders.ie, americansky.ie, sunway,ie,touramerica.ie and more.

5. Cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge

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Instead of merely gazing upon one of the world’s most famous bridges, rent a bike and pedal your way over it, from San Francisco to Sausalito. Bar one nasty hill, it’s an easy spin, and you’ll be rewarded with killer views all the way. San Francisco is uber-expensive, but it’s still one of the coolest cities in the States, with an offbeat and laid-back vibe (you just can’t shake those hippy roots).

While you’re at it: Take a tram ride – it’s touristy, sure, but it’s got to be done.

Do it: Fly direct to San Francisco with Aer Lingus. See aerlingus.com

6. Stay in the Shaker Village in Kentucky

The Pleasant Hill Shakers were a mysterious folk – a religious community who worshipped through gregarious dance and singing said to have shaken the ground (hence their name). Nowadays, you can stay at in their former dwelling, in bedrooms filled with the most incredible furniture, eat food grown on site and spend your days marvelling at the beauty and history within the grounds.

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