Our family as a few bucket lists. Well, more than a few. It seems we add things to our bucket list faster than we can do them. Sound familiar? LOL! This bucket list: Unique Hotels and Vacation Stays in the U.S., is all about places that are different and that we would really love to visit one day.
This bucket list is about unique places to stay, and go beyond just a place to sleep – they provide an experience. We think these stays are fun and memorable. They are located all over the U.S., and range from vintage to western, RV camping, iconic road trips, boating adventures, remote wilderness, wild animals, and scenic train trips.
As always, if you have any great ideas let us know! Enjoy!
Bucket List: Unique Hotels and Vacation Stays in the U.S.
1 | The Queen Mary
The Queen Mary is a decommissioned transatlantic luxury passenger ship that sailed between England and the US from 1936 to the late 60’s. Now listed on the National Historic Register, The Queen Mary has been beautifully restored and is operating as a luxury hotel in it’s permanent home in Long Beach, California. A stay on this ship is like stepping back in time, and is an experience like none other. With beautiful rooms, fantastic restaurants, a spa, tours, and the surrounding Long Beach area – there are plenty of things to do for everyone!
We’ve added this to our bucket list not only because it would be an awesome experience, but for sentimental reasons as well. My Grandfather sailed on The Queen Mary in 1937 when they moved from Denmark to the United States. I actually have his original traveling trunk, with his Queen Mary sticker still on the outside. How cool is that?! 🙂 For more information on The Queen Mary, or to book a stay, see HERE. More things to do around The Queen Mary and Long Beach, CA area
2 | Outer Banks Wild Horses and a Secluded Beach Rental Home
Located on the northern end of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Carova Beach is a very remote area accessible only by unpaved beach and a 4wd vehicle. The area is also famous for its wild horses that roam freely through the area and for its natural beauty. There are no hotels, stores, or restaurants in the Carova area. Corolla is the nearest town and has all of those amenities. Because there are no hotels the only options for lodging are in vacation home rentals. Make sure to book early because they go fast! The perfect relaxing getaway! More Information on vacation rentals in OBX
3 | Mississippi River Cruise in a Rented Houseboat
What better way to see the Mississippi River than be on it? Friends of ours rent a houseboat on the Mississippi every year and have a great time. Many houseboats have hot tubs and water slides, and sleeping space for a couple of families. Sharing with another family works out well as you can share in the navigation and cost. There are multiple companies that offer houseboat rentals from Louisiana to Minnesota. Be advised that for all rentals you do have to go through navigation and boating safety training beforehand. You’ll want to do some planning prior to your trip so you can know the ins and outs of the river, places you are allowed to moor your boat – and places you are not. More Information
4 | Farm Stay
Farm stays and agritourism are increasing in popularity every year. A farm stay is a really great alternative to a hotel if you’re looking for something more than just a bed. Farm stays can be anything from ranches to alpaca farms, vineyards, or dairy farms. They are a wonderful way to experience life in the country and a good way to reconnect with your family. One of the best reasons to stay – you are helping to support a farmer! More Information
5 | Amtrak’s Scenic Coast Starlight Train
A scenic trip on the Amtrak’s Coast Starlight Train has been on our bucket list for a long time. The trip itself is a scenic 36-hour train ride from Seattle to LA, stopping in several cities along the way, including Portland and Sacramento. As if the fantastic views aren’t enough, the train has an observation car, dining car, a bar, and some private sleeping rooms so you can enjoy a relaxing overnight stay on board. Train travel is such a civilized and relaxing way to travel!
We would like to combine this train ride with a stopover in the Portland area and Mt. Hood, then The Vintages (see #10 below). Then continue on down into California to see a couple of the national parks, then hop off for an overnight stay on The Queen Mary. From there we’d rent a car and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. Sounds awesome, right?
6 | Bear Viewing and Fishing at Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park, Alaska
To be honest, you really could just add the entire state of Alaska on your bucket list as there are MANY cool places to stay and National Parks to visit. We, of course, have a bucket list item to see as many of the National Parks in the U.S. as possible, and this one is definitely a must see.
Katmai National Park is only accessible by boat or plane making for spectacular scenery getting in and out. Brooks Lodge is situated within the beautiful park and is made up of modern cabins surrounding the main lodge. While initially known for awesome fishing, the secret is out and it is now also recognized as one of the top places to view bears in their natural habitat – and the bears can be literally on your doorstep. This is a nature lovers paradise.
7| Classic Route 66 Road Trip – in an RV
Route 66, also known as “The Mother Road” is the most iconic road trip in America and is on many people’s bucket list. Officially established in 1926 and 2,500 miles long, it was the original highway in the U.S. connecting Chicago to LA. During its heyday there were fabulous motels, restaurants, and roadside attractions. While we no longer use Route 66 as a main highway, there are many people committed to preserving as much of it as possible, and there are still many things to see.
We have been lucky enough to have driven a stretch of route 66 between Las Vegas and Arizona and it was awesome. There was very little traffic, but we were not far off the new highway. There were lot’s of things to see and we even stopped at a terrific diner that has been there since the 50’s. Sometime in the future we would love to hop in our RV and drive the whole thing. How awesome would that be?
For right now it’s a dream and very high on our bucket list. For those who are ready to head out and do it, there are some great sites with lot’s of information to help you plan the road trip of a lifetime. If anyone has done this trip, or has some great tips on RV spots along the way – PLEASE share! In the meantime here are several sites with great information: State by State detail of RV parks along Route 66, Roadtrippers Mapping and Interesting Roadside Attractions
8 | Wagon Train Trek in Utah
How about a 4-day 3-night historic, and authentic, wagon train trek in beautiful Kanab, Utah. The Western Legends Round-Up is followed by a western film and music festival complete with celebrities. For anyone interested you can choose to ride a horse for the day instead of riding in a wagon. For the tenderfoot you can opt to join the wagon trek for one day or all, and stay at alternative hotels. Kanab is close to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Lake Powell, and The Wave so you can join the wagon train for one of the days and enjoy some of the local area the others.
9 | Goose Rocks Lighthouse, Maine
If you need more solitude than the secluded beach in Outer Banks only accessible by a 4 x 4, then try the Goose Rocks Lighthouse in Maine – which is only accessible by boat. It’s the only offshore ocean lighthouse on the Eastern Seaboard that you can stay overnight in. After a boat operator kindly takes you out to the lighthouse, climb a ladder to your accommodations and take in the beautiful scenery. The only way to stay in the lighthouse is if you make a donation to the fund. The donations are tax deductible and they keep the lighthouse funded and in working order. This is a fabulous experience to do either as a couple or a family! You’re family will be talking about it for years.
10 | The Vintages Trailer Resort
Want to rent a charmingly restored vintage RV in Oregon’s Willamette wine country? Sure! Want to relive the past in a lovingly restored and cozy retro trailer? We do! The Vintages Trailer Resort is literally the cutest trailer resort in America.
My family and I have an addiction to RV’ing and even though we have our own RV, there is nothing like a vintage trailer. We love the idea that The Vintages has taken the time to preserve these beauties to share with everyone. The location of the resort is perfectly situated next to a vineyard and within an easy drive of other fantastic spots in Oregon (Portland, Mt. Hood, Columbia River). For those of you traveling in your own RV, you are in luck! They are also a part of Willamette Wine Country RV Park.
My sister lives in the area, so when we first learned about The Vintages Trailer Resort I called her immediately. Of course she was so excited she took a trip a few weekends later and stopped by The Vintages for some awesome pics! Shameless plug alert – see my sister’s blog post, Airstream Dreams – The Vintages Trailer Resort, OR.