The Adventure List: What it is and Why You Need One

By now, you have almost certainly heard of the Bucket List. That’s a list of things you hope to experience before you pass away or “kick the bucket.” Perhaps you even have one.

I do. I think they are a good idea.

But while the concept of the Bucket List is good, it has its limitations. You probably think of your bucket list in grandiose terms. Your list is probably filled with big-ticket items and stretch goals, like taking a trip to Japan, visiting every national park, or jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but the reality is that unless you are diligent in your pursuit of your bucket list items, you will probably run out of time, money, or ability to achieve all of them before you actually kick that proverbial bucket.

The time you spend experiencing your bucket list dreams will comprise a relatively small percentage of the rest of your time on Earth. And while major events are memorable and satisfying, your overall happiness is going to be determined more by how you live your life on a day-to-day basis.

As writer and cartoonist Allan Saunders said (and John Lennon later sang), “life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” And one of my favorite quotes is this one by Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

So how can you ensure that your life is enjoyable and fulfilling during all that time between each of your bucket list experiences?

You need an Adventure List!

Think of this as sort of a micro-bucket list; a list of smaller, easier, more local things you have probably thought that you might like to do “someday.”

How many interesting places to go and things to do exist within 50 miles of where you live? Chances are, there are far more than you realize.

If you start brainstorming and doing a little bit of inquisitive research, you can easily come up with a list of dozens or even hundreds of possibilities. Here are some ways you can build your list:

  • Subscribe to your local magazine. Many cities and states have them. These magazines usually publish their content on a website, too. You can find your local magazine in the checkout line of your local grocery stores and book stores, or visit the City & Regional Magazine Association’s member directory to find one near you.
  • Step into a local hotel. Most hotel lobbies have a rack filled with pamphlets and directories of things to do in your area.
  • Look at an online map of your area. As you zoom in and scroll around, notice the landmarks that appear.
  • Be observant as you drive around town. Notice things that you have routinely driven past but never really paid attention to. Visit parts of town you don’t usually visit (if it’s safe) and drive down some roads you don’t usually travel. I have lived in the east valley suburbs of Phoenix for almost 23 years, and there are museums I have driven past repeatedly that I have never visited.
  • Check the Upcoming Events listings in your local newspapers (print or online). Look for upcoming concerts, weekend festivals, and special exhibitions.
  • Ask your friends. In a Facebook post, I asked my local friends what lesser-known, out-of-the-way attractions they could recommend, and I got some good responses. Recently I asked what local, non-chain restaurants are their favorites, and I have received over 50 suggestions for new restaurants to try.
  • Visit

Of course, not everything you find will interest you, but some of them will. You needn’t feel compelled to visit the World’s Largest Ball of Twine or the Burnt Food Museum just because they are there, unless your curiosity gets the best of you or you find these kinds of oddities strangely fascinating. And yes, these places actually exist.

Try to keep an open mind and be willing to try new things. Even options that may not excite you immediately are probably worth checking out. At best, you will discover something interesting. At worst, you’ll learn what not to do again. In either case, you will break free of your routine, get out of the house, and experience something different.

Here are some prompts to get you started.

  • What museums have you never visited?
  • What restaurants you have never tried?
  • What parks have you never visited?
  • What do tourists do when they come to your area?
  • What towns within driving distance have you never visited?
  • What quirky, one-of-a-kind shops exist in your area?
  • What places in your area have historical importance?
  • What gardens, zoos, or wildlife sanctuaries exist near you?
  • Where can you go to enjoy scenic views or take interesting pictures?

If you are married or partnered, build your Adventure List together with your spouse. Perhaps you have friends who would like to join you on some of these adventures.

Try to end up with at least 50 items in your Adventure List. Then, decide how frequently you will pick one of these activities and do it. Jeff and I have decided to devote every Tuesday to this pursuit, since we usually don’t have any other activities scheduled on that day.

Some of your Adventure List items may call for an overnight or weekend trip, which can be a delightful change of pace.

Museums and botanical gardens sometimes offer free admission on one day each week or month. You can also investigate whether any of these attractions offer senior discounts.

With an Adventure List, you will always have something fun and interesting to look forward to. Your daily life will be fresher, and you’ll have interesting things to talk about when you get together with your family and friends. All of your friends on Facebook will be envious because your life will seem so much more interesting than theirs. (And it probably will be.)

Why not start your Adventure List today, and start exploring what’s right there in your own back yard? (Figuratively, anyway.)

Please feel welcome to comment below.

Oh, and one more thing.

Admit it. You Googled the World’s Largest Ball of Twine and the Burnt Food Museum, didn’t you?  🙂

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© 2018 Dave Hughes. All rights reserved.

Photo credits:
Magnifying glass-map-keys: Steve Buissinne
Another day-another adventure: Alexandra