Writing a descriptive essay is an excellent way for students to detail a particular experience related to a person, place, object, situation, emotion, or abstract feeling.
However, while this exercise in creativity showcases a student’s ability to put words into sensory focus, it can be rather challenging to complete because the subject matter is so open-ended.
This is especially true when choosing the topic for a descriptive essay since finding a suitable topic will depend on a student’s ability to find the right words to describe it.
If you are a student that has received a descriptive writing essay assignment from your professor, fear not! This incredible list of 125 descriptive essay topics will ensure that you have a great starting point from which to craft your essay.
Before choosing a topic, check out the secrets to writing a descriptive essay that will help get you the grade you deserve on your writing assignment.
Critical Elements of a Descriptive Essay
Unlike essay styles that are fact-based, it is essential to remember that a descriptive essay is based on abstract observation. Its purpose is to describe a topic, person, place, object, situation, emotion, or abstract feeling.
To do this, descriptive essays require sensory words that create vivid imagery in the reader’s mind to make them feel like they are in the moment being described. Sensory words include, but are not limited to:
- Taste – sweet, salty, bitter, sour, metallic, spicy, and tart.
- Touch – smooth, bumpy, coarse, prickly, wet, sticky, dry
- Sight – colorless, colorful, blurry/blinding/too bright to see clearly
- Season – fall, winter, summer, spring, crisp, humid, wet, freezing,
- Sound – hectic, chaotic, quiet, thunderous, loud, jarring
- Smell – musty, earthy, damp/wet, dusty, smoky, stinky, fragrant
- Appearance – sharp, glossy, faded, gleaming, sleek, shiny/glossy
- Feelings – happy, sad, angry, frustrated, excited, afraid/scared
Other sensory words may describe the color of a person’s hair, the mood or energy in a room, and even the temperature. When choosing a topic for your descriptive essay, be sure to pay close attention to sensory words that could serve as the backbone of your paragraphs.
Additionally, because of the nature of the writing, it is 100% okay to embellish or even exaggerate certain sensory words to make them seem even more engaging and tangible for the reader.
How to Structure a Descriptive Essay
Even though this essay will rely on sensory words to create a vivid image of what is being described, it is essential to remember that a descriptive essay still needs to have an intro, body, and conclusion.
The first sentence of an introduction paragraph for a descriptive essay should contextualize the scene. Take the time to describe the place where the event takes place, including setting details like time of day, weather, season, and the current mood of the scene.
Body of the Essay
Once a student has established where they are, it is essential to detail what else is happening in the following paragraphs. This means describing elements of the scene in detailed description using humor, sensory language, and vivid imagery.
Consider incorporating details about what people are doing, the noises they are making, the smells permeating the air, visible colors, and surrounding textures.
A descriptive essay conclusion should serve as a recap in which you describe one final element of the scene or an observation about what was seen, heard, smelled, or touched.
Additionally, this is when you could include a reflection of how the scene made you feel in order to leave your reader with an intangible lasting impression.
What Should Never Go into a Descriptive Essay
To make sure that you are writing a descriptive essay and not another form of writing, students should be careful not to mention or use the following:
- Dialogue. Remember that the descriptive essay is meant to retell one single image, moment, or experience.
- Chain of events. The scene should exist in its own bubble of storytelling, free from erroneous events before or after the scene takes place.
- Characters. While secondary details may go along with the scene, such as people who add to the mood, this is still not an appropriate essay to mention, create, or develop the backstory for a literary character.
125 Descriptive Essay Topics
With the do’s and don’ts of descriptive essay writing above, students can choose any of these topics to help spark inspiration during their next descriptive essay writing assignment.
Descriptive Essay Topics About People
- My favorite teacher
- My first crush
- My best friend
- The girl I have a massive crush on right now
- My newborn baby sibling
- A member of my family
- My partner in crime
- My idol
- The cutest baby I have ever seen
- The most annoying person I know
- Someone who has inspired me the most
- My ex
- My first job
- The student that I want to be like
- A significant mentor in my life
- My closest friend’s child
- The most intelligent person I know
Descriptive Essay Topics About Places
- My hometown
- The most beautiful place in nature that I have ever seen
- A favorite spot on the school campus
- My favorite coffee shop
- My favorite country
- A place I want to visit before I die
- My favorite movie theater
- The best beach in the area
- My favorite retail store
- The worst place on campus
- A place where I have experienced fear
- Where I was happiest
- The place where I am the most relaxed
- A place I can’t seem to get enough of
- My dream house
- My favorite art gallery
- The museum that always seems to disappoint me
- A location I know well
- Where I would choose to live if money were no object
Descriptive Essay Topics About Objects & Things
- My favorite book
- A piece of jewelry that holds a special meaning for me
- The best meal I have ever eaten
- My favorite decoration in my room
- The best painting I have ever seen
- A piece of clothing that makes me feel beautiful
- An item that brings back a fond memory for me
- My favorite sports team’s jersey
- My favorite outfit to wear while hanging out with friends
- A book that changed my life
- My favorite book series
- The next book I want to read
- An item that is very special to me
- My most treasured possession
- A movie that holds a very dear place in my heart
- Something I would never throw away despite its flaws
- A personal memento from someone who has passed away
- A ridiculous thing I own
- An item that makes my life easier
- A piece of technology that has changed my life for the better
- My favorite poem or short read
- The best song I have ever heard
- What I collect obsessively
Descriptive Essay Topics About Animals
- The most intelligent animal I have ever known
- A pet that has been with me through thick and thin
- An animal that fascinates me most
- The most dangerous animal I’ve encountered
- An extinct creature I would love to see resurrected
- A dangerous animal I have a healthy respect for
- The cutest animal in the world
- What creature would be my best friend if it could talk?
- My favorite wildcat
- An experience I had with an animal that genuinely touched me
- The strangest pet I’ve ever owned
- My favorite zoo animal when I was a child
- What I love most about being a pet owner
- My favorite farmyard animal
- The most exotic animal I have ever seen
- One animal that should be extinct
- A farm animal that is my spirit creature
Descriptive Essay Topics About Food
- My favorite meal to cook for myself on a day off
- The best meal I ever ate out at a restaurant
- What makes the perfect sandwich to me
- My go-to comfort food when I’m having a bad day
- My local specialty
- My favorite dish at a restaurant I frequent
- The best meal I have ever had in my life is
- My most embarrassing/funniest food-related story
- What I always order when dining out with friends
- A new flavor combination of food that intrigues me
- A dish I love to cook when I’m in a happy mood
- The best dish at a restaurant I don’t want to admit I frequent
- A food I wish didn’t exist because it makes me fat
- The best meal my mom ever made for me
Descriptive Essay Topics About Nature
- A creature I met in the wild
- A tree outside my house
- Something I would save if a forest were on fire
- A stream that runs near my home
- The most beautiful sunset I have ever seen
- My favorite type of plant or flower
- An outdoor activity I enjoy
- My favorite forest animal
- A flower I want to grow in my garden
- Something about nature that makes me feel small
- The most dangerous/fascinating type of weather phenomenon I have ever seen
- The best view I have ever seen
- Where I go to relax outside
- What natural phenomenon fascinates me the most
- The most beautiful place in nature that I’ve ever visited
- A moment with nature that left a lasting impression on me.
- My favorite park or garden
Descriptive Essay Topics About Memories & Personal Experiences
- The weirdest dream I ever had
- One of my worst nightmares
- My biggest fear in life is
- A memory from my childhood that brings a smile to my face
- The worst thing that has ever happened to me unexpectedly
- The best thing that has ever happened to me unexpectedly
- One of my most treasured memories is
- My first memory of meeting someone who changed my life
- An event that inspired me to start this blog
- A random act of kindness I received unexpectedly
- Something amazing about myself that I never thought possible
- A time I wished I didn’t have to grow up/be an adult
- The best vacation I’ve ever taken
- What makes a perfect day for me
- One of my favorite things to do when it’s raining outside is
- The moment that made me realize I was officially an adult
- The most exciting dream I’ve ever had
- My biggest regret is
With these 125 descriptive essay topics and the handy writing guide above, students can craft a vivid and engaging descriptive essay!