As a homeschooling family, we love to learn together. Learning together has become a way of life for us. It is the passion, the driving force behind a lot of our decision-making including where to spend our weekends, where to go on spring and summer vacation, and where to stop on the way to visit family and friends. Every moment in life offers an opportunity to learn and every location has a story. So educational trips are a big part of our life.
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Below you will find a collection of educational trip destinations that fall into different categories including history, art, science, nature, space, and literature. All of these make for excellent opportunities to learn with your family. Enjoy!
Educational Family Trips That Inspire Passion In History
Regardless of where we live, we all have one thing in common – history surrounds us. You don’t have to leave your own town to learn some amazing history. Contact your local historian, visit the historical sites that grace your own streets, or attend festivals that are celebrating historical moments in the history of your town.
We live in one of the oldest towns in Tennessee so historical sites are available in abundance here. We have toured them all. We have also attended lectures and even festivals revolving around these locations. If you are unsure where to go, check out this list of US Historical Landmarks from The National Park Service.
Tour Your State Capital
I remember when I was growing up in Maine we took a field trip to the state capital in Augusta. I remember how I felt as a kid that the building itself felt like strength and power. As we toured we learned all about the great history of Maine and I was filled with a sense of pride to be part of such an amazing story. Since then I have visited: Boston-Massachusets, Hartford-Connecticut, Atlanta-Georgia, Indianapolis-Indiana, Raleigh-North Carolina, Columbia- South Carolina, and Nashville-Tennessee. Each one of these destinations has been rich in history and overflowing with opportunities to learn more.
*Check out this list – 50 Reasons to Visit Every US State Capital from Fodors.
National Historic Trails
You may be wondering what a National Historic Trail is exactly. Well, according to NPS, “A National Historic Trail is a long-distance route that follows and commemorates a historic path of travel that changed the history and character of the U.S.” For example, you could follow the route of the Pony Express, The Trail of Tears, or chase Lewis and Clark from sea to shining sea. Youn can literally walk in the footsteps of history itself by following one of these trails. To learn more about these trails visit the National Parks Service.
Witnessing historical reenactments is a wonderful way to bring history to life for your family. We attend a lot of these events. I’ve shared a few such as the 24th Annual Siege at Fort Watauga and Rocky Mount to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence. We love to attend Christmas events that recreate histories such as the ones put on at Carter Mansion. To find events such as these visit reenactorinfo.org. Also, visit your local historical sites and inquire about future events.
Educational Trips That Inspire Passion In Art
The Arts have so much to offer but sadly they are all too often neglected in a typical educational setting. Every year less and less time is afforded to this important part of a well-rounded education. The good news is that as a family you can fill the gap by emerging yourself and your children into the world of art.
I love visiting museums and taking in all the art. When you witness a great exhibit you see art but you learn about storytelling, history, psychology, and so much more. We recently visited the Cincinnati Museum of Art and I wish we could have stayed two more days. When you visit make sure you take the guided tours and take your time. To find amazing museums near you check out this collection from artcyclopedia.
I remember as a kid in grade school how much I loved being in the plays. The scripts, the wardrobe, the scenery… I never outgrew my love of the theater. At this point in my life, I especially love a good musical but there is theater for all preferences. T prefers there be no singing, just a well-told story. But even he loved seeing The Nutcracker presented by The Kingsport Ballet. It was incredible. Those snowflakes! Just before Covid shut down the world, Mr. Wonderful and I had planned to see Cats, the broadway musical had hit the road and was coming to Knoxville. We also had planned to see Wicked in Atlanta. Theater can make a great date too. Check out this list of Broadway shows on tour and find a list of state theaters right here.
Some of the most talented musicians in the world are ready to share their gifts with your family. Visiting the orchestra is a beautiful way to spend time together. No one leaves untouched by the waves that wash over you as a full symphony presents. Inevitably you will be introduced to pieces you’ve never heard of before. The orchestra can open a whole new door for many of us and it is always an uplifting experience. Wikipedia offers a list of Symphony Orchestras you can check out right here.
Educational Family Day Trips That Inspire Passion In Science and Nature
Science, nature, geography! The opportunities to learn all things science are far-ranging. It’s no wonder this category offers the most suggestions for great educational day trips.
Zoos and Aquariums
Everyone loves a day at the zoo or a visit to the aquarium! The opportunities to learn about animals and their habitats are endless. We recommend you check to see what shows they may be offering and make sure you see them. To find out where the nearest accredited zoos and aquariums are visit the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or check out this collection of The Best Zoo In Every State from Reader’s Digest.
There is something magical about touring a cave. We have toured Appalachian Caverns and Craighead Caverns where The Lost Sea is hidden. Both were amazing family day trips. This summer we plan to visit Mammoth Cave to learn about geology, plants, animals, ecosystems, and more. Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave system with more than 400 miles of surveyed passageways. If you would like to share this experience with your family you can check out The National Caves Association here.
National and State Parks
I’d love to visit every single park listed on the National Parks Register. We spend a lot of time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cade’s Cove is a trip we do annually. There are classes and tours offered all over the park all year long. We’ve done First Hikes at Natural Tunnel State Park, and we have plans to visit Cumberland Gap this fall. Whatever park you visit be sure to get involved in the events and programs the park is offering to learn as much as possible. Opportunities like those will enhance your experience so much.
You can see and learn about a variety of plant life you may never encounter without the opportunity to visit a Botanical Garden. They also feature picture-perfect nature walks as you walkabout. There are always plenty of educational opportunities to learn from naturalist experts so be sure to check their class schedule before you go. You may even have a chance to help preserve endangered species. Check out this list of the Top 20 Public and Botanical Gardens in the United States from Garden Design.
Tour Laboratories: Walk alongside scientists and see what has them excited about learning.
Did you know that all across the country, labs of all types are offering tours of their facilities? You can learn a lot in these settings. For us, The Oak Ridge National Laboratory right here in Tennessee, a once-secret town with a history of being part of the Manhattan Project, is on the list for this summer. We have attended virtual tours with them in the past and found them interesting and informative. When we head to Maine next time we plan to visit The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor to learn all about their research into genetics. But no matter where you are or where you are going, you can do a quick internet search to see which laboratories have something interesting to teach you.
*For rainy day learning check out this list of virtual laboratories you can tour from energy.gov.
Educational Trips That Inspire Passion In Space
Our family is made up of space nerds and we are proud of it. We have taken part in so many educational opportunities with JPL/NASA through our homeschool and we never miss a launch or a landing. There is so much to discover!
Planetariums and Observatories
If you have never visited a planetarium then you are in for a treat. The entire universe awaits you within. We love visiting our local planetarium and I confess to including trips there with each unit study on space we completed in our homeschool. You can explore the stars, planets, constellations, and other galaxies in the night sky and I think it’s absolutely one of the most beautiful learning experiences you can share with your family. To find a planetarium near you visit Go Astronomy here!
Most of us are familiar with The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum but there are many other space museums just waiting for families like yours to visit. We really want to visit The Kennedy Space Center to witness a launch. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is on our wish list too! We want to visit the Henry Crown Space Center! And what about Space Center Houston? They have a ton of space to explore and talk about cool photo ops! These and so many other opportunities to learn about space together exist. To find your next space destination check out Pillow Astronaut here.
Educational Trips That Inspire Passion In Reading and Writing
I wrote my first short story before I could write. I had to have my mom or sisters put my words to paper. Since my earliest memories, I have been in love with language and the power it has to stir a heart or change the world. There are so many opportunities to take educational trips that share the power of reading and writing with our families. Here are a few.
Whether it be a library, the home of a famous author, or a literary museum or exhibit, there a lot of ways to learn all about the written word. Check out this collection of Literary Landmarks from United for Libraries.
Visiting the library as a family may not have occurred to you before, but hear us out. First of all, almost every library offers events targeting families from game nights to maker nights. They already have something fun planned for families across America and most of the time these events are low or no cost. That’s hard to beat. But there are some libraries that are worthy of a family visit for entirely different reasons. Some are just too beautiful to miss such as those collected in this post The 25 Most Beautiful Libraries in America from Bob Vila. And some are too big to miss. Check out the Largest Libraries In The United States from World Atlas to see why these make great family destinations as well.
So there you have our top selections for educational day trips! Did you find a few that you are ready to take now? We hope so. Sharing experiences like those suggested here is a great way to bond with family members and create treasured memories. If you were thinking of a destination that I didn’t include, please share it in the comments section below. We love to hear from you!
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