Educational Vacation Ideas for Families

Stargazing Getaways with Kids
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Combining a vacation with an educational component can feel like a win-win. The whole family gets a fun getaway and everyone gets to learn something to boot.

You don't need to travel to famous locales. In reality, any destination offers opportunities for learning. Broadly speaking, educational vacations come in several styles: informal learning where families learn as they go by visiting museums or historic sites; resorts that offer enrichment programs and the chance to try something new; national park visits that offer the chance to learn about wildlife; escorted tours focused on family adventures.

Resorts With Enrichment Programs

Resorts all over the world now offer myriad ways to learn new skills, try a new activity, or take workshops for every interest. If someone in your family has a particular interest, be it cooking or astronomy or Native American culture, do some research to find resorts that may offer what you are looking for. The possibilities are endless.

Seek out resorts that offer recreational activities you and your kids have not yet tried. Nature tours, whether on foot or bike or kayak, can be terrific options. 

If your kid loves animals, look for resorts that offer the opportunity to learn about or even handle a specific animal for the first time. For example, the Woodstock Resort & Spa in Vermont offers a wonderful birds-of-prey experience where you and your kids can free-fly a trained hawk.

Is your child interested in stargazing? Consider heading to Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and the Primland Resort, where high altitude and sky clarity combine to ensure excellent stargazing.

 Don’t miss a nighttime "Tour of the Universe" in the Primland Observatory, home to one of the largest telescopes on the East Coast.

Several Club Med Resorts, including Club Med Sandpiper Bay Resort in Florida, offer a unique opportunity to go to circus school and learn the flying trapeze.  Check rates at Club Med Sandpiper Bay Resort.

City Visits

A visit to a city can be an eye-opening experience for families and a chance to get a big dose of art and culture in a short period of time. If your kids are young, look for children's museums geared especially for kids under 12. Science museums with interactive exhibits can be great bets for elementary-school and middle-school aged kids. When visiting art museums, plan on spending a maximum of two or three hours and choose artists with kid appeal.

Historic Destinations

What better way to learn about Colonial history than a visit to Colonial Williamsburg? Want to buff up on the Civil War? Head to the Gettysburg or Antietam battlefields.

National Parks

If your kids love nature and wildlife, a family vacation to a national park can be a bucket-list experience. Before you leave home, visit the park's website to find out about Junior Ranger programs aimed at school-age kids. By completing a few fun activities or games, your child can earn a Junior Ranger patch or certificate.

Interest-Based Travel

Whatever your kids are interested in can be nurtured on a trip. Look for ways to incorporate their passions into your vacation. Does your kid have a fascination with dinosaurs? Consider a trip to Utah, a real-life Jurassic World.

Kids who are interested in space would love a visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

International Travel

Planning a trip to Western Europe is fun and fairly straightforward. If this is your family's first visit to Europe, you may want to start with a major city destination, such as London, Paris, or Rome.

Several tour operators focus on families in designing trips that combine education and fun. One of the best is Adventures by Disney, which offers premium guided family tours to destinations in North America and around the globe. The company is known for its bucket-list destinations, low guide-to-guest ratio, and offering many behind-the-scenes, VIP experiences that are exclusive to guests.

- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher