When it’s time to travel again but you’re limited to a particular region or staying between the coasts, consider these 10 locations, selected by SYTA member tour operators as the top United States travel destinations favored by students and teachers.
An “emerging” destination just a few years ago, Atlanta is city boasting countless must-see attractions and learning opportunities, offering the best of urban life and thousands of acres of serene nature. There are plenty of chances for students to learn about the civil rights movement and African-American culture, explore Midtown museums, visit the apartment where an iconic book was written, check out Georgia’s only 4D theater, be immersed in professional and college sports, and more.
Grounded in Colonial history and full of cutting-edge innovation, America’s Walking City is full of personality and options for taking in its burgeoning arts scene. Students can cruise on the Boston Harbor before learning about the Wampanoag People and the Colonial English community of the 1600s, the American Revolution—right where it was born—and more. Be sure to experience championship sport teams, world-class ballet and a show where students become part of the cast.
Exploring the beauty of the underwater world and natural history is easy to do in Chicago. From tours by foot, bus, bike, or boat to examining science education inside one of the largest science museums in the world, students have plenty to take in. Don’t forget to see a show at one of the city’s more than 200 theaters! While the river may flow backward, a decision to visit the Windy City is always a step forward.
A multicultural haven, California is more than sunny skies and palm trees. In Los Angeles, explore incredible zoos before heading to a museum dedicated to the biggest names in popular music. The movie industry comes alive through behind-the-scenes tours and you’ll find abundant theme park rides and performance opportunities. Or head up to San Francisco for beautiful views, a famous island prison and one of the world’s most famous bridges.
For Civil War history enthusiasts, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania can’t be beat. The town is filled to the gills with American history going back to 1736. From interactive museums and hands-on demonstrations to civilian stories, unique battlefield tours, agricultural experiences and a multitude of group-friendly dining options, Gettysburg and the surrounding Adams County is an ideal student destination. See where Lincoln gave his famous address four months after a decisive battle turned the tides of the war.
Nashville didn’t get its Music City nickname for nothing! Museums explore the history of country music and its most influential names, while well-known venues provide opportunities for performance and backstage tours. Students with an eye for mechanics will love the chance to soak up automotive history, while historic mansions and plantations offer a pathway to learn about—and from—the past. From there, a planetarium transports students into deep space.
New York, New York is known as the Center of the Universe for good reason. The biggest city in the U.S. is densely packed with endless cultural experiences and history. Throughout the city’s five boroughs, students can find some of the most recognized monuments in the world; gaze upon iconic skylines from tens of stories above the ground; peruse world-class museums dedicated to art, oddities, and celebrities; and take in the sights. Memories are easy to make throughout the city, often favored for Broadway shows and their corresponding behind-the-scenes tours and workshops.
Discover activities and attractions in the Theme Park Capital of the World—ones you can’t find anywhere else! Whether students seek high-flying thrills or a rousing dinner theater show, Orlando is the ultimate place for fun. Performance opportunities for enhanced music education along the coast abound along with plenty of dining options, some among prized music artifacts—perfect for when students need to fuel up for their next adventure.
The incredibly walkable U.S. capital city has a thriving arts and theater scene. Various museums and monuments offer students an avenue to delve further into the importance of the First Amendment, journalism, government and more. They could also take advantage of many well-known and respected free attractions as they gain deeper understanding of the nation’s history. Don’t forget to check out some of the nearby professional sports games while you’re there!
Once the capital of Virginia Colony, Williamsburg played a significant role in the American Revolution and remains one of the most important historical sites in the country. At its heart is Colonial Williamsburg, a highly immersive district and living-history museum featuring actors depicting 18th-century life and culture. From the world of Colonial medicine to working with iron in a blacksmith shop, African American religion, ox wagon rides and more, Williamsburg offers history with captivating fun.
This article originally appeared in the May issue of Teach & Travel.