Photo courtesy of Flickr user Barrett.Discovery
Everyone remembers his or her favorite class trip. Whether it was to a museum or a historic monument, the best field trips not only educate but also entertain and leave a lasting impression. It can be hard to find one that balances having fun and learning, so we’ve done the work for you!
Rand McNally believes that one of the best ways to learn about the U.S. is by seeing it. We know it isn’t easy to take a class of 30 kids on a road trip across the U.S., so we’ve picked a few spots all over the country that are perfect for school trips. These destinations are guaranteed to educate, entertain, and amaze.
- Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
This is the obvious option for a history or geography field trip. It’s important for teachers to bring students of an appropriate age to Williamsburg to adequately appreciate the rich history.
The former capital of Virginia has been preserved from the 1700s. The historic community takes visitors on a trip to the past with their re-created colonial houses, men and women in costume and character, and period re-enactments. Convincing students that this is actually fun can be challenging, but once they get into it and forget that they are there to learn, they will really enjoy what seems like simply a hands-on performance.
- Springfield, Illinois
If you are teaching about past presidents and looking for a full day of sites (or more), Springfield is the perfect option. The city’s most famous past resident is Abraham Lincoln (can’t get much more famous than that!) The former president lived in Springfield for over 20 years, right up to his time in office, so the city is filled with attractions related to the famous president.
Why not start your day where Lincoln started his? Tour the Lincoln Home, where the family lived for 17 years. Next, as Lincoln would, head to his law offices to begin work. Lincoln practiced law in the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices in Springfield for nine years. Then move on to the Old State Capitol, home to many historical events and where Lincoln spent many of his workdays.
Once the kids are getting restless, take them to the reconstructed version of New Salem, the village that Lincoln spent six years living in. Costumed interpreters will engage students, as they take on characters of Lincoln’s time in this colonial village. Entertainment and education are alive here, literally.
Other interesting sites include Lincoln’s Tomb and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. Downtown Springfield is also full of history and would be a great place for a meal and free time.
- Salem, Massachusetts
Students of all ages will enjoy a trip to Salem. So will teachers, as a trip here can coincide with several books that classes often read–primarily The Crucible–and can intricately illustrate such an important time in American history; the Salem Witch Trials.
Captivating sites include the Witch House, Pioneer Village–a recreated puritan community, Cry Innocent, and the Salem Witch Museum.
- Angel Mounds State Historic Site: Evansville, Indiana
Angel Mounds is known as one of the best-preserved Native American sites in the U.S. The museum, reconstructed village, and interpretive center will teach students about the Middle Mississippian culture and the people who inhabited America before we did. This is a fun and thought-provoking way to teach about Native American life.
- They Also Ran Gallery: Norton, Kansas
It’s easy to forget the candidates who lost presidential elections, but perhaps that shouldn’t be the case. The They Also Ran Gallery showcases those who also ran in the presidential campaign, dating back to Thomas Jefferson. It illustrates each campaign, the candidate’s strategy, and why they lost.
This gallery perfectly compliments lessons about U.S. government and campaigning, and only requires half a day. This trip is better for high school students who are getting ready to vote in their first campaign.
- World Forestry Center: Portland, Oregon
Are you teaching your students about nature, biology, or environmental sustainability? Then the World Forestry Center is the perfect field trip for your class. The center has all 505 trees native to North America. But you aren’t limited to American forestry, visit forests found all over the world without leaving the state!
The museums and farms are spread out over 20,000 square feet, so you can spend days at the center, or choose what you want your students to see and have a thorough visit. Inside or outside, the center’s presentations, dioramas, and events will give your students a thorough understanding of their planet.
- Buddy Holly Center: Lubbock, Texas
For the more artistic students and teachers, don’t miss the Buddy Holly Center. It is not the typical class trip, but this history is just as educational. Celebrate the music of famous rock ‘n roller Buddy Holly and other influential musicians from Texas. Open your students’ eyes to famous musicians they’ve never heard of. At the Buddy Holly Center, they will learn about how these legendary artists shaped the music they listen to today. This is a unique and intriguing way to teach the history of Texas.
All of these field trips are interactive and unique. None of the attractions will bore your students with the right lesson accompaniment ahead of time. These trips will surprise and engage pupils, without them realizing they are learning. The destinations will give teachers a break, and students will think they are getting one as well!
Like what you see? Don’t forget to vote for these destinations for Best Towns or Best Places in America, and visit our Education page for more ideas and to stay updated on the America the Beautiful Essay Contest.