The summer slide is the most common experience for school-age children once school’s out. No, this isn’t a playground attraction or water park ride. The summer slide is the amount of information your kids lose while on break before starting school again in the fall.
A certain amount of loss is expected, but if you want to minimize it, consider choosing educational vacations this summer. Luckily, kids’ brains are like sponges — they’ll soak up new information practically anywhere, so you can take them on a learning-centered trip without them even realizing it. All they’ll remember is the fun.
Take your family on trips around the country to learn about our nation’s history, science, music and art. Any of these destinations will provide even the fussiest learners with days of magical experiences.
The added benefit of taking domestic trips around the country is that it will allow you and your family to take in some of America’s amazing natural Beauty. Whether it’s an antelope canyon tour in Arizona or fishing in the Ozarks, the country has a lot to offer wherever you end up heading.
1. Washington, DC
Where else could you take the whole family where almost all of the entertainment is free? Come learn about the government in our nation’s capital. See where it all happens by taking tours of the Capitol building, Supreme Court, National Archives and the White House. Then, spend some time outdoors taking in the National Mall with its impressive grounds and stunning monuments, like the Lincoln Memorial.
The system of museums in the capital might just be the most impressive of anywhere you could go. The Smithsonian in Washington, DC, is a collection of 17 different museums where there’s truly something for everyone. Admission to every one of them is free, including a zoo. Another must-see while you’re visiting is the Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which is ideal for kids in middle grades and up — the images and material might be too much for young children.
2. Huntsville, AL
For space lovers, Huntsville is a dream destination since it’s the home of the US Space Camp and Rocket Center. Older children will love all the hands-on exhibits and experiences like astronaut training simulations, a climbing wall and an IMAX experience. Kids of all ages can enjoy getting up close and personal to full-size spacecraft.
3. Boston, MA
The Freedom Trail in Boston is a fun and educational way to get the family moving this summer. You’ll see 16 historical sites along the 2.5-mile trail and learn about the city’s history and our nation’s foundation. The path is clearly marked with a red line, and it’s absolutely free for visitors. However, if you want to enrich your experience, join one of the tours led by a costumed guide.
An educational family vacation to this city wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the Boston Children’s Museum. With tons of hands-on exhibits, your kids will explore life skills, sustainable living, STEAM and so much more. Check before you book your trip to see what unique attractions are visiting the museum.
4. Williamsburg, VA
You could spend multiple days at the Colonial Williamsburg site in Virginia. It’s the largest living history museum in the country, with 301 acres of fun. This “town” is bustling with life offering plenty to see and do.
Stop in the local shops or eateries, watch a craftsman’s demonstration, bind your own books and learn about how a printing press works. Shows and demonstrations run all day, but if it’s your first time here, you may want to book a tour to learn more. If you want to take in more history on your trip, Yorktown and Jamestown are both great places to visit and within easy driving distance.
5. New York City
This city packs an educational punch with plenty to offer for families with varied interests. Your kids will learn about the arts, history, science and culture. The opportunities are too vast to list them all, but we’ve curated a selection of must-see attractions.
Tour famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, New York Public Library and Empire State Building. Learn about interesting facts and famous people at Ripley’s Museum and Madame Tussaud’s. The American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Children’s Museum of the Arts and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum could provide days worth of entertainment for the whole family, especially if the weather forces the fun indoors. For an outdoor adventure, go on a nature walk through Central Park. Before leaving the city, appreciate the sights and sounds of a Broadway show. Follow this guide to the best Broadway shows for kids to help you decide beforehand.
6. Atlanta, GA
There’s so much to see and do in this fantastic city. Here you’ll find the world’s largest aquarium with eight million gallons of water, tens of thousands of animals, several touch pools, a 100-foot viewing tunnel and an ocean-themed playground.
Another great stop is the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, which is part of the national park service and comprised of several different attractions. Start at the visitors center to plan your day and learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. You can take a guided tour or go at your own pace. Check out the International World Peace Rose Garden, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the King Center, Birth Home Block and the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.
7. Memphis, TN
Memphis is another location steeped in Civil Rights history. Visit the National Civil Rights Museum housed in the reimagined Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Kids in middle school and older will appreciate the hands-on aspects of the museum. Expect plenty of questions.
Lighten the trip up a bit by learning more about music history. You can take the whole family for a fun visit to Graceland, Elvis’ home. Other possible stops include the Rock n’ Soul Museum and Blues Hall of Fame.
Don’t Forget the Camera
Even if your main goal for vacation is to learn new things, don’t discount the memories you’ll make along the way. Make sure you take plenty of photos at all your destinations to commemorate your time together. When you get home, extend the educational experience by creating a scrapbook of your trip and filling in information about each place you visited.