Ideas for planning educational travel

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Top stops: Boston

Boston, Mass. Credit: Kyle Klein Photography

Everyone knows about Boston’s status as the “Cradle of Liberty” and its historical significance, but a trip to today’s Boston offers so much more for students to explore. From experiencing some of the finest dancers and musicians in world class settings to going hands-on with a real squid and viewing the human body as never seen before, these top stops bring the arts and sciences to students in ways a video or textbook could never do.

Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet
Boston Ballet, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy Boston Ballet

Share an extraordinary experience with your students. Boston Ballet’s 2019–20 season explores new ways to tell timeless stories and showcases voices and visions that move beyond the ordinary. Groups of 10 or more enjoy discounts up to 40% on great seats. Plus, you’ll unlock access to special add-ons like backstage tours and dancer meet-and-greets. Email or call 617-456-6343 to get started. For more information, visit

The Museum of Science, Boston

Museum of Science, Boston
Museum of Science, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy Museum of Science, Boston

The Museum of Science, Boston is the place to learn, discover and have fun for every group size. Meet a 65-million-year-old Triceratops, witness indoor lightning, and explore worlds near and far in our Charles Hayden Planetarium and Mugar Omni Theater (featuring New England’s only IMAX® Dome screen). With countless interactive exhibits and activities, daily presentations — even live animals — there’s something for everyone! 

Gunther von Hagens’ “BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life,” featuring real human bodies, is on exhibit through January 5, 2020. You can experience both the wonders of the human body and the sensational science you’ll find throughout the museum! Details at

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy Boston Symphony Orchestra

Reservations are now being accepted for the 2019–20 Boston Symphony Orchestra season. Celebrating Andris Nelsons’ sixth season as music director, the 26 weeks of music ranging from favorites to newly-commissioned works will run through May 2, 2020. Be sure to ask about our “Working With the Masters”program, offering groups customized classes with our musicians! Email or call 617-638-9345 to secure the best pricing and availability. For more information, visit

New England Aquarium

New England Aquarium, Boston
New England Aquarium, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy New England Aquarium

Experience our blue planet like never before! Anchored on Boston’s picturesque waterfront, the New England Aquarium is a destination for memorable close encounters with ocean animals. Get up close to lively penguin islands and exotic Amazon habitats and immerse yourself in dazzling tropical reefs. Gently touch a shark or ray in our touch tank or a variety of marine life in our hands-on tidepool. Bring your questions as our educators are excited to share their ocean knowledge. And when you visit the aquarium, you support the ocean and allow us to renew our commitment to protecting the blue planet! Learn more at

Boston Pops

Boston Pops
Boston Pops, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy Boston Pops

The Boston Pops 2020 spring season in May and June celebrates Keith Lockhart’s 25th anniversary as music director. Bring your group to one of Boston’s “must-see” attractions where “America’s Orchestra” performs programs that feature Broadway favorites, exciting guest artists and the party atmosphere of Pops table seating with fun food and drink options. Email groupsales@bso.oror call 617-638-9345 to stay up to date on the latest 2020 Spring Pops information. For more information, visit

Carousel museum combines fun with learning

New England Carousel Museum
New England Carousel Museum, Bristol, Conn. Credit: Connecticut Office of Tourism

With 100 years of carousel art and history on display, The New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, Connecticut, shares the joy of the nostalgic amusement with student groups. The 33,000-square-foot museum houses more than 100 antique wooden horses, a restoration department and an indoor Venetian carousel.

“Educators and tour operators should include the New England Carousel Museum in their itineraries because it has something for everyone — carousel enthusiasts, history buffs, children, parents or those who are looking to learn about a piece of Americana that they have never thought of before,” said Hannah Einsiedel, reservation and membership coordinator at the museum. “We also offer curriculum-focused, STEAM-based programming for educators who are looking to add a field trip to their lesson plans.”

The museum can accommodate a maximum of 100 students at one time. Most groups spend at least an hour at the museum, but educators should plan for up to three hours if they are including an educational program. Tours and programs focus on topics like history, engineering and the art of carousels.

“We hope that all students take away not only a newfound appreciation for the art and history of carousels that they find outside our walls, but an invigorated intellectual curiosity for the different facets of our nation’s history that are often overlooked,” Einsiedel said.

A visit to the museum isn’t complete without a ride on the carousel, a part of the tour that’s always a favorite among students.

“Students and adults alike also enjoy our 1930 Wurlitzer band organ and watching our restoration artists in action,” Einsiedel said.

While visiting the museum, students also can explore three other museums under the same roof: Museum of Fire History, Museum of Greek Culture and The Fine Art Galleries. Student programming can overlap in those areas, if desired.

For more information on New England Carousel Museum call 860-585-5411 or go to

Schubert Club Museum presents joy of making music

tour at Schubert Club Museum music musical
Tour, Schubert Club Museum, Saint Paul, Minn. Credit: Schubert Club Museum

Students encounter a one-of-a-kind collection of musical instruments and manuscripts at Schubert Club Museum in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Kate Cooper, director of education and museum, said the museum demonstrates the inspiring role of music through the ages by means of its collection and music-themed exhibits of historic and cultural interest.

“The Schubert Club Museum is a wonderful space for all, located in Saint Paul’s iconic Landmark Center,” Cooper said. “It is an interactive space, which offers visitors a reflection on the joys of music-making through the centuries.”

The museum is in the process of being redesigned to make it even more interactive. But Cooper said the museum will remain open throughout the process.

schubert club museum sculpture music musical
“Cyclone” sculpture of instruments, Schubert Club Museum, Saint Paul, Minn.
Credit: Schubert Club Museum

Key exhibit areas include a massive “cyclone” sculpture of instruments from around the world, historic keyboards including a 17th-century Italian harpsichord, and music boxes and phonographs dating to 1890.

Playable originals and replicas of keyboards span the 17th to 20th centuries.

There’s also a traditional gamelan orchestra celebrating an over 1,000-year-old musical tradition from the islands of Bali and Java.

Tours can be guided or self-guided. Admission to the museum is free. Groups of five or more are encouraged to call ahead.

There is a place outside the building to unload motorcoaches, and motorcoaches are directed to an area about 1½ miles away to park.

For more information on Schubert Club Museum call 651-292-3266 or go to

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago celebrates top ranking

Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago Credit: J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) is celebrating the 10th consecutive year as the No. 1 field trip destination among Chicago museums.

According to Museums in the Park, 360,239 students visited MSI in 2018. This marks a full decade of MSI continuously providing fun, engaging science education to students on field trips that are free for Illinois schools and discounted for out-of-state students.

Museums in the Park is a coalition of 11 museums located on Chicago Park District property.

Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Credit: J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

“MSI is proud to be the leader in school group attendance across Chicago museums, providing awe-inspiring learning opportunities to students,” said Andrea Ingram, the Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee vice president of education and guest services. “Our experiences and group welcoming process are second to none, as these students are at the core of our vision to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering.”

With 14 acres of exhibits, Giant Dome Theater films and hands-on Learning Labs, the museum provides many learning opportunities.

Led by a museum educator, Learning Labs connect with classroom curriculum, engage students in the scientific process and provide insight into STEM careers.

Among the newer programs are Jr. Science Cafés, where students talk with STEM professionals about their career paths and their personal journeys into science.

Students can explore more than a dozen MSI exhibits such as “Science Storms,” “YOU! The Experience” and “Numbers In Nature: A Mirror Maze.”

MSI also provides discounted tickets for all school groups to experiences that include Coal Mine, Giant Dome Theater films, U-505 On-board Tour and Future Energy Chicago.

For more information, call 773-684-1414 or visit

5 fundraising ideas for an epic class trip


Educational travel can teach all kinds of lessons in leadership and responsibility, including how to earn and save money for the trip. Help students get started with one or more of these fundraising strategies.

1. Tried-and-true methods

A bake sale, car wash, used-book fair or community garage sale can generate significant funds. These are great ways to begin your fundraising efforts.

2. Crowdfunding

Websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe can be great ways to raise cash from donors all over the world. Share the campaign on social media for more exposure. When creating the campaign, pay attention to each website’s fine print, watching closely for hidden fees and payout information.

3. Battle of the Bands

Music is a hobby for many middle and high school students. Organize a Battle of the Bands and charge the bands and audience members. For a fun twist, consider a fundraising karaoke contest.

4. Recycling drive

Have students collect old cartridges, cell phones, clothes or even soda cans. Set up a partnership with a company that will buy the recycled items.

5. Color run

Students wear white T-shirts, and at specific checkpoints, volunteers spray them with water-based paint or throw water balloons containing paint. Charge a participation fee and have sponsors pledge money for each completed lap.

Fundraising tips from our readers

How do your students raise funds for a class trip?

“We set up booths at all of the area festivals and sell food products that are donated. Our sign also is helpful in receiving donations.”

James Craft, teacher, South Central Jr.­–Sr. High School, Union Mills, Indiana

“I have had success with selling World’s Finest Chocolate Bars. Our next big fundraiser is a bowling event at our local bowling alley.”

Amy Harn, choir director, Byron Community School District 226, Byron, Illinois

“We use our school parking lot for local parade parking on St. Patrick’s Day. We only ask for a free-will donation, and people literally throw $20 bills at us! The whole thing lasts only three hours — just waving students with signs to draw people in.  We made $1,600 this year!”

Bruce Boehne, teacher, Zion Lutheran School, Dallas, Texas

Learn about America’s development at Pioneer Village

Pioneer Village
Credit: Pioneer Village

Covered wagons carried pioneers and their belongings westward at an average of 10 miles per day. Since the wagons were crowded with belongings and food, everyone who could walk had to. At this speed, how many days would it take a class to walk from Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska, back to their school?

Such questions build critical thinking at Pioneer Village, where exhibits are arranged in chronological order to vividly portray how America grew from the open hearth and grease lamp to supersonic speed and cell phones. Often described as the “Smithsonian of the Plains,” the village is located a short 15-minute drive south of Interstate I-80.

“Visitors from around the world use words like ‘fantastic,’ ‘a wonderful American treasure,’ ‘amazing’ and ‘remarkable’ to describe the 50,000 items in 28 buildings,” said Marshall Nelson, the village’s general manager.

Pioneer Village automobiles and airplanes
Credit: Pioneer Village

Students marvel at items like a steam carousel and the world’s oldest Buick. They find wagons, buggies, saddles, guns, trains, 350 antique automobiles, 100 tractors, 20 aircraft, Rogers’ statuary and historic buildings. There are seven generations of kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms from 1830 to 1980. 

Nelson said the groups that visit are most surprised by the diversity of its collection. The village gives visitors the chance to experience the development of current technologies through the original technologies developed by forefathers.

“The collections encompass virtually every field of human endeavor,” Nelson said. “The museum is full of the actual items used by our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, as well as ourselves.

“When you experience the things from your past that were meaningful to you, you take away a sense of family, belonging and heritage, and the recognition of how our forefathers were able to survive and develop from the merger life of the 1800s to the world in which we now live,” he said.

Pioneer Village has served the student travel market for more than 65 years. There is front-door loading and unloading, easy motorcoach parking and the opportunity for a step-on welcome.

Nelson noted there are areas to sit down and rest, and shade trees. During the summer months, a snack bar is available for students to order drinks and old-fashioned burgers, chili cheese dogs and root beer floats. “It is an extremely relaxed atmosphere — never crowded,” Nelson said. “Our guests can pick the areas they are most interested in and pass on the buildings they are less interested in, and still truly enjoy themselves.”

For more information, call 308-832-1181 or visit

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre offers more than dinner and a show

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, Lancaster, Pa. Credit: Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

When students visit Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, they’re treated to Broadway-style productions, award-winning food and exceptional service. Now in its 33rd year, the theater is no stranger to hospitality or student groups, for that matter.

 “For many students, this is the first time they have ever been to a dinner theater, and for some, it is the first time they have been to a live production at all,” said Allison Hutchison, director of advertising and public relations at the theater. “We hope they take away an appreciate for live theatre and a memorable experience.”

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, Lancaster, Pa.
Credit: Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

The theater’s close proximity to major cities like Hershey; Harrisburg; Gettysburg; Philadelphia; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and New York City, make it an ideal student itinerary stop.

At Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, the show and meal take place in the same room. The intimate theater features tiered seating, so every seat provides a great vantage point. The 2020 theater season includes Grumpy Old Men, Something Rotten, The Little Mermaid and Elf, among others.   

Student ticket prices include a Broadway-style show; a classic American-cuisine buffet meal including a hot buffet, full salad bar and dessert buffet; gratuity; and a Q&A-session upon request. A study guide can be made available prior to each show, focusing on topics like performing arts, the theme of the show and workbook activities.

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, Lancaster, Pa.
Credit: Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

“We also offer Broadway Bound workshops, available for purchase for your group in addition to the dinner and show,” Hutchison said. “These workshops promote the fundamentals of musical theater in a professional theatre environment.”

The workshops take place for one hour, prior to the meal, and include a private instructional session with a theater profession. Topics include Musical Theatre 101; So You Think You Can Dance?; The Audition Process; and Sets, Props, Costumes & Makeup.

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre is open year-round and can seat 328 guests.

For more information, call 717-898-1900 or visit

Fields of Fire Adventure Park boosts self-esteem

Fields of Fire Adventure Park
Fields of Fire Adventure Park, Mystic, Conn. Credit: Fields of Fire Adventure Park

Set on 50 acres of rugged Connecticut woodlands, Fields of Fire Adventure Park pushes students to new heights and, possibly, outside of their comfort zones.

“We’ve built an incredible obstacle course in the trees of Mystic, Connecticut,” said Mark Lombardi, director of sales at Fields of Fire Adventure Park. “Complete with 76 elevated obstacles and 14 zip lines, our Aerial Adventure Park is the perfect option for group outings. We offer five unique courses ranging from beginner to expert, so there is something for every level of expertise.”

Fields of Fire Adventure Park
Fields of Fire Adventure Park, Mystic, Conn.
Credit: Fields of Fire Adventure Park

The park, located five minutes from downtown Mystic, can accommodate groups of 90 people, with a typical visit lasting three to four hours. Groups are asked to arrive 15–20 minutes prior to the start time, to allow time to check waivers and registration.

“Our harnessing and equipment training takes place as a group and includes a run through our ground level training course,” Lombardi said. “This ensures all climbers fully understand and are comfortable with their equipment before they go up in the trees.”

After training, all climbers start on one of two beginner courses before climbing freely on the other courses. Each course can be completed in about 30 minutes.

Fields of Fire Adventure Park
Fields of Fire Adventure Park, Mystic, Conn.
Credit: Fields of Fire Adventure Park

“Our focus is on providing physically stimulating activities for everyone to enjoy in a natural outdoor setting,” Lombardi said. “The Aerial Park climbing is a great peer-bonding experience. It is geared toward participants achieving personal goals and fosters an atmosphere of encouragement among the climbers and our staff. We hope our climbers find a boost in self-esteem from challenging themselves, as well as increased empathy for their peers as almost everyone will be out of their comfort zone at some point.”  

Fields of Fire Adventure park offers on-site motorcoach parking and a large picnic area for groups to gather. Groups are welcome to bring box lunches or catered meals.

For more information, call 860-449-4628 or visit

New Jersey itinerary: Liberty Science Center

Liberty Science Center
Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, N.J.
Liberty Science Center itin#3 8-2019 LB

Student groups visit Hudson County, New Jersey, to experience Liberty Science Center, diverse culture and go-kart action. Only 4.7 miles from the heart of Manhattan, discover spectacular views of the New York City in minutes by ferry, train, bus or car. Hudson County’s location and affordability cannot be beat!

Liberty Science Center

Planetarium show at Liberty Science Center
Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, N.J.
Credit: Liberty Science Center

Visitors to the New York City area are making Liberty Science Center a must-see destination during their trip! Students can journey through the universe in our massive planetarium, meet hundreds of animals in our live-animal galleries, enjoy 3D movies and live science demonstrations, and so much more!

Did you know our Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium and LSC Giant Dome Theater can produce more than 281 trillion colors? Yes, it’s true! See the colors in action when you catch a show in the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.

RPM Raceway

go kart racing at RPM Racing
RPM Racing, Jersey City, N.J.
Credit: Liberty Science Center

Race like the pros. At RPM Raceway, everyone gets the high-RPM experience. Drive go-karts that introduce you to the craft of real racing. Cut corners on tracks designed off formula speedways. No license required. No experience needed.

Every racing champion started in a go-kart. Now it’s your turn. Grab a helmet. Buckle up. Let’s race!

American Dream

American Dream
American Dream, East Rutherford, N.J.

American Dream, a world-class retail and entertainment destination, is set to open in October. It is approximately 3 million square feet with over 450 retail, food and specialty ships, and over 18 acres of entertainment.

American Dream includes North America’s largest fully enclosed indoor DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park; a 16-story Big Snow Indoor Ski & Snow Park; Kidzania; a live performing arts theater; 285 foot tall Observation Wheel; luxury movie theaters by CMX; Sea Life Aquarium, Munchies Food Hall, Lego Discovery Center; NHL-size Ice Rink; The Dining Terrace, offering over 15 full-service restaurants and two 18-hole miniature golf attractions.

5 Stops: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg battlefield
Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pa. Credit: Destination Gettysburg

Home to America’s most famous Civil War battlefield, Gettysburg is the perfect destination for a history lesson. Museums, tours and living historians take students on a journey through time.

“A majority of student groups come to Gettysburg because of our Civil War history and the three-day battle that took place here,” said Nicole Absher, group sales manager at Destination Gettysburg. “Students can immerse themselves in our history by engaging in interactive, hands-on programs, taking customized battlefield tours and even meeting living historians like President Abraham Lincoln. And our close proximity to Washington, D.C. [90 minutes] gives students the opportunity to see more of our American history without having to travel too far.” 

Although known for its history, Gettysburg also can enhance other curriculums, like STEM. 

“Students can learn about everything from water ecology and soil testing to animal habitats, endangered species, organic farming and so much more,” Absher said. “Gettysburg and Adams County welcome all student travel groups, regardless of the grade, curriculum or time of year, and we hope each group leaves feeling inspired by our great destination.” 

Destination Gettysburg

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center

Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum and Visitor Center
Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center, Gettysburg, Pa.
Credit: Destination Gettysburg

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center is a great location to orient student groups to the American Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. The Visitor Center offers three experiences: A New Birth of Freedom orientation film, a 360-degree Cyclorama sight and sound show, and the entrance to the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War. Groups can meet their battlefield guide at the Visitor Center.

Shriver House Museum

Shriver House Museum
Shriver House Museum, Gettysburg, Pa.
Credit: Destination Gettysburg

Shriver House Museum details the civilian experience of the Battle of Gettysburg by telling the story of the Shriver family — George and Hettie Shriver, and their children, Sadie and Mollie. Students are led through the restored Shriver family home by a period docent. Each room is frozen in time and furnished to its 1860s appearance. The tour also includes the sharpshooters’ nest in the attic and the Shriver’s Saloon in the cellar. The experience adds a different perspective to the battle.

Seminary Ridge Museum

Seminary Ridge Museum exterior
Seminary Ridge Museum, Gettysburg, Pa.
Credit: Destination Gettysburg

The historic seminary building stood at the center of the Battle of Gettysburg’s first day. Today, it’s an interactive, hands-on museum that covers three topics — the first day of battle, care of the wounded, and faith and freedom. Seminary Ridge Museum’s on-site dining hall can accommodate two to three motorcoaches at a time. The museum offers engaging educational programs in history and STEM.

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower National Historic Site exterior Gettysburg
Eisenhower National Historic Site, Gettysburg, Pa.
Credit: Destination Gettysburg

At the end of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military career, he and his wife purchased a quaint Gettysburg farmhouse in 1950. Their retirement was disrupted in 1952 when Eisenhower decided to run for president. Throughout Eisenhower’s presidency, the farmhouse was used as a weekend retreat for the first family, as well as a meeting place for foreign dignitaries. Today, students can tour the only home the Eisenhowers ever owned to experience a different side of the town’s presidential history.

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve

turtle at Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve Gettysburg
Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, Gettysburg, Pa. Credit: Destination Gettysburg

Just a short drive from downtown, Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve is the only nonprofit environmental education center in Adams County. The center is located on 609 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers a variety of hands-on programs, all with concrete goals and objectives. Trained naturalists guide students through engaging hikes, stream studies, educational activities and discussions. Programs include Animal Ambassador, Watersheds and Wetlands, and Maple Sugaring.