25 Must-See Educational Destinations for Kids

I grew up most of my life traveling around the country and have always wanted to instill the same wanderlust in my kids. As they get older, it’s starting to become whole lot easier to pack everyone up and head out to a new destination. Last summer I took the three of them to see my family in Rhode Island, but I’m not quite sure where we should go this year. Since they aren’t in school, I’d love to go to a place where we can all learn a thing or two.

These 25 must-see educational destinations for kids take traveling to a whole new level. Kids can become paleontologists at the Museum of Western Colorado. They can explore the rainforest right in the heart of San Francisco at the California Academy of Sciences. If they love the ocean, why not head out to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and have a sleepover right next to the exhibits?

Check out the 25 Must-See Educational Destinations for Kids here…

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  • Monterey Bay Aquarium: California 2 of 26
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    Explore the magic of the oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Feed the sea otters in the morning and take a tour to learn all about sharks. Get a peek at what it looks like in the deepest parts of the oceans and what animals live right off the bay. Stay the night and sleep by a beautiful exhibit during their Seashore Sleepover.

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Marshall Space Center: Alabama 3 of 26
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    Become an astronaut for a day at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Children can learn about the solar system and what it takes to become an astronaut. They can also take a spin in the zero gravity simulator.

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Galapagos Island Cruise: Galapagos Islands 4 of 26
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    The Galapagos Islands hold some of the most extremely rare species found on Earth. Take the kids out on the Galapagos Island Cruise to see rare giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Explore the Charles Darwin Research Station to take a closer look on a smaller scale. 

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • The Golisano Children’s Museum: Florida 5 of 26
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    Make a stop at The Golisano Children's Museum in Southwest Florida. This museum is dedicated to teaching children and their families through play. Explore the everglades or climb a two-story banyan tree. Learn about nature through fun activities and pretend to take on any career: Weatherman, chef, artist, and more. 

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Feather Down Farms: Multiple U.S. Locations 6 of 26
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    Take the family to Feather Down Farm, in California, New York, or Illinois to learn all about living off the land. Children take this experience to learn the basics of farming and help out with the animals. Take this opportunity to teach kids about where our food comes from and the work that goes into growing it.  
    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • California Academy of Sciences: California 7 of 26
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    On your next trip to San Francisco, take a visit to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Teach the kids about going green by showing them this sustainable building. The inside insulation is made of denim and there are 1.7 million native plants planted on the living roof. Inside the kids can explore the underground aquariums that show what lives beneath the waters in the rainforest. Then they can follow the ramps up to the top of the rainforest canopies for a birds-eye view.

     

    Photo via wikimedia.

  • The Magic of Disney Animation: Florida 8 of 26
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    Go behind the scenes with the The Magic of Disney Animation tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida to see how their animated movies are made. Your kids get a chance to learn how to draw one of their favorite Disney characters, and work with other participants to create their own animated story. End the tour by meeting your favorite Disney characters up close.

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Atlantis Resort: Bahamas 9 of 26
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    The Atlantis Resorts hosts cooking classes for kids to start to learn the basics of the fun of making meals. Atlantis also offers opportunities for the little ones to learn about marine life

     


    Photo via Wikimedia .

  • Open Books: Illinois 10 of 26
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    Check out Open Books, also know as the Wonka wonderland of books, next time you are in Chicago. Yes, there are many museums to explore, but this non-profit bookstore is a definite must-see, and it offers many reading and writing programs for kids. Explore the wide variety of books and even take a few home.  

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Camp Broadway: New York 11 of 26
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    Camp Broadway in New York is a place where kids can learn about acting, singing, and expressing their creative side on the big stage, while boosting their confidence through fun activities.

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • University of Pennsylvania Museum: Pennsylvania 12 of 26
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    Immerse yourself in ancient history at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. This museum holds the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in America. Go on a tour during the day and check out their family and kids' activities, including their overnight sleepover, 40 Winks with the Sphinx


    Find out more at Wikimedia.

  • Marconi Automotive Museum and Foundation for Kids: California 13 of 26
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    Get their engines revved up at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin, California. Kids can check out the 30 million dollar collection of cars from all over the world, including a few very rare Ferraris. Bonus: kids under twelve are free. 

     

    Photo via Wikimedia

  • Corning Museum of Glass: New York 14 of 26
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    The Corning of Museum of Glass in New York is one place where kids and glass do mix. Learn about different cultures around the world and throughout time through this one material -- glass. After you've toured the museum, learn how to make glass on your own. 

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Busch Gardens: Virginia 15 of 26
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    Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia is filled with fun activities and events for the whole family. Take this trip as an opportunity for the kids to see animals up close and learn about the American bald eagle. After you have gone on the roller coasters, be part of the Roller Coater Insider Program. As part of this program, kids can learn how roller coasters work, the maintenance that goes into them, and so much more.


    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Caretta Research Project: Georgia 16 of 26
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    Take a trip to Wassaw Island  in Georgia to see the Caretta Research Project. At this National Wildlife Refuge, you learn all about how to protect the turtles and their habitat. Your children will help collect data and watch over the turtles and their eggs.

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Grand Canyon: Arizona 17 of 26
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    Hop on a bright pink Jeep for a fun and unique tour of the Grand Canyon. Kids will learn about the unique landscape of the Grand Canyon and how it came to be. They will also pick up information about animals that live in this area and the history of people that used to call this place home.

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Yellowstone National Park: Wyoming 18 of 26
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    Explore Yellowstone National Park by having your kids become Young Scientists. This program starts at the Canyon Visitor Education Center or the Old Faithful Visitor Center. Kids can use their self-guided booklet to learn about the Old Faithful area. Pick up a Young Scientist Tool Kit for them to take their adventure to the next level, and once they have completed the booklet they are awarded a patch or keychain. 


    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Travel Town: California 19 of 26
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    At Travel Town in Los Angeles, California you can indulge in all things locomotive. See engineers working on small model trains and learn about the massive steam engines. Get up close to street-railway cars that date back to the late 1800s. 


    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Grand Ole Opry: Tennessee 20 of 26
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    Take trip to the Grand Ole Opry to learn the history of American music. The day tours are a great option that the whole family can enjoy.

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Visitor’s Center: Washington 21 of 26
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    On your next trip to Seattle, stop by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor's Center. Kids can participate in hands-on activities related to helping people in third world countries and learn about ways scientists and doctors are helping people all over the world. End the trip by writing down ways in which you can help make the world a better place. 

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Mauna Kea Observatory: Hawaii 22 of 26
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    Learn all about space through the telescopes at the Mauna Kea Observatory. Although it's not recommended children under 16 years, if you go to the summit, they can still go stargazing and get a close look at the sun at the Visitor Information Station

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Monticello 23 of 26
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    At Monticello, the estate of Thomas Jefferson, kids can learn about the past through interactive exhibits. In the Griffin Discovery Room, children can try on clothes modeled after 18th century wardrobes and touch replicas of Thomas Jefferson's possessions. 

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve: Idaho 24 of 26
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    Become a Junior Ranger at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. This park was formed by volcanic eruptions occurring up to 15,000 years ago and has a 618 square mile lava field. Grab a flashlight and explore an underground passageway formed by hardened molten rock. 

     

    Photo via Wikimedia.

  • San Diego Zoo: California 25 of 26
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    Learn all about animals and their habitats at the San Diego Zoo. This zoo is home to over 4000 rare and endangered species. Go exploring at night after everyone has gone home on an educator-led Twilight Trek around the park.  


    Find out more at Wikimedia.

  • Museum of Western Colorado 26 of 26
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    Children can become paleontologist for a day and participate on dinosaur digs at the Museum of Western Colorado. There are also exhibits all about Native American art and pottery that was discovered right in the surrounding area. 


    Photo via Wikimedia.

Jacinda Boneau is a fabric designer and founding co-editor at Pretty Prudent, the premier design and lifestyle blog providing inspiration and instruction to help anyone create beautiful things, food, and experiences for their friends and family.

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