As one of the world's most popular student trip destinations, NYC has plenty of attractions that appeal to students of all ages. Kindergartners to high school graduates and beyond can all find something enjoyable and educational in the Big Apple. If you're looking at New York for a student or graduation trip, check out these suggested attractions that just might strike your fancy.
First of all, New York is full of sightseeing opportunities that are on everybody's lists. The Empire State Building and observation deck, Times Square, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty are certainly prime suggestions and you might be interested in taking a couple of hours to tour each but they are the obvious attractions. New York has more to offer in the ways of educational attractions.
For example, South Street Seaport. A historic district on Manhattan's waterfront, South Street Seaport is adjacent to the Financial District with plenty of opportunities for shopping and delicious dining. However, as we are here for education, the area is home to the South Street Seaport Museum which preserves New York's history of sea merchants, fishermen, and tall ships. The museum includes all things sea-worthy such as examples of 19th century tattoo art, ship rope and replicas, and artifacts from the era. Even more amazing is that the museum gives you the opportunity to board an actual ship off Pier 16. Board the lightship Ambrose or the 1885 schooner Pioneer and sail the East River. While you're in the area, tour Schermerhorn Row and the historic buildings once owned by the seafaring community.
If you are looking for something more "test-worthy," nothing meets the bill quite like Ellis Island, best known as the gateway of European immigration during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Over 12 million immigrants entered the U.S. through Ellis Island during its heyday and their stories are preserved in the Immigration Museum located in the old Main Building. Exhibits include photographs, personal accounts, audio recordings, documents, and artifacts telling the story of the immigrants who passed through these corridors. Also on site is the Family History Center where you and your students can search their genealogy to see if their ancestors passed through Ellis Island.
An attraction that you might not find on a lot of itinerary suggestions is the Van Cortlandt House Museum, built in 1748 and utilized by both armies during the Revolutionary War. Because of its strategic position, the Continental Army of General George Washington and British Redcoats used the house respectively. Both General Washington and British General Sir William Howe were recorded as staying here. The house was sold to the city of New York in 1896 and was then turned into the city's first historic house museum. Tour the house, the decorations and furnishings that date back to the Van Cortlandt family, and interact with guides in colonial era costume.
The Museum at Eldridge Street was created to preserve the history of Jewish immigrants that entered the country for religious freedom. Out of the 2.5 million Jewish immigrants that entered through Ellis Island between 1880-1924, over 85 percent stayed in New York City. To accommodate the faithful, Eldridge Street Synagogue was built. Through both World Wars and the Great Depression, the synagogue was cast into disrepair and lost some of the luster from its glory days. Conservation efforts were begun and the synagogue was refurbished to resemble its original beauty. The museum was later added for visitors to learn about the history and culture of Jewish faith in America. This award-winning museum is open every day except Saturdays when it closes for religious services.
There are two popular museums on this list because of their wondrous collections, the first of which is the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibits here span the entire length of natural history from prehistoric creatures to natural disasters, microscopic organisms, and displays on creating a more sustainable future through environmental practices. The Hall of North American Forests has a full slice of a giant redwood tree while the Hall of Ocean Life has a full-size model of a 94 foot long blue whale. View the living creatures in the aquarium and terrarium tanks or tour the fossil halls where you can see dinosaur bones, life-size models, and more. Students of all ages can find something interesting in this amazingly diverse museum.
The second museum is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the U.S. and one of the top ten largest in the world. It's almost impossible to see the entirety of this museum in one day, giving you an idea of how large a collection they have. Exhibits run the gamut of global historical and cultural periods from ancient ceremonial artifacts to modern photography. See collections from the world's most famous artists including Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Renoir, Degas, Matisse, and even fashion designers like Balenciaga and Dior. The helpful people of the Met have organized suggested itineraries to hit all the best spots in the museum or you could ask your travel agent on where to go first. Programs and tours are available for groups based on age and topic.
Other destinations that are recommended for student groups include the United Nations Headquarters, the Bronx Zoo, and Gracie Mansion. Tours of the UN include historic exhibits, lectures on chosen topics, and seats to listen in on official meetings and discussions on important issues. Stop by the highly rated Bronx Zoo for a fun afternoon touring the animals or drop in Gracie Mansion for a tour of the the historic home of New York City's mayor.
Whether you follow these suggestions or not, chances are you will find excellent attractions for your student group in New York City. But hopefully you gained some good ideas and learned something new about the Big Apple. Have fun learning in NYC!