Your eighth graders have been working hard...probably...and you're looking for a class trip destination. Well, you've come to the right place. Whether it's the end of the year and they're graduating into high school, or your eighth graders are in need of an educational field trip destination, we have you covered. All across this glorious country are a myriad of touring options, from the silliest to the most serious and sobering.
Williamsburg, VA - It's no secret that Williamsburg is chock full of educational experiences and parks, from the original and nearby Historic Jamestowne (now an archaeological dig site and learning park) to its recreation at Jamestown Settlement. You also have the most famous living history park in the country, Colonial Williamsburg, where you can tour back in time to pre-Revolution America. Costumed actors will be your guide through a number of restored landmarks and homes, museums and collections of artifacts, or through live demonstrations of how things used to be done. If you're still wanting some more tangible fun on the side, Williamsburg is also home to a fantastic Busch Gardens, a theme park and zoo all rolled into one.
New York City - New York is big enough that you can do whatever you like, education-wise. Go back to the first settlements when this was the original capital of the country, or visit the extant buildings used in the Revolution. Hop on the ferry and visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for immigration history and then ride to the top of the Empire State Building and truly discover the ingenuity of the men who built the tallest building in the city (surpassed by the World Trade Center in 1970). Or, you can do a theater tour and hit up Broadway and the Broadway workshops, low-key productions, or wind your way through the Garment District for those looking into fashion design. Visit the Federal Reserve for a look into the country's history of currency, or explore the real Wall Street.
Salem, MA - The very town of Salem encourages you to have fun with learning, leading your group back to the Salem Witch Trials! Known for the Witch House museum as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne's Birthplace, there are a number of educational avenues to explore. Take a haunted witch-led guided tour around Salem, visit the maritime history museum, and step inside the haunted House of the Seven Gables, which inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's book of the same name. If you're wanting even more witch history, head over to the nearby town of Danvers which used to be part of the original Salem Village and was also active in the 17th-century witch trials.
St. Louis, MO - Head first to the Gateway Arch and experience the majesty of this incredible landmark. Then, make your way to Forest Park and tour not only one attraction but three: St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, and the St. Louis Zoo, all three of which are free of charge and award-winning in content. Grant's Farm is also an incredible destination, holding two hand-built cabins made by the former president as well as an open animal park, German Biergarten serving delicious brats and refreshing lemonade, and the stables of the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale horses. For added fun, stop by the City Museum or even Six Flags just outside the city in Eureka, Missouri.
Cincinnati, OH - Underrated and full of potential, Cincinnati would be a great option for traveling student groups. With Midwestern charm, Cincinnati offers clean, family-friendly and interesting attractions for all ages from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden to the Cincinnati Art Museum holding a permanent collection of over 60,000 pieces. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a fantastic option for eighth-grade student groups as is the Taft Museum of Art, the Contemporary Arts Center, and the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. Harriet Beecher Stowe's house, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, is preserved for touring groups in Cincinnati as well.
Sacramento, CA - California has a number of incredible destinations from Los Angeles and San Diego in the south to San Francisco and beyond. However, Sacramento offers not only beautiful scenery and fun attractions but a look into the historic Gold Rush which built the state capital. Visit Old Town Sacramento, the first settlement of the city and a preserved slice of history with plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. For more modern history, take a tour of the California State Capitol Building, a beautiful Palladian structure surrounded by palm trees and filled with educational exhibits and legislature.
St. Augustine, FL - Where you have a history of witches in the north, St. Augustine, Florida, has pirates. A stunning city on the gorgeous northeast coast of Florida, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied city settlement in the whole country, founded by Spanish explorers in 1565. See the Spanish forts up close, climb the historic lighthouse and look over the Atlantic, or even discover the Fountain of Youth (at the Archaeological Park, that is). But for the pirates, visit the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum, the entire attraction devoted to pirate history and lore. Learn about alligators at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and then zip line right over their enclosures, see the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, the Spanish Military Hospital Museum, and a Spanish Moorish style castle at Villa Zorayda.
Salt Lake City, UT - In Utah's largest city, you have the opportunity to explore nature as well as the urban center. In the city itself, your group is welcome to Temple Square (though not inside the Temple itself) and tour the history of Joseph Smith and the origins of Salt Lake City through the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Discover exotic animals at Hogle Zoo or go straight to the source at Antelope Island State Park where you'll see a myriad of free-roaming bison. Great Salt Lake State Park is a fantastic option as are the historic museums of Fort Douglas and the interactive exhibits of the award-winning Leonardo museum.