A class trip or even a field trip should be more than just educational but explorational. Students of all ages, but especially in the influential and sometimes-difficult middle school years, soak in their surroundings. Take them somewhere to discover new people, places, cultures, and customs. Help them find lifelong passions or rediscover interests as you take a revitalizing, interesting, and fun class trip getaway.
Florida's Space Coast
Discover and explore space through NASA's Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex where you can take extensive tours of the facility. Here is where many of the shuttles and rockets have been launched on NASA missions that have changed the face of the Space Race, and of our modern understanding of life beyond our little blue marble. However, there's plenty more to see once you've explored all NASA has to offer. Explore the towns along the Space Coast's narrow strip of land from Palm Bay to Cocoa Beach to Cape Canaveral, all of which have great shopping centers, museums, and attractions, plus the waves of the Atlantic to surf and bodyboard.
Steeped in history, rich in Southern culture, and best yet, affordable, Savannah is a jewel in the American South. This succulent city is absolutely gorgeous with drooping mossy oaks and perfectly planned city parks, including the world-renowned Forsyth Park. Films such as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil were set in Savannah, and based off one of its most notorious haunted houses. Famous individuals like Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, was born in Savannah and today her house is open for tours. Set within easy driving distance of the Atlantic Ocean and Tybee Island, afternoon trips from Savannah to the sea are not only possible but recommended if only to visit the island's fort and lighthouse. With a city so rich in Civil War history, it'd be a shame not to visit with a student group.
There are many stunning wonders of New Mexico, from the ancient Native American Anasazi landmarks to the natural white gypsum sand dunes of White Sands National Monument. Visitors to New Mexico will be looking for adventure and discovery, though it helps if they enjoy outdoor recreation, exploring nature, and event photography. At places like Carlsbad Caverns, Tent Rocks National Monument, and the Bisti Badlands, loving the outdoors is almost a prerequisite for fun. If it's education you're looking for, try the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, one of the best in the country for examining the history of evolution from dinosaur fossils to the present day. Also in Albuquerque is the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Petroglyph National Monument, and the National Museum of Nuclear Science.
Travel up north for a change of pace in the scenic and travel-worthy Wisconsin Dells. Originally made popular as a tourist destination, the Wisconsin Dells hasn't disappointed visitors with its multitudinous options from indoor waterparks to the first attraction, the Dells themselves. The Dells, free-standing rock formations and tributary canyons, lie along the Wisconsin River and make for perfect boat-side viewing. You may also find the many entertainment attractions interesting, from Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park to the Wizard Quest fantasy-themed maze complete with riddles. There are plenty more theme parks and waterparks where that comes from, but if you're wanting a little education stop by Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, a science center with wonderful interactive exhibits, or go exploring nature on your own at Mirror Lake State Park.
Built on the population influx from the 1849 Gold Rush, Sacramento went on to become the Golden State capital city. Parts of the city remain preserved from its Victorian gold mining days, such as Old Town Sacramento, the first established area of the city. Here you can find living history attractions, museums and galleries, plenty of delicious restaurants, and horse-drawn carriages. As the capital city, student groups are recommended to visit the beautiful and incomparable California State Capitol Building and take the free tour around the facility to see the legislature in action and in history. Also see the Governor's Mansion where President Reagan and his family resided when he was California's governor, as well as the Sacramento History Museum, and the Sacramento Zoo. Finally, you can't come to Sacramento and not visit Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park which preserves the site which started the entire Gold Rush, where James Marshall first struck gold in 1848.
There's plenty to see and do in the Windy City, depending on your intended interests. If you're looking for entertainment, then the Navy Pier is the place to be with carnival attractions, a laser tag arena, performance stadiums, and even a Crystal Gardens conservatory on top of the pier. Education meets entertainment at the Shedd Aquarium, the largest all indoor aquarium, and the Field Museum of Natural History, home to Sue the T-Rex, the largest and most complete fossil skeleton. Head over to the Museum of Science and Industry for something truly spectacular, as its the largest museum of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, and showcases the only German U-boat in America. Take a relaxing day in Hyde Park or Lincoln Park and visit the Botanical Gardens and famed Lincoln Park Zoo. There's so much to do in Chicago, and so much variety, that you'll have no problem finding something equally fun and educational.
At first glance, you might think taking a class to Disneyland is a nice idea but neither practical nor educational. Know first that Disneyland offers youth programs that make it easier for groups of students to enjoy the park. Secondly, Disney Parks can be plenty of educational, if you focus on particular aspects of the park experience (See Educational Trips to Disney World here). But your students will be absolutely thrilled with the opportunity to visit the Happiest Place on Earth, where they can experience their favorite Disney characters in person, ride the Matterhorn and find 999 haunts in the Haunted Mansion. Plus, if you're staying in Los Angeles you can explore Hollywood, visit the beach at Santa Monica, and discover all the best landmarks of the City of Angels.