7 THINGS KIDS CAN LEARN ON VACATION
Step outside the classroom from LA to Charlotte and explore special venues where education meets experience
Young Picassos can learn to color outside the lines during a visit to the Mississippi Museum of Art. Photo Credit: Mississippi Museum of Art
Just because class isn’t in session doesn’t mean we can’t all learn a thing or two. During school breaks, trips away from home present prime opportunities for learning vacations. These trips give your kids a chance to have fun while also expanding their horizons. From discovering what it’s like to be an astronaut to picking up new dance moves during a jazz concert, here are seven things your kids can learn to do while on vacation.
Inspire creativity at the Mississippi Museum of Art (Jackson, Mississippi)
As you stroll through this museum, admiring works by the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol, pause in front of select pieces long enough to ask your budding artist a few open-ended questions like, ‘What do you like most about this one?’ In addition to sparking their own creativity and imagination, answering questions like this will help develop a child’s observational skills and vocabulary. If your little one is eager for some hands-on experience, plan your visit to coincide with a special event led by Hoot—the museum’s education mascot—who will inspire kids (ages 3-10) to create their own works of art.
After browsing its collections, join one of the museum's family and community programs to create your own mini masterpiece. Photo Credit: Mississippi Museum of Art
Appreciate Mother Nature at Discovery Place (Charlotte, North Carolina)
Celebrate the wonders of Earth at the World Alive exhibition in Discovery Place’s science museum. In the aquarium, get up close to tropical fish, stingrays, coral and other sea life. Explore the rainforest as you walk the rope bridge, watching for birds in the trees. Then trek over to the researcher's hut to learn more about some of the museum’s residents through live animal shows .
Act like an astronaut at Space Center Houston (Houston, Texas)
Historic and modern attractions let kids (and adults) marvel at man’s exploration of the final frontier. Check out the Mission Control facility where NASA monitored the Apollo Moon missions, see an International Space Station gallery and participate in an interactive presentation about living in space. These are just a few of the cool things to do here. Two special events—Meet an Astronaut and Lunch with an Astronaut—offer the opportunity to connect with a current or former space explorer.
Embrace country life at Underwood Family Farms (Los Angeles, California)
Learn to feed the yaks and other farm animals at Underwood Family Farms. Photo Credit: Underwood Family Farms
This working farm offers a number of educational tours, all of which feature a ride in a vintage tractor as a guide explains what’s involved in growing the food we eat. Activities include picking a basket of strawberries, a bag of assorted veggies or a sugar baby pumpkin. You can also attend a meet-and-greet with farm animals and participate in their feeding.
Hold a tarantula at the Butterfly Pavilion (Denver, Colorado)
Your kids will be in awe of Denver’s Butterfly Pavilion. Home to more than 5,000 animals—including Rosie, a tarantula that lets kids hold her—these lush, soaring halls are a sight to behold. Inside, explore a world full of sea creatures, a rainforest inhabited by 1,600 butterflies and a critter-filled nature trail.
Dance to New Orleans jazz at Preservation Hall (New Orleans, Louisiana)
At Preservation Hall's nightly concerts, you'll finally find a soundtrack the entire family can groove to. Photo Credit: Shannon Brinkman
Children are welcome at Preservation Hall’s nightly 45-minute concerts. Hear authentic New Orleans jazz without smoke and alcohol in this historic French Quarter venue. Get there early to get a good spot in line or buy Big Shot tickets in advance to guarantee a spot up front. Preservation Hall opened in 1961, but its history dates back to the 1950s, when New Orleans jazz legends rehearsed in the small art gallery that used to occupy 726 St. Peter St.
Spot wildlife with The Black Hammock (Orlando, Florida)
Explore Florida’s Lake Jesup—just east of Orlando—via airboat during this high-speed, educational adventure. Your experienced guide will tell you about the area’s diverse wildlife, including birds, turtles and alligators. Back at the Black Hammock adventure complex, watch an alligator feeding or take photos with a live baby gator for just $5 before picking up a plush version of the reptile at the gift shop.
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