Mention the term “educational road trip” to many kids, and they might just set the record for the fastest 100-meter dash…away from the car. Learning-centric travel often get a bad rap, as it may cause kids to conjure up images of boring museums and state capital sing-alongs in the back of the family station wagon. Even adults can develop a sense of dread while imagining driving on endless stretches of highway while listening to choruses of, “Are we there yet?”
“Roadschooling,” as this type of travel tends to be called, doesn’t have to mean a long, dry trip with a 500-word essay due at the end, though. By incorporating short trip legs with the right educational (but fun!) destinations, you can give your kids hands-on lessons about history, geology, and biology, while fitting in plenty of adventures. Start planning your next educational family trip with one of these three ideas!
History in the Northeast: Road Trip Boston, MA to Hershey, PA
Make time for a ballgame, rides, and, of course, chocolate on a road trip in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania—a vacation best enjoyed between May and early October. Start in Boston, where you and the kids can take in Revolutionary-era history on a walk along the 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) Freedom Trail, which includes the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill Monument, Old North Church, and Faneuil Hall. After the day’s education, catch a baseball game at historic Fenway Park, or—if you happen to be there on a Friday from June through August—watch a family-friendly Free Friday Flick at the outdoor Hatch Shell venue.
Break up the 300-mile (483-kilometer) drive to the next location, Philadelphia, with a stop to see Mark Twain’s house in Hartford, CT. Once you reach Philadelphia, hit up historical landmarks like the Liberty Bell , Independence Hall , and the Betsy Ross House before racing the family to the top of the iconic Rocky Steps (then pack away any sweaty clothes and keep the fun coming).
Younger kids will love the Please Touch Museum, and older kids can immerse themselves in science at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Make sure to get a Philly cheesesteak sandwich where it all began at Pat’s King of Steaks.
The last leg of your trip will be 95 miles (153 kilometers) to Hershey, PA for sweets and theme parks. Ride the rides at Hershey Park, then revel in an immersive lesson in making chocolate at the Hershey Factory Tour.
Best luggage for this trip? This trip takes in a lot of city sightseeing, and the Adventure Waist Pack offers quick and easy access to your camera and city map (plus it features built-in security). For kids who like to carry their own essentials, the slim Sling Backpack is perfectly sized and comes in three colors.
Biology in the Southeast: Drive from Miami, FL to the Florida Keys
Your budding marine biologist will be more excited for your Florida trip than she is during Shark Week (and that’s saying a lot!). The weather in South Florida is mild during the winter and early spring, which makes this educational southeastern family road trip ideal during the holidays or winter break. Start off in Miami, where you can visit Zoo Miami to see more than 100 exhibits and 500 species in an open-air enclosure. Get even closer with the animals at Miami Seaquarium, where you and the kids can actually swim with the dolphins! After your day of biology, wind down at the laidback Cuban eatery, El Cristo.
The educational biology lesson continues 42 miles (68 kilometers) southwest at Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. The Everglades World Heritage Site is home to manatees, crocodiles, turtles, herons, panthers, and more, which you can learn about while hiking, biking, riding a tram, or paddle boating.
Finish your Florida adventure by driving 134 miles (230-kilometers) to the Florida Keys. While there, take a boat tour for dolphin watching in Key West and see the fish up close with a snorkeling trip at Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. Finally, fill your daypack with sunscreen and relax on the white sand beaches of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park . You earned it!
Best luggage for this trip? Since your day trips will take you out into nature, carry the National Geographic Adventure Packable Backpack 15L —an ultra lightweight daypack durable enough to keep pace with any adventure your family dreams up .
Geology in the Plains: Explore from Glacier National Park, MT to Yellowstone National Park, WY
Celebrate the natural beauty and diversity in the U.S. with a trip to stunning national parks in the plains. The weather in this beautiful region can be quite chilly in the winter (when trail and road closures are common) so it’s best to visit between June and early October. Start in Glacier National Park in Montana, which has more than 700 miles (1,127 kilometers) worth of hiking trails from which to choose. The whole family can learn about glacier geology and even see glaciers while driving along Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Next, stay the night in Missoula, MT, which is 138 miles (222 kilometers) south of Glacier National Park. The city is filled with outdoor recreation activities, including biking,horseback riding, and kayaking at Frenchtown Pond State Park. It’s also a jumping off point for beautiful hikes at nearby Lolo National Forest. At night, treat yourself to pints (for the grown-ups) and grub for the whole family at the family-friendly Tamarack Brewing Company.
The next drive is the longest of the trip, but the 265 miles (426-kilometers) to Yellowstone National Park is well worth it. Take in the must-see Old Faithful geyser at America’s oldest national park, and fit in some hikes through the more than 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) of trails. There are plenty of outdoor activities to keep the entire family entertained, including fishing, biking, and boating, so make sure to schedule at least a few days for this destination.
Best luggage for this trip? When you’re packing for a U.S. National Park trip, fit everything you need for your road trip in one of Eagle Creek’s long-haul approved bags, like the National Geographic Adventure Duffel 60L , which is a perfect all-weather bag featuring durable, wipeable bottom fabric and protective storm flaps, as well as multiple handles for grab-and-go convenience when your family’s on the move.
No matter which educational road trip you choose, your family is sure to have a blast. What's your favorite roadschooling destination? Share with us on Facebook or Instagram !
National Geographic Adventure Packable Backpack 15L
National Geographic Adventure 30L Daypack
National Geographic Adventure Duffel 60L
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
6 Tips for Hiking With School-Age Kids
4 Ways To Prepare Your Kids For An Adventure Vacation
Tips for an Are We There Yet-Free Road Trip With Kids