NTA Student Trip Planner 2013-2014 : Page 8
I Want to Go There Top Destinations for Students So, where to? A professional tour operator can help guide you in selecting a destination that fits your budget, time frame, goals and curriculum requirements. Read on to learn about the wealth of extraordinary experiences waiting for students and educators when they step outside the school building. 1 Beijing Most people have heard of Beijing’s signature attractions—Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Bird’s Nest—but to help student groups really get to know the city, Academic Travel Abroad takes them to the Back Lakes. Those waterways were carved out as early as the Jin Dynasty (1115–1234) to grant boat access to the imperial palace, and the banks have become a bustling recreation area that features all of Beijing’s contrasts: the ancient and the modern, the grit and the polish, the local and the foreign. The Back Lakes area of Beijing —Ingrid Lombardo, Academic Travel Abroad +1.202.349.7341, www.academic-travel.com 8 nta tr i p planner ACADEMIC TRAVEL ABROAD “When you study with Academic Travel Abroad in Beijing, you’ll find yourself on a scavenger hunt around the Back Lakes. As the red sun sinks behind the city, you’ll take pictures of retirees waltzing on the shores of Front Lake— Qiánhai . You’ll order a green tea latte at Starbucks on Lotus Lane and search for ancient alleyways around Back Lake— Hòuhai . You and your classmates will discover the price of lamb and snow peas at the Chinese Muslim restaurant, write down the address of the courtyard palace of Prince Gong and test the courage of your palate with a skewer of deep fried scorpions. Earning an A was never this much fun!”
I Want to Go There
21 Top Destinations for Students
So, where to? A professional tour operator can help guide you in selecting a destination that fits your budget, time frame, goals and curriculum requirements. Read on to learn about the wealth of extraordinary experiences waiting for students and educators when they step outside the school building.
Most people have heard of Beijing’s signature attractions—Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Bird’s Nest—but to help student groups really get to know the city, Academic Travel Abroad takes them to the Back Lakes. Those waterways were carved out as early as the Jin Dynasty (1115–1234) to grant boat access to the imperial palace, and the banks have become a bustling recreation area that features all of Beijing’s contrasts: the ancient and the modern, the grit and the polish, the local and the foreign.
Chicago boasts many outstanding museums for groups, including the Museum of Science and Industry. The 80-yearold attraction has many student-centered programs as well as a number of top exhibits such as the U-505 submarine. During the on-board tour of the U-505, which was the only German submarine captured by the U.S. Navy during World War II, groups see rare artifacts and dramatic representations of key events of the war. Students learn about different aspects of submarine operation and can try to launch a torpedo, or dive or surface the vessel.
Christie Makowichuk Edmonton Tourism +1.780.917.7620, www.edmonton.com
It’s hard to imagine a school group touring Alberta and not making a stop at West Edmonton Mall. The mall, which is North America’s largest shopping and entertainment complex, has 10 attractions, 800 stores and more than 100 food outlets all under one roof. There are plenty of options that combine fun and education at WEM, ranging from learning about marine life and biology at Sea Lions Rock and Sea Life Caverns to having some fun with physics at Galaxyland Amusement Park. Students can enjoy riding the water slides at the world’s largest indoor waterpark, going skating at the Ice Palace, playing miniature golf at Professor WEM’s Adventure Golf or challenging their agility in the three-level Ropes Quest. Performance opportunities for band and choir groups also are available.
4 Huntsville, Alabama
“With more than 1,500 artifacts from America’s achievements in space exploration, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is a national treasure you need to check off of your bucket list.”
—Pam Williams Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau +1.256.551.2204, www.huntsville.org
At the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, visitors can embark on a journey of discovery about the American space program. The largest space museum on the planet contains the Apollo 16 Command Module, a vertical Saturn V rocket mock-up— the only one standing in the world—along with an actual Saturn V rocket, a full-scale, full-stack Space Shuttle and much more. Students can take command of their own simulated space mission, fly jet simulators or experience three times the pull of gravity as they spin inside the Centrifuge during the center’s signature SPACE CAMP® program.
5 Jackson, Wyoming
Getting back to nature is an easy thing to do in Jackson, as the wide-open Wyoming city provides abundant outdoor experiences. Taking a bicycle ride from downtown to the National Museum of Wildlife Art is a popular option for student groups. The museum, which was completed this year, boasts a vast collection of wildlife art and a sculpture trail. In addition to the outdoor art, the sculpture trail includes an amphitheater space near the museum entrance for family-friendly presentations and programs.
“Students and groups will enjoy the opportunity to stretch their legs and their minds with a bike ride to the National Museum of Wildlife Art Sculpture Trail on the Jackson Hole community pathway system. The premier wildlife art collection is set against the striking backdrop of the Gros Ventre Mountain Range, which overlooks the National Elk Refuge. The museum also offers meeting space and lunch options. More adventurous groups will enjoy an extended ride into Grand Teton National Park.”
—Kent Elliott, Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce +1.307.733.3316, www.jacksonholechamber.com
Corinna May London & Partners +22.214.171.12400 www.visitlondon.com
Students can enjoy two diverse adventures in London—a speedboat ride that makes them feel like James Bond and a challenging climb up one of the world’s most famous music venues, O2. During a tour offered by Thames RIB Experience, groups learn the history of the city as they race along the River Thames. The excursion goes past historical icons such as the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower of London as well as modern buildings such as the EDF Energy London Eye, Tate Modern and Canary Wharf. Students get a bird’s-eye view of London as they climb up to the roof of the O2. The 30-minute adventure takes them above the arena’s signature white dome where they see the London skyline from a different perspective. Once the group returns to the ground, they can explore the history of British music—from The Beatles and the Rolling Stones to the Sex Pistols—by touring the British Music Experience inside the O2.
7 Merida, Mexico
Known as the White City in honor of its many buildings made of white limestone, Merida offers a snapshot of historical Mexico. Once a colonial Spanish center and the gateway to Mexico’s Mayan world, the city blends ancient tradition with modern, cosmopolitan elements. The Yucatan capital boasts a vibrant Centro Historico and many colonial-style cathedrals, and is a good starting point for day trips to the ruins at Uxmal and Chichen Itza. More than half of Merida’s residents speak both Mayan and Spanish, and Mayan influences extend beyond language to the art, food and dress.
Milwaukee’s Harley-Davidson Museum provides a look at American history and culture through the lens of the company’s iconic motorcycles. On guided tours of the attraction, school groups can see everything from modern engines and leather jackets to vintage bikes. Some of the most famous artifacts on display are the oldest Harley-Davidson motorcycle in existence, a replica board track complete with race bikes and a 13-foot-long King Kong custom bike. Students can experience what it’s like to ride on the open road in the Virtual Ride Room and watch movie clips of Hollywood’s most memorable motorcycle moments.
“The Harley-Davidson Museum brings the stories of a worldfamous brand to a personal level. From the story of the first Harley-Davidson in existence being built in a tiny shed to the love that enthusiasts have for their custom-built bikes and their traditions, there is more to discover about motorcycles than you could ever imagine.”
—Wendy Dobrzynski, VISIT Milwaukee +1.414.287.4222, www.visitmilwaukee.org
9 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
“Teachers appreciate the aquarium’s downloadable lesson plans, classroom activities and interactive programming like the popular Ocean Challenge, Sea Turtle or Coral Reefs programs.”
—Sandy Haines Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau +1.843.916.7248 www.myrtlebeachgroups.com
Students will find themselves immersed in a watery world of sharks, rays, tropical fish and incredible hands-on learning experiences at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach. Located in the Broadway at the Beach entertainment complex, the attraction combines a range of aquatic exhibits and live shows with hands-on classes on special themes for different grade levels. High school students can take part in programs such as The Deep Sea and Careers in Marine Science, while the Shark Scene Investigator lab session is geared for middle schoolers. Two popular experiences are the overnight Sleep with the Sharks program and the two-hour Swim with the Stingrays adventure. Additionally, Ripley’s offers day, overnight and weeklong marine science camps that can include scuba diving, swimming with the sharks and kayaking.
10 New Orleans
One of New Orleans’ top history attractions, the National WWII Museum, is located just steps from the French Quarter in the Warehouse district. Groups can step back in time and find out more about one of the most influential events in the 20th century through a number of interactive experiences. Students can be part of the 27-member crew and climb inside the USS Tang submarine where they work together during a simulated battle. Another popular option is the 4-D movie, “Beyond All Boundaries,” during which they experience what it was like to ride in a tank through snow in a combat situation.
“This amazing museum is a must-see for middle and high school students wanting to learn more about this very important time in our history. Historians and beautifully displayed exhibits do an excellent job of sharing many stories. You can even take in a live USO show!”
—Lisa Holland, New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau +1.504.566.5053, www.neworleanscvb.com
11 New York City
Students can trace the roots of many of today’s digital media and audio/video technologies at the Museum of the Moving Image. Located on the former site of Paramount’s Astoria Studios, the attraction houses the largest repository of moving images in the United States, screens hundreds of films annually and offers tours, talks and workshops for visiting groups. The museum’s core exhibit, Behind the Screen, immerses students in the creative process through a combination of interactive experiences, one-of-a-kind visual materials and demonstrations of professional crafts and equipment.
“The Museum of the Moving Image, which offers diverse programs for students from around the country and the world, is near the up-and-coming neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens, and its wealth of affordable hotels, restaurants and cultural attractions. It provides an ideal backdrop for student visitors to explore an exciting and vibrant area of our city while also providing easy access to all the attractions that midtown Manhattan has to offer.”
—Fred Dixon, NYC & Company +1.212.484.1245, www.nycgo.com
12 Oklahoma City
“There always is something new and exciting happening down in the Boathouse District. From the new Sandridge Sky Trail adventure course to the upcoming University of Central Oklahoma boathouse, which will include a performance space, the district is a great area where student travelers can release some energy.”
—Sandy Price, Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, +1.405.297.8913, www.visitokc.com
Home to the Chesapeake Boathouse, Devon Boathouse and Chesapeake Finish Line Tower, the Oklahoma City Boathouse District provides many ways for students to get active in the heart of downtown. They can rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and row alongside Olympic-caliber athletes. A recent addition to the district is the Sandridge Sky Trail and its 80-foot adventure course that has six levels of challenges and includes the tallest stainlesssteel slide in the country. Groups can explore 13 miles of bicycle trails or board a 20-person dragon boat for a paddling excursion on the Oklahoma River. Additional activities in the district will include a zipline across the Oklahoma River, a surf park and a whitewater rafting course; all are set to open by 2015.
“Students love Orlando, which is home to seven of the top theme parks in the world, for the thrill rides, attractions and entertaining shows. But Orlando also offers a variety of educational opportunities inside and out of the theme-park gates at places such as Florida Eco Safaris at Forever Florida.”
—Denise Spiegel, Visit Orlando +1.407.354.5586, www.orlandoinfo.com/trade
13 Orlando, Florida
Florida Eco Safaris is a wildlife conservation area that encompasses nine distinct ecosystems throughout the 4,700- acre eco-ranch. Educational adventures range from mild to wild as students enjoy everything from eco-safaris on open air coaches and horseback riding to canopy cycling and ziplining through wetlands and dense cypress forests. The attraction has six different zipline adventures including the Rattlesnake, which is the first zipline roller coaster in the United States; the Panther Pounce, a 68-foothigh challenge tower; and the Peregrine Plunge, a 1,300-foot thrill with 10-mile views of the ecological park.
Aboriginal Experiences offers a tour that provides an in-depth look at Ottawa’s First Nations’ culture. As part of the program, students visit a native village on Victoria Island where they experience the rich heritage and teachings of Canada’s First People. Groups can take part in educational programs, see powwow dance performances, attend craft workshops and purchase handmade souvenirs. One of the more interesting aspects of the tour is getting to the island. Groups can paddle out from the base of the Rideau Canal Locks on the Ottawa River in a voyageur canoe to Victoria Island. Upon arrival, they witness an authentic trade experience and receive a traditional welcome.
“Visiting Aboriginal Experiences ties in our history with our present in Canada’s capital. Students can watch the Drum and Dance display and even participate in a dance, taste food that was prepared based on methods and traditions passed down for generations, and they can learn a craft or listen to an Aboriginal story. All this takes place in the original Meeting Place, which overlooks the modern Parliament Hill on its majestic perch.”
—Kelly Dean, Ottawa Tourism, +1.613.237.5150, ext. 133, www.ottawatourism.ca
Dinner, history and adventure are combined in the immersive Independence After Hours experience in downtown Philadelphia. The night begins with a three-course meal at historical City Tavern during which Colonial re-enactors entertain the group. After filling up on a traditional 18th-century fare, students walk among the shadows with a guide and arrive at Independence Hall, where they witness several of the U.S. Founding Fathers having deep discussions about their vision for a new nation and the need to craft the Declaration of Independence.
“Here in Philadelphia we strive to create an experience that students and all visitors will not only remember but will learn from and treasure. As a modern renaissance city, we marry the old with the new, history with innovation and American foundations with a truly global appeal. The Independence After Hours program exemplifies those ideals by bringing history into the present and making it relevant, interactive and fun.”
—Crystal Hayes Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau +1.215.636.3416, www.discoverPHL.com
At Phoenix’s Musical Instrument Museum, groups can see and hear instruments being played by people representing different countries and cultures. This global feel is represented in the Experience Gallery, where students can bang an Asian gong, strum a Burmese harp or play instruments from many nations. Another popular area is the Artist Gallery, which features iconic instruments from Toby Keith, John Lennon, Taylor Swift and other top performers. Museum staff members lead guided tours that can be customized based on special themes and curriculum requirements. Travel planners also should check the performance schedule at the MIM Music Theater, which is an on-site 300-seat concert hall that welcomes artists from every corner of the globe.
“The Musical Instrument Museum is unlike any other museum dedicated to music, and we’re fortunate to have a museum of this caliber in Phoenix. With 15,000 instruments and objects from around the world, students can become immersed in different cultures through sound.”
—Trish Hendrickson, Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau +1.602.452.6249, www.visitphoenix.com
17 San Francisco
“San Francisco has two museums that bring science to life like no place else. The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park has an aquarium, a planetarium, an indoor rainforest and a living roof, all in a building that has received Platinum-level LEED certification. The Exploratorium is San Francisco’s internationally acclaimed museum of sciences, art and human perception. On April 17, 2013, it will open in a brand new location on the Embarcadero on Piers 15 and 17. The new museum will feature 150 new exhibits, a bay observatory, an outdoor gallery and free civic space. Located in very different parts of San Francisco, these two museums offer a great way for student groups to start exploring our city.”
Peggy Lau, San Francisco Travel Association, +1.415.227.2641, www.sanfrancisco.travel
“Toronto is an ideal destination for all types of student groups, and as the third-largest theater center in North America, the city has many places where performing groups can learn more about the arts and showcase their talents. From annual student music festivals to iconic venues such as Canada’s Wonderland, Casa Loma and the CN Tower, Toronto is home to myriad venues primed with performance spaces for your group.”
—Brian Graziano, Tourism Toronto +1.416.203.2600, www.seetorontonow.com
One of the most popular events for bands and choirs is the School Music Festival at Canada’s Wonderland, which plays host to daily student performances throughout the months of May and June. The Great Hall and the library at Casa Loma are great venues for young performers, and the Ontario Science Centre offers several unique spaces. Two additional spots that work well for choirs are the CN Tower and the galleries at the Royal Ontario Museum.
19 Victoria, British Columbia
“During tours, onboard naturalists provide an interactive learning experience as groups take in the beautiful surroundings and creatures—ranging from orca whales and sea lions to a number of marine birds that call the area home. Boat sizes for the tours vary from zodiacs that seat up to 12 people to covered vessels that seat a maximum of 200.”
—Heather McGillivray, Tourism Victoria +1.250.414.6979 www.tourismvictoria.com
Thanks to its outstanding marine wildlife, Victoria is a prime spot for whale watching and water-based adventure tours. While three pods of orca are the main whale species found in the Pacific waters around the city, the coastline also is home to gray, humpback and minke whales as well as sea lions, seals and porpoises. Student groups can learn more about these active mammals on the seasonal excursions that are offered by Victoria’s marine-adventure outfitters.
“Vienna’s musical legacy is legendary. On any given day, students and residents alike can choose among several different concerts, operas, musicals or any other sort of musical adventure or exploration. For me, a special treat is a visit to the House of Music, where visitors can not only explore the science behind music and the lives and works of the world’s greatest composers but even conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra! A behindthe- scenes tour of the Vienna State Opera and a visit to its museum let you experience the world of opera firsthand. Musician memorials, houses and composer trails provide an intimate look into musicians’ and composers’ lives at different times in Vienna’s colorful history. Groups can round off the Viennese music experience with a concert of the Vienna Boys’ Choir and hear their angelic voices.”
—Sigrid Pinchler, Austrian Tourist Office New York +1.212.575.7723, ext. 119, www.austria.info
21 Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C.’s Newseum is a stateof- the-art museum dedicated to the history of the news and journalism that features information on five centuries of newsmakers. Students of many ages can take part in the attraction’s extensive list of hands-on exhibits and classes that meet national curriculum standards. The sessions are separated into three educational categories—Journalism, First Amendment and Headlines of History—and some popular programs include The Press and the Presidency, Photo Ethics, Covering a Catastrophe, and Making a Change: The Civil Rights Movement Washington, D.C.’s Newseum and the First Amendment.
“Students can explore 15 galleries, 15 theatres and dozens of exhibits or go to Newseum’s Learning Center for interactive laboratory sessions and educator-led classes. Additionally, they can participate in NewsMania, a news trivia game covering today’s headlines, and even become a television reporter for a day in a studio environment.”
—Morgan Maravich, Destination DC, +1.202.789.7056, www.washington.org
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