Combine Fun and Learning on Vacation – Educational Vacation Ideas

It’s July and you may still be thinking about a summer vacation with the kids. If you haven’t already got your summer plans all set, and you’d like to do something fun and educational, we’ve got some great ideas for you.

Whether you plan to pack up the RV and hit the road, or you want to drive/fly to a specific destination, these are some of our favorite spots that are fascinating for young and old travelers alike.

Glen Rose, TX

Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas features actual footprints of the dinosaurs that once roamed the entire central Texas area. These are some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. In the riverbed, you can walk in the footprints left by Sauropods and three-toed Theropods. There’s a 70-foot tall Apatosaurus and a 45-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex to greet you at the entrance to the park. The area is home to many hiking and biking trails, great fishing spots, and multiple places to ride horses.

Nearby is the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, which is an 1,800 acre endangered species research and conservation center. There are over 1,000 animals from 50+ species and you can tour the center in your car or in a guided tour jeep or safari vehicle. There’s a children’s animal center where kids can get hands on, and there’s an on-site café and Lodge, cabins, and a bunkhouse for those who want to stay overnight.

Waco, TX

Keeping with the dinosaur and fossil theme, about an hour away from Glen Rose is the Waco Mammoth National Monument. This National Park Service site is home to fossils of 24 Columbian mammoths and other mammals from the Pleistocene Epoch. This is the nation’s first and only recorded evidence of a nursery of ice age Columbian mammoths. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum and the Dr Pepper Museum.

Santa Fe, NM

Among the many amazing, educational, and fun places to visit in Santa Fe, you’ll find the Museum of International Folk Art which is home to the world’s largest collection of folk art. For a memorable side trip, families should visit the Taos Pueblo, built by Anasazi Indians over 1,000 years ago and still home to Puebloan people. This is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. Of course, you’ll have to make time to visit the Santa Fe Children’s Museum and the fascinating Harrell House Bug Museum.

Nashville, TN

Planning a trip to Music City? Be sure to visit the 42-foot replica of Athena at the Parthenon and learn a bit about Greek mythology and the early history of Nashville. You can also visit the Nashville Zoo which has recently opened a state-of-the-art animal hospital with a public viewing area so you can watch actual veterinary procedures. You can learn about the award-winning Fisk Jubilee Singers at the historically black Fisk University. The National Museum of African American Music is a new venue in Music City that just opened. Your visit to Nashville needs to include Belle Meade Plantation to learn about the history of horse breeding, and visit the historic Civil War battlefield at Franklin. Although this is a kid-friendly property, the Journey to Jubilee history of slavery which provides visitors with an understanding of what the times were like from the African-American viewpoint, is not recommended for kids under 12.

San Diego, CA

The world-famous San Diego Zoo is a great destination for the whole family, featuring 100 acres housing over 12,000 animals of more than 650 species. The Japanese Friendship Garden is a cultural center that educates, engages, and inspires people of diverse backgrounds about Japanese culture and community legacy. Old Town features 15 historic buildings, shops and a trolley tour. And older kids will be thrilled by a tour of Whaley House Museum, featured on the Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted.

Cooperstown, NY

Summer is baseball season, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is a great spot to visit. Cooperstown also features the Fenimore Art Museum (former estate of author James Fenimore Cooper), free lawn concerts by the Glimmerglass Opera, a petting zoo at the Farmers Museum, and nearby lake Otesaga for swimming, boating, and picnicking.

For tons more educational places to visit this summer, check out these great lists: