Educational Vacations for Homeschoolers

The following post is from Jen from Forever, For Always, No Matter What:


Educational Vacations

We have always placed a great value on travel in our family.  My husband and I love sharing new experiences with our children, and we would much rather go and do than just read about something in a book.  Perhaps it also has something to do with the fact that our children were all born on different parts of the globe. We see the value of stepping out of our comfort zone a bit and meeting new people and exploring new environments.

Of course, experiencing new places and faces doesn’t have to include a passport.  We are blessed to live in a country with a rich history and plenty of natural wonders. Some trips are “jump in the car and go in the spur of the moment,” others, like the ones I’m going to discuss today, take a bit more planning.

One of the many benefits of homeschooling is we can make our own schedule.  Travel during the off season is wonderful.  We miss the crowds, and we miss the cost of traveling at high times.  May and September can be excellent choices for travel months.

Educational Vacations for Homeschoolers

Mount Rushmore, SD – Explore U.S. History

Several years ago we drove out west from our then home base of Michigan.  My brother was going to be getting married in Nebraska, so we thought we would make a family vacation out of it.  Our primary destination, before heading to the wedding,  was Mount Rushmore.  This trip still ranks as one of our children’s all time favorite

Our children were all pretty young back then, so what we did and what we would do now are two different things.  We did ride the Black Hills 1880 Train and enjoyed the excursion.  It wasn’t crowded and the kids could move around just a bit.  Our oldest is a train buff so he truly enjoyed the ride.  A chuck wagon dinner and show would definitely be something that we would do now with older children.  We also spent some time driving through the Badlands National Park, time well spent.

We always thought this would be a great vacation to plan to take around the beginning of July.  How incredibly patriotic to be at Mount Rushmore on the 4th of July!  Much to see and do in this area of the country.

Williamsburg, VA – Explore U.S. History

We will be heading to Williamsburg next month, so this is one place I don’t have first hand knowledge of yet.  However, after doing a bit of research, here is what we are hoping to see for the short time we are there.  Historic Jamestowne – a couple of years ago, we did an in-depth study of Jamestown and I’m anxious for the kids to make some new connections when they see things in person. The same goes for Revolutionary City.  I have a feeling there will be plenty to do and see and our weekend will fill up quickly!

Sanibel Island, FL – Nature Lovers

I know the big draw to Florida for families is usually the Walt Disney parks, but there are many more places to explore in Florida than just Disney.  One of our favorite places to go is Sanibel Island.  Sanibel Island is on the Gulf, just a short distance from Ft. Myers.  Sanibel is mostly know for it’s excellent shelling beaches, we love Sanibel for the amazing wildlife as well.

We recently visited both “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and CROW Clinic {Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife}.  CROW offers talks at both 11:00am and 2:00pm and there is a large welcome center to see the work they are doing.  In 2013 they had over 4,000 animals come through their wildlife hospital.  While it’s not possible to take a tour of the actual hospital, there are a couple of webcams in the welcome center that show some of the goings on of the hospital.

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is an area of protected land on Sanibel Island.  It actually is part of the largest unprotected mangrove ecosystem in the U.S.  There is one road through the park that you can drive, ride bikes, or take a tram.  We chose to take the tram through so we could get the benefit of a guide.  You can never be sure what you might see, a brown pelican, alligator {or the only resident crocodile on Sanibel!}, horse shoe crabs, mullet fish, or any vast number of shore birds.

Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge

Here are more educational excursions in CentralFlorida

Do you consider travel an important component of your homeschool? What’s on your bucket list?

Jen Jen is a homeschooling mom to 6 children and is not content with the ordinary. Life is an adventure with much to be explored. Stop by Forever, For Always, No Matter What as she navigates life in a large, slightly unconventional, always-striving-to-be-a-faith-filled family. She can also be found on Twitter, Pinterest and Google+


  1. says

    Thanks so much for including our educational excursions in Central Florida!
    I’m so excited for your family to visit Williamsburg and Jamestown. We lived in VA for many years and visited “America’s Historic Triangle” often. Be sure to have lunch at one of the Williamsburg Taverns and visit the ships at Jamestown.

  2. Tricia says

    We loved our homeschool field trip to Williamsburg and Jamestown! And I agree with Susan, enjoy lunch at a tavern. One of our traveling rules is that the kids must order unique food when we visit a unique place. So, no chicken fingers or hot dogs when we’re visiting historic or cultural cities. I love that one homeschool meme that says “You know you’re a homeschool family when you plan your vacation around a unit study.” Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jenny says

    When I was 16, my family went to South Dakota. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. The Badlands were beautiful! We saw Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and the Devil’s Tower. Even the Walldrug store was awesome!

    Sanibel is also beautiful. We are lucky to have family in Fort Myers and we visit once a year. I haven’t heard of CROW, we’ll have to go there next time. Ding Darling is a nice place.

  4. says

    Some hints for Virginia, because we’ve been there lots of times:

    There are 2 Jamestown locations – one is Jamestown Settlement which has replicas of the fort and the ships, and a pretty extensive museum. The other is Historic Jamestown, which is an archaeological dig of the original Jamestown site (and maintained by the National Park Service). When our family went, we messed up by not realizing there were 2 sites, and spent all of our time at one until it was too late to go to the other.

    When you go to Colonial Williamsburg, go to the group sales office (NOT the regular ticket counter) to buy your tickets. Identify yourselves as homeschoolers – some kind of homeschool ID isn’t totally required but will make it easier – and your tickets are half off. Depending on how detailed you like to get into things, CW could take one day or it could take three. There’s a lot a lot a lot there.

    Also, there are homeschool weeks in September at CW: I don’t know if we’ll go this year because our kids are still pretty small (ages 8 to 1) but it’s definitely on my list of things for the future!

    Good luck and enjoy the travels!