Summer is almost always a child’s favorite time of the year. School is out and it’s time for freedom! Those carefree summer days are also perfect for family adventures. However, just because school is out, the learning and growing doesn’t have to stop for your kiddos.
As a frequent summer travel destination, the Southeast USA isn’t just one long beach with a mouse-themed park in the middle. It’s a destination teeming with learning adventures and discoveries just for your family. We’ve found three of our favorite family learning adventures in the Southeast to set your family on a journey to fun, discovery, and deep, hands-on learning.
1. Space Coast, USA
On Florida’s east coast lies the one place in the USA where all manned space flights have lifted off. Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch rockets all through the year, and it’s an earth-shattering experience to watch a rocket blast off into space. Check the websites of both organizations for their rocket schedule before visiting to plan around a launch window.
The Kennedy Space Center also has a phenomenal visitor’s complex where your family can get up close and personal with the Atlantis Space Shuttle and investigate more about the USA’s space program. Also in the area are a freshwater manatee park and a peaceful state park at the ocean’s edge for your family to enjoy after your visit to the Space Walk Hall of Fame.
2. Sarasota Bay
Directly across the state is a little piece of family vacation heaven. A personal favorite, Anna Maria Island tops the chain of barrier islands from Tampa Bay south into Siesta Key and Venice. This calm, resort like area of Florida’s Gulf Coast is rich with opportunities to uncover everything from history to botany and ocean science. Walk where the conquistadors came ashore 500 years ago at De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton in the morning. Then, in the afternoon you can walk among trees from all over the world in one of the nation’s only frost-free zones at Palma Sola Botanical Park.
Heading south from Anna Maria takes your family towards St. Armand’s Circle and the Mote Marine Laboratory. Start your day at the Mote where you’ll enjoy the aquarium and rescue programs, or you’ll board a research boat for a trip out on Sarasota Bay and one of the small uninhabited islands. With all your exploring, make sure you stop to enjoy a fabulous Cuban and Spanish lunch at the open-air Colombia Restaurant in St. Armand’s!
3. Atlanta, GA
In the center of the thriving metropolis that is Georgia’s largest city live four of the world’s largest sharks. You’ll find these whale sharks gracefully lumbering through their tank along with gliding Manta Rays and other ocean wonders. As the premier residents of the Georgia Aquarium, they are simply the tip of the iceberg for rich experiences in and around Atlanta.
With older children, you’ll be able to take them deep into the civil rights history of the USA with a visit to Martin Luther King’s home and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. They can also enter the story of race relations and tour a 1930s home at the Atlanta History Center.
Take a step further back in time with the Fernbank Natural History Museum and hang out with some of the largest dinosaurs to walk the earth. You can get outdoors as well and visit the highest waterfall in Georgia. At over 700 feet high, the cascading waterfall and trails take your family close to the nature and history of the state. Top off your travels by standing on top of Stone Mountain and getting a full view of the Atlanta skyline.
For more locations filled with great learning adventures for children, see links below:
Cape Canaveral Air Force: http://www.patrick.af.mil/
Kennedy Space Center: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/k
Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex: https://www.kennedyspacecenter
Manatee Park: www.cityofcapecanaveral.org/ma
Sebastian’s Inlet State Park: https://www.floridastateparks.
Space Walk Hall of Fame: http://spacewalkoffame.org/
De Soto National Memorial: https://www.nps.gov/deso/index
Palma Sola Botanical Park: https://www.mymanatee.org/home
Mote Marine Laboratory: https://mote.org/
Columbia Restaurant: http://www.columbiarestaurant.
St. Armand’s Circle: https://www.starmandscircleass
Georgia Aquarium: https://www.georgiaaquarium.or
Martin Luther King Jr. Home: https://www.nps.gov/malu/index
National Center for Civil and Human Rights: https://www.civilandhumanright
Atlanta History Center: http://www.atlantahistorycente
Fernbank Natural History Center: http://fernbankmuseum.org/
Amicalola Falls State Park: http://gastateparks.org/Amical
Stone Mountain State Park: https://www.ncparks.gov/stone-