Historic Field Trips and Educational Getaways
Make your next family getaway a learning experience
Take a horse-and-carriage ride in Williamsburg, Virginia. Below: Enjoying at day at Monticello.
Make your next day trip, weekend getaway or vacation a learning experience for the kids. From presidential homes to living history museums to historic sites, these destinations can enrich, inspire and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all ages.
courtesy of Visit Cherokee
Explore Cherokee history and culture.
Cherokee, North Carolina
Learn about the Cherokee people and nation with a variety of educational, outdoor and family activities. Explore the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a living-history museum of an 18th-century Cherokee village. See the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills,” which entertains audiences with its portrayal of the Cherokee people’s past and present. And, with both the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway nearby, you’ll find no shortage of hiking, camping, fishing and sightseeing opportunities in the area.
Hours and Admission: Varies according to museum or attraction.
Don’t miss: Visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian for exhibits, hands-on activities and special events.
Imagine what life was like in Colonial Virginia during the Revolutionary War. Visit dozens of restored and re-created buildings at this living history museum. Guests are welcomed with costumed interpreters, re-enactments and demonstrations.
Don’t miss: Tour the historic area by horse-drawn carriage, $20.
Hours and admission: $20.49-$40.99 for a single-day ticket.
Durham, North Carolina
What was life like on a North Carolina tobacco farm after the Civil War? Explore this historic farm, home and property to find out. Take a 45-minute guided tour or visit on your own.
Don’t miss: Before your tour, be sure to watch “Legacy of the Golden Leaf,” a documentary that highlights the Washington Duke family and how their tobacco manufacturing business began.
Hours and admission: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Guided tours are offered daily, as schedule and staffing allows. Typically, the tours leave at 10:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. daily. Admission is free.
Manteo, North Carolina
Take a step back in time to learn about one of the country’s longest and most intriguing mysteries — The Lost Colony. In the visitor center, watch a 17-minute video that explores the mystery and see artifacts discovered by archeologists. Check the calendar for children’s programming, such as educational walks and arts and crafts.
Don’t miss: Visit Waterside Theatre where the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony” is performed.
Hours and admission: The grounds are open daily, sunrise to sunset. The Lindsay Warren Visitor Center hours are seasonal. See website for more information. Admission is free.
Walk the same grounds of the men and women who settled England’s first permanent colony in North America. Explore the site of the 1607 James Fort, see artifacts in the museum, and learn what life was like for the English and Powhatan people. See calendar for living history tours and children’s programming.
Don’t miss: Visit the Ed Shed, an interactive space where kids can examine artifacts and take part in hands-on activities such as pottery mending or artifact screening.
Hours and admission: Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Ages 16+, $14; ages 15 and younger admitted free.
Blacksburg, South Carolina
Learn about the battle of Kings Mountain on Oct. 7, 1780, a significant victory during the Revolutionary War. Explore the visitor center, exhibits and the 1.5-mile battlefield trail. Visit nearby Kings Mountain State Park for camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing and a 19th-century living history farm.
Don’t miss: Check the events calendar and time your visit to see demonstration groups, such as the Kings Mountain Backcountry Militia. Learn about life in the 1700s with displays of blacksmithing and woodworking.
Hours and admission: Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free.
Visit Thomas Jefferson’s estate, tour the original home and explore the grounds where the third president once lived. Explore Mulberry Row, where Monticello’s slaves lived and worked, and enjoy the carefully landscaped flower, vegetable and fruit gardens.
Don’t miss: Visit the Mountaintop Hands-on Activity Center to write with a quill pen or enjoy 18th-century games. Parents, teachers and home educators can also find a wealth of information in the Monticello Digital Classroom including virtual tours, quizzes and guides for young learners.
Hours and admission: Open daily, except Christmas Day. Hours are seasonal. $10-$26.
Spencer, North Carolina
The museum is located on what was once Southern Railway Co.’s largest steam locomotive repair facility. Explore exhibits that include antique cars, train depot, a 37-bay roundhouse, locomotives and rail cars.
Don’t miss: Schedule your visit to include a 25-minute train ride, pulled by an antique diesel engine. Rides are seasonal. See website for calendar.
Hours and admission: Hours are seasonal. $4-$12.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Explore the life of Moravians and early Southerners living in the 18th and 19th centuries by touring the historic town of Salem and surrounding gardens. Visit the town’s buildings to see historic trades, such as gunsmithing, pottery or gardening. Demonstrations include quilting, 18th-century games, hearth cooking, food preservation and more.
Don’t miss: Celebrate the holidays with the Candle Tea, held on select dates in November and early December. $1-$5. Sing Christmas carols, see how the Moravians make beeswax candles, sip on Moravian coffee and eat sugar cake, and listen to the Christmas story.
Hours and admission: Tuesday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.; closed on Mondays. $11-$27.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Curious about North Carolina’s government and its history? Visit the North Carolina State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark that has been restored to its 1840-1865 appearance. Small groups can also schedule tours of the N.C. Executive Mansion, N.C. Legislative Building, North Carolina Museum of History, and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Don’t miss: Learn about North Carolina’s ecosystem and wildlife in the "Mountains to Sea" exhibit at N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.
Hours and admission: Hours vary according to attraction or museum, but admission is free to the attractions and museums mentioned here.
Midland, North Carolina
The first documented gold find in the United States was in North Carolina. The Old North State also led the nation in gold production until the California Gold Rush in 1848. Today, you can tour portions of the underground tunnels of the Reed Gold Mine, see mining equipment in the visitor center and learn more about that first gold find.
Don’t miss: For $3, you can pan for gold, April through October from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hours and admission: Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday. Admission is free.
Mount Gilead, North Carolina
In 11th century A.D., a new culture emerged known as Pee Dee, and inhabitants constructed mounds in the earth for their spiritual and political leaders. Town Creek Indian Mound commemorates that American Indian culture. Browse exhibits in the visitor center and take a self-guided tour of re-created structures and mound.
Don’t miss: Savor the scenery and native plants with the nature walk, an easy stroll along the river.
Hours and admission: Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Admission is free.
Myra Wright is a North Carolina-based freelance writer. She enjoys traveling and finding educational opportunities for her three kids.