I saw a recent post about another family’s homeschool travel bucket list and my mind immediately started spinning. What a fun idea!
I love to incorporate travel into our learning. Sometimes I do it with an obvious activity or destination, but I try to ensure that appreciating travel and our time together is the primary focus. I don’t want our trips to be a chore or a bore.
Before I go any further, I just want to clarify that you don’t have to be a homeschooling family to create a bucket list of places you want to go together. Your timeframes and priorities may be different, but there’s nothing exclusive to homeschooling to keep anyone from putting together some family travel goals.
From the beginning of our homeschool journey, my husband and I said that one reason for educating our girls at home was so that we had more opportunity to travel. Now, my husband’s job does not allow for us to RV around the country (and to be honest, we probably don’t have the temperament to do it anyway), but it does allow for us to plan regular trips. Some years we are better about it than others (and let’s not even mention 2020!).
So, I’ve been eyeballing and collecting trip ideas for at least three years. We only recently started discussing international travel, so it’ll be a couple years before we venture into that bucket list territory. For now, these are our 10 homeschool travel bucket list ideas for the United States in no particular order. Onward!
10 Homeschool Travel Bucket List Destinations
New York City, NY
I think the challenge with visiting NYC is narrowing down the options so that we have an enjoyable time while also exploring all that the city has to offer. My husband and I have been a few times before, but we’ve not visited as a family.
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are on the list as well as the 9/11 Memorial. The literary travel bug in me would also like to see the NYC library, and I’m sure a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History would also be great stops. Hhmm…this list gets longer and longer. Any other places we should add to our list for NYC?
Antelope Canyons in Arizona
These beautiful natural wonders are located in Navajo Nation so they are accessible only by specific tour groups. The two slot canyons that are available to tour are large wavy rock formations that look like artistic sculptures. The narrow passageways shift and play with the sunlight as it streams in from overhead. I am intrigued and stunned by these canyons, just from the pictures alone. Fingers crossed we get to see them!
Northern lights, untainted wildlife and natural beauty, icebergs, and so much more. I don’t typically advocate for cruises, but neither am I completely against them. In this case, I think having a ship take care of transportation and itineraries leaves more room for us to sit back and appreciate a once-in-a-lifetime visit. This state is huge, and it seems like this is a good option for seeing a lot of what Alaska offers in a concentrated amount of time.
Strangely enough, Puerto Rico is not a place that I want to visit by cruise ship. This U.S. territory seems to have many fascinating historic and natural wonders to appreciate. Our girls are almost always up to a beachy-type trip (check out our activities at the Outer Banks, NC), and I know they would love the colors of this island.
When I was doing preliminary research a couple years ago, I also learned that Puerto Rico hosts three out of five of the world’s only bioluminescent bays. These are areas where single-celled organisms, called dinoflagellates, congregate in numbers large enough to be visible. How are they visible? When the water is stimulated by movement, they light up in a bright blue-green color. A kayak adventure to see these rare natural occurrences would be truly memorable!
I mean, what’s not to love?
But hold on a minute because I’m about to nerd out on Hawai’i. I feel like I need to announce this so that those of you envisioning exotic beaches, gnarly waves, and fruit drinks know in advance that I’m going off that script.
When the girls and I studied American History through Quilts I came across the troubled relationship between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Hawai’i. While the girls and I did replicate the more familiar Hawaiian-style two-tone quilts, I also told them the story of the last Queen of Hawai’i.
Queen Lili’uokalani was put under house arrest when the U.S. decided to take over the Hawaiian government. In protest, she stitched a quilt that is today preserved in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.
Yes, I want to visit for all the obvious reasons. But, I also really want to see this quilt and better understand Hawai’i’s history.
Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park is another spot that my husband and I have already visited. We can attest to the fact that it is a must-see for our girls. These massive and beautiful trees are stunning and impossible to fully appreciate without standing beneath them. The bonus of visiting a forest is – shade!
Grand Canyon National Park
Really any park out west would be great to see, but I’m a huge believer in seeing size-based wonders in real life (see also, Redwood National Park). Of course, we’ve seen pictures. Of course, we’ve heard stories. But seeing something to scale leaves such an indelible impression on our minds that the Grand Canyon is a must-see experience to fully appreciate it.
A Working Farm Stay
This one is a bit more ambiguous. I’m not sure if this will take us to the Midwest or the Northeast, but exploring the agricultural roots of the U.S. will be an educational experience for all of it. My youngest lit up like Christmas tree lights when I floated this idea. I envision a few days of balancing between helping out on the farm and exploring the natural landscape in the area we choose.
This seems like one of those travel/vacation opportunities where you can’t help but learn something – whether it’s milking a cow or greater appreciation for where food comes from or tired muscles from physical exertion.
We’ve visited a couple of historic cities (Boston, Charleston), and Philadelphia definitely deserves to be on the list. I’ve heard mixed reviews of visiting this city, but I expect that a long weekend would be a good amount of time for seeing some of the historic and artistic sites of this city. I’m sure if I put together a list of sweet treat places to try, like we did in Charleston, the girls would be more than happy to wander for a bit and explore a new place.
San Francisco, CA
My husband and I have been multiple times to San Francisco, and there’s always more to see. We have not taken the girls yet. In my pre-Covid planning I had an agenda for us with a list of too many things for us to explore in this dynamic city. It’s tucked away safely for now, but when the time is right and this bucket list item is ready to get crossed off our list, I’m ready to bring it back out!
Where Do You Want to Go?
What’s on your family bucket list? What criteria do you use for determining your ideal spots? Are you a national park family or an amusement park family? Do you prefer planes, trains, cruise ships, or cars? What memorable places have you visited?
Are there any other places I should add to this list. Better yet, if you’ve been to any of these spots and have recommendations, let me know in the comment section! I think of our homeschool travel bucket list as more of a guideline, and having ten goals is just a convenient round number 😉 There’s always room for more!
Check out this post about how to make a travel bucket list for a FREE DOWNLOAD to record your goals!