15 Trips That Will Make Your Kids Smarter

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There’s no denying that travel can expand a kid’s awareness of the world and enrich their lives with new experiences and points of view. But you don’t have to travel to exotic locations—we’ve found 15 spots right here in the USA that will offer kids a chance to learn about history, science, culture and more. Keep reading to get inspired.

D.C. is an awesome place to teach children about history and government. Take time to visit The National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington to give your family a new perspective on early American history. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, it opened its doors in 2004 as a place to advance the understanding of Native cultures from the past, present and future. Current exhibitions include Native Americans in the Armed Forces, the Inka Road, the history of Treaties and more. The building itself was designed by Métis and Blackfoot Indian architect Douglas Cardinal and is unlike most contemporary structures. Even the gardens offer the Native perspective: the plants of great importance to different North American cultures are not labeled, allowing visitors to experience them in a more natural way.

Click here to discover other ways kids can learn in D.C. 

Online: nmai.si.edu

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Nobody thought much of Mount St. Helens until she blew her top in 1980. It’s been a few years, but she’s still a big deal and a must-see for curious kids. The Mount. St. Helens Forest Learning Center is not only the star of the show because admission is free, but also because it features an eruption chamber, a helicopter to climb in, a great playground and a killer gift shop. Other places to check out include the Johnston Ridge Observatory (which features an awesome view of the mountain), the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Sequest and the Castle Rock Exhibit Hall which isn’t as spectacular as the others, but displays a collection of home pictures from some of the survivors of the blast. 

Online: mountsthelens.com

Auburn is a charming town in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and has an incredibly rich history. Teach your children what it really means to stand up to tyranny by immersing them in the world of Harriet Tubman. The national park that bears her name is the perfect place to learn all about this incredible woman who emancipated herself from slavery at the age of just 27 and went on to help dozens of slaves find freedom. Before you go, the kids can become an Underground Railroad Junior Ranger to learn about the system of secret houses and waystations that helped slaves find freedom. Harriet Tubman National Historical Park includes her home, a visitor’s center, the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, and the church she raised funds to build. Her burial site is also nearby. A new visitor center is planned for 2018. The town of Auburn also boasts several other history museums and collections, a memorable public theater and year-round events and festivals.

Online: historyshometown.com  

In the charming mid-sized city of Springfield, Illinois, you’ll find more sites dedicated to the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, than anywhere else in the world. Explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library as well as the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, the Lincoln Depot and the Lincoln Tomb, his final resting place. You can also check out Lincoln’s New Salem, a reconstruction of the village where Lincoln lived as a young man. Experience life from two centuries ago and imagine you work alongside Lincoln at the post office, chopping wood and more. Discover the early influences of Lincoln’s life that helped form his principals, including the belief in the abolishment of slavery. Also home to the University of Illinois at Springfield, the college campus is well worth a romp around.

Online: visitspringfieldilinois.com

—Jeff Totey & Amber Guetebier

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Feature photo: Josh Grenier via Flickr 

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