If you're looking for a new and exciting way to spend your family vacation, why not consider an educational trip? A growing number of families are choosing to travel for educational purposes, and there are plenty of options to choose from. From kayaking to visiting science museums, there is an “edu-vacation” for everyone.

Need a little inspiration? Natural Retreats has curated a list of incredible hands-on learning opportunities at some of our favorite locations around the U.S. These inspiring destinations will keep everyone busy and happy all day long while providing educational travel. Don’t wait, plan your next educational vacation with Natural Retreats!

Pro-Tip: Supplement your learning adventure with fun trivia in the car, historic or cultural videos on your tablet, or "I SPY" games that include your natural surroundings.

Top aerial view of the river along which a small orange kayak floats. Green trees grow on the shore. Ecosystem Ukraine, Europe
The Old Mill is an old gristmill in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee has been in operation since 1830. A popular tourist spot and restaurant.

Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a world-renowned destination for nature lovers. With over 100,000 plants and animals living in harmony, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most biodiverse park in the national park system. You'll always find experiential learning here, from rugged mountainsides covered by lush forests to pristine rivers running through glistening streams.

Educational Opportunities

Smoky Mountain Guides

Less than an hour from Gatlinburg, spend a day exploring the wilderness on this highly-rated flatwater kayaking trip. You and your family will see some of nature's most pristine areas from a vantage point that very few do while gliding through the Tennessee River. Listen to wilderness medicine certified guides as they discuss the diversity of the Smokies and interpret the cultural and historical significance of the area. Learn new skills about kayaking safety, experience wildlife up-close, discover diverse ecosystems, and absorb the natural history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with this educational vacation. This 4-hour-long excursion gives participants enough time for fun activities like swimming or fishing while also allowing them to take in breathtaking scenery.

The Old Mill

The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge is one of the most iconic and popular places to visit in the Smoky Mountains. The mill is over 180 years old and was constructed along the Little Pigeon River. The Old Mill is best known for its association with The Old Mill Restaurant, which is traced all the way back to 1830. The restaurant is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike— offering the chance to sample a variety of dishes made from the historic grist mill’s freshly ground products, including pancakes, biscuits, cornbread, and more. The Old Mill is also a great place to learn about the history of grain flour and how it was once an essential part of the Appalachian way of life. Whether you're looking for a delicious meal or a glimpse into the past, The Old Mill is sure to please.


Places to Stay

  • Hatfield Hideaway: Conveniently located in Sky Harbor, between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee, Hatfield Hideaway is a 2-story, 3 bedroom classic log cabin with the space and comfort your family will love.
  • Closer to Home: A modern cabin, Closer to Home has cathedral ceilings, log beams, hardwood floors, and wood-paneled walls. Ideal for large groups or families, this two-level home offers multiple living spaces, a furnished deck on each level, and accommodations for up to 14 guests.

Palm Springs

Rich in culture and history, Palm Springs has been home to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for centuries and later became known as a “Hollywood Hideaway” for stars in the 1930s. Visitors can choose from a variety of activities like cruising downtown to explore antique shops and art galleries or experiencing the phenomenal natural wonders of the surrounding deserts, mountains, and canyons. It’s the perfect balance of nature and culture with tons of learning possibilities.

Educational Opportunities

The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert is a place where families can come and learn together. The museum offers interactive exhibits and programs that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Families can explore the exhibits together and then participate in hands-on activities that help them learn more about the concepts they just explored. The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert is a place where children can learn about the world around them and be entertained at the same time.

Cabazon Dinosaurs

Less than 30 minutes away from Palm Springs, Cabazon Dinosaurs is a great place to take the kids for a day of learning and fun. Your children will have a blast studying or examining the Dino Trail as they participate in dino digs and fossil hunting, and end their adventure with two ginormous steel and concrete dinosaurs called Dinny and Mr. Rex. (Totally Instagram-worthy, so bring a camera!) When all the learning is over, treat them to a Pterodactyl Ice Cream at the on-site ice cream shop. Cabazon Dinosaurs is a great way for your family to learn and play while on an edu-vacation.


Places to Stay

  • Hacienda Barranca: This 3-bedroom casa combines the warmth of modern decor with bold, Spanish-inspired patterns and artwork. Kids will love the large outdoor space as it features a private pool and BBQ grill—perfect for swimming and amusement!
  • La Vie En Rose: A charming 3-bedroom mid-century modern home in the heart of Las Palmas, La Vie en Rose is set against the backdrop of the striking San Jacinto mountain range with great features like an outdoor grill, private pool, and hot tub. Best part? It’s dog-friendly!


Breckenridge is a world-renowned ski town located in Summit County, Colorado. The town is known for its spectacular scenery, diverse trail network, and abundance of outdoor activities. Kids can learn about the town's rich mining history, try their hand at fly fishing, or explore the Breckenridge Bike Park. Breckenridge has no shortage of things to do, making it the perfect place for children to learn and grow. If you're looking for a laid-back mountain town with educational travel opportunities for kids, Breckenridge is the place for you.

Educational Opportunities

The Breckenridge Troll

Breckenridge is home to one of the most unique hikes in the area—the Breckenridge Troll. This short and flat hike is perfect for kids, and provides an opportunity to learn about flowers and experience nature first-hand. As you stroll to the troll, teach your kids the importance of always picking up their trash and about the “Leave No Trace” concept. The 15-foot-tall troll was created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo, known worldwide for bringing awareness to recycling and upcycling by building great things out of trash. Your kids will love this hike, and you'll appreciate the exercise and fresh air!

Blue River Plaza

Blue River Plaza, located on Main Street, is a great place for kids to strengthen critical thinking skills, assess risk, and discover the natural world. Kids and parents can climb on the rocks and boulders, cool off in the river, play tag in the large grassy field, or enjoy a picnic at the Riverwalk Center. This bustling area is full of activities that are great for sparking curiosity in children—and even adults. During the summer, hop over to the local farmer’s market to teach your kids about growing plants and healthy nutrition. This beautifully landscaped riverside plaza is full of excitement and supports local businesses.


Places to Stay

  • Laudaverunt: Set on woodland grounds, the 5-bedroom estate overlooks the Tenmile mountain range and is just four minutes from Main Street Breckenridge and the BreckConnect Gondola. This custom-built lodge features panoramic mountain views, floor-to-ceiling windows, and multiple private decks, making Laudaverunt worthy of its name.
  • Hideaway Cabin: This bright and airy cabin is the quintessential Breckenridge mountain getaway. With two bedrooms + loft, a private hot tub, a pool table, and indescribable Mt. Quandary vistas, you’ll have everything you need in this beautiful log cabin retreat.



If you’re looking for an exciting and educational family vacation, look no further than Natural Retreats. Our luxury destinations are perfect for kids of all ages and provide a variety of hands-on learning experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime. So what are you waiting for? Book now and get ready to learn while you vacation!

We love learning too, so tag us at @NaturalRetreats and use the hashtag #TravelOn—we can’t wait to see how you spend your educational vacay!