Teachers and other trip organizers know well the headache of finding enough entertaining sites and attractions for their student groups. Luckily, Connecticut makes the complex undertaking of planning group travel easy by offering a vast array of activities. Students looking to have fun and broaden their minds will find everything they need in our nation’s third smallest state, with locations offering up history, science and adventure for groups eager to explore.
Experience the Constitution State’s History
At Connecticut’s Old State House, in Hartford visitors can take guided or self-guided tours through the historic building to learn of Connecticut’s past. Rotating exhibits explore the history of Connecticut and democracy. Special school programs for student groups focus on Connecticut’s government and its roles in events like the Revolutionary and Civil War.
Harriet Beecher Stowe House, a plain, unassuming home where the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin grew up, is now a museum with period restored rooms and artifacts from Stowe’s lifetime. Right next door sits the house of another famous author.
The Mark Twain House and Museum is where the author wrote some of his most famous works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, often considered the definitive American novel. The house offers guided tours and interactive programs for student groups on subjects like Twain’s family, his work and his travels.
Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington was designed and built in 1901 by Theodate Pope Riddle for her family. The house stands out not just for being a notable piece of architecture by one of America’s first accomplished female architects, but for housing the Pop and Riddle families’ extensive Impressionist art collection. Guided tours focus on art, architecture and history.
Superb Scientific Experiences for Students
The Connecticut Science Center in Hartford offers students a chance to explore various scientific fields through exhibits such as Extreme Dinosaurs and Picture of Health. Special programs allow visiting students to build and program robots and experiment with alternative energy and molecular biology.
The New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks is a must-see for students curious about aviation. It offers a comprehensive look at the science and history of aviation, with a wide variety of aircrafts and engines on display, and some thrilling flight simulators as well.
For aspiring marine biologists and wildlife admirers, Mystic Aquarium, named after the town where it resides, offers students a window into the lives of species ranging from Beluga whales to African penguins. Teachers and organizers looking to get extra mileage out of their trip to Mystic can sign up student groups for educational programs that provide a behind-the-scenes peek at aquarium life and lessons on other subjects, including endangered marine ecosystems and comparative evolution in aquatic animals.
Looking for something truly special? Well, Connecticut’s Dinosaur State Park doesn’t have many rivals when it comes to unique learning experiences. After extensive fossilized dinosaur tracks were discovered in the area south of Hartford, the park was formed and opened in 1961. Students can marvel at life-size dioramas of dinosaurs and see the ancient footprints. Educational programs allow student groups to learn how these fossils were formed and make a plaster cast of a dinosaur footprint.
Lake Compounce Crocodile Cove, an amusement park in Bristol, has something for everyone, ranging from intense rides like Sky Coaster and Phobia to classic carnival rides like an antique carousel and bumper cars. Bring a swimsuit and enjoy Lake Compounce’s water park, with water slides and lazy rivers, among other rides.
For even more thrills, Portland’s Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park offers many adventures set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty. Groups can enjoy such activities as zip lining, rock climbing, and even snorkeling and scuba diving. Team-building events are also available.
Essex Steam Train and Riverboat offers a more nostalgic sort of adventure for student groups. While guides teach students about the science and history of steam engines and riverboats, once essential modes of transportation, students can enjoy a train ride followed by riverboat cruise. Starting from Essex, this adventure brings together history, science and excitement for all groups, as well as a look at historic towns and beautiful wilderness.
All over Connecticut, students and educators will find plenty of chances to learn and have fun at the same time. Connecticut’s historical locations, scientific institutions and adventure zones, not to mention the sites that combine all three experiences into one, make it a state with a truly spectacular experience to offer tourists and student groups. Do you and your students have many special memories of your Connecticut trip? Tell us and our readers all about it in the comments below.