Top Spots for Student Travel Groups in Indiana
Home to a large community of Amish and world’s most famous auto race, Indiana is a great state to educate students with American history. Indiana is one of the top agricultural states and produces over 20 percent of the United States’ popcorn supply. Bring your students to watch the show—Indiana will provide the popcorn!
Indiana’s Platforms of History
Amish Acres in Nappanee, the only Old Order Amish farm listed in the National Register of Historic Places, provides an Amish experience to all five senses. Taste the traditional food, touch an old-fashioned butter churner, hear the clip-clop of horse-drawn buggies, smell fresh-baked pies and see hand-stitched quilts. Learn about the architecture, husbandry, farming techniques and historic interpretation from student tour guides. The simple Amish lifestyle will amaze today’s youth.
Visit the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes to observe vintage vehicles, weapons, uniforms and historical artifacts from the Civil War to modern day. The museum consists of outdoor displays of tanks, weaponry and aircraft and indoor displays of uniforms, flags and battle ruins. Popular exhibits include Phantom Fighter Jet, USS Grayback Memorial and Korean War.
Titled one of the Best Places to See American History by Fox News, Conner Prairie is the only Smithsonian-affiliate museum in Indiana, about 20 miles outside of Indianapolis. Board the Helium Balloon Exhibit 350 feet above the park grounds and learn the story of John Wise’s epic balloon journey to Indiana. Interact with a cast of costumed characters to see what life on the prairie was like in the 19th century. Hands-on-experiences such as weaving rugs and milking cows showcase life in a prairie town.
Become One with Nature
Interested in learning about wildlife? Wolf Park in Battle Ground is an educational research facility that studies the behavior of wolves. Tour the park and get up close and personal with wolves, coyotes and foxes. “Howl Night” is a group program that includes an employee getting in the enclosure with the wolves and evaluating their different behaviors, plus a group howling competition where the wolves will actually howl back. It’s a great place for students to interact with animals.
Parker City’s “B” Honey store, started by Junior and Rosetta Bontrager in 1986 with just two beehives, has over 70 hives producing fresh, pure honey. Student groups can visit a hive, learn about the mysteries and wonders of the bees, and afterwards see how the honey is harvested. Visit their popular store to purchase products made with honey and beeswax.
Indiana is notorious for its caves and Marengo Cave is a prominent example. One of the few that allows tours inside the actual cave, Marengo has an array of student activities. Crystal Palace tour winds its way through flowstone deposits and tells the story of the cave’s discovery. Dripstone Trail tour helps envision the underground stream that paved the path for this cave and shows the spike-like totems. Gemstone Mining allows students to dig through rock and dirt to find treasured gems like emeralds and rubies. The Crawl is a man-made maze that lets kids imagine what a cave adventure would be like—minus the mess of mud.
Get Down and Dirty on the Farm
Fair Oaks Farms visitors witness the processes of getting food from the farm to the dinner table. Activities include the Dairy Adventure and Pig Adventure where students learn the food production process and modern farming practices. See calves born in the birthing barn and enjoy a hands-on-experience with a pig sonographer. The Pork Education Center gives students a deeper look at pig farming, food production and other pork product facts. Try their prized cheeses straight from the cheese factory.
The Farm at Prophetstown is the ultimate definition of a traditional farm, considering it’s literally horse-powered. It allows groups to milk a cow, gather eggs and get the full experience of what it’s like working on a farm. Meet their Belgian mare horses and learn all the facts on horses and their equipment. Walk through the prairie to study the soil and the influences of evaporation, erosion and the creatures who inhabit the area. Observe the upkeep of livestock and how the animals communicate, then explore how plants and animals live together in harmony.
Indianapolis Satisfies your Need for Speed
The Indianapolis 500, the world’s largest single-day sporting event, is a tradition going on 100 years in 2016. At the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway, known as the Racing Capital of the World, take a behind-the-scenes tour and witness the track firsthand. The Hall of Fame Museum explores the history of the legendary speedway and auto-racing as a whole. With historic race cars on display and ever-changing exhibits, Dan Gurney Race Cars: An All American Exhibition being the most recent, the museum never fails to entertain.
Discover the technology and engineering behind the world’s quickest sport at the Dallara IndyCar Factory. Your group can compete in professional racing simulators or jump into the Street-Legal 2 Seater and drive on the real-life speedway. This is the first to run on the streets of Indianapolis like a regular car. Their interactive zone includes full-car and box cart simulators; the Dallara IndyCar Factory theater, which shows a racing video every 10 minutes; exhibits that teach the science and technology behind the IndyCar at an elementary level; and a build-your-own-car zone where you can race your car down a track ramp. The science behind aerodynamics, materials and vehicle dynamics is fascinating.
Students Get the Chance to Shine
Derby Dinner Playhouse is a 500-seat dinner theater offering professionally produced Broadway musicals and comedies with a home-style buffet. Band groups can march in the spacious parking lot, and performance groups can perform in the lobby prior to the show.
Amish Acres‘ Theatre for Young Audiences gives students the opportunity to perform in the 1911 Round Barn Theatre. A 45-minute presentation is followed by a question-and-answer period, providing students with the opportunity to play an active role in the performance. Students can tour behind-the-scenes with the artistic director.
Indiana State University Jazz Festival, held annually since 1974, was established by the men of the Gamma Omega chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. With the desire to educate and spread awareness on music in America, these boys sponsor the event for high school, middle school or any sort of band ensemble for students across the country.
From natural wonders to commercial attractions, Indiana provides so many learning opportunities that you may start planning your second trip during your first! Visit Indiana and see how the Hoosier’s do it. Already been there? Comment on your favorite attraction below!