Travel isn’t just for fun, it can also be a great way to learn something new. Our friends, the Bissons, took this to heart when they headed out on a road trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin from their home in Florida to see family. They decided that their two sons should learn a few things on the trip so they made some educational stops along the way.

Rick and his son, Cory, check out one of the exhibits at the Arbor Day Lodge in Nebraska City, Nebraska. (Photo by Karen Bisson)

The first such stop on the trip was Mammoth Cave National Park. They stopped at this Kentucky landmark and set off on the “Domes and Dripstone” cave tour. The two-hour hike went through only a small portion of the cave system, which is the world’s longest! Still, what a great experience for their sons to learn firsthand about geology and cave ecology.

Their second stop was Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site located just east of St. Louis in Illinois. There, standing over 100 feet high, is Monk’s Mound, the largest earthwork pyramid in the Americas. Cahokia Mounds is an amazing place, and sadly few people know about it. I learned about it in a college class, and went to visit with my parents, who later recommended this stop to the Bissons. If you’re ever in the area, it is definitely worth a visit–you’ll learn, like the Bisson boys, about the archaeology of North America and see firsthand just how advanced a society there was in North America before Columbus ever set sail.

The Bissons then swung up to Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Neb., which is in our neck of the woods. (Get it? Arbor Day farm, ‘our neck of the woods?’)

We joined them for brunch and then their fun trek through the “Tree Adventure,” where they walked trails through the old growth forest, climbed a tree house, and even made music using wooden instruments all while learning about the important role trees play on the Earth.

Steve’s dad, John Teget, and Sawyer Bisson look at animal bones at Arbor Day Farms in Nebraska City, Nebraska. (Photo by Karen Bisson)

While in Nebraska City, they also stopped at the Lewis and Clark Missouri River Visitor’s Center located along the Missouri River. They were very happy they made this stop as their youngest didn’t remember having learned about Lewis and Clark in school. They reported that at first their sons groaned about this stop, but then had a great time learning about a key part of American history once inside.

From Nebraska, the Bissons headed off to see family in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Remembering that no trip is complete without a little fun, they stopped on the way home in the Wisconsin Dells where they took a ride on the Wisconsin Ducks. This amphibious ride took them on a one-hour land and water tour where they could take in all the views. They also stopped at three different go-kart tracks where the boys’ love of NASCAR was able to shine through while the boys gained some memories that will last a lifetime.

It looks like the Bissons had a wonderful trip. What’s great is that they had fun while helping their children learn a little something along the way. Just think how much more real the school lessons on Lewis and Clark or on cave ecology will be when those boys have the memories of having been in those locations and seeing, feeling, and touching the real things along the way.

Have you made educational stops like these while on vacation? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

As always, thanks for sharing!

  • A chic, swanky boutique hotel, located in a renovated Middle School, @hotelgrinnell offers guests comfortable accommodations as well as great food and drink options. With a full auditorium, and a ballroom in the former gym, this hotel is perfect for anything from a weekend getaway to a major event. We had the opportunity to stay in the hotel on a hosted visit, and wrote a blog post about our stay. See the link in our bio.
  • On the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, there is a point where you round a bend and see this view, with the Atlantic Ocean on the left, and the Caribbean Sea on the right. ⁣
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Ann took this photo several years ago when we visited St. Kitts for a day while on a cruise in the Caribbean. ⁣
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We met our friend, Mikey Tross, on the island and with the help of a local driver and guide, we toured the entire island in a day. ⁣
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We climbed to the top of Brimstone Hills, saw the beaches, at at Fredo's (a local restaurant) and toured Caribelle  Batik at Romney Manor. ⁣
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St. Kitts is a beautiful island and the people there are incredibly generous. If you haven't already been there, add St. Kitts to your bucket list.
  • The Grinnell, Iowa, Chamber of Commerce offices are located in a former bank designed by famed architect, Louis Sullivan. The architect built a series of "Jewel Box" banks, called that because they resemble jewel boxes.⁣
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These buildings are intricate in detail and rich in their finishes. The next time you pass near Grinnell, it is definitely worth the stop to step into American architectural history.
  • In downtown Kearney, Nebraska, you'll find @mccuesnebraskataproom, home to all sorts of Nebraska libations. When you visit, you can choose from a large selection of beers, wines, and even liquors all made in Nebraska. It's a fun environment where regulars welcome visitors, and fun is had by all. We look forward to going back one day and know that a visit to McCue's will be a part of our visits to Kearney in the future. ⁣
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@visitnebraska @visitkearney
  • A rite of passage...⁣
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The Swinging Bridge in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, has thrilled residents and visitors alike for decades. When it was originally built in 1929, it was the only way to cross from one side of Bird Creek to the other. Today, there are other bridges, but the beloved swinging bridge still spans the creek and dares folks to cross.⁣
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Long-time residents will tell stories of rieding their bikes across it when they were kids--and it should be noted that back then it didn't have the chain link side guards.⁣
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No visit to Pawhuska is complete until you've tried The Pioneer Woman's chicken fried steak AND crossed the swinging bridge. Go ahead and try...we dare you!⁣
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@TravelOK @VisitTheOsage
  • While looking for a coffee shop in @visitkearney, we stumbled into a really cool store. @elevate.people is a locally owned business specializing in both leather goods and in helping people around the world build better lives for themselves. ⁣
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All of the leather goods for sale here are handmade by people in third world countries. Elevate, it turns out, is a non-profit that gives local artisans small, low interest loans to get started in the leather making business. When loans are repaid, the money is loaned out to another craftsperson so they can get started. Meanwhile, Elevate provides access to a market to sell the goods produced so the worker continues to be supported. They also have an online store.⁣
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We have purchased several items from Elevate, and have loved all of them.⁣
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@visitnebraska
  • After a day of tests and appointments at the Mayo Clinic, this was a perfect place to relax and unwind.⁣
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We were treated to a complimentary stay at the brand new Hilton in downtown @minnesotas_rochester. Located near the Mayo Clinic, it's an incredibly beautiful hotel with nothing but the best amenities and top-notch service. One of our favorite places in the hotel is the hot tub in the pool area. How can it not be? Look at this place. And yes, it's as relaxing as it looks, especially at sunset. ⁣
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The room in this new luxury hotel are just as nice. We enjoyed it so much that we changed our travel plans and booked a second night on our own dime. It's our new go-to hotel in Rochester, Minnesota.⁣
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@minnesotas_rochester @exploreminnesota @hiltonhotels
  • Our hosted food tour in @visitkansascityks began with a bar-b-que spread from several local restaurants. Needless to say, we had to sample a little bit of everything because it was for science. We enjoyed ribs, smoked sausage, brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, burnt ends, rice, beans, and even warm potato casserole. ⁣
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If you love bar-b-que, head to KCK. Trust us, you'll love it. Just wear your stretchy pants.

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