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!

  • Perched high on a hill in Tuscany is the medieval village of Montepulciano. In the center of town is the piazza grande paved with bricks laid in a herringbone pattern in the 14th century. ⁣
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Standing in the piazza, looking at the bricks, we were filled with a sense of awe at the history these bricks have seen. They've been there for 700 years so have seen times of war and peace, celebration and sorrow. Generation after generation of townsfolk were born, lived and died, and all have walked on these bricks. ⁣
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This is one of the things we love most about traveling. It gives us an authentic feel for history, one we wouldn't have if we just stayed at home.
  • We were so tickled when @thechefandthedish reached out and asked us if we'd like to take a complimentary cooking class with them. They offer private cooking classes with chefs from all over the world that you can take right in your own kitchen. ⁣
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For this class, we Skyped with chef Paola who taught us to make strawberry risotto, traditional bruschetta, and a delicious poached pear dessert that blew our minds. ⁣
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Risotto always seemed like a difficult dish to make, but Chef Paola explained it so well that it wound up being pretty easy. We spent a great afternoon with friends, learned something new, and enjoyed a great meal after. A class with The Chef & The Dish is a great gift idea, as well. Follow the link in our bio, and you can read more about our class on our blog.
  • The world is a big place, and there's so much to discover. Go places, and see things. It doesn't matter if you don't have a detailed itinerary, either. Sometimes, it's more about the journey and what you see and experience along the way, than it is about the destination.
  • During our trip in Tuscany with @italyunfiltered, we stopped at a small family winery. After learning about the organic methods they use to produce high quality Chianti Clasico wines, we had a tasting. ⁣
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Wine tastings in Italy are nothing like those in the US. They are glorious affairs complete with delicious foods paired with the incredible wines. This particular winery brought us samples of homemade, organic jams made from fruits grown in the family's garden. We dabbed these on locally produced pecorino cheese. Yum!⁣
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We're so glad that we had a local driver and guide. Stopping here was a highlight of our Italian adventure, and we never would have found it on our own.
  • The village of Marsaxlokk, Malta, is famous for these brightly painted fishing boats. The design is rather ancient, possibly dating back to Phoenician times, though it's still used today because it is very strong and holds up well in rough weather. One feature of each boat's decorations, are eyes painted on the bow of the boat. These eyes are said to protect the people fishing while they are at sea.
  • The blue cobblestones of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, are actually part of a recycling project which started 500 years ago. Iron foundries in Spain produced huge piles of waste, called slag. Rather than throw these piles away, the slag was made into blocks which was placed into ships as ballast. The ballast was offloaded in Puerto Rico when they loaded products bound for Spain. The blocks were then used to pave the streets. ⁣
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Pretty good idea, and 500 years later, they are holding up well!
  • The Overseas Highway connects Key West and the Florida Keys to the mainland U.S. While the entire road is a marvel of engineering, the centerpiece is the Seven Mile Bridge, which runs over water for, well, seven miles.⁣
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The next time you're driving, reset your trip odometer and wait until it gets to seven miles. You'll see that's a pretty long distance. And then think about the fact that people built a bridge over water with no land to support them for that distance. Pretty incredible-especially since the first one was built in 1912.
  • We'd never heard of cannonball rocks before we drove past them at North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and asked each other, "did you see that?" We'd never seen anything quite like these natural "concretions" created when water leaked into pockets of minerals in the ground. Now, as a hill erodes, these formations are exposed.⁣
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Seeing these rocks was such a cool experience because it reminded us of why we travel. We never know when we'll find something new, something that we never knew existed. We got along fine not knowing about cannonball rocks, yet now that we've seen them, our lives are a little richer. ⁣
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The world is a pretty cool place. Check it out.⁣
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@ndlegendary

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