Group Travel Odyssey helps groups pick their destination. We provide information on homeschool activities.

Let Your Inner Star Shine in Nashville

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Nashville, Tennessee. My husband was attending a conference that highlighted Nashville as a great student destination and we stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. Not only did we stay at the Gaylord, we stayed in the presidential suite at the Gaylord. Wow. It was bigger than my house and certainly more impressive!

Truly, that was my overall impression of Nashville… Wow! Everything is larger than life and so very impressive. Energy seems to pump out of each little honkey tonk and the people are wonderful, warm and welcoming. If you’re looking for a unique student, performance or homeschool trip, Nashville should be at the top of your list!
Tennessee/Nashville/Belmont Mansion
History, science and, of course, music are at the heart of this lively capital city. For a glimpse of southern living at its historical best, visit the Belmont Mansion, the largest house museum in Tennessee. Step into the Hermitage, a jewel of the antebellum south and home of President Andrew Jackson. Backtrack just a bit further in time to The Parthenon, a full-sized replica of the Greek original built in 1897 for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition.
Tennessee/Nashville/Nashville Zoo
For a more educational slant, be sure to stop at the Adventure Science Center, with interactive exhibits and award-winning programs guaranteed to inspire any budding scientist. Explore the exquisite Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum for beautiful gardens and galleries. Take in the Nashville Zoo, a 200-acre zoo and historic plantation farmhouse just outside of Nashville. So much fun and so much to learn!
Tennessee/Nashville/Grand Ole Opry
At its core, however, Nashville IS the Music City! The sights and sounds of country music are the essence and soul of this town. The Ryman Auditorium, known as the Mother Church of Country Music, is a must-see. Take in a show or tour and you’ll feel the history of the place. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum for a nitty gritty exploration of the roots of country music. Sidestep over to the Wildhorse Saloon for outstanding grub AND line dancing lessons! Of course, you can’t visit Nashville without a backstage pass to the famed Grand Ole Opry– you never know who you’ll run into!
Tennessee/Nashville/Historic RCA Studio B
Perhaps best of all, you and your students can be stars for a day on the Historic RCA Studio B tour! Walk the iconic halls of the recording studio of Elvis Presley and other music industry giants and spend time in the studio at the legendary microphone with a professional sound engineer. Very cool!

All of these incredible attractions are student friendly, easily accessible and just scratch the surface of what is available. As a destination, Nashville is as “on fleek” as they come (hmm… I will have to ask my ten-year old if I used that term correctly). If you are looking for an exceptional travel opportunity for student, performance or homeschool groups, consider Nashville as an outstanding option. Much like the Gaylord, it is larger than life and very impressive!


If you plan your own trips, check out Group Travel Odyssey’s Nashville page for everything you need to plan your student group’s trip in one convenient place. It really streamlines the process and saves time! If you prefer a full-service travel planner, Kaleidoscope Adventures is an industry leader in student travel and will handle all the details of your trip with precision and personal attention.

Group Travel Odyssey has hand-selected Nashville as an ideal destination for a May 2018 Homeschool Odyssey, a travel experience designed exclusively for homeschool families. GTO has captured the best of Nashville in a six-day package with flexible scheduling and homeschool programming, all at a discounted rate. They’ve done the work, you just have to join the odyssey!

“PARDON ME, BOY, IS THAT THE…….”

I dare you to finish the title without humming just a little! This iconic ditty by Glenn Miller, which was the #1 song in America in December 1941, inspires nostalgia and yearning for a simpler time. Complete with train sounds and a whistle, the lyrics promise to transport the singer home to Tennessee and his girl in Chattanooga where he won’t roam again. When you visit this charming destination, you’ll understand why!

Photo courtesy of Chattanooga CVB

The Chattanooga Homeschool Odyssey is an opportunity to experience the very best of Chattanooga at deeply discounted rates. Join other homeschool families for these exclusive savings and incredible family fun! History buffs, music lovers, rock hounds and train enthusiasts (like my husband!) will love this trip. If science, aquamarine life or zoo animals are more your thing, the Chattanooga Odyssey has that covered as well. There’s even a stop at the International Towing Museum– so interesting and so much fun!

 

Photo courtesy of Chattanooga CVB

Of course, your adventures in Chattanooga will begin with a visit to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, offering rides on a full-sized steamer throughout the day. Next stop, the famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo Terminal Station for shopping, the Glenn Miller Formal Gardens and lots of great dining choices. Don’t forget to check out the Grand Dome Lobby, the world’s largest free-standing brick dome building.


If geology plays a part in your curriculum (or if you just love really cool places), you’ll be stunned by Rock City Gardens and Ruby Falls. Rock City is a massive ancient rock formation at the top of Lookout Mountain with gardens featuring over 400 native plants and a panoramic view of 7 states. Ruby Falls is a breathtaking waterfall more than 1200 ft below the surface of Lookout Mountain- truly a marvel of nature!

Photo courtesy of Chattanooga CVB

Perhaps you’re looking for a bit of cultural immersion for your family. Look no further than the Bluff View Art District and the Hunter Museum of American Art, boasting the largest collection of American Art east of the Mississippi. If music is your passion, you’ll love the Songbirds Guitar Museum, an incredible collection documenting musical evolution from the 1950s-70s. The Bessie Smith Cultural Center celebrates the life of blues legend Bessie Smith and her contributions to music.

Civil War devotees will enjoy stops at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, Battles for Chattanooga Museum and Point Park Battlefield. These were pivotal battles in the war between the states and definitely worth visiting as part of your Chattanooga excursion.

Photo courtesy of Chattanooga Zoo

The magnificent Chattanooga Zoo will offer homeschool education programming as part of the Chattanooga Homeschool Odyssey. Get to know the animals, wildlife rehabilitation and zoo conservation efforts. You’ll be so close to the chimpanzees, you’ll think you’re part of the family!
You’ll explore above and below the surface at the Tennessee Aquarium, home to a “richly diverse living collection of the world’s most fascinating animals.” Check out the IMAX theater while there.

Photo courtesy of Chattanooga CVB

Take hands-on learning to a new level with the little ones at the Creative Discovery Museum, or let the older kiddos take part in the Challenger Center Space Program, designed to engage and enrich STEM education.
The Chattanooga Homeschool Odyssey offers an impressive array of experiences guaranteed to meet the needs of your individual family education plan. The breadth and depth of this itinerary will exceed your expectations and maximize your family’s fun! Pardon me, Boy, is that the best time you’ve ever had? We’re guessing it will be! Sign up today to join the odyssey!

Hawaii’s Traveling Classroom

 

Photo courtesy of emihawaii

A warm island breeze is blowing, the heady perfume of gardenias gently tickling my nose. The sounds of a ukulele fill the air as a beautiful sarong-clad woman drapes my neck with lush tropical flowers… “MOM! I HAVE TO FIND A BATHROOM!!” Wait, what? Something is interrupting my fantasy. Oh yes, now I remember. This is a family trip and the little girl doing a dance beside me is actually mine. It’s funny, I never really thought about including the kids when I imagined our first trip to Hawaii. I assumed it was too expensive and more of an adult destination. A little research and a fabulous new travel opportunity exclusively for homeschool families has proved that sometimes reality is better than fiction!

Photo courtesy of emihawaii

During the week of October 7-14, 2017 or again in October 2018, homeschool families have an incredible chance to experience the unique beauty, culture, land and history of Hawaii. The Big Island and Oahu Educational Immersion Homeschool Program offers an in-depth study of island life and tons of family fun. Imagine hiking through lush, green tropical forests with the clouds surrounding you at the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary. Once you get your head out of the clouds, train your gaze to the night skies with a narrated astronomy workshop- a “stellar” moment for star-gazing! This is just a taste of what’s in store during your week-long Hawaiian adventures.

Photo courtesy of emihawaii

As many children do, my daughter Molly went through a deeply obsessive “volcano” phase during which she wanted to learn about all things volcano. During your traveling classroom experience, an interpretive guide will join you in exploring these natural wonders, from the black sand beaches of Punalu’u to the volcanic reef below the crystal waters teeming with tropical fish. You will explore the Thurston Lava Tube, a 300 ft cavern where lava flowed thousands of years ago in the middle of a giant fern forest. You’ll even have a chance to hike the Devastation Trail, baron fields of cinder formed by the 1959 Kilauea Iki eruption. A stop at the VNP Visitors Center will include discussion about tectonic plates and the Ring of Fire, which contributed to the formation of the island chain. The Steam Vents, Jagger Museum and Halemaumau Crater round out this full day of volcanic fun.

Photo courtesy of emihawaii

If U.S. history is part of your homeschool curriculum, a visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial will top your bucket list of hands-on learning experiences! We’ve all studied that fateful day in December 1941 in textbooks, but to experience the place that launched us into World War II is the ultimate history lesson. It promises to be a significant and powerful teaching tool for your entire family.

Photo courtesy of emihawaii

If world culture is your focus, look no further than the Polynesian Cultural Center, highlighting the diverse cultures of Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands. Of course, your studies won’t be complete until you feast on local cuisine at the Ali’i Luau Grounds with traditional Hawaiian music, followed by the “HA” The Breath of Life show. Awesome!
While you are exploring the Aloha State, don’t forget that this island paradise is home to one of the most famous beaches in the world- Waikiki. You’ll have a chance to “hang loose”, try your hand at surfing, or dive into an underwater world of colorful fish, dolphins and giant sea turtles during a catamaran snorkeling adventure. Don’t forget that a stop at the Waikiki Aquarium is included, with a special workshop highlighting Hawaii’s delicate coral reef system.

Photo courtesy of emihawaii

The Big Island and Oahu Educational Immersion Homeschool Program is the perfect marriage of education and vacation. It’s a fantastic option for comprehensive study and quality family fun! While my fantasy for Hawaii was lovely, it’s even better to know that entire families can enjoy a week in paradise together, exploring all the mystery and history of this magical place! Check out all the details at Hawaii’s Traveling Classroom on the Group Travel Odyssey website!