School’s out and it’s time to relax. While apples on your desk or office supply gift cards make for great perks at the end of the school year, a proper summer vacation is even better. Brush off the chalk dust and de-stress from long nights of grading papers with summer travel tailored to your interests. Finally, tour that art museum you’ve had your eye on, break your mountain biking record in the Rockies, or bring your love of physics to a few boardwalk amusement parks. If your calendar is free from travel programs or summer school, take advantage of the warm weather by planning a trip somewhere new.
School teachers, if you’re looking to spend time with a subject you love outside of the classroom, we’ve gathered up a few teacher-inspired summer vacation destinations we think you’ll love. Grab your sunglasses and leave the lesson plans at home—it’s time for a well-deserved break.
Take your summer trip out between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, and you’ll find a scenic, artistic paradise. Asheville is known for its eclectic style, outdoor activities, and its famous River Arts District—a must-see for any art connoisseur. Summer is a great time to see this colony of artists at work, with festivals, art shows, and the perfect weather to stroll the district’s galleries and displays of painting, ceramics, and glass-blowing. Throughout June, stop by Asheville Art in the Park and don’t miss the 76th Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands’ four-day, multi-medium celebration of masterpieces in July.
Spend your summer vacation touring museum after museum beside Seattle’s stunning waterfront. The entire Pacific Northwest boasts a thriving and quirky art scene, and Seattle is a fantastic hub to admire it all. Its biggest museum network includes the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the Olympic Sculpture Park, though the Chihuly Garden and Glass is also well worth the trip. Find new and local artists to reference in lesson planning, find a spark to your own creative inspiration, and most importantly, savor some relaxation by the coast. Seattle’s Art Fair begins in July, so make your travel plans and leave plenty of room for souvenirs.
Watch chemistry come to life outside the classroom. Set your sights on Yellowstone National Park for your summer break and be rewarded with a stunning display of geysers, wildlife, and geological wonders. Take plenty of pictures and videos so that come next school year, you’ll have no shortage of material for that chapter on geothermals. After hitting the hiking trails and watching Old Faithful erupt, head to nearby Jackson Hole for more ways to relax, whether renowned restaurants, retail therapy, or the iconic Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
School teachers with an affinity for the great outdoors will find a playground of national parks just outside Moab. From here, you’ll have a front-row seat to both Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park, not to mention a great view of the Milky Way, since the town is home to three designated Dark Sky Parks (Canyonlands, Arches, and Dead Horse Point State Park). As a plus, save on travel costs by planning your summer vacation around August 4th (the Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act) to take advantage of the National Park Service’s Free Entrance Day. Between admiring massive red rock formations and stargazing, walk in the fossilized footprints of giants at dinosaur sites like Copper Ridge and the Museum of Moab.
With the start of summer vacation, now is a great time to check out Nashville’s Broadway Street, which buzzes with live music performances, delicious food, and cold brews. (It is your summer break, after all.) Spend time touring through Music Row, where you’ll find Historic RCA Studio B—the same studio that has seen legends in the industry, including Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton. Further down Demonbreun Street, you can tour through the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum or catch a concert at Ascend Amphitheater by the riverfront. Surely jamming out and discovering new artists could be considered research and professional development, right?
Before school starts up again, music teachers should take a summer break out to the epicenter of jazz, blues, soul, and rock n’ roll. You can find live shows in New Orleans year-round, but summer is when the music events and festivals really amp up. Catch the Essence Festival of Culture at the end of June, and come August, celebrate music icon Louis Armstrong at the Satchmo SummerFest. On a trip through the French Quarter, you’ll likely hear genres of every kind come together—marching bands, speakeasy clubs, ragtime, cajun music, and local buskers—the city’s rich music history has always been one teeming with tapping shoes and whistling tunes. Stop in for a show on Bourbon Street any time of day and watch local artists take the stage—music study has never been easier.
How about a trip out east, old sport? New York City and Long Island have served as the backdrop to many literary classics, including one of the most famous novels, The Great Gatsby. Indulge in an opulent summer vacation by walking in Nick Carraway’s footsteps and hitting a few swinging parties, or catch up on reading while lounging out on the shore. In between reads, peruse book shops like The Next Chapter, bike around town, and enjoy lighthouse views on Fire Island. If you’re planning summer travel around July, don’t miss celebrating the unique Fire Island Invasion.
While the U.S. is full of literary hotspots, Portland presents an offer most book lovers can’t refuse: a bookstore that takes up an entire city block. Powell’s Books flagship store has been a major landmark for the city since 1971 and is the world’s largest new and used bookstore. Comprising over 3,500 different sections, a cafe, and a collection of hard-to-find and out-of-print titles, literature school teachers will no doubt be in paradise. After you’ve added to your summer reading list and personal library, catch a poetry or book reading at Literary Arts downtown. For some people, spending their summer sorting through books would be a chore, but here, feel free to pull up a chair and study to your heart’s content.
A run along the mile-high trails of Rocky Mountain National Park is a surefire way to test your strength before school starts. Savor the great outdoors at your own pace along any of the park’s 355 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. (Or, rev things up by joining Estes Park’s summer marathons.) Keep an eye out for wildlife and sightsee the area by horseback ride or white water rapid tour. Regardless of how you spend your time in the Rockies, cool off with a dip in the water at Grand Lake or nearby Lake Granby without missing a moment of mountain views.
When it comes to active adventure, Central Oregon is a treasure trove of possibilities. In the winter, Mt. Bachelor is a go-to skiing destination, but the summer season gives way to hiking and biking trails through Smith Rock State Park and Deschutes National Forest. Bend offers an array of high-desert thrills, from golfing to floating and kayaking the Deschutes River. Make the most of your summer vacation by winding down your day sampling the area’s famous beer scene downtown and enjoying the sunset by the river.
The perfect summer vacation for math and science teachers? Watching physics at work along Ocean City’s Jolly Roger amusement park rides. One of the best ways to appreciate velocity and acceleration is by savoring the rush, drops, and dizzying delights of roller coasters by the beach. Build the school year’s lesson plans on the boardwalk while digging into delicious fried pier treats or dipping your toes in the sand. For more incredible engineering, grab a front-row seat to the OC Air Show in June, where you can see high-flying feats ranging from the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to the Red Bull Air Force.
In addition to studying G-force at amusement park rides and coasters along Galveston Island’s Historic Pleasure Pier, there is one more local attraction that is sure to make your summer break feel out of this world. Just an hour from the city, you’ll find Space Center Houston and the NASA Johnson Space Center. Tour through the museum’s history of space travel and the research institution that makes these groundbreaking achievements possible. During your trip, scope out information for the annual Educators Conference, network with other researchers and school teachers, and bring back lesson plans in both space exploration and global education initiatives.
Step back in time with a summer break in Santa Fe, promising history around every corner. From the state’s capital city, you’ll have access to incredible museums and major archeological sites. Spend time at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture to understand the area’s rich cultural landscape and marvel at historic masterpieces. For a closer look at ancient civilizations, Bandelier National Monument is only an hour's drive away, where you can trek through settlements, structures, and archeological findings spanning 11,000 years ago. Study petroglyphs, admire the pueblo architecture, and step out of the heat for a refreshing cocktail.
Maybe your journey into history will lead you to the Fountain of Youth. In St. Augustine, it’s possible. Celebrate the end of the school year with a beach trip to the oldest city in the United States. In between jaunts to the ocean and lounging by the pool, sightsee the city’s 17th-century stone fortresses, check out Castillo de San Marcos’ living museum, and watch cannon fire at the Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Stop by the Oldest Wooden School House for a perfect photo op of your summer travels. In a perfect blend of oceanfront relaxation and abundant museum tours, it’ll be heaven for historians.