Destination Directory

Emerging Student Travel Destinations

Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA) tour operators reported New Orleans, Memphis, Cleveland, Branson, and Cincinnati as the Top 5 Emerging Student Travel Destinations. Here’s a bit about why your student and youth travelers should visit.

New Orleans, Louisiana
There’s plenty to see and do in The Big Easy, a city full of history, architecture, and personality.

Imagine seeing live jazz, zydeco, and other music in the land that sparked them. Performance groups could grace a museum, aquarium, paddleboat, plantation, or other unique location. Music programs teach students about blues, jazz, opera, orchestra, music history, and more. Other aspects of the arts nicely represented are African-American traditions and culture, local arts, contemporary and creative arts, Southern art, glassblowing and printmaking, and Mardi Gras costuming and customs among them. Students could also learn about plantation life, alligator farms, and jazz funerals.

And don’t forget the food! New Orleans is known for its gastronomy—and you’ll find local flavor throughout Bourbon Street and the neighborhoods calling this city home.

Memphis, Tennessee
From Elvis to recording studios, alternative sounds, country, and soul, music puts Memphis on your map. Educational experiences, music memorabilia, performances and opportunities, and recording sessions offer students plenty of chances to be part of the music.  

There’s also Beale Street, barbecue, museums, mammals, cultural events, and activities galore! Learn about local history and the civil rights movement; about architecture, cotton, folklore, metal, nature, railroads, science, steamboats, trollies, and visual arts. Experience Memphis through cemeteries, gardens, and parks, on the river and in the streets.

Festivals celebrate Africa, arts and crafts, barbecue, cars, crawfish, cultural heritage, dogs, Elvis, films, gardening, goats, Greek food, hot wings, Italy, music, river activities, and more.

Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland ROCKS! Music is prevalent in the area and in educational and performance tours and opportunities. Other cultural arts let students learn from, get involved with, and appreciate galleries and museums; theaters and venues that feature Broadway shows, and national and international performers and artists; and the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York City.

Ties to classroom learning may be found through experimenting and enjoying hands-on experiences with science, physics, thrill rides, and more. Sports are also active here, complete with learning and visual opportunities.

The area is part of the Great Lakes Region, the country’s largest resource for fresh water, and extends one hundred miles along the southern shore of Lake Erie. Its a natural for learning about and visiting aquatic life, zoo life, wildlife, and even prehistoric and rainforest life.

Branson, Missouri
Star-studded performances pepper local venues, and student performance options abound. Ten theme parks mean tons of thrills, chills, and adventure, and the majestic beauty of the Ozark Mountains and the area’s magnificent lakes are matched only by an abundance of group possibilities and learning opportunities.

The history of Branson and the Ozarks comes alive through diverse attractions, businesses, craftsmanship, geology, landmarks and landscapes, military contributions, museums, natural wonders, and wildlife. Adventures include biking, hiking, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, rock climbing, spelunking, and ziplining.

Plenty of attractions mean plenty for groups to do. Branson’s museums offer a look at antiques history, oddities, toys, the military, and more. Those with a zest for the spooky may even find hauntingly fun pursuits.

Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, the birthplace of professional baseball, is home to the Cincinnati Reds. It’s also home to the Cincinnati Bengals NFL team.

Cincinnati has an exciting arts and performing arts culture, from traditional and classic to modern and edgy, with ballet, opera, and symphony among the traditions. The city boasts a lively theater scene and is full of fun and music. Festivals embrace baseball, canoeing, kayaking, Cinco de Mayo, flowers, food, heritage, music, performing arts, and tennis, for starters.

Pursuits keep groups on the ground, on the river, overhead, in town, or in historic environments. Cincinnati has conservatories, aquariums, zoos, galleries, and museums, for arts and architecture, natural history and science, local history and the Underground Railroad, and music. Educational opportunities abound, too.

Written by: The original version of this article is by Amy L Charles, Groups Today editorial director.