Educational travel: hotel programs that teach while vacationing

Will you be pulling your kids out of school this year for travel? You can admit it here…we do it too! While we believe that travel aids a child’s education, we also value the lessons they’re learning in school. Therefore, when we do take kids out of class, we try to find museums to visit or hotel programs for kids that offer classes, lessons, or special programming. Below, our favorite hotel brands for families, and what they’re offering kids this autumn:


Appalachian Mountain Club lodges, Vermont:

For families planning a fall foliage getaway or a winter trip into the outdoors, AMC’s Highland Center offers eco and educational programming for kids as young as three. Located in the White Mountains on the Appalachian Trail, their L.L. Bean room comes stocked with family-friendly equipment and their staff offers nature walks and hikes geared toward families. Plus, the Highland Center won’t break the bank: rooms are affordable and meals are communal.

Select Ritz Carlton hotels:

Ritz Carlton Ambassadors of the Environment

Select Ritz Carlton hotels offer Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program. We reviewed their Laguna Niguel snorkeling excursion last summer, and are pleased to see the program offered in several locations, including Maui. Kids begin their Ambassadors of the Environment program in a classroom–don’t worry, it’s fun–where they see a slideshow about the marine animals they will encounter and learn about the unique environment local to the hotel. Guides then take kids (and parents too, if they sign up) off-site to snorkel, take a beach walk, or explore local flora and fauna in another capacity. Water bottles and snacks are included, as well as a photo CD of the experience.

 Dar Les Cigognes, Morocco:

This boutique hotel converted from a wealthy merchant’s home offers private cooking classes which can be booked by visiting families. Amanda Mouttaki of Maroc Mama tried out a cooking class with her child, and loved how the class was completely customizable (great for food allergies). Traditions in Moroccan food were explained, and of course, the final product was happily consumed.

Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland:

Travel writer Jen Miner of the Vacation Gals experienced authentic, wild falconry with her kids during a family visit to this well-known hotel. The British School of Falconry was established at Gleneagles, which means the kids were taught this ancient sport by actual professionals in the field. Gleneagles also offers a wide array of additional sports and outdoor activities for families, including archery. Note: not up for an international trip? Falconry is also taught to families staying at the Woodstock Inn, Vermont.

Masseria Torre Coccaro, Italy:

This working farm-turned hotel in Puglia, Italy allows kids to cook with the resort chef before eating their creations, including pasta and pizza. Families learn about the olive groves in this part of the country, and the mills that produce food. Learn more on Global Mouse Travels about their stay and culinary adventures at Masseria Torre Coccaro.

Turtle Beach Resort, Barbados:

At all-inclusive Turtle Beach Resort, Barbados, kids can take dialect lessons –children on the island speak with Bajan accents–and learn a few words of island slang. Pastry classes are also offered, where kids use local ingredients such as noni flour and cactus, and families can play beach cricket with hotel staff…an island favorite. Best of all for animal lovers and budding marine biologists, kids staying at Turtle Beach can learn from Turtle Pioneers, experts on the dozens of turtles that nest here each year.


Preferred Hotels (international):

We love the Preferred Hotels brand so much, I contribute to their Preferred Family website, dedicated to family travel. It’s easy to see at a glance which Preferred hotels are kid-friendly on the Preferred Family site (criteria for the distinction includes kids’ clubs, kid-friendly dining, and kids’ programming). The best Preferred properties will offer an array of classes for kids from golf clinics to scuba lessons. Send the kids to the tennis courts or to the nature trail with Preferred the next time you book Preferred!

Mountain View Grand Resort, New Hampshire:

This luxury mountain property is all about bringing kids to the outdoors, and the outdoors in. According to Luxe Recess, the Mountaineering Club is where kids gather for screen-free activities ranging from frog races to cardboard box races in the pool. Best of all, this programming is free during the day time hours. Mountain View also hosts a ‘meet the farmer activity’, during which guests can collect eggs and interact with sheep, llamas, cattle, and alpacas.

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji:


Lucky enough to be headed to Fiji? Last year, we told you about Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort‘s Learn and Play programming, outdoor and hotel programming designed for families and school-aged kids. Kids 6-12 even help out in the hotel kitchen, assisting the resort chef to create a meal start to finish. This year, the resort has added their Connect with Kids program, a unique and culturally educational travel experience for children and their parents staying at the resort. This new program allows families to head  off-site to visit a local primary school to meet children of similar age groups in their classroom and participate in that day’s curriculum.

Atmosphere Resorts and Spa, Philippines:

With an in-house biologist and a marine sanctuary right at its doorstep, this property in Dumaguete is a natural choice for families looking to educate themselves during vacation. The resort offers kids’ classes in marine biology and art, all in a relaxed atmosphere. Read more on

The American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin:

This five-star resort is known for golf, but they start ’em young. In addition to more mainstream children’s programming, parents can sign kids up for private golf session that include video and swing analysis software. The crew at Road Trips for Families tried it out, noting that families can group siblings together in one lesson, a nice cost-savings.

Want to find educational pit stops in addition to educational opportunities at hotels and resorts? Check out Trekaroo’s Road School series! 

Photo credit: Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji and Amy Whitley