Student Groups in Tampa Bay: Wild Tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Did you know that Tampa, Florida is home to some of the most exotic animals in the world?  Or that it offers sanctuary to some amazing endangered species?  Just a short bus ride from Downtown and Ybor City, Tampa is home to several top locations to get up-close with some of the world’s most fascinating animals.  Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa’s Lowery Park Zoo, and the Florida Aquarium offer opportunities to bring humans and animals closer together, and educate us about human responsibilities towards the animals we share our world with.

If you’ve never visited Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, I suppose the best way to describe it is as an amazing collection of some of the world’s most insane roller coasters interwoven with fields of free-roaming wild animals.  I’m not a roller coaster rider, so I enjoyed getting to check out some of the awesome animals.

Busch Gardens Elephants

These Indian Elephants were only feet away….and only a few hundred yards from the roller coasters in the background, Kumba and Sand Serpent, which are two of Busch Gardens’ seven named coasters.

This tower (yes, that's what they're called!) of giraffes is probably not as impressed by Cheetah Hunt in the background as Busch Gardens' thrill-seeking guests.

This tower (yes, that’s what they’re called!) of giraffes is probably not as impressed by Cheetah Hunt in the background as Busch Gardens’ thrill-seeking guests.

This lion was incredibly gorgeous and regal-looking.  I love the natural highlights on his beautiful mane, too!

This lion was incredibly gorgeous and regal-looking. I love the natural highlights on his beautiful mane, too!

His lady friends appeared to be just as laid-back and lazy as my kitties at home!

His lady friends appeared to be just as laid-back and lazy as my kitties at home!

These meerkats were on my list of critters to steal and take home with me when the guides from Busch Gardens weren’t looking.  (Just kidding!...maybe…)

These meerkats were on my list of critters to steal and take home with me when the guides from Busch Gardens weren’t looking. (Just kidding!…maybe…)

Celebrity Treatment:  This kitchen, where Busch Gardens' guests can observe how the animals' food is specially prepared, looks more like the set of a cooking show!

Celebrity Treatment: This kitchen, where Busch Gardens’ guests can observe how the animals’ food is specially prepared, looks more like the set of a cooking show!

Busch Gardens is fully equipped for large groups of students visiting on day trips or for several nights.  They actually let student groups sleep in the park.  One large tent-like room holds as many as 120 kids sprawled out, camping-style, in sleeping bags.  This location serves as a home-base while its occupants participate in late-night activities in the park.  This particular room was even used by the Tampa Bay Bucs for team-building exercises, so any group that chooses to stay there is in pretty cool company!  Another room used for park sleepovers is actually inside the tiger sanctuary (separated from the tigers by a glass wall, of course).  Can you imagine waking up (safely!) right next to wild tigers!
A tiger sanctuary sleepover might be nice for one night’s stay, but for multi-night programs, which Busch Gardens offers, they have an actual dorm.  This facility is used for the awesome summer camps offered by the park, but it is often inhabited for a few days at a time by visiting groups.  Sleeping accommodations in the dorms are bunkbeds, with an entertainment and dining area not far away.

This is how kids are welcomed to their dorms at Busch Gardens!

This is how kids are welcomed to their dorms at Busch Gardens!

Teachers and chaperones even have their own apartment upstairs so they can relax while Busch Gardens’ counselors monitor the kids at night!  Who knew all of this was right there at the park?  I certainly didn’t and I was totally impressed.  It’s really a one-of-a-kind opportunity to spend the day participating in Busch Gardens’ educational Zoo School programs or exploring the park, and then turn in for the night right there on park property!

Student Group Travel to Philadelphia: A Natural Classroom

Student Travel to PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia’s rich history and long list of attractions make the “City of Brotherly Love” a natural classroom for student groups.  Made famous for the birthplace of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” with the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, Philadelphia is a dynamic student group travel choice for learning about Colonial history and the Revolutionary period.  Combine Philadelphia’s fascinating historical sites with its world-class museums, exciting attractions, fantastic entertainment, professional sports, signature shopping and delicious food, you then will have a recipe for both an educational and entertaining student tour, one that will touch your groups’ hearts and minds.  Philadelphia not only retells the powerful stories of our nation’s past, but is willing to accommodate and entertain student groups as few other cities can.

Philadelphia’s Historical Sites

The historical aspects of Philadelphia are fascinating.  Being both an indoor and outdoor museum of history, Philadelphia is famous for its role it played in forming our first republic government.  As part of your trip, you and your student group should include the Historical Independence Walking Tour on your itinerary.  The 2+ mile guided tour walks you through old city Philadelphia to 11 significant historical sites including:

  • Independence Hall
  • Liberty Bell Center
  • Declaration House
  • Carpenter’s Hall
  • Supreme Court
  • Congress Hall
  • Franklin Court
  • Elfreth’s Alley
  • Betsy Ross House
  • Fireman’s Hall
  • Christ Church and Burial Ground

Make sure your student group wears comfortable walking shoes before taking this tour as it is centered in the historical section of Philadelphia where cobblestone streets abound.

If you decide to visit the more popular historical sites without taking the guided walking tour, then the following would meet and/or exceed your educational objectives.


Liberty Bell Center – Having a new home in recent years, the Liberty Bell is now located across the street from Independence Hall.  The center is equally powerful and dramatic as the Bell itself.  Throughout this expansive and historical center, larger-than-life historic documents and graphic images explore both the facts and myths of the Bell.  Tradition tells of a chime that changed the world on July 8, 1776, with the Liberty Bell ringing out from the tower of Independence Hall summoning the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon.  X-Rays give one an insider’s view of the Bell’s crack and inner workings.  Short historical films trace how abolitionists and other groups adopted the Bell as its symbol of freedom and liberty for all.



Independence Hall – Being the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Independence Hall is one of the most important historical landmarks in the United States.  Major steps towards independence were taken here by delegates of the English colonies, amongst them George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  The Declaration of Independence was signed in this building on July 4, 1776.  Independence Hall was also the site where the American Flag was first unveiled in 1777.  In 1781, the Articles of Confederation uniting all thirteen colonies were ratified here as well as the U.S. Constitution in 1787.


Photo Courtesy of National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center – On July 4, 2003, the City of Philadelphia opened the doors to the National Constitution Center.  This captivating center tells the story of the U.S. Constitution by means of more than 100 interactive multimedia exhibits, photographs, sculpture, text, film and artifacts.  The Kimmel Theater, a 350 seat star-shaped theater, features “Freedom Rising,” a multimedia production combining film, a live actor and video projection on a 360° screen to tell the stirring story of “We the People.”



Christ Church and Burial Ground – Christ Church, founded in 1695, is an interesting place to explore Colonial and Revolution-era history.  Its burial ground, which includes the tomb of Benjamin Franklin, is an authentic historic site for learning about the lives of early Americans.


Betsy Ross House – The Betsy Ross House is recognized as the place where Betsy Ross lived when she made the first American Flag.  Built around 1740, the house is located just blocks from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center.



Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Historic District

Old City Hall – Old City Hall was Philadelphia’s second city hall and served as the home of the United States First Supreme Court between the years of 1791 and 1800.



Valley Forge National Historical Park – The picturesque, rolling hillsides of 3,600 acre Valley Forge National Historical Park are a peaceful reminder of freedom won by men’s sacrifices long ago.  It was here that General George Washington forged his Continental Army into a fighting force during the winter encampment of 1777-78.



Overall, Philadelphia provides student groups a fascinating historical education about the beginnings of our first republic government and Colonial history.  In addition and not even mentioned in this article are other world-class attractions and museums like the Adventure Aquarium, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Academy of Natural Sciences, Fels Planetarium and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.  Unlike any other city, Philadelphia provides student groups with unlimited attractions, museums, historical sites and monuments.  As one can see, Philadelphia has it all!

For over 18 years, Kaleidoscope Adventures has organized historical and performance trips to Philadelphia for thousands of schools.  We are experts in booking student tours and specialize in planning complete travel services for any student group.  We plan everything from A to Z, thus giving you peace-of-mind.  We even give you a tour director who helps you every step of the way during your trip.

Put your trust in us to meet all of your student travel needs.  Why not give your group an exciting performance/historical trip to Philadelphia and its surrounding areas?  Let us bring your classroom to life and create lasting memories for your student trip.

Student Group Travel to Boston: Performance Trips that are Educational!

Student Group travel to Boston MassachusettsIf you are looking for a great performance destination with a historical twist, then Boston is an ideal choice for your student group trip. Bands, choruses, orchestras and dance ensembles have fantastic performance options from which to choose, where audiences are in abundance. Plus, your students will gain a real and vivid life education of the history of America and where it began. Known to many as the birthplace of the United States, Boston is one of America’s oldest cities steeped in history beginning with the Puritans who, in 1630, founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution. Known as the “Walking City,” student groups will have fun learning about American history in Boston. This vibrant, thriving city is renowned for its world-class museums, historical sites, monuments, educational institutions, delicious food, signature shopping, fantastic entertainment and professional sports. Boston not only retells the powerful stories of our nation’s past, but is willing to accommodate and entertain student groups as few other cities can. Student group travel to Boston is educational, both musically and historically!

Performance Opportunities in Boston

Three of the most popular performance sites in Boston include the Boston Conservatory, Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market and Six Flags® New England.

The Boston Conservatory, the oldest performing arts conservatory in the nation, offers student performance groups an award-winning theater that is newly renovated. The Conservatory just recently completed a $32 million, 16-month-long renovation and expansion project that effectively adds 16,000 new square feet of rehearsal and performance space to the building, as well as a completely renovated, state-of-the-art 300-seat theater with new orchestra pit, air conditioning and a host of technical upgrades and accoutrements. Conductors are constantly raving about the incredible acoustics within this theater.

At Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, there are numerous locations for your school band, orchestra, choir or dance ensemble to perform in the most historic location in Boston. Your ensemble can perform outdoors where thousands of people shop and dine each day, giving you a large audience. Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market is one of the most visited historical attractions in Boston.

Just an hour and a half outside of Boston is Six Flags® New England. Like all Six Flags®, this theme park is exciting and has some of the fastest, tallest, wildest, gut-wrenching rides in the country including rollercoasters like Batman – The Dark Night, Bizarro, voted the #2 steel rollercoaster in the country, and the Cyclone, one of the largest wooden rollercoasters in the U.S. New to Six Flags® New England this year is Goliath, a heart-pounding roller coaster. With over 40 exciting amusement rides, an exhilarating water park and fantastic entertainment, Six Flags® New England will surely provide thrills and exciting times your student group will always remember. Six Flags® New England provides marching bands, concert bands, jazz bands, choirs, orchestras and dance ensembles an opportunity to perform in front of thousands of spectators at various sites throughout the park as well.

Historical Sites in Boston

The historical aspects of Boston are fascinating. Boston is both an indoor and outdoor museum of history and architecture. As part of your itinerary, you and your student group should include the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is 2.5 mile walking tour through Boston that takes groups around 16 significant historical sites including:

  • U.S.S. Constitution
  • Bunker Hill Monument
  • Copp’s Hill Burial Ground
  • Old North Church
  • Paul Revere House
  • Faneuil Hall
  • Boston Massacre Site
  • Old State House
  • Old South Meeting House
  • Former Site of the Old Corner Bookstore
  • First Public School Site and Ben Franklin Statue
  • King’s Chapel and Burying Ground
  • Granary Burying Ground
  • Park Street Church
  • Massachusetts State House
  • Boston Commons.

Guided tours are available for student groups. However, the Freedom Trail is well-marked and can be self-guided. To obtain guides for your group, The Freedom Trail Foundation offers maps and other resources for educators at www.thefreedomtrail.org .

Opening Soon: Scheduled to open June 25 in Boston is the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Most of the museum will be located on a barge anchored next to the museum pier on the Fort Point Channel. In addition to state-of-the-art technology, the museum will have actors dressed in period clothing and the original Robinson Tea Chest that was thrown into the Boston Harbor on Dec. 16, 1773. Students will have the opportunity to throw a tea chest over the sides of the Beaver, Eleanor and Dartmouth, replicas of the original ships involved in the Boston Tea Party.

Other Historical Sites in the Boston Area

Don’t forget to include historical sites around Boston including Lexington and Concord, where the great patriot Paul Revere is best remembered for his ride through the countryside warning the Minute Men that “The British are Coming!” Lexington and Concord are also known as the first sites of battle in the American Revolution as well as the site of the Old North Bridge where the American militia defeated the British soon after the “shot heard ’round the world” was fired.

Just north of Boston is Salem, a town known for the Salem Witch Trials, one of the darkest episodes in American History. Salem is a fascinating town that features The Salem Witch Museum which takes students back to Salem in 1692. The museum offers a dramatic history of the Witch Trials and witchcraft, bringing the past into a present day perspective. In addition to the museum, a tour of the House of the Seven Gables, complete with a hidden staircase and history of Nathaniel Hawthorn, will inspire students’ imaginations.

Lastly, a trip to Boston wouldn’t be complete without a short jaunt south along the coast to Plymouth. Here students can view Plymouth Rock where the Pilgrims first landed in 1620, experience the Mayflower II, and visit the living outdoor history museum, Plimoth Plantation. Known as the site of the first colony, Plimoth plantation recreates life in a Wampanoag Indian village and a 1627 English settlement and how they co-habitated. Students will gain a fantastic education of Native American and Colonial history.

Overall, Boston provides performance groups with fantastic performance options and a historical education about the American Revolution. In addition and not even mentioned in this article are other fantastic attractions like the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Science and whale watching excursions. Unlike any other city, Boston provides student groups with unlimited attractions, museums, historical sites, monuments and performance sites. As one can see, Boston has it all!

For over 20 years, Kaleidoscope Adventures has organized performance and historical trips to Boston for thousands of schools. We are experts in booking student tours and specialize in planning complete travel services for any student group. We plan everything from A to Z, thus giving you peace-of-mind. We even give you a tour director who helps you every step of the way during your trip.

Put your trust in us to meet all of your student travel needs. Why not give your group an exciting performance/historical trip to Boston and its surrounding areas? Let us bring your classroom to life and create lasting memories for your student trip.

5 Can’t Miss St. Louis Attractions

By: Genevieve Jimenez

Fishing for Student Group Travel

There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.  ~Steven Wright

Group travel is a lot like fishing. Sometimes you have a great experience while other times you have a poor one but no matter what you learn something. In order to get the most out of your experience you have to be prepared with the correct tools in order to succeed. For example to have a successful flounder fishing trip you need to be with a successful flounder fisherman who is equipped with the proper rods, rigs, bait and knowledge. Likewise to have a successful trip you will need a successful tour operator. You wouldn’t go fishing for the first time without someone who knows how to fish, so why would your group travel without a professional?

To someone who has never been outside of their town or city the word “travel” can be the equivalent of terror. But terror is nothing more than a fear of something we do not understand based on the fact we have no experience of it. If a fisherman only fished in a pond his entire life catching the same fish every day then that would be the norm for him. However if you take that same fisherman and put him on a boat on a lake, the excitement of the boat combined with the multitude of different fish he can catch, this experience becomes invigorating especially in comparison to the pond. Now take the same fisherman and put him on a deep sea fishing boat. Imagine the excitement on his face looking at the water blue as a sapphire; or when he gazes out at the horizon with the same number of buildings in view as the Sahara Desert.

On the other hand if that fisherman goes out on the ocean for the first time when there is a tropical storm on its way he will not have the same experience. This experience would rather be one in which he likely does not repeat. Between the 6 foot swells which toss and turn the boat like pizza dough, or the constant cold rain being poured over head and gusting winds whipping across his face; the man will likely never leave the pond again.

Therefore due to a lack of knowledge, which is in no way the man’s fault, he misses out on an opportunity to amplify his fishing experience and is stuck in the same old routine never knowing the excitement of something different. Similar conclusions can be made to that of first time group travelers. When preparing for group travel understand that you are ill equipped because of a lack of knowledge regarding: where to stay, attractions to visit, times to travel, what transportation to take and discounts to make your trip more affordable. All of which are what tour operators specialize in in order to make your trip what it was meant to be, a vacation. When you and your group travel for the first time let it be a remarkable experience that broadens your mind to different cultures and experiences. A coal miner doesn’t take you fishing if you want to catch fish. If you want a phenomenal group travel experience use a tour operator.