Student Group Travel to Chattanooga: The Scenic City in Tennessee

The natural beauty and attractions of Chattanooga, Tennessee continually fascinate student groups year after year. Nicknamed the “Scenic City,” Chattanooga is a southern gem that is located in southeastern Tennessee near the Georgia border. Chattanooga is the fourth largest city in Tennessee. The name “Chattanooga” comes from the Creek Indian phrase “rock rising to a point” – a reference to Lookout Mountain, which sits perched like a sentry over the city below, bearing witness to changes that have occurred over many centuries. The beautiful landscape, marked by the Tennessee River, redeveloped riverfront and surrounding highlands is what will greet every student group upon arrival.

Chattanooga is a city rich in history, natural beauty and bustling activity. With exciting attractions, world-class museums, Civil War historical sites and the scenic Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga offers student groups many attractions including the following:

Rock City

Rock City tennesseeLocated high atop Lookout Mountain, Rock City is perhaps as famous as its longtime roadside advertising in the Southeast, with the slogan “See Rock City” posted on barn roofs, billboards, and birdhouses throughout the region. This magnificent mountaintop rock garden contains the Lookout Mountain overlook where on the clearest of days seven states are visible. Student groups can also take a trip down the enchanted trail, learn about 400+ native plant species, experience Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village, and visit the gift shop. Rock City is truly a “must see” for student groups of all ages. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)

Ruby Falls

ruby falls tennesseeRuby Falls, the highest underground waterfall in the U.S., is a spectacular natural wonder. Sitting 1,120 feet below the surface, the caves surrounding Ruby Falls were discovered in 1928 while excavators were building an elevator shaft into the mountain. Tours of the cavern include many geological rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites en route to the falls. Special events throughout the year include Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern, Ruby Falls Lantern Tours and Deck the Falls during the Christmas season. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway student travelLookout Mountain Incline Railway is the world’s steepest railway and features an unforgettable experience on the slopes of Lookout Mountain. Known as “America’s Most Amazing Mile,” the Incline’s trolley-style cars climb through the natural beauty surrounding historic Lookout Mountain at a breathtaking 72.7% grade – straight up! Student groups will enjoy the panoramic views of the mountains and the city of Chattanooga both on the train and from the observation tower at the top of the mountain. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)

Tennessee Aquarium

Tennessee Aquarium class travelChattanooga’s revitalized downtown area is centered around a pair of glass-peaked buildings that comprise the fascinating 190,000 sq. ft. Tennessee Aquarium. Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, exhibits in the two buildings focus on saltwater and fresh water habitats respectively. The River Journey building highlights local and worldwide fresh water habitats and features a series of well-curated interconnected rooms where groups can experience species like snapping turtles, moray eels, sturgeon, and several types of trout. The newer and bigger Ocean Journey building, located next to the River Journey building, houses crowd-pleasing fish like sharks, stingray, barracuda and squid in 700,000 gallons of water. The aquarium also has an IMAX theatre and offers river excursions onboard it’s River Gorge Explorer, a high speed catamaran which is a favorite for student groups. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Chattanooga National Military ParkChickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the site of many Civil War battles, features Chickamauga Battlefield with Union and Confederate Civil War relics and a visitor’s center. Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center at Point Park also recalls the Civil War period. Throughout the summer, both battlefields offer Civil War re-enactments and living history presentations on how a soldier lived during these turbulent times. Located at the entrance to Point Park, the Battles for Chattanooga Electric Map and Museum features an electronic battle map display that recreates the major battles fought here. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)

Chattanooga Choo-Choo

Chattanooga Choo-Choo Student GroupsCelebrated in both song and lore, the Chattanooga Choo Choo’s home is located at a historic former train station. Today, it’s one of Chattanooga’s most famous attractions, as well as being a hotel where guests can sleep in converted Victorian-era train cars on the old train tracks. There is a diner in the old rail car, a restaurant in the Grand Dome lobby and a shopping area as well. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)

Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park

Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement ParkNamed for the Native American word meaning “bountiful waters,” Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park has been home to excitement and thrills for many years. With over 38 amusement rides, the park’s more popular thrill rides include the Cannon Ball Roller Coaster, Matterhorn, OH-Zone (a free fall ride), Paratrooper, Scrambler, Genie and Conestoga. The park also features a water ride, traditional rides like the Ferris Wheel, a 1916 Carousel, the Wave Swinger and a train ride. Lake Winnepesaukah is recognized as one of America’s top ten family amusement parks in the U.S. by Travel and Leisure
Magazine. (Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Area CVB)

Lastly, a sightseeing or scenic tour of Chattanooga is always suggested. Tours include riverboat cruises, a walking ghost tour, a tour of the city including the art district, the Tennessee Valley Railroad tour (steam train that takes groups through Civil War tunnels and battlefields) and even a shopping tour of Warehouse Row. Also, if your student group is a performance ensemble (band, orchestra, choir, dance, theatre, etc.), there are many opportunities/venues to perform throughout the city including the Tennessee Aquarium, the University of Chattanooga Fine Arts Center, the Camp Jordan Amphitheatre, and more.

Overall, there are few places where a destination can offer so many fascinating attractions and still be within ten minutes of breathtaking views from high atop the mountains. Chattanooga provides student groups and class trips a wonderful opportunity to study American history with its Civil War sites. In addition, Chattanooga offers many fun opportunities including one of America’s top-rated aquariums, the highest underground waterfall, incredible mountain views, beautiful gardens, popular museums and entertaining tours. For educators, Chattanooga should be at the top of the list when selecting destinations for student group travel. With all the city has to offer, Chattanooga will entertain your group like no other city.

For over 20 years, Kaleidoscope Adventures has organized historical and performance trips to Chattanooga 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 Kaleidoscope Adventures to meet all of your student travel needs. Why not give your group an exciting trip to Chattanooga? Let us bring your classroom to life and create lasting memories for your student trip.

Student Group Travel to Cleveland: Expect to Be Wowed!

Cleveland Skyline

Cleveland Skyline (Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Whether the sun is shining or the snow is falling, one thing is for sure…your group won’t be lacking any amusement in Cleveland.  Few cities of comparable size can match Cleveland’s mix of premier attractions, friendly atmosphere and big city feel. From cutting-edge museums, a spectacular theme park and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to big league sports, signature shopping and delicious food, Cleveland has what it takes to tailor an itinerary that’s right for your student group.

There’s a lot to love about Cleveland.  Student groups visiting this diverse city will experience a charm only found here.  Even the Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau brands the destination as “Positively Cleveland” because of its vibrant spirit, warm and friendly atmosphere, and the level of positive service the city provides to its guests.  Cleveland offers more to see, do and experience than you and your group will ever imagine.  When visiting Cleveland, expect to be “Wowed!”

Your Student Group Won’t Want to Miss…

Cedar Point

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Cedar Point Amusement Park: Voted as the World’s Best Park 14 years running, Cedar Point Amusement Park features 17 roller coasters, including four over 200′ tall, over 150 rides and attractions, award-winning entertainment and four children’s areas. Cedar Point also offers unique educational programs including weather education classes and physics activities, and classes where students learn the intricate details of running an amusement park.  New for 2012:  Luminosity, an incredible breath-taking show and dance party.  Cedar Point also invites band, choirs, orchestras and dance ensembles to perform in their park.


rock and roll hall of fame

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum: This museum is home to the history of America’s greatest musicians.  Seven floors of exhibition space spanning 150,000 square feet hold 18 permanent exhibits and three to five featured exhibits that are introduced regularly throughout the year.  The museum’s award-winning educational programs and exhibits teach students how music has played a role in social, cultural and political issues in modern history through live demonstrations, musical examples, video excerpts and multimedia presentations.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is also a great performance venue for visiting bands, orchestras and choruses wanting a site to perform.


Greater Cleveland Aquarium:

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Greater Cleveland Aquarium: One of the country’s most unique aquariums, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium was constructed in the Powerhouse building along the Cuyahoga River in downtown.  Being located in a National Historic Landmark (built in the late 19th century to provide power to the city’s streetcars), the aquarium’s nearly 5,000 underwater residents swim in tanks doubling as smokestacks and coal tunnels, framed by original bricks lining the 70,000 square feet environmental experience.  This repurposed historic building includes 40 tanks and 1 million gallons of water. One of the most exciting exhibits is the SeaTube which allows visitors to experience life under the sea in a clear, 150-foot walk-through tunnel. Students enjoy an exciting journey through four aquatic habitats during hands-on educational tours.


Great Lakes Science Center and Omnimax Theater

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Great Lakes Science Center and Omnimax Theater: Experiment with sound, light, gravity and more at the Great Lakes Science Center. Situated right next door to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Museum, Great Lakes Science Center offers 400 hands-on experiments, daily demos, the NASA John H. Glenn Visitor Center, Steamship William G. Mather and an Omnimax Theater with a giant domed screen six stories high. Schedule a camp-in to explore the science center after dark and sleep among the many exhibits.


(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The Rainforest: Home to 3,000 animals from six continents, student groups can connect with wildlife and learn about nature and conservation.  Speaking about wildlife projects, they don’t get much bigger than the massive African Elephant Crossing at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which opened in 2011. Five acres of grasslands, swimming ponds and a heated outdoor range give animals natural habitats.  Your student group will see elephants, plumed birds, meerkats, African rock pythons, pachyderms in addition to many other animals.  The zoo also has open-air views, a nose-to-trunk window, an easily spotted feeding station, gated elephant crossing and an education center modeled after an African village.  Beyond traditional zoo field trips, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo offers overnight adventures in the Australian Outback and the African Savanna.  The zoo also offers supplements for groups, like veterinarian role-playing activities and cell phone audio tours for a more hands-on zoo experience.


Playhouse Square

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Playhouse Square: Located at University Circle, Playhouse Square is the second largest theater district in the nation.  Visit The Idea Center, the home of the arts education programs of Playhouse Square, providing opportunities for students leading to discovery, appreciation and development in and through the performing arts. Enjoy a theater post-show discussion, behind-the-scenes tours, spoken word poetry workshops, and mentoring sessions with actors, choreographers, and set designers.


Cleveland Museum of Art

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Cleveland Museum of Art: Located at University Circle, the Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the nation’s most preeminent art museums featuring 6,000 years of the world’s great art.  The museum offers student groups hands-on art classes for grades 1-12, with studio topics including animals in art, landscapes, and classical art. Students may sketch with pencils in the galleries on their visit if arrangements are made in advance.  Guided tours and scavenger hunts are available as well.


Cleveland Museum of Natural History

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Cleveland Museum of Natural History: From dinosaurs to diamonds, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History is a beautiful blend of traditional and interactive galleries related to history, art and the natural world.  Located at University Circle, this museum offers various hands-on workshops for students from interaction with live animals to planetarium activities. Examples include Stars in the Universe, the Science of Climate Change, and Prehistoric People. Mentor Marsh, an off-site interpretive nature preserve of the museum, also hosts student groups. Distance-learning and treasure hunts are available as well as performance venues for band, orchestras, choirs and dance ensembles.


The Cleveland Orchestra

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

The Cleveland Orchestra: The Cleveland Orchestra hosts educational performances specifically designed to introduce students to the format of orchestral programs. Pre-concert materials are provided to help students better understand orchestral music. Tours of Severance Hall, pre-concert seminars, and student orchestral clinics are available.


Cleveland Botanical Gardens

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Cleveland Botanical Gardens: With 10 acres of gardens and an exotic glasshouse, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens is a one-of-a-kind visit for student groups.  The garden offers interactive 1-hour programs where students get a hands-on learning experience, supplemented by pre- and post-visit activity suggestions. Topics include food chains and webs, symbiotic relationships, and evolution plus adaptation.  Students may tour and learn about urban farms and healthy local food from Green Corps staff also.  The Botanical Gardens loves to play host to middle school and high school band, choral and orchestra performances as well.


Cleveland Browns

(Picture Courtesy of Positively Cleveland)

Cleveland Browns & Cleveland Indians Stadium Tours: Behind-the-scenes tours of Cleveland Browns Stadium and Cleveland Indians Progressive Field are popular amongst student groups.  These stadium tours are filled with fun facts and historical details, including press box, luxury suites, locker room and more.  There’s only one thing better than taking a tour though…actually seeing a game!



Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Learning Center and Money Museum: Students learn why we have money, how money helps the economy prosper, and what gives money value with 30+ displays and hands-on exhibits. The museum offers 1-hour interactive lessons in a classroom on the topics of inflation, saving vs. spending, bartering, and the Federal Reserve System.

Of special note, in addition to the above-mentioned attractions, museums, educational opportunities and performance venues, Cleveland is home to Cleveland State University, where music clinics and workshops are offered to visiting bands, choirs and orchestras.

Overall, there are few places where a destination can offer so many fascinating attractions and museums all within minutes of each other.  Cleveland provides student groups and class trips a wonderful opportunity to study music, science, history or just have plain ole fun.  For educators, Cleveland should be at the top of the list when selecting destinations for student group trips.  Without a doubt, Cleveland will entertain your group like no other city.

For over 19 years, Kaleidoscope Adventures has organized performance and educational trips to Cleveland 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/educational trip to Cleveland and its surrounding areas?  Let us bring your classroom to life and create lasting memories for your student trip.

Student Groups in Tampa Bay: The City Side of Tampa

Class Trips to Tampa

Tampa is a city with many sides to it.  It’s home to three major sports teams and the Florida State Fair.  It boasts rich Cuban heritage and an inexplicable obsession with Pirates.  It’s nestled against a beautiful bay, but still holds room for acres of theme park.  Tampa is a large, diverse city, and, naturally, has a significant artistic and cultural element.

On our recent trip, I was personally excited to visit the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Tampa.  The Straz Center is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the United States.  It’s home to Tampa’s touring Broadway Series, grand opera productions, out-of-town tryouts for new Broadway shows, and many other diverse original productions and touring acts.  I have long been a patron of the Straz, and I must say, I was really excited to see the large lobby and auditorium of Morsani Hall, the largest of the Center’s five(!) theatres, completely empty.   I could spot several seats I’ve occupied over the years!

The view from the balcony of an empty Morsani Hall, with only the ghostlight appearing center stage and The empty lobby of Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts

Adjacent to the Straz Center is the Dr. Pallavi Patel Performing Arts Conservatory.  The Patel Conservatory was something I was familiar with in name, and I knew their influence on the arts in Tampa was significant, but I had no idea of the wealth of their offerings for performing arts students of all ages.  It is truly a remarkable place, and all of its 45,000 square feet are dedicated to training in the arts.  The Conservatory does host all-day dance students in their prestigious pre-professional academy, but most of their classes are conducted in the evenings, after kids get out of school.  This frees up their ample facilities to visiting groups who can participate in workshops with the Conservatory’s highly-experienced in-house instructors, or rent the spaces and bring in their own clinicians.  The Conservatory has rehearsal and workshop spaces that meet just about any performance group’s needs.  They house multiple dance studios, complete with mirror and barre apparatus, sound-proof rooms sized for everything from private instruction to full-orchestral rehearsals, and a multi-functional black-box theater with in-house scene and costume shops.  I was most impressed to find that they even offer instruction in Rock Band and Stand-Up Comedy, and that the catwalks in the theater are specially designed to be suitable for training purposes.

I couldn’t help but think what an amazing opportunity it would be for a student performing arts group to spend a day in workshops at the Patel Conservatory and then top it off by attending an evening performance at the Straz.  There’s always something playing at the Straz.  Broadway touring companies, the Opera Tampa series, concerts, ballet, the Straz’s resident theatre company—it’s almost guaranteed that at least one of these is on stage on any given night.  A visiting student group can even finish their night with a Q & A session with the performers, which the Straz regularly offers on Wednesdays.

I can’t begin to do justice to the breadth of offerings at the Straz Center, but I feel pretty comfortable saying that between their wealth of performance choices, and the educational offerings of the Patel Conservatory, Tampa can consider itself a city with a performing arts culture that any major metropolitan area should envy.

Now to a different art form:  the culinary arts.  Tampa is home to some pretty famous restaurants (Bern’s Steakhouse comes to mind), but none celebrate Tampa’s strong Cuban historical component like the Columbia Restaurant.  I had walked by the Columbia and its beautiful tiled walls countless times, and I had eaten at one of their branch locations, but I had never had occasion to venture inside and enjoy the original.  The Columbia is a traditionally Cuban restaurant located in Tampa’s Ybor City and has been owned and operated by the same family since 1905.  The atmosphere of the original Columbia is one that cannot be re-created at any of its branches.

Of course, the food is also delicious. I got to watch as our waiter flambéed my steak tableside.

The building is old, the rooms are unique to each other, and live flamenco dancers perform while you eat.  It is a sprawling property; it appears to take up almost a block and is composed of many individual rooms of varying size and décor.  Its size and versatility make it a surprisingly good fit for large student groups.  Private corners and set-menus can be provided to just such groups.  The stage for the flamenco dancers can even be moved to any part of the restaurant, so it is possible to accommodate group size without compromising entertainment value.  The Columbia also offers boxed meals to groups who want to sample their authentic Ybor cuisine, but may not have the time to sit down for a meal.  A trip to the Columbia or a boxed-meal picnic by the Bay would make an awesome precursor to an evening performance at the Straz.

Tampa as a city of art and culture has a lot to offer any visitor, and student groups looking for great performance and workshop opportunities, or just for a fun day in the city, can definitely benefit from all it has to offer!

Any questions about taking student groups to downtown Tampa?  Give us a call at 800-774-7337 or email us at


Student Group Travel: Little Things and Life Skills

Over the last six months I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many of the students and directors who travel with Kaleidoscope.  While I tend to ask them all the same questions about their trips and the experiences those trips provide, I am always amazed at the rich variety of answers I receive.  One thing I have come to realize is that, while it can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students to visit major theme parks, perform at a national monument, or view their very first Broadway show, sometimes there are other things—much smaller things—that become lasting memories from a student group trip.

Percussion students from Orlando's Freedom High School check out some snow in Central Park

Percussion students from Orlando’s Freedom High School check out some snow in Central Park

There are the moments that we take for granted in our daily lives that can be surprisingly unforgettable experiences for someone else – like Florida kids getting their first touch and taste of snow, or Midwestern kids discovering what it’s like to dip their toes in the ocean, or kids from anywhere getting out of their state for the first time in their lives.  At an age when social interaction is of utmost importance, the opportunities provided by student group travel to create memories and harvest new experiences alongside friends is invaluable.

Then there are the parts of the travel process we don’t always think about that may be brand new experiences for students.  They might be taking their first plane ride, or traveling without mom and dad.  Such milestones will be a part of that student forever and help shape the adult they ultimately become.

A student trip may provide middle or high school students with their first ride on an airplane.

A student group trip may provide middle or high school students with their first ride on an airplane.

 Henry County Middle School students dine at Planet Hollywood.

Henry County Middle School students dine at Planet Hollywood.

Student travel is full of mundane opportunities that can make a trip a valuable life and learning experience.  Without mom or dad along to pay for all their meals or okay their souvenir purchases, students find themselves in the position to manage and budget their own money, perhaps for the first time.  There may be occasion for students to have their first experience with tipping — from learning how to calculate a suitable amount to discerning where and when a tip is appropriate.  While traveling with a band, dance, or sports group, students must manage and look after their own equipment, wardrobe, or instruments, all while adapting to a new environment and possibly even unforeseen challenges that are a part of “taking the show on the road.”

 This performance by students from Southern Dance Theatre required many elaborate costume changes.

This performance by students from Southern Dance Theatre required many elaborate costume changes.

New weather experiences can also create opportunities for students to grow and adapt.  The Florida kids meeting their first flakes of snow have to understand how to plan their wardrobes for sub-freezing temperatures.  On the flip side, kids heading to a warmer climate need to be mindful of sunscreen application and drink plenty of water.

Then there are the challenges of negotiating within a group.  With only so many hours in a day, but plenty of attractions to see and a strict schedule to keep, compromise becomes an important lesson put into practice.  If five kids are in a group at a theme park and all five have different priorities, the students must work together to see that they all get the most out of their day.  Or, when four teenage girls are sharing a hotel room and there’s a 7AM departure time, the ability to effectively manage and moderate bathroom time becomes the most valuable of skills.

When you think about all of the experiences and memories a student trip can provide, some of these may not come to mind as quickly as the world famous museum or performer they saw, or the excitement of an attraction they visited.  These are little things—mere details within a fun-packed trip itinerary—but they are not insignificant, and they stay with a person.  Most importantly, organized student group travel gives students the opportunity to exercise these skills, and experience these firsts, “on their own,” but still within the safety of a trusted school or extracurricular group.