Travel through a Kid's Eye

Historical Adventure: Back to the Future

Kids have long been captivated by the idea of time travel and historical role-playing. Visiting a site of historical or archaeological significance is a great way to teach kids about history and geography and is one of the best ways to combine family fun with personal growth. You can recreate the past—or zoom into the future on exciting vacations that change kids from passive observers of history to active participants.
A dinosaur vacation could be your kindergartner's dream trip. Planning a dinosaur adventure can be be as simple as car-camping near the Dinosaur National Monument where 350 tons of bones can be viewed in ongoing digs at the Visitor's Center.

Another time travel trip suitable for youngsters is to accompany a Native American guide on a journey through ancient cultural sites in the Rockies and the Great Plains. Expect to pay $650 for a 3-day tour or $2,000 for 12 days. Contact individual states' Native American Tourism Office for details. There are also full immersion visits with Native American families offered by anthropologists that feature traditional crafts and tepee camping. Fourth- to twelfth-grade students can also participate in simulated excavations of Anasazi sites, including a full educational program which includes eco-hikes, Anasazi sports and cooking, and pottery classes.
Virginia's colonial Williamsburg is another prime historic traveling destionat. Here children learn about the life and times of the American Revolution with a wide range of children's activities in America's most famous "living museum." Quality hotels, tennis facilities, and nearby golf courses keep the parents happy, too. Williamsburg is a national treasure that every family should visit at least once—and be sure to check the calendar for special events to enhance your holiday.
In a similar vein, the Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts is an authentic re-creation of an early 19th-century village. Here the "villagers" dress, talk, and conduct themselves just as the original New England settlers did. There are over forty vintage structures on 200 acres, including a blacksmith shop, grist mill, and schoolhouse. The Museum Education Department runs five-day workshops for children eight to 14 and several week-long family programs.
If you're time-traveling in Massachusetts, be sure to visit nearby Plimoth Plantation. Here kids will love the full-scale reproduction of the sailing ship Mayflower, and the historically accurate Pilgrim settlement and Native American encampment.
For those tykes with anxious for the future that will soon be theres, consider taking them int space—or at least as close as you can get while still keeping both feel on the planet. Space trainees, age 10 or older, can sign up with one parent for a weekend of simulated space missions in Space Shuttle orbiter mockups. Using authentic simulators, your kids will learn math, science, leadership and teamwork as they "fly" the orbiter or take a "space walk." Parent/child sessions are available at U.S. Space Camps in Huntsville, Alabama and near Florida's Kennedy Space Center. The $550 tuition covers one parent and one child.
Practically Speaking
Typically it is not until about eight years old that kids grasp the concept of history. But several types of history vacations are appropriate for little children too. Dinosaur digs offer a perfection option. Older kids will enjoy any variety of historic travel options—and the available variety allows one to indulge the particular interest of each child.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 16 Mar 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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