Limestone buildings, grandiose halls, and historic monuments—Washington, D.C., holds a history that has drawn student groups for decades. Though the pandemic halted student travel for nearly two years, youth groups are returning to the nation’s capital ready to immerse in all its splendor.
“Student group travel in Washington, D.C., is strong,” says Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of Destination DC, the destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital. “Though group travel in general is not quite at pre-pandemic numbers, student groups have been enjoying Washington, D.C., all spring. And development in the district hasn’t stopped, so there are new attractions, hotels, and museums for groups to experience.”
From the capital must-dos to the highly awaited additions, student groups will never tire of Washington, D.C.’s diverse menu of experiences.
“Every school subject can be tackled in Washington, D.C., with experts in every field in our backyard,” Ferguson says. “It’s a chance to mix the important lessons of our nation’s past with its living history. No other city has such a mix of history, green space, cultural diversity, and welcoming atmosphere.”
No trip to the nation’s capital would be complete without a stop at the National Mall. Boasting over 1,000 acres of green space, the mall is one of the nation’s most visited national parks and features several well-known attractions, including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—among others.
Collectively known as the Smithsonian Institute, the museum and research complex features over 150 million objects across its 17 museums. Art galleries, science exhibits, and historic displays line the halls of these world-renowned attractions, all of which offer several perks for students—from educational programming to guided tours.
The National Archives Museum is a favorite among student groups, as it houses the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. The National Archives Museum’s Boeing Learning Center, a hands-on activity hub, features The Founding Documents: Build a More Perfect Union program. The learning experience dives into the purpose and history behind the nation’s founding documents. While registration is currently closed, the National Archives Museum plans to restore programming at the learning center soon.
Looking for something a bit more unexpected? The National Cathedral boasts a gargoyle tour where students can view these whimsical Gothic creatures located throughout the cathedral’s grounds on a guided tour.
Despite pandemic setbacks, the district continues to expand with several new attractions.
Located at the U.S. Department of State, the new National Museum of American Diplomacy will introduce students to the principles of diplomacy and the power of peaceful negotiations. Students will use diplomatic strategy skills through interactive experiences that include role-playing in a historical scenario, crisis management in the operations center, and checking out gifts foreign nations have presented to secretaries of state. The museum is currently under construction.
Slated to open in the spring of 2023, the Capital Jewish Museum connects Washington, D.C.’s first synagogue, built in 1876, to the newly constructed museum galleries via a skybridge. Visitors will learn about Jewish culture, life, and values through storytelling and a “transformative multimedia experience” that will be housed in the synagogue’s sanctuary.
The National Air and Space Museum reopened half of its building in fall 2022 with reimagined exhibits, while Planet Word Museum, the district’s newest attraction, continues to amaze groups as the only museum in the country dedicated to inspiring the love of words and language.
For more information, call Destination DC at 202-789-7000 or visit washington.org.
Main image: Washington Monument; Credit: washington.org
Article by Kate O’Neil