Elachee Raptor Fest in Gainesville
Outside the Classroom
In Georgia, first-hand experiences make learning come to life for student groups.
Georgia is a veritable playground for students of all ages, from preschoolers to lifelong learners. The state is packed with engaging experiences to make learning fun. From celebrated museums to up-close wildlife encounters, from centers of scientific discovery to gem-panning sites, Georgia offers unique hands-on educational opportunities. Almost every venue offers customized tour options that are sure to appeal to your group, no matter their age or stage of life.
Consolidated Gold Mine, Dahlonega
Visitors may be surprised to learn that gold was first discovered in Dahlonega in 1828, a full 20 years before California's famous Gold Rush. Now, visitors may embark on 40-minute guided tours of the historic mines 200 feet underground. After the tour (discounts for 25 or more), opt for your own panning experience and search for gold nuggets or gems including garnets, emeralds, topaz and more. If you're lucky enough to find a stone, have it made into a piece of jewelry at the full-service jewelry station.
Walking Tour of Our Solar System, Gainesville
Get perspective of the size and orientation of our solar system on a walk around downtown Gainesville. The 1.8-mile trail starts with the sun statue in the town square and continues along a marked path to Longwood Park on Lake Lanier, with statues of Earth, our moon and the other planets along the way. Pick up a free brochure, with fun solar system facts and a map of the walking trail at any Hall County library and set out on a self-guided stroll.
Elachee Nature Science Center, Gainesville
Located inside a 1,440-acre nature preserve with 14 miles of hiking trails, all of Elachee's programs–like Astronomy for Middle Schoolers, Green and Growing, and Weather Alert–are SACS-accredited for school-aged children. The center will also create custom group tours for college students, garden clubs and retirement communities based on their topic of interest.
Overnight in Gainesville
CDC Museum, Atlanta
Curious adult groups (college students, professionals, seniors) will begin their David J. Sencer CDC Museum experience with the multimedia Global Symphony installation, highlighting the organization's contributions to stemming global health epidemics such as polio, Ebola and obesity. With advance booking, organizers may request a specific docent speaker to discuss topics including microbiology, infectious disease, environmental health or CDC history. Try on BSL 4 lab suits for a perspective on the lengths researchers go to in order to discover new breakthroughs.
Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, Atlanta
Art and history buffs, prepare to be fascinated by the South's premier ancient art outpost. With some 17,000 extraordinary pieces, the museum in the heart of Emory University's campus features priceless artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Asia and Africa, plus European Renaissance art. With advance booking, 50-minute interactive tours include storytelling, drawing and other activities, and may even be adaptable to complement classroom themes. Popular Museum Moments tours are designed to engage those guests with cognitive impairment or dementia.
Ocmulgee National Monument, Macon
Experience the excitement of learning where more than 17,000 years of human history comes to life. After walking the park's dramatic Indian mounds and trails, stop at the museum, which houses 2,000 artifacts, some dating back to the area's first residents, the Paleo Indians, who arrived in Middle Georgia during the Ice Age. Tours should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance and are self-guided, though groups may request a ranger to give an orientation (subject to staff availability).
Overnight in Macon
Oatland Island Wildlife Center, Savannah
Each year, more than 20,000 students flock to this conservation-focused center to take part in marsh ecology boat programs, star labs and guided tours throughout its 100 acres of maritime forest and marshes. Each of the 40 hands-on grade-specific programs is written to satisfy Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) curriculum. With 150 resident animals, programs feature presentations that include gopher tortoise, gray wolf, Southern flying squirrel, bobcat, red fox, cougar and bison.
4-H Center, Jekyll Island
Camp Jekyll is situated on 10 idyllic acres, between the beach and maritime forest, leveraging the entire island as an outdoor classroom. Administered by the University of Georgia Extension program, Camp Jekyll serves more than 12,000 grade-school students each year, including public and private schools, scouting groups, and homeschoolers. Teachers select age-appropriate programs to complement their curriculum, and programs may include saltwater fishing excursions, guided journal writing, ornithology and more. Advance reservations are required and meals are available. jekyll4h.org
Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Jekyll Island
Animal lovers of all ages will fall in love with this advanced sea turtle hospital and exhibit gallery. The Jekyll Island Authority-run conservation center opened in 2007 to manage coastal habitats for endangered wildlife, and offers programs designed for students from preschool through 12th grade. Beach ecology walks, sea turtle summer camp and behind-the-scenes tours are just a few of the hands-on, field biology-focused programs available with advance notice.
Don't-Miss Dining: Game-X, Atlanta
This 12,000-foot gaming mecca overlooking downtown Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park is just the ticket for a hungry group after a day of learning. Reserve a private room and nosh on hearty comfort food like a barbecue bacon burger, buffalo wings or fried Cobb salad, and turn your crew loose to play more than 60 games including Pong 180, Pac-Man Smash and QuadAir Hockey.
Must-Stop Shopping: ShopSCAD, Savannah
The Savannah College of Art and Design is known the world over for producing top-notch, up-and-coming artists. Shop their wares at this popular store, filled with items including paintings, leather goods, home wares and much more. Your group's participants are sure to score a conversation piece to commemorate the trip.