Check out these 10 arts and culture attractions in the United States and Canada when planning youth travel.
1. Scandinavian Heritage Park
Replica structures and art hailing from each of the five Scandinavian and Nordic nations — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden — can be found at the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, North Dakota.
Students will walk inside a real Stabbur, a replica storehouse modeled from a farm in Norway. Discover the beauty of the attraction’s full-scale Norwegian Stave Church. A favorite sight is the 25-foot Swedish Dala Horse — the most recognized Swedish symbol in the world.
Students will enter the park at Plaza Scandinavia featuring a large granite map of the five Nordic countries. From there, tours will take groups to several other amazing edifices highlighting Nordic culture and life. The park additionally boasts statues of famous Scandinavian and Nordic figures, like Hans Christian Andersen and Leif Erickson.
Planning a trip in the Minot area and beyond is simple while at the attraction, with Visit Minot’s offices located at the Scandinavian Heritage Park’s Edward T. and Leona B. Larson Visitors Center. Find tourist information, as well as a gift shop. 701-852-9161, scandinavianheritage.org.
Did you know? All stave churches have one thing in common — corner posts and a timber framework with wall planks standing on sills, known as stave walls. The church doors are typically carved with ornate designs and other decorations possess both Christian and pre-Christian Viking motifs.
2. National Gallery of Canada
In addition to its vast collection, the National Gallery of Canada’s incredible building of glass and granite allows for tremendous natural light and views of the Parliament Buildings, the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills.
The gallery in Ottawa, Ontario, offers numerous school programs; from pieces dating back 5,000 years to modern-day masterpieces, students will enter discussions asking them to interpret the art themselves.
The Indigenous and Canadian galleries include top highlights like the Croscup Room, originally part of a home in Nova Scotia. In the late 1840s, an unidentified artist repainted the walls of this structure, illustrating everyday scenes. 613-990-1985, gallery.ca
3. American Writers Museum
The American Writers Museum’s (AWM) Write In Youth Education Program is designed for middle and high school students, using the museum’s exhibits and featured authors to push students to write creatively. Located in downtown Chicago, AWM underscores the diversity of American literature through the entire spectrum of writing mediums — from poetry and lyrics to journalism and fiction.
The Write In program is a perfect addition to a field trip. Students will tour the “Nation of Writers” and “Mind of a Writer” permanent exhibits. “Nation of Writers” celebrates American writing using an interactive timeline spanning more than 400 years. Get insights into how writers think in the “Mind of a Writer” exhibit. Play games exploring the meaning of words and contribute to a story collectively written by the museum’s daily visitors. 312-374-8790, americanwritersmuseum.org
4. SCAD Museum of Art
With nearly 20,000 square feet of gallery space, 10 classrooms and a 250-seat theater, SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, is a premier attraction in one of the nation’s top art destinations. The museum, a part of the Savannah College of Art and Design, is housed in an 1853 brick building that was once a railway depot. The museum’s permanent collection consists of over 4,500 works.
Seventy-two classes are hosted at SCAD Museum of Art every week, covering subjects like art history, fashion, production design and graphic design. The museum’s theater is also a great option for learning opportunities, with a monthly schedule of film screenings, lectures and classes with visiting artists. 912-525-7191, scadmao.org
5. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, includes galleries, classroom space, a museum store, library and 5 miles of sculpture and walking trails.
Take an introductory tour, like Art and Innovation, which invites students to discuss ways art leads people to interpret the world in a new light. Learn how artists work with different materials using hands-on props and activities with the Materials and Techniques tour.
Galleries highlight early, modern and contemporary American art. The museum’s trails offer stunning views of the Ozark landscape, as well as numerous sculptures. 479-418-5700, crystalbridges.org.
Try this: If taking a tour on the trails, make sure to stop by the museum’s upper pond, home to a stone grotto made of boulders covered in natural quartz crystal. These boulders were excavated from a mine in Arkansas, an area that yields some of the largest and clearest crystals in the world.
6. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque — known as the Gateway to the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico — provides an abundance of immersive programming and resources for students to learn about Pueblo culture, from ancient times to present day.
“We Are of This Place: The Pueblo Story” is the center’s permanent exhibit. Additional sites include the mural collection, Pueblo art collection and Artists Circle Gallery.
Students can dine on authentic Indigenous cuisine at the Indian Pueblo Kitchen, as well as take a hands-on frybread-making class. Watch Native American dances done in traditional Pueblo regalia, then stop by the center’s store to purchase Pueblo and Southwest Native American art. 505-212-7060, indianpueblo.org
7. The Mark Twain House & Museum
Built in 1874, The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, measures 11,500 square feet and features 25 rooms — a home Twain would later say he spent the happiest and most productive years of his life.
Inside the home, students will see the room where the author would write his famed works. The exterior grounds include the Carriage House and several gardens — all of which can be toured.
The house museum’s exhibits introduce visitors to the members of the Clemens family — Sam (Mark Twain), Livy, Susie and Jean. Students will see LEGO Mark Twain, made entirely of LEGOS and standing at 6-feet tall and weighing 150 pounds. Learn about Twain’s life work through displays and an orientation film created by renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. 860-280-3130, marktwainhouse.org.
More to see: Also on the property lies Nook Farm, once home to best-selling American author Harriet Beecher Stowe, as well as other notable American figures. Immerse in the history and culture of the Hartford area and tack on a visit to The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, too.
8. Chihuly Garden and Glass
The renowned glass works of Tacoma, Washington-born artist Dale Chihuly are on display at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle. Eight galleries, the centerpiece Glasshouse, garden and a theater make for a full experience perfect for student groups.
Standing 40 feet tall and covering 4,500 square feet, the Glasshouse is a glass and steel structure reflecting Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories. Inside, students will see one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures.
Venture to the garden to see a unique plant collection alongside the artist’s work. New installations are featured every season. Afterward, stop by the theater where educational programs take place and where students can watch short videos on Chihuly’s work process.
Live demonstrations are available throughout the day and are a great way for students to see artists create stunning masterpieces.
Chihuly Garden and Glass offers private workshop opportunities and tours, all led by knowledgeable instructors and guides. The gallery additionally provides packages with admission to not only Chihuly Garden and Glass, but also the Space Needle Observation Deck. 206-753-4940, chihulygardenandglass.com
9. The MAX
From Jerry Lee Lewis to Oprah Winfrey, Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience’s (The MAX) Hall of Fame is a 360-degree, two-story gallery displaying the impact Mississippians have had in the arts and entertainment world.
Through a number of exhibits, the Meridian, Mississippi, museum asks students to go behind-the-scenes and explore the birthplace of these stars, their cultural influences and their earliest days of creative expression. Discover how the state’s geography inspired its artists, learn about how church served as a source of encouragement and see how these figures have influenced the modern global community. School groups can also explore The MAX with a scavenger hunt or a hands-on creative workshop. 601-581-1550, ext. 31; msarts.org
Did you know? The MAX’s Walk of Fame includes legends Jimmie Rodgers, B.B. King, Sela Ward, William Faulkner, Marty Stuart, Tennessee Williams, Elvis Presley and many others.
10. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park features a sculpture collection with works by internationally acclaimed artists like Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Alexander Calder and Ai Weiwei. The 15,000-square-foot Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory is a major draw too, housing plants representing most continents and many countries — from Indian fig trees to South American orchids.
Field trips can include guided tours along with hands-on learning opportunities. The Japanese Garden Tour: Tradition Meets Innovation allows students to learn about the elements of a Japanese Garden, Zen-Style Garden and Bonsai Garden. Students will then be asked to analyze contemporary sculptures.
A tour of the Sculpture Park involves discussions on artistic principles like scale, materials, placement, setting, style and surface treatment. 616-957-1580, meijergardens.org