Our Favorite Less Traveled Student Destinations

Sep 16, 2014

Travel Notes

If you already travel, it’s likely your performance group has visited top student-friendly cities like New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Orlando. However, there are many other cities in the United States that are exciting, engaging, and educational, which may not be on your radar. Here our top three “less traveled” cities, that are sure to be a big hit with your students.


What band, choir or orchestra wouldn’t want to visit Music City? In Nashville, groups have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the country music culture. Music groups can take their performance to new levels with a clinic at the Blair School of Music on the historic Vanderbilt University Campus, or perhaps take in a performance of the Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony. Nashville’s musical fun doesn’t stop there, though. Students can check out over 3,000 costumes, manuscripts, instruments and other pieces of country music history at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Right around the corner is RCA’s legendary Studio B, where a myriad of stars from Elvis to Dolly Parton made their mark on the music world. Tour the studio to learn about the science of recording and mixing; for an additional fee, your group may even be able to record there themselves!

While you’re in Nashville, experience a little country charm at a historic plantation. Visit the Hermitage, the stunning home of former President Andrew Jackson. Alternatively, the beautiful Belle Meade Plantation, a former thoroughbred horse farm that gave a start to such racetrack stars as Seabiscuit and Secretariat, featured costumed guides and original, antique furnishings. Round out the evening with some fantastic southern barbeque at the Wildhorse Saloon. Your meal will conclude with a country line dancing lesson, frequently cited as students’ favorite part of the trip.

A trip to Nashville would not be complete without a trip to the Grand Old Opry. At the Ryman Auditorium, the Opry’s former home, students can actually walk on the stage where the likes of Houdini, Bob Hope, and even Bruce Springsteen have tread before them. Of course, after that, there’s nothing like touring the Opry itself—then sticking around to catch an Opry performance. The show’s mix of country standards and today’s chart-toppers is a proven hit with both country fans and non-fans, showcasing something for everyone.


For an international excursion that’s still close to home, Toronto is a favorite destination for student groups. This culturally diverse city balances a contemporary flair with a reverence for history and a celebration of nature—and for a student group traveling by motor coach, no passport is needed.

The best place to experience Toronto’s modern metropolis is the top of CN tower. For over three decades, the tower claimed the title of World’s Tallest Building—and the views from the top are not to be missed. With a line of sight that reaches 60-75 miles, students will not only be able to see the beautiful city, but may get a view of Lake Ontario, or the mist-shrouded Niagara Falls—and perhaps even see across the border into New York.

For a change of pace, Toronto offers plenty of historic charm. In no other city in North America, for example, will you find a genuine, medieval-style castle mere minutes from downtown! Built in the 19th century, Casa Loma’s 98 rooms feature period furniture, tunnels and secret passages, and beautiful gardens. It’s the perfect setting for a student group performance.

With a world-famous natural landmark like Niagara Falls just a quick trip away—the drive takes less than two hours—groups visiting Toronto won’t want to skip the journey. Students can choose just how close they want to get to the Falls’ rising mist—whether taking in the breathtaking view from the boardwalk, taking a boat ride to the base of the Falls, or trekking behind the Falls themselves. Your group may even have an opportunity to perform live at this natural wonder.

A perfect blend of past and present, progress and nature, every student will find something to inspire them in Toronto.

New Orleans

This name of this town certainly evokes connotations of a party atmosphere—and for most people, it’s the more adult party atmosphere that comes to mind. Contrary to this image, New Orleans is actually a safe, friendly and fascinating place for student groups. Students will get to experience a little bit of everything that New Orleans is famous for: swinging jazz, Cajun culture, and good times-“les bon temps”, as the local motto calls it.

What’s better than actually watching a Mardi Gras parade? How about getting up close and personal with its gargantuan floats and props—so close, in fact, that you could pose for a photo op with them? At Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, students will learn about the origins of Mardi Gras—as well as get a chance to play with some of its most famous props and costumes. After all that excitement, spend your afternoon relaxing on a real southern plantation. Laura Plantation isn’t just a beautiful manor—its guides paint a touching portrait of the 7 generations of Creole family that called it home. For a glimpse of another moment in American History, a visit to the National World War II Museum will provide a powerful, interactive experience that lets students see through a soldier’s eyes.

Musicians will feel right at home in New Orleans: music groups can experience a first-class clinic at distinguished universities such as Tulane and Loyola, then perform live in front of the historic Jackson Square. Beyond that, there’s no place like New Orleans to experience jazz, and your students will be spoiled for choice. Take a dinner cruise down the Mississippi on the Steamboat Natchez and enjoy a live performance by the Dukes of Dixieland. Alternately, head over to the French Quarter and check out Preservation Hall–this cozy venue features authentic Dixieland jazz 350 nights a year.

With such an abundance of culture and excitement, a trip to New Orleans will be a non-stop parade of new and memorable experiences for your group.

These three iconic cities celebrate three very different cultures and traditions, each offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences for your students that can’t be replicated anywhere else. Share your favorite less-traveled city in the comments below. When you are ready to plan your Roads Less Traveled tour, find your representative to get started.

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