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Children give educational vacation high marks

Educational vacations. The mere combination of those two words is enough to strike fear in the heart of any child.

However, considering the growing popularity of home schooling and year-round school calendars, the concept makes a great deal of sense.

While vacations are primarily thought of as "down" time, days filled with relaxation and fun, there are destinations that allow travelers to combine those activities with a touch of education. The hidden benefit is when kids discover that learning can be fun, too.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is one of those locations where education mixes quite nicely with traditional vacation activities. The city is home to two major museums that offer something of interest to all ages.

The Dinosaur Walk Museum is filled with more than 50 life-sized sculptures of pre-historic creatures. Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted by a menacing T. Rex that stands two stories tall.

Each display is accompanied by a brief history of the creature giving the visitor a glimpse into the distant past and the dinosaurs that once walked the earth.

Near the Dinosaur Walk is another museum of historic significance, this one delving into our more recent history. The Veterans Memorial Museum is a chronicle of America's military history, beginning with the Revolutionary War and continuing to current conflicts. The museum is filled with memorabilia, artwork and rare collectibles that pay homage to our nation's military veterans and their battles.

Pigeon Forge is located at the foothills of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is filled with opportnities to learn about nature, including the wildlife and wildflowers that call the Smoky Mountains home.

Historic Cades Cove gives visitors an idea of the challenges faced by the area's early settlers. Park rangers are always on hand to answer questions that may arise.

Another way to experience mountain history is with a visit to Dollywood.

The popular entertainment park is home to Craftsmen's Village where master craf-ters demonstrate traditional Appalachian arts on a daily basis.

\And, Dollywood's Crafts Preservation School offers year-round classes, giving visitors the opportunity to learn mountain crafts from the masters.

There are many ways to add education to your vacation. A visit to Pigeon Forge is one stop that offers a new look to family travel. More information about all of the activities you'll find in this East Tennessee community is available at 1-800-251-9100.

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