Jazz Performance Tours to Washington, D.C.

When Easton Jazz Band goes on Jazz Performance Tour, they really go ON TOUR! This group will typically have 5 performances in 2.5 days and this trip was no exception. They also typically bring with them the hottest weather of the season, and again, this trip was no exception! DC can be hot and humid in the summer, and it turns out it can also give one a lovely preview of this in mid May! But nothing stops this group – and man did they “cook” as they played their hearts out and as the temperatures soared.

Day 1 the group arrived at Fort Myer in VA to work with the Army Blues Band. First the Army Blues played for them and after each selection engaged the Easton students with what they had heard and opened the floor to a variety of questions. Then they sightread one of Easton’s charts before Easton took the stage playing the same tune. It was pretty cool to see how both groups treated the same setting. They continued with a clinic touching on style and technique as well as resources the kids could use to broaden their musical horizons. It was a very exciting way to start the trip. From there it was off to Air and Space for some down time before heading up to Twins Jazz Club for dinner and a performance. This club has an amazing history and although it normally hosts solo and small combos, they make the space work for this group and it was a night of great music. Matt Niess from Army Blues came and sat in and soloed with the group throughout the night. During the concert the skies opened up and it rained with unbelievable power, but for us that was a blessing. Many folks walking by, came on in to stay dry but then stayed because the music was so good! After their second set we packed up and headed to their hotel.

Day 2 dawned hot and humid, the rain had done nothing to alleviate that in the least. But no matter, off we went to the Jefferson Memorial to perform. This is a particularly long load in and boy was everyone hot by the time we had everything in place. But from the way those kids played, you never would have known it. They drew great crowds and had a really good time. Afterwards we took a group shot and then reversed the process to get everything back on the bus. Where to – you say? Why Inner Harbor in Baltimore! Where, unbelievable it was forecast to be even hotter! Dodging potential thunderstorms, that never materialized, we got the band set up and again this group just got down to business and played a great concert! Grateful to be able to change out of their formal performance clothes they enjoyed a couple of hours of free time before we met up again and walked over to Camden Yards to watch the Orioles play the Mariners. We were seated in the picnic perch in left field, a great set up where you have access to the food through the 7th inning and have great seats. It was a really great end to a busy day.

Day 3 – guess what? Still hot, but not nearly as humid – which was a big relief. We loaded up and went back to the National Mall for some free time at the Smithsonians before heading over to the Navy Memorial for the final concert of the trip. We had the noon time slot, which is just a perfect time to play there as so many workers come out of the near by offices and relax along the edges of this beautiful memorial. As I sat behind the band listening to another great concert and looking at the beautiful memorial and the National Archives across the street, I was reminded once again, how lucky I am to witness so many wonderful kids sharing their talents all around our great country. 5 performances – check, 2.5 days – check, ridiculous temperatures – check, all in all a perfect Easton High School trip. Let’s load it up one more time and head home!

Boston for your Next Music Department Trip

Boston or Bust!

Mahwah NJ is not that far from Boston, MA – but boy can those highways get bogged down with traffic sometimes. This was one of those times, but luckily this is also one of those groups that absolutely believes in “going with the flow”. I am sure that by the time they arrived at Hard Rock Cafe for dinner they were sick and tired of being on the buses. But I was greeted with big smiles and can do attitudes as we solved how to feed them and get them over to Blue Man Group in what can only be described as an impossibly short amount of time! Blue Man Group is such an energetic show that you can’t help but get hooked in and let all your earlier concerns drift away. So although not the ideal start to a trip, a lot of hyped up and happy kids came out of that theater and boarded the buses for their hotel!

Day 2 began with clinics for the band, orchestra and choir. They were held at the JFK memorial middle school in Waltham, MA. A beautiful space, where they were able to make beautiful music and perform their programs, each followed by extensive clinics with adjudicators from Boston Conservatory and Northeastern University. Each group was playing/singing better after their clinics and each clinician was very impressed with not only the preparation but the attention and effort of the musicians. From there it was off to a day of fun at Six Flags over New England. We had a perfect day and the crowds were light, so everyone was able to ride whatever they wanted – often more than once. With big smiles, some super hero capes and lots of fun memories we headed back to the hotel for the night.

Day 3 packed up and headed to the Prudential Center to get on the Boston Duck Boats -always a great time and lots of fun, especially on what was a picture perfect spring day! We arrived a few minutes early so took a great group shot before splitting up into 4 groups to board the boats. Great energy and enthusiasm and the boat drivers were so glad it was a music department boarding as they tell me – “these are always the best kids to interact with during the tour”. A bunch of smiling faces pulled away form the curb and 90 minutes later those same faces returned with even bigger smiles! From there we headed over to Faneuil Hall for lunch and some free time. There are always so many things going on there, it was a great way to end our trip. What a fabulous Music Department Trip to Boston.

An Orchestra Performance Tour in NYC

A Big Bite out of the Big Apple

What a great day in May we had in NYC with the Parkland School District Middle School Honors Orchestra! This was the first time this group had taken a trip and we packed the day full of great experiences for them. They are an amazing group of young musicians, led by Grammy Finalist for Music Educator in 2015, Debra Reilly. She sets impressively high standards for this group and boy, do they deliver!

We began with a fantastic and inspiring clinic led by Adam Glaser, conductor of the Julliard Pre-College Orchestra. He was very impressed with their level of preparation and talent and helped them focus in on some details that would make their performance later that day even more exciting. Adam immediately put the students at ease, and engaged them throughout their 90 minute clinic in such a way that it seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. As we had just a few hours to get everything done, and in the true fashion of working musicians, we ate on the run. Although in style having yummy box lunches from the Earl of Sandwich and a comfy, air conditioned motor coach to whisk the group across town to their performance venue.

We arrived at Trump Tower Ny on 5th Avenue and quickly loaded the group into the atrium for a lunchtime 45 minute concert. The space is beautiful to look at and with the wonderful concert, consisting of great orchestral music from the movies, filling the entire atrium – quite an appreciative crowd gathered. They played very well and received so many compliments on their work from the public as they were packing up to move on to the next event.

When we think of all the shows on broadway that appeal to middle school students, especially instrumentalists, it is hard to pick a better match than the Lion King! The music is fantastic, the musicians in the pit and up in the box seats are fantastic and, of course, the show is a feast for the eyes and ears! We had a great time and everyone loved it from the first moment till the last.

From there it was off to Planet Hollywood for dinner, where we queue up along some famous handprints waiting to be seated. These kids happily filled any wait time taking photos – as evidenced by this “group selfie”! We had a great meal and then hopped back on the bus and headed home after a very successful Orchestra Performance Tour to the Big Apple!

Boston Class Trips: Daytime Activities for Mixed Age Groups

When you are in the mood to take a class trip with the kids, why not consider leaving your school and heading to Boston? There are enough activities there to keep the class busy for at least eight hours or more. Here’s a peek at some of the ones other group travel tours enjoy:

Boston Children’s Museum

 

If you are looking for an inexpensive and educational activity, consider heading to the Boston Children’s Museum on a Friday night. That’s when they let people pay $1 each to get into the museum as opposed to the normal $14 fee. The list of not-to-miss exhibits includes the Construction Zone, Art Studio, Investigate, New Balance Climb and Countdown to Kindergarten.

Boston Common Frog Pond

On those days when the kids want to spend most of their time outdoors, try the Boston Common Frog Pond. It has a large scale spray pond that has features similar to the ones found in many major cities and a kiddie carousel. Plus, there are free yoga classes and a café onsite too. To get there, just hop onto the MBTA and take it to Park Street or Downtown Crossing.

Boston Harbor Islands

Feel like island hopping instead? You and your students could always take the MBTA to the Long Wharf North and grab the ferry. It will take you Boston Harbor Islands, where the kids can hike, enjoy the beach, fish, stamp box or try their hand at being junior rangers. Sometimes there are special events taking place at some of the islands as well.

Boston Public Gardens

Lastly, your group may adore visiting the Boston Public Gardens. In addition to all of the plant life, its home to several sculptures and the famous swan boat rides. A few of the sculptures that the kids may love to look at are the Ducklings and the Japanese Lantern.

To learn more about planning your school’s next Boston class trip, please contact us at Peak Performance Tours.

Washington DC Class Trips- Museums

Fossilized remains at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DCThe nation’s capital can be a great place to visit and makes for a fun and educational class trip. There is a wide variety of museums on just about any subject you want your students to learn. Read below for a sampling of the museums that D.C. has to offer.

Smithsonian Institute

One of the most popular D.C. museums is the Smithsonian. It was founded in 1846 is the world’s largest museum and research institute. There are plenty of exhibitions and events for groups of any age. Admission to most of Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo is free, 7 days a week. In the D.C. area, the Smithsonian boasts an Air and Space Museum, African American History and Culture Museum, National History Museum, American Art Museum, American Indian Museum, Postal Museum, a Sculpture Garden and more!

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

If you want your group to learn a powerful lesson, this may be the place. There are many classes that teach about the Holocaust and this is a trip they will not forget. The museum’s collection of Holocaust-related material is among the largest and most comprehensive in the world, with videos, film, artifacts, oral histories and more.

National Aquarium

The National Aquarium in D.C., Baltimore was the nation’s first aquarium. It is a nonprofit organization with a mission to “inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures”. They have a wide variety of exhibits such as an Amazon River Forest, an Atlantic Coral Reef, a Tropical Rainforest and much more.

Historical Society of Washington, DC

At the Historical Society of Washington, DC, your group will learn about the city’s fascinating history. The museum features a variety of rotating exhibits as well as a permanent exhibit called the Window to Washington, which features facts, figures and historical items that tell the story of the city’s history and its role as the nation’s capital.

International Spy Museum

If your class is interested in covert operations and international espionage, do not miss the International Spy Museum. This museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever displayed publicly. Your students will have the opportunity to adopt a cover identity which adds a layer of fun to a very educational experience.
If you are planning a Washington DC Class Trip and want an experience that your group will remember, contact us.

Seven Things You Should Know About Disney World Trips

It's a Small World ride at Walt Disney World Walt Disney World is one of the most popular vacation spots in the country. It has plenty to offer the whole family – children and adults.  To make your trip enjoyable for everyone, there are some things to keep in mind.

#1 Plan ahead

The average American spends 8-10 months planning a vacation. This includes research, planning and booking. By giving yourself plenty of time to shop around and look for good deals, you will almost certainly save money.

#2 Make Dinner Reservations

There is nothing worse after a long day at the park, then arriving at a restaurant only to be met with a long wait. You’re tired, you’re hungry, and the last thing you want to do is stand around in another line! By making a reservation ahead of time, you can make sure to have a table ready, no matter what your group’s size, at your favorite post part restaurant.

#3 Bring Food

While you are not permitted to bring outside food into the park, there is a picnic area just outside the main entrance. To avoid spending a fortune on food and waiting in another long line, bring a cooler and pack a lunch. There are lockers at the picnic area in which you can store your cooler until lunch time.

#4 Be Patient

A trip to Disney requires a good deal of patience.  Most likely, you will wait for your transportation to and from the park, you will wait in line for the rides, the restroom, the snack stands, etc.  Mentally prepare yourself and physically prepare your children.  Carry a Madlibs book in your bag or download a game on your phones.  Find ways to occupy yourself and your children while waiting in lines and you may just avoid a meltdown.

#5 Be Prepared

Make sure everyone has comfortable, broken-in shoes, as most people will walk miles in the parks. Nothing will ruin your day faster than painful shoes.

Most of the time, Florida is sunny. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and hats. A sunburn is not only dangerous but will ruin your trip fast. Remember to reapply often.

#6 Have a Plan

Disney is huge and there is too much to accomplish in one day. Make a list of the things you do not want to miss, in order of their importance.  Keep their location in mind, as well, to avoid wasting time walking back and forth.

#7 Make a Budget

Disney can get expensive quick. If you do not pack a lunch for the picnic area, you will be buying food, and you will definitely need to purchase drinks throughout the day. If you are bringing children, they will want almost every souvenir they see.  Before arriving at the park, have in mind a set amount of money that you are willing to spend on souvenirs.  If your children are old enough to understand, explain it to them in the beginning of the day and chances are, they will be choosier about what they ask for.

For more information on Disney, contact us. Have a great trip!

Group Travel Tours: See Kissimmee, Florida, in Comfort

Kissimmee FL FlagThe City of Kissimmee, Florida, is a great place for group travel tour members to visit year round. It has an abundance of water parks, amusement parks, restaurants, resorts and more. With Peak Performance Tours, it’s easy to arrive in absolute comfort.

At Peak Performance Tours, we will arrange air and ground transportation customized to meet your group’s diverse needs. We can arrange events such as an onsite hanger party with gourmet food, beverages, live entertainment and personalized decorations. Afterwards, your group can fly to one of three Kissimmee airports: the Kissimmee Gateway Airport, Orlando Sanford International Airport and the Orlando International Airport.

The Kissimmee Gateway Airport is popular among aviation charter groups because it is just a few miles away from the Orlando-Orange County Convention Center and downtown Orange County.

Many of the area resorts have airport shuttle service and large, onsite water parks. A popular destination is the Flamingo Waterpark Resort. It boasts a 48,000-gallon swimming pool, 186-foot long speed slides, 30-foot tall slide towers, a dedicated children’s play area and a 630-foot long manmade river that’s perfect for floating away the day.

If you are looking for fishing or boating, be sure to visit Lake Tohopekaliga, or Lake Toho, as the locals call it.  It is a 19,000 acre lake and is world renowned for its bass fishing. There are RV resorts and marinas on its shores and it is located just minutes from Disney Theme parks.

The area is also home to top-of-the-line attractions like LEGOLAND Florida, SeaWorld, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Many of them offer special programs for groups and have something to offer just about everyone.

Amusement and waterparks aren’t the only places where group travel tour members can enjoy a bit of entertainment. There are also unique dinner theaters like the Manor Lane, Capone’s, Medieval Times, Caribbean Rhythms, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.

With winter daytime temperatures of 70-80 degrees, any time of year is a good time to visit Kissimmee.

To learn more about booking group travel tours to Kissimmee, Florida, please contact us. Our group travel tour agents may be reached by calling (800) 220-0165 or sending us an online request for a quote.

Class Trip to Los Angeles: 5 Great Museum Row Restaurants to Enjoy

If you are planning a class trip to Los Angeles, there is a good chance that your group will want to spend at least some time exploring Museum Row and the Miracle Mile. Of course you’ll also need to eat. So we’ve compiled a list of five great restaurants that are ideal places to enjoy a group meal.

Washington, D.C. 2341.) The Counter Burger (4 LA Locations)

The Counter Burger is one restaurant that welcomes groups of all ages for lunch and dinner. The kids menu features classics like PB&J, mini-cheese burgers, sweet potato fries and grilled cheese. The adult menu has much more than that, including burgers in a bowl. They consist of a salad, burger and side dish.

2.) Baja Fresh (5 LA Locations)

Groups may also find great value and phenomenal food at Baja Fresh. It’s a Mexican restaurant that also sells party packs. The party packs are excellent for groups that want to eat lunch or dinner at a public picnic area. The packs typically contain tacos, cheese quesadillas, taquitos, burritos, salsas, chips and a choice of salad or rice and beans. Plus, they toss in picnic paper supplies like disposable plates and plastic cutlery.

3.) Du-Par’s at the Farmers Market (4 LA Locations)

Prefer classic Americana diner fare? Then consider adding Du-Par’s Restaurant and Bakery to your Los Angeles class trip’s itinerary. They serve amazing comfort food like chicken strips, homemade onion rings, corned beef hash, eggs over easy, country-fried steak and club sandwiches. The venue is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Catered, take-out and sit-down meal options are available for groups.

4.) Cooks Country Restaurant (Beverly Boulevard)

Another fabulous place to take the class for lunch, brunch or dinner is the Cooks Country Restaurant. They run specials on various days of the week (e.g. fried chicken Mondays) and offer catering services. Some of the dishes that you’ll find are faro sauté, fish sandwiches, black kale salads and strawberry ice cream pie.

5.) Andre’s Italian Restaurant (West 3rd Street)

Finally, groups can’t go wrong with adding an Italian restaurant like Andre’s to their class trip’s itinerary either. They serve all of the traditional fare one would expect to find at an Italian restaurant during lunch and dinner. Among the classics are spaghetti, pizza, cheese ravioli, eggplant rollatini and chicken parmesan.

For more information about elements that would help complete a class trip to Los Angeles, please contact us by calling (800) 220-0165. At Peak Performance Tour, we can make your students’ visit to the City of Angels perfect.

How To Save Money On Your Disney Trips

We all love taking trips.  But we don’t like spending too much money on them.  One of the country’s favorite places to visit is Disney World.  It’s easy to spend a fortune at the mouse’s house.  Here are some ways to save on your Disney Trips.

Check out www.mousesavers.com.

800px-Cinderella_CastleIt’s an entire site dedicated to showing Disney visitors how to save money on their trip.

Plan accordingly for time allotted.

For most people it takes about a day to really enjoy one of the parks.  You may save money by rethinking the “park hopper” option.  Chances are by the time you ride all of the rides at one park you won’t have much time to enjoy another one for the same day.

Carry a water bottle.

There are water fountains everywhere inside the park and it’s free to drink from them.  Sodas and other drinks purchased inside the park will cost you upwards of $5 each.

Check for discounts on tickets.

WDWINFO.COM has a list of the currently available discounts.

Bring your own food.

You are allowed to bring your own food into the park.  You aren’t allowed to bring in coolers, but stuff your sandwiches in an insulated bag and you’re good to go.

Stay at a local hotel and not at one of the park’s resorts.

Several chains offer great deals and often Wyndham offers free tickets and deeply discounted stays just for taking a tour and learning about their ownership program. There’s no commitment and the tours usually last about an hour.

Buy your souvenirs outside of the park.

You can usually find the exact same spray fans, tee shirts and toys at Walmart near Disney for a drastically lower price than what you’ll pay inside the park.

Purchase Disney gift cards ahead of time when there’s a special.

A lot of places like Kroger offer special discounts or promotions when you purchase other retailer gift cards from them.  Or you can get 5% off if you purchase them at Target with a Target Red Card.  You will also find special offers and discounts on Mousesavers.com.

Some affordable or free activities at Disney

Play miniature golf.

Miniature golf is a fun and inexpensive activity. The Fantasia Gardens (near Hollywood Studios) and Winter Summerland (near Blizzard Beach Water Park) are local and affordable. They are both $14 for adults and children over 10 years old.

Rent a boat.

There are plenty of resorts that have marinas and boat rentals. A kayak, canoe or pedal boat will cost about $7 for a half hour, and a 12-foot, 2 person sailboat is about $21.30/hr.

Go fishing.

There are two places to rent cane poles with bait. Port Orleans Resort and Ft. Wilderness both rent poles for “catch and release” fishing. Pole rentals come with bait and are very inexpensive.

By planning ahead and looking for special offers and deals, your Disney trip can be affordable while still being full of fun and adventure.

Contact us for more information.

Student travel to Chicago, Illinois: A World of Possibilities

At Peak Performance Tours, we’ve been arranging student travel programs that include student travel to Chicago hot spots for years. We can therefore say with certainty that it is one group travel destination that has a lot of diverse activities on offer. To get a glimpse of what’s available, you may want to check-out this list of more than 20 different Chi-town tour stops that we’ve used in the past.

Millennium Park:  It’s a sprawling 25-acre area that is situated on East Randolph Street, in between Columbus and Michigan Avenues. Included in the outdoor space are large sculptures, gardens, a theater, pavilion, restaurant and more.They are not the only attractions that Chicago has going for it either. So today, we wanted to mention some others. With a rich variety of culture and nature, Chicago has something for any type of student group.

The Art Institute of Chicago: With exceptional exhibitions year round, The Art Institute of Chicago is an ideal destination for any student group, whether on an educational or inspirational trip.

Bird Sanctuaries: Despite being a major metropolitan area, Chicago has a surprising number of bird sanctuaries. Three venues of note are the Bill Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary and the McComick Bird Sanctuary. Each one offers students a chance to learn about, photograph and sketch Illinois’ diverse flora and fauna.

Museum of Contemporary Art: This is a perfect trip for a student group of artists or musicians.  With a diverse collection ranging from music to performance art to sculpture, there is something for any group looking for new and interesting experience.

Brookfield Zoo: If your group is looking for a fun and educational outing, try the Brookfield Zoo. They have a “Seven Seas” exhibit with an underwater view of the Bottlenose dolphin, a “Fragile Rainforest” exhibit which includes an African Giant Millipede and much, much more.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: This is another museum that would make a fun and educational trip. It’s also perfect for younger groups, as there is plenty for children do. Take a walk on the Nature Trail or visit the butterfly greenhouse.

Theater District:  Student travel groups may want to visit the city’s theater district. Some of the venues, like the Chicago Theatre, allow groups to rent space and enjoy guided tours. The list of additional venues that offer workshops and other services to student groups includes the Court Theatre, the Victory Gardens Theater and The School at Porchlight.

To learn more about these Chicago tour stops and discover others of note, please contact us at (800) 220-0165. Our student tour planners would love to chat. When you have time, you may also want to watch one of our informative webinars. They spotlight a variety of different Student travel destinations and change often.