Sightseeing in Charlottesville

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The Institute for Shipboard Education was born from an idea to create a floating campus that reflected the ideals of the United Nations and the realities of globalization. As Chinese shipping magnate C.Y. Tung put it, “Ships can transport more than cargo—they can carry ideas.” From humble beginnings, the program went on to attract world-famous guest speakers including Mikhail Gorbachev, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. Today, the cruising university onboard the MV Explorer offers two-week Enrichment Voyages for learners of all ages, with educational programming that digs deep into each port of call's culture and history. This 15-day cruise incorporates both lectures and hands-on exploration as it passes along Mexico’s Baja peninsula toward the Isthmus of Panama and Ecuador. At each port on the itinerary, available excursions range from dive trips to volunteer service projects, such as plastering houses or feeding kindergarteners (additional fees apply for shore trips). Or you can set off on your own, armed with knowledge acquired from the recommended reading list.Days 1–3: After cruising from Ensenada, Mexico, to the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, the ship anchors at Cabo San Lucas. El Arco, the city’s iconic seaside arch, forms a scenic backdrop for a day of kayaking and snorkeling.Day 6: Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala lies within easy range of Antigua, named an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved baroque architecture. It's ringed by mountains playing a very slow-moving game of duck-duck-goose. Day 7: Nicaragua’s largest Pacific port, Corinto, borders León, an old-world town dotted with 17th-century Spanish colonial churches such as the Cathedral of the Assumption.Days 9–10: Balboa, Panama, stands at the entrance to the Panama Canal—still an engineering marvel. The nearby overflow reservoir, Gatún Lake, is home to crocodiles, iguanas, and sloths.Days 12–13: Dipping toward South America, the ship docks at Manta, Ecuador, a trade city dating to pre-Columbian times. Pounding waves on Playa Murciélago create attractive surfing conditions.Day 15: The journey concludes at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, leaving you free to explore inland rainforests or head home. During each day at sea, college professors and other experts lead a string of seminars. Subjects are as varied as marine ecology, cultural anthropology, and photojournalism, and they often relate to the next port of call. The ship retains vestiges of its former life as a commercial liner. There are barstools in the 9,000-volume library, for instance, testifying to the space's former role as the ship's tavern. Despite the emphasis on education, there’s still plenty of relaxation aboard. The Wellness Center spa offers massages, manicures, and other pampering services. Nightly live entertainment offerings include an all-male a cappella group, a magician, and staged readings of old Love Boat scripts. During the day, you can even skip class to lounge by the pool, located on deck 7.See the full trip overview for more information.Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.

P.O. Box 400885
Charlottesville,
VA
US

Virginia Discovery Museum delights kids with interactive exhibits. For example, at a miniature Panera Bread stocked with toy food, tots can don real Panera aprons and take orders. They also pick fruit in an interactive play orchard, and go back in time and play in a log cabin from the 1700?s. For a brush with real nature, they can even observe bee behavior at the museum's enclosed hive.

524 E Main St
Charlottesville,
VA
US

Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, evolved with him as he followed his storied career path, from author of the Declaration of Independence to third president of the United States. The home's evolution was quite literal: Jefferson had it constantly redesigned and rebuilt over the course of more than four decades. Today, the neoclassical mansion and its lush gardens, situated on 2,500 acres of Jefferson's plantation, remain perfectly preserved and open to the public. As they tour the premises, visitors learn about Jefferson's role in history, from his early days in Virginia's government to his key role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Along the way, they pick up fun historical factoids, too, such as Jefferson's preferred dinnertime?3 p.m.

931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy.
Charlottesville,
VA
US