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Go Beyond Hollywood in California

There’s no other place in the country where you can surf the waves, ski the mountains and hike among the country’s tallest trees. For these iconic and diverse experiences, you have to go to California.

Many student groups that trek to the Golden State have their sights set on Disney Land and other theme parks. But there’s much more than thrill rides to California, whose cultural offerings and natural wonders are second to none.

In Southern California, students can learn about civics and history at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, go behind the scenes of Hollywood blockbusters on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour and experience a slice of life on an aircraft carrier at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. Moving up the coast, a trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without visiting the wild sea lions at Pier 39. And the long trip up to Redwood National Forest gives young travelers a look at one of the country’s most distinctive wilderness environments.

Hollywood Up Close

There’s no shortage of great experiences awaiting student groups in and around Los Angeles, the hub of Southern California. But most young travelers won’t want to visit the City of Angels without taking time to appreciate the film industry that has made the area rich and famous.

One of the best ways for student groups to do that is on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, during which they’ll see sites and memorabilia related to hit TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and the blockbuster movie franchise “Harry Potter.” Groups can choose a guided two-hour tour, which includes access to many active production areas, or a one-hour, self-guided tour.

Of special interest to student groups will be a new program called Stage 48: Script to Screen. This experience follows the process of creating film and television shows from the first script writing through filming, post production and even award season, all on a purpose-built soundstage. Other specialized workshops are available for students as well.

Remembering Reagan

Most students traveling today don’t know anything about the Reagan presidency — or the Bush or Clinton presidencies, for that matter. But at the Ronald Reagan Foundation facilities in Simi Valley, they can learn lots of fascinating things about American government and the president who led the nation through the end of the Cold War.

Most student groups begin their time at the Reagan Foundation with a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. In addition to housing Reagan’s official archives, the museum presents numerous displays and artifacts that give visitors a sense of Reagan’s early life, his career in politics and the main issues he faced as president in the 1980s.

Groups that have time should also plan to visit the campus’ Air Force One Discovery Center. Students get an opportunity to role-play government, military and media scenarios in a realistic environment by becoming advisers to the president, top military officials and members of the White House Press Corps during a historical military action in Grenada in 1983.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.