In recent years, with the continuous deepening of the integration of tourism and education, study travel in China has developed with a high speed, and has been widely concerned by researches. Study travel bases (STBs) are important space carrier to the development of study travel activities. However, few scholars focused on the spatial distribution of STBs and its influencing factors from the perspective of geography. Thus, 581 national STBs for primary and middle school students published by the Ministry of Education of China in 2017-2018 were selected as the research sample. With the adoption of ArcGIS software, this paper aimed to analyze the type structure, spatial distribution characteristics and influencing factors of 581 national STBs by using average nearest neighbor index, the kernel density estimation, geographic concentration index, disequilibrium index, spatial autocorrelation analysis and geographical linkage coefficient. Results indicated that: 1) National STBs of China can be roughly divided into ten types, followed as popular science education base, cultural sites, scientific research institutions, museum, national defense and military, ancient villages and towns, nationality arts, red tourism, comprehensive practice base, youth activity center. The main categories are popular science education, museum, and red tourism, accounting for 30.63%, 20.83% and 12.91%, respectively. The spatial distribution of types of STBs in China is unbalanced as different types of STBs have obvious differentiation in space structure characteristics. 2) The spatial distribution of STBs shows the agglomeration and disequilibrium characteristics of ‘more in the east and less in the west’. North China and East China have a large number of STBs, accounting for 21.86% and 25.13%. In terms of the number of each province, Beijing with 75 STBs is far ahead of other provinces. 3) The spatial distribution density of STBs is uneven, including one high density core area, one secondary high density core area and several high agglomeration areas. It shows obviously a core-edge structure and the distribution density decreases gradually from the eastern coastal area to the western inland area. The distribution density around provincial capitals, 5A scenic spots and traffic arteries is relatively higher. 4) There is a significant autocorrelation in the overall space of STBs in China. The cold and hot spots analysis of STBs show the gradient differentiation pattern of ‘hot spots-sub-hot spots-sub-cold spots-cold spots’ and ‘hot-spots-sub-hot spots-cold spots’ from Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region to the north and south. 5) Policy and institutional environment, economic development foundation, location and transportation conditions, tourism resource endowment and education development level are the main factors affecting the spatial distribution of research and study travel bases. Finally, according to the results of the study, some suggestions are put forward for the development of the STBs. This study can provide a basis for the optimization of space layout and the integration and utilization of research resources of research travel bases in China, and has certain reference value for the formulation of research travel policies at the national level and in different regions.