One of my all-time favorite things about homeschooling is the abundance of hands-on learning experiences we’ve had exposure to. I’ve compiled a list of fantastic homeschooling field trip ideas so that you can access some of these incredible resources too!
Fantastic Homeschooling Field Trip Ideas!
As homeschoolers, we’ve never had to depend on what the local school field trip calendar looks like. And we’ve never had to wait until winter, spring, or summer break to go adventuring.
We’ve had the freedom and flexibility to experience a variety of field trips almost anytime we’ve felt like it!
The good news is that the opportunities I’ve listed aren’t just for homeschoolers. These ideas can just as easily be used for all sorts of educational situations and for kids of all ages!
Before I share some of my family’s favorite field trips, I want to give you some tips for finding affordable and unique ideas.
Tips for FREE and discounted experiences:
- Check your local public library to inquire about FREE and discount offers for local attractions.
- Ask friends and family members who have specific careers and interests if there are opportunities for you to job shadow or observe.
- Ask each place you’re interested in visiting if they have discounts for homeschoolers/educators. Call or send an email ahead of time to check. The worst that can happen is they say no. You never know unless you ask!
- Check online for opportunities throughout the year-many places offer special homeschool days.
- Check Groupon and Costco for discounts.
- Does your bank or credit union offer discounts during certain days of the month or times of the year?
- Consider off-season dates and times.
- Look for volunteer opportunities (examples: animal shelter, local park, library, child development center, senior citizen center, hospital, your neighborhood, etc.)
- Ask your friends attending local public or private schools to let you know about special events they have going on.
- Remember that family outings and adventures count as field trips! Biking, hiking, camping, kayaking, ice skating, movies, museums, live performances, sporting events, community service areas, seasonal offerings, and travel.
Here are some specific homeschooling field trip ideas:
- Zoo or Wild Animal Park
- Museums (Space, History, Natural History, Art, Tech, etc.)
- Sports stadium tours
- Waste Management tour
- A visit to your city hall
- Tour of a restaurant/ice cream shop/coffee shop/candy shop
- Tour of a bank/post office/library/movie theater/grocery store/fire station/police station
- Berry picking at a local farm during spring/summer
- Apple picking at a local orchard during fall
- A musical concert/dance performance/theater at a performing arts center
- Hikes with a volunteer docent and/or visitors’ center tour
- Amusement Park
- A parade or event highlighting a culture or religion different from your own
- A cooking class or demonstration
- Using public transportation (if this isn’t already something you do regularly).
- A factory tour
- Letterboxing or Geocaching
- A visit to a traveling exhibit
- A volunteer outreach opportunity
Examples from my own family’s experience:
- We have visited our local Monterey Bay Aquarium countless times. We know volunteers and employees who have provided us with FREE tickets. Our local library offers FREE tickets as well and the Aquarium provides opportunities through their Home School Program.
- We have visited the Oakland Zoo several times. One year we purchased a family pass at a significant discount when we found a deal on Groupon.
- We have visited more museums than we can count! Some, we’ve been able to get into for FREE, either using the perks from our bank, or taking advantage of homeschooling days. We’ve also received a discount for homeschoolers/educators, just by asking. Again, you never know unless you ask!
- We took two wonderful tours of both Giants Stadium and Levi’s Stadium. Both were organized by a local homeschooling group. The tours were not free but they were very reasonably priced.
- We took a fabulous tour of our local Waste Management plant. It was FREE of charge and we arranged it simply by emailing and asking!
- We have toured our city hall a few times, always FREE of charge.
- We have toured a local pizza place FREE of charge, a local ice cream shop for a small fee, and a local chocolate shop for a small fee.
- Visiting our police station, fire station, and library have all been FREE of charge.
- Each June we go berry picking at a local farm. We only pay for the cost of the berries we purchase.
- We have also visited this same farm in the fall to pick apples, tour the facility, and watch a demonstration. The only money spent was for the apples we purchased.
- The theater has been a priority for our family since our children were small. When we’ve been able to afford it, we’ve splurged for more expensive productions. When money has been really tight, we’ve enjoyed local productions put on by our public and private school friends, as well as homeschooling friends involved in theater. These performances have all been FREE or very inexpensive. We have also enjoyed seeing an educational outreach student matinee by the San Francisco Ballet, which we organized as a homeschool group and attended with other schools.
- We are fortunate to live in an area with many beautiful places to hike. We’ve taken many local hikes with volunteer docents and have visited their visitors’ centers when they’re available. These have all been FREE or have had a minimal suggested donation.
- We’ve attended the Great America Physics, Science, and Math Days. While this was a more costly field trip than the others I’ve mentioned, it was organized by a local homeschool group so we were able to receive discount tickets.
- Here are a handful of annual local cultural festivals we’ve attended FREE of charge, other than the cost of food: the Festa Italia and the Greek Festivals, (both festivals take place at the Monterey Custom House Plaza) the Portuguese Hall’s annual crab feed fundraiser, and the Obon Festival, (which takes place at our local Buddhist Temple).
- We know a local bakery owner who invited us to his bakery after hours to learn about what he does and make chocolate candies. Because we know him personally, this was FREE. Again, ask friends, family, neighbors, and community vendors who have careers your family is interested in learning more about to see if you can come to visit or job shadow!
- Whenever we travel, we try and use public transportation as much as possible. Buses, trains, and the subway have been great ways to get around, especially in big cities and this often keeps transportation costs down. It’s also fun to take a cable car ride if you’re ever in San Francisco and Monterey offers FREE trolley rides along a set path in the biggest tourist areas during the summer months and weekends during the rest of the year (as of the time of this blog post).
- We’ve done several factory tours over the years. A couple of our favorites have been the Jelly Belly Factory Tour (FREE) and Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory Tour (nominal fee).
- For a couple of years when my kids were younger, we did letterboxing locally and anytime we traveled. We had fun making our own stamps and the hikes and hunt for letterboxes were completely FREE.
- We saw the Drepung Loseling monks constructing a sand mandala while they were traveling through our area. This was something that wasn’t on our radar at all until a fellow homeschooling friend told us about it. Another FREE opportunity.
- We’ve had plenty of volunteer outreach opportunities over the years which have all felt like great field trips to us! Here’s one example: My daughter is a passionate dancer and has performed in our local Nutcracker production for the past couple of years. The cast members have volunteered at senior citizens centers, elementary schools, and our local children’s museum. These were fun and rewarding volunteer opportunities.
But what if you’re not able to head out for in-person adventures? What if you need virtual options?
I’ve got great news!
Plenty of online resources abound!
free online Field virtual Trip Opportunities:
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- Anne Frank’s House – Secret Annex Tour
- Interactive Tour of Ellis Island
- Africam – Video of African Wildlife
- Farm Food 360 – Tours of Canadian Farms
- Three Twins Ice Cream Factory – Virtual Tour
- Mount Everest – Interactive Maps
- National Parks – Virtual Tours
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Live Cams
- San Diego Zoo Virtual Tours
- The Great Barrier Reef – Interactive Tour
- The Great Wall of China – Virtual Tour
- Antarctica – Virtual Tour
- Buckingham Palace – Virtual Tours
- Agriculture Related – Virtual Tours
- Johnson Space Center Virtual Tours
- Hubble Space Telescope – Mission Operations – 360 Degree Virtual Tour
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
- Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy
- The Louvre – Online Tours
Updated 2/16/2021: We are currently still in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic. During this challenging time, the awesome Girl Scouts from St. Paul’s Troop 30 have enjoyed taking advantage of these virtual field trip options! They have also made some fun discoveries of their own which I’m excited to share here on their behalf!
FREE ONLINE FIELD VIRTUAL TRIP OPPORTUNITIES – Suggestions from st. Paul’s girl scout troop 30!
- National Aquarium – Baltimore
- Space Center – Houston
- Virtual Planetarium
- Slime in Space
- National Constitution Center
- The National World War II Museum – New Orleans
- White House Virtual Tour
- Lincoln Memorial
- Cities From Around the World
- The Giant’s Causeway – Ireland
- The Sistine Chapel
- Virtual Museum of Galileo
- Egyptian Pyramids
- Acropolis – Athens
- Easter Island
- Machu Pichu
- Discovery Education Virtual Field Trips
- Virtual Rainforest
- Great Lakes
- Reach the World
- History of Music
- GeoGuessr – Fun with Geography
Clearly, the opportunities for fantastic field trips are endless!
Look for those FREE and discounted experiences, ask around for unique opportunities, and get out learning and adventuring together!
Do you have any field trip suggestions to add? If so, I’d LOVE to know what they are!