The true perks of homeschooling are undoubtedly the joy of spending time with your kids and the flexibility to learn outside of a traditional classroom. The homeschool field trip is the perfect example of creative alternative learning. Most humans retain knowledge far more efficiently when they learn it in situ, in a hands-on environment. Take advantage of your flexible environment, and fight off the mundane this school year, by lining up some fun-filled, educational trips for your crew. Here are the top homeschool field trip ideas for your burgeoning brood.
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The Best Field Trip Ideas for Homeschoolers
Our aim in this article is to find the most interesting trips for every kind of homeschool curriculum. While most field trips are just a day outing, returning home in the evening, we realize that many parents and homeschool groups look to make summer vacation an educational opportunity too, and sometimes a large trip is in order as well. We have divided our field trip ideas into day trips, longer vacation ideas that could take 3-7 days, and international trips for special occasions.
It’s important to remember that field trips do not have to be complicated or take tons of planning on your part. Keep an eye out for special lectures or exhibits are your local museum by frequently checking their website or joining the email list. Join Facebook or other social media groups for your town and any educational institutions in your vicinity. You might also pay attention to community forums like your Chamber of Commerce which often give valuable information on local businesses and discounts.
The Perfect Homeschool Day Trips
The trips in this section can pretty easily be done in a full school day. You may need to plan to arrange a lecture or guided tour. Get creative here! Every community is a little bit different, and you may have more options in your city, especially if your area specialized in a particular agricultural product, craft, or manufacturing specialty.
1. Let’s Roam scavenger hunt in your city.
Let’s Roam scavenger hunts are interactive, crazy fun, and educational! Wherever you’re from, we have a tour that is right in your backyard. We explore historical buildings, statuary, and prominent parks, giving you all the background info while allowing you to compete in impromptu trivia and photo challenges that will help make your day memorable (and hopefully help you retain the information too)!
2. Stargaze in a planetarium.
Most children go through a phase where they’re addicted to all things astronaut and Outerspace. Encourage their voyager spirits with a trip to a nearby planetarium. Most planetariums have guided tours and lectures catering to children of all ages. Monitor your nearest’s website and look for special lectures that will fit your age group.
3. Explore a state park.
Physical education is important too, and getting outside is good for the soul! Take a homeschool day for hiking or biking in your local state park. On top of fabulous hiking trails, many state parks are situated on historical sites, so you’ll likely get in a quick history lesson as well. State parks offer a plethora of specimens for botany or ecological studies. Many offer historical reenactments, and some even onsight nature centers to explore.
4. Sit in on a city council meeting.
City council meetings are a great opportunity for students to see the ins and outs of everyday government matters. They will witness invested citizens conversing (or hotly debating) issues that concern their city, and learn how they can be involved. It’s a great opportunity to teach the importance of civilian participation in the running of a community.
5. Visit a local craftsperson.
Like the public sector mentioned above, we have lost a bit of respect for our craftspeople as well, and that is a shame. Whether it just sparks a hobby, or turns into a career, getting some hands-on learning from a talented individual is a valuable life lesson. Here are a few ideas.
- Attend a group painting session at the local art gallery
- Visit an auto or lawn mower mechanic
- Tour a factory that makes a specific item
- Watch a chef at work
- Schedule an appointment with a local artist-photographer, painter, sculptor, woodworker, etc.
6. Volunteer at a shelter.
Ignite a passion for altruism with a volunteer day! You could visit the local animal shelter, homeless shelter, or food bank. Also, you could sign up to pick up trash on the roadside, on your local beach, or in the park. You could even just ask elderly neighbors if there is a chore they need to be completed. There is value in manual labor, especially when done in the spirit of community help.
7. Tour a botanical garden.
If you’re doing a unit study on botany, then head for the local greenhouse, orchard, or botanical garden. Botanical gardens are especially ideal, as they usually have guided tours by educated specialists, and they’re generally free or very budget-friendly. Plus, they’re a relaxing place for a homeschooling mom to catch some fragrant peace.
8. Visit a public works facility.
We have done a frankly terrible job in the standard education system of informing students about the public works sector, and an even worse job instilling respect for the folks that keep society running. We can change that though, and it can be really fun! Many of the facilities your taxes pay for offer guided tours when scheduled in advance, and the wealth of knowledge attained in them is not something you can easily teach at home. Just call ahead and see what your local community offers. If you live in a small area, they’re usually very accommodating and will plan something special. If you live in a larger city, they likely already have guided tours available. Here are a few public sector learning opportunities to work into your lesson plans.
- Fire Department/EMS
- Police Station
- Water Treatment Plant (If you have that kid who is obsessed with poop, then this is your place)!
- Power Plant
- Recycling Center
- Post Office
- Court House (especially if an appropriate trial is taking place).
- Local Bank or Federal Reserve
- The Public Library
9. Tour a Native American site.
Native American history in the United States is varied and interesting. Many of us have Native American roots, and visiting a historic site or reservation is a wonderful way to explore original American culture. Most of the best sites require an advanced reservation and a guide. The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association has a full list of guided tours that are available in each state. These tours are led by representatives who are educated in the history and customs of their tribe. What better way to learn about a people group than from the people themselves?
10. Take an agricultural day.
Whether you visit a local dairy farm, learn about hay cutting with a farming neighbor, or take a tour of a fruit orchard, visiting a farm is a fun day of learning and outdoor adventure. Fall is the perfect time for this kind of adventure as it’s harvest time for many of the orchards, the pumpkin patches are open, and many of the farms will have fun activities set up for kids to enjoy.
11. Visit a museum.
Okay, this one is a no-brainer, your local museums are great field trips. If you have an art museum, science museum, or children’s museum in your area, visit them regularly. The installments change often, and they offer countless opportunities for special lectures, experiment days, and unique learning opportunities.
Summer Educational Vacation
Let’s take a look at some longer trips that can offer an educational experience for the whole family! These trips require a bit more planning and will likely take you 3-7 days to execute thoroughly, depending on your geographical location. Many homeschool groups organize a trip from this category for spring break, summer break, or during the winter holidays.
12. Tour Washington, D.C.
Visiting the nation’s capital is about as educational as it gets. Spring break is a popular time for student groups to visit the city, and there are several special tours on offer that week. The National Mall gives you the chance to visit the presidential monuments, as well as the Smithsonian Institute of museums, and several poignant war memorials. The Natural History Museum is a week’s worth of education in itself.
Of particular interest to homeschool groups are also the National Museum of the American Indian, The National Air & Space Museum, The International Spy Museum, The Museum of the Bible, The United State Holocaust Memorial Museum, The National Museum of American History, and the National Museum of African American History.
Schedule a tour of the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Supreme Court. Visit George Washington’s Farm at Mount Vernon or Thomas Jefferson’s, Monticello. Take a tour of the National Archives and the Library of Congress. The options are truly limitless in this incredible city!
13. Take a Route 66 road trip.
Route 66 was America’s first family road trip. The iconic highway stretches from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier in California, and it’s laced with quirky roadside attractions that are an education of a different sort. It’s a time to learn about the pioneers of personal innovation and small businesses that help uphold our economy.
14. Visit the Alamo.
Learn all about the Mexican-American War and the history of Spanish Missions in America at The Alamo. The legendary site was home to a brutal standoff between the Texas troops, where icons like James Bowie and Davie Crockett lost their lives defending the city. It’s a part of American history that is often overlooked, and on top of that, San Antonio is a beautiful city for educational exploration. Visit the Science Mill, Moody Gardens, and the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures while you’re there!
15. Take a literary tour.
Doing a unit study on Mark Twain, head for Connecticut and take the Literary Connecticut Road Trip. Visit NYC for a comic-themed literary tour where many superhero comics are based. If you want a little education with a lot of vacation, head to Key West and visit the home and workplaces of Ernest Hemingway. Check out Author Adventures for more literary road trips all over the USA.
16. Get a Civil War education in Gettysburg.
The Civil War was a turbulent but vastly important time in American History. Learn the details in the home of the battles. The Gettysburg National Military Park is an incredible historical site with battlefield walking trails, a stunning visitor center with interactive artifacts and film reproductions, and the infamous site where Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in the Soldier’s National Cemetery.
If Pennsylvania is out of reach, you may also consider visiting Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Manassas, Fredericksburg in Virginia, or Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi.
17. Take the Alcatraz tour.
San Francisco is not only a historical gold rush town, but it’s also home to the most infamous prison in the world. Guided tours of “The Rock” are both educational and truly interesting! You can also visit the Maritime National Historic Park, Mission San Francisco de Asis, the Exploratorium, and the Children’s Creative Museum.
18. Study America’s heritage in Philadelphia.
Outside of Washington, D.C., it’s hard to find a more historical city than Philadelphia. You’ll need to visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell of course, but you also consider the Franklin Institute, an interactive science museum for kids of all ages. Visit the ornate Philadelphia City Hall. Tour the Rodin Museum, the Betsy Ross House, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Then, there’s the National Constitution Center, Battleship New Jersey, and the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site. The list goes on and on!
Special Occasion Trips
If you’re planning a special trip for your high school grad, or just a long summer trip, consider keeping the educational juices flowing and choose a trip that is both fun and informative. There are fabulous destinations all over the world that can be educational in some way. Pretty much any location can be, but we have chosen a few that are truly magnificent and would make the perfect field trip for a special occasion.
19. Build a custom tour.
If your homeschool group is studying a specific location, or your kids have a common interest, consider building a tour around a destination. Tour companies like Educational Tours offer the ability to work with a travel consultant to build a tour just for your group. You can include pretty much anything you want, and their expert advice helps organize payments, secure the correct documents, and prepare security for your students.
20. Study biodiversity and ecology in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is a playground for science lovers! It’s one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, and the nation has done an incredible job setting up a system that has almost the whole country serving as a giant eco-reserve. Not only can you see some of nature’s most amazing anomalies in towering waterfalls, ice-blue rivers, and mesmerizing cloud forests, but you can also volunteer at numerous eco-sites. You can help sea turtles reach safety on the Caribbean shore, work with monkeys and sloths in the interior, or take a night tour of the jungle ecology on the Pacific’s Drake Bay. Marine biologists, ecologists, and botanists from the world over come to study in Costa Rica so the guided tours are led by incredibly bright individuals who are experts in the field!
21. Study the French Revolution in Paris.
Many chalk the success of the American Revolution, at least in part, up to its predecessor in France. The French Revolution was a change in the tide of world government. It was a mass revolution of peasants and laypeople against an establishment that no longer worked for them, and it sparked revolutions all over the world.
Key sites include Place de la Concorde, the site where King Louis XVI was executed, La Conciergerie, home to the Revolutionary Tribunal that sentenced thousand to the guillotine and a recreated version of Marie Antoinette’s cell, the Palace of Versailles, and The Bastille, where the event that most consider the official start of the Revolution, “the storming of the Bastille” took place.
Paris is also one of the world’s greatest centers for art education as it’s home to the Louvre, the original Rodin Museum, and the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world. Paris also boasts some of the world’s most important and stunning cathedrals, a vast array of literary sites, and the world’s most famous opera house. For all these reasons and so many more, there is no better place to visit on an educational trip than Paris!
22. Study the Jacobite Rebellion in the Scottish Highlands.
Another massive rebellion that possibly influenced our own was the Jacobite Rebellion of Scotland. Scottish history in general is a fascinating struggle against “the man,” and is dotted with legends like William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Bonnie Prince Charlie. The battlefield at Culloden is the premier spot to study the Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland. It features a fully interactive museum detailing the rebellion uniquely. It highlights the struggle from start to finish from the point of view of both sides, giving the viewer a true understanding of just how intricate and complicated the matter was. The staff on the grounds perform several interactive lectures throughout the day and bring the battlefield to life with guided walking tours. The museum even has a panoramic war room that puts you right in the center of the battle. It’s a must-see.
You should also visit The National Museum of Scotland and explore the Scottish History Gallery which has a beautiful exhibit detailing the rebellion. While you’re there, learn a bit about the real William Wallace (as Braveheart is almost purely fiction) and get immersed in the life of Mary Queen of Scots! Edinburgh is a wonderful city to study British and monarchal history with a visit the Edinburgh Castle and the royal home at Holyrood Palace. Scotland was also the home of literary geniuses like Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Robert Burns. J.K. Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter series in Edinburgh, and many of the series’ iconic places are based on Scottish locations. There are several wonderful literary tours in both Edinburgh and the country at large.
23. Study ancient civilizations in Egypt.
If you want to study early human history, then you need to head to Africa. Egypt and Ethiopia are both fantastic options, however, Egypt has more tourist infrastructure and would probably be more memorable for most young people. Organized tours usually involve a day or two in Cairo, exploring the Pyramids of Giza, then onto the temples of Luxor and Abu Simbel. Most tours include a float down the Nile River as well.
Explore the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Gaze on the Great Sphinx, and visit one of the world’s best museums, the Egyptian Museum. It’s one of the most fascinating and enduring civilizations of all time, and there is so much to see that you could fill every minute of a week’s trip and still not touch it. If ancient history is on your itinerary, we can think of a better spot for homeschooling families than Egypt.
24. Learn about volcanoes in Hawaii.
Most children, and plenty of adults for that matter, are completely fascinated with volcanoes. For good reason, they’re awesome, and the study of volcanoes happens to offer a great deal of information on how our incredible planet operates. Volcanoes teach us valuable lessons on land formation, tectonic plates, weather patterns, and soil fertility.
One of the best places to witness and learn about volcanoes is Hawaii‘s Volcanoes National Park. The park is staffed with geologists and volcanologists that offer valuable insight into two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. You can currently witness an eruption in the crater of Kīlauea, watch a new landform at the ocean’s edge, and tour the incredible lava fields of eruptions past. The park also features wonderful cultural exhibits on the native Hawaiian people and their way of life.
The Big Island is home to the volcano park, but it’s also home to one of the largest telescopes and observatories in the world. The staff hosts regular viewings, allowing the public to use high-powered telescopes to view constellations, planets, and galaxies, as well as informative lectures. Located on top of a dormant volcano, Mauna Kea, the observatories offer a unique experience you really can’t get anywhere else. With all these sites and some stellar beaches too, Hawaii is just about the most beautiful education experience we can think of.
With all these incredible field trip ideas, you have no time to waste. Go ahead and book your homeschool trip today! Let us know in the comments which of these places you’re going to visit. Was there anything on this list that piqued your interest? We want to know about it! Have you taken a field trip with your homeschool group that you highly recommend? Drop that in the comments too!
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Frequently Asked Questions
One of the best ways to introduce a little fun into your homeschool curriculum is to include educational field trips! You could visit your nearest state park, museum, or state capitol building.
For the perfect end-of-the-year trip, consider a visit to Washington, D.C., your nearest national park, or a tour of Philadelphia!