Educational School Trip Ideas

Educational School trips can be among the most memorable and most anticipated days of the year, but after a while, it can get difficult to find unique and relevant destinations. Based on grade levels and general curriculum guidelines across the U.S., here are some ideas on where to take your class for an educational school trip.

Young Students:

The appropriateness of some attractions such as memorials and certain museums can make it hard to find a good destination for youngsters. For Pre-K through 2nd grade, the following destinations are great for all manner of educational discussions and activities:

Aquarium & Zoo
Pumpkin patch, apple orchard, or working farms
Children's Museums: some great ones include the Children's Museum Indianapolis, the National Children's Museum in Maryland, and the Children's Museum of Houston.
Beach (regional)
Some free trips include visits to local establishments like bakeries, libraries, nursing homes, fire stations, wildlife sanctuaries or animal shelters, and city parks.

Elementary Students: 

The White House, South Facade, Washington DC

White House South Facade iStockphoto

Grade school is an intense developmental time for students. A fun and inviting learning experience can make even the most reluctant students into science enthusiasts or obsessive readers. Students are often too young for sites like Ground Zero but their added years make more adult museums a plausible destination.

Aquarium & Zoo: the Audubon Nature Institute of New Orleans is among the best zoos in the world and offers a variety of programs for all grade levels.
Washington, D.C. monuments, memorials, parks, and government buildings
Local or state government buildings: Visit a courthouse, state capitol, firehouse, police station, etc.
Caves and caverns
State or National parks
Wildlife Sanctuaries and Reserves

Historical Sites: Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts features a replica of the original Mayflower and living history presentations. Colonial Williamsburg is also a great destination but chances are your home state has comparable attractions like Missouri's George Washington Carver National Park or the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana. Civil War battlefields are a popular destination for grade school field trips.

Science Museums: Some of the best include Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, one of the most interactive museums in the world and the largest in the western hemisphere, the National Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.

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Middle School:


Morning Glory Pool Pixabay Public Domain

The in-between years of grades 6-8 are enlightening but difficult times for most students. They are no longer young children but they aren't quite teenagers and they are just starting to figure out who they are as humans. Experiences are what sticks in the minds of tweens developmentally so field trips are wonderful forms of education.

Amusement park education days (Six Flags, Cedar Point, Hersheypark, etc.)
Art, science, and history museums
Theater: music and/or play performances from Broadway to the Grand 'Ole Opry.
Civic learning opportunities: Habitat For Humanity, Red Cross, local hospitals, and other organizations often allow student volunteers to help with projects. This is a great opportunity for students to learn how their actions can affect others and the joys of helping people.
Environmental Service: tree planting, National or State Park volunteering, National Wildlife Federation, and Roots & Shoots, an organization through the Jane Goodall Institute, put students to work in the dirt. These kinds of services can teach students the importance of environmentalism and creating a more sustainable future.
Living History presentations: Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, and Jamestown Settlement are but a few examples and all located in Williamsburg, Virginia. Other living history museums include Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa and Connor Prairie Living History Museum in Fishers, Indiana. Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia lets students try on clothes from the closets and tour the home with a historic personality.

Strange Museums: Odd is memorable and museums like the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, Philadelphia's Mutter Museum, the Poe Museum dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe in Richmond, Virginia, and the OZ Museum in Kansas definitely meet the criteria while remaining educational.

Government and American History: local, state and federal government buildings are a great way to expose your students to the inner workings of government. Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Birmingham, Alabama are great for historical tours on every era of American history.

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High School:

Millennium Park

Pritzker Pav Chicago Shutterstock

Once you enter high school, most of the field trip opportunities drop away in exchange for college prep classes and mounds of homework. This doesn't mean high schoolers don't appreciate a day away from the desk if anything they might appreciate it more. Their age also makes it easier to find educational opportunities. Trips in high school can help inspire future careers but they are also great for boosting morale in-between holiday breaks.

Amusement park education days (Six Flags, Cedar Point, Hersheypark, etc.)

Hospitals: students can tour a healthcare facility to see how professionals strive daily to save lives. They can look into shadowing a doctor or nurse if they have an interest in medicine.

TV Station: local TV stations can give behind-the-scenes access to the everyday workings of journalism and operating a TV station.

National Parks: If you're in Hawaii, check out the Volcanoes National Park. For those of you in the continental U.S., Yellowstone, Yosemite, Olympic, and the Everglades are among the best national parks.

Anthropology, paleontology, archaeology sites: Cahokia Mounds Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois, Historic Jamestowne in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the Mammoth Site in South Dakota are excellent options for these areas of ancient science.

Service Opportunities: like the middle school suggestions, classes can volunteer at a number of organizations such as Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and more.

Botanical Gardens/Arboretums

Museums: by this point, students have seen a lot of museums but there are some that are constantly evolving and are consistently called the best museums in the country. The Met and Guggenheim museums in NYC are always recommended, as are any and all of the Smithsonian museums, the International Spy Museum in D.C., and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

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