One of the major benefits of homeschooling is that it affords the opportunity to explore non-traditional learning environments. An educational field trip provides your kidos with a hands-on approach to learning. Experience based learning helps students retain information, as they connect the important details with the experience– the sights, sounds, and smells of the environment. A well-crafted field trip is not only fun but is an efficient way to learn! In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the best field trip ideas for homeschoolers and for families looking for a more productive vacation throughout the year. From free homeschool field trips to epic weeklong adventures, here are the best field trips for kids of all ages …and honestly even if you’re not a homeschool family, these still work great!
Plan Your Field Trip to Arkansas Frontier!
First of all, who are we? Here at Arkansas Frontier, we are dedicated to interactive, educational experiences. In fact, we were founded by teachers more than 20 years ago! Our fun-filled space includes a U-Pick Pumpkin Patch in the fall, guided farm tours, a Pioneer Homestead, a Native American Village, gemstone mining, a story-book nature trail, and much more! We are a one-stop shop for hands-on education! Groups of any size are welcome, we just ask that you contact us ahead of time so that we can customize your visit to be age-appropriate and cater to any special needs you may require. Whether you are visiting us or taking in one of the other homeschool field trip ideas below, we just want you to start ‘experiencing’ education.
What to Look For in a Field Trip
While you can certainly learn some life lessons on almost every outing, not all homeschool field trips are created equal. When planning an educational adventure, there are a few parameters to consider. Field trips should reinforce your current curriculum, be age-appropriate, provide an element of fun, and fit within the budget (especially if schooling with a coop). As you read through the list, use your imagination to modify these options or think of local field trip ideas that fit these parameters.
The Best Field Trip Ideas Ideas for Homeschoolers
Our aim here is to provide a comprehensive list of interesting adventures for all age groups and homeschool curriculums. If you’re not a homeschooling family, you can modify these trips for a long weekend or your summer vacation. Since most school field trips are a one-day excursion, we’ll focus more on day trips, while still giving you some bigger examples to consider. We’ll also hook you up with specific Arkansas opportunities when applicable, because hey we’re in Arkansas after all!
Field Trip for Preschoolers, Day Trip Ideas
More than all the other age groups, when you are coming up with field trip ideas for preschoolers you really must consider a way to create an active learning environment. We’ll stick to day trips focused on play, considering they are unlikely to remember the experience over the long haul, and spending money on a large trip is not the most fruitful use of time and resources.
1. Public Libary
Your local public library is a perfect place to spend a half day field trip for preschoolers. They often have character book readings, arts and crafts days, and music education. The events are generally active and geared toward small children.
2. Nursing Home
Bring some joy to your local senior citizen’s center or nursing home by taking the children for a visit. You can plan a song to sing or an art project to complete with the residents. Keep it simple, as small children and elderly people are natural soul mates. We do advise making a reservation. This will give the nursing home the time to inform the residents about your visit and plan other activities for any residents who may not be welcoming to children.
3. Petting Zoo
Baby goats, baby cows, baby bunnies, and baby-ish children…it’s a match made in heaven! A trip to the petting zoo is a tactile experience for young learners and gives them a chance to practice new vocabulary, learn animal care, and work on fine motor skills.
Arkansas Option (field trip pumpkin patch): Arkansas Frontier
Located in Quitman, AR, Arkansas Frontier is great because it’s a petting zoo that is populated by both farm animals, miniature horses, and cute fury bunnies. From geese, chickens, and bunny rabbits to miniature horses and more, children get to experience a variety of different farm animals. Aside from seeing furry friends, kids will also enjoy the play area, dinosaur dig, hay ride, multiple hand-on historical tours, pumpkin patch, and more.
4. Swim Class
Preschool is the perfect time to learn motor skills like riding a bike, roller skating, and swimming. While it will certainly take more than one class to master the water, taking your preschool field trip to a swim class is a wonderful way to introduce them to the process. A professional instructor will handle the work. All you need to do is show up and snap some photos.
Arkansas Option: Arkansas Swim Academy
The Arkansas Swim Academy provides specialized swim classes for 3-4-year-olds. They include warm water, fun songs and games, and focus on self-water rescue. Visit their state-of-the-art facility in Rogers.
5. Local Park
For an easy field trip for preschoolers, spend your day in the local park. Plan a picnic, and let them help you create the menu and pack the basket. Take a few toys to hide and do a DIY scavenger hunt. Take along an educational book about bugs or flowers, and see if you can find any near the park. Then enjoy naptime under a shade tree.
6. Nature Walk
The wonderful thing about preschoolers is that their sense of wonder and imagination can turn the smallest grove of trees into an enchanted forest with little to no influence from you. Before you know it, you’ll be lost in the jungle looking for tigers or in the African Serengeti dodging elephant stomps. Use your natural environment and add a little imagination. Look for flowers, leaves, plants, footprints, or bugs and talk about their role in the ecosystem.
Field Trip for Elementary Students, Day Trip Ideas
In this section, we’ll explore some field trip ideas elementary students might enjoy. We’re still focusing on interactive and hands-on experiences, but these trips may be interlaced with short lectures, exhibitions that require some reading, and venturing a little farther from home.
What little one doesn’t want to be an astronaut at some point in their development? Ignite their sense of exploration by visiting a planetarium. Depending on the quality of your nearest institution, they may encounter interesting presentations, 3D celestial projections, interactive solar system models, and historical space exploration exhibits.
Arkansas Option: Reynolds Science Center
Located on the campus of Henderson University in Arkadelphia, Reynolds Science Center’s planetarium is one of the most advanced in the state, and would be a perfect field trip for elementary students! Another great option is the traveling planetarium from Arkansas SkyDome. It’s on a smaller scale, but they’ll come to you!
8. Botanical Garden
While wandering a flower garden might not sound like fun at first, let us assure you, some of these gardens are amazing for kids. They often include fairy gardens, mythical creatures, forest obstacle courses, butterfly pavilions, and hands-on educational exhibits.
Arkansas Option: Garvan Woodland Gardens
While the Natural State is loaded with gorgeous gardens, the biggest and best (especially for kids) is Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs. Most Arkansans are familiar with the gardens as a popular wedding venue and for their amazing Christmas installation, but there is so much more to explore. The gardens include massive installations portraying mythical creatures like dragons and trolls, a man-made cave with fossils, fun bridges, wading pools, and a splash waterfall. Pick up a “Discovery Pack” at the entrance. It comes filled with binoculars, a magnifying glass, a field guide, and a scavenger hunt game sheet!
9. State Park
When thinking through field trip ideas for homeschoolers one of the first things to come to mind was a day filled with outdoor adventure, earthing, physical education, and wildlife. So why not explore one of your local state parks! Most state parks have special events for children of all ages. Many have museums or exhibition spaces. Most have fun natural trails or hiking adventures. To top it off, a majority of state parks are situated on ground that is historically, culturally, or ecologically significant.
Arkansas Option: Ozark Folk Center State Park
When it comes to celebrating culture, one of the best Arkansas state parks to visit is Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View. The park focuses on the culture, music, and arts of the Ozark Mountains. They host over 50,000 events a year including living history reenactments, workshops focusing on outdoor skills, wildflower walks, kayak tours, birding tours, guided hikes, and music festivals.
10. Art Colony
Focus your homeschool field trip on the arts this year! You may have to tweak this one depending on what is available in your area. While most states have a bonafide art colony where painters, sculptures, and writers congregate to produce their masterpieces, they may or may not be kid friendly. Some are just quirky, while others may openly display works of art or include activities that you may not find appropriate for your children.
Located in Fayetteville, Terra Studios started as a pottery and glass studio by the Ward family. It has now changed hands and expanded into a six-acre wonderland. The property includes an art park with a sculpture garden, murals, and a stone labyrinth. They offer mini-workshops and quick art classes for both adults and children.
The Art Colony in Eureka Springs is another spot to see real local artists at work. Painters, sculptors, and glassblowers all create works right before your eyes!
11. Children’s Hospital
Chronically ill children get lonely during a long hospital stay. Most children’s hospitals have play areas where kids who feel well enough can enjoy some activity. As long as your kiddos are healthy, take them on a play date to visit. You may get the opportunity to play, or you may only get to deliver a nice new toy to a child. Either way, it’s a rewarding experience for both parties and a learning opportunity for your child. Every hospital’s rules are different, so you’ll need to make arrangements prior to your visit.
Arkansas Options: Arkansas Children’s Hospital
Arkansas Children’s Hospital has two locations, one in Little Rock and one in Springdale. They have an “Adopt a Family House” program where you can volunteer to host a catered meal for the family of a sick child.
Aquariums are obviously fun and informative, but did you know that some offer overnight stays for families? You’ll get a guided tour of the aquarium in most cases, and then fall asleep under swimming sharks!
13. Interactive Museum
Whether you fancy science, art, or history, treat your homeschooling group to an interactive experience at a children’s museum. Their exhibits are specifically designed for little fingers.
Arkansas Option: Multiple
The Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs, AR is the oldest on the block and an Arkansas tradition for science field trips. Other great options are the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock and the Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville.
14. Capitol Building
State capitol buildings are not only the seat of government, but they are also often the largest, most historical, and most architecturally interesting structures in the state. Most offer guided tours and the opportunity to sit in procedural meetings. This could be one of the best field trip ideas for homeschoolers who are going through a government or policy class!
The Arkansas State Capitol Building was constructed between 1899 and 1915 and is a stunner! The staff offers guided tours Monday-Friday, on the hour, from 9-3. There are also rotating exhibits on Arkansas history and culture to see within the Capitol.
15. Public Works Tour
Elementary students are at the perfect age to learn about how our communities function and the work that goes into keeping our society clean, safe, and functional. Guided tours are available for most areas of the public works sector. Here are a few ideas.
- Water Treatment Plant
- Recycling Center
- Post Office
- Court House
- Power Plant
- Police Station
- EMS/Fire Station
- Local Bank
- Electrical Power Plant or Dam
16. Local Orchard or Farmer’s Market
Kill two birds with one stone by wandering your local U-pick orchard or farmer’s market. It’s a time to teach the life cycle and the importance of healthy food and do some grocery shopping. For some great options, check out our guide to “The Best Farmer’s Markets in America.”
Arkansas Option: The Berry Farm-Bentonville
The Berry Farm has a fantastic business model based on international education. They provide locally-grown food to Arkansans while utilizing profits to teach orphaned children around the world to grow their own food!
17. Fish Hatchery
If you have a child who is interested in wildlife, a fish hatchery is an informative place to learn about how rivers are stocked, how fish are mass-produced, and the delicate process of keeping them healthy.
Arkansas Option: Joe’s Hogan State Fish Hatchery
Joe’s is run by Arkansas Game and Fish and offers very informative guided tours when scheduled in advance.
18. Diamond Digging
If you are specifically looking for field trip ideas for homeschoolers living in Arkansas, and especially if you are in the central to lower part of the state, digging for diamonds is a must! The Diamond Discovery Center in Crater Lake State Park is the calling card of Murfreesboro. It’s the only place in the world where the public can dig for diamonds in their original formation location and keep what they find! After learning about diamond formation, and getting your hands dirty, you can cool off at the adjacent water park.
Travel Field Trip Ideas for Homeschoolers – Elementary Students
19. Tour of Philadelphia
Philly is one of the premier historical cities in the United States. On a field trip to Philadelphia, you’ll visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Wander Franklin Institute-Philly’s interactive science museum. Tour Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia City Hall, the Rodin Museum, The National Constitution Center, Battleship New Jersey, and much more! If you’re studying the Revolutionary War in your curriculum, this is your trip!
20. Route 66 Road Trip
Route 66 is an iconic highway stretching from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. It was THE road trip to take in the 1950s, and the route is littered with quirky (sometimes just weird) roadside attractions. A trip down Route 66 is not only nostalgic but allows you to work on map reading, trip planning, American history, and family bonding.
21. Dude Ranch Adventure
Need to teach your kiddos the value of hard work? There is no better place than a dude ranch. These vary intensely in their level of luxury and the work that is expected, so definitely do your research, but most include a good mix of helping with ranch duties and enjoying yourselves around an evening campfire. Ranching is a part of Western Americana that’s worth exploring.
22. Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone National Park was our first official National Park, and it’s one of the best places in the country to see hydrothermal activity in person. The abundance of large wildlife is exciting for kids of all ages, and the Junior Ranger Program allows them to get hands-on, interactive learning. You could combine your trip with a fun visit to the gorgeous Wild West town of Jackson Hole at the base of the stunning Teton Mountains.
Field Trip Ideas for 5th Graders
5th graders and other middle schoolers are at the developmental stage where they can handle a little freedom. These ideas provide some autonomy within an organized and monitored activity.
23. City Scavenger Hunt
Set them free in a specific neighborhood of your city on a sightseeing scavenger hunt. There are many companies out there that provide-app driven hunts that focus on urban art, history, and food. Check out the options from Let’s Roam, Scavify, or GooseChase. If you’re on a budget, you can always create your own.
24. Native American site.
From burial mounds to cave dwellings to interactive museums, our nation is blessed with hundreds of historical native sites. Native Americans have a different way of looking at the world, medicine, wildlife, and spirituality so visiting their pueblos provides a well-rounded learning opportunity.
Arkansas Option: Plum Bayou Mounds Archeological State Park
Head for Scott, AR, and explore the burial mounds, informative visitor center, and ancient garden of the Plum Bayou Peoples.
Spend the day on a working farm. Learn to make cheese, care for animals, sheer sheep, or tend a vineyard. Farm field trips vary widely depending on your location, but they are always fun and informative!
Arkansas Option: Arkansas Frontier Farms
Arkansas Frontier is a family-owned berry farm and vineyard in Quitman, AR and offer several field trips homeschool families will love!
26. Community Clean-up
Check your city website for neighborhood clean-up opportunities. It’s a chance to participate in the betterment of your community, get some fresh air, and learn the value of hard work. You could organize your own in your neighborhood as well.
27. Wildlife Reserve
Wildlife reserves are a fantastic option if you’ve been studying ornithology or mammology in your curriculum. There is generally a visitor center that focuses on education, and then you can practice your photography, take a hike, or go fishing, depending on the reserve.
Arkansas Option: Turpentine Creek
Take part in the care of Big Cats at Turpentine Creek in Eureka Springs!
28. Community Garden.
Community gardens are popping up all over the nation in recent years, especially in urban areas. These are communal spaces where citizens can plant, tend, and gather fresh food and herbs. They are an interesting place to visit and volunteer for the day.
Arkansas Options: Walker Park Community Garden
Check out the 40-plot community garden in Fayetteville. You can set up a volunteer day via email.
Caving is not only exciting, but it offers a chance to learn geology firsthand. Guided tours are available at most major cave parks, and they generally have interactive exhibits on cave formation and subterranean wildlife.
Arkansas Option: Blanchard Springs Cavern
Located in Stone County, near Mountain View, Blanchard Springs Cavern is a living cave, where the stalactites and stalagmites are still forming, and they offer a very good guided tour.
30. Historic Battlefield
From Gettysburg to Richmond, the United States has some truly extraordinary military sites. While the terrors of war are certainly unwanted, studying these historic events is an important part of a well-rounded education, and learning the information on-site really helps to put it all in perspective.
Arkansas Option: Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park
Known as one of America’s most intact Civil War battlefields, Prairie Grove Battlefield commemorates the 1862 battle where 2,700 soldiers lost their lives. They do periodic reenactments of the battle, along with their daily tours.
31. Historical Reenactment
That brings us to our next educational field trip idea, a historical reenactment. Whether you choose a Renaissance festival or a battle reenactment, learning history with living actors is a fun and effective way to make the concepts stick!
Arkansas Option: Arkansas Living History Association
There aren’t any annual reenactments in the state, but living history demonstrations are randomly dispersed throughout the state. Check the events calendar at Arkansas LIving History Association.
Educational Field Trip Vacations for Middle Schoolers
32. Washington, D.C.
Laced with some of the best museums in the United States, our nation’s capital not only affords the opportunity to study our founding documents, sit in on a meeting of Congress of the Supreme Court, and explore presidential and war monuments, but it also boasts a collection for almost everything pertaining to America’s heritage. Explore the National Air & Space Museum, the United States Holocaust Museum, The National Museum of American History, and Ford’s Theatre to name a few.
33. Alamo Tour
Remember the Alamo! From Wild West lore to legends like Davy Crockett, Santa Anna, and Jim Bowie, the story of the Alamo is an enduring one. Guided tours explore the beautiful Spanish Mission, explain the details of the Texas Revolution, and let you in on behind-the-scenes details of the heroes who served in this epic battle. After the tour, you can let loose a little at SeaWorld or Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
34. Silicon Valley
A totally different kind of revolution took place in Silicon Valley, California in the late 1960s. A valley formerly famous for fruit became the technology capital of the world. It’s now home to 30 Fortune 1000 companies and thousands of technology startups. If you have a child interested in computer science, robotics, or engineering, a visit to Silicon Valley and Stanford University is a must. Tours are available for Apple Park, Googleplex, and the Intel Museum.
1 Day Field Trip Ideas for Homeschoolers – Perfect for Teenagers
Field trips for teenagers tend to focus on the future. We’re thinking along the lines of preparing for collegiate education or their career. They are old enough to partake in these field trip ideas on their own, and it’s a great chance to learn some autonomy.
35. City Council Meeting
Listening in on a city council meeting enforces the importance of being an informed and engaged citizen. These community meetings are the foundation of our representative democracy and a great learning experience. If you have a local courthouse, they could also sit in on a court case.
36. University lecture
One of the best ways to prepare for college is to spend a little time on campus. Check out universities in your area, and look for special lecture events in your teenager’s field of interest.
37. Job Shadowing
If your teen is more interested in a trade, have them reach out to local businessmen and organize a day to job shadow. Artists, mechanics, electricians, plumbers, and construction workers are all great options.
38. Opera or Symphony
The teen years are an optimal time to infuse a love of the arts into education. They are through with arts and crafts at this point, but they are primed to learn to appreciate higher art. Plus, a night at the opera or symphony gives them a chance to reuse that prom dress.
Arkansas Option: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
39. Glassblowing Tour
Glassblowing is a more obscure art that makes for a great field trip. These studios often offer tours, allowing you to see the masters at work, and allow older kids to try their hand at firing their own glass.
40. Soup Kitchen
Feeding the unhoused is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. Teens are perfect for the job too. They are typically gung-ho when it comes to social justice, confident enough to make conversation, and are a refreshing energy for the workers and recipients.
Arkansas Option: The Van
Aaron Reddin has been described as the “crazy, guerrilla, homeless advocate.” His mobile van for feeding the homeless has grown into a multi-fold industry that is doing seriously amazing work in Little Rock. Check out the volunteer opportunities.
41. Recording Studio
Most teens are obsessed with their tunes, but do they have any concept of what it takes to write, edit, and produce their favorite music? Probably not, but now’s the time to learn! While most studios don’t offer tours on their website, many will do them by request, allowing you to sit on a session.
Field Trip Vacation Ideas for Homeschoolers, Teenagers and Family
42. Summer Service Trip
The summer before college is the ideal time to get away and learn to function on your own, at least partially. There are several fabulous travel agencies that specialize in trips for teenagers. These trips are generally a combination of community service and tourism. They include working with endangered animals in Costa Rica, teaching English in Nepal, and working with marine life in Mexico. The agents work with teens and parents to complete all the paperwork and handle the details of the trip once your teen is on the ground. Take a look at the options from Global Leadership Adventures.
43. Literary Tour
Take a literary road trip based on your favorite author. You could choose Edgar Allen Poe in Virginia, Jack Kerouac and Henry David Thoreau, in Massachusetts, or Ernest Hemingway in Key West. If you want an organized agenda, check out the self-guided Bad Boys of Books road trip.
44. Birmingham, AL
Birmingham is the optimal location to take a deep dive into the socio-political turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement. Visit Kelly Ingram Park, 16th Street Baptist Church, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. To get the most out of your trip, consider taking a guided tour of Birmingham’s Civil Rights Trail.
45. Ancient Rome
Graduation is a big deal, and if you can swing it, there’s no more educational tour on Earth than to visit Ancient Rome. Tour the Colosseum, visit Carricala’s Baths, ponder the beauty of the Pantheon, and imagine a day in the life of a merchant at Trajan’s Market!
Field Trip Ideas for Homeschoolers, Closing Thoughts
Whether you are a homeschooling family looking for an educational field trip or just a family looking for a vacation with purpose, we hope you found some exciting new ideas in this guide. Whether you have one day and a tiny budget, or a couple of weeks and have saved for a big trip, taking one of these educational field trips is worth the effort! Just remember to make it age-appropriate, based on recent or current curriculum, within the budget, and fun!
Are you dissatisfied with your current education program? Perhaps, a Montessori Academy would be more up your alley. Check out the details of these revolutionary school systems in “Montessori Near Me – Guide To Finding The Best Academy.”