20+ Summer Field Trips for Kids that also Sneak in Learning
Are you looking for fun summer field trips for kids that also sneak in learning this year!? We love taking our children on learning experiences throughout the summer, a mix of homeschooling ideas and entertainment that keep them busy.
This summer is tricky for us, and many others who love to spend their summer traveling. Gas prices are SO HIGH and we have a BIG trip planned this Fall- so while we are doing a few trips, we are trying to keep the fun summer field trips for the kids local.
Thankfully, summer camps, recreation centers, pools, museums, and other attractions in our community and worldwide are back in full swing! So, there are many more things to do than in the last couple of years. As always, learning and play can go hand in hand. With so many more families (ours included) being able to work from home it allows us to continue our kids’ education this summer and take them on some fun adventures.
So, this post has some exciting and amusing fun summer field trip ideas for kids to keep the whole family entertained. It even includes some great virtual field trip ideas if you’re stuck at home this year, as technology has facilitated the virtual experience.
Why Field Trips are Good for Kids
Learning things on paper is one thing, but experiencing something in person is entirely different! Educational field trips for kids are a hands-on way to learn about history, culture, art, etc. Some even help your children learn new skills.
One of the best things about homeschooling your kids is that you can use real-world experiences to teach them. It’s a whole new experience when the world becomes your school. And just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that you throw your homeschooling curriculum out the window.
I dare say it’s an even better time to turn a concept on paper into a genuine real-world experience. And each fun summer field trip for our kids can benefit different types of learners. Plus, these adventures can help your kids decide on a future career.
Amazing Summer Activities That Will Make Your Kids Excited to Learn
Now let’s jump into some of the exciting activities your family can explore this summer.
Fun Outdoor Summer Field Trips
We love outdoor summer field trips because there are many things to experience when the weather is nice.
Visit the Zoo
Visiting zoos is one of the best educational activities that lets kids interact with the animals they love and learn about them. If you have one close to your home, you can even take advantage of yearly memberships to save money.
Some zoos let you get up close to the animals and have a variety of hands-on animal experiences.
But one tip I have is to make sure you choose days when they aren’t as busy or when there aren’t field trips for summer camps. That is usually in the afternoon or during the week.
Zoo tours make learning about animals exciting.
Explore a Local Farm
Exploring a local farm is often one of the best free field trips for kids and lets you get up close to animals. They can also learn how the farmers feed and care for the animals.
Another significant aspect of visiting a farm is that you can teach your kids where their food comes from, how it’s harvested, and the work that goes into growing it. A bonus is they often have great products or flowers for sale.
Visit a National Park
National parks make great field trips that let you explore nature in a whole new way. And if you plan on visiting national parks regularly for camping or enjoying unique vanlife locations, consider getting the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Land Pass.
These passes allow you to take your whole family to national parks across the U.S. for unique outdoor field trip ideas. They are good for 12 months and give you entry to 2,000 federal parks and recreational sites. So you can add a hands-on experience to any summer lessons you have planned.
Plus, you can take some guided or self-tours for interactive experiences in nature. Some parks even have guided tours on horseback.
Also, each park usually has at least one visitor center with a store where you can buy souvenirs related to the park or educational activities.
And they can be convenient if you are ready to learn how to start vanlife and travel the country. Who wouldn’t want to wake up in different popular parks with stunning panoramic scenic views?
When your van is your house, and a park becomes your child’s backyard, you’ll find places to play and explore. That’s much better than learning about them in a book at school.
Visit a City or State Park
If you don’t have a national park near home to explore and go hiking, consider visiting your city or state park. Every community usually has a lovely green space, and some are huge with hiking trails, a lake, and more.
If you aren’t going on a big family vacation, you can quickly stop by a grocery store and get a picnic lunch and go on a family outing to the park.
Geocaching has become a popular fun activity for the whole family. Geocaching is essentially a real-life outdoor treasure hunt if you’re not familiar with it. For this outdoor adventure, you use GPS-enabled devices to navigate to coordinates and look for containers with items in them.
Add it to a hiking adventure to keep the kids involved, as sometimes kids can lose interest before you do.
Have a Vanlife Adventure
If you’ve been around my blog for half a second, you’ll know that I’m starting to get invested in a part-time vanlife. There’s nothing like immersing yourself in a location to experience it fully.
So, while I know we are trying to stay local, you can always consider going on a vanlife or camping trip where you can do outside activities with your family. Find unique adventures like exploring caves, backcountry camping in the wilderness, or something else exciting your family loves. Thankfully you don’t HAVE to travel far to make this happen – if you don’t want to!
The one thing about vanlife is it’s better when you plan your excursions, so look at some of these great road trip planning apps to streamline your adventure.
Indoor Summer Field Trips Everyone Will Love
Do some research online and see what indoor activities you can do on rainy days or get a reprieve from the hot sun. Here are some ideas for indoor activities this summer.
Visiting an aquarium is a great summertime activity for the kids. While an aquarium tour may not be a free field trip idea, they are often worth the money.
If you’re lucky, you are in for a treat and live close to a large one like the Georgia Aquarium or The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Orlando! Many big aquariums have tons of marine animals for kids to see and interactive activities that let your children interact with sea creatures and their natural habitats.
But smaller local sea aquariums can be just as much fun and create a unique learning experience for your kids. They may even have a guided tour with someone knowledgeable, which is a great way to turn it into a learning activity.
Now I know each kid in your family likely has different interests. One may like history while another may like sports, art, animals, etc. You get the idea.
Visiting a museum allows you to cater to your children’s interests and sneak in some learning. The Smithsonian is a great museum that has all kinds of exhibits for various interests. The Smithsonian Science Education Center has free science resources for homeschoolers who want to make learning science fun. It provides free science resources to help your homeschoolers start to think like a scientist. Google Earth Education is a great resource to help show your children varying locations worldwide.
Art museums are other cool places to visit and teach your kids about different types of art, history, and culture. There are art museums like Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art or New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art that are amazing. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also offers virtual tours.
Another unique art experience is the NYC Graffiti Tour and Workshop. A friend and I paid for this fantastic tour, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the area.
And you can kick your art learning experience up another notch if you’re going out of the country by visiting a museum like the Louvre in Paris, France.
Tour Your Local Fire Station or Police Department
Another great field trip idea for the summer is to see if you can visit your local police department or fire station. Plus, it’s likely close to your house, so you aren’t far from home.
Teach your kids what firefighters and police do to keep their communities safe. They may even be able to sit in a fire engine or police car and turn the siren on!
Go Skating or Bowling
Of course, there are always the age-old popular activities for families like skating and bowling. Kids love these activities, and they are traditional family-friendly activities that just about everyone loves.
Get some relief from the hot summer sun and go bowling or skating one afternoon.
Virtual Field Trips When You Can’t Travel
Virtual Field Trips When You Can’t Travel
The COVID-19 pandemic forever changed the way we travel and do things. Unschooling and homeschooling became very popular as many parents had to become the teachers for their children.
Virtual field trips can be enjoyable, although it may be hard to wrap your brain around. They let you experience locations you may never be able to travel to in real life.
So, the invention of virtual field trips has made the world much easier to travel. Now you can watch virtual tours without ever leaving your house.
If the only adventure you can take this year is online, here are some fun virtual field trips you can take with your kids.
- The Atlanta Zoo Panda Web Cam
- Stream Free Virtual Metropolitan Operas
- Science Bob and Random Acts of Science
- Monterey Bay Aquariums Live Web Cams
- Discovery Education Virtual Field Trips
- Visit the Great Wall of China Virtually
Creative Summer Field Trips for Kids
If you’re looking for some creative summer activities for kids, here are some unique ideas.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
We all have fond memories of exciting scavenger hunts as kids because it’s like going on a treasure hunt. As a professional photographer, I love teaching my kids about photography.
A photo scavenger hunt consists of a list of things to take pictures of that you give to each child. Then they take pictures with their phone of each item on the list.
You can also tailor them to your summer vacation too. If you’re going to the beach, you can add beach items to the list. If you plan on exploring a national park, add things you’d find here to your list.
Visit a Shipyard or Marina
Kids love boats and ships, so one free field trip idea is to visit your local shipyard or marina. Maybe you live near the Norfolk Naval Shipyard or Groton Submarine Base. A bonus is that you can sometimes take tours of the ships like the Nautilus in Groton, Connecticut.
You can visit a marina and show your kids the boats if you live near the water. These locations have many great photo opportunities too. And you can even take pictures at sunrise or sunset.
Take a Tour Behind the Scenes at a Fast Food Restaurant
Some fast-food restaurants let you take behind-the-scenes tours so your kids can see how the food is made and served. Chick-Fil-A allows group tours like this, and your local pizza restaurants may. You may even be able to make a pizza with your kids.
Go to a Free Creative Workshop for Kids
Michael’s, Pottery Barn Kids, and places like Home Depot often have free workshops for the kids on weekends. Michael’s has free virtual and premium online classes you can do as virtual field trips from home. They also offer in-store classes too with either groups or small classes.
In addition, Home Depot has all kinds of workshops for kids and adults, and they even have a monthly kids workshop kit.
Final Thoughts on Summer Field Trips for Kids
Whether you’re looking for free, unique, adventurous, or cheap field trips for kids, there’s something for everyone on this list. We love to add joy and play to our everyday lives and sneak in some learning.
Even if you aren’t going on a shnazzy summer vacation to Washington DC or elsewhere, you can still have great summer adventures in your community or close to home.
There’s no reason you can’t explore and learn all summer long with one of these awesome activities. I’ve created this great summer bucket list of ideas PLUS a blank one for you to fill in your OWN ideas!
Just think of the summer magic you experienced as a kid and help your children make unique memories that will last a lifetime.