Unique Field Trip Destinations in the US
Field trips are a bright spot for students and teachers alike. Students get to take a break from their normal studies, and teachers are able to find new ways of educating their pupils. But not all field trips are created equal – every year thousands of school groups go to theme parks and art museums, places that have become predictable and make students lose interest. If you’re looking for something that will keep your group engaged, check out these six field trip destinations that are sure to create an experience that your group will never forget.
With two locations in Atlanta, this spot is great for those learning about environmental science, physics, biology or even physical education. After a mandatory 30-minute safety and practice session, your group can get to the main attraction – a treetop obstacle course, filled with suspension bridges, zip-lines and other daring tricks for your group. Along the way, your group will also participate in the environmental quizzes that are integrated along the course. The quest is primarily for children ages 4-12, and there are different difficulty levels for each age group, so even those with a fear of heights can have a good time.
The quest isn’t just great for learning about science – it also instructs participants in personal growth, teaching them self-confidence, anxiety management and psychomotor skills. In addition, if you call ahead you may request additional team-building activities that focus on leadership, problem solving and communication. To learn about the other customizable field trip options the site offers, go to treetopquest.com.
While many museums can boast of interesting artifacts for field trip members to wonder at, this St. Louis attraction offers a twist: the museum is the artifact. Housed in the former International Shoe Company building, the museum is made up of found objects, such as chimneys, construction cranes and two abandoned airplanes. The attraction was created by a team of artists led by Bob Cassilly, who had one goal in mind – create a museum that visitors could interact with, instead of watching from the sidelines. That goal has certainly been achieved; visitors can explore an elaborate playground, funhouse, and surreal pavilion and be wowed by fascinating pieces such as the Enchanted Caves, the 10-story slide and a functioning circus run by the Circus Harmony Group. No maps are provided to enhance the experience, but you may want to pop down to the gift shop and pick up some knee pads.
Along with discounted group rates, the museum offers special discounts to home school groups. Groups may request a box lunch or enjoy the pizza buffet, and those who wish to avoid the daily crowds can sign up for the pleasure of spending the night in the museum. This experience offers complete access to attractions as well as special activities, though spots do fill up fast.
This attraction, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, offers possibly the most immersive way to step into America’s history. Known as the oldest living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg is the actual home to a group of people who re-enact colonial history, bringing the time of the Revolutionary War back to life. Your group can visit locations such as the governor’s palace, the capitol building and a real working blacksmith where residents don period clothing and answer questions visitors may have about the war or life in colonial times. Your group may take part in guided tours that visit family homes, gathering spots and places of business that existed in 1775.
If all of that doesn’t overload your group with the period’s history, the site also offers an art museum and a former public hospital, the first in the country to treat mental illness. Your group may also visit nearby Jamestowne, the first permanent American settlement and the former home of the legendary Pocahontas. After a full day, your group can relax and visit the Colonial Williamsburg’s restaurants and shops, or take in a show at the theater. With so much to explore, you may want to consider taking advantage of Colonial Williamsburg’s hotels and making your trip a multi-day experience.
This area in Santa Cruz, California promises an experience your group won’t soon forget. Hike through the famous redwood forest to find this strange spot, a gravitational anomaly that has stumped scientists for decades. Visitors can take a guided tour through this new historic landmark and experience the anomaly for themselves, where they can climb walls and stand at 45° angles. Have a fun discussion with your group as you try to figure out the as yet undiscovered cause of this anomaly – theories have included carbon dioxide and a hole in the ozone layer.
The site offers other activities your group may enjoy; while waiting for your tour, your group may walk through the trail that allows you to take in the beauty of the redwoods. If your group gets hungry, the site offers a picnic area and a snack shack that is open on the weekends. To learn more about the activities offered at the Mystery Spot, visit mysteryspot.com.
Tommy Bartlett Exploratory – Interactive Science Center
The Wisconsin Dells has many entertaining attractions, but few allow visitors to lift cars over their heads. The Tommy Bartlett Exploratory is a hands-on science center with over 175 interactive activities including the Giant Lever, which grants visitors the opportunity of lifting a 5,000-pound vehicle into the air. In addition, your group can feel the exhilaration of riding a bike on a high wire, or experience the awesome feeling of a thunder cloud. The center also contains the Mercury Space Capsule, a replica of the first American-manned spaceship, and an authentic Russian Space Station MIR core module. To add to your group’s experience, consider visiting the virtual sports center or viewing the nearby Tommy Bartlett Show, a display of daring water ski tricks performed during the summer. This spot’s attractions are perfect for a science group, and a great destination for people of all ages.
Hershey’s Chocolate World
Touring Hershey’s Chocolate World with your group will make you feel like you’ve stepped into Willy Wonka’s confectionery wonderland. Not only does visiting this Hershey, Pennsylvania site make for a sweet treat, but it’s full of information about the company and its history, making it both a fun and an educational field trip. Your group can start off with a free 30-minute tour of the factory and learn about how chocolate is made, with samples offered at the end of the tour. Other activities include creating your own chocolate bar and participating in a show called the 4D Chocolate Mystery, where audience members can interact with the characters and help solve the mystery; every show has over 100 possible variations, so each one is unique to the viewers. Afterwards, your group can join a trolley tour through the town of Hershey and learn the history of Milton Hershey, and how the company came to be.
Back at the factory, your group can take part in a tasting experience or go upstairs to the bakery, which serves delicious cakes, cupcakes and cheesecakes. Does someone in your group have food allergies? If so, you may call ahead and request that alternative products be made available to them.
By combining entertainment and education, you can create a field trip that your group will never forget. Have you been to any of these locations before? If so, tell us about your experiences in the comments below.