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The ABC’s of Family Field Trips: Tips, Resources & 50+ Ideas for Where to Go


I’m so excited to introduce a new series this week —

The ABC’s of Family Field Trips!


This will be a 5 day series covering all kinds of tips and ideas for those fun family outings you want to plan this year. 

I really want to help you get prepared for some great family trips this year by offering resources to help get you ready, along with new ideas for some cool places to visit!




Family field trips are those fun little jaunts or family outings that you take together to places you’d like to explore & enjoy! 

Sometimes they are close to home and other times they require a short journey.  I highly recommend that families try to plan & enjoy a field trip at least once each month — take some time to head out together to explore, discover & connect!

A is for Animals & Agendas


Let’s face it – kids are attracted to animals!   Heck, most adults enjoy watching animals too.  If you have yet to take your child on a field trip or outing, try visiting a place with animals.  Kids can learn so much when they are observing animals and their unexpected behavior.  And kids are usually very engaged when visiting animals.



When you head out on a field trip, have an agenda in mind.  Nothing too formal (unless that’s your style), but some idea of what you hope to do during your visit.  Agendas are especially helpful if you plan to visit a large attraction (say, the zoo) or if you’ll be gone for most of the day and want to ensure that everyone gets to see their favorite things.

Agendas can also help to prepare you for what you should bring – will you need quarters to feed the animals?  How long will you be visiting? (so you can plan how much water/snacks to bring).  Will your visit overlap nap time?  


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 One of our new friends on an aquarium visit.


Field Trip Ideas:

Art Museums

If it’s your first visit to an art museum, plan for between 1 – 2 hours.  Choose a few galleries that have different types of art – such as sculpture, ancient items, colorful paintings.  Many art museums have guides for kids or scavenger hunts to do during your visit too.

Find an art museum near you at Artcyclopedia.

Animal Sanctuaries

Most kids will visit a zoo or petting farm, but animal sanctuaries are also a wonderful place to see and learn about animals.


An arboretum (also called a botanical garden) is a place where flowers, trees and plants are grown and studied.  It may sound boring for kids but they can actually be lots of fun!  Our local Arboretum in Kansas City has a children’s garden with chairs made from trees, a vine tunnel, a railroad garden along with geocaching and nature classes for kids.

Check Wikipedia for an extensive list of US Arboretums.


More ‘A’ Places:

Amusement Parks
Ariel Lifts/Ariel Trams



B is for Books, Backpacks & a Bag

Linking books to your trip is a wonderful way to extend a child’s interest in the trip. 

For example, if you’re visiting an art museum, you could read before or after the visit.  

After a zoo visit, cuddling up with will bring great insights and creative discussion on your child’s favorite animals.

When we plan an outing (whether it’s for a few hours or a few days), we have the kids each pack a backpack.  They can include items they want to take in the car (or on the plane/train) but they have to carry/roll their own bag.  If they want to bring their blankie, some books and a few toys – it must all fit in the backpack.

Once we reach our destination, whatever we need during that outing is transferred into one bag that comes with us (usually carried by Mom, Dad or the stroller).  So items like water bottles, extra socks, medicines and the like are all in one place.

The kids are happy because they have things they love for the car/plane trip and we don’t have to lug everything around (they know it’s in the car when we return, so we just need to take the essentials with us into the attraction).



You don’t need a bathing suit to explore a beach!


Family Outings:


Stay close to home and explore the wildlife in your own backyard.  The key with a backyard field trip is to pretend that you aren’t allowed in the house.  Plan some games, have lunch and read a few books.  Kids will also enjoy a backyard scavenger hunt!

Boat Cruise

Have you ever taken a lake cruise?  These are usually 1 – 3 hour boat rides on a local river or lake.  Kids will enjoy seeing the captain’s area, learning a little about boats and watching the birds and fish, along with any special sights along the way.

If you live near a river or lake, check to see if they offer a cruise.

See a Ballet

Performances such as The Nutcracker, Cinderella and others based on kids books are very entertaining.  Kids will enjoy both the dancing and the music.

Beach Day

Build sandcastles, explore tidal pools, swim and learn about saltwater – I love beach days!



C is for Car Trips & Cameras

Most family field trips involve a car ride.  Try our suggestions for bringing backpacks for each child (see B above) with items to keep them engaged. 

Other enjoyable ways to spend the car ride include: listening to books on tape/CD (check out a few from your local library), playing car games, taking a nap (preferred by most babies and teenagers) or listening to music.

Want more ideas for what to include on the ride?  Check out the Road Trip Fun Folder at Living Life Intentionally and our Pinterest board for Road Trip tips!

And always make sure to grab your camera (digital, camcord or other).  The kids may also want their camera too – and it’s always interesting to see what photos they choose to snap on the trip!  Also make a note to charge the camera or bring extra batteries.



The Carousel Museum offers lots to choose from for a fun ride!


Fun ‘C’ Activities

Carousel Museum

I know you’ve taken the kids for rides on the merry-go-round, but did you know there are also Carousel Museums??!  They are very cool places (we’ve been to 2 so far).  In addition to having a working carousel, they also host a collection of all types of carousel animals.


Yep, I know it’s a weird one but for kids ages 7+, it’s actually a pretty cool outing.  There’s lots of history on the gravestones. You can do crayon rubbings from some of the headstones and talk about the various statues and architecture. Cemeteries also help us teach life skills – think about it, when else would you teach the kids how to act in a cemetery.  It’s a good skill to have because someday they will probably attend the passing of a relative or friend.  Please remember to discuss being respectful, quiet and don’t visit during a burial. 



Take a cave tour and explore the world underground!  Exploring a cave is called ‘spelunking.  Your kids will be able to tell you the difference between stalagmites and stalactites.  There are caves located throughout the country, some large and some small.  Always bring a jacket as it can be pretty chilly.

Cultural Centers or Museums

Learn about your heritage by visiting a cultural museum.  Some offer exhibits on one specific culture (such as an Irish Heritage Museum) while others offer a peek at a variety of cultures & countries.


Cathedral Tours

Visiting a historic religious building can really inspire awe in children.  Huge and colorful stained glass windows, unbelievably high ceilings, and pillars modeled after Greek architecture.  Older kids will be intrigued by a visit to a basilica or cathedral, especially the history that goes along with most of the buildings.  Many communities built churches as their first structures so chances are you’ll be visiting a building that’s more than 100 years old.


Also try:

Candy Store Tours



D is for Directions & Docents

This is an easy one – don’t forget the directions!  Nothing ruins a trip more than driving around for an hour before you get there (been there, done that = not fun).

Docents are those wonderful people that you see at museums, zoos and living history museums who can answer all those tough questions your kids will ask.  Really, they are a wealth of knowledge and love to discuss things with visitors. Most docents have received training in areas related to the attraction you’re visiting.



Hiding out in a peephole at the Omaha Desert Dome


Fun Ideas for Families:


If you live near a desert, it’s a natural wonder to experience!  And if you don’t live close, there are some zoos and arboretums that have desert exhibits.  It’s such a cool ecosystem that kids are sure to have some inquisitive questions — and they’ll probably want to grow a cactus once they get home.

Driving Tour

Spend some fun time in the car (not running errands) – you can go leaf peeping, see holiday lights, or take a driving tour of your town.


Going out forDessert

This doesn’t mean just run out for ice cream — have a dessert adventure!  Go to a pie store and order 5 kinds of pie for everyone to taste!  Or make it a goal to try a different kind of ice cream each week during the summer.

Drive-in Movies

 Although many are closing, there are still quite a few drive-in movie theaters around the country.  This is something that many of us recall from our childhood (warm summer nights in the car, visits to the concession stand).  What a great way to introduce kids to seeing a movie! 

To help you find a drive-in near you, visit Drive-in Movies for a state-by-state listing.



E is for Explore

One of the best parts about family outings is letting the kids explore. 

Noticing new things, trying a different activity and hearing new words when you talk about your visit are all ways that kids explore places and topics.  Exploring helps to strengthen kids’ curiosity and problem-solving skills so don’t over-schedule your time — allow them to delve into an activity that catches their attention.  



We didn’t plan to swing like monkeys but that’s what they enjoyed the most at this rainforest exhibit!

Exploring ‘E’ Locations


Why not try a new restaurant or cuisine with the kids?!  Exploring a new eatery or trying different foods is always an adventure.  How about dinner with a show at a Japanese steak house?  Or tea at a local Tea Room?  We’re lucky in Kansas City to be able to dine with the dinosaurs at T-Rex restaurant.


Endangered Animals

This visit may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience (although, I certainly hope not)!  Taking kids to see endangered animals not only introduces them to species that need our help but also makes them aware that such a thing exists.  Many children can only understand such a concept when it is discussed and a first-hand visit to see one of these creatures really helps.

We were able to visit the manatees on a recent trip to Florida and it was a wonderful experience.  The kids had no idea that so few of them existed and it was the only time in my life that I’ve ever had the opportunity to see one up close. 

The New York Times wrote a nice article about where to view endangered species.  You can also call your local zoo or animal preserve/nature centers to see if they care for any endangered species too.



 There are different types of events (many seasonal) that can be great family outings.  These are attractions such as the circus, Sesame Street Live, Disney on Ice or broadway shows that aren’t a yearly event but something that you might want to consider if you have the money. 


Coming Soon —


 And here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming next in the series:


{Part 2}  Fun, Inspiriation & Hands-on Ideas

{Part 3}  Learning, New Places & Outdoor Fun

{Part 4}  Pretend Play, Reading, Science & Tours

{Part 5}  Universities, Volunteering & Online Field Trips


We are also linking to more than 70 outstanding bloggers sharing some amazing ideas for hands-on fun, tips & tricks along with ways to have more fun with the kids! 


Browse some of the great topics below:


Mom Tips & Tricks

Being a Hands on Mom from hands on : as we grow

Connecting with your Kids from One Perfect Day

Family Field Trips with Kids from Edventures with Kids

Fun Healthy Snacks for Kids from Juggling with Kids

Kids Party Ideas from Mama Pea Pod

Mama Survival from The Dizzy Mom

Organized Home from Mamas Like Me

Printables from Mama Miss

Raising Boys from Boy Mama Teacher Mama

Raising Eco-Friendly Kids from Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Raising Girls from Mess for Less

Raising a Healthy Kid from Living Life Intentionally

Raising a Thinking Child from The Outlaw Mom

Raising Toddlers from Home Learning Journey

Raising a World Citizen from All Done Monkey

Simply Celebrating Holidays as a Family from Inspired by Family Magazine

Teaching Kids about Money from Carrots are Orange

The Family Dinner Table from Connecting Family & Seoul

Trying A New Experience with Your Children from 52 Brand New

Values for Children from True Aim Education