Skip to Content

The ABC’s of Family Field Trips: Learning, New Places & Outdoor Fun

Welcome to Part 3 of our Family Field Trip series!

So far, we’ve shared a number of ideas & tips along with more than 35 fun places to visit for a family outing!

Here are the first two posts in the series:

{Part 1} Getting Ready, Exploring & Fun Field Trips

{Part 2} Having Fun, Inspiration & Hands-on Ideas

And we’ve still got lots more to cover!  This post will highlight the letters K – 0 as we discuss learning, new places & outdoor fun.



K is for Knowledge of the World

Let’s face it, in addition to being lots of fun, field trips also help kids to expand their knowledge of the world. 

Yep, all those little outings we take are pretty educational for the kiddos.  When you visit a new place, your child becomes more aware of activities and ideas that he/she may have not yet experienced.

I know many families dream of traveling to other countries – my daugther wants to see Greece and my son is always talking about Fiji.  We’d love to be able to take the family to Europe someday (or on a cruise to Fiji – now wouldn’t that be great!) as I’m sure many families dream of these kinds of vacations.

But since we are all raising kids and saving for college, finances don’t always allow for these kinds of trips. 

So it’s important to think of ways to introduce our kids to different cultures and customs while we’re close to home.

When you visit a new location, think about how it offers a window to the world — art museums with pieces of art from other countries, cultural exhibits or festivals, new places/foods when you eat out, and musical experiences that feature different genres (like jazz, opera, latin and celtic).  

And when you visit one of your favorite haunts, talk to the kids about it’s connections to the world.  During a zoo visit, read the plaques for each animal that describes it’s country of origin.  At the art museum, discuss where different artists lived.

 During the final day of this series, we’ll discuss virtual field trips and online resources that help families to explore the world while sitting in their own home!


Fun Ideas for Field Trips

Kite Flying & Festivals

If you’ve never attended a kite festival, it’s really a beautiful and relaxing way to spend an afternoon.  First, there are these AMAZING kites that people have built – and some are quite large.  There are also trick kites that the kids love to watch, and many of the kite flyers love to let the kids help fly the kites. 

You can also head out to a local park and fly your own kite (it’s a fun skill for kids to learn plus there’s all that great science learning that goes along with it!).  You can learn more about the science of kite flying from PBS: Rough Science.


Kitchen Classes

How about learning to cook together?!  Lots of kids enjoy spending time in the kitchen.

You can find classes for kids of all ages by checking your local parks & rec listing, or your county extension service/state nutrition department.  There are also a number of businesses that offer kid/parent cooking classes (they vary by area so it’s hard to list them).



L is for Learning & Libraries


No matter where you go, your kids will learn something. 

There’s really no reason to stress about ‘finding someplace educational’ — everyplace can be educational!

Remember these 3 tricks to making something educational for kids: 

1.  Give them a chance to explore a place

2.  Talk to them about what interests them, inspires them and causes them to stop and take notice

3.  Encourage them to follow-up on their interests and questions after your visit (see ‘F’ for some ideas on follow-up activities).


One of the best places to do some learning after a family outing is the library.

In addition to books on all subjects, the library will also have nonfiction movies, computer access, kids programs & activities, reference materials, access to books from libraries around the world and of course, librarians who have an extensive knowledge of where to find great resources!

If you don’t already have an online library account, I highly suggest getting one – they are a huge asset when you have kids. 



We love to visit lighthouses when we travel!


‘L’ Places to Visit


I’m sure you visit the library to check out books & movies, but many libraries have so much more to offer!  Make sure to check out their summer reading programs, storytimes, and family programming (especially during school breaks!).


 I love visiting lighthouses – the spiral stairways, beautiful views and the stories that go with these historic buildings.  Not all lighthouses allow visitors to tour the inside, and they vary in shape and size.  Some will include artifacts or a museum on property so you can learn more about maritime history too.

US Lighthouses has information, photos and directions for lighthouses around the world.



M is for Music & Maps

Both music and maps are great ways to expand a child’s understanding of the world and other cultures.

Most kids just love music and some family outings just lend themselves to a connection with music. 

If you’re going to see a musical, listen to the soundtrack first so the kids are familiar with the score.  If you’re seeing a symphony, play a few orchestral pieces that kids will enjoy (Peter and the Wolf) or read a book about musical instruments.

Kids also love the maps or guides you receive at many attractions.  They’re usually so colorful!  Take the opportunity to help them learn some map reading skills.  Whether you’re at a local museum or Walt Disney World, have the kids look at the map or guide and decide where they’d like to go next.

For some fun ideas on using maps at home, read Why Every Home Needs a Map.



Kids can learn a lot at memorials & monuments.


Family Field Trip Ideas


I know we already covered art museums & living history museums, but I also wanted to note a few other types: 

  • County Museums will highlight some local history along with other areas such as agriculture, local customs and architecture.  Some also have children’s play areas!
  • Interest-based Museums basedfocus on a specific topic or theme – for example, maritime museums can be found near coastal areas, agricultural museums are located near farming areas and car museums may be found near a car manufacturing plant.

Memorials & Monuments

Memorials are built to honor a person or group of people, and monuments are usually some type of natural formation or area that is being protected or preserved.  Introducing children to memorials is a way to honor those that are being remembered.  And visiting monuments is a 

Visit GORP for a list of US National Monuments and Wikipedia has a fairly good list of US National Memorials.US National Memorials.

More Ideas:

Miniature Golf

See a Musical



N is for New Places

We all have our favorite spots to visit with the kids.  Maybe you’ve been to the zoo a few times, or the local kids museum.  When was the last time you visited someplace new?


Kids love exploring new places so don’t be afraid to venture out!

Visiting new locations and attractions is very beneficial for children.

New places have new experiences to stimulate their mind, they’re likely to learn new vocabulary because of what they see and do, and it’s a great life skill to show them that new is fun (and not scary). 

We’re listing more than 50 different types of attractions & activities during the series with hopes that it will inspire families to head out someplace new this year.  Our family tries to incorporate a new activity at least twice a year — this year, the kids want to learn to kayak!

  And do you know what I’ve learned?  As I help the kids explore new things, I’m also learning and enjoying them too!

Kids will explore many new places on their own as they grow – new classrooms, new schools, new sports & activities – make sure they explore a few with you too.



Feeding carrotts to the bison at our local native animal enclosure – such a great experience!

Great New Attractions to See

Native Animal Enclosures & Parks

There are many local, state and national groups that help to protect the native animals and their lands.  Sometimes called animal preserves or enclosures, it’s an opportunity to view animals in their natural habitats.  

As you can see in the photo above, we are lucky to have a great enclosure where we can view (and feed!) bison and elk!  It’s so amazing to be able to see these animals up close.

Learn about which animals can be seen in our National Parks at the National Parks Conservation Association.

National Parks

Take a trip to one of our outstanding National Parks!  There’s quite a lot for families to do: hiking, nature programs, observing the animals and much more. 

Many of the National Parks offer free entrance, and for those with paid admission, there are Free Entrance Days throughout the year.

Nature Centers

 If you’re kids are interesting in animals, a trip to a local nature center will be very enjoyable.  Nature centers usually house native animals (think birds, reptiles and small mammals) and have staff that love to interact with kids.  They may also have storytimes, craft activities and other hands-on fun. 

Wikipedia has a nice state listing of the nature centers across the U.S.


Natural History Museums

Kids want to see dinosaurs, rock exhibits or planetariums?  Chances are good that you’ll find fossils, minerals, and space information at natural history museums.  Quite a few of these museums are located on college and university campuses as they are very involved with research and development in these areas.

The University of Washington Libraries has a wonderful list of Natural History Museums across the world – so go see some dinosaurs!



O is for Outdoors

Spend time on outdoor excursions when you can all through the year.  Kids are inside so much, especially if they are in school during the week.  So time outside is crucial. 

Recent research shows us that time outdoors reduces stress, increases fitness levels, helps kids perform better in school and makes us happier. 

Here’s a great article from the National Wildlife Federation about why kids should play outside.

In addition to visiting outdoor attractions (such as a zoo, nature center or historic fort), you can also plan family outings around activities such as:

  • hiking & walking
  • bike rides (bike to the library instead of driving)
  • winter sports (skiing, snow-shoeing)
  • running (enter a family 5K together)
  • canoeing or kayaking

 For more ideas on spending some time outdoors, visit Nature Rocks!



Spending time outdoors as a family can be so rejuvenating.


Outstanding Outings for Families

See an Orchestra

Many cities have local orchestras — both community orchestras and concert symphonies.  Check their schedules for family performances.  Our local symphony puts on two wonderful outdoor shows on Memorial Day & Labor Day (both free to the community).  It’s wonderful to grab a blanket and picnic dinner, and enjoy the music.

If you attend a family performance, they may offer a ‘petting zoo’ prior to the performance.  This is a great opportunity for kids to actually try playing some of the instruments.  Can you imagine your 5-year-old playing an upright bass?!


One of our most memorable family field trips was to the local observatory.  Observatories will offer public viewings and programs during the spring, summer and fall.  Not only will you learn a little about the stars and space, but the programs will also allow you to use the telescopes to view the night sky.  Kids of all ages really enjoy this type of outing as it happens at night and is very unique.

Check Go Astronomy to locate an observatory near you and check for public programs.


One-room Schoolhouses

If you’re lucky enough to have a one-room schoolhouse in your area, I highly recommend a visit.  Kids will find it very interesting to learn how school use to operate — they will probably be able to write on old slates, play a few old-fashion games and may even get to use an ink pen!  Plus, they’ll be very thankful to go back to their own school 🙂

Check the One-Room Schoolhouse Center for a state listing of one-room schools.



 Additional areas that we’re featuring in the series:

{Part 1}  Getting Ready, Using Books & Exploring

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

{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:


Learning with Kids

A Waldorf Mama from Triple T Mum

After School Activities from The Educators Spin On It

Hands-on History from Adventures in Mommydom

Home Daycare or Family Child Care from My Buddies and I

Homeschooling from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom

How to Home Preschool from In Lieu of Preschool

Math Activities from Blog Me Mom

Montessori from Living Montessori Now

Science Activities & Play from Science Sparks

Teaching Math from Montessori Tidbits

Thrifty Teaching Tools from Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers