Looking for some free field trip ideas?
Homeschooling can be pretty expensive, and field trips (depending on the size of your family) can easily take over a large piece of your budget.
I have scanned through some posts for free field trips and they usually contained things like “visit the cultural section of your grocery store.”
That is not a field trip.
I try to avoid taking my kids to the grocery store and I would certainly not take them there and camp out in an aisle.
People already think homeschoolers are weird enough. Let’s not give them more material to work with.
Anyhow, I decided to get creative and think up my own free field trip ideas.
I came up with some pretty great out of the box suggestions that I think your homeschool is going to love!
But first, let’s talk about…
Basic Tips for Saving Money on Homeschool Field Trips
You are going to come across field trips that are a great fit for your homeschool, but they are far from free.
Here are some awesome tips to get the best possible deal!
1. Don’t be afraid to ask about any homeschool/student deals
Many places will have special rates for students on a field trip.
Call ahead and ask if you can also get a special rate with your homeschool ID/homeschool approval paperwork from your state.
2. Check if there are lower rates in the off season
Last year we got an amazing deal going to a very popular farm festival because we went the day after Halloween.
Ticket prices were slashed by 50%!
Call ahead and ask if there is a discounted rate if you go a certain time of year or even a certain day of the week that is less popular.
3. Check for a lower group rate and invite friends
Field trips destinations often offer a group rate – you can do that too!
Ask how big your group would have to be to lower the cost and ask all your homeschool/co-op buddies to join in!
4. Always bring your own food
It is ridiculous how much food costs these days.
A couple of years ago we paid almost $50 for ice cream and water at the zoo!
If your dollars are tight, be sure to pack your own food and drinks.
***Make sure your kids understand this is the expectation. Maybe offer a special treat in the car for not whining for treats/food from the vendors.
5. Consider creative parking solutions
We went on a “free” field trip once, but the parking was exorbitant!
In hindsight, it would have been cheaper and less stressful to just take an Uber.
Do not assume parking is going to be available or that it is going to be free.
Contact the venue and ask if there are other options or suggestions.
Now without further ado…
10 Free Field Trips Ideas!
1. Home Depot/Lowes Saturday Morning Programs
If you have a Home Depot or Lowes in your area, this is an amazing program for your kids!
Both companies offer FREE Saturday morning workshops once a month for kids.
Your child will get a free apron to wear and all the supplies to complete the project.
My daughter really enjoyed it and even came home with a little birdhouse!
This field trip is something you can do regularly and help your child learn many life skills.
For older children, there are also adult and specifically women’s classes you can attend together.
To check out more of Home Depot’s program, click HERE.
To check out more of Lowe’s program, click HERE.
If you have kids that are always excited to bake with you – you have to check out a bakery in your area!
My daughters all love baking with me, and they especially love frosting and decorating cakes for birthdays.
I had to call A LOT of bakeries, but I was finally able to get one to let my daughter come behind the counter and shadow a real cake decorator at a bakery!
She was given her own cupcakes to practice frosting technique.
We also got to bring home the cupcakes she worked on!
If you have a little baker in your homeschool, visiting a bakery is a super fun field trip to explore what goes into getting that baked item on a shelf.
I had no idea that 20 well known restaurants have nationwide field trip programs for schools and homeschoolers!
The programs vary, but they are definitely worth looking into!
Your kid can learn so much about food safety, job roles in a restaurant, and even get interested in new foods!
You can find out more about each program at this post from SoCal Field Trips.
If you don’t have time, here is a list of the restaurants the website lists:
- Auntie Annie’s
- California Pizza Kitchen
- Cold Stone Creamery
- Dairy Queen
- In-N-Out Burger
- Jamba Juice
- John’s Incredible Pizza
- Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
- The Melting Pot
- OutBack Steakhouse
- Panera Bread
- Papa John’s Pizza
- Peter Piper Pizza
- The Rainforest Cafe
- Red Lobster
There are a couple more on the website that are unique to California if you live in that area.
IMPORTANT: Some of the restaurants offer free field trips, but many of them have a small charge for the food the child will eat or make.
3. Post Office
What kid doesn’t love getting mail?
Contact your local post office and ask if your homeschool can take a tour of the facility.
Many kids have a hard time conceptualizing how a letter gets from their mailbox to grandma’s house and all the steps needed to make that happen.
You children can learn all about how mail is picked up, sorted, and carried all over the country or the world.
It would be fun to bring a letter for a family member to drop off during the tour!
4. Police Department/Fire Department
I have never met a police officer or fire fighter who didn’t love taking time to talk to and educate kids.
They often already have lots of handouts for kids, coloring pages, etc.
Your kids can learn so much about fire safety, personal safety, and the heroes who step up to serve in their community
Older children may want to know more about how to pursue careers in these fields.
Regardless of ages, I highly recommend helping your children write down a list of questions to ask BEFORE you get there.
Kids can get a little shell shocked in these situations, so having questions in hand can be make everything go smoother.
***If you are a little shy about setting this up yourself, reach out to your homeschool friends or co-op buddies and do it as a group!
5. Historic Buildings/Landmarks/Churches
We are blessed to live in a place with lots of historic landmarks and buildings.
Some of them cost a pretty penny to visit, but a good number are free if you do just a little bit of research to find them online.
If your town has a historic society, that is the first place to start asking questions and researching a ton of free field trip ideas.
We live within driving distance of the church George Washington used to attend, and my kids got to sit in what historians believe to be the same pew he and his family sat in!
Such a neat experience for us and completely free!
6. Nature Hike and Talk with Park Ranger
This is by far one of the easiest AND most rewarding for kids of all ages.
You get to be outside in nature, move around, and not worry about being too loud!
Here are some ideas to make it work for your family:
- Hike on a trail with a book from the library to identify leaves/trees/insects
- Have your child choose something to take a picture of. Go home and draw it, then try to find out as much as you can about it online.
- Collect leaves, twigs, flowers to take home for an art project
- Contact the Park Ranger office for information about a guided hike or informational class
7. Library Programs
We love the library for our homeschool, BUT there is a lot more to a library than books.
I think the librarians are working double time these days to bring kids in the doors.
Look up your local library’s website or pick up a newsletter flier when you’re in there.
I think you’ll be surprised to find out that they offer a lot more than story time.
In a quick glance at our local library newsletter, I found that they offer
- Lego clubs
- Book club
- Chess club (instruction included for free)
- History lectures
- STEM challenges
- Storytime with an associated free project to make and take home afterwards
- Family math game night
- Free tutoring for school age children by high schoolers
- Afternoons for kids to practice reading to therapy puppies
So these may not be your typical museum field trips, BUT there is a lot of learning and enrichment to be found in these FREE programs.
Make sure you’re not missing out on what your library has to offer!
8. Lake Shore Learning Craft Classes
If you have a Lake Shore Learning store in your area, you should absolutely check out their FREE Saturday morning craft times.
Crafts are not my strength, so I am all about letting somebody else plan, pay for the supplies, and instruct my child.
Did I mention you don’t even have to register?? Just show up!
Go to Lakeshorelearning.com to find a store near you and check out the crafts they are offering before you pile into the car.
***While you’re on the website be sure to check out their resources tab. They offer a ton of free printables like writing prompt calendars, make your own flashcards, and lesson plans.
9. Government Building
This may not be interesting to your younger students, but middle/high school age kids can learn so much from a free visit to your local government building.
Alea from Premeditated Leftovers has a phenomenal post about this with suggestions such as:
- Requesting an interview with the mayor
- Meeting the county prosecuting attorney
- And even attending a morning in misdemeanor court to watch justice in action
Not your average field trip for sure!
10. Pet Store
Don’t laugh, because my kids actually loved doing this!
We used to live in an isolated area that required quite a drive to get anywhere.
My kids wanted to see animals, but I wasn’t about to drive that far to go to the zoo. Nope.
We did happen to have a huge pet store 1 mile from our house though.
They spent at least an hour there and even asked to go back another day!
There were all kinds of amazing animals (that I would never consider getting for pets) that my kids were fascinated to see so close up:
- exotic fish
- exotic birds
- bunny rabbits
- guinea pigs
- hermit crabs
My kids barely noticed the typical puppies and kittens at the front of the store!
There was so much to see and look at!
It might feel a little awkward to be on a field trip at a pet store, but I just told the employee that approached me that we would be browsing for a long time.
That was the last I saw him.
A great way to make this frugal field trip idea work for you is:
- Have your kids pick their top favorite animals. Take pictures of them, go home, and find out everything you can through Google and YouTube!
- Have your kids try to guess where these animals can be found in the world, what they eat, and what hunts them. Have a prize for who gets the most information right!
- Have your children pick the most beautiful or interesting animal and draw or make a craft with that animal as the inspiration.
More Fun Frugal Field Trip Ideas
These suggestions are not free, but they are definitely an inexpensive field trip.
Our curriculum has a focus on classical music and it had caused me to have to get creative in order to expose my kids to the arts.
Here is what I came up with:
1. High School Plays/Band Concerts
As a homeschool family, I would absolutely keep a finger on the pulse of the local high schools and community groups for plays and band concerts.
For a fraction of the price of professional tickets, you can take your kids to hear great music and watch fantastic plays.
This is a great option to see if your kids are even interested in these things. If they are, then maybe consider getting more expensive tickets to a professional play or orchestra as an extra special field trip.
2. Dance School Programs
We were very lucky to hear about a group of local dance schools who put on a group production of the Nutcracker every year.
I could not believe how inexpensive the tickets were!
We had been studying Tchaikovsky that year, so it also fit in perfectly with our curriculum.
We now go every year as our Christmas tradition!
Go online and check out the dance schools around you. Don’t be shy about calling them up and just seeing what they are doing for recitals.
You may be amazed at how fun it will be for your kids to go and watch!
Recap of Free Field Trip Ideas + Free Printable!
I hope this list has you pumped up to try out some free field trip ideas you maybe hadn’t considered yet.
You do not have to spend a ton of money to take your kids on memorable, fun, educational field trips – trust me!
If you struggle with the planning aspect of field trips just as much as the financial part, you have to download my Field Trip Planning Printable!
It will help you get focused, motivated, and committed to getting field trips into your homeschool!
You can download it for FREE today when you subscribe to The Simple Homeschooler (unsubscribe anytime, no spam ever!)!
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If you have your own outside-the-box field trip ideas, I would love to hear them! Just drop a comment below!
As always, be sure to pin this to your favorite Pinterest board for later and share with your homeschooling friends and followers!