Whether you homeschool your kids or are just looking for something fun and educational to do on a Saturday or short day, it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money to have a great time. Here are some field trips our family has taken over the years that were a big hit with everyone and either free or really cheap:
- Factory Tours
We live within a half hour’s drive of both the Jelly Belly Factory and a Budweiser brewery. Both of these tours are free and give you a glimpse into the workings of a modern factory. Plus at the end of the Jelly Belly tour you get to sample Jelly Bellys. (Sorry, no beer sampling at the end of the Budweiser tour.) For a list of factory tours available in your area, go to FactoryToursUSA.
- State/County Parks
We are very lucky to have many state and county parks within a very short drive of our house. These are usually free or have a very small day use fee and if nothing else, offer hiking trails on which the kids can burn off energy. Most also usually have a small nature center where you can learn about the local wildlife and get a history of the area. For California State parks, visit parks.ca.gov and for county/regional parks in all states go to Wildernet.
- Fire Station
Call ahead to your local fire station and they will take you on a really nice tour of the firehouse and even let the kids climb on the engine and wear a fire hat!! Be prepared though, to have your visit cut short if the firefighters are called to an emergency.
- Farm or Dairy
One of our local high schools has a student-run farm that families can visit by appointment. I couldn’t find a centralized web site, but if you do a google search farm tours and your city, you should be able to get a good list.
- Friends/Family with Interesting Jobs
You’ll have to decide what your kids will think is interesting. When Boo and Bud were little, my mom was working as a nurse in the cancer center at the local hospital. We would visit her office sometimes and the boys loved to have her take their blood pressure and weigh them. They also liked to play with the model torso with removable organs.
So with a little ingenuity and a good search engine, you should easily be able to find some inexpensive and even free day trips for your family. If you do, please come back and tell me what you found in your area.