For kids, field trips usually rank as one of the highlights of the school year. For teachers, field trips provide the chance to supplement classroom instruction, provide real-world experiences, and expose students to new places and situations. If your child hasn’t yet gone on a field trip this year, or you’re helping your child’s teacher organize a field trip, here is a list of some of the best field trip venues in and around Los Angeles.
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Mission San Gabriel Arcangel
428 S. Mission Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776
Some schools, depending on their location, opt for a field trip to the San Gabriel Mission. It was the fourth of the California Missions and is home to a collection of sacred art pieces. As you wander among the “Pride of the Missions,” you’ll also have the chance to learn more about the history of the Spanish priests and the Native Americans who lived here.
Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana
15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd., Mission Hills, CA 91345
Elementary-aged schoolchildren learn about the California Indians and the Spanish Mission system. A visit to one (or both) of the nearest Missions makes the past alive, which then usually makes it more interesting for students. At the San Fernando Mission (also referred to as the “Mission of the Valley”), classes have an opportunity to walk among the rooms (acknowledging the shorter doorways), and learn what daily life was like for both the California Indians and the Spanish priests.
The Autry Museum
4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027
For children learning about the history of California, the Autry Museum may be the perfect place for a field trip. Docents lead classroom groups throughout the Museum and focus on western expansion, Native Americans, and the California gold rush. Different field trip options are available and are designed for different grade levels (K-2, 3-6, and 7-12). Most field trip tours are 55 minutes in length.
School Boat Tour Program
Port of Los Angeles
425 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro, CA 90731
Students in grades four and above can take a one-hour field trip aboard Harbor Breeze Cruises. These field trips allow students to get an up-close-and-personal look at the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest container port in the country. Students learn about world trade and the fact that many of the items in their homes passed through the Port of Los Angeles.
Underwood Family Farms
3370 Sunset Valley Rd., Moorpark, CA 93021
A visit to Underwood Family Farms really lets kids see where their food comes from. And kids that are more invested in their food, who understand how their food is grown, are more likely to make healthier eating choices. Different tours are offered, including one where classes pick a basket of strawberries, one where classes pick a variety of vegetables, and one where classes pick a sugar baby pumpkin. All tours also feature a presentation by the farmer, a vintage tractor ride, and a visit to the Farm Animal Center.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007
Regardless of your child’s grade or what he/she is currently studying in class, a field trip to the Natural History Museum will most likely effectively supplement his/her unit of study. Their exhibits include the Dinosaur Hall (where you can see a trio of different aged/different sized T. Rex fossils), the Gem and Mineral Hall (including more than 2,000 specimens of gems and minerals from around the world), the Becoming Los Angeles exhibit (which tells the 500-year history of our city), the outside Nature Gardens, the Hall of Birds, the hands-on Discovery Center (complete with microscopes, touchable fossils and furs, and a polar bear collected in Norway back in 1964), Animal Habitat Halls (featuring impressive dioramas), and much more.
California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037
The California Science Center has it all including plenty of things for kids to do, touch, and experience first-hand which helps to make sometimes abstract science concepts more concrete and understandable. A variety of field trip options are available including “Big Lab Programs” which allow students to become hands-on as they investigate, an IMAX screening, “Ecosystem Field Trip Lessons,” as well as Live Shows and Demonstrations. In addition, classes can view the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the planet’s only External Tank.
Drum Barracks Civil War Museum
1052 N. Banning Blvd., Wilmington, CA 90744
Children learning about the Civil War might think it has nothing to do with life in southern California. However, a field trip to the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington will change that. The Museum is housed in the “last remaining original wooden building of the 22 structures built as a military post during the Civil War in the Los Angeles area.”
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
40 Presidential Dr., Simi Valley, CA 93065
Understandably, many children have concerns and questions about our country’s new administration. A visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum provides docent-led tours designed to keep children engaged while learning about the presidency in general and Ronald Reagan’s legacy. Students will observe an exact replica of Reagan’s Oval Office, view a 6-ton piece of the Berlin Wall, tour Air Force One, and more.
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument
125 Paseo de la Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012
A field trip to the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument allows students to learn about the founding and history of our city. Los Angeles is a true city of immigrants and a visit here will help students see themselves as part of something larger and realize how important diversity is to our city, and by extension, our country. El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is considered a “living museum.” Students will view historic buildings, murals, statues, and more.
It’s all about music and the power of music when children visit either the Hollywood Bowl or the Disney Concert Hall. Depending on the field trip, children may hear a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, receive a guided tour, learn about different instruments, or tour the Hollywood Bowl Museum.
College Campus Tours
It’s never too early to start the conversation about attending college and letting our kids see college as a very real part of their future. Fortunately, there are several colleges and universities in southern California and all host campus tours. Be sure to check out Occidental College, California State University Los Angeles, University of Southern California, and University of California Los Angeles. (And don’t forget, CSU also has nearby locations in Long Beach, Dominguez Hills, and Northridge as well).