Finding new educational field trips is challenging — especially for teachers on a limited budget. Florida, however, with its endless coastlines and iconic animals, offers many fun and free educational opportunities for students and teachers alike.
Here are five admission-free field trip ideas in Florida that are engaging and works within your school’s budget.
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
One major emphasis of the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is the Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, where staff administer medical care to thousands of ill, injured, and abandoned animals in hopes of returning them to their natural habitats.
The sanctuary offers numerous trails and boardwalks to give visitors a chance to experience wildlife animals native to Florida in their natural habitats, as well as an opportunity to view the state’s large cypress trees and beautiful bromeliad flowers.
The details: The Busch Wildlife Sanctuary also offers daily educational programs and tours that are perfect for any school field trip, club outing, or special interest group. The Sanctuary is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays and major holidays. Plan your visit.
National Naval Aviation Museum
This museum displays memorabilia from historic battles from various stages of history, including personal items, flight pins and patches, vintage equipment, and clothing. These extensive collections of artifacts in aviation give insight into the immense history of our country as well as appreciation for the military members who have come before us.
The details: The National Naval Aviation Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days. Plan your visit.
Florida Museum of Natural History
The Florida Museum of Natural History’s mission is to help people understand, preserve, and interpret biological diversity and cultural heritage to ensure the survival for future generations.
The museum in Gainesville provides permanent exhibits that are free to the public:
- Butterfly Exhibits
- Discovery Room
- Explore Research
- Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life & Land
- Our Energy Future, Museum Collections are the Library of Life
- Northwest Florida: Waterways & Wildlife
- South Florida People & Environments
Your students can:
- Explore a wind tunnel in the Discovery Room
- Life Cycle of Butterflies in the Butterfly Exhibit
- Take a walk through time in the Florida Fossils exhibit
- Learn about solar electricity in the Our Energy Future exhibit
- Learn about what it’s like to be inside a cave examining various minerals and fossils found in limestone layers in the Northwest Florida: Waterways & Wildlife exhibit
Every exhibit focuses on educating students on Florida’s history and natural habitat, making this a great science field trip for any grade!
The details: The Florida Museum of Natural History is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plan your visit.
Oakland Nature Preserve
The Oakland Nature Preserve, in Oakland, features grade-level curriculum that for all science topics. These educational programs are designed to both inform students and elevate the appreciation of nature and all that inhabits the great state of Florida.
Students will be able to:
- Explore the preserve using all five senses
- Collect and observe upland and wetland soil and discover the composition of the soil
- Explore the different parts of a plant and their respective functions
- See how water drops travel through the water cycle during an interactive hike through the preserve
- Walk down the boardwalk to the lake and collect water samples along the way for further examination
The details: The Oakland Nature Preserve Visitor & Education Center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Plan your visit.
Central Florida Railroad Museum and Winter Garden Heritage Museum
The Central Florida Railroad Museum, in Winter Garden, has a vast collection of historic railroad memorabilia as well as photographs of Florida’s railroad history. This museum holds a large collection of dining car china and silverware, a 1938 Fairmont motor car—and much more—to enlighten and educate students on the impact of railroads on American history.
Even though a train ride isn’t offered, kids can climb on a caboose and play with an interactive Thomas wooden train set.
Nearby is the Winter Garden Heritage Museum, which is housed in the 1918 Atlantic Coast Line Depot. Outside is a 1943 Cheshire caboose and a 1950s fire truck as well as old tractors and equipment used in the citrus industry.
The details: Both museums are open daily from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and closed all major holidays. Plan your visit.
These free field trips provide an educational experience for students while still appealing to their creative side. Whether it’s assisting injured wildlife animals or peeling back the pages of history, you and your students can enjoy engaging, instructive, and impactful experiences, free!