8 Chicago School Field Trip Ideas for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students

September 6, 2022
Liz Arnold

Field trips are a unique opportunity for students to learn outside the classroom and discover new horizons, as well as bond with one another and their teacher. They are a chance to make memories with their classmates that will last a lifetime. A school bus rental allows you to safely transport students from their classrooms to their destination, but you will still need to decide where to take your students for the best fun but educational field trips in Chicago. We are lucky to have many possible field trip destinations within easy reach, so here are some Chicago field trips ideas.

#1. Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the best educational places in Chicago. Best geared for students in grades 3 to 8, it is a unique chance to get up close and personal with exotic flora from around the world through eight indoor display gardens and 10 acres of outdoor gardens.

#2. Chicago Athenaeum

The Chicago Athenaeum focuses on art and design in all its forms, including architecture, industrial and product design, graphics, landscape architecture, and urban planning. It features temporary exhibits focusing on the value of Good Design and its impact on the human environment and should be part of any school trips to Chicago.

#3. Des Plaines History Center

chicago field trips

Take your students on one of the best Chicago educational tours and step back in time at the Des Plaines History Center. Hosted in the Kinder house, a gracious Queen Anne mansion, this Chicago history museum hosts events for elementary school-aged children when students can take part in arts and crafts and learn about historical lifestyles.

#4. Harold Washington Library Center

A visit to the Marker Lab is a must for all science field trips in Chicago. Geared towards children in grades 7 to 12, the Harold Washington Library Center encourages students to experience first-hand some of the principles they learned in STEAM class while using high-tech gadgets such as 3D printers, digital design software, etc.

#5. Lincoln Park Zoo

fun field trips in chicago

Which child does not like a trip to the zoo? A visit to the Lincoln Park Zoo, where elementary and middle school students can visit nearly 200 exotic species from around the world, undoubtedly makes for one of the most fun field trips in Chicago. And best of all, it is free!

#6. DePaul University Art Museum

If you are on a budget and are looking for free field trips in Chicago, then the DePaul University Art Museum should be on your list. The Museum features different Chicago-based artists with an accent on marginalized communities, including Latin American, African Diaspora, Asian Diaspora, women, Indigenous, LGBTQ, and others, in an effort to highlight the varied populations and communities within the city. 

The DePaul University Art Museum presents a mixture of temporary exhibitions, public programs, and a permanent collection which make any visit an ever-changing experience and one of the best places to go on day trips for middle and high schoolers.

#7. Chicago Children’s Museum

field trip destinations

If you are looking for school field trip ideas, you have likely come across the Chicago Children's Museum. It is a perfect place for hands-on exploring for children from toddlerhood and up to grade 5, with fifteen permanent exhibition spaces, temporary exhibits, and countless innovative learning opportunities. 

CCM encourages kids to develop their imagination, motor skills, and sense of community through play, including arts programs, self guided activities, hands on exhibits, STEM experiments, learning stations, imaginative play, and more. The Chicago Children's Museum has been a staple among field trip destinations in the Windy City for over three decades. It focuses on accessibility and inclusion so children of all abilities can enjoy the experience.

#8. Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Founded in 2003, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library presents a unique collection of artifacts dedicated to military history, starting around the American Revolution and beyond. It is located steps away from Millennium Park and across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago, making it a convenient stop for any Illinois residents and a school trip to Chicago.

Explore the Best Free Field Trips Chicago Has to Offer!

The Windy City is home to a wealth of museums and activities for students of all ages, making an excursion outside of the classroom walls the perfect occasion to apply their newly acquired knowledge to the real world and presenting unique opportunities for team-building field trips in Chicago.

We recommend hiring a school bus charter company to keep your trip convenient and affordable for the chaperones while making sure that everybody reaches their destination in safe hands.

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