If you’re wanting to give your students a chance to learn outside of the classroom, a field trip is the most obvious solution. However, if your school district’s budget does not allow for field trip funding, you’re in luck. The Chicago area is home to several free attractions that can complement your classroom lessons in just about any subject.
Choose one of these free field trips in the Chicago area for your next adventure.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Take advantage of interactive activities that encourage your students to be curious about nature. The Garfield Park Conservatory on North Central Park Avenue offers several free programs during the school year. On Wild Wednesdays, students can discover the ins and outs of plants, nature and animals while also exploring interactive lessons on history, art and anthropology. Free field trips include guided tour and teacher resources to keep the lessons going in the classroom for students in grades 3-8.
Smart Museum of Art
On the north side of Chicago, you can see stunning art exhibits at no cost. The Smart Museum of Art in the historic Hyde Park is free and open to the public, including field trip groups for students in grades 4-12, and provides your students with a chance to learn about art, art history and architecture. Tours are guided by museum experts and the gallery is able to accommodate up to 60 people at a time.
Des Plaines History Center
Step back into the past and explore the inner-workings of light fixtures from the 1900s and learn how to work a boot jack with a free field trip to the Des Plaines History Center. Free tours are available Tuesdays through Fridays by appointment and include interactive, hands-on exhibits for students in grades 2-12 to enjoy. Expand your lessons of historical times with a tour of the Kinder House on-site at the history center.
Maker Lab at Harold Washington Library Center
Students in grades 7-12 can get their hands dirty and explore high-tech gadgets with free field trip to the Maker Lab. Located at the Harold Washington Library Center, the Maker Lab gives students the opportunity to learn about digital design software, 3D printers, vinyl-cutting and more. Perfect for an expansion of STEM programs, this free and interactive center is perfect for students with an interest in robotics.
Chicago History Museum
Find ways for your students in grades 5-12 to connect with the history of the windy city with a field trip to the Chicago History Museum. Offering learning stations, special exhibits, artifacts, works of art, interactive activities and documents, your students can spend a fun-filled morning or afternoon in the past. Free to all Illinois students, this venue is a popular spot for educational opportunities and fun.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Teach your students more about lions, tigers and bears without paying a fee when planning a field trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo. This free Chicago attraction is ideal for grades K-6 and gives you a chance to explore lessons on animals, habitats, insects, sea creatures and more.
Now that you’ve learned about our favorite free field trips in the Chicago area, share your favorites in the comments below. We want to know how you enhance your curriculum when venturing outside of the classroom.
photo credit: greglaskiewicz [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]