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San Francisco is a great place to take your students on a field trip. Although there may be fog outside, the day can be brightened by a learning excursion to a new place. San Francisco offers a wealth of popular destinations for students of all ages.
As an educator, you know how important hands-on learning is for students. Visiting a location that allows students to explore the material on their own gives students the wheel. And when students are driven by interest and curiosity, they retain what they learn. Field trips create this experience by their very nature.
There are many different types of buses you might want to consider when you’re booking your field trip. There are various sizes you can charter, as well as buses with different levels of amenities. What you’re looking for will determine which bus is the best match for your needs.
There are many options for educational school trips in San Francisco, whether you’re looking for a field trip that is outdoors or indoors. We’ve collected a few of the best spots for San Francisco class trips here so that you can get started on planning your students’ favorite field trip of the year.
Founded by Frank Oppenheimer (brother to J. Robert Oppenheimer), The Exploratorium opened in the fall of 1969 in what had been the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco’s Marina District. Oppenheimer was the director until 1985, shortly before his death. What makes the Exploratorium in San Francisco unique from other museums is that it operates from an understanding of art and science as complementary. All of the activities that they offer for field trips involve a hands-on approach to deep learning about science, art, and human perception. One cool feature is that the “Explainers” are often high school students, employed by the museum. Admission is free for all Title One schools.
The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco was originally built as part of the 1894 World’s Fair. It is the oldest public Japanese Garden in the United States. Daily they open at 9 a.m.; during the winter they close at 4:45 p.m, summer hours end at 5:45 p.m. The original site was about one acre large and has been expanded and changed over the years. Now, it spans about 5 acres. The gardens feature classic Japanese elements, such as pagodas, a zen garden, koi ponds, and an arched drum bridge. This is one field trip your students will not forget.
The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a great location for a San Francisco field trip. Its programming is designed specifically for children between the ages of three and ten. The programs are all NGSS-aligned. BADM’s STEM workshops for students and teachers use an engineering approach of “think, make, try.” While the workshops are rigorous, they are also designed to be fun and to encapsulate best teaching practices. Your students won’t even realize they are learning, they’ll be having such a blast
Happy Hollow Park and Zoo is located in San Jose, a short drive from San Francisco. They take a parallel play approach to learning: your students will get to see animals close up and then mimic their movements on the playground. There are several pre-designed programs that align with NGSS and CC standards, however Happy Hollow Park and Zoo can also work with you to customize a lesson based on the age of your students (they can accommodate through college level) and the topic you are studying. The initial park was designed as a children’s park in the 1960s.
The Conservatory of Flowers is a botanical garden and greenhouse located in Golden Gate Park. It’s the oldest building in the park, as it was built in 1879. If you’re teaching your students about plant life, this is the ideal spot for a field trip. The greenhouse is built in a Victorian style and is stunning. The conservatory is home to about 1,700 plant species. Bay area schools who reserve in advance qualify for free admission, however all field trips are required to have a 1:6 ratio of chaperones to students. There are options both for self-guided visits and guided tours.