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San Francisco is a great place to take your students on a field trip. San Francisco is known for foggy weather, but a student’s day can always be brightened by a learning excursion, and 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. These bus types come in a variety of sizes and feature a range of standard and optional amenities. The size of your group, the distance you’ll be traveling, and the amenities you may require will help determine which bus type is right for your group.
A coach bus is a comfortable choice, ideal for longer trips. Uniquely, coach buses are fitted with a restroom which can be extremely helpful in reducing the number of pit-stops you'll need to take en route to your destination. A coach bus also features significant undercarriage storage for luggage or equipment. Coach buses can comfortably accommodate up to 55 passengers, offering plenty of room for students and chaperones.
Most folks are familiar with the classic, reliable, bright yellow school bus. The seats on modern school buses are covered and have more filling than they used to, so your students and chaperones will find them easy to sit on. School buses are ideal for large groups that have a short distance to travel, and on average, seat up to 47 people.
Our minibus is perfect for a smaller class size: they hold up to 21 passengers. The seats are cushioned bench seats and offer quite a large amount of space for your students. There are no overhead compartments or under carriage storage, however. Some minibuses even come with air conditioning.
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. Uniquely, the museum employs a group of passionate high school students or “explainers” to engage visitors at select exhibits, lead science demonstrations, and run many of the museum operations.
The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco was originally built as part of the 1894 World’s Fair, making it the oldest public Japanese Garden in the United States. The gardens open daily at 9 a.m. During the winter, they close at 4:45 p.m., while in the summer, they close at 5:45 p.m. The original site was about one acre large and has been expanded to about five acres. The gardens feature classic Japanese elements, such as pagodas, a zen garden, koi ponds, and an arched drum bridge.
The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a great location for a San Francisco field trip and is designed specifically for children between the ages of three and ten. The museum’s programs are all NGSS-aligned, including the STEM workshops for students and teachers that use an engineering approach of “think, make, and try.” While these workshops are rigorous, they are also designed to be fun while still encapsulating best teaching practices.
The Happy Hollow Park and Zoo is located in San Jose, a short drive from San Francisco. The park takes a parallel play approach to learning in which students get to see animals up close and then mimic their movements on the playground. The park offers several curated programs that align with NGSS and CC standards, but Happy Hollow Park and Zoo can also work with you to customize a custom lesson based on the age of your students and the topic to be covered.
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.