New England offers a special mix of historical and cultural experiences that give PTOs and PTAs a great selection of field trip destinations that kids and teachers will love.
We’ve put together a list of New England field trips, many of which offer programs that support state education standards or curriculum frameworks.
The admission prices listed below are based on group or school rates. Many facilities require a minimum number of students to take advantage of the group rate. Some also put a cap on group size.
Schools can select self-guided tours at many of these destinations, but guided tours are helpful. However, guided tours, along with educational programs or workshops, often cost extra.
Also, we recommend that school groups make reservations weeks in advance to visit these locations and consider reserving a slot at the start of the school year (even for spring visits) for the most popular destinations.
Museum of Science
The Museum of Science is Boston’s most attended cultural museum and is known for its hundreds of interactive exhibits on everything from wildlife to technology. Its popular Planetarium, a full-dome theater, is used for the museum’s own “deep space” presentations as well as outside productions. School groups can customize a trip to highlight current curriculum, and the museum offers a downloadable field trip planning guide.
Old Sturbridge Village
Old Sturbridge Village is the largest outdoor museum in the Northeast. The village depicts what a typical New England town would have looked like in the 1830s with homes, a store, bank, meetinghouse, and school. Students can experience life as a farming family, spend time in a schoolroom, and even participate in a 19th-century court case. The village itself includes costumed historians, antique housing, and a working farm. Teachers can access curriculum resources to help create lesson plans before visiting the village. Follow-up activity suggestions are available for post-visit projects.
Plimoth Plantation brings the 17th century to life for students who visit its village and its Wampanoag Homesite that features Native American life at the time the pilgrims arrived. Students can learn from costumed guides acting as villagers and visit replicas of homes that would have populated this small community centuries ago. The facility offers teachers a downloadable field trip guide to help them focus their visit and prepare students for their learning experience. Special programs and workshops are available. As part of this trip, schools also may want to visit the nearby Mayflower II, a replica of the Mayflower ship that arrived at Plymouth in 1620.
More than 100 species live at Southwick’s Zoo, including yaks, Vietnamese pot bellied pigs, monkeys, hyenas, kangaroos, lions, zebras, and snakes. The zoo, which opened more than 40 years ago, has a gated deer forest where visitors can feed the animals in their natural habitat. There’s a fun petting zoo with goats, turkeys, and sheep. Its Parakeet Landing is a walk-through aviary where many parakeets live and sometimes land on the shoulders of visitors to say hello. Students will like An Introduction to Animal Ecology, a free program offered to field trip groups.
Woods Hole Science Aquarium
Located on the Cape Cod shore, this nearly 130-year-old facility features many marine animals from the Northeast and Middle Atlantic waters as well as educational exhibits about marine life. This aquarium offers behind-the-scenes visits so children can observe staff feeding animals and cleaning tanks. Emphasis is placed on caring for the environment, marine environments, resource management, and endangered species. One of the big highlights is its seal habitat, the home of several seals no longer able to live in the wild. Teachers can download activity sheets that contain questions about the aquarium’s residents.
The Freedom Trail
Admission: free, guided walking tours start at $9 per student
The Freedom Trail is one of Boston’s most beloved tourist attractions, and it provides an excellent learning experience for children. The trail is mapped out on the sidewalks of the city with red brick or painted lines that take visitors on a walking tour of 16 historical sites, including: Paul Revere’s House, the site of the Boston Massacre, King’s Chapel and Burying Ground, Granary Burying Ground, Old South Meeting House, and the USS Constitution. Altogether, it is a 2.5-mile journey. School groups can book a tour led by a guide in 18th-century costume.
The Springfield Museums
Located in downtown Springfield, this museum “hub” includes five museums: the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, Springfield Science Museum, the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, and the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History. Schools can tailor field trips to include visits to some or all of the sites. This enables teachers to create programs that address a mix of art, history, and science lessons. Also, museum programs adhere to state education standards and framework. As a bonus, students can visit the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden with bronze sculptures of their favorite characters, including the Cat in the Hat, Horton, and the Lorax.
New England Aquarium
Admission: for group tour rates, contact http://www.neaq.org
The New England Aquarium is a Boston waterfront institution, and its four-story Giant Ocean Tank is seen by more than a million visitors a year. The aquarium provides many educational programs for school groups, including behind-the-scenes tours. It has a variety of field trip preparation tools, including a video on its site for teachers and students and a training workshop for teachers. It also offers a series of step-by-step lesson plans that teachers can implement in the classroom before students visit. The activities, such as “Get To Know a Fish," support state curriculum frameworks.
Museum of Fine Arts
Established in 1876, this world-renowned art museum is the home to more than 450,000 works of art. School groups can set up guided tours by gallery instructors who run interactive sessions designed for young children and with an emphasis on sparking an interest in art. The museum offers a range of guided tours, such as Highlights of the Ancient World or Highlights of the Arts of the Americas, that can be selected based on the school’s current curricula.
Boston Children’s Museum
Founded by a group of teachers a century ago, the Boston Children’s Museum gives children a hands-on experience with a focus on learning about science, culture, the environment, health, fitness, and the arts.
Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
This museum, focused on the work of picture book creator Eric Carle, is designed to inspire kids to love art and books. Children are encouraged to view the galleries and then visit the art studio to explore art materials and techniques. The museum has geared its programs to support state education standards.
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
The museum, affiliated with Yale University, began in the late 18th century with a collection of “natural and artificial curiosities.” Today it is known for its paleontology collections, including many dinosaur fossils, some of which are displayed in the Great Hall of Dinosaurs. Its Discovery Room offers hands-on activities, and children can view unusual creatures such as poison-dart frogs and hissing cockroaches. The Hall of Minerals, Earth, and Space has displays on the solar system, meteorites, and gemstones. The museum offers a series of school programs that are targeted at specific age groups.
Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center
Part of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, this museum highlights the lives, customs, and histories of Native Americans in the Northeast. The facility, opened in 1998, offers exhibits, galleries, classrooms, and libraries. Exhibits will help children learn about cold and changing climates, life in a Pequot village of the past, and the impact of European settlers to this region. A black-and-white portrait gallery depicts the Pequot Tribal Nation today. The museum offers guided tours and programs that focus on specific topics. One example is a program that looks at 16th-century life through the eyes of a Pequot child.
One of the leading maritime museums in the country, Mystic Seaport is home to 500 boats and millions of maritime artifacts and photos. It was built during the Great Depression. This historic facility offers hands-on experiences so students can get a sense of life in a whaling and fishing community of the 1800s. Students can visit the village, board the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship, and spend time at a working shipyard where boats are built based on historic methods. They can also see a planetarium show. Mystic Seaport offers several “sample day” field trip plans to help schools tailor the trip to their students and curriculum. It also provides information on how schools can meet state education standards during their visit.
The Mark Twain House & Museum
Guided tours are required at the Mark Twain homestead, where students will learn about the author’s work and family. The home is where Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Visitors will also see the Mark Twain Museum, which houses exhibits that feature the author’s work, and a theater that features a Twain documentary.
Admission: $100 per group (must be 30 or more students)
The Trash Museum is designed to teach children about the links between trash and the environment, recycling, and even trash management. Visitors can learn about the importance of recycling and how trash can be transformed into energy like electricity. For a $25 fee, the museum offers school groups the chance to borrow activity kits for use before and after a visit to enhance this field trip experience.
Dinosaur State Park
Admission $2 for students age 6-12, $6 for students 13 and older
This facility opened in 1968 after hundreds of dinosaur tracks were accidentally found during a building project. Now many of those tracks are protected and enclosed for viewing along with other fossils and artifacts. There are walking trails that students will enjoy. The park offers a series of grade-specific science programs designed to meet state education standards.
Noah Webster House
This museum is dedicated to Noah Webster, the man credited with publishing the first American dictionary, and considered a cultural visionary in his day. Costumed guides provide a tour of his birthplace at this site. The museum offers a number of school programs for an additional fee. Each support a variety of state education standards.
Roger Williams Zoo
Opened in 1872, Roger Williams Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country and has won national acclaim for its conservation programs in recent years. Students can visit with more than 100 different species of animals. The zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan Program and is home to a red panda, an African elephant, and a giant anteater. The facility offers a variety of educational programs for students from preschool to high school age, and the offerings support state educational standards and benchmarks.
Set atop a hill overlooking Newport Harbor, Fort Adams is a true American military fort that dates back to 1799 and was operational until after World War II. Students will see barracks, officer quarters, and have a chance to enter the secret “listening tunnels’’ below ground. On site, they will see views of the harbor. The facility provides information and exhibits on its long military history.
Coggeshall Farm Museum
Admission: $3 for children under 12, $5 for adults
The Coggeshall Farm Museum is a 48-acre property that includes a farm, woodlands, fields, and a salt marsh. It depicts agrarian life in the year 1799. Students can learn through interactive activities (actually working alongside farmers) and by speaking with “interpreters” dressed in handmade period clothing. The facility is named after Wilbur and Eliza Coggeshall, early tenant farmers who worked on the property. Their son, Chandler, was one of the founders of the State Agricultural Land Grant School, which went on to become the University of Rhode Island. Group tours are available and programs meet state educational standards.
Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
Admission: $2 for museum, $3 for planetarium
This is Rhode Island’s only museum of natural history and the state’s only public planetarium. It provides a range of exhibits on scientific and cultural resources, including an African exhibit designed to teach visitors about the connection between nature and culture. It offers a number of educational programs that support state education standards and for different age groups.
Biomes Marine Biology Center
Specializing in hands-on aquarium experiences, this center provides visitors with information about marine life in Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the home of more than 100 species of local marine life. Some field trip programs are set up in a “scavenger hunt” format, in which students look for answers to grade-appropriate questions about the animals in each station. That activity is followed by a live animal demonstration.
The Maine State Aquarium
W. Boothbay Harbor
The main gallery is designed to look like one of Maine’s rocky coasts, and the facility is the home to many coastal creatures. There are exhibits showcasing lobsters, including some that weigh more than 20 pounds. An 850-gallon tank houses sharks and skates. There are also touch tanks that give students a hands-on opportunity to learn about a variety of creatures, like sea cucumbers, scallops, and even small sharks and skates.
Maine Discovery Museum
Admission: $4.50 for groups of 10 or more
This facility provides interactive and hands-on activities for children to explore science, nature, geography, children's literature, music, art, and anatomy. Students can visit animals like turtles, snakes, and geckos. Hands-on activities include the Artscape exhibit that lets children design, draw, and create a giant light-bright creation using PVC pipes.
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park
Admission: $2, students under 11 free
This focal point of this park is the lighthouse, which was built in 1827. Children can tour the lighthouse itself and then visit the nearby Fishermen’s Museum, the home of many maritime artifacts, including lobster traps and tools used by fishermen long ago. The grounds include picnic areas, and students can take supervised walks among the rocks.
Maine Maritime Museum
Admission: $10 students under 17
This museum features a historic shipyard with several buildings, interactive exhibits, a shipyard owner’s home, and a full-size representation of a wooden shipping vessel. It offers hands-on cooperative programs that support state educational standards.
Museums of Old York
Admission: $5, additional group rates available
The historical properties that make up this site are some of the oldest colonial settlements and have the distinction of being the nation’s first chartered city (1641). Educational programs are targeted at specific grade levels. A K-3 program, for example, is called Ox Cart Man, and students get to cook johnny cakes, spin wool, and play 18th-century games, much like a resident would have done.
Mount Desert Oceanarium
Admission: Call for group rates, 207-288-5005
Students can learn about one of the state’s most famous creatures—the lobster—by visiting exhibits and a lobster hatchery. In addition, visitors can explore an adjacent salt marsh.
Admission: $1 to $3 per student, depending on number of facilities visited
This museum showcases the history of Wabanaki Native Americans though art and artifacts. School districts in the state of Maine are required to include Wabanaki studies in social studies content. There are a number of programs at the museum that support state social studies standards along with other educational standards.
Dew Animal Kingdom and Sanctuary
Admission: $4 per person for groups of 30 or more
This family-run zoo started with a collection of farm animals and is now the 42-acre home of more than 200 animals from around the world. It offers educational tours for students to learn about its residents.
McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
Admission: $7 per student in groups of 15 or more
This museum is dedicated to helping people explore astronomy, aviation, and earth and space science. It is named for two heroes: Alan Shepard, who, in 1961, became the first American in space, and Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher. McAuliffe died along with several crew members in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. The facility has a planetarium with shows about the moon, space travel, and black holes. It has exhibits on rockets, space shuttles, and jets, and special exhibits on Shepard and McAuliffe.
USS Albacore, Albacore Park
Admission: $2.75 per student in groups of 10 or more
This site is the home of the USS Albacore submarine and a memorial park dedicated to submariners. The Albacore, which was first deployed in 1953, was decommissioned in 1972. The city of Portsmouth worked to get the submarine back to where it was built in Portsmouth harbor. Today it sits in a cement cradle where visits can go inside and see how submariners lived and worked.
Canterbury Shaker Village
Admission: $8, additional group rates available
This site is one of the oldest of many Shaker villages that were established in the 1700s as religious and communal villages. It has operated as a museum since 1969. Today, it is the home of many restored or reconstructed Shaker buildings. There are almost 700 acres of forest, fields, gardens, and trails on the property. School programs are targeted to age groups; for example, one looks at how the early Shaker communities used pulleys, levers, and other simple machines in their daily lives. The programs support state standards for New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts.
Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
The museum gives students hands-on experiences. Popular features include the aerodynamics station, where children build their own flying machines, and a music exhibit, where kids can "compose" their own music.
Strawbery Banke Museum
This living museum, located in the heart of Portsmouth, was once the homestead of English settlers in the 1630s and has been a thriving seaport neighborhood for centuries. The 10-acre property today is the home of more than 40 historic buildings on their original foundations. It offers workshops along with pre- and post-visit resources to enhance the educational experience.
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
Admission: $6 plus $75 for special educational programs
Founded in 2003, ECHO Lake is a 36,000-square-foot facility. It is designed with interactive exhibits and programs featuring over 70 species of fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles. Exhibits include Frog World with 15 different species from six countries, Into the Lake, which explores the history and current world of Lake Champlain, and Indigenous Expressions, which provides a look at the people who have lived in this region through exhibits, films, and artifacts.
Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
This museum was funded in 1889 by Franklin Fairbanks, an industrialist, who started it as a “cabinet of curiosities.” Today it houses thousands of artifacts and collections of animals, dolls, tools, fossils, and more. It also has the only planetarium in the state open to the public. Educational programs support state education standards. Programs cover topics such as water and civilizations, simple machines, and mountains.
Montshire Museum of Science
Admission: for school rates, check www.montshire.org/for-teachers/school-visits-workshops/
This is a hands-on museum with more than 140 exhibits relating to the natural and physical sciences, ecology, and technology, including air and weather, earth and astronomy, light and sight, and more. The building is located on a 110-acre site near the Connecticut River, and the exploration continues outside in Science Park, the Woodland Garden, and along the nature trails bordering the beautiful Connecticut River.
Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour
Admission: Free for students 12 and under
Learn how ice cream is made and packaged at this famous tourist spot, and be sure to visit the Flavor Graveyard that pays tribute to the Ben & Jerry’s ice creams that are no longer made.
State Audubon Societies
A great resource for nature and ecology-related field trips in New England is the Audubon Society. Each state has an Audubon Society that operates facilities and conducts educational programs. The New Hampshire Audubon Society, for instance, has a network of facilities and each offers educational programs. For example, the Concord site offers programs about owls and bats, hiking trails, and ponds.
Other State Audubon Society links:
Rhode Island: http://www.asri.org