Field trips offer parents and educators one of the most popular ways to combine fun with education. Museums receive approximately 55 million students from school groups each year. Zoos, aquariums, nature centers and historic sites are other popular field trip destinations.
Few, if any, cities possess these types of attractions in more abundance than New York City. Here are a few of the top must-see attractions you and your kids should visit if you’re planning to take a field trip in the Big Apple.
The Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is one of New York’s most popular attractions, receiving over 2 million visitors annually. The zoo houses over 600 species from around the world, including mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. Popular exhibits include the African Plains, where you can walk past lions and zebras on the savannah; the Congo Gorilla Forest, where you can meet gorillas in the rainforest; and Tiger Mountain, where you can encounter Siberian tigers in a woodland recreating the look of Russia’s Far East.
Educational offerings include classes in which kindergartners and preschoolers learn to count and say the alphabet, elementary school students learn about rainforests, middle schoolers study predators and prey, and high school students explore wildlife careers. New York City Public School students get general admission free. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more if you book two weeks in advance.
New York Aquarium
Just off Coney Island’s boardwalk, the New York Aquarium hosts over 10,000 specimens representing over 300 species. Popular exhibits include the 150,000-gallon Oceanic Tank that greets visitors as they enter; the Sea Cliffs, where you can see Pacific Coast seals and walruses as well as penguins and other creatures; Discovery Cove, where you can touch sea creatures but stay dry while standing under crashing waves; Fish That Go Zap, where you can learn about electric eels; the Aquatheater with its sea lion and dolphin shows; the Beluga Whales exhibit; and, of course, the 90,000-gallon shark tank.
Like the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium offers classes for all age groups from preschool through high school. Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more.
American Museum of Natural History
New York’s American Museum of Natural History is a treasure featuring over 46 permanent exhibits. Popular on-site exhibits for groups include the Discovery Room, which is geared toward giving children 5 to 12 a hands-on look at the science behind the exhibits; the Sackler Educational Laboratory, where you can look inside the Human Brain or take a Field Trip to the Moon; and the Hayden Planetarium.
You can also explore special themes, such as dinosaurs, meteorites or Northwest Coast Indians. The museum’s website offers information on planning class field trips along with resources for students of all age groups.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Another highlight among New York’s many museums is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met houses over 2 million works of art divided into 17 departments, representing five millennia of human creativity.
View the Met’s art treasures from ancient Egypt and Greece, observe paintings and sculptures from the great European masters, browse through American and modern art and enjoy collections from Africa, Asia and around the world.
The Met welcomes all school-age learners. Appointments are required for all visiting school groups.
Broadway also offers opportunities to introduce kids to the performing arts. Younger children and parents can enjoy productions such as “Aladdin,” “The Lion King” and “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
Older children and adults will appreciate hits such as “The King and I,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables.” Have your kids read the book before or after viewing the performance to get the most out of the experience, and book your tickets early using a service like Telecharge to reserve your seats for the best prices.
These are just a few ideas for fun field trips you and your kids can take in New York. For dozens of other ideas, see Fieldtrip.com’s index of New York field trip destinations.