Looking for local field trips? I have the list for you. Whether it’s a learning opportunity for your preschooler; extended learning for your homeschooler; or you’re a teacher new to the area not knowing where to even look: Lake County has tons of places to take your little sponge brains for learning outside the classroom.
So where are the best field trip locations in Lake County?
Science-Based Field Trip Locations
Lake County Forest Preserves
While my kids were still home with me full-time, we took advantage of the day programs Lake County Forest Preserves had to offer. One of the classes was actually life-changing. We attended a Winter Birds program, and now my kids and I are avid bird watchers. Lake County Forest Preserves offer classes for little ones, homeschool groups, school groups, and scout groups.
Wildlife Discovery Center
1401 Middlefork Drive, Lake Forest | (847) 810-3663
The Wildlife Discovery Center is located on Elawa Farms in the Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest. It is home to reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. And, get this…it’s free to groups of eight or less. They offer nature talks and feeding demonstrations, as well as classes for children as young as two. They even have behind-the-scene classes for adults (you’re never too old for a field trip!).
Grab some field guides and binoculars and head to the woods. There’s much to learn about Lake County through our forests. Or if you’re looking for nature centers, here is are some of Little Lake County’s favorites.
Garoon Gateway to Science
23280 N. Old Mchenry Rd., Lake Zurich | 847-726-0800
This science park on the Lake County JCC property is only open to the public for special events but can be reserved for fieldtrips. Children get to explore science concepts through hands-on activity. Read Jennifer’s detailed review.
14245 W. Rockland Road, Libertyville | (847) 362-4636
Doing a study on farm animals? This is the place to go. They have horses, cows, pigs, goats, rabbits, and llamas. They even have a petting zoo. Check out their upcoming events page.
28478 W. Brandenburg Rd., Ingleside | (815) 344-1294
On the west side of Lake County is a hidden treasure. What’s neat about Volo Bog is you actually get to walk across the bog on a boardwalk to the center. There is a variety of flora and fauna to learn about, as well as learning about wetlands. Volo Bog offers programming and tours. Check out the Friends of Volo Bog page for a list of events, including Astronomy Nights (astronomers with the Lake County Astronomical Society bring telescopes and assist in pointing out stars, planets, etc).
Social Studies-Based Field Trip Locations
Lake County Discovery Museum
1899 W. Winchester Rd., Libertyville | (847) 968-3400
This museum recently moved to Libertyville and will open later this year. It features local artifacts, art, and photos. Programming is also offered throughout the year to groups as well as to the public.
Lake County has many historical societies. Some may offer tours or programs. Here is a website with a list of those located in Illinois.
Other Great Field Trip Locations
401 E.Route 60, Volo | (847) 201-1120
I wasn’t sure where to place this wonderful field trip site found in Volo, as it’s more than just science. What a great place for kids of ages 10 months to 7 years old to explore! Hippo Campus is divided into five play rooms: sight, taste, touch, smell, sound, and balance and motion. To learn more, here is Little Lake County’s review on Hippo Campus.
Hot Ground Gym – Mobile Training
Hot Ground Gym is one of the most impressive field trip experiences that comes to you building character, teamwork, critical thinking and more, all through physical challenges. The top-notch staff runs the program for one grade or your entire school. Check out what Alli thought about her experience at Hot Ground Gym.
Ten Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire | (847) 634-0200
Lincolnshire’s Marriott Theater offers plays to both adult and child audiences. What’s unique about their theater is the audience sits on all four sides of the stage. Many of their plays are based on children’s books or movies. Some are shorter for younger audiences. Coming soon: Disney Newsies: The Broadway Musical and Sleeping Beauty. To learn more about their shows, read Little Lake County’s review here.
There are tons of wonderful libraries in Lake County. Besides books, check out your local library’s collection of games, science kits, programming, and children’s play area. Many libraries will offer behind-the-scenes tours for groups.
Volo Auto Museum
27582 Volo Village Rd., Volo | (815) 385-3644
Are your kids into cars? The Volo Auto Museum (in Volo) is fun for all ages. There are cars kids can climb into, play areas for little ones, and of course, lots of fun things for big kids/adults, including the Batmobile. Lots to look at here.
Make the most of your field trip:
So how do you make the most of the experience? As the former curriculum coordinator, museum educator, and teacher, here are some ways to get more bang for your buck from your field trip:
- Find books that go with the subject matter. Look at them before and after the trip.
- If allowed, bring paper and a pencil to draw and sketch objects.
- Read the placards. Take part in any tours offered.
- Ask questions of the docents—that’s what they’re there for!
- Look for programming happening while you’re there.
- Have your kids or students use the map to navigate around the location.
- Discuss what they liked on the ride home.
- Research the answers to any questions they have afterward.
What is your favorite place in Lake County to take a field trip?