Illinois Field Trips for Homeschoolers
Do you remember the excitement of a field trip day from your own school days? It meant the chance to do something out of the ordinary, see something new, and possibly have a big adventure. When you’re homeschooling, those kinds of days are more the norm than the exception! Field trip days are likely a frequent affair at your house, and when you live in Illinois, there is certainly no shortage of places to explore and learn together.
The other great thing about field trips is that they are a way to enhance almost anything you are studying. Whether you are covering the boyhood of Abraham Lincoln, learning about constellations, or studying bird habitats, Illinois has a destination to enhance your lessons! To help you locate homeschool field trips in Illinois, we’ve organized them by geographical area. Browse the list below to find the Illinois day trips that are perfect for homeschool families, and print out this map of Illinois to have your students document what they learn. Please make sure to contact each site before you plan your visit, as COVID-19 may have impacted their hours of operations. Plus, as a bonus, we’ve even included a free download of Time4Learning lesson tie-ins that might be the perfect supplement for each trip (grab yours at the end of this article)!
Home education is not the same in every state. Make sure you’re getting the information you need to start homeschooling in The Prairie State.
Homeschool Field Trips in North Illinois
The Grove, Glenview – What do you get when you cross a historic site with a nature museum? You get one of IL’s most unique and fun educational field trips! With multiple learning opportunities plus dedicated homeschool weeks, you’ll wish you’d found out about this site much sooner.
Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, Elmhurst – Any geology study would be upgraded by a trip to this unique destination. The museum offers a scavenger hunt which will definitely get homeschoolers quickly familiar with the exhibits. Rock and mineral identification classes are available to students in grades 3 and up, as well.
Niabi Zoo, Coal Valley – Conservation and education are at the heart of everything that happens at Niabi Zoo. Classes for all ages are available on a regular basis that not only teach about the animals and their habitats but let children get up close and personal with them, as well.
Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve, Joliet – Most Fridays and Sundays, you’ll find nature related activities going on at the nature center here – – everything from bird identification to animal tracking. But beyond the center are 985 acres of preserved woodland with miles of trails and even a historic farm to explore.
Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens, Rockford – With over 10,000 items in the collection, this museum is a historical treasure. The museum complex contains the historic house museum, barn, and carriage house from the Tinker family. Visiting is like opening a time capsule from the Victorian Era.
Homeschool Field Trips in Central Illinois
The Great Pumpkin Patch, Arthur – Children can’t help but love agritourism destinations…we all have a “little farmer” inside us that is brimming with curiosity about how things grow. When you are looking for unique field trips ideas, the gardens, mazes, farm animals, and one-room schoolhouse here at the patch will fit the bill.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana – If you have the opportunity to attend one of the Youth Series performances at Krannert, you homeschooler will be enriched. The center creates study guides to accompany the series, too. Don’t miss the free behind-the-scenes tours of the facility that happen most afternoons during the school year.
Lincoln’s New Salem, Petersberg – Imagine if you could step right back into the time of Abraham Lincoln. You can do just that at this reconstruction of the village where young Abe spent his early adulthood. With over 20 buildings to explore, your homeschool history buffs will be thoroughly transfixed.
Peoria RiverFront Museum, Peoria – With hands-on learning through objects, a Giant Screen Theater, Dome Planetarium, and rotating exhibits, this museum is one of the most fun things to do with children in Illinois. There are even dedicated classes just for homeschoolers!
Scovill Park, Decatur – 62-acre Scovill Park is home to 400 animals spanning six different continents. Families will find exotic and domestic animals, horticultural displays and gardens, a large playground, and plenty of places to picnic. Animal education doesn’t get more captivating than this.
Homeschool Field Trips in South Illinois
Ballard Nature Center, Altamont – When nature, exploration, and education come together, it’s a recipe for one of the most fun day trips in Illinois! Throughout the year, the center offers programs such as the Hoot & Howl Hike, Family Science Day, and Firefly Fun.
Cahokia Courthouse State Historic Site, Cahokia – Initially built as a dwelling in the 1730s, this building became the center of political activity in the northwest in the early 1800s. Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery actually used the site as their headquarters from 1803-1804.
Fort Massac State Park, Metropolis – Visit Illinois’ first ever established state park! Take an excursion through American history where you can see the archeological outline of the original fort and a replica of an 1802 American Fort that once stood on the site. There is an annual encampment reenactment in October, as well.
The Science Center, Carbondale – Everyone knows that science is best learned the hands-on way, and this museum offers one of the most interactive places to visit with children in Illinois. The Science Center hosts educational programs for homeschool families on the second Wednesday of each month.
Trail of Tears State Forest, Jonesboro – What if you could explore an area of your state that you knew was used extensively by Native Americans? This part of the Illinois Nature Preserve System, encompassing over 5,000 acres, is named in memorial to the tragic event that pushed American natives from their homes.
Do you have additional IL field trip ideas we’ve not mentioned here? Add them in the comments or share them on our Illinois Homeschool Support forum.
IL Field Trips Unit Study Suppl.
Is there anything more fun than learning through field trips? To make your experiences at these destinations even more meaningful, Time4Learning members will appreciate this download of free activity tie-ins.
Sugar Grove Nature Center at Funk’s Grove between Shirley, IL and McLean, IL. Very near the Funk Prairie Home someone else mentioned.David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, IL and CH Moore Homestead in Clinton, IL these homes are period homes with the Funk home and there are Abraham Lincoln ties as well.
Those sound like a lot of fun, Karen. Thanks so much for making sure our readers know about those. 🙂
The Scovill Park in Decatur should not be listed. However, The Lincoln Museum in Springfield is an awesome place.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing the Lincoln Museum, Mary-Jane! 🙂
Great information, Thank you.I would like to add Riverside Stables for a hands on field trip learning about the equine industry. Located in Springfield Illinois http://www.riversidestable.com
We’re glad you found it helpful, Connie! Thanks for making sure our readers know about the stables! 🙂
i would love to add the Discovery Center and Burpee Museum and Anderson Japanese Gardens in rockford illinois.
Thanks so much for making sure our readers know about this one, Amie! 🙂
Dahnke’s Pine Patch/North Pole Stables, Martinsville IL. We have a Christmas tree farm and Reindeer Farm. We offer school to farm trips. Sign up at our website http://www.dahnkespinepatch.com
Thanks for making sure our readers know about that one, Yvonne! 🙂
ComEd Discovery Lab in Rockford. Free and really interesting. http://www.fieldtripfactory.com
Thanks for making sure our readers know about this one, Celine! 🙂
Would like to recommend a field trip to a “Harvest Pow Wow” Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St. Naperville, 60540 -September 21st and 22nd, 2019 * to learn more http://www.harvestpowwow.com Thank You, Patty Kobeissi- Pow Wow Committee
Thanks for making sure our readers know about this one, Patty! 🙂
Holocaust Museum in Skokie. Also the Naperville Settlement in Naperville
Thanks for those suggestions, Sheila! 🙂
Cantigny park and war museum, Wheaton, Il. Also beautiful grounds and tours of the home of Robert McCormick.
Thanks for those suggestions, Gloria! 🙂
Dickson Mounds Museum Lewistown ILWildlife Prairie ParkHanna City, ILCamp Big SkyFarmington/Middle Grove, IL
Thanks for sharing those suggestions with our readers, Desta Jayne! 🙂
Decatur has the Scovill zoo listed above but right next to it is the updated Children’s Museum of Illinois with brand new train and tracks. Decatur also has Rock springs nature center on the southwest side withplayground, fishing pond,, 1860s prairie homestead, and science center. Call ahead for a tour or to schedule a private 1860s interpreter to show you the house and garden.Decatur also has a new water park opening in 2019.
These are some great suggestions, thanks for sharing them! 🙂
Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, IL. http://www.cahokiamounds.org
Southern IL Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center & Camp Dubois near Hartford, Illinois.Enter a world of discovery through the doors of the new Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center near Hartford, Illinois. The Center consists of over 14,000 square feet of exhibits, displays, artifacts, and multimedia renderings that emphasize the Corps’ preparations for the expeditionThe highlight of the Center is surely the magnificent 55-foot full-scale replica of the expedition’s keelboat. This cutaway replica allows the visitor to walk through the vessel to examine the supplies the Corps brought along and the manner in which they were stowed. Visitors can also view a stirring account of the expedition presented in a 12-minute film, “The Journey’s Edge.”The Center is open for free public tours, and is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.http://www.lewisandclarktrail.com/section1/illinoiscities/Woodriver/interpretivecenter.htm
Thank you for sharing this with our readers, Jennifer! 🙂
My kids also enjoyed the Caterpillar Visitor’s Center in Peoria, right next door to the Riverfront Museum.
Awesome! Thanks for sharing, Erik! 🙂
http://funkprairiehomemuseum.com/ is a VERY good place for field trips! They have 3 guided tours: the 1864 house, the Gem Museum & the 1860’s Machinery & Barn equipment. Reservation are REQUIRED! Enjoy!
Thank you for making sure our readers know about this one, Michelle! 🙂
Jump Start Gymnastics in Peoria, IL offers Homeschool Field Trips & Classes! http://www.jumpstartfun.com 309-692-5867
Great to know, Ashley! Thanks so much for making sure our readers know about that! 🙂
A great place for a field trip is Abraham Lincoln Presidential museum located in Sprinfield, Illinois. There is so much to see and to do.
Thanks for the awesome suggestion to our blog readers, Deirdre!