Homeschool Field Trips in Virginia
The geography, climate, culture and history of Virginia seem to be tailor-made for field trips. Whether you have a specific destination that will complement something you are learning about or just need a break from your regular homeschool routine, there are plenty of family activities in Virginia that combine learning and recreation. Even if you are only visiting VA as a tourist, you may discover that you can turn your vacation into an educational travel adventure!
When planning educational trips for students, keep these tips in mind:
- You can never be “too prepared.” Weather can shift in less than an hour, even the most careful child can spill something on their clothes, and unexpected traffic can mean sitting in the car for far longer than you expected. Bring enough supplies to counter any possible “glitch” in your plans.
- Even if it’s not advertised, don’t hesitate to call in advance and ask if a venue offers discounts for homeschool families.
- Spend a few minutes on the way to make your children aware of the type of behavior that’s appropriate for your field trip destination and to go over safety rules and plans if you were to accidentally get separated.
- If your venue has a related website, browse it ahead of time. Not only will it give you all the pertinent information you need about hours of operation, fees, and guidelines, but many educational destinations even provide lesson plans that educators can download that will enhance your visit.
To help you locate places to visit in Virginia with children, we’ve organized them by geographical area. Browse the list below to find the field trip ideas in Virginia that are perfect for homeschool families. Plan out each of your learning adventures on this printable map of Virginia from Time4Learning. Plus, as a bonus, we’ve even included a free download of Time4Learning lesson plans that might be the perfect supplement for each trip [at end of article]!
Home education is not the same in every state. Make sure you’re getting the information you need to start homeschooling in the Old Dominion State
Homeschool Field Trips in the Southwest and Mountain Region of VA
Blue Ridge Institute & Farm Museum, Ferren – When you want to explore all the facets of folklife from farming to music to decorative arts, this is the place to start. Here you’ll encounter life on a recreated Virginia-German homestead from the early 1800s. Educational tours and programs allow students to get hands-on with history.
Booker T. Washington National Monument, Hardy – When it comes to educational one day trips, Virginia has a buffet of options. Here’s one that is ideal, not just for Black History Month, but for any day of the year. Learn about a man who was born into slavery but who became an American educator, author, and advisor to U.S. presidents.
Glencoe Mansion Museum & Gallery, Radford – You can easily imagine life in the Victorian era by visiting this museum and mansion dedicated to the history of Radford and the New River Valley area. There is an authentic 19th century schoolhouse on site, a collection of Native American artifacts uncovered on the grounds, as well as an art gallery featuring exhibits of all different media from local artists.
Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield – You won’t get many opportunities to examine earth science as up close and personal as you will at this site. This 10-story high tunnel was naturally carved through limestone over thousands of years. Take a cave tour, a canoe trip on the Clinch River, or an exploration on one of 7 different hiking trails.
Skyline Caverns, Front Royal – When the weather in VA is either too warm,too cool, or too rainy, you can head deep inside the earth for a field trip experience that is fun no matter the weather. Witness a “living” cavern that is being formed daily by the movement of water. This is a terrific chance to tie in studies on geology, the water cycle, minerals, and even creatures that live underground.
Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Forest – Poplar Forest was crucial to President Thomas Jefferson‘s life; it was his personal retreat and plantation and one of two homes he designed himself. There are plenty of free lesson plans on the website and there are special “Hands On History” activities to help students in grades 2-12 better understand Jefferson’s life and times.
Homeschool Field Trips in Central Virginia
Children’s Science Center, Fairfax – Very few museums offer a “Homeschool Pass” specifically for home educators, but this one does! The pass gives your entire family access to all of the center’s educational, STEM-focused activities for just $99 a year.
Graffiti House and Brandy Station Battlefield, Brandy Station – Imagine introducing the subject of the Civil War from the perspective of the soldiers who fought in it. The second floor of Graffiti House is covered in handwritten inscriptions left by both Union and Confederate soldiers during the war and the docents are eager to share the history behind them. The largest cavalry engagement in U.S. history took place on the nearby battlefield.
James Monroe’s Highland, Charlottesville – The fifth president of the U.S., James Monroe, was born and resided in Virginia. He lived at the Highland Estate with his family from 1799 to 1823. Take the guided tour to learn more about this historical figure so key to the Louisiana Purchase and famous for penning the Monroe Doctrine.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond – Students of all levels will “blossom” on this field trip. With a group of 10 or more, you can participate in one of the organized preschool, elementary, or secondary educational programs. Or simply go on one of the ever-changing KidQuest scavenger hunts through the gardens as a family.
Metro Richmond Zoo, Moseley – Would the animal lover at your house get a kick out of feeding a giraffe or having a budgie land on his/her hand? There are plenty of animal experiences that await you at this site. Plan to attend the daily zoo keeper talks to learn fascinating facts about the creatures that live at the zoo.
Morefield Gem Mine, Amelia – Over 80 different species of minerals have been discovered in this mine, although it is most famous for its amazonite. Wear clothing you can get dirty in for this field trip and even a change of clothing, and don’t forget to bring a bucket or plastic bag to take your treasures home in.
Homeschool Field Trips in the Eastern and Coastal Region of VA
Chippokes Plantation State Park, Surry – By the year 1619, Chippokes was already a working farm and has stayed active ever since. Students can explore an antebellum mansion, stroll through the gardens, and view antique farming equipment. They can also learn about generations of people who have inhabited the area, from the original native settlers to the African slaves who worked the plantation.
Colonial National Historical Park, Jamestown – The first permanent English settlement in North America just happens to be located in Virginia. Homeschoolers can visit both Historic Jamestowne and the Yorktown Battlefield at this historic park location.
National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum, Alexandria – Wouldn’t this be the perfect place to learn more about American inventors such as Thomas Edison or the Wright Brothers? Not only are over 500 inventors showcased here, but admission to this one-of-a-kind destination is totally free!
Nauticus, Norfolk – When you are interested in an in-depth look at the naval history of the U.S., Nauticus should be on your radar. This waterfront maritime museum hosts science exhibits, an aquarium, and the historic Battleship Wisconsin.
Peninsula Fine Arts Center, Newport News – Art is alive in the VA peninsula! If you doubt it, just visit this thriving center with ever-changing exhibits, ongoing classes for all ages, online distance-learning programs, and summer art camps. The center even hosts quarterly days just for homeschoolers.
Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Virginia Beach – Although they are likely to be most impressed by the 300,000 gallon tank full of sharks, rays, and other aquatic animals, your homeschoolers will find plenty of additional exhibits to “ooh” and “aah” about on this educational trip in VA.
Virginia Field Trips Resource
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 lesson tie-ins.