What is the best school field trip you went on?

King Tut exhibit for me, too, when it was in St. Louis!

We also went to an archaeological dig at a Hopewell and Mississipian site.

Did you go before or after the Page Museum was built? What I liked most about it was that you could watch the scientists through the glass as they were working on artifacts. Before that, the work sites in the park were fenced off, and you couldn’t really see anything.

If you don’t count the 6 weeks that I spent in China with my high school Chinese class, it was probably digging for selenite crystals on the Great Salt Plains.


I went on a lot of field trips in grade school: Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago), Planetaria, Plays / Ballets, A large Dairy, even went to DC in 7th grade.

However, there was one trip that I’ve not been able to recreate: visiting a power plant. I remember the room with the turbines in it. They were of course inside their housings / covers. The tour guide balanced a nickel on the housing to indicate how low the vibrations were. I remembered it, although I’m not sure how useful this info was to a grade school kid.

In recent years, plant tours of this kind seem harder to do. I guess they decided, since 9/11, that these places shouldn’t be visited by the general public. A pity: I always wanted to do a dam / hydropower tour when I lived in Seattle but never found a way.

As I mentioned in the other thread, we had more good ones than bad ones. For me, two stand out:

In Grade 5, a visit to an open air museum called Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, in the Huronia region of Ontario. I think my parents had to pay good money for it, but it was worth it. It represented a 17th-century French Jesuit missionary settlement among the Hurons. My memories include: being shown a video about the French forming an alliance with one Indian nation against another; watching tadpoles in a pond; seeing a carpenter’s or blacksmith’s shop with a living history actor in it; an Indian long house; the local hospital. We may have even tried to lie in the beds (which, however, had no mattresses on them). We were told that there were no women in the settlement in the time when this was a French colony; only clergy and male laymen who assisted with the operation of the settlement.

In Grade 6, a visit to Toronto’s Old City Hall courthouse. We walked into several court sessions and observed some of the proceedings. I recall two men who were accused of being in a brawl or something, a young woman from China who had stolen a camera (the judge asked her what would happen in her country if she did that), and a man being tried as a juvenile in a room that was in a less fancy setup where the judge did not wear robes. The judge also pointed the accused out to us and the latter smiled at us.

Also in Grade 5, there was another trip that started out great, but under the circumstances didn’t end that well. My class went to spend a weekend at Mono Cliffs, a conservation area with an educational center. Me and my best friend Mike K. shared a room in their dorm. On the balance of it, the experience was great. We climbed up ropes through a hole in a cliff, saw a salamander or newt, went on a hayride among their herd of Highland cows, flew kites we had made in class, and so on. Near the end of the weekend, however, a few rough spots arose, with the big one being that I wet the bed on the last night (I actually wet my bed until I was 13!) That caused me enough self-conscious embarrassment that I didn’t want to go on a similar trip again.

Thinking back, I was spoiled when it came to field trips. In high school I went to the physics day at the local amusement park and did an entire weekend away at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival.
In elementary school we were always going to places like the zoo, or OMSI*, or next door to those: the forestry center (letdown compared to the other two). I remember the Franz industrial bakery and the Tillamook cheese factory.

But best of all was the years-long series of Oregon Symphony concerts specifically designed for teaching grade schoolers about classical music. Once I got to sit dead center in the front row of the mezzanine when the conductor broke down every instrument group, where they sat, what each one sounded like individually and how they fit into the whole, etc. I was 9 and can remember it in vivid detail.

Included were instructions on how to watch a classical music concert. This came into play years later when my now-wife and I attended one in college. She had not been the beneficiary of this educational experience, so did not know to hold your applause until the conductor turns to the audience and bows. I suspected as much as the first movement of the symphony came to a close, and reached for her already-moving hands to keep her from clapping too soon. (She hates that story.)

We had a field trip in high school to see

I assume it was organized by the Evangelical Christian faculty members to help bring us to Christ.
Instead, it inspired (in me) a lifelong fascination with switchblades. I have a nice little collection and still follow some of the online collector/auction sites. I never joined a NYC street gang though.

Up to grade 4: The North Carolina Zoo. It was, and is, a world-class zoo, and is freaking enormous. We went most every year.

Grade 5: Florida, by train, to watch a space shuttle launch, and then go to Epcot. This was an amazing trip.

Grade 8: My Latin teacher organized a trip to freaking Italy, and I got to go, for ten days, to Florence and Rome and Pompeii. It was an amazing trip. My dad, wanting to instill a work ethic, paid me to transcribe his medical records so that I could “pay for the trip” myself: he was a new physician and had just opened his practice, and I guess this was pre-HIPAA. In any case I pity whatever poor schmuck doubtless had to come along after me and re-transcribe whatever hot mess I made of the transcriptions.

There was definitely a museum of some sort on the grounds that I visited. The thing I most vividly remember was a wall covered with dozens (or possibly hundreds) of dire wolf skulls. This was during my freshman year, so it would’ve been around 1996-1997. Wikipedia tells me the Page Museum opened in 1977, so that’s probably what I went to.

Yeah, that’s it!


As part of HS senior social studies there was a spring trip to the county correctional facility; part sociology, part ‘scared straight’. Scared straight worked for me as I haven’t been back in one since!
While we only went into cellblocks of non-violent arrestees who couldn’t make bail there was a high-profile murder suspect in the building at the time awaiting his trial (guilty, two counts of first-degree murder)

I was in a magnet program in middle school and the big 8th grade trip for the class was a week in New York City. Drove up in charter buses from Maryland.

We stayed in a hotel near Times Square, which was not 70s seedy at the time, but it was still in a fairly early transitional state and not quite the “Disneyfied” Times Square of today. Let’s just say we could still spot prostitutes (“women of questionable virtue” as one my teachers put it) walking around on the sidewalk at night from our hotel rooms.

We had pizza at Sbarro’s and went to the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. We went to the UN, the Met, and visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We went to Radio City Music Hall, and NBC Headquarters. We saw a broadway show, which was originally supposed to be something else, but something about the original plan fell out and we ended up seeing “Gypsy,” which may or may not have been appropriate for a bunch of 13-year-olds. So basically your standard NYC tourist itinerary, circa 1991.

Must have been a nightmare for the teachers and chaperones, having to herd 120 8th graders around New York City, but I suppose they had a lot of experience doing it every year. I’m pretty sure we came back with everyone we left with.

Blenheim Palace… for two years when I was in school in Oxfordshire, UK. Our class would bring our lunches( remember wax paper sandwich wrappers ?) and picnic on the grounds. This was after wandering though the palace. My family went there after Churchill died and was buried there. We filed passed his grave, my little sister said:Dirty Old Man, she was 2 years old.

My secondary school in the UK was a fairly unremarkable rural secondary school, west of London, pleasant countryside, nothing particularly to recommend it. They somehow managed to wrangle a “French exchange” partnership (where kids from school in France spend fortnight in UK and then reciprocate at their school in France.) with a school in Chamonix France, a spectacular french ski resort (and about to host to the winter Olympics).

To this day I’ve no idea how they pulled it off but its where I learnt to ski, and one of the experiences of my childhood (my french exchange partner was a nice kid too).

I think it was in Kindergarten. This was in Arkansas, where we lived a few years before settling in West Texas. We went to see some trains. I can’t remember much about it, but I remember they rode us out a ways up in the engine before taking us back, and I thought that was cool as all get out.

Wow, some of you went on some really cool trips.

My best was a trip to Mexico, ostensibly to practice Spanish (which I did, to some extent) but mostly to see the Mayan sites and go to the beach. But that was more like educational travel - only a few people went, and it was in the summer.

The best regular field trip was to the Maquoketa caves park. They took us into the deeper parts of the cave system, which are usually reserved for serious spelunkers.

Most memorable was Gai’s Bakery and Oberto Sausage Company in Seattle. We got samples at both places.

But the thing I remember the most is my chaperone gasping at the radio. It was the day that someone attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II. I had no idea what a pope was and I still remember her incredulity that I didn’t know about him.

I’m still proud to be part of the most under-chaperoned, under-organized, under-supervised field trip ever. And it was from a basic high school in Wisconsin to … London (the one in England).

I still don’t know how the wildest, most flamboyant teacher in the school talked them into sponsoring a “Spring Theater Trip” (he was the choir director, and there were no theater teachers or students on the trip, it was made up of twenty fun/nerdy/pothead kids).

First sign things were not well-planned, but were going to turn out even better as a result: Got to our hotel outside of London to find that we didn’t have a reservation. But… turns out there was only one hotel that could accommodate twenty kids and two chaperones: The Strand Palace … but we each had to have our own tiny, single room.

(Topic of conversation for the next 24 hours: What the hell did THAT cost? And was the previous hotel paying it for losing our reservation? Or was it Mr. B’s fault, and he just cost the school thousands of dollars? How would he still have a job when we get back?)

The next week was a flurry of activities that… well, half of the kids skipped out of.

Mr. B didn’t care, he’d just say “We’re having dinner at The Carvery at 7, can you make it back by then?” And off we’d go, riding the Tube, running through Hyde Park and along the Thames and through all the free museums (it was a bit Ferris Bueller…). And the Strand Palace was only a couple of blocks from Trafalgar Square, so there was lots of night-time exploring, too.

Oh, one day a couple of us decided to visit an old friend who was au-pair-ing north of London. We stocked up on baguettes and brie and fruit and a bottle of wine and figured out which train to take. Lovely, but long, ride. We did not make it back for dinner that day.

But get this. No one cared. We just showed up the next morning in the hotel’s breakfast room to hear about that day’s activities… and decide if we wanted to participate (we did, and went along to the Criterion Theatre to see Alan Bates as Butley, directed by Harold Pinter).

I guess it turned out to be a Theater Trip after all…

One of the kids in my elementary class was the son of the chief of police. He got us a tour of city hall and the jail. Woo hoo. I remember we got to peak in an empty cell. I remember a bare mattress on an iron bedframe with a plate of half-eaten hash browns on it. Weird what details stick in your mind.

And the moment that carrps thought “Mmm, hashbrowns…” is when a life of crime began.