An important part (and privilege) of the homeschool or independent study student is getting to go out into the community to learn. Whether you live in a small town or a big city, there are so many opportunities out there for children of all ages to explore and learn. There is no shortage of great museums, historical sites, theaters, parks, festivals, and farms to visit in Southern California, but here are eight great field trip ideas to start with.

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1. Jet Propulsion Laboratory/NASA, Pasadena

Have a student that is fascinated with space, NASA, and the solar system? Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion  Laboratory opens its doors one weekend a year inviting the community to an Open House. Its Ticket to Explore program is free but has a limited amount of tickets. Their last Open House was in June, but be sure to keep your eyes out for next year’s event here. Can’t wait? You can book a free weekday tour here.

There are many STEM activities and various resources on their website as well here.

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2. Natural History Museum, Los Angeles

Four days a year, the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles offers free homeschool days with an assigned theme and activities. For the 2016-2017 school year, the NHM’s Homeschool Days are September 29th, February 1st, April 24th, and June 13th. If you can’t make any of those designated days, general admission to the Natural History Museum is free every Tuesday (note: there will not be special activities and programs for students on regular days).

You don’t need to register (just go to the admissions desk and tell them you are there for Homeschool Day). You will need to pay for parking which is around $10-12. Learn more about NHM Homeschool Days here.

The Natural History Museum’s website also has lessons and activities for all grade levels here.

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3. Bowers Museum, Santa Ana

Bowers Museum is a hidden treasure in Orange County with numerous permanent and changing exhibitions highlighting culture and art from around the world. Their docent-led tours and live performances through their Culture 360 program also includes an art project for kids to take home.

Check out their website for the newest special exhibitions as well as book your field trip online. To be a part of the Bowers Gallery Tours, there must be a minimum of 15 students in grades 3-12. For younger students, see Kidseum for their programs here.

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4. Disney YES, Anaheim

A bit on the pricier side, but Disney’s Youth Education Series (YES) program is a wonderful experience sprinkled with Disney magic. With programs in Applied Sciences, Environmental Studies, Liberal Arts and Leadership Development, the kids will love being in the park exploring and learning at the happiest place on Earth.

Tickets start at $75 and includes a one-day park ticket. You must have a group of ten, so get some other homeschool families together for a fun and educational day out. More information can be found here.

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5. Kids Free in October, San Diego

All month long, kids get to explore and play in San Diego for free. Over 100 offers are available and over 40 museums are offering free admission for kids under 12 years old with a paid adult. See the list of participating museums and download the coupon here.

For the list of free offerings, including food and events, click here.

6. Riley’s Farm, Oak Glen

Step back into history at Riley’s Farm (not to be mistaken with Riley’s Apple Farm). A student will get a hands-on experience of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Gold Rush, or Colonial Farm Life, and more in the different programs offered at Riley’s Farm. In the Revolutionary War field trip, students got to experience what life was like as a soldier in the war – from what they ate to a mock battle; history came alive! Plus, as an added bonus, you can go home with a delicious fresh baked pie.

You can go as a group or as an individual Read more about their field trips here.

7. U.S.S. Midway, San Diego

One of America’s longest-serving aircraft carriers, the USS Midway in San Diego is a treasure trove of history and adventure. With more than 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft, the self-guided audio tour and flight simulators, the USS Midway offers an unforgettable learning opportunity for students.

The Midway offers math, science and history workshops as well as a specific homeschool program for groups of 10 or more. See all the USS Midway has to offer here.

8. California Missions

Remember learning about the California Missions in the 4th grade? Well, it’s not just for fourth graders, but visiting a mission in the 4th grade is a quintessential part of education in California. There are 21 Spanish missions along the California coast and each has its distinct beauty and history.

Learn more about each mission and plan a visit here.

No time to plan field trips? Be sure to keep an eye out on our Meetup page for Epic Charter School Meetups coming soon!