Great Field Trips or day trips with kids
Field trips to take with the family, school, or group of friends. And you don’t have to go very far!
With the weather so nice it’s hard to stay indoors! So I don’t!
These are some of the wonderful field trips I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing with my kids.
We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place that has so much to offer right here in our own backyards!
Of course, there’s the Santa Cruz Wharf where you can see the sea lions and read about the wharf’s history as well as local animals on boards posted in various places along the way. Always fun for the younger ones! If you stay under an hour, it’s free!
The Seymour Center at the Long Marine Lab is a wonderful museum full of info about our bay and Pacific Ocean with hands-on activities, touch tank, small aquarium, and more.
They have periodic free days which we frequent!
As well as craft days and special events throughout the year.
If you join a tour, you can see the dolphins and sometimes other animals that have been rescued and learn much more from the wonderful docents.
I highly recommend the tour!
The huge whale skeletons are always fascinating and you can sometimes see living whales spouting off shore if you take a walk along the cliff!
The Santa Cruz Mission gave us a wonderful tour of the original adobe building from the time of the first Spanish Missionaries to the area and lots of great info about the Native American’s who lived here. It inspired a whole research segment on Native Americans for my son!
They often have tours and workshops and are working alongside local Native American Tribes to better represent the past and acknowledge the devastation Spanish missions brought to Native American peoples and cultures.
Please go enjoy our history and help to preserve it!
|I made a tortilla!|
On our field trip, which was organized by a local homeschooling group, we made candles, mud bricks, and best of all, cooked tortillas using an old fashioned wooden press and grilled them up on an outdoor oven! Yum! Wish we could have made more, they were so good!
|Big Basin Museum|
*(update below) Not so well known is that Big Basin Redwood State Park has a fabulous little museum with great hands-on displays about our local Eco-system, local animals, insects, and more!
Also, they have a gift shop with photos and displays of the history of the park and the camp as well as the loggers who worked there before it became a camp.
My favorite part is hiking in the beautiful redwoods! That can be hard to do with little ones, but there is a wonderful wheelchair accessible Redwood Loop Trail that even includes a trail guide you can pick up at the start of the trail which gives you facts about points of interest that are marked along the way.
My son loved finding the numbered markers and following the map! He pretended to be our Indian guide.
It’s an easy walk and the perfect length for little legs. Plus you get to see the largest and tallest Redwood trees in the whole park on this one trail! The Mother and Father of the forest, as they’re called. People used to (and still do?) travel very far to see these awesome giants!
There’s a cafe and an additional gift shop with wonderful treasures! They have many docent led hikes (though I prefer to enjoy the forest in relative quiet) and events throughout the year as well.
My son can’t wait to be old enough to be a junior ranger! And we’ve yet to get up there for an old fashioned family campground bonfire, but have heard great things about it. We have camped on our own up there, though, and it’s one of my favorites for camping!
*Sadly Big Basin Redwood State Park was devastated by fire in 2020. the forest is healing, but the buildings, including the fantastic museum burnt down. Please consider donating to the Reimagining Big Basin Project.
Rancho Del Oso is the Coastal side of Big Basin and does have a Nature & History Center.
The Natural History Museum in Seabright is another wonderful place to learn about our local animals and habitats.
They also have a room about the Ohlone Indians who were the first residents of our little paradise. My son was in his element since he’s been obsessed with Native American Indians since our trip to the mission!
Also, everyone loves climbing on the big blue whale sculpture out front! They have story times, and special event days. They periodically change themes, artwork on their walls, and have live animal shows throughout the year.
Natural Bridges State Beach also has a small museum with local animals, of course, lots about Monarch butterflies, and the local habitat.
We went during the winter to Monarch Grove to see the butterflies clustered on the eucalyptus trees before they migrated on, a wonderful sight! But recently returned to venture out to the tide pools.
Along the way we saw a swan in a pond! He wasn’t too happy to see us, but we kept our distance.
And we saw lots of amazing little creatures in their own little watery condos when we got to the tide pools. It was fascinating and so fun.
We never wanted to leave!
For more places I recommend that are close by, see: Great Field Trips Near Santa Cruz County
We have had such a great time exploring our world, and not having to go far to do it!
So many local treasures are great to return to again and again!
I will be posting local parks and beaches that we love sometime soon, but please let me know if you have any other nearby field trip favorites!
Last year we had some great field trips, too, such as Pacific Crest Apiaries (a bee farm), police & fire stations, Whole Foods, the Museum of Art and History, Neary Lagoon, The Resource Recovery Facility (the dump), and the Scotts Valley Waste-water Treatment Plant; all were excellent!