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100+ Illinois Fieldtrip Ideas

Looking for fun, educational activities to do in the Land of LIncoln? Here are over 100 Illinois Fieldtrip Ideas for families and homeschoolers. The ideas are broken down into categories including enrichment ideas and Illinois special programs. NOTE: I will continue to update this list – so make sure to bookmark it for future reference!

Illinois Fieldtrip Ideas - looking for a HUGE list of homeschooling fieldtrip opportunities in Illinois? I've got over 100 fantastic ideas for your next Illinois based fieldtrip.

Illinois Fieldtrip Ideas

Illinois Museums

  • · Chicago Art Institute – A world-class art museum with some of the finest collections in the country. Don’t miss paintings by George Seurat, Marc Chagall, Georgia O’Keeffe, Vincent van Gogh, and Claude Monet. Free for teachers (including homeschool teachers) always and all Illinois Residents Thursday 5-8 pm
  • · Museum of Science & IndustryJump into 14 acres of exhibits, daily live science experiences {like watching baby chicks hatch} and hands-on labs. See calendar for FREE days & don’t miss the trees from around the world annual exhibit in December!
  • · Field Museum Come meet the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered – lovingly named Sue. My kids especially enjoy the large collection of stuffed animals and the mummy. See calendar for FREE days
  • · Adler Planetarium Families enjoy three theaters, activity carts, explorer tool belts for self-guided activities, and the Planet Explorers gallery – great for preschoolers. See calendar for FREE days
  • · SciTech Science Museum (Aurora) – Designed for kids ages 2 years to 16 years, but people of all ages will enjoy exploring and learning about Science and Technology! Very hands on science museum.
  • · Chicago History Museum (Chicago) -Collects, interprets, and presents the city’s history to the public through exhibitions, programs, research collections, and publications.
  • · National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (Quad Cities) – Aquariums and interactive exhibits feature the animals and history of the Mississippi River.
  • · Naper Settlement (Naperville) – Naper Settlement is a 12-acre outdoor history museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums that consists of a collection of thirty historical buildings and structures from the Naperville, Illinois area.
  • · Putnam Museum (Quad Cities) – Walk in a cave, stand nose-to-nose with a polar bear, then meet the Putnam’s iconic residents, the mummies!
  • · Little White Schoolhouse Museum (Oswego) – Built in 1850, it holds the rich history of the community.
  • · Wild West Town (Union) Living History Amusement area.
  • · Ernest Hemingway Birthplace & Museum (Oak Park) Hemingway’s childhood home and see some of his first writings, original letters, photographs and family artifacts.
  • · Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield) – Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in downtown Springfield, Illinois communicates the amazing life and times of Abraham Lincoln in unforgettable ways. Acclaimed as the best presidential library! Educators get a FREE pass!

Homeschooling in Illinois: 100+ Fieldtrip Ideas

  • · Illinois Railroad Museum (Union) – The Illinois Railway Museum is the largest railroad museum in the United States. There are tons of cars to explore on the inside, historic cars to see on the outside, and even train rides to take.
  • · Wheels ‘O Time Museum (Peoria) – A Museum of the Twentieth Century. Enjoy the reminders of how Grandma and Grandpa lived. See items representing transportation, industry, farm and home life, as well as entertainment from times past. They have a multitude of exhibits showing life 50 to 100 years ago, in the Peoria area. Many displays are visitor-activated.
  • · Burpee Museum of Natural History (Rockford) – besides the museum, they offer workshops for children ages 6-9 and home school classes for students 10+
  • · Fire Museum of Greater Chicago (Lemont) – Restored firehouse with antique fire engines.

Things to do in Chicago

Illinois Children’s Museums

  • · Busy Brains Children’s Museum (Lake Villa) fun, interactive experiences for children from birth to age 10.
  • · Kohls Children’s Museum (Glenview) Exhibits encourage the building of strong social skills by creating situations that require children to help each other and work as a team. Children birth – 8 years old. The detailed grocery store and sandwich shop are especially popular.
  • · Discovery Center Rockford Children’s Museum (Rockford) With 250 Interactive Exhibits it’s no wonder it is one of USA’s Top 10 Children’s Museums!
  • · Du Page Children’s Museum (Naperville) – Strikingly playful from the outside this is less of a museum and more of a learning center for little kids. There are lots of things to engage early learners; best on a low crowd day!

Homeschooling in Illinois: 100+ Field Trip Ideas

  • · Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn (Oak Lawn) – Two floors of fun for kids 8 and under
  • · Chicago Children’s Museum – Families can make the most of free events and the open playgroup for babies and toddlers. Field trip guides help teachers, parents and group leaders integrate museum visits with classroom learning. Programs include Paint with Science, Goo and You, The Bubble that Ate Chicago or the Inventing Lab. Don’t miss Wonder Kid activities like box ecology, glove gardens and recycle rockets.
  • · Kidswork Children’s Museum (Frankfort) – hands on fun; check out their life-size operation game!
  • ·Bronzeville Children’s Museum (Chicago) “African American children’s museum educating all youth on the contributions of African Americans through hands-on exhibits such as recycling, healthy diets, and more.”
  • · Wonder Works Children’s Museum (Oak Park) – Provides a hands-on learning environment with 6,400 square feet of exhibits, and educational programming.
  • · Indianapolis Children’s Museum (worth the drive to Indianapolis, IN) The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the world’s largest children’s museum and one of USA Top 10 Children’s Museum. Your kids will be really impressed with the dinosaur exhibits, dig site, and Egyptian play area.
  • · Minnesota Children’s Museum (worth the drive to St. Paul, MN) One of USA’s Top 10 Children’s Museums where kids will have a blast discovering new and exciting concepts through fun, learning-focused activities. Don’t miss the GIANT ant hill your kids can crawl and explore through {okay, I’ll admit I climbed through too}
  • · Exploration Station (Bourbonnais) – Hands-on exploration and discovery museum for children and their families. The 2 story medieval castle will get your kids attention from the get-go!
  • · The Children’s Discovery Museum (Normal) – Help inspire the love of learning through the power of play


Illinois Zoos / Farms

  • · Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield) The zoo covers an area of 216 acres and houses around 450 species of animals. The monkey house is so well done – it is impressive! The newly remolded bear area offers a unique look at hibernating bears – worth a trip in the winter! Free admission for homeschoolers on field trip days and general admission at times during the winter.

Homeschooling in Illinois: 100+ Fieltrip Ideas

  • · Lincoln Park Zoo – Families with children aged 5-12 can join Evening Encounters for nature hikes and stories. Zoo educators lead tours with hands-on investigations, and inquiry-based zoo explorers programs — like predator/prey — target grades K-5. FREE
  • · Phillips Park Zoo – Small (FREE) Zoo with about 100 animals.
  • · Cosley Zoo (more like a farm zoo); It boasts housing over 200 animals from over 70 species on 5 acres. Non resident adults pay $5 each. Don’t miss the chance to feed the ducks in the morning.
  • · Niabi Zoo (Coal Valley) 330 Animals call Niabi Zoo home including: giraffes, lions, monkeys, Wallaby, Jaguar, Python and more. There is a petting zoo where you can feed the animals for only a quarter. You can even order your one of a kind painting from Babe the elephant {for real}!
  • · Shedd Aquarium K-12 field trips can expand your curriculum with programs on animal behavior, habitats, adaptations, ecosystems, anatomy and water chemistry; for example, one K-2 learning lab focuses on animals in action. See calendar for FREE days

Homeschooling in Illinois: 100+ Fieldtrip Ideas

  • · Learning Farm Praire Crossings (Grayslake) – The Learning Farm leads a variety of outdoor farm-based education programs on a working organic farm.
  • · Heritage Farms (Schaumburg) – Schaumburg was once a German-American farm community supported by the dairy industry. Visitors are invited to participate in farm chores from the 1880 time period while they learn about farm life. School programs are available Tuesdays through Fridays from 9AM to 5PM.
  • · Blackberry Historical Farm (Aurora) – Living history museum on 54 acres which includes 5 museums and many period demonstrations.
  • · Kline Creek Farm (West Chicago) Step back in time and experience what life was like on a DuPage County Farm in the 1890s. Stroll through restored farmstead structures and meet the historically-costumed interpreters operating this living-history farm using the tools and techniques of the past. Activities and events at the farm re-create the seasonal rhythms that have governed farm life for centuries. Maple Syrup demonstrations.
  • · Saint Louis Zoo (St. Louis, MO) – 18000 animals from 700 species on 90 acres, including an Insectarium, Children’s Zoo, Penguin & Puffin Coast and a Zooline Railroad.
  • · Scovill Zoo (Decatur) Scovill Zoo in Decatur, Illinois, is one of 210 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums with 96 species spanning six continents and around 500 animals in residence.
  • · Dollinger Family Farm (Channahon) – corn maze, petting zoo, pumpkins; Civil War Day reenactments
  • · Muller’s Lane Farm (Rock Falls) – Farm Tours where you will learn about bees/honey, poultry, cattle, pigs, horse drawn farm equipment, homemade soap, gardening & food preservation, woodshop, and blacksmithing
  • · Grants Farm (St. Louis, MO near the border) – The Farm is home to more than 900 animals representing more than 100 different species. It is located on 281 acres.
  • · Tammen Treeberry Farm (Wilmington) – u-pick blueberries


Illinois Gardens / Nature Centers

  • · Morton Arboretum (Lisle) – The Morton Arboretum covers 1,700 acres and is made up of gardens of various plant types and collections of trees from specific taxonomical and geographical areas. It includes native woodlands and a restored Illinois prairie. Don’t miss the children’s garden and taking time to hike!
  • · Chicago Botanical Gardens (Glencoe) – Beautiful gardens on 385 acres.
  • · Lake Katherine Nature Center – (Southern Chicago Suburbs) Offer monthly science outing for homeschoolers.
  • · Iron Oaks – (Southern Chicago Suburbs) – lots of homeschooling opportunities


  • · Cantigny (Wheaton)- 500-acre park to wander through nature, attend a big band concert, tag monarch butterflies, make a snow globe, take classes, and introduce children to the age-old custom of afternoon tea. Don’t forget to Visit the home of Col. McCormick, walk in soldier’s boots at the First Division Museum and stroll though our sprawling gardens.
  • · Anderson Japanese Gardens (Rockford) – Beautiful, serene gardens. Be mindful of how noisy your family is as this is to be a quiet, relaxing place.
  • · Klehm Botanical Garden (Rockford) – Arboretum and botanical garden.
  • · Quad City Botanical Garden (Quad Cities) – The botanical garden is adjacent to the Mississippi river  and maintains hundreds of plants ranging from tropical varieties to regional zone five perennials
  • · Starved Rock State Park – (Winnebago County) Rocky formations, fishing, swimming, camping, horseback trails, and breathtaking waterfalls
  • · Lakeview Nature Center (Oakbrook Terrace) – Story time, animal visitors, scavenger hunts, paddle boats, and nature center. FREE!
  • · Bartlett Nature Center (Bartlett) – variety of programs to explore nature through activities, hands-on projects, and games for: Boy and Girl Scouts, schools grade K-12, and home schools. FREE!
  • · Missouri Botanical Gardens (St. Louis, MO near the border) – Founded in 1859, the 79-acre Missouri Botanical Garden is the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation and an oasis in the city of St. Louis.
  • · Willowbrook Nature Center (Glen Ellyn) – 50 acres with an education center and a wildlife rehabilitation center operated by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. FREE!
  • · Wildlife Prairie State Park (Hanna City) – Wildlife Prairie State Park is a nature park devoted to the animals that originally lived in Illinois. They are particularly well known for their large herd of bison and elk. There are wonderful animal exhibits featuring native animals in their natural habitat. Great hiking trails, playgrounds, and a farm area/petting zoo are available.
  • · Sugar Grove Nature Center (Sugar Grove) – interpretive exhibits, sensory displays, and live animals. A wildlife viewing area provides a cozy atmosphere for reading books or perusing field guides and invites visitors to enjoy birds and other wildlife up close.
  • · Warren Dunes State Park (Michigan) – Okay this isn’t in Illinois, but it is close enough to be a great day or weekend trip! The beach is impeccable, the dunes are a great place to explore, and the campsites are wonderful!
  • · The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (Chicago) – Children’s and family programs include nature collages and discovery backpacks for adventures on themes like water and weather. Early childhood classes range from Camo Critters to Outdoor Spanish, with nature stroller tours for the littlest ones. Groups of all ages learn from activities like Bugs Alive and Pizza to Plant.


The Arts

  • · West Suburban Home School Band (primarily DuPage and parts of Will, Kane, and Cook counties) – Homeschool bands for students 9 to 18 years of age that accommodates those with no musical training whatsoever to those with advanced experience and abilities. The levels are Cadet, Concert Junior, Concert Senior and Symphonic. There is also The Patriots Marching Band that performs during the summer, and The Little Patriots marching corps for younger siblings.

Pictures used with permission from clipart.com

  • · Spotlight Youth Theatre (Aurora, Dupage, Kane, Kenosha, Lake, McHenry, NW Cook, Oak Park, Orland Park, Rockford) – Classes to train children (4-18 years old) to perform. Quarterly production by auditions or to attend.
  • · Music Lessons are available locally. I suggest asking for recommendations or a sample class before signing up. Many have convenient daytime hours for homeschoolers.
  • · Chicago Children’s Theatre (at the Ruth Page Center for Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., next to Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile): Since opening in 2005, this group has reached more than 180,000 young people and families with plays like Harold and the Purple Crayon. Another show explores the life of a young African-American orphan befriended by jazz musicians during the Depression. Summer camp workshops dive into acting, story creation, movement and craftwork
  • · Wheaton College Symphony – Besides the Wheaton College many musical concerts they hold Children’s Concerts that are FREE. (religious) · Steel Beam Theatre (St. Charles) – Steel Beam Theatre offers classes, summer camps, workshops, audition-based theatrical products for children ages 6-16, and family friendly theatre
  • · Chicago Opera Theater – Bringing opera to the young people through elementary schools, high school apprenticeships and the young artists program. Prepare for a performance with videos and podcasts full of behind-the-scene sneak peeks.


Physical Education

Used with permission from clipart.com

  • · Vertical Endeavors (Warrenville) – one of the largest rock climbing gyms in the Midwest with 18,000 sq. ft. of climbing. Go for the afternoon or attend a summer camp for 6-16 year olds.
  • · Safety City Open Road (Wheaton) – Miniature city with sidewalks and road where children 3-6 years of age can bring their tricycle and helmet to practice city safety. FREE Wednesdays from 5:30-7pm.
  • · Wrigley Field Tour – tour Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. {baseball}
  • · Xtreme Trampolines (Buffalo Grove, Carol Stream) – Get exercise while jumping on the trampolines.
  • · Wilmont Mountain (Wilmont, WI) – boasts the best snowtubing experience of all time! Daytime top speeds are 38 mph. The tubing area is more than 1,000 feet long with 20 tubing lanes plus a state-of-the-art conveyor lift to go back up the hill
  • · Park Districts – Illinois cities have excellent park districts with organized sports, classes, and events. Contact your cities park district for more information. NOTE: You can usually attend a nearby park district for slightly higher rates if they have a better program or more convenient times.


Other Chicago Area Field Trips

Used with permission from clipart.com

  • · John Deere Historic Site (Dixon) – This is where John Deere developed the first steel plow that scoured itself clean. The complex includes Deere’s restored homestead and furnishings from the 1830s, a visitor center, and archeological exhibition building.
  • · John Deere Pavilion (Moline) – At the John Deere Pavilion, your kids can power-up virtual reality simulators, climb into huge machines, watch videos on our giant media wall, discover futuristic designs, connect with machines from the past, interact with hands-on displays – and even learn a thing or two along the way.
  • · McDonald’s #1 Store Museum (Des Plaines) – FREE! An operating McDonald’s restaurant is located across the street from the museum.
  • · Volo Auto Museum & Antique Mall in Volo— The Volo Auto Museum has over 300 classic cars on display all for sale! The Volo Auto Museum is home to the world’s largest muscle car collection and the George Barris TV & Movie Car Collection
  • · Crystal Cave Tours (Quad Cities) – Visit a natural, living cave with a knowledgeable tour guide. Tours last 30-45 minutes.
  • · Brickworld (Schaumburg) – Brickworld claimes to be the largest Lego convention in the nation. The 700 Lego builders display their creations on Father’s Day weekend
  • · Ronald Reagan’s Boyhood Home (Dixon) – The restored house was the home of the Reagan family from 1920 to 1923.
  • · Hauberg Indian Museum (Rock Island) – located in the Blackhawk historic site is a
  • lodge constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934, interprets the story of the Sauk and Meskwaki.
  • · Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site (Galena) – The 1860 house was presented by the people of Galena to Gen. Grant on his return from the Civil War in 1865. He lived here until 1867, and then again from 1879 to 1881.
  • · Lewis & Clark State Historical Site (Hartford) – The Lewis and Clark site commemorates Camp Dubois, the 1803-1804 winter camp of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. It was at the camp on Wood River that members of the Corps of Discovery prepared their expedition to the Pacific Ocean. Tour 6 galleries including a replica of a keelboat.
  • · Get a Panoramic View of Chicago from The Sky Deck or John Hancock Observatory
  • · Heritage Canyon (Fulton) – 12 acres with wooded structure from the 1800s including a limestone quarry. Self-guided walking tour. Donations accepted.
  • · De Immigrant Windmill (Folton) – Authentic Dutch windmill, standing 100 feet tall, helps control flooding. You can tour this fully operational windmill. Then stop by the Windmill Cultural Center to view 21 other European windmills sized up to 6 feet tall.
  • · Ingrams (Kinmundy) – 14 log cabins furnished to period in a wooded area much as it would have been 180 year ago!

Homeschoolin in Illinois: 100+ Fieldtrip Ideas

  • · Medieval Times (Schaumburg) – Step back into the Middle Ages and experience the food, jousting, costumes, and more!
  • · Fermilab (Batavia) – Physical science and prairie ecology field trips are available for homeschool students.
  • · Firestation – Contact your local fire station to set-up a time to visit the fire station and learn some important safety tips. FREE!
  • · Library – Many libraries have story times, summer concert series, jugglers, magicians, reading programs, and other unique opportunities. FREE!
  • · LEGOLAND (Schaumburg)
  • · Caterpillar (Peoria) – interactive displays and exhibits sure to engage and entertain visitors of all ages. You’ll see a video, heritage gallery, try your hand at design, and more.
  • · Public Lock & Dam Tours (Rock Island) – Join a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger for a lock and dam tour. Public tours are scheduled on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Topics covered during lock and dam tours are river history, lock and dam operation, towboats, barges, cargo, river hazards and much more. Tours are about 1 hour in length.
  • · Kids Science Labs (Chicago) 60-75 minutes of science fun
  • · Mark Twain Cave Complex (Missouri) – The Mark Twain cave was discovered in 1819 and written about in 5 of Mark Twain’s books. Experienced guides will take you on an hour tour of the cave. There are level walkways and smooth surfaces.
  • · Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (Collinsville) – Once one of the greatest cities of the world. Cahokia was larger than London in AD 1250. The Mississippians who lived here were accomplished builders who erected a wide variety of structures form homes to monuments.
  • · Chain O Lakes State Park Horse Back Riding (Spring Grove) – guided rides take you through colorful meadows and lush green forests where deer, hawks and eagles abound. Minimum age $6. Only $28 for 40 minute trail ride
  • · Safari Land (Villa Park) – indoor amusement area


Other Programs



Enrichment Classes


Service Opportunities


Area Specific Fieldtrips


Out of State Vacation Ideas

Homeschooling in Illinois: 100+ Fieldtrip Ideas


Did I miss a fieldtrip you know of?

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About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com and www.preschoolplayandlearn.com

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