Free Field Trips:
Amy’s Ice Creams – Tour the Austin Amy’s Ice Creams Production Facility. Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., by reservation. Maximum capacity for the tour is 35 people (kids and adults combined). Tours are designed for ages 5 years and up. The tour itself is free. The tour concludes with a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream for $2 per scoop. A non-dairy option is available with prior notice.Tours are booked a month in advance. October tour reservations will open on September 1. Reservations are first come, first served. Call 512-458-3188 to schedule a tour. Read about Heidi’s recent tour. 2109 Northland Drive, Austin.
Austin Fire Department – AFD will accommodate visits to fire stations for small groups. No minimum number of visitors is required. Normal hours for station visits are 9 – 11 a.m. and 1 – 6 p.m. To arrange a tour, contact the Public Education Office to schedule at least a week in advance.
Austin Steam Train Association – Give the kids a fun history lesson about the train… for free! Every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month, take a guided tour and discover the history of the train. Plus, learn about the nuts and bolts of the locomotive. Tours are from 1:00 to 1:45pm, and tour group sizes are capped at 20 people. These prove to be successful field trips for both preschool and grade school classrooms. Call the Community Outreach Coordinator at (512) 477-8468 ext. 205 to schedule your free tour. 401 E. Whitestone Blvd., Ste A-103, Cedar Park.
Blue Baker – Take a tour of Blue Baker in The Arboretum. The bakery offers tours for all ages. Tours can be up to 40 people, with adult supervision. If you are interested in scheduling a tour, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the number of people in your group, the ages of the children, and your preferred tour time. Tours are generally offered Monday – Wednesday, between 9 and 10 a.m. Read about Heidi’s experience with the tour. 10000 Research Blvd., Austin.
Bullock Texas State History Museum – All students and educators in reserved school groups receive free exhibit admission and discounted group rates for films and programs! To be considered a school group, you must gave at least 10 students of similar age, grades K-12; be enrolled in an educational institution (includes organizations such as home schools); make a reservation at least 2 weeks in advance; and have at least one teacher/chaperone for every 10 students. 1800 N. Congress Avenue, Austin.
Capital Area Food Bank - Learn how the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas distributes millions of pounds of nutritious food to hungry Central Texans with a behind-the-scenes look at their warehouse. Contact the Food Bank to schedule a warehouse tour Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., for your business, faith-based group, civic organization, youth group or classroom today. 8201 S. Congress Ave, Austin.
Colorado River Foundation and the Wilkerson Center for Colorado River Education at Redbud Center - Learn how the river influences our lives in Austin, and vice versa. The five-acre riverside grounds offer free public tours that feature exhibits teaching the importance of the river, interactive water features that demonstrate flooding and water supply, and water conservation systems. The park grounds are open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. The grounds are open to the public free of charge, but the Colorado River Foundation also offers several programs for youth and educators. The Colorado River Foundation joined with AISD and LCRA to develop TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills) – aligned student field experiences perfect for 3rd through 5th grade students, with exciting, hands-on activities as they teach about important earth and physical science and social studies concepts. Click here for a downloadable Program Guide and Registration Form. 3601 Lake Austin Boulevard, Austin.
Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium – Free self-guided tours. (Guided 90-minute tours are also available for $10 per person.) The suggested starting point is at The Frank Denius Veterans Memorial Plaza at the corner of 23rd St. and San Jacinto. Click here for the self-guided tour route (at the bottom of the page).
Ecology Action - Have you ever wondered what it takes to run a grass-roots recycling center? You can schedule a free tour of Ecology Action and see for yourself. The tour begins with the sorting process, so you’ll want to bring some recyclables with you. From there, follow each material on its path through the recycling center. You will learn how the most important resource at Ecology Action is saving space. Note that the facility is mostly outdoors. Contact John Clement at (512) 322-0000 or email@example.com to set up a tour. 707 E. 9th St., Austin.
Governor’s Mansion – Free guided tours of the Texas Governor’s Mansion are available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to Noon. Tours will last 20 minutes and are subject to availability. Reservations must be made at least one week in advance and no walk up tours are available. To schedule a tour, visitors can call the Mansion Reservationist at 512-305-8524 or send an email to Mansion.Tours@tspb.state.tx.us.
Harry Ransom Center - Tours offer an in-depth guided experience of the current exhibitions and the Gutenberg Bible and the First Photograph, which are on permanent display at the Ransom Center. Admission and tours are free. Your donation supports the Ransom Center’s exhibitions and public programs. To schedule a prearranged tour or to alert Ransom Center staff of your visit, click here for a tour request form or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Tours can be scheduled to take place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays, and between noon and 5 p.m. on weekends. Teachers can view the useful education resources online at the Primary Source Education Modules page.
H-E-B – Be A Healthy Buddy! is a free, educational Field Trip that gets children excited about daily health and wellness practices in the aisles of their local H-E-B. Practical, important nutrition lessons are taught in the very place where food choices are made. Funding for school bus transportation is also available.
LBJ Presidential Library – Guided tours are available free of charge on weekdays to school groups with reservations. Guided tours generally last ninety minutes and cannot be provided to groups smaller than 10 or larger than 60 students at a time. 2313 Red River St., Austin.
Neill-Cochran House Museum – The Neill-Cochran House Museum welcomes students of all ages, including fifth-grade Civil War students, seventh-grade Texas history students, and high schoolers studying American History or Interior Design. Teachers from public and private schools and parents engaged in homeschooling may express specific areas of interest for the focus of their individualized tours. Reservations may be made with this form or by calling (512) 478-2335. Admission is free to students age 15 and under ($5 for adults). 2310 San Gabriel St, Austin.
Petco – Petco has teamed up with Field Trip Factory to present Fur, Feathers & Fins™ a free field trip program designed to bring animal-related education to K-8 classrooms. These field trips enhance students’ skills in: proper care and respect for animals, diverse habitats, environmental issues, and species survival.
Texas Capitol Tours – Tours are generally 45 minutes in length and are available during the following times: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and Sunday, Noon – 3:30 p.m. Capitol tours are conducted daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter. Reservations for groups of 10 or more should be made in advance by calling (512) 305-8400. Special group tours are also available through the Capitol Visitors Center. 1100 Congress Street, Austin.
Texas Memorial Museum – Guided tours for Fall 2013 are available from September 23 through December 6 depending upon docent availability. Guided tours are scheduled Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the last tour of the day scheduled at 2 p.m. Tours last 30–45 minutes, depending upon grade level. The minimum group size for a guided tour is 10 students. There is a limit of 25 students per docent. One adult chaperone is required for every ten students. Self-guided tours are available year round and may be scheduled during Museum hours: Monday–Thursday, 9 am–5 pm; Friday, 9 am–4:45 pm, Saturday, 10 am–4:45 pm; Sunday, 1–4:45 pm. To schedule your group visit call 512-471-3551 or request a time and date online with our tour request form.Be sure to check out the free curriculum resources. The museum also offers free teacher training. To read about Heidi’s visit on a school field trip, click here. Texas Natural Science Center, The University of Texas at Austin, 2400 Trinity Street, Austin.
Urban Roots – Urban Roots offers age-appropriate Educational Tours for groups of students (10 – 25 people in total) from elementary school through college. Led by Urban Roots youth with staff support, Educational Tours include a farm tour and fun, interactive educational activities. Urban Roots Educational Tours for the Fall of 2013 are free of charge! Starting in mid-September 2013 through mid-December 2013, Urban Roots youth leaders will be hosting Educational Tours on Tuesday afternoons (between 2:30 – 6 p.m.) and Friday mornings (between 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.). A few Saturday dates and times are available as well: 10/19, 11/9, and 12/7 from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Tours must be booked at least two weeks in advance. 7651 Delwau Ln., Austin.
Cheap Field Trips ($5 or less):
Austin Nature and Science Center – The Austin Nature and Science Center is a regional environmental education center that offers a variety of quality informal science experiences to support and enrich classroom curriculum. The ANSC environmental educators engage students in TEKS-based activities integrating the rigor of the classroom science experience with the relevance of the field experience. Cost $3.50 – $4.50 per student. 301 Nature Center Dr., Austin.
Barton Hill Farms – Field trips are available for school groups September 28 through November 2 on Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Classroom in the Corn at Barton Hill Farms is designed to make school field trips more exciting and memorable, as well as a better learning experience. $5 per student. 1115 Farm to Market 969, Bastrop.
Blanton Museum of Art – The Blanton provides engaging, interactive, and inquiry-based tours. K-12 tours are available for $2 per student. Teachers are free. Schools in Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, Hay Consolidated ISD, and Manor ISD that demonstrate financial need are eligible for the Blanton Art Access program, which seeks to increase K-12 student access to the museum by offering funding for transportation and tour fees on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more about this opportunity, email email@example.com. The University of Texas at Austin, 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Austin.
Elgin Christmas Tree Farm – Field trips are designed for Pre-K to 5th Grade Students. The cost is $5 per student; teachers are free. Field trips start at 10:00 a.m. and last about 3 hours. The field trip includes an educational talk, plant cycle and farming, according to the season. Check-out all of the science there is to learn in nature that aligns with your curriculum. 120 Nature’s Way, off Roy Davis Road, Elgin.
French Legation Museum – School tours of the French Legation Museum are available Tuesday- Friday including the historic house and reconstructed kitchen. Tours are led by trained docents and last approximately forty-five minutes. Basic tours are $3.00 per student (10 students required for tour rates). One chaperone for every 10 students is required and is admitted free. Additional chaperones pay will be charged the tour rate. Registration is required prior to visit. To register for a school tour or check availability please call the Programs Coordinator, Jenny Phillips at 512-472-8180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mayborn Planetarium & Space Center (Killeen) – Educators may reserve K-12 school programs in a variety of astronomy, science, and social-studies related disciplines on weekday mornings during the school year. School group tickets cost $4.00 per ticket (per program). One teacher is free for each 10 paid tickets. Mayborn Planetarium & Space Theater is located on the campus of Central Texas College in Killeen.
Wildflower Center – To request a Self-Guided Youth Group Visit, you can fill out an online form. Admission is $2 per person at the elementary grade levels and $5 per person at the middle to high school grade levels. Designated picnic areas are available for lunch and snacks. For questions, you can check out the Frequently Asked Questions page. 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin.
Zilker Botanical Garden – Each tour is about 90 minutes. Individual docents will bring their special knowledge to each tour. All docents are avid gardeners and very familiar with the gardens. Each is trained to work with a variety of student groups. Some are especially facile with special needs children or ESL kids. March, April and May are especially busy months, so make your reservations early. Requested donation of $1 per student in addition to the required admission. Please talk to the president of the Zilker Docents if that presents a hardship to your school. Please see the garden rules for school tours. 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin.
The above was originally published on Free Fun in Austin.