Field trips were a big deal as a kid. You basically had the day off from school, got to horse around on the bus with your friends, and maybe even learned a thing or two along the way. Check out these classic Massachusetts field trip destinations and the best reasons for paying a return visit now that you don’t need a chaperone.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. The Boston Science Museum
You probably remember coming here with your class and being pleasantly surprised at how cool the place actually was. While your teachers probably directed you towards the exhibits (which are legitimately fascinating), now that you're an adult you can check out some of optional extras.
The biggest draw is probably the Mugar Omni Theatre, where the world's largest film format is projected onto a five-story-tall IMAX dome that wraps the audience in a larger-than-life immersion experience. Seriously mind-blowing. Also not to be missed: the Butterfly Garden where the delicate insects fly freely all around you, the 4-D theater where you can catch 3-D film with in-theater special effects such as wind and snow, and the incredible indoor lightning show where massive bolts of electricity fly around the world's largest Van de Graaff generator.
2. Plymouth Rock, Plymouth
Okay, hear me out. We all know that Plymouth Rock was the most disappointing field trip you ever took. After all....it's pretty much just a rock in a box. HOWEVER, there are some reasons to revisit. 1) If your school didn't bother, it's sort of a bucket-list thing you have to do if you're a Massachusetts native, if only to laugh about how anticlimactic it was. 2) The surrounding area is gorgeous.
Now that you're a grownup and don't have to stick with your class, you can wander around the harbor and grab a delicious bite to eat at on a Plymouth Food Tour, where a tour guide will lead you on a three hour walk and tell you all about the history and culture of Plymouth. It's only $48 per person for lots of goodies, including classic New England style chowder and lobster bisque, Italian style pizza, juice made from locally sourced produce, yummy stuffed pretzels, beer samples from local micro-breweries, and homemade chocolate fudge.
3. The Boston Children's Museum
Boston Children's Museum offers innovative, meaningful, and hands-on fun exhibits. Designed for children and families and focused on science, culture, environmental awareness, health and fitness, and the arts.
This incredible museum is a believer in "the power of play". More than just a collection of exhibits, this place is a massive educational playground that has to be experienced to be understood. Awesomely, they have "Adults Only" nights where you can check out everything from a room full of gigantic bubbles to immense climbing structures and an actual two-story Japanese silk merchant's house (transported all the way from the city of Kyoto). Grown-ups can build bridges and giant forts, party all night on a light-up interactive dance floor, indulge in "adult" snow cones , get messy with paint, and play giant games of chess. Tickets sell out SO FAST, so check their website to periodically to make sure you get a chance to join the fun.
4. Heritage Museum and Gardens
When you visited as a kid, you probably toured the incredibly beautiful grounds and then headed indoors to the massive antique car collection. Maybe you even had a picnic lunch by the waterfall sculpture. This place is definitely worth a second look due to the sheer gorgeousness of the plant collection, which is the perfect setting for a romantic spring date. The other huge reason to revisit is the new Adventure Park, an aerial climbing, zip-lining, and balancing treetop adventure with courses designed for all skill and comfort levels.
5. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
You went the first time because your teachers wanted to inject a little artistic appreciation into your young brain. Now you should go again because of the truly gorgeous landscaping, art, and fancy events. Named in honor of one of the nation's foremost female patrons of the arts, this museum houses her incredible collection and is a beautiful spot to soak in a bit of culture.
6. The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge
Besides housing the world’s largest collection of original Norman Rockwell art, this museum showcases the work of other prominent and aspiring American artists. Definitely worth a visit if you have kids of your own now, as Rockwell's style is colorful and accessible enough to be interesting to children. They also host periodic soirees such as a recent "Mad Men" inspired party.
7. Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge
I bet you remember this visit well. Old Sturbridge is a living history village depicting life in New England from 1790-1840. Meet historians in costume and tour 40 antique buildings, including a country store, school, and water-powered mills. Ride the stagecoach, make crafts, dip candles, and help the printer, potter and blacksmith at work. Now that you have more powerful arm muscles, help churn butter, milk cows, and plow a field. Bring your own kids along for a day they won't stop talking about, or head over with a few of your best history-loving friends.
8. The USS Constitution
Sometime during your school career, you probably took a field trip to Boston that included a tour of the USS Constitution. Originally launched in 1797, "Old Ironsides" was one of the six original frigates of the US Navy and has seen everything from pirate action to the the American Civil War and has even served as a floating hospital. This ship is worth another look because in May 2015, the Navy green-lighted a three-year restoration program that will make the historic warship an even greater nautical beauty. Also, now that you're a grownup you can go grab a drink at the nearby Warren Tavern, the oldest tavern in Massachusetts.
9. Plimoth Plantation (Yes, that's how they spell Plymouth)
When you were a kid you likely came here to explore the 17th-century English village and the Wampanoag Homesite. Those are still completely awesome and you should definitely head back and experience them again now. BUT you probably didn't have time on your field trip to do everything that this place offers, and it offers A LOT.
A full-scale replica of the Mayflower (i.e. it's a legit ship). A craft center where you can check out the tools, materials and craft techniques of the 1600s and watch Native artisans make stone, wood and sinew tools, porcupine headdresses and hand-coiled clay pots. A working grist mill where you can buy freshly ground organic cornmeal and sampe. A rare-breeds barn where you can interact with historic breeds of sheep, cows, goats, and more. During the holiday season, this place goes nuts with historic celebrations and demonstrations. Go on a lantern-lit tour of the grounds, attend a full period-authentic Thanksgiving feast, have breakfast with Santa, or sing authentic English carols while enjoying milk and cookies.
10. The Cape Cod National Seashore
Raise your hand if you went on an overnight trip to the Cape Cod National Seashore! As a kid, you probably learned all about kettle ponds, dune erosion, tidal pool critters, and the Cape Cod ecosystem. There's still plenty to explore as an adult. Check out the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail (magical) before relaxing and watching the sunset at one of the CCNS's many lifeguard-protected natural beaches.
11. New England Aquarium, Boston
Fish! Turtles! PENGUINS! You know that fifth grade you went berserk for the penguins. Now's the time for another visit. Beside the aquarium's handsome new fur seal (super handsome), you can check out the gigantic IMAX theatre and treat yourself to that whale watch your class didn't have time for. The aquarium also does weddings!
Why you went then: Your teachers wanted a day in the sunshine and figured they could teach you about where food came from at the same time. Why you should go now: you want a day in the sunshine and want to snack on delicious fruits while strolling through beautiful orchards and berry patches. Besides being a quintessential couple's activity, heading out to the farm with a group of friends and baking your spoils into a batch of mouthwatering pies is pretty much the ideal warm weather day. Try local favorites like Wards Berry Farm in Sharon and Tougas Family Farm in Northborough.
These spots are still better with friends, so get the old gang together and take a trip down memory lane. What were some of your favorite school field trips?