Did you know that a child’s brain starts to develop in utero and completes most of its development by the time they are in their mid twenties, between 21 to 25? As a part of the developmental process, preschoolers are eager to learn, grow and mirror everything they see around them.
This is why preschoolers like to ask a lot of questions such as “What is this?” “How do you ______?” “Mommy, can I _______?” And so on! There are simply not enough hours in the day to answer all the questions that preschoolers like to ask. So one of the best ways to satisfy a little preschooler’s mind is to take them on a Preschool Field Trip!
Thankfully for parents and teachers living in Orange County, California there are numerous field trips options for preschoolers in the area. To help save you time, I have put together a list of the best field trips programs for preschoolers in Orange County. As always, please call or email the venue ahead of time to verify pricing information and make reservations.
Best Preschool Field Trips in Orange County
Pretend City, Irvine
Pretend City just ooffers both morning and afternoon field trip options. For all trips you need a minimum of 15 children to reserve a date. They also offer a nice discount rate if you book your field trip after 1:30 pm. Check out the newest Trader Joes exhibit they recently opened too.
Environmental Nature Center, Newport Beach
At the ENC children ages 3 to 5 learn that everything in nature changes. As they hike through the Center they learn about the life cycle of frogs and touch a real, live toad. They can also learn about the life cycle of butterflies and visit the butterfly house (seasonal) and so much more. Tours cost $5.50 per/student and lasts 1 hour.
Centennial Farms @ The OC Fair Grounds, Costa Mesa
Centennial Farm Discovery Days is open to all grade levels. Children and adults can take an unguided tour of the farm. During their visit they can see a milking demonstration (9:30 a.m. only), pet a chick and learn about plants and animals from any of our many docents stationed around Centennial Farm. We visited Centennial Farms during the OC Fair last summer and enjoyed it a lot.
At Tanaka Farms they educate children about where fruits and vegetables come from and how they grow – so back in 1998 they started their first Strawberry Tour. The rest is history. They offer a variety of different tours throughout the year for school and scout groups.
Children’s Museum at La Habra, La Habra
At a discounted $5.00 per student, docent-led museum tours offer an experience that compliments classroom learning. Students learn more about their various hands-on galleries including science, performing arts, transportation and much more during their visit. Advance reservations are required for groups of 15 or more children, ages 3 years and older. They also offer a limited number of free tours for Title I schools.
Orange County Zoo, Irvine
Mainly you need to know that tours are 1 1/2 hours in length and include a zoo tour guide. Topics covered include habitats, adaptations, feeding habits, and general information about animals native to the southwestern United States. Tours also include a short small animal presentation and a visit to the Irvine Park Nature Center (which is only available to see while on a tour!) Train rides at Irvine Park Railroad may be added to any tour for an additional school group fee of $3.00 per student.
Santa Ana Zoo, Santa Ana
The Santa Ana Zoo only offers self-guided tours. Group reservation rates are available to public or private schools with a minimum of 10 people. The price is $5 per student (ages 3-12 years). Advance reservations are required at least 2 weeks prior to your visit.
Heritage Museum of Orange County, Santa Ana
The Heritage Museum offers preschoolers a hands-on visit to the Kellogg house, also known as their Great Great Grandpa House. The tour lasts approximately an hour and costs $8 per student. Plus you can add on a fun clothes washing activity for only a $1 more.
Bowers Kidseum, Santa Ana
Bowers Kidseum, both an interactive children’s museum and learning center, offers multi-faceted art and cultural experiences for young children, their families and the community. Primarily dedicated to the preschool and early elementary age, Kidseum’s central focus is providing a ‘hands-on’ experience in keeping with the museum’s mission to “enrich lives through the world’s finest arts and cultures.” To inquire about setting up a tour visit [email protected]. The cost is $6 for ages 2 and up.
The Ocean Institute, Dana Point
For Pre-K students (ages 4-5), the Ocean Institute offers a program called Underseas A, B, C. Here students learn the ABCs while exploring life in the ocean. They get to look, listen, and feel tidepool, kelp forest, and sandy bottom animals in their aquariums while learning the alphabet. Program activities include touching sea star Arms and Barnacles in the discovery pool and listening to unusual ocean sounds like Crashing waves and Dolphin squeaks. The program is modeled after the book Into the A, B Sea by Deborah Lee Rose.
Discovery Cube Orange County, Santa Ana
The Discovery Cube OC ‘s field trips are two hours long and include grade-specific activity booklets, hands-on exhibits and a live demonstration. All programs align with State Science Content Standards and students receive free “come again” passes (ages 3-17). Reservations must be made in advance and the cost is as low as $7.75 per student.
Papa John’s Pizza, Costa Mesa
We have done this field trip twice. This specific Papa John’s Pizza located in Costa Mesa offers tours of their individual store. During the tour, preschoolers get to go behind the counter and see how pizza is made. They get to roll the dough, put sauce on the pizza and pick which toppings they want on top. The store manager also gives the kids a tour of the freezer. Brr! At the end of the tour kids get to take home their own personal pizzas. Call for further information.
Magnolia Bird Farm, Anaheim
Magnolia Bird Farm is a fun and interesting place to visit. The farm is home to all sorts of birds you can learn about. They offer free tours for groups between ten and fifteen people. Smaller groups may do a self-tour. Three years ago, our family did a tour with a homeschool group. My kids especially enjoyed seeing the different types of chickens that they had.
Shipley Nature Center, Huntington Beach
The nature discovery tours at The Shipley Nature Center are available for all ages and interests. Trained volunteer docents enjoy sharing the history of the area, the diverse habitats and unique nature aspects.
Zoomar’s Petting Zoo, San Juan Capistrano
Whether you’re a school group looking to learn about animals, a scout troop earning a badge or a mom’s club seeking a day of discovery play, Zoomars is an inexpensive experience that is educational and fun. Whatever the age, interacting with animals teaches respect, boosts confidence and softens hearts. It’s also one of the best ways to teach kids lessons that go far beyond beginner biology. The farm has hundreds of animals to pet, feed, love and learn from. Field trips are approximately $15 per child.
Happy Field Tripping!