Field trips give students educational experiences away from their regular school environment. Popular field trip sites include zoos, nature centers, community agencies such as fire stations and hospitals, government agencies, local businesses and science museums.
But what about a field trip to your local restaurant? A restaurant field trip can awaken the desire in a child to try new foods, pursue a previously unconsidered career or spark a new interest or passion in cooking. Restaurant field trips not only provide alternative educational opportunities for children, but also benefit the local businesses that they visit.
Here is a list of 20 Restaurants in Southern California and nationwide that offer field trips for students including homeschoolers, school groups and scout troops.
If you want to set up a tour, you need to contact the individual restaurant location in your area and ask to speak with the general manager directly. Since most of the restaurants on this list are franchised own, some owners may offer a tour, some may not. It is completely up to the individual owner if they want to offer group tours. So all you can do is call and ask!
Cost also varies. Some restaurants offer a behind-the-scenes tour along with a child-size meal for a flat fee, while others offer a completely FREE experience. Just be sure to ask about the cost when you call.
Most of all have fun and enjoy the educational experience with your students!
20 Restaurant Field Trips for Kids
Auntie Anne’s (Nationwide)
Want to roll and twist your very own pretzel? Auntie Anne’s offers Pretzel Field Trips at select locations. They make sure the content of the program matches the age and interest level of your group. During a tour, learn the history of pretzels and how Auntie Anne’s came to be, roll your own pretzel with real dough and enjoy a delicious, hot, golden brown Original Pretzel & Lemonade.
Bring your group to take a “behind the scenes” tour of your local Applebee’s restaurant, learning about different staff positions and duties, food safety, following a recipe and more! Students, teachers and chaperones alike will then enjoy a delicious lunch in the dining room.
Designed for Grades K-5, students pay just $5 each (incl. a Grilled Cheese or Chicken Finger Kid’s Meal & Kid’s Ice Cream Sundae) and chaperones pay $8 each (incl. a choice of any Pick ‘N Pair lunch combo and a fountain beverage) and the teacher receives the same adult lunch on us!
To commemorate their experience, each student will receive a certificate naming them a “Junior Applebuddy” with an attached coupon to return for a FREE Kid’s Meal on their next visit! Restaurant tours are generally available Tuesday – Thursday mornings. To determine a location’s availability or schedule a tour, please contact the General Manager at your local Applebee’s restaurant.
Benihana offers a fun cultural experience for children! Groups sit together at a special table with a grill in the middle and are given a few different meal options. The manager then shares a little bit of history about the restaurant and then lets the chefs run the show! The chefs are very entertaining and funny. At the end, children receive a free meal certificate to come back again.
California Pizza Kitchen – Behind-the-Counter CPKids Restaurant Tour (Nationwide)
Every kid gets a thrill discovering how things work. A VIP-style restaurant tour at CPK is a unique opportunity to step behind the counter and see what happens in their kitchens. Kids will love learning the secrets about pizza making from the experts in their hands-on pizza demo. Each kid also receives an activity book, CPKids pencil, and a certificate for a free CPK Meal on their next visit. Behind-the-scenes tours are for schools and non-profit organizations and recommended for kids ages 10 and younger.
We have done this tour twice now. Once when my son was in preschool and again when he was in kindergarten. It is very fun and lasts approximately an hour.
CHOCXO – Chocolate Education Tour (Irvine, CA)
During a 20-minute guided tour, a member of the ChocXO team walks participants through the chocolate making process from the bean to the bar. You’ll walk along their educational wall and see a scale model of a cacao tree, learn how chocolate is fermented and dried, then view the ChocXO factory from their viewing windows to find out what happens next. You’ll finish with two warm liquid chocolate shots from our wall and take home a bag of chocolate tasting squares. This tour does not include samples of the whole chocolate making process. While the factory is visible from their viewing windows, participants do not go back into the factory. Capacity is 25 guests. School and scout groups cost $5 per person.
Cold Stone Creamery (Nationwide)
Cold Stone offers a mini-behind the scenes tour of their ice cream store and then gives each child a scoop of ice cream for a set price.
Dairy Queen (Nationwide)
Many DQ® operators offer tours of their restaurant to kids in grades 1-4. Students who visit learn how the facility operates and the importance of cleanliness and hard work. They receive a guided tour through each area of the restaurant and the machinery is usually explained in language they can easily understand. At the end of the tour, each student learns how to make their own DQ® cone, and then enjoy eating it.
In-N-Out Burger (Nationwide)
In-N-Out offers a FREE field trip first thing in the morning before they open to the general public. Each student is given a hat, a goodie bag and a free lunch. The store manager shares a little history about In-N-Out and then provides a tour of the restaurant. It is super fun for little ones!
Jamba Juice (Nationwide)
Take a behind the scenes tour to see how this juicy company make their own smoothies. You even get walk into a life-size freezer!
John’s Incredible Pizza – Learn/Eat/Play Tour (Riverside, Montclair, Buena Park, Victorville and San Diego)
For only $9.49, each child will get a tour of the restaurant (including the kitchen), make their own pizza and receive a fun card that includes 1 ride. Field Trips are held Monday – Thursday before 3:00 pm. You need a minimum of 12 kids to book a tour. Please call your local restaurant to schedule a tour directly.
Krispy Kreme Donuts (Nationwide)
During a field trip to Krispy Kreme students learn about the doughnut making process, the steps to running a successful business and receive a FREE donut.
The Melting Pot (Nationwide)
Various Melting Pot locations offer a children’s cooking where children make chocolate covered strawberries, little cherry mice and chocolate fondue with all of the dippers.
Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center (National City, CA)
Receive firsthand experience in our garden and/or kitchen. Learn to cook with locally grown, organic produce. Learn to plant, care for gardens, harvest, and compost all in a beautiful setting. These trips are intended for school groups, Scout Groups, Rotary/Kiwanis Clubs, nonprofits, executive retreats, and large family groups. Field trips can be conducted in Spanish.
1. Nutritious cooking lesson
2. Environmental education activity
3. Active gardening/garden exploration activity
– Monday-Friday — 9:15-11:30 OR 11:30-1:30
– Saturdays — start times flexible
Outback Steakhouse (Nationwide)
During a tour of Outback, you will learn how the restaurant chain first got its start in Tampa, Florida in 1988 and spread internationally to more than 600 stores. You will go into the kitchen where they saw their steaks and watch salads being prepared, see piles of cut potatoes ready for the deep fryer and experience a huge walk-in refrigerator.
Panera Bread (Nationwide)
Panera Bread® Bakers in Training program takes groups of 10–15 kids, ages 5–12, behind the scenes in a bakery-cafe* while teaching them kitchen essentials and the fundamentals of baking. $20 per child, they’ll get their own hat and apron, stretch and score their own French Baguette, decorate a cookie and more. It’s the perfect activity for your class, scout group, kids club or child’s birthday party.
Papa John’s Pizza (Costa Mesa, CA location only)
We have done this tour twice now! This specific Papa John’s Pizza in Costa Mesa offers tours of their individual store. During the tour, children 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 to put on top. The store manager also gives the kids a tour of the freezer. Brr! At the end kids get to take home their own personal pizzas. The cost varies per person.
Peter Piper Pizza (Nationwide)
Take a behind the scenes tour of the pizza parlor and make your own pizza to eat!
The Rainforest Cafe (Nationwide)
The Rainforest Cafe educational tours are designed to bring the subject of rainforests to life for children. Kids enjoy a 30-min educational tour of the rainforest, the animals and their habitats. Children will also get a behind the scenes tour of the kitchen. Afterwards also enjoy a family style lunch with your group in the restaurant.
Red Lobster (Nationwide)
Red Lobster offers a tour of their restaurants in the morning. Children get to take a tour of the entire restaurant –kitchen, freezer, and all. Then they learn some interesting facts about Red Lobster and the fish that they serve. Finally, the kids get to make, bake and eat their own biscuits!
The San Diego Pretzel Company (National City, CA)
They do a public group tour once a month and usually booked a year in advance.
Souplantation will do group tours of their locations early in morning before they open to the public. During the tour kids get to make their own pizzas.
Happy Field Tripping!