The Best U.S. Cities for Field Trips

The Best U.S. Cities for Field Trips

Remember the thrill of spotting penguins and giraffes at the zoo or uncovering a historical artifact at a museum? Field trips are undoubtedly some of the most anticipated days in a school year. As the summer haze fades and classrooms come alive again, the promise of these educational excursions adds a spark to the academic calendar. They offer a refreshing break from routine, allowing students to learn in vibrant, real-world settings. But which cities offer the best field trip experiences? We delved into data from 100 of the most populous U.S. cities, evaluating factors like the availability of school bus drivers, the amount of local activities, and more. Dive in to discover the top cities that offer fun places to go on a field trip!

The Best U.S. Cities for Field Trips

Chart showcasing the best U.S. cities for field trips

Waking up early, gathering with chaperones, and setting off for an enriching day at places like the local police station or library — these are the hallmarks of memorable field trips. Wondering which U.S. cities offer the most captivating school trip ideas for such excursions?

Here are the top four U.S. cities for field trips:

  • 1. Harrisburg, PA
    • No. of Fire & Police Stations (per 100K): 33.2
    • No. of Food Banks (per 100K): 4.4
    • No. of School Bus Drivers (per 100K): 199.6
    • Overall City Score: 68.2/100
  • 2. Scranton, PA
    • No. of Fire & Police Stations (per 100K): 47.4
    • No. of School Bus Drivers (per 100K): 184.9
    • Crime Index Score: 27
    • Overall City Score: 65.5/100
  • 3. Poughkeepsie, NY
    • No. of Fire & Police Stations (per 100K): 33.6
    • No. of Kid-Friendly Public Libraries (per 100K): 7.6
    • Cost of a Lunch Meal: $8.00
    • Overall City Score: 62.3/100
  • 4. Springfield, MA
    • No. of Kid-Friendly Public Libraries (per 100K): 12.8
    • No. of Food Banks (per 100K): 4.2
    • Walkability Score: 58
    • Overall City Score: 61.0/100

    Harrisburg, PA, stands out as the premier U.S. city for field trips, boasting a score of 68.2 out of 100. The city's impressive tally of fire and police stations per 100,000 residents (33.2) and its abundance of school bus drivers per 100,000 residents (199.6) contribute to its top rank. For educators seeking a unique experience, the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum in Harrisburg offers a captivating journey through the history of fire engines.

    Securing the second spot on our list is Scranton, PA, with a city score of 65.5 out of 100. Scranton's strong crime index score (27) and its 19 state parks and monuments set it apart. A highlight for field trips in Scranton is the Steamtown National Historic Site, where students can delve into the history of steam locomotives and witness their grandeur firsthand.

    Poughkeepsie, NY, clinches the third spot among the best cities for field trips with a score of 62.3 out of 100. The city stands out with its affordable average lunch meal priced at $8.00 and an impressive 7.6 kid-friendly public libraries per 100,000 residents.

    Springfield, MA, and Allentown, PA, also deserve special mention, securing the fourth and fifth spots with city scores of 61.0 and 60.4 out of 100, respectively. Looking for fun places to go on a field trip in the Allentown area? The Allentown Art Museum features a range of exhibits, including a library installation designed by the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

    In our findings, the Northeast overwhelmingly dominated the top rankings. However, San Jose, CA made a notable exception, breaking into the top 10 and securing the eighth position.

    The Best Places for Field Trips by Category

    U.S. map showcasing the best U.S. cities for field trips by category

    When searching for specific places to go on a field trip, such as zoos or libraries, it's helpful to have a categorized breakdown. With so many fun U.S. cities to visit, we delved deeper to identify which ones excel in particular field trip categories, including the availability of museums, walkability, lunch meal costs, and more.

    Not surprisingly, New York, NY leads the pack as the top U.S. city for zoos and aquariums, boasting 14.0 overall. Meanwhile, San Jose, CA stands out with the highest number of museums, featuring 9.6 per 100,000 inhabitants.

    California emerges as the state with the highest number of national parks and monuments, featuring 28 in total. Searching for inspiring school trip ideas? The Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is renowned for its breathtaking redwood trees.

    For those seeking the most pedestrian-friendly city, San Francisco, CA is the place to be, boasting an impressive walkability score of 89.0 — ideal for young explorers. On the other hand, Durham, NC shines with 3.5 sports facilities per 100,000 residents, making it a prime spot for catching a sporting event.

    The Top 15 U.S. Cities with the Most Places to Visit for a Field Trip per Sq. Mile

    U.S. map featuring the most places to visit for a field trip per square mile

    At the heart of every field trip is the central attraction! Be it a zoo, aquarium, volunteering at a food bank, or a visit to a public library. To determine which cities offer the densest concentration of school field trip destinations, we tallied all such locations within each city and then divided that amount by the city's total land area in square miles.

    Hartford, CT, emerged as the top city on our list for places to go on a field trip, brimming with the most enticing field trip destinations and boasting 28.8 per square mile. It's closely trailed by Allentown, PA, with 24.8 per square mile, and Bridgeport, CT, with 23.2 per square mile.

    A notable destination in Hartford is Hands on Hartford — a food bank dedicated to serving those in need. Field trips to such places are not just educational; they instill in children the value of volunteering and the significance of giving back to the community.

    New Haven, CT, with 21.7 destinations per square mile, and Providence, RI, at 20.9 per square mile, also earned high ranks on our list, showcasing an abundance of nearby field trip options.

    Closing Thoughts

    Learning is a continuous journey for students, both within classroom walls and beyond, through field trips and engaging activities. We trust this list illuminates some of the prime cities for educational excursions.

    Looking to brighten the path of discovery for your students this academic year? At e-conolight, we offer LED high bay lights tailored for classrooms and schools, as well as a range of outdoor lighting solutions. Brighten your learning spaces this year with the help of e-conolight!


    To find the best cities for school field trips, we started with a list of the 100 most populated cities in the U.S. and ranked them from 1 to 100 based on factors that would be important to school field trips. We broke those factors down into two categories: field trip locations and travel and logistics. We then assigned weights to each factor depending on how important it would be to field trips. Based on those weights, each city we analyzed was given a score out of 100.

    Additionally, to determine the cities with the highest and lowest concentration of school field trip destinations per square mile, we summed up all the field trip locations within each city and divided it by the city's total land area in square miles.

    Ranking FactorRanking Factor CategoryWeightSource
    No. of Museums (per 100K)Field Trip Destination2.5Yelp
    No. of Zoos & AquariumsField Trip Destination1.5Yelp
    No. of National Parks & Monuments in the StateField Trip Destination2.5NPS
    No. of Fire & Police Stations (per 100K)Field Trip Destination1.5YellowPages
    No. of Food Banks (per 100K)Field Trip Destination1.0YellowPages
    No. of Sports Facilities (per 100K)Field Trip Destination1.5Yelp
    No. of Kid-Friendly Public Libraries (per 100K)Field Trip Destination2.5YellowPages
    No. of School Bus Drivers (per 100K)Travel & Logistics2.0BLS
    Walkability ScoreTravel & Logistics2.0Walk Score
    Crime IndexTravel & Logistics1.5Neighborhood Scout
    Cost of a Lunch MealTravel & Logistics1.5Expatistan