When my children were young, my husband’s business sent him across the state every few months. We viewed these endeavors as educational field trips and visited tiny museums in Daytona, zoos huddled behind landfills in Naples, and every science museum we could find. Florida was a tourist haven long before Walt Disney arrived, and many attractions are surprisingly inexpensive–or free. Give your children educational inspiration for beginning a new school year by planning an educational day trip to any of these Sunshine State marvels.

Zoos, Rehabilitation Centers, and Community Gardens: The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Wakulla Springs, the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee, the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Orlando, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, and EPCOT’s annual Flower and Garden Expo are but a few of the many Florida attractions for your budding zoologist or horticulturist. Zoos encourage children to better understand nature and how animals interact with each other and their environment. With an emphasis on sustainability, children learn to care for and about nature. Community gardens are more than breathtaking showcases of flowers–they show how simple changes in the environment can sustain or destroy specific plants or entire crops. Children learn to be more responsible and nurturing when they are encouraged to care for a plant.

Wildlife Amusement Parks: These amusements focus on animals and conservation, and include Busch Gardens, SeaWorld Orlando, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Visit the Animal Kingdom when it opens and walk down the promenade toward the Tree of Life to see staff members with small cages and terrariums showcasing various amphibians, reptiles, and spiders. They will share information and even allow you to touch these exotic animals. While you are learning about animals, amuse yourself with one of the many roller coasters in the parks, which enthrall children while teaching valuable lessons in physics.

Art Museums and Performance Art Shows: La Nouba’s Cirque du Soleil at Downtown Disney is an elaborately designed performance sure to please. With acrobatics, magic, contortionists, music, lights, and every minute filled with action, Cirque du Soleil is true family entertainment. The Orlando Museum of Art features new exhibits periodically and houses standing collections. The Blue Man Group at Universal will certainly inspire your child’s creativity with its energetic escapades and interactive adventures. These educational ventures will teach your children to celebrate art, culture, and creative expression.

While visiting a local zoo or park, be sure to include health lessons on the importance of sunscreen. Likewise, teach discipline and courtesy to your children as they interact with others to ensure they will grow to be caring adults.

At Lake Forrest Preparatory School, one of the highest rated Orlando private schools, we support the engaging, active learning found at zoos and museums. Browse our news pages for more information, and share this post to spread the word of educational family field trips. Tell us your experiences at these establishments, and share your favorite educational attraction sites with us and others.