Taking a Classroom Field Trip on a Budget to Chicago

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As you guys know my husband is the principal of a small country school and we decided to take our 8th grade graduating class on a field trip & road trip at the end of the school year. The only problem? We were on a budget! And a tight budget at that!

The Chicago area has SO much to offer – from the Brookfield Zoo, the Field Museum (my fav!), the Museum of Science & Industry, the Garfield Conservatory (another FAV!), the Sky Deck, and of course – Navy Pier!

We wanted the biggest bank for our buck the day we took the 8th grade class out so we decided to take the L downtown and hit Navy Pier, Buckingham Fountain, the Bean (technically called the Cloud Gate) and anything else we could walk by! It was a day full of exercise!

navy pier on a cloudy day

This is Navy Pier – it may not look like much from the outside but it is PACKED full of things to do on the inside!

From the ferris wheel you see in the far left which is nestled among many other carnival type rides, to the Crystal Gardens upstairs (where we got engaged 10 years ago!), and the Fun House (my father in law has his photo in their brochure!) there are SO many things to do at Navy Pier.

The pier is of course set right into Lake Michigan so there are also plenty of choices for additional cruises and boat tours.

The first tour my husband & I went on while we were dating 13 years ago was the Architectural Tour – SO worth it! It was absolutely fascinating!

Navy Pier ferris wheel

Here you can see some of the rides at Navy Pier. Because of privacy concerns I can’t share our students photos with you (which of course were my best photos!)

I wish I would have snapped a photo without students at the top of the ferris wheel – absolutely phenomenal view of both the city of Chicago and of Lake Michigan.

Chicago skyline from Navy Pier

If you walk all the way out to the end of Navy Pier, which is quite a bit out there, it’s just stunning. Old Chicago, stones, replicas of World War anchors, and of course a knock-out view of the skyline!

However by the time we made it through Navy Pier and ended up out at the end a really nasty storm began to roll in!

lighthouse in Chicago from Navy Pier

You can also see a pretty lighthouse as you look off of the end of Navy Pier too!

couple reflection in the bean chicago

We all ran back through Navy Pier and headed over to the Cloud Gate (affectionately called the Bean by the locals) before the storm really dumped.

It’s a gigantic metallic legume that reflects the Chicago skyline and anyone walking around it! It’s quickly become an iconic symbol for Chicago. As we were there the skies just opened up and DUMPED on us! We never even made it to Buckingham fountain!

We hid under the Bean until the lightning got so bad they kicked us out for safety reasons and took off running to find the subway again!

face tower water wall chicago

We really wanted to stop at the Face Wall which is right next to the Cloud Gate but with my fancy DSLR camera I was desperate to get out of the rain.

I had it hidden under my clothes as we ran through downtown but I did stop under some trees to snap a quick photo of the Face Wall for the students to remember it!

By the time we made it back to the L we were soaked down to our underwear – it was quite a site!! Although we may not have picked the best day because of the weather it was certainly a memorable experience and definitely a great choice for a field trip!

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