Sonoma County Office of Education

Library Media Services

Field Trips: Historical People and Places

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island, the former military installation and federal prison, is located in San Francisco Bay. The Blue and Gold Fleet offers the only transportation to the island and group discounts are offered to school groups. In addition to the historical buildings and audio tour, visitors enjoy natural trails and beautiful views of the city skyline. The National Park Service offers Alcatraz Uncovered, a program designed for grades 6-8, that introduces students to archeology and uncovers the history of the island. School groups that visit for this program receive free ferry transportation and teachers attend a workshop and receive curriculum activities.

Angel Island State Park
Located in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Angel Island State Park offers beautiful views and diverse historical perspectives. The island has been a fishing and hunting site for Coastal Miwok Indians, a haven for Spanish explorer Juan de Ayala, a cattle ranch, a U.S. Army post, a busy immigration center, and a Nike missile base. Ranger-led education programs include natural history tours, cultural history tours, educational overnight stay, and a litter-getters environmental program. Historical tram tours, docent-led or with audio program, are available daily from March to October. The island is accessible by private boat or public ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon, or Vallejo; during the winter weekday ferry service to Angel Island is by reservation only.

The California Museum
Located one block south of the State Capitol building in Sacramento, the museum provides a place for students to explore California’s People, Place, Promise, and Politics in a mix of traditional exhibits and state-of-the-art technology. Highlights include documents and artifacts from the California State Archives, video interviews, an interactive 12-foot topographical map of the state, a vivid ceiling mural, and hands-on activities. Schools can take a self-guided audio tour or take part in special school programs and activities that include the audio tour.

California State Capitol Museum
Home of the California Legislature since 1869, the Capitol building has been renovated to restore much of the building's original look. Visitors can tour the historic offices, view exhibits and artwork, enjoy the surrounding Capitol gardens, visit representatives, or watch the legislators debate a bill or cast a vote.

California State Railroad Museum
Located in Old Sacramento, the museum highlights railroads in America, the Transcontinental Railroad, the role of the railroad in California history, and features 21 lavishly restored locomotives and cars. Exhibits include a large model train setup, a full-scale diorama of an 1860s construction site high in the Sierra Nevada, a bridge elevated 24 feet above the museum floor, and more. School groups need to make a reservation for an orientation and should allow at least 1 1/4 hours for a self-guided tour. With a separate reservation, schools can tour the nearby railroad station in Old Sacramento, and take a 40-minute train ride.

China Camp State Park
Nearly 500 shrimp-fishermen once lived in this small village. The shrimp they caught were dried and shipped to China and to Chinese communities across America. Visit China Camp Village and walk through the house museum describing early Chinese settlement. The park also offers developed picnic sites; beautiful views of the Bay; and 15 miles of trails through salt marshes, meadows, and woodlands. Educational offerings at China Camp include natural, cultural, and ecological programs.

Fort Ross State Historic Park
Fort Ross, the southernmost Russian presence in the Pacific Northwest, was established in 1812 as an outpost for sea otter hunters and as a permanent Russian trade base. Abandoned by the Russians in 1841, buildings have been reconstructed at the original site and archaeological work is ongoing. School presentations can provide a general overview or focus on local Native Americans, on pre-statehood California history, or on world history and 19th century international trade. Environmental Living programs allow students to relive life at Fort Ross in an extended day program or an overnight stay. Extensive online resources include teacher resources for planning a visit, curriculum ideas for the classroom and for the visit, and a resources guide for the environmental living program. Other online resources provide historical background, bibliographies, drawings and photos, and links to related sites.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA)
Curriculum Materials in the GGNRA explore the history and diverse ecology of the area. Learn about the Civil War at Fort Point, archeology at Alcatraz, or visit a Nike Missile site for WWII and Cold War discussion.

Jack London State Historic Park
This park in the hills of Glen Ellen is a memorial to writer, adventurer, and farmer, Jack London. Docent-led tours feature London’s cottage, stables, stone barns, silos and “pig palace,” grave site, the ruins of Wolf House, and a museum dedicated to the life and works of the famous author. A group picnic area can also be reserved.

Luther Burbank’s Home and Gardens
Docent-led tours at Luther Burbank’s Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa and at Burbank’s Gold Ridge Experimental Farm in Sebastopol explore the life work of the famous horticulturist. Burbank’s experiments with plant hybridization, selection, crossbreeding, and grafting led to the introduction of hundreds of varieties of new plants. Group tours of his Santa Rosa home include museum exhibits, the greenhouse, the gardens, and the Victorian era house. Three-acre Gold Ridge farm includes trees and plants, Burbank’s cottage, a working greenhouse, and a replica of his barn. An extensive curriculum unit about Luther Burbank can be purchased through the Home and Gardens or checked out from SCOE’s Library (no charge, call 524-2837).

Marin Museum of the American Indian
Located in Novato's Miwok Park, the museum offers programs for grades K-12. The Museum's programs address native North Americans, with a focus on California natives - especially the local Miwoks and Pomos. Programs can include an outdoor segment, a tour of the main gallery, a puppet show, and time in the hands-on educational room.

Oakland Museum of California
The museum’s exhibits portray California’s ecology and natural wonders; historical events, eras, people, and places; and the art of California artists. Schools can choose an introductory tour or focus on a specific area of the art, history, and ecology of California.

Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
General Vallejo’s huge old adobe ranch building, once the largest private hacienda in California, still stands and provides visitors with a glimpse of California’s history. The adobe was the center of activity on this prosperous estate where the general ran a cattle hide and tallow business, raised sheep and cattle, bred horses, and grew numerous crops. Today, the adobe contains authentic furniture and exhibits highlighting early rancho life. School tours explore rancho daily life and the role of the rancho in California history. An environmental living program offers students a chance to relive rancho life on an overnight stay.

Point Reyes National Seashore: Kule Loklo Village
The ranger-led program at this reconstructed Coast Miwok village is one of the many educational programs available at Point Reyes. This popular program, designed for 3rd and 4th grade, fills up quickly.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Education Programs
The historic park includes the museum, the Hyde Street Pier, and several historical vessels. In addition to ranger-led and self-guided tours, the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association coordinates educational programs here and on the adjacent submarine USS Pampanito. Education programs address historical and scientific themes with engaging hands-on reenactments of maritime life that involve all students. Four-hour, daytime programs include Life on the Barbary Coast (grades 4-6, experience historic ships and pier) and The Gold Rush (grades 4-6, explore Gold Rush opportunities for merchants, miners, and ship captains). Overnight programs include The Age of Sail (grades 4-8 overnight on historic vessels) and Pampanito Submarine School, Where History Meets Science (grades 7-8, hands-on science of submarines). Other group programs include an audio tour of the USS Pampanito, and an overnight program for ages 6 and up.

Sonoma County Museum
Museum education programs, exhibits, and outreach encourage a deeper understanding of local artistic, cultural, and historical themes. Guided tours are available for schools at the museum in downtown Santa Rosa. In addition, the museum's History Outreach program offers 30-minute classroom presentations at school sites. The presentations feature slides, artifacts, photos, and students receive bilingual English/Spanish coloring books about Sonoma County.

Sonoma State Historic Park
The town of Sonoma is home to the northernmost of California's Spanish missions, the Mission San Francisco de Solano. School tours are available at the historic park which includes the surviving mission buildings as well as several other historical buildings of the 1800s. Schools can also take part in an environmental living program at the mission that gives students the opportunity to relive mission life in an extended day long visit.

Sutter's Fort State Historic Park
Although famous for the gold discovered at his sawmill on the American River, Sutter owned many properties in California including this “fort” located at 26th Street and K Street in Sacramento. The fort was just one part of Sutter's prosperous New Helvetia settlement, Sacramento’s earliest settlement and the first non-Indian settlement in California’s Central Valley. Education programs here include self-guided audio tours, reenactments, and an overnight environmental living program.

USS Hornet Museum
School programs on this historic aircraft carrier include a tour of the ship as well as hands-on activities. Three programs are offered for schools and each program is adapted for grades K-5 or grades 6-12. Pathways to History: 41,000 Tons of Fun explores the general history of the Hornet, including WWII history and the ship’s role in the Apollo astronaut retrieval. Pathways to Science: Apollo Mission follows Apollo astronauts from blast-off to splashdown and onto the Hornet. Junior Crewmember Live Aboard offers the unique opportunity to experience the Hornet and its history with an overnight stay.