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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Self-Guided School Trips

Self-guided group examines azalea floral structures. Nancy Sableski
Group of students and teacher around an Azalea in bloom

Please register at the link below.
Click to fill out registration form

Contact Information:
Ana Maria Caballero, Outdoor Educator

All self-guided groups must register before coming to the Arboretum.

The Arnold Arboretum is a living laboratory for science learning, as well as a place of quiet reflection for art and writing projects. Whether you are a teacher looking to bring your class on a field trip, or a parent interested in learning opportunities for your children, the Arboretum is an ideal site for self-guided exploration.

If you teach in the City of Boston, you may qualify for a bus funding grant to receive free transportation to and from the Arnold Arboretum.

The Hunnewell Building at 125 Arborway is open 9am–4pm daily. The Visitor Center is open every day 10am-4pm.

1. Rules:

  • Respect the trees and the many other visitors who are learning here.
  • To preserve the health and beauty of the trees, students may not pick, pull, or climb on the trees. Students may gently touch plant parts to feel texture and smell scents. Students may collect plant material that has fallen to the ground.
  • Walking in plant beds or mulched areas is not allowed.
  • Balls, frisbees, and other sports equipment are not allowed.

A teacher’s story
“I just wanted to say that we had an amazing time—the first-graders loved the color and texture hunts, and it was so wonderful to see them so excited about nature and being outside.  Thank you again for all your help!”

Alison K, Rafael Hernandez After School Program teacher, Roxbury, MA

2. Buses:

  • Schools should plan to drop off students outside the gates and park along the Arborway or Bussey Street. (see map)
  • Make sure the bus driver understands that buses cannot drive through the landscape.
  • If you need special accommodations, please contact us at 617.384.9032.

3. Public Transportation:

  • The Arboretum is easily accessible from the Forest Hills T stop, and by Bus #35, #38, #39, and #51.

4. The Visitor Center:

  • Here you will find a scale model of the Arboretum, changing art exhibits, seasonal highlight displays, and friendly staff who can guide your visit and answer questions.
  • If you would like to bring students inside, plan to enter in staggered groups of 10 or less, always accompanied by a supervising adult.
  • Use indoor voices.
  • The Visitor Center is open from 10am–4pm daily.

A teacher’s plan
“There will be 5-8 adults accompanying the students on this field trip. We will break into small groups. Students in second grade are learning about maps and what maps are used for. Our plan for the field trip is to begin at Peters Hill and map the route (that each group individually chooses) to get to the Hunnewell Building. Once we reach the Hunnewell Building our bus will be there to take us back to school.”
Ami M., Haley Pilot School, Roslindale, MA

5. Bathrooms:

  • Bathrooms are located in the Hunnewell Building when open to the public.
  • Plan for students to use the facilities in small staggered groups, with a supervising adult.
  • Use indoor voices.
  • There are portable restrooms right inside the Main Gate, along Meadow Road, near the Dana Greenhouses, and on Peters Hill.

6. Picnics:

  • School groups may picnic on the grounds, as a special exception to our no-picnicking policy.
  • Plan to carry out all trash, or use the receptacles available throughout the park.
  • We do not have storage for lunches, nor do we have any indoor space in case of rain.


First and Second graders learn about soil texture and composition
First and Second graders learn about soil texture and composition Ana Maria Caballero

Suggestions for a Successful Trip [pdf]

1. Proper clothing includes closed-toe comfortable shoes, long pants and socks to pull over pants—no skin exposed. Review our page about ticks.

2. Bring water.

3. Adults can carry a backpack containing:

  • Coloring materials and paper for making observational drawings. If students have science journals, bring them to record learning.
  • Tape to affix found plant material next to drawing.
  • Tupperware or plastic bags for collecting found material of interest.
  • Bug boxes/magnifying viewers/hand lenses for close observation of small animals and plant material.
  • Binoculars for observing birds, trees, across the ponds, etc.
  • Child friendly field guides.
  • Activity sheets or other visual organizers to record learning, available below.
  • Printed map of the Arboretum.
Sixth grade students document unusual plant structures.
Sixth grade students document unusual plant structures. Ana Maria Caballero

4. Bring a waterproof tarp or mat for sitting on while visiting the grounds. An easy, inexpensive and large mat is a vinyl picnic tablecloth (the kind with flannel on the back.)

5. All group leaders should have a basic first aid kit containing assorted bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, insect bite ointment, Neosporin or other antibiotic ointment for scratches, 2 pairs of non-latex gloves, and hand sanitizer.

  • Don’t forget individual child medications, such as Epi-Pens.

6. Make sure all adults know the plan for the field trip including where and when to meet up at the end, and carry cell phones in case of emergency. Also ensure all chaperones have maps.

Activity Sheets:

Pre-School Through Grade 5:

In addition to the above, check out the Discovery Packs at the Visitor Center!

Middle School and High School: