A frugal homeschool field trip to Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury, NC

Are you looking for educational places to visit for free, or else really cheap, all across the U.S.?  Want to know tips and tricks for getting discounts at educational sites?  Got a great recommendation for an affordable homeschool field trip? I hope you enjoy!  Guest Posts accepted: Please let us know of a great homeschool field trip location to visit in your area!

Dan Nicholas Park

We had a blast at Dan Nicholas Park in September when Laynie and I met up with my friend Elizabeth (of The Thrifty Divas) and her two boys.  We spent very little money for a whole day of fun and adventure for the kids.

Dan Nicholas Park Homeschool Field Trip

The park is full of opportunities to learn about nature, wildlife, and history.  Rowan Wildlife Adventures allows children to view bears, bobcats, deer, a bald eagle, foxes, otters, wolves, and turtles.  They can also get up close with farm animals and farm equipment at the petting barn.  The Cheerwine Aquarium and nature center are interesting animal learning opportunities as well.  And children can learn about different types of gems and rocks at the Miner Moose Gem Mine.

Frugal Tips

I was so pleased with what I got for the money at Dan Nicholas Park.  Admission is FREE, and most of the educational exhibits and attractions require a very reasonably priced admission ticket (most are $.50 – $1.00).  The most expensive things there are gem mining ($7 – $42 per bucket) and putt-putt golf ($1.50 – $2 per game) and the paddle boats ($2- $3 per person).  Here’s a tip:  When you first get there, head to the train station and buy a discount ticket package:  The “Blue Ticket” is good for one train ride, carousel ride, bucket of gems, and golf game and costs $8 (saving you $3 if you’d bought them separately).  And the “Red Ticket” is good for one train ride, carousel ride and bucket of gems for $7 (saving you $2 if you’d bought them separately). The concessions are fairly reasonable, but you could save even more money by bringing your own food and drinks.


Everything is set up to please visitors with hours of fun at Dan Nicholas Park.  You can enjoy the carousel, the train ride, and the paddle boats.  Also, play a round of mini-golf and try your hand at panning for gems.  Children can also cool off by splashing around in the Hurley Water Plaza (free) during the hot summer months.

Children are highly entertained at the park, and their parents are engaged in the activities as well.  I thought it was a great time of bonding for me and Laynie.  The park was open and not too crowded when we went.  The longest line we had to wait in was about 20 minutes or so.  There are picnic areas as well, and you can even rent them for birthday parties or events.  Want to make it a weekend event?  You can even camp there!

Have you visited Dan Nicholas Park with your homeschoolers? What was your favorite educational aspect of the park?