Kids2Parks

Ensuring State Parks Access For Youth

The application window for the 2024/25 academic year will be open July 29 - Aug. 18, 2024.

Kids2Parks is a first of its kind park-equity program that pays the transportation cost for Title 1 schools to get to State Park field trips. The program, a partnership between California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, increases the number of students who have visited a state park or beach by reducing barriers to access. 

The program offers transportation funding to all Title 1 schools in Santa Cruz County and select Title 1 schools in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The list of schools eligible for free bus transportation to a field trip is available here. 

To ensure students have a rewarding and high-quality educational experience during their field trip, each class is required to participate in a virtual program prior to their in-person experience. During the virtual program, students will meet the park staff, get an introduction to the park, get information about what to expect during their visit, and get the opportunity to ask questions about the field trip. Teachers/schools are responsible for arranging transportation to the park. Please book your buses early.  

Please email with questions. 

Kids2Parks Frequently Asked Questions


Field Trips

The application window for the 2024/25 academic year will be open July 29 – Aug. 18, 2024. 

Castle Rock State Park

Field trip description: Join a State Parks interpreter for a 3-hour, 1.5-mile guided hike field trip! Learn about the natural wonders of the park. The hike focuses on the park’s distinctive geology during this program, but will also touch on other subjects including Native American peoples, wildlife, and modern human impacts on the ecosystems. All participants must bring water and a bag lunch and wear close-toed shoes/hiking boots.

Review the Castle Rock Teacher Page for more information.

Grade Levels: 4-6 (can be customized for other grade levels)

Next Generation Standards: 4 ESS1-1 | 4-ESS2-1 | MS-ESS2-2 | MS-ESS2-3

Maximum number of students: 30 (1:8 adult-to-student ratio)

Eligible Schools: Select Title 1 Schools from Santa Clara County. Check the school list.


Castro Adobe State Historic Park

Field trip description: Enjoy a 2-hour visit to the Rancho San Andres Castro Adobe State Historic Park. Tour the Castro Adobe to learn its adobe construction, the uses of the various rooms and the Mexican Rancho period.

A visit to the Castro Adobe in Watsonville immerses students in the community’s story from the heyday of the vaquero to the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Hands-on, sensory experiences bring more than a century of history to life, while guided exploration focuses on making student learning personally relevant.

Review the Teacher’s page for more information and education resources connected to the Castro Adobe.

Grade Levels: 3-4 (can be customized for other grade levels)

Next Generation Standards: History: HSS-3.3.1 | HSS-4.2.5 Math: 3.NF.1 | 4.NF.1   Art: 3.MA:Cn11 | 4.MA:Cn11

Maximum number of students: 30 (note, half buses only)

Eligible Schools: Select Title 1 schools from Santa Cruz County. Check the school list.


Half Moon Bay State Beach

In this program, students will visit Half Moon Bay State Beach, Pescadero Marsh State Natural Preserve, Bean Hollow State Beach or Montara State Beach and learn about the many animals that inhabit and depend on the diverse, interconnected ecosystems of the coast with four programs to choose from:

  • Geology Wonders of the Rocky Shore: Discover the thrill of exploration at Pebble and Bean Hollow state beaches! Immerse yourself in the sensory experience of this extraordinary beach and uncover its fascinating geological wonders shaped by the mighty force of water. Students can engage in a hands-on creative activity and embark on an observation-based adventure through the captivating physical landscape. This educational experience is perfect for students in grades 2 to 8 and can accommodate anywhere from 20 to 75 students (one to three classes). Located at Pebble Beach/North parking lot of Bean Hollow State Beach, near Pescadero, this program is available year-round.
  • Gray Whale Cove Wildflower Walk: Discover colorful wildflowers and indigenous plants, keep an eye out for wildlife and participate in mindfulness exercises in nature. This field trip is perfect for students in grades 3-12 and is limited to 20-35 students (one class). The adventure begins at the Gray Whale Cove Trail Parking Lot, located on Highway 1 nine miles north of Highway 92. This field trip is offered from February to May.
  • Pescadero Marsh: Explore the largest coastal wetlands in the area on a guided walk through the Pescadero Marsh. These wetlands are a popular birding location right on the Pacific Flyway, so bring binoculars! Students will learn about marsh ecology, the historical uses of the marsh, and why wetlands must be protected. This field trip meets at Pescadero State Beach. This field trip is best for grades 2-6 and can accommodate one class at a time.
  • Coastal Wildlife: Explore the incredible wildlife that thrives along our stunning coastline! Students will embark on an exciting journey to uncover the fascinating adaptations of local fauna in ocean and beach habitats. Through engaging, hands-on activities, they will examine real pelts and model skulls, while also participating in mindfulness and art activities. This immersive experience is suitable for students grades K-12 and can accommodate 20 to 75 students (one to three classes)The program meets at Francis Beach, and is available year-round.  

All field trips are two hours long. Stay to eat lunch at picnic tables overlooking the beach.

Review the Half Moon Bay’s Teachers page for more information. 

Grade Levels: K-6 (program customized by grade levels)

Next Generation Standards: K-ESS3 | 1-LS1 | 2-LS4 | 2-PS1-1 | 3-LS3 | 3-LS4-1 | 4-LS1 | 4-ESS1 | 4-ESS2 | 5-LS1 | 5-LS2 | 5-ESS2 | 5-ESS3

Maximum number of students: Varies by program, please see program description

Eligible Schools: Select Title 1 schools from San Mateo County. Check the school list.


Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Students visit Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Two field trip programs are offered:

  • Under the Redwoods: During this two-hour experience, teachers and students will walk the Old-growth Redwood Loop with an interpreter and learn about coast redwood life history, physiology, adaptations, ecosystems and more! The topic and theme of the program will depend on the grade level of the interested class. This field trip is limited to 100 students, with a 1:8 adult-to-student ratio.
  • The Sandhills: The Sandhills represent a unique and fragile ecosystem within the park, showcasing a variety of rare and endangered species. This two-hour program offers insights into the landscape and the organisms that inhabit it, catering to different age groups from grades K-12. The trip is limited to 50 students (one to two classes).

Review the Henry Cowell Redwoods’ Teacher Page for more information. 

Grade Levels: K-6 (can be customized for other grade levels)

Next Generation Standards: K-ESS2-2 | K-ESS3-3 | K-LS1-1 | 1-LS3-1 | 2-PS1-2 | 2LS2-1 | 2-LS4-1 | 4-LS1-1 | MS-LS1-6 | MS-LS4-4 | HS-LS2-7

Maximum number of students: varies by trip

Eligible Schools: Select Title 1 schools from Santa Cruz County. Check the school list.


Natural Bridges State Beach

Field trip description: Natural Bridges is famous for its tide pools and Monarch Butterfly sanctuary.

  • The monarch field trip, offered in October and November, is a 1-hour program designed to share Monarch Butterflies with visiting students. During the visit, explore the monarch grove with a California State Park Interpreter and learn more about Monarch butterflies’ lifecycle, migration, adaptations and so much more!
  • The tide pool field trip, offered from March to May, is a 90-minute program exploring the tidepools at Natural Bridges State Beach. During this field trip, students will discover tidepool habitats with a California State Parks interpreter, learn about animal adaptations, and so much more.

Review the Natural Bridges’ Teachers page for more information.

Grade Levels: K-6

Next Generation Standards: K-LS1 | K-ESS3 | 1-LS1 A,B,C | 1-LS3-1 | 2-LS2 | 2-LS4 | 3-ESS2 | 3-ESS3 | 3-LS1 | 3-LS4 | 4-LS1 | 5-PS3 | MS-LS1-4 | HS LS2-7 | HS-ESS3-4

Maximum number of students: 35 students

Additional Digital Resources: Natural Bridges FlipgridMonarch Butterflies Padlet 

Eligible schools: Select Title 1 schools from Santa Cruz County. Check the school list.


Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park

Field trip description: Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park offers two field trip options:

  • Mission Rotations Program: Participate in several stations illustrating daily life in the Santa Cruz Mission including an adobe tour during this 4-hour program. This program is for one to four classes (40-90 students).
  • Mission Day Program: The Mission Day program takes students from the life of the Ohlone people in their village to their life in the Santa Cruz Mission with the Spanish students will understand how the California Mission System changed traditional Indigenous life forever. They will consider ways in which Native People responded to this change resulting in cultural continuity and cultural change. This program is for one or two classes (up to 45 students).

Review the Santa Cruz Mission History Resources page for more information.

Grade Levels: 2-4 (can be customized for other grade levels)

Next Generation Standards: 2.4.1 | 3.2.2 | 3.2.4 | 3.3.1 | 3.3.2 | 3.3.3 | 3.5.1 | 4.2.1 | 4.2.5 | 4.2.6 | 4.2.6 | 4.2.7 | 4.2.8 | 4.3.2 | 4.4.2 | 4.4.3

Maximum number of students: varies by program, please see trip descriptions for details

Eligible Schools: Select Title 1 schools from Santa Cruz County. Check the school list.


Seacliff State Beach

Field trip description: Students learn about the natural wonders of Seacliff State Beach. Two field trips are offered:

  • Spectacular Seacliff: Discover a secret that is 2.5 to 5 million years old during this 2-hour visit. Students will have the opportunity to brush for fossils, an activity that is only possible while on field trips!! Also discover how a ship made out of concrete can float and which animals call it home.
  • Marine Sanctuary Exploration: Seacliff State Beach is located in the heart of Monterey Bay, a very special place as it is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. During this 1-hour program, students will design a marine sanctuary and then go down to the beach to look for evidence of plants, animals and people.

Review the Seacliff’s Teachers page for more information. 

Grade Levels: K-4 (can be customized for other grade levels)

Next Generation Standards: 2-LS2, 2-EES1-1, K-2-ETS1, 3-5-ETS1, 4-LS1-1, 4-ESS1-1, 4-ESS2-1, and 4-ESS3-1.

Maximum number of students: 30-50 depending on the program

Eligible Schools: Select Title 1 schools from Santa Cruz County. Check the school list.


Wilder Ranch State Park

Field trip description: Students will engage in tasks required to operate a dairy ranch in the year 1900 during this 2-hour hands-on learning experience, which includes interacting with the farm animals that call Wilder Ranch their home today.

Review the Wilder Ranch’s Teachers page for more information. 

Grade Levels: 2-4 (can be customized for other grade levels)

Next Generation Standards: 2.4.1 | 3.2.2 | 3.2.4 | 3.3.1 | 3.3.2 | 3.3.3 | 3.5.1 | 4.2.1 | 4.2.5 | 4.2.6 | 4.2.6 | 4.2.7 | 4.2.8 | 4.3.2 | 4.4.2 | 4.4.3

Maximum number of students: 35

Eligible schools: Select Title 1 schools from Santa Cruz County. Check the school list.

Additional Digital Resources: Wilder Ranch Flipgrid | Wilder Ranch YouTube Channel