Guided Field Trips

Tours of the conservatory and trails at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are available throughout the academic year. Trained interpretive guides cover a variety of topics including basic botany, adaptations, and ecosystems, which relate to Michigan education benchmarks and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Schools with Title One status are eligible for field trip scholarships, reducing the cost by half. Schools provide an electronic letter from the principal indicating status. Please contact Liz Glynn ( for more details and to schedule a guided field trip.


  • Virtual field trips Monday-Thursday 9 am-1 pm
  • In-person field trips Tuesday-Friday 10 am-noon

Trail tours are conducted in most weather conditions. Please dress for the weather. In case of heavy rain, guided field trips include an indoor activity in addition to the conservatory tour.

Self-guided Field Trips

Self-guided tours are led by the teacher and chaperones, and can include exploration of both Matthaei’s trails and conservatory. Topics that can be investigated at Matthaei include native Michigan plant and animal species, plant parts and functions, adaptations, pollination, and ecosystems.


One hour conservatory or trails: $3.00/person (2 free admissions per classroom)

Two hour conservatory and trails: $6.00/person (2 free admissions per classroom)

Field based programs such as Wetland Explorers, Great Lakes Ecosystems and Bugs are Beautiful are $8.00/person and include all materials. 


A deposit, based on the number of students, is required when booking a field trip. The balance is due upon arrival.  Cancellations at least 3 weeks prior to the field trip date receive a refund of 50% of the deposit. No refunds for cancellations less than 3 weeks prior to the field trip.

Title One Subsidy

Schools with Title One status are eligible for field trip scholarships. Scholarships are available on a first come basis, based on availability of funds. Please inquire about a Title One subside when scheduling a tour.

Guided Programs

Guided field trips cover a variety of topics, including native Michigan plant and animal species,  plant parts and functions, and adaptations, biomes & ecosystems including Great Lakes plant communities,  and human impact on the environment. 

When you arrive:

  • Bus drivers and parents drop students off at the main entrance.
  • Bus drivers pick up parking hang tags from visitor services desk and park in west lot. For guided school tours there is no bus parking charge. For self-guided tours, there is a $15 charge for bus parking, per bus, per day.
  • Individual drivers park in west lot and pay at kiosks ($2.00/hour).
  • Teachers stay with students or float among groups.
  • Special permission required for collecting materials of any kind.

Guided Field Trip Themes

Roots and shoots: Explore plants and their needs. Compare the diversity of plant life and relationships to animals.

Grade(s) – pre-K, K, 1st

Plant & Animal Pairs:
Living and non-living things are part of all ecosystems. Explore the ways plants & animals around the world depend on each other for pollination, seed dispersal, shelter and food.

Grade(s) – 2nd, 3rd

Biomes are Beautiful: Explore three unique biomes and the characteristics that make them unique. Learn about plant adaptations that help them thrive from the Tropics to the Desert.

Grade(s) – 3rd, 4th


Ecosystems: Flowers, Fruits & Seeds: Plant structures are uniquely adapted to their role in an ecosystem. Explore plant adaptations from roots to flowers that aid in survival for both plants and animals.

Grade(s) – 3rd, 4th

Ecosystems; Energy flows, Matter cycles: Ecosystems are complex with interdependencies between living and non-living elements. Explore ecosystem interactions, food webs and energy flows.

Grade(s) – 5th, 6th

Great Lakes Ecosystems: Explore the biotic and abiotic elements of ecosystems around the Great Lakes while exploring the Great Lakes Gardens. Learn how soils, weather and humans impact these unique and diverse plant communities.

Grade(s) – Middle and high school