3 Free Field Trip Guides for iPhone and iPad

Here we are in August.


Summer, and the year is more that half gone. Hopefully you have a tan, a trinket or two from some place exotic or at least not in your immediate neighborhood, and lots of photos and fine memories to show for the first half of the year. If not then it's not too late to take off a few days and go get yours.

Free on iTunes

It really doesn't matter what you wind up doing or where you wind up doing it as long as you're out there somewhere doing something. I'll offer this example; there are several small zoos within 50 miles of where I live here in central Florida. At least two have set up zip lines attractions, and I wound up at one last Friday.

The Brevard County Zoo's Treetop Trek zip line setup is pretty cool. They offer three levels so even if you have a moderate fear of heights you can probably coax yourself into trying it out. I paid for the advance level where the platforms you launch yourself from are forty to fifty feet in the air and the longest zip line run is more than seven hundred feet!

I had a blast! Altitude has no affect on me so even when the tree I was in swayed in a stiff breeze I felt completely at ease and safe because you make no move without being clamped via cable to something sturdy. The zip line course is basically an obstacle course elevated twenty to fifty feet off the ground. There are suspended platforms, cables, and other hazards you need to negotiate to get to the zip lines, some of which will force even the most nimble to pause for a moment before sallying forth.

It's a good time and if you have something similar where you live I strongly suggest you give it a try. In the meantime, there are other activities and sights that you can enjoy, often they are right around the corner from you, especially if you live in a urban area.

And wouldn't you know it, there are free iOS apps and iTunes University courses that can turn most places you happen to be into guided tours that highlight features and little known fact about events, buildings and people in your area. So grab a double-walled, stainless steel water bottle, a pack of Raisinets (my current guilty pleasure), and your walking shoes, and lets get to it.

National Park Service: Rock Creek Park [2 audio courses each about 45 mins long, all iOS devices, Maker: National Park Service]

Rock Creek Park

One of two audio tours of Rock Creek Park

If you've ever been to Washington D.C. and traveled the Beltway then it's likely you've traveled through Rock Creek Park. The park is more than just a habitat for squirrels and cicadas, there's a lot of history preserved in its shady nooks and glens.

You could go hunting for historical markers—and there is a certain satisfaction in doing that—or you could take a guided audio tour of the area by subscribing to the Nation Park Service's Rock Creek Park Guided Tour, a free iTunes University course.

Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park walking tours

This is really good stuff, too. So far there are two tours, each taking a bit over forty minutes to complete; Fort Stevens, and Battleground National Cemetery. Download them, plug in some headsets and let the audio take you through the history of these places.

The audio is well done too, complete with background music and interesting stories. In fact, if there's a national park near you chances are there's a audio tour provided by the Park Service featuring places of interest. Just download and go.

New York Beyond Sight [89 audio courses each about 4 mins long, all iOS devices, Maker: Art Education for the Blind]

New York Beyond Sight

New York City is a big place with plenty of landmarks that go overlooked. If you live in or near, or happen to be visiting The Big Apple then you need to subscribe to New York Beyond Sight, an audio guided tour of many of the sights in and around the City that Never Sleeps. This tour was developed for the blind, but there's no reason the sighted can't enjoy it.

New York Beyond Sight

When I say there are many courses I do mean it. There are over 80 installments featuring places like Gracie Manor, Hebrew Actor's Union, and The Gate House. Each audio session is between 3 to 5 minutes long so you don't have to worry about wasting time. In fact, you can grab a map and plot out a tour based on the audio guides. Plan several in the morning and afternoon with a stop someplace fun for lunch. What a great way to spend that day!

The subscription is free and it only takes a few moments to download the files. So plan, download, and go.

Versailles: Gallery of the History of the Palace [8 video courses each about 4 mins long, iPad, Maker: Palace of Versailles]


If, for whatever reason, you'd rather take a tour virtually then one of the best virtual tours you can take is the Gallery of the History of the Palace at Versailles.

This iTunes University course includes a 3D tour, movies, historical narration and more of the famous home of various French nobility.


I must admit I knew very little about the palace. I had no idea how big it is. Anything you've seen in movies cannot do it justice, but this course will leave you with a new appreciation of the grandeur, engineering, opulence, and spectacle that is Versailles.

Subscribe to this course.

And that's a wrap for this week.

While you're getting courses also get this week's free App of the Week, Rise Alarm Clock. It's an alarm clock with a difference.