Head to one of these living history museums to make the past come alive for kids in a unique and hands-on way. Do you know of others we’ve missed? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Old World Wisconsin
W372 S9727 Wisconsin 67, Eagle, WI 53119
Old World Wisconsin brings 19th century history to life like no other place in Wisconsin. In fact, it’s the largest outdoor museum of rural life in the entire country. Original structures from across the region were painstakingly dismantled and reconstructed to build this 600-acre open-air museum. There are over 60 buildings to explore including a schoolhouse, church, and furnished houses.
In the Crossroad Village, visitors can learn iron-crafting techniques, watch shoemaking demonstrations, and experience what a typical church experience was like. On the farmsteads, you’ll see horses, roosters, pigs, sheep, and other livestock, and learn about old-fashioned farm machinery, tools, and agricultural techniques.
Throughout the experience, visitors will learn about food preparation and preservation techniques in a world of harsh winters. You’ll see authentic wood stoves, outdoor cooking demonstrations, and learn about holiday food traditions. You can also learn about gardening techniques and stroll through beautifully maintained heirloom gardens, filled with lavender, herbs and seasonal produce.
The best part about a visit to Old World Wisconsin is participating in hands-on activities including ice cream making, crafts, outdoor games, churning butter, domestic chores, and walking on wooden stilts. They also host vintage baseball games during the summer.
2021 Update: Old World Wisconsin will be hosting a drive-through experience at the end of May. A walk-through experience will be available this summer, but some activities will not be available due to health and safety protocols.
New Berlin Historical Park (Free!)
19765 W. National Ave., New Berlin, WI 53146
Tour the grounds anytime on the Prospect Hill Settlement District and explore the former Freewill Baptist Church building, a carriage house and barn, a little red schoolhouse, the Alice Weston Memorial Garden, the Weston Antique Orchard, a gazebo, a charming log cabin, an old-fashioned windmill, two former homes, and a small museum.
Old Falls Village Historical Society (Free!)
N96 W15791 County Line Rd., Germantown, WI 53022
Nestled on the grounds of a beautiful 17-acre park, Old Falls Village is a 17-acre park that features a log home, school house, barn, railroad depot, antiques, and artifacts from the 19th century. The highlight of the park is the 1858 Miller-Davidson House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
4880 County Road I, Saukville, WI 53080
Pioneer Village features 17 buildings from the 19th century, including fully furnished homes, barns, and the original Cedarburg Railroad Depot. Check their website for tour times and special family-friendly events.
Richfield Historical Park
1896 WI-164, Richfield, WI 53076
The 33 acre Richfield Historical Park is part of the Village of Richfield park system and is adjacent to the Richfield Nature Park. It’s home to many restored historic buildings maintained by the Richfield Historical Society. The beautiful Coney Creek meanders among various wooded areas. Hiking trails also wind throughout the park. Picnic tables and benches are available for visitors to enjoy.One section of the park is the Messer/Mayer Mill and Homestead which includes the 150 year old mill, mill house, horseshoe, woodshed, smokehouse, outhouse, and barn.Click the underlined link to learn about each area. On the north end of ht park, you’ll find the Lillicrapp Welcome Center, a restored home that is now handicap accessible. On the south end of the park, you’ll find the Motz Log Cabin and Messer Log Barn. You’ll also find the Timber Frame Area which includes a granary, sugar shack, and blacksmith shop.
The Park Hours are 7 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. , but the historic buildings in the Park are only open during Scheduled Tours and Richfield Historical Society Events.
There are two entrances to the Richfield Historical Park, located at 1896 Hwy 164, Richfield, WI 53076 and 4399 Pleasant Hill Road, Richfield, WI 53076.
8881 W. Grange Ave., Greendale, WI 53129
Trimborn Farm is the only Milwaukee County Park with a historic theme. It includes a Cream City brick farmhouse, one of the last and largest stone barns in Wisconsin, a worker’s bunkhouse, threshing barn, and 75-foot kiln. The park is open every day to take a walk or read a book, but the buildings are open only by appointment.