Living History Museums Near Chicago for Families

Talk about a blast from the past!

Autumn brings busy family schedules, which makes it a perfect time to find some good, old-fashioned family fun. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite spots in Chicagoland to step back in time and reconnect as a family.

Graue Mill and Museum

Watch history come to life at Graue Mill and Museum in Oak Brook, located inside the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s Fullersburg Woods. Through milling, weaving and spinning demonstrations, catch a glimpse of life in the 1850s and 1860s. The mill was also a stop on the Underground Railroad and it’s the only operating waterwheel gristmill in Illinois.

When to visit: Graue Mill is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and noon-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Special demonstrations take place 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 

Fabyan Windmill

Continue your journey through time at Fabyan Windmill in Geneva, part of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County. The windmill was built in the 1850s and moved to its current location in 1914. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the authentic Dutch mill, restored with timber and gears brought from the Netherlands during its restoration 25 years ago.

When to visit: Fabyan Windmill is open 1-4 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 8.

Friends of the Viking

Just a few minutes away, visit the Viking, a 78-foot-long ship housed inside Geneva’s Good Templar Park. Built in Norway in 1893, the ship was modeled after an ancient ship called the Gokstad. The Viking sailed from Norway via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Tours are $7/adults, $4/teens, free/kids 12 and under. 

When to visit: Tours of the Viking are available 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sept. 16 and Oct. 21. Tickets are required and can be purchased on-site. The October date coincides with Cottages in the Woods, a family-friendly event held at the park’s Swedish-style cottages nearby.

Kline Creek Farm

Experience more living history inside the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago and learn about the rhythms of 19th-century farm life, from sheep shearing to beekeeping to harvesting. Costumed interpreters bring everyday farm responsibilities to life, and your kids will appreciate the hands-on approach. Suggested admission of $5 per person ages 3 and up.

When to visit: Kline Creek Farm is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Monday (closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and select holidays). On Saturday mornings in September, join staff at 10 a.m. for a farmhouse tour showing what schooling was like for many rural children in the 1890s. 

Pullman National Historical Park

Visit Pullman National Historical Park in Chicago for a close look at local and national history. The park is located on the site of one of the first planned worker communities in the country, known for the luxury railroad sleeping cars built there during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge by participating in certain activities and learning about the history of the area and the workers who lived and worked there. 

When to visit: The Pullman National Historical Park’s Clock Tower Building Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. The Chicago Labor Parade and festival will be held in and around the park on Sept. 2. The parade kicks off at noon at 108th and Cottage Grove Avenue, with the Eddie Fest following 1-6 p.m. inside the National Historical Park. 

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