Eight days by stage coach from Chicago–or these days just five hours by the trusted family Ford–lands you in the middle of life at the crux of change. , in Dearborn, Mich., is the most fun step-back-in-time your family will ever find.
And there’s no better time to visit than this year, as Henry Ford’s Model T celebrates its 100th birthday.
Start the day on the steam-powered locomotive to see the entire 90 acres making up the village. Not only will it help you decide what to visit first, the docents on board give you a funny, entertaining history lesson on a life few of us ever knew: Life before automobiles.
Your kids will be entertained with everything from rides on Model Ts and the 1913 Herscell-Spillman Carousel to visits to the 83 historic buildings, the Liberty Craftworks District to see potters, glassblowers and weavers and the Menlo Park Complex to learn how Edison invented the phonograph.
The adjacent Henry Ford Museum is a can’t miss, especially for your things-that-go fanatics. You’ll find 12 acres of artifacts, rows and rows of cars, motorcycles and trains. Add a little fun by making it a treasure hunt: Challenge the kids to find the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, the limousine in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, George Washington’s camp bed, an official copy of the Declaration of Independence, the chair in which President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and the Weinermobile.
This October, step back in time to a turn-of-the-20th century Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village. Follow a path of 800 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns and feel the whoosh as the headless horseman rides by, banter with a clever witch and make stops at treat stations spread throughout the village. For dates and times visit thehenryford.org.
While best done as a weekend trip that allows you more time to explore and really enjoy this piece of history, you can see both Greenfield Village and the Ford Museum in a day. Just be prepared for a lot of whining because the kids won’t want to leave the village.