Bring the holiday history to life in Dearborn, Mich.

The folks at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich., know how to make history fun for kids-lots of costumed “interpreters” staying in character to talk about their lives in a small, turn-of-the-last-century village. In December, the living history museum is a showcase of Christmas as it was celebrated in the early 1900s.

Only a handful of the 83 historic buildings at Greenfield Village are open during the annual Holiday Nights festival, but my family still found plenty to see and do when we visited. We rode in a Model T, then grabbed a cup of hot chocolate and wandered over to listen to a soldier talk about his experiences. Next, we followed our noses to a house where a woman was baking on a wood-burning stove, marveling along the way at the beautiful holiday decorations and listening to the strolling carolers.

We could have taken a spin on the ice rink (bring your own skates or borrow a pair there), but opted instead for a ride on the turn-of-the-century carousel. It was fun, but probably not worth the 40-minute wait.

Greenfield Village is a five-hour drive from Chicago, so plan to stay overnight and check out the Henry Ford Museum of Americana the next day. Look for hotel deals and combination ticket discounts on the Greenfield Village website.

We stayed as guests of the stately Dearborn Inn, just down the street from Greenfield Village. The elegant hotel was decked out for the holidays and, while it is family friendly, I kept a careful eye on the kids for fear they would break one of the gorgeous antiques in the lobby.

Holiday Nights will be open from 6:30-10 p.m. Eastern time Dec. 4, 10-11, 17-23 and 26-27 this year. Admission is $17, $15 age 5-12, free for kids 4 and under. Reservations are recommended.

Dress warmly; it can be chilly. It’s possible to bring strollers and wheelchairs, but this is a faithfully executed historic village so the houses aren’t handicap accessible.

Cindy Richards

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