Reciprocal: Time Travelers ($2 discount)
Full Price Admission Cost: $18 adults; $13 for kids 2–12; kids under 2 are free
WWWW Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
As you probably know by now, I’m a “living history” geek. I adore living history museums, and since he gets to talk to people, Brendon might enjoy them even more. Therefore, paying Conner Prairie a visit while in Indiana was a no-brainer.
This place is interesting in that it doesn’t focus only on one time period. Instead, it has several areas representing various time periods, as well as some additional play spaces for the kids.
The first thing we came to was a workshop and experiment area. We experimented with different kinds of blades on a windmill, built a Rube Goldberg machine, and tried our hand at creating chainmail. However, we didn’t stay long because I knew there was much more to see ahead.
On our way out of the building, we passed by a play area for small children. We didn’t go in however because Brendon was a bit old for it.
Once outside, we found ourselves right by a hot air balloon loading area. This balloon flies daily when the weather allows, but it costs extra so we chose to skip it. Still, we did look at some of the exhibits in the queue area, and learned quite a bit about the history of flight.
We walked on and explored the 1816 Lenape settlement, where we chatted with a Native man, learned all about beadwork, sat in a canoe carved from a tree, and explored a vegetable garden. We also visited the trading post in this area, which was a fun experience.
Next up was the 1823 Conner House, as well as the barn. The house was neat and had a variety of artifacts on display. There were also videos and audio recordings to help capture the attention of younger visitors. Meanwhile, the barn was an entirely different experience and featured a variety of farm animals that visitors are allowed to pet. We even got to see a lamb that was born the very day of our visit!
Finally we arrived at the 1836 Prairietown. This was the section I had been waiting for, and it was quite intriguing. There were a variety of townspeople milling about, and each of them had a very specific character and backstory. They were happy to include guests in their daily errands and chores, and equally glad to stop and chat about the things that interested visitors. We learned quite a lot about medicine in the 1800s from the town doctor, and the local potter was informative as well.
On our way to the last historic part of the museum, we made a stop at the Treetop Outpost. This is a fun stop for kids because it includes a playground, some musical instruments, and several opportunities to get creative. Brendon played here for a bit before we had to drag him away to see the last of the exhibits.
Our final stop was the 1863 Civil War Journey. Like Prairietown, this was also a living history experience. However, it was different in that it was a bit more staged and most guests probably have very similar experiences. Still, we enjoyed it, and I thought it did an excellent job of telling one of the many important and touching stories that the Civil War produced.
This was an amazing museum! I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Indiana, and would even plan a special trip just to see this one attraction.
- You’ll be doing a lot of walking. Wear decent shoes.
- Bring water. We didn’t see many places to purchase drinks.
- Bathrooms are available, but may not be close and are not easy to find. Use one when you see one.
- Parking is free!
- Arrive ready to ask questions. The people in Prairietown and in the Civil War area are very knowledgeable and happy to answer questions, meaning your experience can be made better when you chat these people up.
Books to Read
- When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger
- Rainbow Crow: A Lanape Tale by Nancy Van Lann
- Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman
- If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War by Kay Moore
- I Am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer
- When Will This Cruel War be Over? By Barry Denenberg
- If You Were a Pioneer on the Prairie
- Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory
Videos to Watch
- Lenape Lifeways Videos
- Crash Course US History — Civil War 1
- Crash Course US History — Civil War 2
- Crash Course US History — Westward Expansion
- SciShow Kids — How do Hot Air Balloons Work?
Activities to Do
Things to Discuss
- If you moved to Prairietown in 1836, what would you bring?
- How would your life be different if you lived in 1816, 1823, 1836, or 1863?
- If you lived during the Civil War, what would you do to help?
- If you lived in 1836, what job would you have?
Other Area Attractions
Below are some of the other great attractions in this area. We try to keep things affordable, sticking to free and cheap attractions and/or museums and zoos on reciprocal lists. If an attraction is affiliated with a reciprocal program or offers free admission, I have noted that beside the attraction listing. To learn more about saving money using reciprocal programs, see this post.
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
- Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites — ASTC/NARM
- Indianapolis Art Center — NARM
- Newfields — NARM
- Indianapolis Zoo
- Rhythm Discovery Center
- Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and Museum
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Closest Places to Stay on a Budget
- Thousand Trails: Indian Lakes RV Resort (83 mi)
- Passport America: Yogi Bear Jellystone Park (80 mi)
- RPI and Coast to Coast GNP: Deer Ridge Camping Resort (32 mi)
Related Attractions in Other Areas
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