Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford
Location: Dearborn, MI
Full Price Admission Cost: $23 adults; $17.25 kids; under 5 free
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Greenfield Village is just one part of the enormous Henry Ford complex. However, after visiting every attraction offered in the complex, I can honestly say it’s my favorite. It was unlike any other museum I’ve ever visited, and seemed to be a cross between a living history museum, a very detailed theme park, and an impressive collection of artifacts. We spent an entire 6 hours there, and I easily could have stuck around for more.
The grounds are odd in that they’re split based on subject matter rather than time period. However, I found this to be a nice change of pace and didn’t end up minding it at all.
We started the day watching an authentic steam engine carry passengers right across our path. It was breathtaking to see such an enormous, loud, and historical machine running right before our eyes, and it felt incredibly lucky that we walked into the park at just the right moment to see this happening. Of course, the train runs throughout the day, so we would have had plenty of opportunity to see it later, but it was a great way to start our visit.
As I mentioned, the train carries passengers around the park. That said, the giant steam engine isn’t the only mode of transportation in the parks. There are Model T Ford cars driving guests around Main Street, old-style buses carting people to and fro, and carriages can be spotted here and there. Perhaps the most magical ride however, was the century-old carousel which played lively tunes throughout the day and added color to the landscape.
During our visit we saw an entire section dedicated to telling the story of Henry Ford, as well as a section about Thomas Edison. Both were engaging, inspiring, and informative. Besides all that, seeing the kinds of places these men lived and worked was simply amazing.
Additionally, we spent plenty of time in the Main Street area, which was modeled after a turn-of-the-century town and had an upbeat vibe. We saw the Wright Brothers’ bike shop as well as their family home. We walked through an old doctor’s office, jewelry store, and hat shop, watched an old-style Broadway performance in the Town Hall, and even attended a lesson at the local schoolhouse.
In Porches and Parlors, visitors can take a peek into the past by touring homes from various places and times in history. Many are actual historical homes, and some belonged to well-known individuals. My personal favorite was the Depression-era shack, which really helped bring to focus what life must’ve been like for the people most affected by the Great Depression.
Other sections of this amazing park included Railroad Junction, Liberty Craftworks, and working farms. Each was as awesome as the last, meaning you will definitely want to make time to see it all.
- Food is available for purchase on the premises. However, outside food and drink is also allowed and can be eaten onsite.
- Limited bus and RV parking is available.
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk.
- Plan on a full day. This outdoor museum is enormous.
- Look at the guide provided for interactive experiences and scheduled performances and work them into your schedule.
Books to Read
- A Picture Book of Thomas A. Edison by David A. Adler
- R is for Railway: An Industrial Revolution Alphabet by Greg Paprocki
- Henry Ford for Kids by Ronald A. Reis
- Who Was Thomas Alva Edison? by Margaret Frith
- Who Were the Wright Brothers? by James Buckley Jr.
- American Girl Samantha Book Series
- The Industrial Revolution For Kids by Cheryl Mullenbach
- Car: the Definitive Visual History of the Automobile by DK
Videos to Watch
- Crash Course History: The Industrial Revolution
- Steam Engine — How Does it Work?
- Magic School Bus: “Taking Flight”
Activities to Do
- Cook an authentic turn-of-the-century dessert.
- Build and test paper airplanes.
- Make your own light bulb.
Things to Discuss
- Who was Henry Ford and how did he change the world?
- Who was Thomas Edison and how did he change the world?
- Who were the Wright Brothers and how did they change the world?
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 Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation
- Ford Rouge Factory Tour
- Michigan Science Center — ASTC
- Belle Isle Conservancy
- Detroit Zoo — AZA 50%
- Detroit Institute of Arts — NARM
- The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
- Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History — NARM
Closest Places to Stay on a Budget
For information on camping memberships, see this post.
- Thousand Trails and RPI: St. Clair RV Resort (58 mi)
- Passport America: Northpointe Shores RV Resort (46 mi)
- Coast to Coast: Heartland Woods Family Resort (72 mi)
Related Attractions in Other Areas
- Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA — Roadschool Guide
- Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, VA — Roadschool Guide
- Conner Prairie in Fishers, IN — Roadschool Guide
Be sure to visit Fulltime Families for a Roadschool Guide to The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
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