Train and Greenfield Village ©WagonPilot

Train and Greenfield Village ©WagonPilot

Greenfield Village, and its partner The Henry Ford Museum, are a truly unique combination of American cultural history and the age of invention and technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Both represent the culmination of years of collecting by Henry Ford. You see, the founder of the Ford Motor Company was driven by passion and also a bit of guilt.

As an inventor himself, he sought out others with similar interests in developing new technologies and ways to make daily life better. He is often pictured with Thomas Edison and other contemporaries in laboratories or early cross country camping trips in Ford Model Ts. The mass production system he helped perfect, combined with new automobile technology, fueled an explosion we know today as the auto industry. Ford is a model of a successful inventor and industrialist. There’s a flip side to him though.

Ford’s factories also heralded some improvements in working conditions, hours, and decent wages. Because of this people flocked to the city looking for work. This wasn’t something he had foreseen. Ford felt he was responsible for making small town America obsolete and this led him to assemble teams to collect items and even buildings from across the country. The result of his passion and guilt is what we see today in this pair of wonderful museums.

Henry Ford's childhood home ©WagonPilot

Henry Ford’s childhood home ©WagonPilot

Located in the Detroit suburbs, Greenfield Village is one of the most visited attractions in the area for both local and out of state travelers. Set up along small streets, you immediately get the sense of being in a small town in the early 20th century. A time when small businesses and shops lined the main street. Upon closer inspection you’ll noticed it represents a transitional period where horse drawn carriages share the road with Model Ts sputtering by. In fact, you make a decision of sorts upon entry; go left towards the farmstead or to the right where Edison’s labs and the Wright Brother’s home await.

There are several buildings lining the roads through the Village representing a cross section of society. Farms, stores, workshops, one room schoolhouses, and even Henry Ford’s childhood home in which he often entertained in later years. Period reenactors act as tour guides and historians throughout the Village, which gives an even greater sense of immersion and draws kids into something that might not be so exciting to them otherwise. On our last visit we had a chance to record our voices using an early phonograph.

The pace is leisurely and there is plenty of room to relax or let the kids run free under the tree lined streets. Here you are free to wander in several directions and see what interests you most, whether it be the old homes, artisan workshops, or the train depot. There’s also a unique playground and carousel for the kids to get out some energy. For added fun, a ride pass can be purchased to get you on the train and Model Ts which cruise around the streets. As always, arrive early to avoid crowds during busy times, but unlike other tourist destinations there aren’t going to be huge lines for a few select attractions. Greenfield Village has 83 buildings and each one is unique.

Lunch wagon still on duty today ©WagonPilot

Lunch wagon still on duty today ©WagonPilot

Dining

The Eagle Tavern, an old stage coach stop, offers a unique dining experience and top notch food. There’s modern counter service restaurant next to it, plus other options inside the museum. There are also some snack locations around the Village. There isn’t a specific policy other than you are allowed to bring “small amounts” of food. Check here for more information on dining and shopping options.

 

Hours

Greenfield Village closes seasonally January 1st through mid-April.

Mid-April through late October open every day 9:30am to 5:00pm

November open Friday – Sunday 9:30am to 5:00pm

December closed except for special events

 

Tickets

A single day pass for the Village is $26 for adults, discounts for seniors and children 3-11. Kids under 3 are free. Active US Military members get in free. There is a $6/car parking charge.

Combination tickets for the Henry Ford museum and other events are offered at a discount plus you can also save by ordering online. Check here for the latest ticket prices and discount packages.

***If you plan on visiting more than once per year I highly suggest looking at the annual pass options. Typically you will save quite a bit off regular ticket prices and add to that free parking and shopping and event discounts.

 

 

Tips for your visit

  • Greenfield Village is mostly outdoors, so check the weather and plan accordingly.
  • Strollers and wagons are available for rent $5/day. You may also bring your own wagon.
  • Due to the nature of the historic buildings, there is limited wheelchair accessibility. Reenactors are often posted at entrances and love to share information about the buildings and people. Streets and sidewalks are clear and easy to get around for the most part.
  • The Village is a great place for kids with lots of room to roam around, activities, and a fun playground.
  • Be sure to check for special events on weekends, such as old time baseball games, car shows, etc.
  • Greenfield Village is a great place for photographers. With the reenactors and craftsmen at work there is plenty of action to capture.

Read my article about The Henry Ford Museum and find out why you’ll want to visit both attractions.