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One of my favorite things to do with the kids on vacation is taking them to a living history museum. I find it’s a fantastic way to engage them, teach them history, and have something beyond just strolling through a museum. The Michigan’s Heritage Park in Whitehall, Michigan is a lovely wooded walk through 10,000 years of Michigan history. At each location, an appropriately costumed guide talks about their era, what you know and may not know about that time frame and offers hands-on demonstrations.
EDITED: Unfortunately, Michigan’s Heritage Park Closed at the end of 2018 after lack of funding. Some of the museum exhibits will be moved to the Lakeshore Museum Center. We visited and this review was written in 2017.
Here’s a snapshot of our travel back through time.
View, from the inside out, a Native American Wigwam. Here, a guide is likely cooking over a fire, as well as sorting herbs, furs and other necessities.
Fur trading throughout Canada and the upper Midwest led to the development of many towns and cities we know today. This was one of my favorite interactions along the trail as the fur trader explained the price comparisons between what a pelt may cost then to today’s dollars. He also shared what life was like in the fur trading outpost.
The settlers and pioneers cabin have an active garden, which the guides tend to. Here the guide was also making lunch as well as dipping candles.The kids got to get in on dipping their own candle. Weaving and looms were also about in the cabin.
While no battles took place on Michigan land, that didn’t mean soldiers didn’t come from this area. The guide here brought us through the camp explaining how they ate, slept, and even relieved themselves.
This area of Michigan was home to a large part of the overall logging industry. It’s said Muskegon area is responsible for rebuilding Chicago after the great Chicago Fire. So it’s no wonder Michigan’s Heritage Park should have a logging camp replica.
The final stop along the tour was a turn of the century farmhouse. Our guide here played games with the children, introduced us to her chickens and invited us into the parlor. This area was even more enjoyable for us, as my mom could recall several pieces of furniture that resembled items her aunts would have owned.
Michigan’s Heritage Park
Michigan’s Heritage Park is part of the Lakeshore Museum Center, which includes Logger Baron Hackley & Hume homes as well as a permanent Michigan History museum which is also quite good.
The living history park is open May through October with the following hours.
October and May: Open Monday – Friday, 10 am to 4 pm.
June – September: Open Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. Open Sunday, 1 pm to 4 pm. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
If you’re looking for more to do in Muskegon, Michigan, be sure to check out these 5 outdoor adventures.