Monday, May 6, 2013

Naper Settlement

The Naper Settlement, located at 523 S. Webster St. in Naperville, is a outdoor historic village that is easily walkable and enjoyable for kids of all ages.  The village consists of about 15 to 20 buildings designed to represent life in Naperville in the mid to late 1800's.  All of the buildings are connected by a concrete walkway that makes pushing a stroller very easy.  The favorite stops for my family were the Blacksmith shop, chapel, schoolhouse, and Martin Mitchell mansion.  At the blacksmith shop the girls were able to see how metal was melted down to make various tools needed during life in the 19th century.  Tours are given of the Martin Mitchell Mansion, which is the carefully preserved original home built on this property, every hour.  It is very similar to other period houses you may have seen but gives good background to the original property owners.  The tour was maybe 20 minutes long but our baby had to duck out early because there was too much standing still but the girls really enjoyed it.  Tours are also given every hour at the schoolhouse, which basically involves the "teacher" talking about what school was like in the 1800s.  This was definitely the most interesting part for the girls.  The chapel is very pretty and was probably my favorite building in the village.  We were lucky that we went in there first because about midway through our time at the Settlement, the chapel was closed for a private wedding.    

In the grassy areas and in front of many of the other buildings were costumed guides who demonstrated games and toys that were popular during this time period.  The girls were able to play a ring toss game, jump rope, croquet, walk on stilts, have a tea party, and play a game that involved tossing a hoop with two sticks (which I believe is called grace).  In addition, outside of the log cabin, we were shown how typical household tasks were completed such as getting water and making clothes.

There is an area on the property with picnic tables if you want to bring your lunch.  Otherwise there are vending machines located in the main building for drinks or snacks.  There are plenty of clean, well marked bathrooms throughout the village.  Parking is free either in a lot behind the village along Porter Ave. or along Webster St., which is where we parked.  In the summer, admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children, and free for kids 4 years old and younger.  The village is open year round Tuesday through Friday 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM and is open for the weekend only in the summer from 10:00 - 4:00 on Saturday and 1:00 - 4:00 on Sundays.

The Naper Settlement is definitely a fun place to go with your family.  The village is just the right size for younger children, who can walk around the whole village and see everything before they get tired.  It is a bit of a drive from the City but really a great way to introduce history to your children.

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