Living History Farms is an open-air history museum located in Urbandale, Iowa, approximately 15 minutes outside of Des Moines. This popular interactive museum is designed to teach people of all ages about rural life and traditions in Iowa from the past 300 years.
Living History Farms is one of Iowa's most popular family attractions due to the unique way in which it educates and entertains visitors with its recreations of historical farm sites. Friendly interpreters at each of the sites are dressed in clothing from the time period and provide detailed explanations of what life was like back in each era.
Things to Do
- For the complete Living History Farms experience, visit the 1875 Town of Walnut Hill, all three farms, and the Henry A. Wallace Exhibit Center, which features a number of interactive exhibits relating to agriculture and farm life. This generally takes visitors 3-4 hours.
- If you don't have much time, then consider just visiting the 1900 Horse-Powered Farm, where the whole family can learn about the use of modern machines to plant corn, bind oats, cut hay, and prepare food. You can even ride the tractor cart there!
- Spend a couple of hours exploring the 1875 Town of Walnut Hill. Children and adults alike will be fascinated by the many buildings, including the general store, the school, the drug store, the broommaker, the cabinetmaker, and the vet clinic. There's tons to learn from the interpreters about life in the 1800s as well!
Living History Farms Insider Tips
- Visitors have a few options when it comes to having lunch at Living History Farms. You are welcome to bring food with you to eat on the site, or you can stop by The Flynn Cafe or The Snack Shop. The Flynn Cafe sells items such as sandwiches and pizza, while The Snack Shop has vending machines stocked with snacks and drinks.
- The whole family can learn about Native American culture at the 1700 Ioway Indian Farm! Topics that are covered by interpreters in this fascinating village include hunting, fur trading, gardening, tool making, and the traditional roles of Ioway men and women.
- Check the website to see if any special events are taking place during your visit. These include historic dinners at the Flynn Mansion and special home tours of Living History Farms' historic buildings.