Yesterday, I had a rare Saturday off. My sweet daughter has been reading the Little House series, so I had told her last week we were going to visit the MN History Museum to learn more about being a settler. I also asked her G&T teacher (Gifted and Talented– NOT Gin and Tonic) for ideas for real life things we could do to reinforce what she was reading on her own time. Her teacher suggested that we visit The Landing (previously known and Murphy’s Landing) for their Christmas celebration. Seeing as how the weather yesterday was supposed to be pretty mild, we packed up the kids and headed South.
After paying $16 for our family of 4 to enter (not a bad deal, if you ask me), we stepped outside and waiting for a few moments for the horse-drawn wagon to come pick us up. The horses would prove to be the only negative of the whole day; I am HORRIBLY allergic to horses and I have asthma, so after each wagon ride I would have major issues breathing for awhile But that’s just me.
We first got dropped off at a French- Canadian (my people!) cabin from the 1850s. The kids learned about trading outposts, how the fir traders traded with the Dakota for essentials, and, in general, learned how different life was like back then. One volunteer was sewing the ear back on a wolf pelt. The kids had lots of questions about that. This cottage kept up their attention longer than almost anything else. The volunteers were warm and engaging, and truly wanted to talk with the kids about everything.
Next we were off down the trail to a farm from the 1860s. Inside were German immigrant re-enactors. This cabin had a few more comforts than the last, and they were making sauerkraut soup that smelled AMAZING. Unfortunately, the volunteers were less eager to talk than in the last cabin (or in any other place we went), so we only stayed for a few moments until exiting and heading down the trail, where we would next encounter a schoolhouse from 1889.
The schoolhouse kept the kids’ attention for a very long time, too. Both kids sat at their little desks and practiced writing on their tiny chalkboards with their quartz chalk. The schoolteacher told them all about what school was like back then, and Chris was forced to demonstrate 2 punishment methods from back then. (HEEE!) Just as another group of visitors walked in, St. Nick walked by! The kids were eager to see him, so out we headed to have a “walk and talk” with The Man in Red.
The rest of the park is set up as a village meant to show life in the 1890s. All of the houses were actual homes moved from surrounding communities They had a town hall and a church, too. Each home has a different family from a different country living in it, so we got to see how everyone had their own holiday customs. Before we could explore the town, though, we had to visit The Depot, where a catering company had food for sale. All in all, the food was delicious (or maybe we were just cold and hungry). We then set out to explore all the houses and the General Store. The kids’ favorite part ended up being the musical performers. My son made me sit in the town hall, where a choir was doing something called shape singing. We were handed a book, and I had lots of fun singing with the group (wow– rusty sight reading skills here, but it came back to me!) while the wee man just kept looking from me to the group, to the book, and so on. Chris took out daughter over to the church. Reports are that she was transfixed with the violinists (CRAAAAAAP) and could not take her eyes off of them.
I will admit that I am in love. (And no, this is not sponsored in any way, shape, or form. Please. Who would pay anyone with 3 posts and 15 totals page views?) I loved the park, I loved the experience and am plotting our return. If you are looking for a fun way to spend a day learning AND getting into the Holiday spirit, this is IT. They have a candlelight stroll on 12/21. I very, very much want to go.
I leave you with pictures Chris took. Doesn’t it look lovely?