A Jewel in Our Own Backyard

One of the many perks of my job as the librarian at Carlson High School is my time off in the summer.  I enjoy and value this time much more now that I am a father.  I love spending nearly every day in June, July and August with my two children.  Having all this free time means searching for ways to entertain the kids so summer time is not a bore.  I am thankful for morning walks/bike rides, trips to Chapman Elementary School for the summer reading program, visits to The Trenton Veterans Memorial Library to check out books, and stops at Pap Pap and Grandma Chris's pool for a swim on a hot summer day.

Nate Enjoying the Pool at Pap Pap and Grandma Chris's House


Even with all of the free activities available in the downriver area things can still get boring during my Mr. Mom time in the summer.  Three years ago I decided to purchase a family pass for the Toledo Zoo during a family zoo trip.  It is hard to pass up, since a yearly pass is about the cost of two visits for a family.  What a great idea, especially while spending an entire summer home with the kids.  Well, to be honest, it turned out to be a waste.  We never made it back, and I decided to not renew the membership.  No offense to fans of the zoo, but it really is not my thing.  First, it stinks, no literally it stinks.  Second, once you see an animal in June, do you really want to rush back later in the month to see it again?  The zoo is also not the best place to visit when temperatures are hovering around the 90 degree point like they were for the entire month of July.  Plus, as a state of Michigan Employee, I really do not want to spend my money down in Ohio when there are places I can visit right here in Michigan.

Fast forward to last September, I was searching for tickets for Hallowe'en in The Greenfield Village.  I have heard from numerous friends that it is an amazing event, that often sells out.  I bought my tickets early, and decided to purchase a yearly family pass for The Henry Ford.  This turned out to be a great decision, this past year has been filled with amazing family trips to Dearborn to visit The Henry Ford.  It started with a wonderful evening celebrating Hallowe'en in the village.  The kids had a blast and walking through the village lit via candle lit jack-o-lanterns is a wonderful autumn treat.  It really gets the family in the mood to celebrate Halloween.  My friends were correct, this is a great family event.

Chloe The Witch Finds A Witch At Hallowe'en in The Village
Now it is true, our membership at The Henry Ford does cost more than a zoo membership.  For full disclosure, I purchased a family pass with rides for roughly $200 (a little under $17.00 per month).  The ride pass may seem pricey, but with two little ones it is well worth the price.  We have made many trips to The Henry Ford this past year.  We have spent time browsing through the museum and strolling through the village.  We have enjoyed old time baseball games and informative train and Model T rides.  Here are just some of the reasons why I quickly renewed my family membership for 2011 - 2012 year when my renewal information arrived in the mail:
  • The amazing staff; every worker I come in contact with is extremely helpful and friendly.  Everyone is smiling and excited to teach and assist guests.
  • Discovering something new each time I visit.  The current Civil War exhibit is a great learning experience and my daughter is eagerly awaiting The Wizard of Oz exhibit arriving in October.  Not to mention all of the regular features of the Museum and the Village.  It is refreshing to know I do not have to rush and see everything, because I am only minutes away and can visit as often as I like.
  • The reasonable prices of food and souvenirs.  This is nice especially when the little ones are hungry.  Also, visitors are allowed to bring in outside food and beverage (within reason).
  • Crowds are usually manageable in both the Museum and the Village  I rarely feel crowded when we visit.  This was even the case during the Halloween visit in the Village.  Waits for rides are usually not very long (another great feature when visiting with little ones).
  • Watching both of my kids dance along in 1980's Music Videos thanks to a cool green screen MTV exhibit.  They were even able to pull my mom and I out to dance along with them during this last visit.  Their laughter was priceless!
  • Witnessing my six year old daughter rushing to see The Rosa Parks Bus in The With Liberty and Justice For All Civil Rights Exhibit.  It made me so proud that she wanted to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement after a lesson in her first grade class.  I look forward to many more of these moments with both of my children as they grow and learn.
I could write for hours listing reasons why I love my membership, so it is probably best that I stop now.  I think I have made it clear why I am a satisfied customer.  Just to be clear, this is not a paid advertisement for The Henry Ford.  After spending a wonderful day with my mother and two children at The Henry Ford this past week I knew I had to sit and write about how much I enjoy my membership.   I just think we often take for granted some of the true gems Michigan has to offer, sometimes these locations are right in our own back yard.   If you have not been to The Henry Ford in a while I highly suggest planning a visit, you will not regret your trip.
Chloe Proud to See The Bus She Heard So Much About In School

Nate Enjoying a Carousel Ride in the Village
 

Comments

  1. Definitely sounds like it's well worth it. We did a Milwaukee zoo pass a couple years ago, and after taking about 3 or 4 trips, we also were bored with it for the same reasons you mention. Although exhibits change, not much changes and the smell, well yuck. We are lucky enough to have a small Racine zoo here, which until a few years ago was one of the last remaining free zoos in the country. It's not free anymore, but still extremely cheap compared to any big city zoo. On Mondays Racine residents get in for $1 with ID. It's just the right size for the kids, in fact this thread got me thinking...tomorrow is $1 day. We were just in MI and wanted to go to Greenfield village, but ran out of time and the cost was a bit prohibitive...however, your pass makes me wonder if Grandma/
    Grandpa could have a membership to take mine and my brothers kids each year when we visit (we all live out of state)? Something to check in too!

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  2. Thanks for the comment Michelle. It's funny that you mention your parents. We took my mom on this last trip and she loved it. She mentioned how she thinks people her age and other grandparents would really enjoy The Henry Ford. I believe they have a membership that allows grandparents to bring in their grandchildren in on the membership. Glad we agree on the zoo.....once and a while is fine....but a yearly membership is not for me. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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