With COVID-19 on our minds, we’re always looking for a socially-distanced and safe family day trip. We found a delightful destination near Eatonville: the Pioneer Farm Museum & Ohop Indian Village, an outdoor museum that shows how local people lived in the early 1800s. We’re glad we went!
The hour-and-a-half drive from Woodinville to the museum seemed a little daunting at first, but my kids were up for a road trip (Anything to get out of the house!). Equipped with lunch, lots of snacks, a couple books and an array of Kidz Bop music, we were on our way.
“Wow, I see Mount Rainier!” my 6-year-old son, Simon, announced, an hour into the trip. There it was: a majestic view of the mountain top. We drove through a beautiful valley and along a narrow bridge, and arrived at the museum with enough time to have our lunch. When choosing our picnic spot, we had our pick of shady =tables set near homes built in the 19th century.
After lunch, we masked up and peeked into the wooden buildings: a schoolhouse and a teacher’s home. My kids marveled at how small the homes were, with no bathrooms, or kitchen sinks. It was a great time to talk about what everyday life was like.
Toy-making and buggy-riding
A masked tour guide greeted us and set us up at a craft table. He talked to us about the simple and entertaining toys of pioneer children. We saw many examples (Jacob’s ladder, a small fan that changed directions and others) then we made our very own toy: a whizzer or buzz saw. (Think modern day fidget spinner, but much simpler!) We used tools from the time-period, drew our own designs and made our own version of this spinning toy.
We then took a sweet horse and buggy ride along the road and around the museum. As we rode, we imagined that we were pioneers traveling the general store to purchase food and supplies. The kids loved the ride and got a chance to pet the horse after.
Native American life
Our next guide wore Native American jewelry and clothing, and took us on a walk into the forests of the Ohop Valley. She warned us to be careful of rocks and roots along the trail, and asked us to preserve the natural surroundings as best we could. She told us not to pick at plants or disturb wild animals and insects. We stopped at three different huts, where we learned more about Native American life. The guide told us about the many uses people had for cedar trees. We learned about various plants and hides that Native Americans foraged, traded, and made into everyday items.
She also taught us about games that Native American children played. My kids played these games too! Both enjoyed the bow and arrow and the spear and ring toss games. Everyone got a chance to feel the fur of many of the animals that Native American people hunted. We made bracelets out of wool, bracelets out of beans and macaroni, and even an arrowhead out of slate. My oldest loved the hands-on activities. He spent many minutes grinding corn into flour and a making yarn from sheep’s wool.
A successful adventure
The whole tour took more than 3 hours and we were exhausted by the end. We appreciated the glimpse into Washington history and Native American culture. As we climbed into the car to head home, I asked my kids what their favorite part of the day trip was, and was happy to hear, “We loved EVERYTHING, Mom!” A successful adventure that we would highly recommend to everyone!
- Purchase tickets in advance. You may pay online but you must schedule over the phone.
- The museum will be shifting to its Fall program that will replace the horse and buggy ride with pioneer storytelling.
- The museum limits tours to 2 or 3 families with a maximum number of 8 group members.
- On hot days don’t forget water, hats, and sunscreen
- The museum had hand sanitizer at all activity stations, but it is still a good idea to bring your own.
- Bring snacks and/or lunch or plan to stop along the way.
- There were two outhouses for patron use and potable water for washing, located outside in cooler containers