Time and time again I hear people suggesting that the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan makes an awesome roadside attraction for anyone venturing through the state. Well, I am here to tell you that it’s not. The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village offers so much more to their visitors than just a quick stop as a roadside attraction. This is a location you will want to stay and play at for at least a day, if not an entire weekend. With all of the experiences to be had here, I would urge you to consider adding it to your Michigan destination list instead.
A 1950’s style diner that serves soda in a glass bottle, rows of vintage cars in pristine condition, and a museum that comes to life while welcoming you to join it. Stepping through the door to the Henry Ford Museum and the adjacent Greenfield Village is like entering a rabbit hole of timelessness. Visitors here are given the opportunity to not only admire the past, but to become a part of it through hands on exhibits and seasonal activities.
The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village
The city of Dearborn, only minutes from Detroit, is widely known as the hometown of the famous Henry Ford. He placed a lasting thumbprint on the area with his invention of the Ford Model T and the assembly line as a mode of vehicle production and also the Henry Ford Museum.
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This museum is a mecca of vintage cars, old marketing signs, toys and various other artifacts collected through the years. A walk through this indoor labyrinth of memories will bring you to your wicker seat within a vintage plane cabin or to a much more notable seat within Rosa Parks bus. These items are there for you to not only see, but to also touch – to sit down in and experience what it must have been like for the people who had lived it.
After touring the museum indoors, be sure to head outside the museum to a full sized vintage town set up for your exploration. At the adjacent Greenfield Village you are free to explore Edison’s workshop or nosy through a fully furnished era home or doctors office. Step inside the buildings and you can meet with some of the residents to ask your questions or hear about their daily lives and struggles – or simply just watch them do their chores.
Moments Worth Sticking Around to Experience
While many of the moments to be had at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are memorable, these were my favorite experiences – they’re worth taking the extra time to stick around and have.
Grab a Bite to Eat at Lamy’s Diner. Near the rows of vintage cars, just inside the Henry Ford Museum, sits a fully functional vintage dining car just waiting for you to get hungry and want to grab a bite. As I walked into the diner I found a row of bright red bar stools lining the bar. A “true to the era” menu hung on the wall (still reading the prices as they were in the 1940s, but sorry the menu you order from is current to today’s prices). A nice looking young waiter wearing a white paper soda jerk hat stood making a sandwich just behind the bar. Food at Lamy’s bar was congruent with the era and consisted of items such as meatloaf, peanut butter and jelly and some sort of chicken and noodles dish. This experience isn’t so much about the food as it is about the atmosphere.
Watch a Vintage Game of Baseball in the Village. Throughout the summer months, village guests take to a grassy hillside to watch an 1867’s game of baseball be played out using the same uniforms, bats, gloves (or lack of them) and rules as they did in that era. Those watching the game are encouraged to yell “Huzzah!” when a good play is made. Refreshments such as popcorn and beer are served nearby to help those who want to experience the moment in it’s entirety. Be sure to check for games times on the website.
See an IMAX Movie. The Henry Ford Museum also has a big screen experience which shows different films throughout the year. The IMAX films are shown within the museum facility but tickets are sold separately.
Special Exhibits. The Henry Ford Museum also brings in different temporary exhibits every couple of months. Even if you’ve been to the museum before, the temporary exhibit section will probably be different.
Where to Stay Near Henry Ford Museum
Only a few blocks away from the museum is the Edward Village hotel (known as the adoba hotel during my stay). As I walked in the front doors, I was greeted by a large, cascading chandelier that hung from the ceiling all the way down to the main floor. The hotel was decorated in rich hues of gold—the height of 1970s swanky!
Looking for a place to grab a bite near your hotel? Giulio and Sons inside the hotel makes for a fresh option in dining.
If you fly into Detroit, check out these free things to do at the Detroit Metro Airport.