Nostalgia and the holidays go together like hot chocolate and cinnamon sticks.
When I discovered family friendly events that combine local history with the beauty and anticipation of the holidays, I found a lovely combination.
What Dallas Heritage Village and Log Cabin Village have in common:
- They showcase collections of 19th century buildings and artifacts moved from around North Texas to their current locations.
- They are located on pleasantly wooded grounds where little ones have plenty of room to get the wiggles out.
- They bring history to life through demonstrations, interpretation, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages.
- They immerse kids in history in ways that recruit the senses and help them to better understand changing society.
- They will host charming family-friendly holiday celebrations the weekend of December 13-14, each with their own unique flavor.
Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park
- “Old City Park” was Dallas’ first city park, located in a once-elegant neighborhood called The Cedars. After WWII, the Cedars declined. Citizens found a resourceful new purpose for the park when it became home to a village of structures that teaches us about the past.
- There is an impressive variety of buildings to explore: several Victorian homes, a “shotgun” house, a farmstead, a log cabin, a general store, a doctor’s office, a bank, a train depot, a schoolhouse, a church, and more. Since even very young children have their own experiences with homes, schools, doctors, etc, they have tangible ways to begin to think about life then vs. now.
Young children may enjoy watching the barnyard animals, pretending to be a shopkeeper at the tactile general store, and rolling down nicely sloped hills. (Really! It’s OK. This is a park, and the staff likes to see little ones enjoy themselves.)
DHV’s annual holiday Candlelight event will be held Saturday, Dec. 13th and Sunday, Dec. 14th, from 3-9 p.m. The historical buildings will be dressed in holiday decor representing the 1840s-1910s. Against this backdrop, imagine strolling carolers, candles all aglow, carriage and hay rides, photos with St. Nick, local entertainers, crafts and games. If hunger strikes, modern day food trucks will be there serving hot, delicious food. Candlelight is DHV’s largest annual public fundraiser; attending is a unique way to enjoy the season while supporting local historical preservation. Discounted tickets for Candlelight are on sale until Dec. 11th. Click here for more info.
Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth
- Log Cabin Village has a specific historical niche: 19th century pioneer life in North Texas. Visitors can explore restored log cabins, a one-room schoolhouse, a smokehouse, a blacksmith shop, a gristmill, and a beautiful herb garden.
I’ve been going to Log Cabin Village with my oldest daughter since she was three. It’s one of her favorite places. She has played for hours at the Seela Cabin, designed as a hands-on children’s adventure where kids can do the following:
- grind corn, wheat and coffee by hand
- pump water from a well
- gather “eggs” in the henhouse
- play with antique toys,
- “cook” in the open hearth kitchen
- plant “vegetables” in the garden
It’s a bit like being Laura Ingalls (or Almanzo Wilder) for a day, and based on watching my girls over the years, it’s great fun and really sparks the imagination. (Side note: My seven-year-old daughter is now reading the Little House on the Prairie book series, and I’m certain Log Cabin Village helped peak her interest.)
We attended the Holidays at the Hearth event a couple years ago. We wandered from log cabin to log cabin, fallen leaves crunching beneath our feet. We strung cranberries and popcorn as we listened to the sounds of an old-timey string band. We dipped homemade candles and made ornaments out of tin. The aroma of campfire cooking made me hungry.
For a few hours, the modern commercial holiday madness felt far away…and I liked it. I left feeling like one merry mama–and I hope you will, too. Holidays at the Hearth will be held on Dec. 13th from 1-4 p.m. Reservations are not required. For more details, click here.
I plan to write more about places of local historical interest in the coming months. In the meantime, I hope you and your family enjoy these local historical gems and their festive holiday events!