The Pioneer Living History Museum in north Phoenix is exactly what the name implies – an outdoor living history museum about Arizona’s pioneer days. Our visit there on a September Saturday was a very fun experience. My mom and I toured the village, the various buildings, and a relatively new addition to the grounds, the Telephone History Museum.
But why go to a living history museum? Because of the word “living”. The museum has almost thirty reconstructed buildings from the 1850s to about the 1900s, and these buildings are fascinating and truly make history feel alive. Some of these buildings include a sheriff’s office, a school, and a teacherage.
During our visit, we learned that teacherages were little houses that a teacher in the 1800s would live in, but they were very rare, a luxury due to their privacy, since teachers who didn’t have them would have to live with a family. We also discovered a fun surprise at the sheriff’s office for those who peek in its door – prisoners inside the cells! For older children who are doing an Arizona history curriculum or class, there is one particular exhibit that you must be sure to see: the original cabin of Arizona’s first Senator, Henry F. Ashurst.
If you would like to visit the museum but you have young children, consider this a different kind of learning experience for them, a learning experience about museum visiting. Since the exhibits are outside, your young ones will have more to explore. They will also be able to be louder than they would be in a traditional museum, and it’s a great way to get kids outside for a walk. Or, if a walk isn’t an option for someone, don’t worry – there are plentiful, well-kept, and wide sidewalks, wide enough for a double stroller. There are also ramps leading up into buildings which have steps up into them.
On the day we visited, there were both gold panning and hay maze attractions being set up to further keep the kids entertained. In addition, there are two separate green spaces on the grounds, with one having several picnic tables and large trees that can provide shade for your picnic lunch. Sitting areas for those who grow tired are only as far as the next exhibit; we noticed them at almost every single one (with the most notable exception being perhaps the Ashurst cabin). Also, in the exhibits themselves, anything potentially dangerous or breakable is gated off from the walkways. Kids can look but not touch.
For all these accommodations that serve families well, we did not see a diaper changing station in either restroom. The women’s restroom was spacious and clean, with space to bring in a stroller, if needed. Parents of the very youngest children should also be aware that there are some objects along the pathways that you will have to keep your children off of or away from.
When planning a visit to the Pioneer Living History Museum, check the calendar on their website in order to time your visit with one of their many fascinating events, such as the AZ Fast Draw or Rebels & Redcoats. The museum calendar shows when school groups will be there for field trips, if you would like to plan your trip for a different day.
Currently and through May 31, the museum is on its school year hours. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, while on Wednesdays through Sundays, it is open from 9am to 4pm. Admission prices are $10 for adults, children ages 5 to 17 and senior citizens and veterans pay $8, and children under 5 are free.
Give The Pioneer Living History Museum a visit!
Pioneer Living History Museum
3901 W. Pioneer Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85086