I recently heard about Provo's FREE Pioneer Village and knew that it would be one of those great 'learning-without-even-realizing-it, while having so much fun' kind of moments for my kids. Thus, while we were down in Utah County last week we made a quick stop to check out the little log village. (We discovered they have limited hours, so make sure to plan ahead of time!)
We were welcomed at the front gates by a couple of volunteers all decked out in authentic pioneer garb. They looked amazing, especially the guy playing the part of the blacksmith. One of the volunteers even brought her daughters along in their cute little dresses and they were playing with some homemade dolls their mother had made. It was pretty awesome how willing these people were to explain things, answer questions, help my kids and even offered to give us a tour around the village.
They had a scavenger hunt available that encouraged the kids to really look around at all the displays and try to find various artifacts. The incentive for finishing the scavenger hunt was an old-fashion, authentic, wooden-stick sucker, so my kids really took their assignment to heart!
We mostly chose to just wander as all four kids immediate took off in different directions, but luckily there is a fence around the entire village and the sweet volunteers were right at the only gate. Since it wasn't too busy while we were there... I only saw two other families... I felt pretty safe letting the older ones explore on their own while I followed the little guys. It is always fun for them to get to be in charge and lead the way, as they most often they are simply getting dragged around supporting their older siblings or being forced to move on before they are ready.
I am a little OCD so it was hard for me to randomly wander from building to building skipping and backtracking all around the place, but they loved being able to run from one interesting thing to the next without anyone holding them back.
We eventually make it to all the exhibits and tried all the activities from leather stamping, to play school, to handcart rides, to pioneer games.
They have really done a good job putting everything together, I was impressed with the balance between hands-on interactive exhibits mixed with antique, 'look only' exhibits. They also had everything well labeled and informative descriptions for each building.
My favorite place was definitely the little one room school house. The kids immediately started up an imagination game, without any verbal communication they all just took seats at the little desks and my daughter assumed the position of 'teacher,' I love watching them! While they learned their ABCs, I found an entire shelf of fun, olden-day games and toys and was having as much fun as my kids!
I ogled over the real garden and heard rumor that they may add live chickens to the village, while my kids found a little surprise staging in the outhouse!
Overall I was quite impressed with the place, we ended up spending close to two hours exploring and everyone left with a sweet treat (they were actually really good flavored suckers... I may have sampled each and every one of my kids').
The whole things reminded me of a scaled down, FREE version of This Is The Place Heritage Park. Definitely not as large, but equally well maintained and interesting to explore.
The Provo Pioneer Village is free! Donations are always welcome.
(Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day – the last weekend in May to the first Monday in September)
Monday 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Open all day for holidays, including Memorial Day, July 4, July 24 (Pioneer Day), and Labor Day
For visits outside these hours, special events, private tours, or large groups, please email provopioneervillageSUP@gmail.com or call Steve Nelson at 801-375-9299.
(September-May, excluding Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day)
During the winter season, visits are by reservation only. Please make a reservation by emailing provopioneervillageSUP@gmail.com or by calling Steve Nelson at 801-375-9299.