Experiencing history first hand is one of the best reasons for traveling with kids. Rather than simply reading about it in a book, traveling to historic sites allows your children to see and feel what happened long before they were born.

Nauvoo, Illinois is one of those places where kids can experience hands-on what life was like for early settlers of America.

Steeped with history, charm and beauty, historic Nauvoo offers sites of interest for children and adults alike. With more than 40 restored homes, stores and public buildings, as well as entertainment, carriage and wagon rides and handcart treks, there is sure to be something to delight every member of your family. (And all rides, sites, tours and shows at Nauvoo are FREE! You can't beat that 🙂

Here are five examples of the fun to be found in old Nauvoo.

1. Print Shop

Curious to how books and newspapers were printed in the past? The Nauvoo Print Shop gives you a first hand look into the time consuming and tedious process involved in producing the printed word (150 hours for 600 copies of a newspaper).

The Print Shop gives your children the chance to see how type was set by hand (each individual letter), and backwards. They can have the chance to 'press' a copy on the printing press (one copy was done at a time), and learn a new definition for terms like 'furniture' and 'dingbats'.

2. John Taylor Home

A glimpse into the past, the John Taylor home (and other homes in Nauvoo), show your children how people lived in the 1840's. The family 'stove' is a fireplace with a big pot, beds are made from strung rope with a straw mattress (and you'll notice there's no bathroom).

The home was built by hand, by bricks that were made at the local brickyard. Outfitted with furnishings of the time period, visiting John Taylor's home (and others in Nauvoo), takes you back in time to when families and communities worked together to produce the things they needed.

3. Post Office and Mercantile

Your children might be surprised to learn that there was a time before Facebook, email, texting and Twitter when the only way to communicate with friends and family was with hand written letters that would sometimes take months to arrive.

At the Nauvoo Post Office, you’ll learn that postage and paper was expensive, so people would send their mail 'postage due on delivery' (this also helped avoid paying for mail that would end up lost). They would also write one way on the page, then turn it and write the other way, in order to save paper.

Nauvoo offers lots more shops and demonstrations to help your family learn about life in the 1800’s.

4. Pendleton Home and School

Calvin Pendleton settled in Nauvoo in 1839. To support his family, he worked with Jonathan Browning as a gunsmith and taught school in the back room of his home.

Children have the opportunity to heft a slate (they're heavy!) and do some math on it with chalk (figure out the total number of homes in Nauvoo in the 1800's- the number will surprise you!).

Next it's time for reading, it's phonetics-not any spelling to which you're accustomed. You can sound out 'gerbil' (girl), 'whirring kalose' (wearing clothes), and other nearly indecipherable words that are entertaining!

5. Family Living Center

How did they make clothes? What did they do for light? How did they make bread? Rugs? Barrels? Rope? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered (hands on) at the Family Living Center.

See how wool was actually made into clothing, what and how long the process for making candles, how a 'bussell oven' get it's name, and what the difference is between bread made in it and 'ash' bread? (You'll even get a taste test:)

Lots of hands on activities, dress up, and 'souvenirs' to take home, the Family Living Center is a fun stop for families.

What has your family discovered in Nauvoo, IL? Please share a comment below.

Have a list of 5 Fun Things you’ve done with your kids in a city you’ve visited? We’re interested in your guest article. Email guestarticle @ discovershareinspire.com



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2 Responses

  1. Amy

    How funny that I stumbled across your site while googling other things. I’m glad to hear you are all doing well and now that I live in Chicago we’re off to check out Nauvoo!

    Amy (Jon’s little sister) from Texas


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