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Greenfield Village in Dearborn MI: 20 Top Things to Do

Greenfield Village
Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd. Dearborn MI 

Greenfield Village, located just outside of Detroit Michigan, is one of the top tourist destinations in both Michigan and the Midwest.

As a lifelong resident of southeast Michigan, Greenfield Village is practically in my backyard, and I’m lucky to be able to visit this national treasure regularly.

At almost 250 acres, this sprawling, living museum features a glimpse of the past of American life. Greenfield Village is the brainchild of automotive manufacturing pioneer Henry Ford, his salute to America, which provided him national historic relevance.

Greenfield Village
Photo from Greenfield Village

Greenfield Village, the Ford Rouge Factory and the Henry Ford Museum

In addition to Greenfield Village, the Ford Rouge Factory and the Henry Ford Museum are part of the museum complex.

At Ford’s Rouge factory, you can take a complete Ford Rouge Factory Tour to learn more about how Ford turned his company into a manufacturing powerhouse.

Visit the Henry Ford Museum, you’ll see such historic exhibits like Innovation Nation, Driving America, the Dymaxion House, the Rosa Parks bus, and other important artifacts. 

Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum together are one of the top museums in the world, with visitors from around the country. They maintain a special place in the hearts of most metro Detroit residents, many of whom took their first school field trip and factory tour at Greenfield Village.

In addition to the everyday exhibits at the museum, holiday activities and events are planned throughout the year which give Greenfield Village even more of a festive air. 

Read on to discover everything you need to know about Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village. 

henry ford house at Greeenfield village
Photo from Greenfield Village

Henry Ford and Greenfield Village

After restoring his own birthplace and childhood school, Henry Ford took a vested interest in the restoration, preservation, and re-creation of historical buildings, especially those around Dearborn Michigan and other Wayne County towns.  He also had a deep and abiding interest in innovators like Thomas Edison, Orville and Wilbur Wright, and others.

This interest blossomed into an idea for a unique collection of buildings that began as the Edison Institute and would later be called Greenfield Village, a historical village that serves as an outdoor museum and addition to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

The buildings Ford acquired would be transported to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, reconstructed on site, or built from scratch to his specifications for maximum historical accuracy. 

Today, when you enter the Henry Ford Museums Greenfield Village, you may be greeted by one of the oldest steam engines waiting at the station platform in Josephine Ford Plaza, ready for passengers to board the cars. Climb aboard to explore the village from the Weiser Railroad, or step beyond the tracks to take a journey through the historic districts on foot. 

henry ford model t - greenfield village
Photo from Greenfield Village

Henry Ford’s Model T

If you take the first right after passing the railroad tracks, you’ll find yourself in a part of the village called Henry Ford’s Model T. Here you can trace the life of Henry Ford from his childhood to his success as one of America’s greatest industrialists and innovators with his Ford Motor Company.

Start at the Ford home, an 1860s farmhouse that was originally built just a few miles away and moved to Greenfield Village in the 1950s. 

Afterwards, explore Ford’s adulthood, when he worked for Edison Illuminating Company as a steam engineer.

Grab a snack at the Owl Night Lunch wagon, where Ford would get food during his night shift, and stop at the Bagley Avenue Workshop, where he spent his free time experimenting with new designs for his gasoline-powered automobile. Lastly, stop by the scaled-down re-creation of Ford’s first factory, the Mack Avenue Plant. 

Main Street

Continue down the road and watch as the industrious atmosphere of Ford Road transforms into the hustle and bustle of Main Street. As the name would suggest, Main Street is the main strip of commerce in a town and it’s no different for Greenfield Village.

Hitch a ride on one of the many  automobiles or horse drawn omnibuses that cruise down the road. A walking tour or smaller horse drawn carriage is also available. On Main Street you’ll explore two distinct areas, a commercial district full of historic shops and a village green – Ford’s first concept for Greenfield Village.

The Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop

As you move through the commercial sector be sure to stop by Wright Cycle Shop to learn about how the Wright Brothers shifted their focus from bicycles to flying machines.

Next, visit Wilbur and Orville Wrights home to see where they lived in Dayton, Ohio. The Grimm Jewelry Store, Cohen Millinery, and J.R. Jones General Store will give you a taste of what shopping was like in specialty stores of the late 1800s.

As you approach the village green, you’ll find more community spaces. Sit down for a historic dining experience at the Eagle Tavern and let the kids run wild at the Donald F. Kosch Village Playground before moving on to the next district. 

edison institute - greenfield village
Photo from Greenfield Village

Edison at Work

Thomas Edison was one of Henry Ford’s biggest heroes. Edison’s innovative mind inspired Ford to follow in his footsteps and change the world in his own unique way.

Feeling that Edison could be inspiring to others as well, Ford had Edison’s Menlo Park complex transported from New Jersey to Greenfield Village where it would be re-created exactly. Today you can visit this complex at the Edison at Work district and be inspired just like Ford was. 

Menlo Park 

The Menlo Park complex is made up of several buildings that have been transported and rebuilt to perfectly replicate the New Jersey complex, including the two story laboratory as well as the later added machine shop, office/library, glass house, carpenter shop, and carbon shed.

Just across the road you’ll also see the Sarah Jordan Boarding House, where the unmarried men who worked for Edison lived. Edison never seemed to take breaks from his work, as evidenced by his Fort Myers Laboratory, which was built to be used while at his summer home in Florida. 

Greenfield Village
Photo from Greenfield Village

Porches and Parlors District

Get a glimpse into the homes and the daily lives of the people who lived in eras past at Porches and Parlors.

From the 18th century to the early 20th century, these homes capture a variety of eras and show how time and place changed the work needed to manage the house. Some of the residents of these historic homes have accomplished incredible things, but others were ordinary folk trying to get by, meaning the variety of sites and their styles and complexities are endless.

This section of Greenfield Village is massive as Ford’s collection of homes grew ever expansive, but there are some must-see sites that should help you navigate the district.

If you stop at the 1760s Daggett Farmhouse, you’ll see presenters in period-clothing reenacting the daily lives of the Daggett family as they would have lived during that era in Connecticut.

You’ll pass the home of American composer Stephen Foster, who penned such epic tunes as  “Oh! Susanna”, and “Camptown Races.” Now known as the Sounds of America Gallery, Foster’s former home houses a large collection of musical instruments which are on display. 

See the house of Noah Webster, who penned the first American dictionary. Visit the Susquehanna Plantation and Hermitage Slave Quarters to get a sense of the injustices of slavery based on living conditions and a unique civil war remembrance. This is still only a fraction of the collection, so be sure to take a stroll through Porches and Parlors and admire all that you can.

Railroad Junction

Before trucks and planes, the biggest, best, and most efficient way to get goods across the country was by railroad. Massive steam engines hauled dozens of cars full of resources like coal or lumber. During the 19th century westward expansion, all eyes were on the railroads and all hands were on deck expanding its reach to the frontier. At Railroad Junction, we look back on how trains shaped our country. 

See important railroad landmarks and locations, like Smiths Creek Depot, where townsfolk could send and receive telegrams, travel, and catch up on local news. At the Detroit, Toledo, & Milwaukee Roundhouse, you can see the Village’s operating fleet of steam locomotives being maintained between voyages along the Weiser Railroad, which surrounds Greenfield Village. Just across the street, you can even see a hybrid recreation of Edison’s Illuminating Company Station A, which includes real equipment from both Station A and B. 

liberty craftworks - Greenfield village
Liberty Craftworks/ Photo from Greenfield Village

Liberty Craftworks

As we move away from the busy downtown and residential sectors of Greenfield Village, we begin a journey away from industry and towards craft. At Liberty Craftworks, the art of hand-crafted goods is celebrated. Before heavy machinery and high-efficiency working techniques like the assembly line cranked out hundreds of identical items, skilled craftsman made unique pieces by hand one at a time. 

Here you can see these craftsmen doing just that and learn about the processes and how it works. Visit mills like the Loranger Gristmill, Tripp Sawmill, and Gunsolly Carding Mill, each of which worked with locals to make raw materials like grain, lumber, and wool respectively, into more workable forms.

A handful of shops and offices line the plaza, including a printing office, tin shop, glass shop, pottery shop, and weaving shop, all of which offered goods and services to people looking for new items for their homes, such as drinking glasses, plates, or even linens or clothes. 

Working Farms at Greenfield Village

The working farm is the foundation of all American industry and innovation. It is, after all, the farmer who grows the crops that feeds the brilliant people who create new and better ways to do the work that needs to be done.

At Greenfield Village you can visit this district to see what life was like on a working farm in the 1800s, and how the food grown on a farm is used to its maximum potential to keep those living on and working the farm strong and healthy all year round. 

The cornerstone of the Working Farms district is the Firestone Farm and Farmhouse. Here, presenters don the clothes accurate to the period and run the farm as it would have been in the 1800s.

This means tending to the crops and the livestock, which includes plenty of chickens, some cows, and Merino Sheep, whose wrinkly skin produced lots of high quality wool. Inside the home remains as it was, including a wood-burning stove in the kitchen where meals are prepared using the produce from the farm. Anything not used by winter is stored in the cellar to be either jarred or cured to make it last through the season. 

greenfield village halloween
Photo from Greenfield Village

Special Events at Greenfield Village

Throughout the year the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village host unique seasonal events. When planning your visit to the Henry Ford Museum complex, consider the seasonal events available for guests to enjoy. These are their most popular events by month, including a Halloween event, a Christmas event, and more. Note that the dates vary year to year. 

Motor Muster (June)

A celebration of classic cars from glamorous 1930s cruisers to brawny 1970s muscle cars. During this event Greenfield Village is filled with classic cars, vintage trucks, and more. 

Maker Faire Detroit (July)

Maker Faire Detroit at the Henry Ford welcomes everything from robotics and electronics to science, food, music and fashion. Hundreds of makers of all kinds flock here to show off their innovative creations. 

World Tournament of Historic Base Ball (August)

This isn’t just any baseball tournament, at the Annual World Tournament of Historic Base Ball, the rules haven’t changed since the Detroit Base Ball Club hosted the first of this tournament in 1867. That means no gloves, no overhand pitching, and certainly no spitting. 

Old Car Festival (September)

The Old Car Festival is all about the oldest of the old automobiles. Hundreds of vehicles from the 1890s to the 1930s are featured at this event, which has been America’s longest running car show.

Hallowe’en (October)

This is the Greenfield Village Halloween event. Halloween in Greenfield Village is a family-friendly celebration of Halloween will leave anyone who visits feeling festive and excited for the fall. It’s a great way to see what village Halloween may have been like in the past. 

Holiday Nights (December)

During Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village, guests will take a lantern-lit journey into another world. You’ll feel as though you’re in a snow globe filled with plenty of live music, ice skating, and even fireworks. All the sights and sounds of the season, from roasting chestnuts to sleigh bells will appeal to your holiday spirit. 

How Much Does it Cost to Get into Greenfield Village?

Ticket Prices for Greenfield Village begin at $30 for ages 12 and up; $27 for Senior Citizens.

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About the Author-

Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor with mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix