12 Time-Rewinding Living History Farms

An antique barn in a meadow of tall, green grass
The buildings at the Living History Farm in Bozeman, Montana are refurbished with antique items donated by descendants of the farm's original owners.

Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Living history farms aim to preserve traditional farming practices and educate visitors. They function as both working farms and open-air museums. Often, staff members will wear period-correct clothing, both to entertain visitors and provide an immersive experience. Guests can expect to learn about traditional tools, cooking methods, and heirloom crops. In some cases, visitors are even encouraged to take part and get their hands dirty by milking cows or making hay.

Though living history farms share a common educational goal, each of the farms highlights practices that are specific to its region of the country—like coffee farming in Hawaii or maple syrup production in New England.

Here are 12 living history farms found across the United States.

of 12

Ardenwood Historic Farm

A small fountain and garden on the lawn of a large country house

Ray Bouknight / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Ardenwood Historic Farm allows visitors to step back in time to the turn of the 20th century. The Fremont, California, farm centers around a Queen Anne-style farmhouse constructed in 1857. The property is now operated by the East Bay Regional Park District, but it doesn't stray far from its roots. Staff and volunteers in period-correct garb cultivate corn, wheat, and other crops using tools and methods that date back to the 1890s. Visitors can see a working blacksmith shop, traditional farming machinery, and a variety of barnyard animals. To maintain authenticity, "modern recreational equipment" like frisbees, bikes, and footballs are prohibited. 

of 12

Barrington Living History Farm

A wooden barn and fence in a forested area

Bill Staney / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Barrington Living History Farm is part of the Washington-on-the-Brazos Historic Site. The site is also known as the "birthplace of Texas." In 1836, Texas delegates met here to declare independence from Mexico. The farm itself is also an important marker of Texas history. It was once the homestead of Dr. Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas before the United States annexed the state in 1845.

Today, Texas Parks & Wildlife maintains the property as a living history farm. Visitors can experience farm life as it existed in 1850, thanks to costumed interpreters and fields plowed by oxen.

of 12

Billings Farm and Museum

A cow lies on the ground in a grassy, fenced pasture

daveynin / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Billings Farm and Museum is a working dairy farm and outdoor museum in Woodstock, Vermont. First established in 1871, the farm became a nonprofit in 1983. It's now open to the public, and offers a variety of events to entertain and educate visitors. Jersey dairy cows roam on 250 acres of land, while a restored farmhouse and collection of barns house museum artifacts. Seasonal exhibits include maple sugaring, ice carving, and tending to livestock. The quilting exhibit, held every year in July and August, is also a top draw.

of 12

Coggeshall Farm Museum

A sign on a wooden post in front of a farmhouse in the woods

Kenneth C. Zirkel / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Coggeshall Farm Museum recreates a middle-class working farm that dates back to 1790. The farm sits on 48 acres on a peninsula near Bristol, Rhode Island, and features heirloom gardens and heritage livestock breeds that would have existed during the farm's early years. Visitors can learn the rigors of farm life firsthand by milking cows and making hay.

Every year, the farm also serves as the backdrop for the Rhode Island Wool and Fiber Festival. The craft show also features contra dancing and a community cook-off.

of 12

The Farmers' Museum

A gravel road leads to a large, white farmhouse

Ser Amantio di Nicolao / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, New York, is a living history farm that celebrates rural life in the Northeast. A working farm since 1813, the property once belonged to the writer James Fenimore Cooper. The farm opened to the public in 1944, making it one of the earliest living history farms in the country. Attractions include a blacksmith shop, restored historic buildings, and more than 28,000 artifacts like antique farm tools. A sister museum, the Fenimore Art Museum, is located nearby, and the two are often visited in tandem.

of 12

Georgia Museum of Agriculture

A still housed in an antique wooden shed

Mike Finn / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Georgia Museum of Agriculture is a farm and museum dedicated to the rural traditions of the American South. Located in Tifton, Georgia, the farm spreads across 95 acres. It features several distinct sections, including the museum, a historic village, and a nature center. The village displays farmsteads from different time periods, showing the evolution of farm life in the region. Other attractions include a steam engine, a gristmill, and a country store that sells iron goods forged in the village blacksmith shop.

of 12

Kline Creek Farm

Sheep in a fenced pen on a traditional farm

Wendy Piersall /Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Kline Creek Farm is centered around a restored 1890s farmhouse. This 200-acre working farm on the outskirts of Chicago has a range of activities on offer, from wagon rides to sheep shearing. Beekeeping is a longstanding tradition on the farm, as well. The honey processed by the volunteer-run apiary is sold at the farm's visitor center. Kline Creek also hosts a historically accurate county fair on Labor Day weekend each year.

of 12

Kona Coffee Living History Farm

A preserved coffee mill on a farm in Kona, Hawaii

Frank Schulenburg / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Kona Coffee Living History Farm offers a different experience from living history farms in the mainland United States. Due to its location in Hawaii, this farm has little to do with the stereotypical American farmstead. Rather, it preserves a traditional Kona district coffee farm. The 5.5-acre farm dates back to 1920, when it was owned by a family of Japanese immigrants. Visitors can learn how to pick coffee and meet the farm's donkeys—the stock animal traditionally used by Hawaii's coffee farmers.

of 12

Museum of the Rockies

A couple look at the garden in front of a restored farmhouse

Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Though Montana's Museum of the Rockies is best known for its dinosaur exhibits, it's also home to a living history farm. The farm is based around an 1889 homestead called the Tinsley House. Heirloom gardens, wheat fields, and an apple orchard surround the farmhouse.

The farm is open to visitors from Memorial Day until Labor Day every year. One popular monthly event, called "Hops and History," pairs beer from local breweries with a history lesson on Montana's early beer brewers.

of 12

Living History Farms

Preserved buildings line a street in a historic village

rachaelvoorhees / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Living History Farms, in Urbandale, Iowa, span 500 acres and 300 years of American history. The open-air museum includes three farms from different time periods and an 1876 frontier village. One farm is dedicated to the farming and cultural practices of the Iowa (or Ioway) people, the Native Americans who inhabited Iowa before European settlement. The farm includes traditional tipis and bark lodges, and offers pottery and tool-making demonstrations.

of 12

Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm

Two people in period clothing look out across a historical farm

Aaron Smith / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm has been in use since 1760, when it was established by Johan Zepper, a German immigrant. Preserved buildings, including the original farmhouse, are scattered across the 114-acre property. Interpreters demonstrate a range of homesteading skills, from basket weaving to sauerkraut cooking. The nonprofit farm also hosts special events throughout the year. These include the Pocono State Craft Festival and the Farm Animal Frolic.

of 12

Homeplace 1850s Working Farm

A man sits on a traditional mule-drawn plow in a farm field

Land Between the Lakes KY/TN / Flickr / Public Domain

The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm recreates a 19th-century middle-class farm near Dover, Tennessee. The farm features preserved buildings, a woodworking shop, and heirloom gardens. Staff members wear period-appropriate clothing and tend to traditional crops like corn and tobacco.

The Homeplace Farm is part of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and is administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The area is also home to a number of Civil War-era battlefields that are open to the public.