Life is messy and complicated these days. It really makes you yearn for a simpler time. Well, guess what? You can hop in the way back machine at Living History Farms. Go back to a time when horsepower literally meant “powered by horses.” And when people hunted for bison, not toilet paper.  

Open Wednesdays – Saturdays until October 16; this interactive, 500-acre outdoor museum is a great way to safely get outdoors and learn the 300-year story of how Iowans transformed the prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world. If only teaching your kids at home were this easy.  

Here are a few things you can explore at Living History Farms, and a peek at upcoming events: 

Historic Town of Walnut Hill 

Located near the entrance and museum store, the central area of Living History Farms re-creates the 1876 town of Walnut Hill, a frontier community with craftsmen, artisans, and merchants along the town’s main street. Along the way, you’ll step back in time and experience:  

  • Blacksmith and broom maker  
  • Printshop 
  • Schoolhouse  
  • Law office, doctor’s office, bank, vet clinic 
  • Drug store, general store, and millinery  
  • Church and cemetery  
  • Flynn Barn and Flynn Mansion 

Farm Sites 

In addition to the Walnut Hill re-creation, you can also visit three different farm sites, all available by a short tractor cart ride (included with admission). Each site is farmed and worked by historical interpreters. Here is what you can expect to see at each farm: 

  • 1700 Ioway Indian Farm – teepee, 1700 garden with corn, beans and squash, bark lodge, hide scraping, fire pit, drying rack and garden lodge, Ioway tools  
  • 1850 Pioneer Farm – log house, oxen, 1850 barn, chickens, cattle, open-hearth cooking, sheep, wool spinning  
  • 1900 Horse-Powered Farm – putting up hay, farmhouse, horse grinding the burr mill, helping with corn harvest, farmhouse pantry, hogs, wood-burning stove and horses working the fields  


Fun things are happening every day at Living History Farms, and as summer begins to wane, there are plenty of fall activities on the docket, including:   

Fido on the Farms  
Saturday, September 12, 9 am – 4 pm  

Bring your dog to walk through Walnut Hill and meet local dog-loving business owners or head over to the three working farm sites with your precious pooch.  

Applefest & Historic Baseball  
Saturday, September 26, 9 am – 4 pm  

Celebrate apple harvest season and see how past cooks would prepare apple treats, including apple butter, cake, pie, and cider. All sorts of apple treats will be available for purchase (apple egg rolls, say what?), and what slice of Americana pairs better with that than an 1870’s rules baseball game at 1:30 pm? As if it couldn’t get better, you can also get your State Fair fix with the Fair Food Fridays Food Truck.  

Family Halloween  
October 16-18 and October 23-25 (5-8 pm Fridays, 4-8 pm Saturdays and Sundays) 

Join in a 33-year old tradition at Living History Farms’ Family Halloween! Visit the 1876 Town of Walnut Hill to enjoy safe, non-scary trick-or-treating at historic businesses, play kid’s games, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride. Living History Farms will offer “teal pumpkin” stops safe for trick-or-treaters with food allergies and sensitivities.  


For more information on things to do at Living History Farms, click here!