I am a sucker for historical villages. Dress up in period costume, throw in some old buildings, line the streets with stores that sell jam and turn of the century wooden toys, throw in a butter churning demonstration, and I am there. I think my love for all things old fashioned started around the same time as my obsession with Little House on the Prairie. Along with the majority of girls who grew up in the late seventies and early eighties, my dream was to grow up in Walnut Grove and be Laura Ingalls. Since we had an actual grove of walnut trees across the street from my neighborhood (which has since been plowed and replaced by tract homes), it wasn't hard for my imagination to get the best of itself. Unlike the average child of that time, I never grew out of my love affair with the Ingalls and their days on the prairie. I spent a large portion of my pregnancy watching LHOP reruns and daydreaming about raising my little ones in a little house out in the country. As we all know, Orange County is about as far away from prairie life as anyone can get so I have to find other ways to fulfill my inner pioneer. A day at Heritage Park did just that.
The first building we came across was the Gasoline Alley Museum. It was filled with old gas pumps and cars. I am not really a car person but I absolutely loved this museum. The kids got to sit in some early 20th century automobiles and I fell in love with the old Shell Gasoline tanker truck. It was so cute. The old pumps make you yearn for the days when there was more beauty at the filling station. We loved peering into the old camping trailer to see what things were like when Grandma took trips across country as a kid. And what's not to love about a tricycle track for the little ones?
From the museum we hurried to catch the steam train for a trip around the park. The kids loved every moment on the train and we could ride it for as long as we wanted since the ride was included in the price (which was incredibly reasonable). Riding on the train and looking out at the historical buildings that we passed truly made me feel like I was coming out West to settle.
There were plenty of old fashioned carnival rides for the kids to get their thrills on. The viking ship swings were so fun and unlike anything I had seen before. Ben got a really big thrill out of riding a early version of the "vomit rides" we see at the fair today.
No historical village tour is complete without a wagon ride. The man who gave us the tour has a special connection with Heritage Park. The little red schoolhouse on display at the park is the exact schoolhouse his grandmother went to in rural Saskatchewan when she was child. Eventually the town needed more than one room so the school was put on a truck and move to the park. He must feel so proud to have such a special connection with the park.
We finished our day with a trip to the old fashioned toy store. The kids each got a wooden train whistle and happily made their own "choo choo" sounds for the remainder of the trip. Just as we started to head to the car, the rain came. Canada had given us a great day in the sun but decided it couldn't spoil us rotten.
If you are visiting the Calgary area, I highly recommend Heritage Park. You can find more info here.