Pioneer Village, Minden, Nebraska is a treasure trove of fun when you’re on a family road trip.
To go to Pioneer Village in Minden, NE or not to go. That is the question.
I didn’t know what to expect when we added Pioneer Village in Minden, NE to our New England to Pacific Northwest family road trip itinerary. Truth be told, I took it off and put it back on 3 or 4 times and waffled clear up to the day we visited. Let’s be honest, if you visit their website it doesn’t look too promising – I’m not sure if it’s just the aesthetics or the overwhelm of information all over the page. But we’ve been in that spot before (seeing the website or lack thereof of a place before) and knew we couldn’t judge a stop by its, ahem, cover.
However, we also stayed at Holiday Inn in Kearney, Nebraska the night before and let the kids play in the small waterpark attached to the hotel to burn off some energy before hitting the road again. While I was sitting there watching them a super friendly college-aged lifeguard sat down nearby and started a conversation. He asked if we were in the area for anything special and we got to chatting about our road trip and all the things we had seen. His name escapes me, but I think it was Ned.
We talked for a bit about what life was like growing up in Nebraska and compared “small town” growing up years then he asked what stops we planned for the day. I told him we were a little skeptical about Pioneer Village and he took a few minutes to tell me about the museum since he went there on a school trip as a kid.
It’s good we had that conversation because, boy, oh boy. The cover wasn’t so pretty when we got there. There are some stops where I get out and think, “well, it’s gonna be a story one way or another.” This certainly triggered that thought.
But we decided to give it a try and went on inside. It’s old. Everything is old. And not updated looking at all. But that’s okay. Roll with it. Just.You.Wait. Next thing you know you’ll be wandering through eras of transportation and sitting on a burnished old wooden trolley car bench as you envision streets of yesteryear and hear the hustle and bustle of the day.
You’ll see trinkets and gadgets and the makings of old technology. You know, once upon a time the old-fashioned party line telephone was cutting edge technology.
There are motors, glass vases, vintage clothes, and so much more.
Then wander outside into the real-size village green where you can play checkers on the general store porch or take a moment to pray in the old church.
Take a moment to explore a real soddy – similar to what the Ingalls family would have lived in with a well out front. You can even go inside and see how one may have been set up with time period items. This was super cool since we listened to Little House on the Prairie on our road trip. We even took a peek down the “well” and imagined Mr. Scott and Pa digging it.
And if there’s need for discipline, there’s always a chance to try out the stocks. I think our kids found them a little more amusing than those who actually were given this mortifying sentence.
Next up was my favorite space where they had rows and rows of kitchen stoves – from old cast iron wood stoves to more current electric stoves.
Another fun space was where they set up model house spaces that represented the décor, setup and style of each decade. I wish we had more time to really sit and look at each space more.
We didn’t have nearly enough time to see everything at Pioneer Village so if we ever go back I’d like to look at arriving the evening before to see part of it with a 2-day pass (see info below) then camp or stay in a hotel and come back to see the rest the next day.
Pioneer Village Location and Hours
~ 138 E US Highway 6 Minden, NE 68959
~ 9am – 4:30pm (Labor Day to Memorial Day)
~ 9am – 6pm (Memorial Day to Labor Day )
~ Adults: $14.25 (1 day) $20.50 (2-day)
~ Children 6-12: $7.25
~ Children 5 and under: FREE
Have you ever visited Nebraska? If you have (or live there) what places do you highly recommend visiting beside Pioneer Village?