Have you ever wondered how your town or village was founded? A library book may tell you the details, but if you really want to experience history firsthand, Naperville has just the thing for you!
Naper Settlement is a living time capsule that allows children to step back in time. Founded in 1969 by historians and an army of dedicated volunteers, Naper Settlement is an immersive museum and historical park that will jumpstart your child’s imagination. It’s perfect for a half-day outing with kids of all ages.
A Trip Through History at Naper Settlement in Naperville
Features of Naper Settlement
The facility is a 12-acre self-contained historically accurate village consisting of homes and buildings (almost all of which you can enter and explore). These include a beautiful chapel, a one-room schoolhouse, and a hybrid splash pad/playground, just to name a few! There are also multiple open, grassy areas where kids can get their wiggles out or picnickers can find some shade to eat.
Highlights you won’t want to miss: visiting the live blacksmith while they work in their shop, touring the Martin Mitchell mansion, and manning the lookout at Fort Payne while your kids enjoy the large playset and splash pad.
Playscape Tip: Bring shoes that can get wet. The Playscape is a mix of wood chips, soft rubber flooring near the water and gravel by the adjacent tables. If your child wants to explore it all at the same time, or run from place to place, it’s definitely not barefoot friendly. Additionally, the fort logs are very dark in color so the wood can be hot to the touch on a sunny summer day.
The final, and perhaps most valuable, feature you will see is the collection of knowledgeable volunteers who are onsite every day to answer questions. Their commitment to preserving and sharing Naperville’s pioneer history makes them an excellent resource for any visitor. (Self-guided tours are also available)
After you purchase tickets in the Pre-Emption House (located at the corner of Aurora Avenue and South Webster Street), don’t forget to grab a map and stay there to enjoy the curated exhibit. 2021’s display, “Answering the Call,” is a fascinating walk through the many ways Naperville played a role in the second World War. Kids of all ages will see, via memorabilia and displays, that one person or one community can truly change the world.
The sweet spot for interest in an experience like Naper Settlement is the elementary and middle school years (ages 6-12) . . . but don’t let a silly thing like age scare you away! The Early Learning Playscape invites preschoolers to interact with history as well. Teenagers (as they walk and explore) may be surprised to discover that, in 1842, they would have already aged out of school and been forced to find a job to help support their family. It truly is a place the entire family can appreciate and enjoy.
There is no food available onsite for purchase (restaurants or vending), so plan to bring snacks and/or a picnic if you’re visiting over mealtime. Downtown Naperville is an easy walk (three blocks away) and has dozens of wonderful, family-friendly restaurants from which to choose.
Best Days/Times to Go
Weekends can get busy, so if you’re looking to avoid a crowd you’ll want to visit midweek. We went from 10:00 am to 2:00pm on a Wednesday and were one of only a handful of families onsite. Hours of admission are seasonal: summer hours are 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on Tuesday through Saturday and 1:00 – 4:00pm on Sundays. Be sure to check their website for holiday hours and schedule changes.
Price of Admission
Summer admission is $12 for adults (ages 13+), $10 for seniors (62+), $8 for youth (ages 4-12). Winter season rates are lower than Summer. Naperville residents receive free admission with proof of residency.
Admission covers access to everything so your family can enjoy your visit without having to plan for additional, unexpected costs. Parking lot is free and located 1 short block away from the entrance.
Special Needs Accommodations
There are spaces both indoors and out that provide peace and quiet for anyone who needs it. A diaper changing table is located in the main building (Pre-Emption House) and toilets have a manual flush. Wheelchair accessibility has been included in most but not all parts of the Settlement due to the historical nature and structure of certain buildings. Contact Guest Services ahead of time to reserve one of the available motorized wheelchairs onsite, or if have any questions about accessibility.
We keep the Kidlist calendar up-to-date with the kid-friendly events going on at Naper Settlement. Check out what’s coming up below.
September 24, 2023 | 1:00pm - 4:00pm
October 6, 2023 | 5:00pm - 10:00pm
October 7, 2023 | 3:00pm - 10:00pm
Click here to read more about upcoming events on the Naper Settlement website – outdoor concerts in the summer, Oktoberfest, and Halloween events too! Kids events (Sundae Sunday, Thursday Thinkers and Playscape Readers) happen more regularly. More details about children’s programming can be found in the Events Calendar.