July means summer is in full swing -- pools are packed, the sun is hot and fireworks fly through the air during Independence Day festivities. Even though Western New York Catholic schools are out of session, we thought of some fun, family-friendly spots to visit that will teach students about our nation's history. So pack the family in the car, take a trip back in time and enjoy some of these interactive activities.
Old Fort Niagara
Old Fort Niagara gives visitors a chance to experience an age when mighty empires struggled for control of North America. Here you'll see original 18th century buildings, experience incredible views and take in exciting living history programs. The 300-year-old national historic landmark hosts over 100,000 visitors each year and remains one of Western New York's most popular tourist attractions. Families, school classrooms and history buffs alike take part in exploration, special events, full-scale battle re-enactments, living history camps, historical exhibits, collections and musical events.
Fort Niagara State Park, 4 Scott Avenue Youngstown, NY 14174
Open year-round with the exception of New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
July-August: 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Children (6 to 12 years old): $8.00
Children (5 years old and under): FREE
The Genesee Country Village & Museum
If your family is looking for a short, educational road trip, the Genesee Country Village and Museum offers a historical learning experience just 45-miles east of Buffalo. The largest and most comprehensive living history museum in the state, the site features the third-largest collection of historic buildings in the entire country. Sixty-eight are furnished with 15,000 artifacts spread across a 700-acre complex. Chartered by the New York State Education Department as an education institution, the complex was founded with the goal of preserving prime examples of architecture from New York and telling the 19th century history of both the state and country. A wide array of interactive programs is offered including events and exhibits that spotlight the lives and times of 19th century America. The museum offers insights in the origin of custom, social values, traditions and evolution of contemporary lifestyles of the past. Visitors can take part in educational programs that include classes and day camps for children ages 4-16 as well as historic and nature-themed tours.
1410 Flint Hill Road Mumford, New York 14511
Hours (May 7 - Sept. 4) Tuesdays through Sundays 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad
From the early 1800s through the end of the Civil War, thousands of fugitive slaves traversed the Buffalo Niagara region via the Underground Railroad en route to freedom in Canada. This exhibit, part of the New York State Heritage Trails initiative, was made possible through a grant from Heritage New York. Located on Niagara University's campus, visitors have the opportunity to hear the stories, discover the history and experience the legacy of the "Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara". Hosted by the Castellani Art Museum, the exhibit tells the story to visitors through historic photos, artifacts including authentic shackles and historic documents, books and real life stories, video stations and contemporary artwork. Brochures and maps are available which o lay out other Underground Railroad sites throughout the region.
Admission is free
Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University
5795 Lewiston Road
Niagara University, NY 14109
Phone: (716) 286-8200
Tuesday - Saturday: 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Queen City Downtown: Guided Walking Tour
We stay local with our last suggestion. While Preservation Buffalo Niagara may look like a new organization on paper, in reality it continues to build on the three-decade history of its predecessors -- the Preservation Coalition of Erie County and the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier. Since joining forces in 2008, the new Preservation Buffalo Niagara has followed through on its vision of developing constituency for preservation and fostering pride and investment in the region's historic resources. Is this a quote from their mission or vision? If so it needs quotes The organization offers its "Queen City Downtown" guided walking tour that takes participants on a journey through Buffalo's rich and successful history. From the Erie Canal, through several presidents to celebrated architect masters (Olmsted-Burnham-Sullivan), the stories hidden in Buffalo's incredible aesthetics -- buildings, parks and communities come alive on this two-hour walk.
Tours Every Friday and Saturday (March-November) at 10 a.m.
$10 per person, $5 for students.
Interested parties should meet in the lobby of the Market Arcade Building at 617 Main St.
Note: No reservations are necessary, but groups of 10 or more are advised to call ahead.
There is history all over Western New York for students and families of private schools to be able to see, learn, and experience while having a fun time. For more fun ideas, see some of our posts from last summer!