Visiting Historic Richmond Town with Kids: Top Things To Do on a Family Visit
If you have a little historian on your hands, plan a visit to Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island, where guests immerse themselves in rich American history in Historic Richmond Town's living history village and historical museum that springs to life with seasonal programs, workshops, and year-round special events.
Read on for details on our visit to this Staten Island gem and learn about more living history day trips nearby. We've got more picks for great local museums in our Guide to Museums, Galleries, and Exhibits in NYC for Kids.
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Historic Richmond Town is made up of three distinctly different sections, plus the out-lying Decker Farm, Judge Jacob Tysen House, and Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House, which are all under the purview of the nonprofit Staten Island Historical Society.
Our visit to Historic Richmond Town coincided with its annual Fourth of July Celebration, and we enjoyed old-time celebrations, shows, and workshops by the staff members dressed in period costumes dating back to the 1800s and earlier. Here are our top picks for things to do at Historic Richmond Town with kids, whether you visit during a special event or any other time of the year.
Top Things To Do at Historic Richmond Town with Kids
Visit the Open Village
The beauty of Historic Richmond Town's open-air museum truly comes alive with its Open Village, where guests can explore the Main Village, dating to the 1860s, the Outer Village (1770s), and the Lower Village (1820s) to get a taste of life in each period.
We loved our visit to the Carpenter’s Shop, where we were greeted by the friendly craftsman working there, who demonstrated the old-school art of woodworking and showed us the objects he was making. Rattles, wooden utensils, and small cabinets were all built here with traditional, simple tools.
Similarly, in the Tin Shop, staff members welcomed us and showed us all the fun things they were making like tin cups, utensils, and bowls being forged with the help of a hot stove and hammers. Although the process was simple, it was fun to witness the kids' amazed reactions as the sparks flew and items were fused with the help of melted tin.
There are more historic tradespeople on the grounds of Historic Richmond Town, all highly trained in their crafts and passionate about sharing them with a new generation to keep this living history alive.
Make flags and even put your own John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence.
Explore the Third County Courthouse
The official visitor center of Historic Richmond Town, when we explored the Third County Courthouse our youngsters took their turn signing the Declaration of Independence—thanks to the Fourth of July festivities—and crafting flags. A very attentive staff member shared historical knowledge and patience with the kids as they made the beautiful flags that they waved around throughout the entire visit.
See which toys kids used to play with are still used today!
Toys, Games & Riddles
This program, staged at the Stephens House, was an introduction to simple living and entertainment. Peer into a preserved living room filled with toys from the 18th and 19th centuries, and then let your little ones play with replicas and learn about the fun, simple toys and table games kids used to play with—they'll likely be amazed that some are still available today. A visit here is great for older kids who need a lesson in the luxury of electricity and learning how kids past had to find ways to entertain themselves outside of their homes.
In addition to its collection of village buildings and historical interpreters who bring it all to life, Historic Richmond Town is home to a Historical Museum with a rotating array of exhibitions. During our visit, we explored its display on Bringing Up Baby and learned how little ones were taken care of through the 19th century. View a large display of furniture, carriages, cradles, potty chairs, and toys. Each item is described in rich history to which kids can relate.
Reenactment days bring history to life; kids can meet historical figures and learn about science & history. Photo courtesy of Historic Richmond Town
Fun Annual Events at Historic Richmond Town
During our Fourth of July weekend visit, patriotism was on full display. In addition to signing the Declaration of Independence, we got to meet famous colonials like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Betsy Ross, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington; see a Flying Flea Circus, and learn about the science of fireworks.
For more than four decades, this annual Labor Day weekend festival has been one of Historic Richmond Town's biggest fundraisers. Experience the fun of an old-fashioned county fair within city limits as the Historic Richmond Town parking lot is transformed into a bustling midway and guests can test their luck at carnival games, enjoy performances, live music, carnival rides, and more.
Pick a peck of pumpkins and enjoy other fun fall festivities at the farm.
Come October, all things harvest are celebrated at Decker Farms. Visit the farm for autumn activities, and pick the perfect pumpkin for you to carve at home with your family. Learn about 19th-century farm life, conquer the hay maze, pose for photo-ops, and enjoy farm-fresh eats, too.
Dickensian holiday fun comes to the New World in December. Photo courtesy of Historic Richmond Town
Historic Richmond Town comes to life with Dickens-era holiday magic for two December weekends. Guests can shop for gifts and crafts, enjoy tasty eats, and embark on horse and carriage rides. Meet Santa and his helpers and enjoy living history demonstrations.
Find more special events on the Historic Richmond Town calendar.
Ice cream is a sweet finish to any visit.
Where to Eat Near Historic Richmond Town with Kids
We finished our day at Historic Richmond Town with a visit to Egger’s Ice Cream, located right on the grounds. We staked out a spot in the shade by the Historical Museum. It was a sweet finish to a fun, hot day. Another option on the grounds is Main Street Coffee, which serves adult-friendly pick-me-ups and plenty of snacks.
Be sure to check the hours and for special events before planning your visit.
Know Before You Go to Historic Richmond Town
- General admission and hours vary by season and program, with special event weekends coming at a higher cost. Visit the website for current hours and prices.
- Parking is available on-site in front of the Third County Courthouse.
- Traveling by public transportation? Connect to the S74 bus from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
- Bathrooms are available on the lower level of the museum.
- Strollers are welcome but must be left outside the buildings, so come armed with a carrier if possible.
Unless noted, photos by the author