Old Bethpage Village Restoration
|The Old Bethpage Village Restoration is a step back in time to a small Long Island village of the nineteenth century.|
Old Bethpage Village Restoration is located just off of Round Swamp Road, exit 48 on the Long Island Expressway. The parking lot is large and paved, and you can expect buses whenever school is in session. When entering through the visitor's center, you can purchase tickets and browse some of the rotating exhibits that are on display here. Be sure to pick up a map, as the village is large and there's a lot of walking. Ramps in and out of the center, as well as hard-packed dirt roads, make visiting with a stroller fairly simple, although you are not allowed to bring strollers into any of the houses or buildings on the property.
Being able to freely move in and out of the homes in the village is a highlight, and kids love the casual atmosphere. But what makes a trip special are the interpretive volunteers who occupy nearly every building. In period dress and in character, they are an engaging way to experience Long Island's history. Most are very knowledgeable about not only the homes where they can be found, but also about the social and economic conditions that the original occupants faced.
And it's not just stories that bring the village to life -- real craftsmen like the blacksmith, hat maker and weavers take the time to create things that children of today are accustomed to buying at the store. During our visit, a woman at the farmhouse patiently showed kids each step of the process of making wool, allowing them to touch everything along the way. The blacksmith effortlessly turned metal rods into the round hooks that adorn modern swingsets.
The working farm at Old Bethpage features a number of animals that kids can get close enough to touch. Cows, chickens, pigs and geese roam freely and in large pens just as they did 150 years ago. The farmhouse is the largest home at the restoration and has great examples of family rooms and an operating kitchen.
The interior of every house is full of period furniture and tools. There's not a whole lot of things inside the homes that you would consider hands-on, so you'll have to keep an eye on kids who are apt to reach out and grab something. But the interpreters at each building are very helpful in pointing out things that kids can touch and explaining what's cool about them.
The center of the village is where you'll find the inn, where pretzels and root beer are available for fairly reasonable pocket change. Just outside is a seating area where they hold bonfires during nighttime openings (such as the candlelit evenings in December). The tack shop here is also the home of the gift shop, where kids can buy wooden toys and the like. It's not unusual to catch groups of villagers congregating outside the general store, just like it might have been in the 1800's. Of the two roads leading out of town, the one that goes towards the farm will loop you back towards the village. You may take the second one past the chruch and the schoolhouse, but be aware that it takes you onto a long trip back to the visitors center.
The Old Bethpage Village Restoration is open from Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children aged 5-12. Kids under five are free. Food is available at the visitors center, and there are restrooms located throughout the restoration (outhouses too!). For kids who are interested in history and not disinclined to walk, a trip to Old Bethpage is good for at least three hours.
Old Bethpage Village RestorationOfficial Site: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/
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