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Pioneer Living History Museum

Pioneer Living History Museum

I have driven by the Pioneer Living History Museum in North Phoenix so many times and finally said to my husband one beautiful day in March, “We are going to go THIS WEEKEND”.

And so we set out in our wagon (ok a minivan) to 3901 W Pioneer Road in Phoenix, Conveniently located right off of i17. Also, there are signs to the FCI Federal Prison. Don’t worry, its not really close by, it just happens to be off the same exit. But, it might be concerning if you see that sign! You might also hear shooting noises, and it most likely will not be coming from the Federal Prison, but from the Ben Avery Range and DPS Range that is on the other side of a small Butte from the Pioneer Living History Museum.

When you exit i17, there is a sharp turn right before the entrance into the museum. There is also a RV Resort for 55+

The parking lot for the Pioneer Living History Museum is all gravel, so just be wary of that. You can see from the picture above that there is also a telephone museum We did not stop in as everyone was getting very hungry at the end of our tour.

This year, 2019, the Pioneer Living History Museum will be celebrating their 50th birthday!

There is a small office/gift shop and check-in desk where you purchase tickets. There was also a military discount and children’s discount. Children under five were free. If you are going as a field trip, there are different discounts available. I wish I was a bit of better planner on this trip because there were teacher resources that included a Scavenger Hunt that might have been interesting for the kids. Don’t be like me, plan ahead and download the Scavenger Hunt!

We also went on a Sunday morning, so the Opera House was closed for a church service. We could have snuck in there to take a look around, but given that my children are not very good at “sneaking in”, we decided not to do that this visit.

bathroom living pionner museum

One stop you will definitely want to make before heading out into the wild west is the bathroom. These were amazingly nice bathrooms, so definitely take advantage of this pit stop before you go any further. There were a few port o potties along the way, but really. You want to use these bathrooms which are right behind the telephone museum.

Right next to the bathroom was a picnic area. It was not shaded, but it had quite a few benches. There was a “grill” area on the map, but I didn’t see a grill. It may be available when it is busier or when there are events.

It is important to note that there are walking paths to each of the places to sight see (shops, animals, etc). There are signs warning visitors to stay on the paths because of snakes and other critters. There are also hay mazes, and we stayed away from the hay mazes because snakes love to be in areas where they can curl up. I felt that the hay maze was not really a great idea and encourage you to proceed with caution.

Each of the these “storefronts” looked like actual stores. While you couldn’t go into the stores, you could look into them and they were set up as if you were stepping back into time.

barber shop parlor shop living pionner museum

This reminded me of the show, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman before she arrived into town. Where townspeople went to the barber to have them lynch boils, pull teeth and do other medical “fixes” as well as shave hair. How scary! My kids looked at me as if I was insane when the read what happened in these chairs.

church living pioneer museum

Unfortunately, I took this picture with some crazy setting on my camera so it got a little white washed out, but this church was so pretty! It is a complete replica of an actual church of the time.

inside of a church living pioneer museum
bank living pioneer museum

The bank was also of huge interest to my kids! It looked so up to date compared to some of the other places in town. My kids really wondered if there was still money in parts of the bank, and their were mannequins which kind of frightened my kids a bit too.

school house

The school house next to the church seemed very small to the kids. The didn’t understand why there were three different types of seats. The globe seemed a little out of place for the timeliness of the schoolhouse, but I won’t be too picky on that! I could be wrong!

northern home living pioneer museum

I think this was the part of the museum that baffled my kids the most. ONE room for everyone to do everything in. Oh, and, where was the bathroom? I think this became the most important part of our entire trip. You may also end up talking about the history of plumbing and outhouses as we did. This might encourage a lot of potty conversations at the dinner table, and I’m so very sorry about this. But, it is an interesting topic! And, we talked about city life and how people in cities used the bathrooms too. The conversation about bathroom use really took up a lot of time from the Pioneer Living History Museum. I think a great offshoot of this museum would be a bathroom museum instead of a telephone museum!

But, I digest…

Or digress.

living pioneer museum

This cabin was much smaller than the other. I think my kids were a bit overwhelmed by this part of the tour and were getting a bit hungry. The size of this cabin was pretty unimpressive to them, and when we told them a family of five or six people might stay in it, I think they thought we were kidding.

Pioneer history land

We had had so much rain for the past few months that the land was so green and not desert like. I believe I read that this yellow flower was really an invasive species (weed), but it kind of looked pretty from a distance.

victorian home pioneer museum
Merritt Farm pioneer museum

The Merritt Farm home and the chicken coop was really exciting to my kids. They found they liked this home the best because it felt like a “real house they could live in”. I think they just understood it to be the most modern! The Victorian home was also very cute and they felt like they could live in it as well. I loved that they “graded” the homes on acceptability to their living standards!

gunfight area pioneer living museum

The Gunfight area was not in operation the day we went nor was the gold panning. It looks like they have those areas just for shows on certain days or when there are field trips. If you check out their main website or their Facebook page for events, they will say when they are doing the gunfights and panning events!

We really had a good time at this museum. I highly recommend it for ages 5 and up, and that you stay on the trails as they recommend, bring lots of water, go in the winter months and wear sunscreen! We stayed for a bit over an hour but were getting our hungry on so we did leave a little earlier than I would have liked to. I think we would have stayed longer if they had their other events going. I would definitely plan on bringing a snack and printing out the teacher resources.

One other thing to think about before going-they do have gallows (hanging). That might be something you want to think about and how to approach that subject. Our kids were wondering why there was a rope on a stand. The area was locked so no kid could get up to it and accidentally hang themselves. But, our kids were very disturbed by it.

Special events are also held at the Pioneer Living History Museum, including weddings! There are some beautiful areas and backdrops. I’m not sure if the whole area is closed off for the events, so you make want to make sure your kids are close by as not to interfere with someone’s special day!

You may also want to check out our post on Desert Cabelleros Museum!

The Basics

Pioneer Living History Museum

3901 W Pioneer Road Phoenix


  1. Sunnie on April 2, 2019 at 9:29 am

    I have been wanting to go here even before we moved down here! Have they seen your post yet? Thanks for it>

  2. MacDonald's Ranch Scottsdale - Surprise AZ Mom on October 21, 2019 at 11:07 am

    […] The Old Western Town Set up looked similar to Pioneer Living History Museum! […]

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