Multi-Tasking Play at the Palo Alto Heritage Museum

Need to entertain a child for a long time? Go to a place where you can do lots of different things easily and quickly.

I wish that I had discovered the Palo Alto Museum of American Heritage before our son was in school full-time. It would have become one more fun place in our rounds of, "What should we do today?"

Looking back at all our time spent at Heritage Park on Homer Street we could have easily walked across to the museum on any given day. As it was we would usually walk the two blocks up to Whole Foods to pack up a picnic. Sure – who doesn’t love a picnic in a park? – but I'm very glad to know now that there is another fun venue nearby.

I had always been curious about this museum, but something about the front of the building had made it seem a little bit unapproachable. Maybe part of it was that I was unclear on where the entrance was? It turns out it is via the driveway instead of the front walk—easy and pleasant once you know. And, once this initial obstacle was overcome, what a gem inside!.

The museum is the collection of Frank Livermore. It has several rooms making up different displays. One part of the exhibit was a room with "old-fashioned" toys that can be played with. It was great to sit on the floor with at play Lincoln Logs with our son. Lincoln Logs are much like Lego's—the more you have the more fun they are. The museum has lots.  

The exhibit on display until March is of antique toys (1870-1930). Our son enjoyed looking at all the toys especially the battle scene of lead figures. I think they captured his imagination. 

It was a treat for me to walk through the exhibits with my mom. She shared stories about cooking in her great aunt's house using many of the tools that were shown in the kitchen exhibit. I know little of my mother's childhood. Maybe the interest grows now that I'm older and am paying attention. I am eager to find out the even mundane details of the simple accounts of childhood of cooking with a relative.

Some of the other fun exhibits at the museum included a printing press room (with wooden block type) and an antique auto mechanic’s garage.

The basics:

  • Location:  351 Homer Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301-2727, 
  • Phone:  (650) 321-1004
  • Hours:  11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, except during exhibit changeover weeks and selected holidays
  • Admission:  Free


randy albin February 21, 2012 at 09:22 PM
this is a really old museum. as far back as i can remember, i would visit this place. i guess the school district couldn't forsee that is would be incredibly expensive to live in the palo alto area after graduating


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