The Ford Museum has a lot of Interesting Learning for Kids
Are you looking for a family outing that is both fun and educational? You need to visit the Gerald R. Ford Museum! Your kids will learn a lot—and so will you (yes, even if you remember everything you learned in your social studies class about our 38th President, whose boyhood home was Grand Rapids).
My kids were hooked before we even got inside, thanks to the fountain and the astronaut sculpture, both of which serve as kid magnets!
Before You Go to the Gerald R. Ford Museum
To prepare for your visit and pique your kids’ interest, check out the Online Exhibits.
- Growing Up Grand tells of the early years of Gerald R. Ford and early 20th century Grand Rapids.
- Born to Play Ball will excite any sports-minded kid.
- Extraordinary Circumstances give background to the unusual road that President Ford took to the Presidency.
- Many additional online exhibits are available as well.
Presidential Exhibits Without Leaving Grand Rapids
The exhibits at the Gerald R. Ford Museum offer something for everyone! My kids were especially intrigued by the replica of the Oval Office and by the interactive Cabinet Room, where they sat in the seats designated for the President and the Secretary of Defense and pretended to hold office.
Exhibits Beyond Gerald R. Ford
The museum isn’t just about Gerald R. Ford. There’s even more history to explore, including:
- A section of the Berlin Wall that guests can touch.
- The Bicentenniel Display (although my kids thought that the clothes people work in 1976 were strange indeed).
- The tools used in the Watergate burglary. My kids weren’t the only kids in the place drawn to these; crime stories are always exciting!
- The Betty Ford exhibit. Mrs. Ford was an admirable First Lady. Don’t overlook this section of the museum.
Video screens are situated throughout the museum introducing guests to Gerald R. Ford, playing footage from Watergate, and so on. These videos were short enough to hold my kids’ attention but long enough to give them a break from walking around. They especially enjoyed hearing of Ford’s boyhood.
When we visited, the Amending America exhibit was on display, offering kid-friendly explanations to the different Amendments of the Constitution. This exhibit gave my kids a new appreciation for the Amendments when they learned that the First Amendment prevailed over an attempt to ban comic books over 60 years ago. Whew!
The current special exhibit running until January 6, 2019 is all about fabulous First Lady, Betty Ford. You can check the museum website to see what special exhibit is currently on display.
After gaining an appreciation in the museum for President Gerald R. Ford, older children may be interested in the final resting place of the President and Betty Ford on the museum grounds. You will find this to be a peaceful, non-intimidating memorial to these two great people.
Tips for Visiting the Gerald R. Ford Museum With Kids
Parking is Easy | I appreciated two things about parking at the Gerald R. Ford Museum: the parking lot is adjacent to the museum (no navigating parking ramps or crossing busy streets), and parking is free!
Strollers | My family is past the stroller stage, but I noticed a couple families with strollers. They had ample room to navigate through the spacious displays. If you don’t bring a stroller but wish you did because you tire of chasing your toddler, borrow a stroller from the museum at no cost.
Restrooms | The restrooms are clean and spacious—if your child needs assistance, you won’t feel crowded. All restrooms offer baby-changing stations.
Food | No food or drink is available at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, but if you plan ahead and it’s a nice day, you may want to enjoy a picnic after your visit next to the river, which flows next to the museum.
Special Events | After your initial visit, you’ll have good reason to return to the Gerald R. Ford Museum for special events. Their Ford After Five series (free or low-cost) offer evening opportunities such as board game nights or concerts. Check back often for upcoming events.
The Gerald R. Ford Museum is very affordable for families. Adults pay $10, seniors and military pay $8, college students with ID pay $7, youth pay $4, and kids 5 and under are free.
Want to go again? A family membership is only $50, and it includes free admission to all 13 presidential libraries and museums around the nation!