Springtime in the Northwest means melting snow in the mountains, streams rushing with cold, clear water and showery days warmed by the occasional sun break. Trees sprout new leaves, flowers appear and the days grow noticeably longer. For families with children of any age, it's a time to reconnect with nature, to truly appreciate the beauty of the region we call home.
If you want to learn more about the area's past and experience what it was like to live on a 19th-century farm, schedule a day to visit both Hovander Homestead Park and Pioneer Park in Ferndale, and the Lynden Pioneer Museum.
Hovander Homestead Park is a 350-acre county park on the banks of the Nooksack River. The two-story house was built of Douglas fir and Western red cedar, featuring Scandinavian design elements and furnished with original pieces from Sweden. Otis Hovander, the family's last son, lived in the house until 1969. It's open to the general public from 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. For private and educational tours at other times, contact 360-384-3444 on go online to www.co.whatcom.wa.us/parks.
The 60-foot-high barn, one of the largest wooden barns in Whatcom County, was finished in 1911. Inside the barn is a milking parlor display, along with a collection of antique farm implements.
Farm animals such as cows, draft horses, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens, turkey, ducks and geese are at the park from May through October.
Other activities include two new playgrounds -- one for tots and one for children ages 5-12 -- restrooms, a covered picnic area and more than two miles of riverside trail.
To reach Hovander Homestead Park, take Interstate 5 Exit 262 and head west into town on Main Street, turning south on Hovander Road near the railroad trestle and south again on Neilsen Road.
Pioneer Park features eleven log cabins, built by 19th century pioneers that were moved from various points around Whatcom County to a shady grove along the Nooksack River on the edge of downtown. They have been restored and filled with period funishings and grouped into a collection that resembles a pioneer village.
Each building emphasizes a different aspect of pioneer life. The Granary teaches about logging and land clearing, planting, harvesting and grinding grain. The Shields House shows how pioneers made candles. The Jenni House features chores that were expected of pioneer children, including making bread, washing clothes, cleaning house, sawing wood, gathering eggs and planting a garden.
In addition, there's a church, a general store, a one-room schoolhouse and a post office, plus a building that houses a collection of military equipment dating to World War I.
City of Ferndale employs tour guides in period costume for the Pioneer Park cabins each year from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily except Mondays from May 15 through Sept. 15. Guided tours, which allow admission to the cabins, are $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12, and free for under 6. Tickets are available at the Parker House cabin. People may stroll through the park and examine the exterior of the cabins for free. Call the Ferndale Heritage Society 360-384-6461 to schedule special group tours.
Pioneer Park is at the south end of Second Avenue in Ferndale. Take Interstate 5 exit No. 262 and head west into town on Main Street, turning south on Second Avenue.
Lynden Pioneer Museum features a diverse collection of historical artifacts, but its centerpiece is a 1900s-era Main Street exhibit of stores and offices arranged into life-size dioramas.
Among the shops on Main Street are a general store; volunteer fire department; newspaper office with printing press; sporting goods retailer with vintage rifles and fishing tackle; barbershop; clock shop; milliner; hotel and a drug store. There's an old diner and a pioneer homestead, all featuring furniture and other items typical to the era.
Downstairs is a collection of more than 60 vintage buggies, automobiles, bicycles and tractors - including an antique threshing machine and a 1929 REO Speedwagon fire engine. There's also a display of military memorabilia, with a focus on World War II.
Regular admission to the Lynden Pioneer Museum is $7 for adults; $4 for seniors and students; free for children 6 and younger. Normal hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It's located at 217 Front St. near Third Street in downtown Lynden
For more information, call 360-354-3675 or go online to lyndenpioneermuseum.org.
Suggest your ideas for family-friendly events or day trips to Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or email@example.com. Read more Bellingham Families news online at BellinghamFamilies.com or on Facebook at Bellingham Families.