Medieval and Fantastical Fun for the Family
Imagine this: your Kalamazoo kid dons princess attire and goes in search of a dragon to befriend, while their sibling is busy dressing up as a knight and constructing a castle with cushions and leftover boxes. Or, a tween who loves to play Dungeons & Dragons.
Does any of this sound familiar? If you have a fantasy or medieval-loving family, we’ve rounded up some great ways to enjoy history and the fantastical side of things with a listing of castles to visit, festivals to attend, and groups or classes to join. Let the adventure begin!
Embrace Your Child’s Inner Knight and Princess
Visit Castles & Museums
Henderson Castle Bed & Breakfast | 100 Monroe Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49006 | 269-344-1827
Henderson Castle offers luxury accommodations, fit for a King or Queen, as well as a spa, French dining, and more. In addition, they offer tours, Murder Mystery Dinner Parties, Princess Tea Parties, and cooking classes.
Castle Farms | 5052 M-66, Charlevoix, MI 49720 | 231-237-0884
Castle Farms boasts Michigan’s largest outdoor model railroad with over 2,500 feet of track, a World War I Museum, and extensive gardens and meandering paths. Take a self-guided tour of the castle and view the model railroad, get lost in their hedge maze, feed the ducks and rainbow trout in their reflection pond, and see Norm the Dragon. Seasonal tram tours are available.
Castle Museum of Saginaw County History | 500 Federal Avenue, Saginaw, MI 48607 | 989-752-2861
Originally designed as a post office, the castle is now a museum covering Saginaw’s rich history over the centuries, including artifacts from the Native American tribes, first Euro-American settlers of the Saginaw Valley, and the lumbering trade.
Curwood Castle | 224 Curwood Castle Drive, Owosso, MI 48867 | 989-723-2155
The castle’s turrets were home to adventure writer and environmental conservationist, James Oliver Curwood, before he willed the property to the City of Owosso. Now a museum, it offers some of the richest architecture and landscaping around, as well as fun shops and markets. Closed in January, and on Mondays, the castle is open to the public in the afternoons.
Hammond Castle | 80 Hesperus Ave., Gloucester, MA 01930 | 978-283-2080
From May through September, visitors can explore the castle’s many rooms with medieval architecture and artifacts spanning from Ancient Rome through the Renaissance and the castle grounds.
Boldt Castle | PO Box 428, Collins Landing, Alexandria Bay, NY 13607 | 315-482-9724
Boldt Castle is located on Heart Island and is only accessible by water. Families can take a self-guided tour of the castle, which was started in 1900 as a tribute to Boldt’s wife. Visit beautiful Italian gardens, a gazebo, and even a dove cote (a tower for keeping doves). Once a year the castle holds a Fairy Tale Adventure where fairy tale princesses and pirates take over the island!
The Art Institute of Chicago | 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603 | 312-443-3600
While in Chicago visit the Deering Family Galleries of Medieval and Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor. This renovated gallery presents artwork, jewelry, altarpieces, and arms and armor from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Worcester Art Museum | 55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA 01609 | 508-799-4406
The Worcester Art Museum has a stunning collection of art from the Medieval Period, world history tours focusing on the Medieval/Renaissance periods and Armor and Knights, arms and armor presentations, and hands on gallery/studio workshops for kids to create their own masterpiece.
The Met Cloisters | 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040 | 212-923-3700
The Met Cloisters is the branch of the Met dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe.
Other Places for Fantastical Fun
Leila Arboretum – Fantasy Forest | 928 W Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49037 | 269-969-0270
Fantasy Forest is full of amazing and fantastical sculptures carved from trees like dragons and wizards. Located a short walk from Kaleidoscope Garden.
Boo Castle Park (Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park) | 31 Homewood Drive, Carbondale, IL 62902
The grounds are full of beautiful trees, flowers, and hand-made sculptures of gremlins, gnomes, wizards, and other fantasy creatures, including a sleepy dragon. The main attraction of this park, however, is the giant wood and stone castle that is actually a jungle gym of tunnels, stairs, and bridges, including hidden doorways!
Medieval Times | 2001 North Roselle Road, Schaumburg, IL 60195 | 1-888-WE-JOUST
Jousting, falconry, horsemanship, and a sumptuous dinner awaits your family at Medieval Times. The closest location is outside Chicago – see our trip review of this fun adventure.
Festivals and Groups
Renaissance Festivals take place all over the country. We’ve listed a number near Kalamazoo. For a greater listing of faires/festivals, visit here.
Black Rock Medieval Fest | The Olde World Village, 13215 M-96, Galesburg, MI 49053
Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M., thru August 5th
Michigan Renaissance Festival| 12600 Dixie Hwy, Holly, MI 48442
Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 A.M. – 7:00 P.M. from August 18 – September 30
Society for Creative Anachronism
The SCA is an international organization dedicated to re-creating the arts, skills, and traditions of pre-17th century Europe. Members take part in a variety of activities such as costuming, cooking, metalworking, combat, archery, music, calligraphy, and much more.
Take on the role of a fighter, a wizard, a rogue, a cleric, and so much more in this fantasy roleplaying game where you design your own character, and embrace your creativity. Most games are family friendly, but games are typically labeled with a rating to make sure you find a good fit.
L’Arte D’Armizare | Southside Dojo, 8534 Portage Road, Portage, MI 49002 | 269-385-0111
Teens can take a class. L’Arte D’Armizare is a style of martial arts taught in the early 1400s in Northern Italy. It includes dagger, sword, spear, poleax, and defense against these weapons. For teens and adults.
Fit for a Princess
Princess Tea Party | Henderson Castle | 100 Monroe Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49006 | 269-344-1827
Henderson Castle hosts a Princess Tea Party. Children arrive as a princess, sip tea, practice etiquette, dance, hear stories, and take a tour of the castle. Reservations made online.
Princess Character Breakfast | Burdick’s for Breakfast | Radisson Plaza Hotel, 2nd Floor, 100 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49007 | 269-226-3155
A few times a year, Burdick’s for Breakfast holds their Princess Character Breakfast, where princes and princesses can dress up and enjoy a themed breakfast buffet full of photo opportunities with their favorite characters.
Does your child want their favorite princess character to attend their birthday party? Consider Once Upon a Princess or Pretty Princess HQ. Both offer party packages that include a character visit and choice of activities.
Create a Fairy Garden
Kalamazoo is full of places to stock up on supplies needed for your own personal fairy garden!
Make a dragon mask, a dragon egg, a knight’s shield, and more!
How to Draw a Dragon
From young kids to adults, there is a dragon drawing lesson perfect for your family on this site. It includes tutorials for dragon characters, to more detailed drawings of wings and eyes perfect for teens.
So, Huzzah! (or Hooray) and drop us a line if you know of any other options for medieval family fun!
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