Recently my daughters and I took a roadtrip to the Florence/Tuscumbia area to complete a long standing bucket list item – visit Ivy Green, the birthplace and childhood home of Helen Keller.
Educate Before the Trip
I’ll be honest, if you are taking young children, you’re going to need to do a bit of work before this visit. Without exposure to the story of Helen Keller, younger kids won’t get much out of this trip. Keller’s life and achievements serve as great inspiration for all in the importance of perseverance despite obstacles. However, the museum is basically just the historic home and grounds and while it is lovely, there are plenty of markers with interesting facts and historical context, my 8-year-old was a bit bored. If you’ve seen one antebellum home you’ve seen them all as far as she’s concerned. In other words, learn from my mistake 🙂
Of course, most Alabama public school students learn about Keller in 4th grade and that helps give context to the story and will help make the trip more interesting to them. I did ask my 13-year-old to watch The Miracle Worker with me before the trip so we both had a refresher and I think it made a difference in our enjoyment of the experience.
When You Arrive
You can wander the grounds of Ivy Green without a ticket but a tour (see pricing below) is necessary to go inside. Our tour guide gave us the roughly 10 minute prepared talk and was able to offer answers to many of our questions. She also provided us with an FAQ sheet that was really helpful. We were then allowed to wander the main house, the carriage home where Keller was born and which her family used as a master bedroom, as well as the grounds.
Each year on the weekends starting in early June through mid-July there are performances of William Gibson’s famed drama The Miracle Worker. If you purchase tickets to see the play, admission to the home is included and takes place right before the play starts. I am especially excited to return the last weekend in June for the annual Helen Keller Festival.
Helen Keller Festival
This four day celebration includes several events many of which are open to the public and require no admission including the parade and street party in downtown Tuscumbia on the first day of the festival (Thursday evening). Among the other events are a Marketplace, a car and truck show, and music on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Admission to the music shows is $5 for adults and children 10 and under are free. Note: Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs/blankets.
-If your child, like mine, has read Where the Red Fern Grows, plan to make a run out to the nearby Coon Dog Cemetery while you are in the area.
-If you decide to bring the whole family, consider watching The Miracle Worker – there is a 2000 version available on Disney+ or you can rent the 1962 or 1979 versions on a variety of streaming platforms.
-Depending on the age of your child, you can also read one of the books below with them or have them read before your trip.
-While driving around the Tuscumbia area we lost cell service a few times and since I have no sense of direction, we got lost more than once. If you are like me then I recommend downloading the directions before you head out *just in case*.
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Rocket City Mom is a website started in 2010 by a "New to Huntsville" mom who was searching for an information hub of all things family/parenting related for Huntsville. When she didn't find it. She created it. The site now boasts two owners, a managing editor, a dedicated calendar guru, and more than a dozen local parent contributors that help to make the site the #1 resource for all things family in Huntsville and North Alabama.