Naper Settlement ties together education and entertainment


Naper Settlement is an outdoor museum where visitors can learn about local history, but during the summer it also hosts events and programs for guests of all ages. NCTV17 discusses all of this with its President and CEO on its weekly “Fun Friday” series.

More About Naper Settlement

Joe Naper settled in what is now Naperville in 1831. To preserve and share all of that history, the Naperville Settlement was created under the Naperville Park District, bringing together many historic buildings from across town, including the chapel, along 13 acres land in downtown Naperville. They have guided tours, educators in period costumes, exhibits and many events.

Newest addition: Agricultural Center

Mary and Richard Benck Family Farming Center named for local residents and donors—a new 4,000-square-foot exhibit space—is a state-of-the-art STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-driven center , to “showcase Naperville’s rich agricultural history while connecting it to the agricultural story of the region and state,” as the settlement’s website describes it.

“Naperville has a very rich agricultural history and has an important story to tell,” said Rena Tamayo‑Calabrese, President and CEO of Naper Settlement. “This story can be told in the exhibits at the Agriculture Center.”

Playgrounds and splashbacks

The settlement is also home to the Harvard Early Learning Playground, designed for children ages 2 to 7 to explore the great outdoors. Features include:

  • playground
  • Sensory Prairie Garden
  • Replica Conestoga carriage
  • Rebuild Fort Payne
  • animal footprint
  • splash guard

“It’s as much a place for entertainment as it is for education,” says Tamayo-Calabrese. Children can learn about history, trading posts, pioneer days, and develop their critical thinking skills.

Napper Camp

Naper Settlement offers a variety of camps for school-aged children, each with a different theme, from programming to sports to food and culture. In total, there are about 15 different camps, catering to a variety of ages and interests. While many are sold out, Tamayo-Calabrese said there are very few left in July and August.A list of camps and their availability can be found on the settlement’s website website.

“We have science camps, art camps. If you want to learn how to build a theme park, we have a camp like you’re interested in the environment,” Tamayo-Calabrese said. “We do hire a lot of teachers who are our camp counselors, so while they’re having fun, they learn a lot!”

Napper Night

For several weekends throughout the summer, the settlement is transformed into an outdoor concert venue. Napper Night Throughout the weekend there is live music from a variety of tribute bands, as well as cold drinks and food from a variety of local restaurants. Pinot’s Palette will also be painting on site, along with other family-friendly activities.

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