Family Finds | Activities for Kids

Experience Metro Detroit — Kids’ Style

by Kristen J. Gough

Candy tours. Check. Award-winning museums. Check. One-of-a-kind attractions. Check. Check. When it comes to vacationing with your kids, metro Detroit is packed with a long list of family-friendly spots that satisfy, whether you and your brood are into adventure, history, the great outdoors — or maybe all three. And we keep adding more great options. Rediscover places you loved as a kid while checking out new finds during a day out in Detroit.

Guide
Family Fun
Features

Art & Culture, Outdoor, Sports & Recreation

Destinations

Downtown Detroit, Dearborn/Wayne, Greater Novi, Macomb, Oakland

1
Just for the Younger Ones

When You’re Browsing for Things Designed for Kiddies 10 and Under

Detroit Kid City
Kids can play in their own mini-Detroit at this popular family find that just celebrated its first anniversary. Dress-ups abound so kids can pretend to be everything from baseball stars to Motown legends.

Legoland Discovery Center Michigan / Sea Life Michigan Aquarium
Tucked into opposite sides of Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, both destinations are jam-packed with interactive play zones and sites for kids, from sea animals to a 4-D cinema.

Meadow Brook Theatre Children’s Series
Get Broadway-quality shows in a family-friendly setting with performances that tap into kids’ interests and imaginations, like Anne of Green Gables.

The Mall at Partridge Creek
There’s more than just shopping at this open-air shopping center. Visit the pop jet fountains, which open in May, or the newly designed children’s play park. Or enjoy a show during the summer concert series.

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2
Authentic Detroit

When You Want to Explore Sites You’ll Only Find in The D

Sanders & Morley Candy Makers Factory Tour
Sanders chocolates are a Detroit tradition that dates back to 1875. Take your pick from a newly revamped, free guided tour with chocolate samples (reservations required) or the self-guided tour.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
Step back in time at this unusual museum, which showcases vintage coin-operated machines, rare collectibles and other odds and ends.

Detroit International RiverWalk
Running along the east riverfront from Gabriel Richard Park to Joe Louis Arena, more than three miles of the RiverWalk are now complete. There’s plenty to do and see, but for younger ones, check out the water cannons and splash pads at Mount Elliott Park.

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3
All About the Fun

When You Want Seriously Good Times

Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center
Cool off as you slide down one of two water slides, or watch while your kids race through the “sprayscape.” For something a little slower paced, try the lazy river. Inside Lower Huron Metropark.

Lucky Strike Entertainment
Bowling goes upscale. And it’s not just bowling. There are arcade games and pool tables that will keep your kids entertained. Try some of the gourmet youngster-approved eats, like hand-battered mini-corn dogs.

Detroit Flyhouse Circus School
The circus and family fun kind of go hand in hand. Take the pairing to the next level by learning traditional circus arts such as trapeze and acrobatics with your crew. Aerial classes are offered for ages 7-12. Enjoy the school’s Intro Workshop or Open Fly open gym times to practice newly learned skills.

CJ Barrymore’s Family Entertainment Center
There’s something for wee ones and thrill seekers at this expansive 26-acre play haven. Take your pick from 120 games inside and go-karts and golfing outside. New this year, a loop rollercoaster just big enough to get your adrenaline running.

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4
Game Time

When You Just Want to Play Ball

Detroit Tigers Game
Head downtown to Comerica Park to see the Detroit Tigers play major-league baseball. On Sundays after games (weather permitting), kids age 14 and under can line up to run the bases. Fireworks on select Fridays.

Canton Sports Center
Batter up! Take your pick from 12 lighted ball fields, with playscapes nearby so that, when the kids are done on the field, they can “swing” away.

Jimmy John’s Field
Cheer on one of four United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL) teams that call this playing field home. The stadium, which holds just more than 4,000, is designed to give fans an up-close and personal feel. Concerts and other activities are randomly scheduled on non-game days.

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5
ANIMAL ALERT

When You’re in Search of Animals in the Wild and on the Farm

Westview Orchards & Adventure Farm
Kids can make new four-legged (and webbed) friends at the petting farm. Or make reservations for your elementary-school-aged child to go on the Bees & Blossoms tour.

Cranbrook Institute of Science
Dive into the life of nocturnal animals in the Bat Zone. Once you’re done with flying creatures, see a 360-degree show under the stars of the planetarium.

Detroit Zoo
Spread over 125 acres, the zoo is where young eyes will see everything from black bears to polar bears. The newest exhibit, the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, features 80 penguins that swim all around you, including above you as you walk through a clear tunnel. Dance along with the animals and tunes from local bands, 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesdays, July through August.

Belle Isle Aquarium
Staring at the lime-green tiled ceiling and surrounded by tanks all around, this aquarium — the oldest one in the country, opened in 1904 — is sure to delight the children.

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6
EXPLORING THE OUTDOORS

When You’re Ready for Adventure

Outdoor Adventure Center
Camping indoors? You can do that at this Up North experience that’s right downtown. Simulated activities include shooting wild game, kayaking through a river and even catching a fish. (Be patient, they’re tricky.)

Wolcott Mill Metropark
Spot cows, sheep, miniature and draft horses, and goats at this 250-acre working farm that channels the late 20th century. Your family can even take a horse-drawn wagon ride through the fields on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield
If a forest climbing park is a concept somewhat new to you, just imagine the best zip line experience ever and multiply it by 100. Supervised and solo trails for ages 7 and up. Kids 5-6 can climb two trails with an adult.

Campus Martius Park
Sure, you could sit and relax at one of the tables out on the lawn area within this 2.5-acre public square — often there are live bands in the summer. The bigger draw for kids? The Woodward Fountain with more than 100 water jets or the beach on the park’s south side.

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7
LIVING HISTORY

When You’re Up for a Little Schooling

The Henry Ford – Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation
This indoor/outdoor museum pays homage to American innovation. Highlights include the Rosa Parks bus, where Parks took a stand for civil rights, and inventor Thomas Edison’s laboratory. Need a break from all the learning? Check out Greenfield Village’s playground. Its 20-foot-long boiler tunnel is a special treat.

Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus
Learn about what it was like for Jewish families leading up to, during and after the Holocaust. Through June 4, you can take in a special exhibit about one of the most discussed victims of the Holocaust, the young teenager Anne Frank. The exhibit is appropriately called Anne Frank: A History for Today.

Historic Fort Wayne
From barracks to an old guardhouse, step inside a fort to see what life would have been like for the soldiers stationed there. Spread over 80-plus acres. Several events — including reenactments — are held over the summer.

Arab American National Museum
Once you’ve learned more about the traditions and culture of Arab-Americans through the museum’s permanent exhibits, come back on July 13-17 for the Concert of Colors. Now in its 25th year, this free musical event features kids’ crafts and performers.

Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum
Learn more about the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American fighter and bomber pilots that flew in World War II. Call beforehand and set your crew up for a special tour of the museum’s historic planes.

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8
KEEPIN’ BUSY

When You’re Craving a Day of Discovery

Arts & Scraps
Fabric. Bobbles. Wrapping paper. Let your kids pile their finds into a bag to build creations at home. Or let them experiment in Scrapland, a special part of the store with interactive play stations.

Michigan Science Center
During the Sparks Electricity Show, your hair will literally stand on end while the kids giggle (be careful if you volunteer). Mix live shows, along with hitting several of the center’s 250-plus hands-on exhibits, for a full day of discovery.

The Robot Garage
Just think of this as Lego heaven. Here, kids can hang out and create robots, cityscapes and anything else you can construct with building bricks.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Dating back to 1885, the DIA has more than 100 galleries. For kids, search out the Play Eye Spy plaques and use the provided clues to find mystery objects. Find the donkey statue on Level 1. It’s the one work of art that welcomes the touch of little hands. Drop-in weekend workshops give young artists a chance to create their own masterpieces.

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9
TREATS AND EATS FOR THE WEE ONES

Kid-Friendly Cuisine in Metro Detroit

Astoria Pastry Shop in Detroit and Royal Oak • Supino Pizzeria, Mootown Ice Cream & Gift Shop, Lafayette and American Coney Islands, Detroit Water Ice Factory in Detroit • Stroh’s Ice Cream Parlour in Wyandotte • Buddy’s Pizza in multiple locations • Rainforest Café in Auburn Hills • Clark’s Ice Cream and Yogurt in Berkley

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues
  1. Legoland Discovery Center Michigan
    4240 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills, MI 48326866-622-0605 Highlight on map | More Details
  2. Sea Life Michigan Aquarium
    4316 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills, MI 48326866-622-0605 Highlight on map | More Details
  3. The Mall at Partridge Creek
    17420 Hall Road, Clinton Twp., MI 48038586-226-0330 Highlight on map | More Details
  4. Detroit Kid City
    37051 Gratiot Ave, Charter Township of Clinton, MI 48036, United States248-443-5300 Highlight on map | More Details
  5. Detroit International RiverWalk
    1340 Atwater St., Detroit, MI 48207313-566-8200 Highlight on map | More Details
  6. Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
    31005 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48334, United States248-626-5020 Highlight on map | More Details
  7. Sanders & Morley Candy Makers Factory
    23770 Hall Road, Charter Township of Clinton, MI 48036, United States800-651-7263 Highlight on map | More Details
  8. Detroit Flyhouse
    1321 Watson St., Detroit, MI 48207313-674-6424 Highlight on map | More Details
  9. Lucky Strike Entertainment
    44325 W. 12 Mile Road, Ste. H-160, Novi, MI 48377248-374-3420 Highlight on map | More Details
  10. Huron-Clinton Metroparks
    13000 High Ridge Drive, Brighton, MI 48114810-227-2757 Highlight on map | More Details
  11. Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center
    17845 Savage Road, Belleville, MI 48111, United States734-697-9181 Highlight on map | More Details
  12. CJ Barrymore’s Family Entertainment Center
    21750 Hall Road, Charter Township of Clinton, MI 48038, United States586-469-2800 Highlight on map | More Details
  13. Detroit Tigers
    2100 Woodward Ave., Comerica Park, Detroit, MI 48201313-471-2000 Highlight on map | More Details
  14. Comerica Park
    2100 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201313-471-2283 Highlight on map | More Details
  15. Canton Sports Center
    46555 Michigan Ave, Canton, MI 48188, United States734-483-5600 Highlight on map | More Details
  16. Jimmy John's Field
    7171 Auburn Road, Utica, MI 48317, United States248-601-2400 Highlight on map | More Details
  17. Westview Orchards & Adventure Farm
    65075 Van Dyke Ave., Washington Twp., MI 48095586-752-3123 Highlight on map | More Details
  18. Detroit Zoo
    8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067248-541-5717 Highlight on map | More Details
  19. Belle Isle Aquarium
    Belle Isle State Park, 900 Inselruhe Ave., Detroit, MI 48207313-402-0466 Highlight on map | More Details
  20. Cranbrook Institute of Science
    39221 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304, United States248-645-3200 Highlight on map | More Details
  21. Outdoor Adventure Center
    1801 Atwater St., Detroit, MI 48207313-396-6890 Highlight on map | More Details
  22. The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield
    6600 West Maple Road, West Bloomfield Twp., MI 48322248-419-1550 Highlight on map | More Details
  23. Campus Martius Park
    800 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226313-962-0101 Highlight on map | More Details
  24. Wolcott Mill Metropark
    65775 Wolcott Road, Ray Twp., 48096586-752-5932 Highlight on map | More Details
  25. The Henry Ford
    20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, MI 48124313-982-6001 Highlight on map | More Details
  26. Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus
    28123 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48334248-553-2400 Highlight on map | More Details
  27. Historic Fort Wayne
    6325 W. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI 48209313-628-0796 Highlight on map | More Details
  28. Arab American National Museum
    13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI 48126313-582-2266 Highlight on map | More Details
  29. Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum
    6325 W. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI 48209313-843-8849 Highlight on map | More Details
  30. Michigan Science Center
    5020 John R St., Detroit, MI 48202313-577-8400 Highlight on map | More Details
  31. Detroit Institute of Bagels
    1236 Michigan Ave., Detroit, MI 48226313-444-9342 Highlight on map | More Details
  32. Arts & Scraps
    16135 Harper Ave, Detroit, MI 48224, United States313-640-4411 Highlight on map | More Details
  33. The Robot Garage
    637 S Eton St, Birmingham, MI 48009, United States248-723-9100 Highlight on map | More Details
  34. Astoria Pastry Shop
    541 Monroe St., Detroit, MI 48226313-963-9603 Highlight on map | More Details
  35. Supino Pizzeria
    2457 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207313-567-7879 Highlight on map | More Details
  36. Mootown Ice Cream & Dessert Shoppe
    2461 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207313-262-6594 Highlight on map | More Details
  37. Lafayette Coney Island
    118 W Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226313-964-8198 Highlight on map | More Details
  38. American Coney Island
    114 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226313-961-7758 Highlight on map | More Details
  39. Detroit Water Ice Factory
    1014 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226313-888-9106 Highlight on map | More Details
  40. Buddy's Pizza - Detroit
    17125 Conant St., Detroit, MI 48212313-892-9001 Highlight on map | More Details