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50 Things To Do With Kids Around Detroit Before They Grow Up

50 Things To Do With Kids Around Detroit Before They Grow Up

By Melissa Summers

I saw this great list of “100 things to do in New York with your kids before they grow up” at Mommy Poppins. It inspired me to come up with a list of 50 things you should do with your kids if you live in the Detroit area before they grow up.

Michigan is full of great museums, parks and amusement parks, but I tried to keep my list to destinations within an hours drive. If you’re in the Detroit area, please leave your own ideas in the comments.

Things to Do With Kids in detroit

1. See the baby animals in the spring at Upland Hills Farm.

2. Visit the Day Of The Dead Festival in Mexican Town, grab a bag of Tamales at Evie’s.

3. Rent a Canoe at Gallup Park. Bring a picnic lunch for the halfway point.

4. See how cider is made at Yates Cider Mill

5. Pick your own blueberries in Howell. Read Blueberries For Sal before you go.

Things to Do With Kids in detroit

6. See the Detroit Fireworks, hopefully you have a friend with a rooftop view downtown.

7. Attend the Thanksgiving Day Parade, pray it isn’t freezing.

8. Visit The Henry Ford to see an amazing collection of artifacts, including the chair Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated and trains up close in person.

9. Visit the zoo on Animal Enrichment Days to see how zookeepers keep the animals happy and challenged with different toys, treats and games.

10. Michigan Science Center

Things to Do With Kids in detroit

11. See a game at Comerica Park. Ride the Ferris Wheel and the Carousel all before viewing a single inning.

12. Visit The African American History Museum

13. Visit the newly remodeled Detroit Institute Of Arts. Make sure you attend one of the evening kid’s concerts in the main hall surrounded by suits of armor.

14. Cranbrook Science Museum. Make sure you view the giant T Rex model, the Wooly Mammoth and best of all the Bat Zone.

16. See the Bassett Hounds Waddle through Birmingham in May.

17. Just an hour away, the Toledo Museum of Art has a wonderful Family Center; just use the search bar for their programming.

18. After the museum, visit Tony Packo’s for dinner before your drive back. The kids will love all the autographed hot dog buns lining the walls.

19. Visit the Cobblestone Farm

20. See the toy trains and old time streetscape at the Detroit Historical Museum.

21. Take the train from Royal Oak to Ann Arbor.

22. Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. Bring lots of quarters and make sure to use the photo booth before you leave.

Things to Do With Kids in detroit

23. Spend a few hours on Detroit’s River Walk. Ride the carousel and play in the water fountain, preferably while in clothes. It’s a lot more fun that way.

24. Visit The Ann Arbor Hands On Museum.

25. Visit the Museum of Natural History at University of Michigan. Ever since Night At The Museum my kids have been dying for a visit to New York, this will have to fill in for now.

26. Watch blocks of ice become amazing sculptures at The International Ice Sculpture Spectacular in Plymouth.

27.  (closed as of Dec 2016) You can’t be in the Motor City without developing at least a little interest in the history of cars. The Walter P Chrysler Museum is a small exhibit, perfect for short attention spans.

28. Red Oaks Water Park offers hours of fun.

Things to Do With Kids in detroit

29. Pack a picnic for the summer concert series at the Detroit Zoo.

30. Visit Greenfield Village at Christmas time or during any of their special events. Visit the Eagle Tavern to warm up, have hot cider (with a historically authentic hollow noodle as a straw) for the kids and spiked hot cider for the grown ups.

31. Hike Through Cranbrook, watch for sculptures, wildlife and beautiful gardens. If you can find the Greek Theater your kids will feel like real archaeologists.

32. Dally In The Alley is a great street fair in Detroit. It hasn’t been over-run by corporate tents and a lemonade doesn’t cost $15.

33. See The Nutcracker at The Detroit Opera House

34. Yale Bologna Festival. Yes, it’s really a thing. I’m not sure the kids will love it, but I really want to see the Bologna Queen.

35. The Michigan State Fair.

36. See a kid’s play at the Greek Theatre at Cranbrook.

37. Visit the conservatory at Bell Isle.

38. Visit Guernsey Farm Dairy. Tours are no longer available but you can visit their new indoor ice cream parlor or eat an ice cream cone– made by the Guernsey cows– outdoors on their famous big rocks.

39. See the stars at the Cranbrook planetarium.

Things to Do With Kids in detroit

40. Go Ice Skating at Campus Martius.

41. Take your kids to another country, and back, all in one day.

42. Visit Troy Daze, a huge community fair.

43. Ride the Paint Creek Trail.

44. Take a boat ride on the Detroit River.

45. Eat a meal (or just dessert) at the Coach Insignia at the top of the Renaissance Center and enjoy the view. (No longer open for business)

46. Attend Oktoberfest at Clarkston Union. A Kid-Centric festival that’s fun for adults? It just seems wrong.

47. See a Candy Band concert.

48. Ride The People Mover just for fun. The best 75 cents you’ll spend.

49. Take a candy factory tour.

50. Visit Henry Ford Estate, Fair Lane, specifically the miniature farmhouse.

Things to Do With Kids in detroit

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • Alissa

    June 10, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    See the Christmas lights along Hines Drive or that fabulous, overly done home at 12 mile and Washington in Royal Oak 🙂
    Buy a Christmas tree, Pumpkin, Summer Flowers at Eastern Market
    Go Trick or Treating from business to business in Downtown Royal Oak
    Dessert for a special occasion at The Whitney (I was fascinated with the “mansion” when I was little)

  • Christina

    June 10, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I love this list! I volunteer for a high school leadership development program that focuses on exposing high school kids to different cultures and communities in and around Detroit, so I’ve been lucky enough to experience all kinds of cool stuff in and around Detroit.
    Things I would add:
    – After you hit Evie’s in Mexicantown, stop by Luna’s for some awesome “pan dulce” (sweet Mexican bread).
    – Visit the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, and listen to one of the volunteer Holocaust survivors tell their stories.
    – Visit the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, and then head to La Pita for some hummus and fattoosh.
    – Stop in to the Guardian Building (in the Financial District) and ask one of the super friendly doormen for a tour of the vaults!
    There are so many cool things to do in Detroit… I’m definitely adding a lot of your ideas to my list 🙂

  • Lori

    June 10, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Great post – Thank you for the great ideas.
    Some to add:
    Visit the farm and nature center at Kensington Metro Park. Rent some paddle boats while you are there.
    Tour the gardens at Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor.
    Attend a UofM football game at the Big House.
    That is all I can think of right now.

  • amyp

    June 10, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Also, the library is a great place to go with my kids – while you’re there, you can pick up free passes to Cranbrook, DIA, Meier Gardens and many other attractions in the area.
    I love bike rides at Kensington Metropark every Sunday. It’s an easy 8 mile loop that even my 6-year-old loves to ride.

  • jdg

    June 10, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    watch the cows get milked at Calder Bros. Dairy, then get some of their ice cream.
    spend some time at the Heidelberg Project (or Hamtramck Disneyland).
    early Saturday morning breakfast and shopping at Eastern Market.
    lunch at one of the two original coney islands.
    see the fisher building (combined with cityfest?)
    michigan firehouse museum in ypsi (with phallic water tower bonus!)

  • jdg

    June 10, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    oh, and great f**king list!
    That’s what I meant to say at first before my brain started buzzing.

  • Aim

    June 11, 2008 at 2:16 am

    This is a fantastic list. I grew up in Berkley but I now live outside of Nashville, TN and I am always talking about the FUN things to do in Metro Detroit. I always enjoyed the Christmas lights at Domino’s Farm in Ann Arbor. I think at some point I have hit nearly everything on your list. Thank you for the awesome list, it makes me homesick.

  • Emily

    June 11, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Great ideas. I love that someone is writing about all the amazing museums and events Michigan has to offer.
    A few ideas of my own –
    Attend the Armada Fair – love it. There are baby animals, music, carney food, etc. It is to me the BEST small town fair. It is always very well done.
    Visit the haunted Street in Romeo – I can’t remember the name right now, but during Halloween there is a street in Romeo that goes all out and decorates the houses like out of movies. It is fun and if you get a warm night, you can hit the Dairy Queen on the corner too.
    Attend Bark in the Park – Madison would love this. We always go to the event held at Stoney Creek in August. We don’t have a dog but love all the puppies and events. They have agility competitions, beauty pagents, and rescued dogs as well.
    Thanks again for the great ideas!!

  • MelissaS


    June 11, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I can’t believe I forgot the Heidelberg project. It was in my notes and everything.
    Also the Guardian Building has been on our family list. Can you believe I’ve never been inside???
    Christmas lights, YES! We did one place a week this year between xmas and new year’s. The kids loved it.
    I didn’t put shopping and breakfast in Eastern Market on the list because my own kids FEEL LIKE THEY WILL DIE IF WE LOOK AT ANYTHING THAT IS NOT A TOY.
    Maybe if I bribe them with a visit to the upstairs at R. Hirt Jr. Co.
    *Go to Hamtramck to get a real Paczki on Paczki Day.

  • TeriLynn

    June 11, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Swan boats on Belle Isle! That’s my one demand before we move- my husband HAS to make an ass of himself with me in the swan boats! They’re paddle boats for 2. Oh, and the greenhouse there in the winter is the best, and by donation only.

  • AmyinMotown

    June 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Dude, you are SO showing me up–I just started writing for and could only come up with 7. I keep slapping my head going “YES!!! Why didn’t I think of that??” I really want to go blueberry picking, too, but my daughter’s allergic to them, of all weird things.
    Great list.

  • melissaS


    June 11, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Evelyn had this to add at Suburban Bliss:
    The Redford Theater definitely needs to be added to the list! It’s an 80-year-old beautifully-restored movie house which shows older films. Here are some of the highlights:
    Free 30 min. organ show before each movie, cheap admission and concessions, a cartoon is shown before many of the movies, a 50/50 raffle, ambiance (Japanese-style motif, and a ceiling that makes you feel as if you’re outside on a starry night!), etc. Please visit their website for more details, pictures, history, etc.

  • Chris

    June 11, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    I grew up in the Detroit area, and this list totally made me homesick!
    I have one to add: Go apple picking in Romeo on a crisp October day. Yum!

  • Andy Piper Ann Arbor Real Estate

    June 11, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Attend Top of the Park in Downtown Ann Arbor for free music and movies. Did anybody say visit Ann Arbor for the Ann Arbor Art and Street Fair during the third week of July? Also, the Rolling Hills Water Park in Ypsilanti is worth a visit.

  • Eric Vogel

    June 11, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Great list, some of the links do not work.
    On August 13th, you can see three at once.
    1) Detroit Zoo
    2) Wild Summer Nights Concert
    3) Candy Band

  • Eric Vogel

    June 11, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    The last 4-5 times I been to Cranbrook Planeterium, they just keep adding onto the current show making it longer and longer and older and older. Even Adler Planetrium who is still with a light ball mentions this. I keep meaning to go, it is in Southfield, the guy there keeps it fresh. Also, the Detroit Science Center has a new big screen planterium. No sense in Cranbrook having a DigiStar and not use it fully. I am sad though that Adler did not get Cranbrooks old ball one. But, then again stars do not change much. Either push a button on digistar hear boring stuff, or see it on a ball and a REAL HUMAN talk and also awnser your questions.

  • Sandy

    June 12, 2008 at 8:33 am

    I grew up in Detroit but moved to Chicago in 1991. My folks moved out of the city to the Thumb about 4 years ago. Oh, how I miss Detroit! Some of my best childhood memories are of Saturday mornings at the Eastern Market and Saturday afternoons at the zoo following the elephant footsteps from exhibit to exhibit and using the elephant shaped key to hear about the animals.

  • jdg

    June 15, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    I can’t believe I have lived here for two years and didn’t know this: detroit has a children’s museum. we were driving around looking for the entrance ramp to westbound 94 and we rolled past it. we’ll check it out this week.

  • michelle

    June 17, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I just stumbled on your blog. I will be back to read thru..I’m *working* at the moment. I lived on the East side until 1985 and I’m going back next month with my best friend 🙂 so this list is perfect! well..except I wouldv’e put the Historical Museum first..but whatev.
    🙂 If I knew how to link stuff..i’d put you on my tiny little blog.

  • sharonabd

    June 18, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Best kept secret- the FREE Lionel Train exhibit in Chesterfield township at the old factory- you need reservations, but it is awesome.

  • Kelli

    June 23, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    This is a fabulous list! Great for people thinking of fun things to do!
    I’m a local children’s photographer and I linked to this on my blog for my clients to see!!!

  • zoe krylova

    July 1, 2008 at 7:59 am

    don’t miss detroit’s concert of colors, coming right up! ann arbor art fair is a spectacle. and another free festival is ann arbor’s top of the park summer festival. if you head down to toledo, the toledo zoo is great. also, the dancing fountain in the detroit metro airport is great fun!

  • Laurie

    July 8, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Great list!
    — See the fairy doors in Ann Arbor:
    — Eat doughnuts and/or ice cream at the Washtenaw Dairy:

  • jdg

    July 9, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    have to add this one after today’s activity:
    take a tunnel adventure between the Albert Kahn’s Fisher Building, Albert Kahn’s Cadillac Place, the New Center building, and the Albert Kahn building. We killed hours there today. Not only are the buildings themselves breathtaking, but you can see all four without stepping out on the streets—they are all connected by cool old very echoey tunnels. take the fisher elevators up too: they’re 1928 originals full of wood and gold leafing. lots of eating and shopping there too. one of my new favorite things to do in the city.

  • tony

    July 18, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Good list but no Motown Museum or Eastern Market Flower Day?

  • melissaS


    July 22, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Yeah, I couldn’t possibly come up with everything. That’s why the comments are so useful! Thanks for adding your suggestions.
    I didn’t add Flower Day because my kids don’t enjoy our time at Eastern Market. Except when we get our Christmas tree there. Otherwise it’s like one long errand in their eyes.

  • Michele

    July 27, 2008 at 10:12 am

    This is a wonderful list! I would add checking out the state fair and especially the birthing tents where kids can see and touch baby animals (and watch them be born even!)
    The Hands On Museum in Ann Arbor is also always a fun place to head to on a rainy day.
    Attend a summer Wednesday in the Park concert for Kids in downtown Plymouth.
    Also a REALLY fun day is the 2nd Tuesday in July in Westland behind the Nankin Mill, they have a day called Mud Day. It is a BLAST! Check out the info from the 2008 event at:
    I think that covers the ones I can think of to add. GREAT LIST!

  • karen

    July 29, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Melissa: This is a fab list and just what I was looking for. We live just outside of Windsor and will be moving out of the area so I wanted to head over to Detroit for some fun with the kids before we move. I Googled “fun things to do with kids in Detroit” and there you were! I love your other blog SB too!

  • Dwayne

    September 8, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I thank you for complying this list.I have an 11yr old and would like to share as much with him as i can.
    This is a great start!

  • Brian

    October 28, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Just to let everyone know, the kid’s play at St. Dunstan’s is coming up (#36)!

    The play runs from November 14 through November 23. Don’t worry, it’s not outside in the Greek Theatre (it’s too cold), but you can always take a quick walk out the back of the theatre and see it!
    The play this year is Hyronomous A. Frog – The Frog Prince. It’s a colorful, energetic, and fun play designed especially for kids as young as 2 years old. It lasts approximately 45 minutes and is a wonderful way to introduce kids to the theatre! Visit our website,, for more information and to purchase tickets.

    Tickets are $7 in advance or $8 at the door. Historically, these shows sell out, so be sure to get your tickets early.
    See you and the kids at the show!

  • Stensen

    January 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Thank you for compiling this list. I didn’t know you could tour Morley candy. I also forgot about the Ice Sculpters in Plymouth I always miss that one, thanks.
    Also thank you Lori I did not know you could go on a sleigh ride at Kensington. I will be checking that one out soon.

  • Angela

    January 24, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Thank you so much for such a great list!
    I only have one to add (and if someone’s already added it, I apologize): Pack a picnic lunch and watch the freighters pass under the Blue Water Bridges in Port Huron’s Pine Grove Park.

  • Jennifer

    April 26, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s a beautiful weekend and my husband and I had no ideas on how to entertain our two little ones. Now, we just have to agree on which one to pick! These are all fabulous ideas.

  • Joan

    June 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Blakes Farm in the Fall to go through corn mazes and haystack pyramids.
    Friday night concerts by the lake in the summer at Stoney Creek
    Klucks Tree Farm outside of Flint to cut down your own Christmas tree, throw snowballs and sit by their huge bonfire to warm up

  • The Big A

    July 12, 2009 at 6:57 am

    I know this post is from last year…but what a great one! I’m looking for something to do with the kids today and you’ve given me some great tips! Of course one of mine is 2, so everything doesn’t fit for him yet, so I will see! But thanks for taking the time. This is fantastic!