Detroit is full of exciting and intriguing spots to keep the family and the kids entertained, from the Henry Ford Museum where they learn more about the history of the motorcar to the Detroit Zoo with its variety of animals and bird species. There is also snacking on delicious food at the Eastern Market and enjoying nature hikes, swimming and some fun in the sun at the Belle Isle Nature Center and Aquarium. Here are some of the best things to do with children in the Motor City.
1.Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is a world-class museum with one of the significant art collections in the country. The museum is based in an architecturally significant building designed by renowned architect Paul Philippe Cret with a white marble exterior and two massive wings. The museum spans over 700,000 square feet, and features over 100 galleries showcasing a permanent encyclopedic collection with works from around the globe includes African art, ancient Egyptian and European works, Impressionist paintings, contemporary art, and Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals. Children-friendly programs include audio tours, eye-spy activities, and weekend art demonstrations.
5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202, Phone: 313-833-7900
2.Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
© Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
Located in Hunters Square/Tally Hall in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum features a vast collection of mechanical games, coin-operated animatronic dummies, and other marvelous oddities. The 5,500-square-foot museum was founded by Marvin Yagoda over 50 years ago and boasts fascinating exhibits such as an authentic Gypsy Fortune Telling Machine, an automaton "food inspector" that vomits into a pile of milk bottles, and one of Sing Sing Prison's Electric Chairs in which 30 people died. Other interesting items in the museum include P. T. Barnum's version of the Cardiff Giant.
31005 Orchard Lake Rd, Farmington Hills, MI 48334, Phone: 248-626-5020
3.Belle Isle Nature Center
The Belle Isle Nature Center is located on the beautiful Belle Isle State Park and offers children the chance to get up close and personal with nature with a variety of educational, environmental, and natural experiences. The Nature Center is home to a wealth of animals and birds, including native amphibians, reptiles, and fish, as well as a small herd of European fallow deer and a colony of honeybees who live in an observation hive. The Belle Isle Nature Center aims to promote environmental awareness through several programs that focus on conservation, water quality and protection, and preservation of nature and the environment.
176 Lakeside Drive, Detroit, MI 48207, Phone: 313-852-4056
4.Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
Located in the sprawling 982-acre Belle Isle Park on Belle Isle, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (locally known as the Belle Isle Conservatory) is a beautiful botanical garden and conservatory filled with flowering plants, shrubs and trees, and rare species. Designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn, the greenhouse was opened in 1904 and was named after Anna Scripps Whitcomb who donated her collection of more than 600 magnificent orchids to the city in 1955. The main conservatory is an architectural gem of glass and steel, and there are 20 other greenhouses around the main structure that house collections of amaryllis, bromeliads, cacti, orchids, and other tropical plants.
900 Inselruhe Avenue, Detroit, MI 48207, Phone: 313-821-5428
5.Detroit International RiverWalk
The Detroit International RiverWalk is an iconic landmark of Detroit and popular tourist attractions. Spanning more than three miles from Rose Parks Boulevard to the Belle Isle Bridge, the riverfront promenade draws locals and tourists alike for walking, jogging, running, cycling or simply relaxing and soaking up the beautiful views. Amenities along the RiverWalk include restaurants and cafés, fountains and splash parks for kids, a vintage carousel, and a multitude of parks. The International Riverfront also encompasses a cruise ship passenger terminal and dock, a marina, retail shops, high rise residential areas, and spectacular views of both Canada and the Detroit skyline.
1340 Atwater St., Detroit, MI 48207, Phone: 313-566-8200
6.The Detroit Experience Factory
The Detroit Experience Factory introduces people to the Motor City through contextual storytelling, interactive experiences and innovative resources and offers a wealth of information, tailor-made trips, and tours for groups of all sizes and more. The Detroit Experience Factory has pop-up welcome centers throughout the city where visitors can go for information on the best restaurants, bars and cafés, live entertainment, museums and galleries, cultural and historical excursions and insider tips and tricks to get the best out of the city.
440 Burroughs St #332, Detroit, MI 48202, Phone: 313-962-4590
Located in Royal Oak and Huntington Woods, the Detroit Zoo is a famous animal sanctuary and conservation institution that has been protecting and conserving animals since the 1880s. Spanning 125 acres of beautiful landscapes just two miles north of the city limits, the zoo is operated by the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) and is home to more than 2,400 animals representing 235 species. Major exhibits include the 33,000-square-foot Polk Penguin Conservation Center, where visitors can see more than 80 penguins in action and which works in conjunction with SANCCOB in South Africa to rescue and rehabilitate penguins. Other fascinating exhibits include the Australian Outback Adventure, the Arctic Ring of Life, the National Amphibian Conservation Center, Great Apes of Harambee, the Holden Reptile Conservation Center, and the Butterfly Garden.
8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067, Phone: 248-541-5717
8.The Henry Ford Museum
© The Henry Ford Museum
Located a 25-minute drive east of downtown Detroit in the suburb of Dearborn, the Henry Ford Museum is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex and National Historic Landmark that celebrates the life and works of auto mogul Henry Ford. The museum features a vast collection of exhibits and displays that focus on the work of Henry Ford, including 18 interactive touch screens, a wealth of fun activities and games, and must-see attractions such as ‘Made-In-America’, ‘Heroes of the Sky’, ‘ Henry Ford’s Violins’, and ‘Driving America’. Other fun things to see and do at the museum include the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour and Benson Ford Research Center.
20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124, Phone: 313-982-6001
9.The Belle Isle Aquarium
The Belle Isle Aquarium is a public aquarium on the beautiful Belle Isle Park on Belle Isle and is the oldest continually operating public aquarium in North America. Designed by renowned architects George D. Mason and Albert Kahn, the aquarium opened to the public in 1904 and has been delighting the public with displays of marine creatures and fish ever since. The iconic 10,000-square-foot building features green tiled and vaulted ceiling and houses more than 1,000 fish and 118 species of sea life. The Belle Isle Aquarium is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
3 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207, Phone: 313-402-0466
Eastern Market is a popular Saturday market that sells a wide variety of fresh and organic produce ranging from grass-fed meats and dairy products, handmade cheeses, gourmet deli-style foods, freshly baked bread, cakes, pastries, and other sweet treats. One of the oldest and largest year-round markets in the country, the market runs year round with additional markets on Sundays and Tuesdays in the summer months. The market is home to over 150 food sellers and stalls, and other specialty businesses such as fresh flowers, herbs, and herbal products, handmade jewelry and clothing, gifts and souvenirs and more. The nearby Bert’s Warehouse Theatre entertains in the form of live jazz.
Eastern Market, Detroit, MI
11.William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor
The William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor is a state park set along a section of the city's International Riverfront on the Detroit River that offers 31 acres of beautiful natural landscapes including wetlands, paved walking trails, picnic areas, and a 52-slip harbor of refuge for large boats. Conveniently located near the Outdoor Adventure Center, Belle Isle Park, and other major downtown Detroit attractions, the midtown oasis also features a 63-foot scaled-down replica of the Tawas Point lighthouse tower that marks the harbor entrance.
1900 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48207, Phone: 313-396-0217
12.Michigan Science Center
© Michigan Science Center
The Michigan Science Center, called the Mi-Sci for short, is a fascinating center that focuses on science, space, engineering, mathematics, physics, and health. The center features 300 hands-on exhibits that offer children of all ages the opportunity to explore the world of science, including live stage shows, hands-on demonstrations, guided tours, and IMAX movies on the Chrysler IMAX Dome Theatre. A special area for kids under the age of five allows the little ones to enjoy science and physics in their way. The Michigan Science Center is also home to the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium; the 8,700square-foot Science Hall for traveling exhibits; the DTE Energy Sparks Theater; and the Chrysler Science Stage, as well as the United States Steel Fun Factory.
5020 John R Street, Detroit, MI 48202, Phone: 313-577-8400
13.Detroit Historical Museum
© Detroit Historical Museum
The Detroit Historical Museum is a free museum in Detroit’s cultural center that chronicles the history of the Motor City and Michigan spanning from the 18th century through to present day. The 78,000-square foot museum features permanent exhibitions that tell the story of the growth of the city from the fur trading industry of the 18th century and the cobblestone streets and storefronts of the 1900s to the automotive history in Detroit. Signature exhibits include ‘The Streets of Old Detroit,’ which recreates charming street scenes from the 1840s, 1870s and early 1900s and the Motor City exhibition with an auto assembly line and toy trains. The Detroit Historical Museum also provides a variety of kid-friendly activities and events throughout the year.
5401 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202, Phone: 313-833-1805
14.Dossin Great Lakes Museum
© Dossin Great Lakes Museum
Located on The Strand on Belle Isle Park along the Detroit River, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is a historical maritime museum that focuses on Detroit's role on national and regional maritime history. The 16,000-square-foot museum features fascinating exhibits that celebrate over 300 years of the region’s rich maritime history, as well as films, lectures, and other educational programs. Significant exhibitions include exploring the roles that the Great Lakes and the Detroit River played in the area’s industrial and social history and the commercial shipping fleets that once ruled the waterways. The riverfront location of the museum acts as an interpretive exhibit itself and visitors can steer a long-ship down the Detroit River in a new hands-on exhibit.
100 The Strand, Detroit, MI 48207, Phone: 313-833-5538
© André Franke/stock.adobe.com
Comerica Park is an open-air ballpark in Downtown Detroit and home of the Major League Baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. Named after Comerica Bank, the new stadium replaced the Tiger Stadium, a historic stadium that the Tigers had played it since 1912. However, the team has since won two American League Championships since moving into the new stadium. The stadium features enormous tiger sculptures at many of the entrances and spans three levels so that no seat is obstructed. Several fountains are based in centerfield and produce liquid fireworks when a home run is hit. Visitors can explore the stadium on guided tours throughout the year.
2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201, Phone: 313-962-4000
© Motown Museum
The Motown Museum, also known as Hitsville U.S.A, is a museum that celebrates the legacy of the Motown Record Company and the charisma, talent and staying power of the music and artists it produced. Founded by Esther Gordy Edwards in 1985, the museum features several fascinating exhibits including Studio A where some of the world’s most famous music artists such as Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson recorded their music. The museum also houses an array of Motown memorabilia such as original instruments, Michael Jackson’s hats, artifacts, photographs and other music-related pieces of history. Visitors can enjoy guided group tours through the museum led by trained and knowledgeable guides who share the story of how Motown Records got its start and how now-famous singers rose from obscurity to international acclaim.
2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208, Phone: 313-875-2264
17.Sanders Candy Factory Tour
© food pictures studio/stock.adobe.com
Sanders® is an iconic national brand that is renowned for its sweet treats such as Bumpy® Cake, Pecan Torties®, hot fudge toppings, and sea salt caramels. Established over 140 years ago, the sweet factory prides itself on using the highest quality ingredients to create their unique sweets, which are sold around the world. Visitors can explore the world of Sanders® on free guided tours of the factory which include a video presentation of the history of Sanders,® a stroll along the factory observation walkway, a visit to our Chocolate & Ice Cream Shoppe, and plenty of free chocolate samples. Guided tours are available by appointment only.
22800 Hall Rd, Clinton Twp, MI 48036, Phone: 586-464-5700
18.Campus Martius Park
Campus Martius Park is a re-established park in Downtown Detroit named after the principal square in Marietta, Ohio, which was the first capital of the Northwest Territories. The signature public space was the winner of the prestigious, international Urban Land Institute Urban Open Space Award, and provides a beautiful urban area with spectacular skyline views for the public to enjoy. Campus Martius Park boasts manicured landscaping and flourishing gardens, historical amenities such as 1806 historical monument known as Detroit's Point of Origin and the Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The park also offers a wealth of day-to-day park activities, and a wide variety of free events, programs, classes for all ages.
800 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, Phone: 313-566-8250
19.The Fowling Warehouse
© The Fowling Warehouse
The Fowling Warehouse™ offers fun for the whole family. Set within a 34,000-square-foot warehouse in Hamtramck, the center is the perfect spot for enjoying a game of fowling, a football bowling pin game where players use a football to knock over pins instead of bowling balls. The warehouse has a full-service bar that serves a wide range of drinks and offers specials throughout the week. The Fowling Warehouse also has a Bottoms-Up draft beer system and a “mystery beer” vending machine. The facility does not serve food, however, visitors can bring their tuck or buy from one of the food trucks that visit the warehouse regularly.
3901 Christopher St, Hamtramck, MI 48211, Phone: 313-264-1288
20.The Renaissance Center - GMRENCEN Tour
The Renaissance Center is a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers on the Detroit International Riverfront in Downtown Detroit owned by General Motors as its world headquarters. Visitors can explore the fascinating landmark on a free one-hour tour which outlines the rich history of the world-renowned company and the role it has played in the growth of the city. The tour takes in highlights of the building such as the GM Wintergarden, the GM Plaza and Promenade, the GM Lobby and Pavilion, the Borealis Glass Sculpture, GM World, and the GM Company Store. Complimentary public tours are offered twice daily, on a first-come basis.
Detroit, MI 48243, Phone: 313-567-3126
21.Mt. Elliott Park & Pavilion
The Mt. Elliott Park & Pavilion is a beautifully landscaped, schooner-themed water park on the East Riverfront that offers a wealth of fun for the whole family. The Great Lakes schooner-themed park features water cascades and fountains, wind chimes and child-activated water cannons, along with facilities such as modern restrooms, food concessions, cafés and plenty of picnic spots beneath shady trees for relaxing. Other amenities in the park include winding walkways, fishing piers, LED lighting, and the Mt. Elliott Park Fun Shop which sells water park essentials such as sunscreen, towels and outdoor toys, along with souvenirs, and snacks.
110 Mt Elliott Street, Detroit, MI 48207, Phone: 313-566-8200
22.Good Cakes and Bakes
© Good Cakes and Bakes
Good Cakes and Bakes is a charming bakery that sells mouthwatering pastries, cakes, cookies, and biscuits, along with homemade desserts and made-to-order cakes in a bright, whimsical setting. The bakery uses only the highest, quality ingredients to create their delectable desserts and cakes, which include Layer Cakes, Pound Cakes, Gooey Butter Cakes, Cheesecakes, Cupcakes in a variety of flavors, Breakfast Breads, Muffins, Cinnamon Rolls, Coffee Cakes, Scones, Cookies, Brownies, and Health Bars. Good Cakes and Bakes also serves homemade soups such as Zuppa Style Soup and Black-Eyed Pea Soup and offers catering services for special events and functions.
19363 Livernois, Detroit, MI 48221, Phone: 313-468-9915
22 Best Things to Do in Detroit with Kids of All Ages
- Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Photo: naokit/stock.adobe.com
- Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, Photo: Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
- Belle Isle Nature Center, Photo: ramund88/stock.adobe.com
- Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Detroit International RiverWalk, Photo: lindaparton/stock.adobe.com
- The Detroit Experience Factory, Photo: espiegle/stock.adobe.com
- Detroit Zoo, Photo: Shadia/stock.adobe.com
- The Henry Ford Museum, Photo: The Henry Ford Museum
- The Belle Isle Aquarium, Photo: ramund88/stock.adobe.com
- Eastern Market, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Michigan Science Center, Photo: Michigan Science Center
- Detroit Historical Museum, Photo: Detroit Historical Museum
- Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Photo: Dossin Great Lakes Museum
- Comerica Park, Photo: André Franke/stock.adobe.com
- Motown Museum, Photo: Motown Museum
- Sanders Candy Factory Tour, Photo: food pictures studio/stock.adobe.com
- Campus Martius Park, Photo: soupstock/stock.adobe.com
- The Fowling Warehouse, Photo: The Fowling Warehouse
- The Renaissance Center - GMRENCEN Tour, Photo: helgidinson/stock.adobe.com
- Mt. Elliott Park & Pavilion, Photo: weedezign/stock.adobe.com
- Good Cakes and Bakes, Photo: Good Cakes and Bakes
- Cover Photo: Gerald Bernard/stock.adobe.com