Keeping kids entertained and busy can be as tiring as nerve-racking. For parents that have to constantly come up with fun plans and ideas, luckily, Detroit is a lively city where you’ll find a host of exciting things to do with kids in the city itself or just a short drive away. From thrilling rides and museums to green parks and indoor playgrounds, you’ll keep every young mind occupied and maybe even have a little fun for yourself. If you think you’ve run out of ideas and there’s nothing left to explore, think again!
We’re starting out the roundup with a brick-tastic spot that is honestly fun for the whole family, but your little ones will definitely appreciate more. The LEGOLAND Discovery Center is the ultimate indoor LEGO playground, where you can visit attractions, watch action-packed adventures at a 4D cinema, where you’ll feel rain and wind effects, build amazing creations and even hop aboard a chariot at Kingdom Quest. An interactive ride that allows you to unleash your inner hero as you’re faced with beastly trolls.
What’s more, you can throw your kid’s next birthday party at the discovery center and choose a birthday package of your liking that includes use of private party rooms, pizza, LEGO character meet and greets, access to rides and play zones, and more.
📍 4240 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills
Now, Chicago may be a 4h30 drive, but it will all be worth it once you get to this fantastic exhibition. In celebration of 100 years of Disney, this October you can see over 250 works of art, artifacts, costumes, props and other Disney memorabilia in ten extensive galleries.
Whether you’re a fan of of the timeless classics or the latest releases of the Disney family, including Pixar, Star Wars and MARVEL, at Disney 100 you can see both. Your children can learn more about the behind the scenes of their favorite Disney films, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to Encanto (2021).
📍 Exhibition Hub Art Center Chicago on 2367 W Logan Blvd, Chicago
Located just north of Detroit in Royal Oak, this popular attraction offers a wide range of activities for children. From the incredible animal exhibits, featuring lions, tigers, bears, giraffes and penguins, to the the immersive habitats where you can observe the animals in all their glory, the Detroit Zoo is always a safe option when you run out of fun ideas for your kids.
What’s more, the zoo offers attractions like the Tauber Family Railroad, a carousel and a 4-D theater for additional entertainment. Throughout the year, it also hosts special events, like the Zoo Boo during Halloween, where the zoo is beautifully illuminated.
📍 8450 W 10 Mile Rd
Any Detroit library has a children’s and young adults section. Nevertheless, if you want to bring your kids to a puppet show while you sip on hot coffee or tea, head to the Ann Arbor District Library. Their resident storytelling puppets are as fun as they are educational. The library is also home to a large collection of iPads and board games, which will keep the kids busy for a bit as you browse for new additions to the library.
Another outstanding spot is the Detroit Institute of Arts Research Library. With tons of publications, catalogues and e-books, your kids can learn more about the arts and get inspired to make their own creations. And when you’re done looking at materials from the library, you can take in the extensive collection of over 65,000 sculptures, paintings and photographs of the museum.
📍 343 S 5th Ave, Ann Arbor and 5200 Woodward Ave
The aquarium features over 250 species and 2,000 creatures including sharks, rays, green sea turtles and more! The exhibits are designed to showcase the underwater world and its diversity and it’s a great way for your little ones to interact with marine life and learn more about their habitats.
One of the highlights of Sea Life is definitely the underwater tunnel. You can walk through a transparent tunnel surrounded by water, giving you the feeling of being submerged with the sea creatures swimming all around you. You’ll find this indoor aquarium at the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills.
📍 4316 Baldwin Road
Do your kids have a fascination with coin-op machines? And are you obsessed with vintage arcade games, plane models and retro posters that feel nostalgic and somehow never go out of style? Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is one of the city’s most whimsical and popular attractions.
The 5,000-square-foot-museum feels like a time capsule packed with vintage memorabilia and coin-operated machines that are quirky, eerie but altogether fun. Some of these machines were collected from boardwalks, subway stations and carnivals around the globe and are up to 90 years old. It’s the perfect place to snap a few pictures and get your kids to explore old pop culture favorites.
📍 31005 Orchard Lake Rd, Farmington Hills
Home of the Detroit Tigers since 2000, the oldest continuous one name, one city franchise in the league, Comerica Park is located in Downtown Detroit across the street from the Fox Theatre. Besides watching your favorite players, the baseball stadium offers a variety of food choices, including Detroit-style pizza by Little Caesars, ice cream, French fries, handmade hamburgers, as well as Mediterranean and Mexican selections. Moreover, if you go on a Sunday, hop on the Hi-Chew carousel in the Big Cat Court next to Comerica Entry where kids aged 14 and under get a free ride!
📍 2100 Woodward Avenue
Detroit has several parks and recreational areas that cater to kids. Some popular options include Mt. Elliott Park with a number of walking paths, Lakeshore Park that has stunning views of the riverfront, Rouge Park, the biggest urban park in Michigan, and Hines Park with its treetop themed playground—just to name a few. These parks offer diverse playgrounds, green spaces where kids can connect with the outdoors, and various activities for the whole family to enjoy.
📍 Various locations across the city
Explore the world of circus at a kid-friendly class every Saturday at 10am. These circus classes teach foundational body awareness and circus artistry while building life-enhancing skills like confidence, responsibility, poise, teamwork, and discipline. It’s the perfect opportunity to hang from silks and see if your kid has the chops to become an aerialist. Detroit Flyhouse teaches movement for aerial silks, trapeze, aerial hoop, partner acrobatics, hula hoop dance, fire performance and much more.
📍 1321 Watson Street
Kids can play in their own mini-Detroit and let their imagination run wild. There are dress-up opportunities where they can role-play some of Michigan’s most common occupations with themed toys, from baseball stars to Motown legends.
Open Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays, these activities are thought to help children build social skills and learn through play. Additionally, if you want to celebrate your kid’s birthday, you can rent Detroit Kid City’s party venue for two hours, where you get to bring all your favorite decorations, food and drinks.
📍 37051 S Gratiot Ave, Clinton Township
Built around the Academy Award winning work of costume designer, Ruth E. Carter, this exhibit features the original outfits of iconic films like Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, What’s Love Got To Do With It, Amistad, The Butler, Marshall, Selma, Dolemite Is My Name, Coming 2 America, and even Black Panther and Wakanda Forever!
The exhibit opened in Detroit in early October and features the costumes of over 60 major films, but only for a limited time because it will move to another city after March 31, 2024!
📍 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48201