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Historical Attractions in Southeast Michigan

These historical spots in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties are the perfect setting for families to learn and play together. Updated for 2014-15.

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Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

  • Address: 31005 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills
  • Phone: 248-626-5020
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday during summer
  • Admission: free; coins needed to operate some machines (money changer on site)

No hands-off policy at this menagerie of memorabilia. Marvin's been collecting vintage coin-operated machines since 1960, and kids can dabble with the games and goodies at this abracadabra-meets-animatronics oddity.

Michigan Firehouse Museum

  • Address: 110 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti
  • Phone: 734-547-0663
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
  • Admission: $5/adults, $3/ages 3-16, free/2 and under

Each year, 10,000 people visit this museum that's near a historic firehouse built in 1898. Check out its impressive display of fire vehicle sirens, lights and hand-pulled ladders from 1910. Enjoy the August fire truck muster.

Michigan Transit Museum

  • Address: 200 Grand Ave., Mount Clemens
  • Phone: 586-463-1863
  • Hours: museum: 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday year-round; train: June-October and December, times vary
  • Admission: museum: free, donations welcome; trains: contact for costs

Plan a short train ride when you visit this museum. Opened in 1973, it takes you through the history of mass transportation using historical equipment and artifacts. The Holiday Express typically returns in December.

Mill Race Historical Village

  • Address: 215 Griswold Ave., Northville
  • Phone: 248-348-1845
  • Hours: buildings: 1-4 p.m. Sundays, mid-June through mid-October; grounds: dawn-dusk daily
  • Admission: free; event prices may vary

These 19th-century Victorian buildings, set on 12.5 acres, preserve the architectural styles popular in the area. Visitors can get an up-close look at an inn, blacksmith shop, school church, gazebo, wooden bridge and interurban station giving them a taste of a time gone by.

Model T. Automotive Heritage Complex, Inc.

  • Address: 461 Piquette Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-872-8759
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, April-November; private tours and events held year-round by appointment
  • Admission: $10/adults, $8/seniors, $5/students with ID, free/children 12 and under

Check out antique Model T cars in the plant they were originally made in and see an award-winning video about 1904-10 Detroit life in this restored historic place.

Motown Historical Museum

  • Address: 2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-875-2264
  • Regular hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday (last tour at 5 p.m.), closed Sunday-Monday and most major holidays
  • Summer hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday (last tour at 5 p.m.), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday (last tour begins at 7 p.m.); noon-6 p.m. Sunday (last tour begins at 5 p.m.); closed Monday and most major holidays
  • Admission: $15/adults Friday-Sunday, $12/adults Tuesday-Thursday; $10/seniors, $8/ages 12 and under

Trace the roots of Motown's story that began at Hitsville U.S.A. and created a sound that influenced generations of music lovers throughout the world. The exhibits include historical photographs, artwork, music, costumes and other memorabilia from this musical era that included the Temptations and Diana Ross and The Supremes.

Pine Grove Historical Museum

  • Address: 405 Cesar Chavez Ave., Pontiac
  • Phone: 248-338-6732
  • Hours: office: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday (or by appointment); call ahead to book group tours
  • Admission: $5/adults, $3/ages 12 and under

Gov. Moses Wisner's former estate is now 4 1/2 acres of history prime for your family to explore. Check out a one-room schoolhouse, pioneer museum, smokehouse, root cellar and more. Events pop up throughout the year.

Plymouth Historical Museum

  • Address: 155 S. Main St., Plymouth
  • Phone: 734-455-8940
  • Hours: 1-4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday-Sunday; closed Monday-Tuesday, Thursday, major holidays and in between exhibits
  • Admission: $5/adults, $2/ages 6-17, free/under 6

Check out the impressive Lincoln exhibit that includes artifacts from Honest Abe's youth, rare family photographs, handwritten legal documents and law books. There's also a timeline of Plymouth history tracing the city's history and a great walk-through 19th-century Victorian recreation of Main Street. Temporary exhibits frequently appear, as well.

Pewabic Pottery

  • Address: 10125 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-626-2000
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday
  • Admission: free; fees vary/group tours, hands-on workshops.

Founded in 1903, this historic pottery studio played a significant role in Detroit's artistic history, with Pewabic architectural tiles still found on many historical structures and buildings throughout the city today. The museum's exhibits focus on the company's role in the city's history, as well as showcasing new works by modern ceramic artists.

PuppetART Museum

  • Address: 25 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-961-7777
  • Hours: museum: noon-3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; performances: 2-3 p.m. most Saturdays, 10 p.m. every third Thursday
  • Admission: museum: free; performances: $5/kids, $10/adults

The museum offers a variety of puppets from different cultures, including some old-school Detroit TV puppets and even big full-body puppets, plus rotating exhibits and a library on the subject. Check out one of their repertory puppet shows, too, plus get a tour of the museum (if you show up a bit early) and a join in a puppet-making workshop in the studio (after the show).

Rentschler Farm

  • Address: 1265 E. Michigan Ave., Saline
  • Phone: 734-944-0442
  • Hours: tours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and by appointment, May-early December
  • Admission: free/Saturday admission is for individuals and families; fees/groups and special reservations

This family farm museum is now a stop on the National Passport Stamp Program! See for yourself why the 1906 farmhouse and surrounding grounds are Washtenaw County jewels. Check out the barns here, too, for a taste of American farm life in the earlier 20th century.

Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm

  • Address: 1005 Van Hoosen Road, Rochester Hills
  • Phone: 248-656-4663
  • Hours: 1-4 p.m. Friday-Saturday, closed January-February; other times by appointment
  • Admission: $5/adults, $3/students in K-12 and seniors, fees vary/events

Our Lively Town delves into the area's history in a 1927 dairy barn, complete with a model train traveling a small replica of downtown Rochester. There are plenty of archival photographs and, during normal open hours, visitors can take a guided tour through the 1940 Van Hoosen Farmhouse.

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