Historical Attractions in Southeast Michigan
Travel back in time at these cool, kid-friendly places in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties – great for family fun. Updated for 2013-14.
Bring those bland history book lessons to life! From museums and outdoor destinations to places featuring art, cars, planes and much more, there are many ways to give kids a fun taste of our local past (bonus: many of these spots offer hands-on exhibits and features). Create a few memories together, all while your children get an interactive history lesson. Here's a list of happening historical lures in metro Detroit, Ann Arbor and beyond. Check it out, and start exploring!
- Address: 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
- Phone: 313-582-2266
- Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday, Tuesday and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day
- Admission: $8/general, $4/students, seniors and children ages 6-12, free/ages 5 and under
Visit the first and only museum in the United States devoted to Arab-American history and culture. Throughout the year there are performances, films, children's craft classes and cultural presentations.
- Address: 21400 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn
- Phone: 313-240-4000
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; closed some holidays
- Admission: $8/adults, $6/seniors and students (ages 13-18), $4/ages 5-12, $2/school groups, free/under 5
Find plenty of automotive history here. In addition to the 65-foot Hall of Honor mural, you can see a replica of the first gasoline-powered automobile – and a replica of Walter Reuther's dining room.
- Address: 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-494-5800
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday; closed most Mondays and major holidays (note: open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays during February for Black History Month)
- Admission: $8/adults, $5/ages 3-12 and seniors 62-plus, free/under 3
This mecca to African-American culture packs many activities and exhibits into its 125,000 square feet. The permanent A is for Africa exhibit is perennial fun for kids. Also watch for monthly family events, ongoing temporary exhibits – and explore the 22,000-square-foot interactive core area that extends through 20 galleries.
- Address: 1 Town Square, Wayne
- Phone: 734-722-0113
- Hours: 1-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday
- Admission: free
Formerly the village hall, this spot also served as a police station, fire station, junior achievement offices and the chamber of commerce before being restored to its original condition. These days, visitors find more than 100 displays including extensive early maps, documents and photos, plus a display of the Civil War, industry school and early home and village artifacts.
- Address: 2781 Packard Road, Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-794-6230
- Hours: office: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursdays; tours by appointment
- Admission: $1.50/kids, $2/adults, $5/family, free/under 3
Take a peek at mid-19th century living while touring an 1840s farmhouse, log cabin, barn, homes, gardens and history aplenty. Throughout the year, there are craft shows and old-fashioned holiday celebrations.
- Address: 15 Union St., Mount Clemens
- Phone: 586-465-2488
- Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, plus 1-4 p.m. first Sundays (except holidays); closed January and February; open for other special events (listed on official website)
- Admission: check for ahead for costs
This Italianate home, dating to 1869, was built by the first mayor of Mount Clemens: Joshua Dickinson (it's actually named, however, after the second mayor). The Macomb County Historical Society preserves local history here through artifacts and rotating exhibits and educational programs.
- Addresses: Commandant's Quarters, 21950 Michigan Ave.; McFadden-Ross House & Richard Gardner House, 915 Brady St.
- Phone: 313-565-0844 (Quarters), 313-565-3000 (Ross)
- Hours: Quarters: by request; Ross: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, 8 a.m.-noon Thursday; Gardner: by request.
- Admission: donation only
Triple your historical discovery at these three spots dating back to the 1830s. Military is the theme at the Brady Street homes, part of the former Detroit arsenal in what was then Dearbornville. Exhibits at the McFadden-Ross House include photos, books and artifacts that reflect local families and changes in the community.
- Address: 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-833-1805
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, closed Monday
- Admission: free; $5/vehicle parking
Nothing takes you back in time quicker than a visit to the Streets of Old Detroit – just one part of the 80,000 square feet of preserved history. If you've ever wondered about the intricacies of an assembly line, check out The Motor City. Watch for favorite annual kids events throughout the year, from Halloween to Black History Month to Easter.
- Address: 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-833-7900
- Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; closed Monday, call for holiday hours
- Admission: free/residents and school students of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties; others $8/adults, $6/seniors, $5/college students (with valid school photo ID), $4/kids (ages 6-17), free/ages 5 and under
This art collection is one of the top six in the United States and includes more than 100 galleries and the spectacular Detroit Industry fresco by Diego Rivera – plus Vincent van Gogh's Self Portrait and much to explore in the General Motors Center for African American Art. The DIA is open late every Friday night with live music, and on Family Sundays you'll find family performances, storytelling and art-making workshops.
- Address: 100 Strand Drive, Belle Isle, Detroit
- Phone: 313-833-7935
- Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; otherwise, closed to public (appointments for group tours welcome) and major holidays
- Admission: free but donations welcome; event prices may vary
Dossin enjoyed a big renovation, completed in spring of 2013. Built by the River, a new permanent exhibit that explores Detroit's waterways, joins favorites like the Miss Pepsi 1950s championship hydroplane and the William Clay Ford Pilot House.
- Address: 1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores
- Phone: 313-884-4222
- Hours: house tours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday, April-December
- Grounds: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, April-December; 11:30-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, January-March
- Admission: $12/adults, $11/seniors, $8/kids ages 6-12, free/5 and under; includes guided house tour, access to grounds and outer buildings
Guided tours of the Albert Kahn-designed house take about an hour. Then, guests may explore the grounds and outer buildings including the Powerhouse, Play House, Pool House (open seasonally) and South Cottage exhibit and Different by Design Garage exhibit. There's also an iPod touch tour of the grounds, giving a narrated tour filled with home movies of the Ford family, their home and interviews. Situated on Lake St. Clair, the estate spans 87 acres of gardens and grounds.
- Address: departs from The Henry Ford, 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn
- Phone: 313-982-6001
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday (last tour leaves at 3 p.m.)
- Admission: $15/adults, $11/kids, free/under 2
See historic footage and vehicles, learn about how cars are made, peer out to see the world's largest living roof and watch Ford F-150s being assembled in a plant walking tour.
- Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn
- Phone: 313-982-6001
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily April 15-Nov. 3, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Nov. 8-Dec. 1; also open select December nights (call ahead for 2014 hours; typically reopens in mid-April)
- Admission: $24/adults, $22/seniors 62-plus, $17.50/ages 5-12, free/under 5
This working village is a living history lesson that recreates everyday activities in the 18th and 19th centuries. The village is divided into seven historic districts investigating railroads, working farms, Thomas Edison's "idea factory," home life, craftworks, Main Street America and a peek at the farmhouse where the Model T was born. Lots of demos in blacksmithing, typesetting, farming and even vintage 1860s baseball games.
- Address: 33805 Grand River Ave., Farmington
- Phone: 248-473-7275
- Hours: 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays and first Sundays, March-December (extended hours during the Farmington Founders Festival in July and call ahead for Christmas hours); tours, conducted by docents, are given during hours of operation or by arrangement
- Admission: $3/adult tour; $1/children ages 7-12; free/6 and under with adult
Former home of Michigan Gov. Fred Warner, this Victorian Italianate structure is filled with historic artifacts, memorabilia from 1850 through 1920 and includes approximately three acres of surrounding gardens.
- Address: 20501 Newburgh Road, Livonia
- Phone: 248-477-7375
- Hours: office: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; buildings (tours): 1-4 p.m. Sundays, June-October and December (closed November and holiday weekends); park/nature trail: dawn-dusk daily
- Admission: $3/adults, $2/students, fees vary/special events
Your family can "come visit yesterday" at this historic site that includes the original farm complex – along with other significant historical structures that preserve the legacy to the area's agricultural heritage. Throughout the year, holidays are celebrated with an old-fashioned flair.
- Address: 67 E. Kirby St., Detroit
- Phone: 313-871-4100
- Hours: vary by season
- Admission: call ahead for costs
The Hellenic Museum of Michigan offers visitors a look inside the Greek immigrant community's journey to Michigan. You can see this transformation through artifacts, oral histories, documents and photographs.
- Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn
- Phone: 313-982-6001
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
- Admission: $17/adults, $15/seniors, $12.50/ages 5-12, free/4 and under
One of Michigan's jewels, this museum is a standout – from R. Buckminster Fuller's sole surviving Dymaxion House prototype to the limousine President John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated in 1963 and a replica of the craft the Wright Brothers built. Features loads of demos and plenty of exhibits for the kids to interact with. Watch for cool temporary exhibits throughout the year.
- Address: 6325 W. Jefferson Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-628-0796
- Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday April-October
- Admission: free when open; $5/guided 1.5 hour walking tours ages 12 and over, free/guided tour for those under 12; $5/parking
Visitors can walk through the 83-acre fort that served the U.S. Army for more than 100 years. The reservation was used as an induction center for Michigan men and women serving in America's military for every conflict of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department and volunteers of the Historic Ford Wayne Coalition are working to restore the site and host occasional events here, mostly during the warmer months.
- Address: 28123 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills
- Phone: 248-553-2400
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday-Thursday (last admission at 3:30 p.m.), 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday (last admission at 1:30 p.m.); docent-guided public tours: 1 p.m. Sunday-Friday (others by appointment); closed Saturday and Jewish, secular holidays and most legal holidays
- Admission: $8/adults, $5/middle and high school students, $6/seniors and college students with ID
America's first freestanding Holocaust memorial center is dedicated to preserving the memory of the 6 million lost in the Holocaust. A timeline tracks the history of the Jewish people against major events in world history. Recommended for ages 12-plus.
- Address: 312 S. Division St., Ann Arbor
- Phones: 734-994-4898
- Hours: 1-4 p.m. Sundays, groups tours by special arrangement
- Admission: donations welcome
Tour this 1953 Greek revival home to see how the musical German American Kempf family lived and worked in the 1890s. Take a tour of the restored rooms, including the music studio where the 1877 Steinway concert grand piano remains as it has for over 100 years.
- Address: Macomb Community College campus, 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township
- Phone: 586-445-7348
- Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Sunday; exhibits typically run between October and May
- Admission: free; fees may vary/programs
This Macomb County center provides interactive programs that explore the influences and experiences that shape the community heritage, along with educational and entertaining events. The schedule usually features kids' activities to complement the main exhibit. Check ahead to see what's up.
- 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; open later, 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.
- Address: 215 Griswold Ave., Northville
- Phone: 248-348-1845
- Hours: buildings: 1-4 p.m. Sundays, June 9-Oct. 20, 2013; 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Address: 461 Piquette Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-872-8759
- Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday, April-October
- Admission: $10/person
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.
- 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. Monday-Friday (last tour at 5 p.m.), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday (last tour begins at 7 p.m.); closed Sundays
- Admission: $10/adults, $8/ages 5-12 seniors 62-plus, free/ages 4 and under
Trace the roots of Motown's story that began at Hitsville USA 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.
- 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.
- 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
Be sure to scope out the impressive Lincoln exhibit that includes artifacts from Lincoln'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.
- Address: 25 E. Grand River Blvd., Detroit
- Phone: 313-961-7777
- Hours: museum: noon-3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; performances: 2-3 p.m. Saturdays, 10 p.m. every third Thursday
- Admission: performances: $5/kids, $10/adults; museum: free
The museum offers a variety of puppets from different cultures, rotating puppetry exhibitions and a library of books and videos on puppetry. Check out one of their performances, too, plus get a tour of the museum (if you show up a bit early) and a workshop in the studio (after the show).
- Address: 1265 E. Michigan Ave., Saline
- Phone: 734-944-0442
- Hours: tours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and by appointment, May-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 this 1906-built frame house and surrounding grounds are such Washtenaw County jewels. Check out the 10 barns here, too, for a taste of American farm life in the earlier 20th century.
- 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.
- Address: 402 N. Ann Arbor St., Saline
- Phone: 734-944-0442
- Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday year-round, or by appointment
- Admission: free/Saturday for individuals and families, fees/groups, special reservations.
Without its railroad depot, Saline may not have prospered as a town. In its heyday, the complex included more structures, but today visitors can see the station agent's room, freight room, furnished caboose and livery barn along with a restored Eclipse Windmill.
- Address: D. Dan and Betty Kahn Building, Jewish Community Center, 6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield
- Phone: 877-742-5663
- Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; closed Friday-Saturday
- Admission: free
Dramatic programming accompanies 30 exhibits at this interactive learning playground for kids, covering a 4,500-square-foot space. It often hosts new creative exhibits and kids workshops (call for current details) honoring Jewish traditions.
- Address: Heritage Park, 24725 Farmington Road, Farmington Hills
- Phone: 248-701-8112
- Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
- Admission: free; donations welcome
At home in the Palmer Sherman house, this cozy history nook features themed displays, archives and more that preserve the stories of Farmington and Farmington Hills.
- Address: 400 N. Main St., Chelsea
- Phone: 734-433-5499
- Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday; tours: 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Saturdays; weekdays and groups of 10-plus, by appointment
- Admission: free
Did you know Richard Steiff, inventor of the teddy bear, lived in Jackson, Mich.? Learn more about this iconic pal – and trace toys' evolution from wood to tin to plush – at this unique spot, including original prototypes. Don't miss the factory tour just minutes away to take home a modern-day teddy bear.
- Address: 60 W. Wattles Road, Troy
- Phone: 248-524-3570
- Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday
- Admission: $5/adults, $3/ages 6-12 or seniors, free/under 6, fees vary/special programs
The charming village green is open all year round! Beyond the 10 historic buildings with 19th and 20th century originals, be sure to explore some hands-on activities at the Town Hall.
- Address: 11756 Charest St., Hamtramck
- Phone: 313-366-9764
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday or by appointment
- Admission: $3/general, $1/students
The heritage of Ukrainian Americans is preserved through the arts, crafts, musical instruments, photos and textiles at this cultural center, which also houses 20,000 books. Look for special exhibits during the holidays.
- Address: 525 S. State St., Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-764-0395
- Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday and holidays
- Admission: $5/suggested donation
More than 18,000 artworks are on display in this 150-year collection that spans cultures, media and eras. Look for the works of James McNeill Whistler, Pablo Picasso, Claude Money and Joshua Reynolds when you're here. Popular kids' story times are known to pop up, too!
- Address: 300 Dorothy St., South Lyon
- Phone: 248-437-9929
- Hours: 1-4 p.m. Thursday and Sunday; varies for special events; tours by arrangement
- Admission: free
This historic village is nestled in McHattie Park, featuring six buildings of turn-of-the-century vintage. Explore a decked-out 1926 caboose, 1930s-era chapel and one-room Washburn School, circa 1907.
- Address: 64162 Kunstman Road, Ray Township
- Phone: 586-749-5997
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday
- Admission: fees vary/programs, $5/daily vehicle entry fee to the Huron-Clinton Metropark
Ever visited an 1840s mill? The one ground grains until about 44 years ago. Take a look at the relics over at the barn museum, including a restored Model T dump truck, before you explore the adjoining working farm and hiking trail at this spot that's on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Address: 47884 D St., Belleville
- Phone: 734-483-4030
- Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; call in advance to confirm
- Admission: $5/ages 16-plus, $8/families (two adults and kids under 18), $3/students, free/kids under 16 with adult
See historic planes that have flown around the world up-close and in action at the Yankee Air Museum. Even book your own ride on one (scheduling, fees apply).
- Address: 100 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti
- Phone: 734-482-5200
- Hours: 1-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday
- Admission: $5/adults, free/ages 12 and under with adult
This collection boasts 30 vintage automobiles, including a 1933 Hudson Terraplane, a 1952 Hudson Hornet and a 1954 Hudson Jetliner Convertible. See other classic car-related artifacts like a Huffy Corvair bike, too.