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Mall Play Areas for Kids in Southeast Michigan

These shopping centers in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties offer surefire fun for your children when they need a retail break

Make shopping fun for your little ones – at mall play areas! Metro Parent has sleuthed out some of the coolest, most colorful and entertaining spots in metro Detroit, Ann Arbor and beyond. These fun zones are amped up – and sure to cure your little ones' boredom. Let your tykes blow off some steam at these spots that are a hit with parents and kids alike.

Briarwood Mall

  • Address: 100 Briarwood Circle, Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-769-9610
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; holiday hours are posted around Thanksgiving, call for specifics

Whoa – humongous turtle straight ahead! Along with a super-sized ladybug, shoe, chalk and even a dumbbell. Situated outside JCPenney, this spot features "soft" play equipment to cushion tumbles. You'll also find a small carousel nearby, plus kids' mechanical cars and other small rides, for a fee.

Eastland Shopping Center

  • Address: 18000 Vernier Road, Harper Woods
  • Phone: 313-371-1501
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday; call for holiday hours after Thanksgiving (closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

This dino-sized mall boasts "the largest double play area in the U.S." In the jungle-themed area, climb and play on a jumbo tree. Or ride a giant dolphin on the "nautical" side, channeling the east side's lake life. It's set in the Grand Court across from Macy's.

Fairlane Town Center

  • Address: 18900 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
  • Phone: 800-992-9500
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; call for holiday hours (closed Christmas Day)

Cleverly tucked by the Lifestyle Cafe food court, on the upper level, you'll find several coin-operated rides. This zig-zaggy '70s-era mall, with its striated levels, also features a funky, step-like water fountain that's prime for wishes.

Great Lakes Crossing Outlets

  • Address: 4000 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills
  • Phone: 877-746-7452
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; call for holiday hours (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

Discounts aren't the only big deal here. Kids can scale a mega cupcake, giant ladybug – and even the "mammoth hot dog" at this aptly nicknamed "larger-than-life picnic," set in food court (get to it via the District 6 or 7 entrance). This eight-district mega center also has coin-operated rides, a Jeepers! fun center, Rainforest Cafe – and loads more family fun.

Lakeside Mall

  • Address: 14000 Lakeside Circle, Sterling Heights
  • Phone: 586-247-1590
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday; call ahead for holiday hours (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

A "definite destination," mall reps say, this 1,600-square-foot space, spruced in 2010, offers fun for all ages. Find a boat, small slides and climbable log for tots. Older rug rats get sweet structures like a red racecar, toy house, mini hospital, ambulance and taller slide that doubles as a tunnel. Also nearby, find stroller parking, a two-story carousel in the food court, the Toy Box shop – and visit at 11 a.m. third Mondays for kids' fun (minus December).

Laurel Park Place

  • Address: 37700 W. Six Mile Road, Livonia
  • Phone: 734-462-1100
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday; call ahead for extended holiday hours (closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

Tunnels are a star attraction at this compact fun haven. Dubbed "Play in the Park," it sports oodles of nature-themed climb-on toys and interactive play stations featuring material that's softer than traditional plastic. Find it near the food court. This upscale mall has kiddy rides, too.

Northland Shopping Center

  • Address: 21500 Northwestern Highway, Southfield
  • Phone: 248-569-6272
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday; call ahead for extended holiday hours (closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

The "soft" play structures here come in all shapes and sizes, from logs to honey hives, perfect for climbing and crawling and all topped with a "Bee Happy, Bee Healthy" theme. It's situated across from the Kids Foot Locker. This trailblazing mall, which dates back to the early '50s, also has a Jeepers! fun center.

Oakland Mall

  • Address: 412 W. 14 Mile Road, Troy
  • Phone: 248-585-6000
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; call ahead for extended holiday hours (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

Plastic fun rules this play area – in particular, a variety of animals, including a jumbo pink hippo, are here for kids to climb and play on. It's located across from JCPenney and a candy shop (so it's perfect for burning off that sugar buzz!). Ask about the popular Giggle Gang for ages 10-plus, too, offering little members special monthly events and birthday perks.

The Mall at Partridge Creek

  • Address: 17420 Hall Road, Clinton Township
  • Phone: 586-226-0330
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday- Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; call ahead for extended holiday hours (closed Christmas Day)

Weather-pending, visit this cute outdoor spot, located in the heart of a popular open-air shopping center. Kids get active on climbing structures shaped like carrots, a watermelon, strawberries and other heart-healthy produce – in perfect keeping with its full title, the Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals Children's Play Park.

Twelve Oaks Mall

  • Address: 27500 Novi Road, Novi
  • Phone: 248-468-4675
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; call ahead for extended holiday hours (closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

Pretty as a postcard, this remodeled hotspot was unveiled in late 2011. At 1,800 square feet, it has a Healthy Park Adventure theme and safe soft-foam structures, including a frog, bridge, flowers and nifty S.S. 12 Oaks boat that kids "row" through a duck pond. On the main level across from Sears, it has lots of cushy seating for parents, too, and grub nearby.

Westland Shopping Center

  • Address: 35000 Warren Road, Westland
  • Phone: 734-425-5001
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; call ahead for holiday hours (closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

Centered around a ginormous play tree, this nook is set up to look like a park, complete with little paths, streams and grassy landscaping covering the carpeting. Be sure to scale the bridge and hop aboard the red raft, too, at this perfect little escape from your shopping spree! At the JCPenney court.

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