Strolling downtown Northville is a charming sort of flashback (just ask anyone who’s attended its annual Victorian Festival in September!). Yet the locals know there’s plenty to delight modern-day kids and families – as the city’s motto, “Timeless with a Twist,” hints. Discover fresh traditions with children’s theater, delectable ice cream treats and … fairy doors? (That’s right: Ann Arbor isn’t the only town welcoming these tiny storied creatures!)
Here, the kind folks at the Northville Downtown Development Authority round up a list of attractions near Main and Center streets. Whether it’s snowy or sunny, these spots are sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Word on the street is that fairy scouts, after intensely searching the world over, found Northville the most habitable of any community. Fairies have set up residence at more than 50 Northville businesses on Main, Center and other mid-town streets, as evidenced by the charming little fairy doors found inside and outside downtown shops.
Small kids will delight in real-world scavenger hunts for the town’s famous fairy doors. Be sure to print this list of all the miniature fairy doors in Northville before you sally forth. Or look for the fairy-doors book at Northville Gallery and Next Chapter Bookstore & Bistro.
Speaking of Northville lore – this historic spot is one of the hands-down best places for kids to discover it! Once the site of a gristmill, this cluster of old-time buildings (including an inn, blacksmith shop and rustic wooden bridge) offers a chance to explore how life was back then.
The buildings are open 1-4 p.m. Sundays from mid-June to mid-October (docents will happily show you around). And you also can find a variety of Mill Race Village kids activities all year-round, like mother-daughter and Halloween-themed teas and holiday fun. Programs may have small fees, but the grounds are free and open to the public.
Hearts of Inspiration
Girlish delights abound at this darling little boutique, open since May of 2011 in Northville Square (133 W. Main St., 248-773-7664). Wee gals will be thrilled by its stock of fairy costumes, wings and magic wands – not to mention hair accessories, jewelry, handbags and beauty products.
In the back, a pink party room stands ready to host birthday bashes, where little ladies dress in their princess best and partake in teatime using formal china (check the Hearts of Inspiration Facebook Events page for special teas for kids). This spot also teaches manners, social etiquette and arts and crafts to girls ages 5 and older.
Kids of all ages can stop in and paint their own fairies, along with dragons, animals, figurines, treasure boxes, banks and more at The Bee’s Knees (149 E. Main St., 248-347-6718), where pottery is the cat’s meow. Owner Lori Dow’s charming studio is also the perfect place for birthday parties, where the guest of honor gets a special personalized gift.
The Next Chapter Bookstore & Bistro
Families can find a full selection of children’s books, from classics to best sellers, at The Next Chapter (141 E. Main St., 248-465-0010). Get a taste of children’s literature during story hour every Wednesday at 10 a.m.
“I love to read books to kids. It’s as much fun for me as it is for them!” says Next Chapter buyer and “story lady” Linda Caine – a former preschool teacher and expert in early childhood development. For a little local love, she suggests What Am I? Michigan, a lift-the-flap book ($9.99) that teaches kids about the Great Lakes State. Best of all, parents can grab a latte or cappuccino as Caine reads from her rocking chair!
Fairytales come to life in this charming Northville theater (133 E. Main St., 248-349-8110), which features live stage plays designed for families. The Classic Storybook Season offers classics like Beauty & the Beast and Alice in Wonderland – even an annual merry-not-scary Halloween show. Show times are typically 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $8.50 (please, no children under 3).
Looking for that perfect summer vacation for your kids? Read our FREE Guide to Summer Camps in Michigan. Download it for FREE right now! BONUS: Get a FREE subscription to Metro Parent magazine for year-round fun!
Foster a love of the arts in your children with classes at the Northville Art House (215 W. Cady St., 248-344-0497). Sessions run a gamut from tots to kids – plus quirkier offerings (potato printing, anyone?). During “Creative Kids Second Saturdays,” held the second Saturday of each month, kids drop-in for an hour-and-a-half class, and leave with one work of art. Register at www.northvillearts.org.
When it comes to shopping for kids, Northville offers plenty of options! Baby Baby Plus More (153 E. Main St., 248-347-2229) has consignment clothing for newborns, children, teens and expectant moms, along with shoes, toys, bedding, books and baby gear. Consigners, who receive 50 percent off the sale price, are welcome to bring their fashions (no drop-off appointments necessary!).
American fare like burgers, sandwiches and broasted chicken is served up at Guernsey Farms Dairy Restaurant (21300 Novi Road, 248-349-1466), located next to the dairy. Whether you get one in the restaurant or the ice cream parlor, don’t miss out on getting a scoop, available in 48 flavors. It’s open 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Stop by this friendly store (105 E. Main St., 248-465-0900) for unique kids’ shoes, along with selections for men and women. Brands include Bogs, Dansko, EMU, UGG, Keen, Merrell, Vibram, Five Fingers and many more.
“Green” toys are all the rage at this independent toy store in the heart of downtown Northville (118 E. Main St., 248-344-0001). Owner Trevor McInnis says customers are snapping up tub toys, tea sets, tool kits, toy trucks and more, all made in the USA out of recycled milk jugs. Also popular are Klutz craft kits, from paper purses to juggling sets, which engage kids’ hands-on creativity.
This baby and toddler boutique (116 E. Main St., 248-344-1014) is a great place to stop in for adorable accessories and clothing (up to size 4) – or the perfect baby shower gift. The shop also carries a beautiful selection of christening outfits and gifts.
If you’ve been thinking of making cycling or snowboarding a new family hobby, Town & Country (148 N. Center St., 248-349-7140) is the place to make it happen. From its range of Burton snowboards for ages 5 and up to a wide array of bicycles (Specialized, Raleigh, Electra, Diamondback and more), find precisely what you’re looking for with help from owner “Doc.”
Spend your day hiking, biking or just enjoying time outdoors at Maybury State Park (20145 N. Beck Road, Northville, 248-349-8390). This 1,000-acre wilderness wonderland includes meadow and forest areas, perfect for exploring with your family. Some parking fees apply.
Top off your trip to Downtown Northville with a stop at Rebecca’s (134 N. Center St., 248-348-2660). You will not find a more kid-friendly restaurant in any town! From the tropical fish tank and train that chugs overhead, to the toy bins and eclectic decor, there’s plenty to keep tots busy while they wait for their kid’s meal ($3.99 includes entree, side and drink).
And no visit would be complete without a scoop of Guernsey’s ice cream – Superman and Blue Moon are perennial kid favorites. Top it off with some Sanders hot fudge, and your visit to this kid-friendly Michigan burgh is complete!