Top 10 Spots for Grandparents and Grandkids

Celebrate grandparents with these fun southeast Michigan family destinations.


September is Grandparents Month. Why not celebrate by taking grandma and grandpa somewhere they and the kids will enjoy? We combed southeast Michigan for cool destinations that serve up treats for the entire family – whatever the age.

Autumn is awesome. Discover 40 can't-miss events in the FREE Fall Family Activities in Michigan guide. Download it for FREE right now! BONUS: Get a FREE subscription to Metro Parent magazine for more tips and fun.

1. Henry Ford Museum

  • Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn
  • Phone: 313-982-6001
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
  • Admission: $20/adults (ages 13-61), $18/seniors (ages 62-plus), $15/kids (ages 5-12), free/under 5 and members

Grandparents will love pointing out planes, trains and autos from an earlier era to their grandkids – who are sure to dig the vast assortment of historic gadgets and mechanisms on-hand (they may even teach their grandparents a thing or two!). There’s plenty to browse, from the Wright Flyer Replica, cylindrical Dymaxion house and Rosa Parks bus to intricate dollhouses and presidential limos – not to mention special traveling exhibits. Wheelchairs and electric scooters can be rented for a fee (arrive early for the scooters, though, as supplies are limited).

2. Blake Farms Apple Orchard and Cider Mill

  • Address: Blake’s Almont Orchard, 5600 Van Dyke Road, Almont; Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill: 17985 Armada Center Road, Armada; Blake’s Big Apple: 71485 North Ave., Armada
  • Phone: Almont: 810-798-3251, Orchard: 586-784-5343, Big Apple: 586-784-9710
  • Hours: Almont: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, Orchard: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, Big Apple: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

With September comes chillier weather – ideal for apple picking and pumpkin patches! With three spots, Blake has all ages covered with hayrides, corn mazes, a haunted barn, train ride tours, farm animals and more. Pick your own farm-grown fruits and vegetables. Time for a break from the outdoor fun? Stop inside the Orchard Cafe to watch cider being made and enjoy a fresh-made doughnut. Remember to take lots of pictures to save the memories! Attractions vary by location.

3. Michigan Science Center

  • Address: 5020 John R St., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-577-8400
  • Hours: Fall hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday-Tuesday; closed for Labor day and maintenance Sept. 7-11, 2015. Contact for winter hours.
  • Admission: $14/adults (ages 13-59), $11/youth (ages 2-12) and seniors (ages 60-plus), free/under 2

If your grandkids are scientists in the making, visit this favorite destination to foster their curious minds (and enrich your own!). With 200-plus hands-on exhibits, young and old will get charged up while learning about everything from robots and nutrition to space travel and dinosaurs. Be sure to check out a show at the planetarium or IMAX theater.

4. The Detroit Zoo

  • Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak
  • Phone: 248-541-5717
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 8-30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 1-March 31, 2016; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Contact for additional time information.
  • Admission: $14/adults (ages 15-61), $10/seniors (62-plus) and active military with ID, $10/kids (2-14), free/under age 2 and zoo members; $6/parking

Autumn is prime time for grandparents and grandchildren to go wild at the zoo. Sure-fire must-sees include the 4-D theater and Giraffe Encounter (open until the weather gets too cold). Keep your eyes peeled for its cool chill-season events, like an annual October Zoo Boo (it runs several weekends), a breakfast with Santa and Wild Winter Weekends, running January, February and March.

5. Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

  • Address: 1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores
  • Phone: 313-884-4222
  • Hours: House: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday, April-December; Garden and Grounds: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, April-December; contact for January-March 2016 times
  • Admission: House: $12/adults, $11/seniors, $8/ages 6-12, free/5 and under; Gardens and Grounds: $5/adults, seniors and kids ages 6-12, free/ages 5 and under ($15/behind the scenes and special interest tours)

See how metro Detroit’s famous Fords lived in years of yore in a tour of their magnificent home. Grandparents get old-school treats with the opulent drawing room and ’30s “Modern Room.” Kids will get a kick out of seeing the boys’ bedroom, which sports a sweet built-in radio. Outside, Josephine’s playhouse is a hit with little ones, and the garage houses two autos for the classic car enthusiasts. Grounds and gardens boast beautiful landscaping and floral displays. Then hit Cotswold Café, where entrees, soup, sandwiches and salads are served 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. (it’s most suitable for older kids, but don’t fret if smaller ones are tagging along). Ticketed visitors are welcome to bring a picnic lunch onto the property.

6. Detroit Historical Museum

  • Address: 5410 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; $6/car parking in adjacent lot

Grandparents who grew up in Detroit area are guaranteed a trip down memory lane at this unique place dedicated to its history – with 600 artifacts in oodles of exhibits. Show the youngin’s the Streets of Old Detroit and visit 19th and 20th century storefronts – or delve into our auto roots in the Motor City. Be sure to check their site for kids’ activities, too!

7. Garden Bowl

  • Address: 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-833-9700, ext. 205
  • Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily
  • Costs: Monday: $8/hour 11 a.m.-6 p.m., $4/hour 8 p.m.-2 a.m.; Tuesday-Thursday: open bowl: $8-$25/hour per lane ($3/shoe rental)

This D-town bowling hotspot – the oldest active bowling alley in the United States – scores a strike with kids and grandparents looking for good old-fashioned fun. Brush up on your skills and teach the grandkids your best techniques. Open since 1913, this Detroit gem is equipped with 16 lanes, Sergeant Pepperoni’s for a pizza break, and a DJ so you can “rock ‘n’ bowl.”

8. Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

  • Address: 1800 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-647-7600
  • Hours: Gardens/arboretum: sunrise-sunset, weekly; conservatory, shop and lobby: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday
  • Admission: free; parking: $1.50/hour, $5/maximum per day

Visit the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in the Metro Parent Going Places video!

Whether you have a green thumb or simply want to enjoy a day in the great outdoors, this spot’s got expansive trails and loads to see into the fall. Thrill the kids with a butterfly and hummingbird garden, digging pit and maze in the Gaffield Children’s Garden. Be sure to stroll the river trail in the Arb and stop by various art exhibits to see sculptures and mosaics. Picnic at the amphitheater, too!

9. Fall Festivals in Southeast Michigan

  • Locations and hours vary
  • Admission: It’s usually free to get in!

Southeast Michigan sure knows how to serve up autumn fun – and local fairs and festivals are a great excuse to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and do a bit of bonding, besides. Steal a glimpse (and maybe pick out a piece) of some cool juried art – and introduce your grandkid to a new flavor (apple fritters or elephant ears, anyone?). There’s also a chance to explore new cultures together – and many events offer special kids crafts and entertainment. Before the weather gets too cold, you can even hop on a midway ride together.

10. 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

Can you win against the tic-tac-toe chicken? Marvin, the mastermind behind this mind-boggling menagerie, invites grandparents and their little buddies to try! This one-of-a-kind arcade museum is jam-packed with vintage coin-operated machines that Marvin’s been collecting since 1960 (some super-rare, some special-made for the museum). It’s a nifty dose of nostalgia for the 50-plus set. Why not challenge the small fries to a ticket game? Win enough, and you can pick out some cool prizes as a pair.

This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated for 2015.

Autumn is awesome. Discover 40 can't-miss events in the FREE Fall Family Activities in Michigan guide. Download it for FREE right now! BONUS: Get a FREE subscription to Metro Parent magazine for more tips and fun.


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