Walking through Detroit Kid City is like stepping back in time – and straight into a dollhouse. You won’t see any plastic slides or ball pits at this indoor play cafe. Instead, you’ll discover a custom little town complete with a pint-sized automotive factory, bank, barbershop, post office, pizzeria and music studio, each designed to spark imaginative play.
Business is brisk, says general manager Garrett Dixon. “The community really needs something where parents interact with the kids,” he says.
Instead of zoning out on laptops while children run amok, adults are encouraged to join the fun. Duck through doorways and you’ll discover tiny rooms filled with Detroit antiques, vintage-inspired toys (many for sale in the gift shop), dress-up clothes and delightful surprises.
In Hitsville U.S.A., your kids can rock out on acoustic instruments while you “record” them on vintage sound boards. At the miniature market, they’ll fill canvas bags with toy food, while you ring them up on an old-school cash register full of play money.
Sara Montgomery of Royal Oak sat on a soda-fountain stool one recent afternoon while her 3-year-old daughter Veda served up felt pizza while wearing a gingham apron and oven mitts. Montgomery says they are regulars. “She loves all the pretend play,” Montgomery says. “And I always get inspired and think I want to decorate our own playroom like this.”
Each day, children get a take-home craft to complete at the communal art table, and storytelling takes place in the Up North Story Time Center at 11 a.m.
Detroit Kid City is recommended for children 18 months-8 years old. Daily admission is $10, or free for adults and children under 12 months with purchase of any drink.