Family Fun Family Fun in Ann Arbor, Michigan Home to the Big House and famous for its big-city, small-town charm, this Washtenaw County college town is never dull. Here are spots to take the kids when you're looking for stuff to do in Ann Arbor. « Previous Next » Metro Parent Editorial • May 18, 2016 Read Comments (2) Tweet Looking for a new place to explore not too far from home? Mark your calendar for a family trip over to Ann Arbor, one of our mitten’s must-see cities. Throughout the collegiate atmosphere of the downtown streets – cozy cafes, theaters and artsy shops – fun adventures are always awaiting even the youngest visitors. With indoor inflatable playgrounds, a hidden fairy village and a crafter’s ultimate dream, here are some of the city’s best-kept secrets, just for you and the kids. Note: While general hours are provided, some of these venues are closed on major holidays so please call before visiting. Ann Arbor District Library Address: 343 S. Fifth Ave. (Downtown Branch), Ann Arbor Phone: 734-327-4200 Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday Spend an afternoon with the family at the AADL and explore all it has to offer. Aside from the art collection and seasonal exhibits, ongoing programs just for kids include baby playgroups, preschool story times and other cool crafts, movies, games and contests. They’ve even got awesome things for residents (nonresidents can pay to get a library card, too) to check out – like science kits, Family Field Guides, unusual musical gadgets and telescopes. And don’t forget to look for fairy doors hidden throughout the children’s section! Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum Address: 220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor Phone: 734-995-5439 Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday Admission: $12/person, free/0-23 months and members; $5/after 5 p.m. on Thursdays only This museum is a must-see (and do!) for creative and curious minds alike. Tons of exhibits showcasing technology, light and optics, simple machines and the human body invite kids to learn and discover the world around them in a whole new way. They can even climb a rock wall, walk on life-size piano keys and step inside a massive bubble. Plus, there’s an interactive gallery made just for children 4 and under. New exhibits are rolling in all the time, so be sure to check back often for more fun and surprises. Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra Address: 220 E. Huron St., Suite 470, Ann Arbor Phone: 734-994-4801 Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday (office); show hours vary Since 1928, Ann Arbor’s premier orchestra has been wowing crowds with opera, classic concerts and contemporary pieces. Watch for its annual array of kid-pleasing family concerts, instrument petting zoos and free 30-minute KinderConcerts for ages 2-5 (various locations). Briarwood Mall Address: 100 Briarwood Circle, Ann Arbor Phone: 734-769-9610 (mall office), 734-761-9550 (shopping line) Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday Anchored by Macy’s, JCPenney, Von Maur and Sears, this regional shopping magnet is packed with a variety of shops for all budgets. Be sure to catch seasonal family fun events – and the cool play area for kids. Cobblestone Farm Address: 2781 Packard Road, Ann Arbor Phone: 734-794-6230 Hours: Tours by appointment only Originally a two-family home, this Ann Arbor spot has evolved over the years and become a great spot for weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, dances and more. Enjoy a guided tour of the Cobblestone Farmhouse Museum (call for an appointment). Downtown Ann Arbor Address: Kerrytown District, Main Street Area, State Street Area, South University Area Phone: 734-668-7261 (Main Street Area Association) Hours: vary by district, shop and/or event Looking for events and shopping around town? This is your starting destination. It’s got your day of hoofing-it covered, including an interactive walk map for several areas. Dixboro General Store Address: 5206 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor Phone: 734-663-5558 Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday This country-style gift and furnishing store sells everything from jellies and jams to couches and tables. The store has been in operation since 1840 and has evolved from the general merchandise store that it once was. Gallup Park Address: 3000 Fuller Road, Ann Arbor Phone: 734-794-6230 Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily As one of Ann Arbor’s most popular parks, this 69-acre recreation hot spot includes ponds, picnic spots, a pair of playgrounds, trails and much more. Canoes are also available to rent (call 734-794-6240 for hours and more information). Kerrytown Address: 407 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor Phone: 734-662-5008 Hours: shops: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday; markets: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday This quaint little plaza – also where the Ann Arbor Farmers Market takes place year round – will tickle everyone’s fancies. While strolling through these historical buildings (part of the original village of Ann Arbor), plenty of shops await. Be sure to check out Mudpuddles for cool, creative toys for kids. Then grab a bite to eat at the KOSMO lunch counter to enjoy breakfast and lunch favorites all day, as well as an array of Korean dishes – all for a delicious price, too. Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger Address: 304 S. Ashley St., Ann Arbor Phone: 734-663-4590 Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday Billed as Ann Arbor’s oldest hamburger stand – and its fave since 1953 – you can watch as your burger is made right in front of you. The prices rival fast food chains – $2.99 for a double, for a quint (yes, that’s five patties) the price is $6.65. Top it with feta or bleu cheese or try the grilled chicken tarragon sandwich. Leslie Science and Nature Center Address: 1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor Phone: 734-997-1553 Hours: grounds open sunrise-sunset daily (call for Critter House hours) Cost: free/admission Discover the creatures that swoop up high and slither down low: From owls and hawks to turtles and toads, the Leslie Science and Nature Center invites you to experience some of earth’s neatest critters. You can view the raptor enclosures from sunrise to sunset daily, or wander through the Critter House every weekend, where staff is available to answer any questions. Walk the Black Pond Woods Trail and observe the animals in their natural habitats, too, while you hunt for tracks or try your hand at geocaching – an outdoor treasure hunt – with any GPS-enabled device. The 50-acre property is open every day of the year. Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum Address: 1800 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor Phone: 734-647-7600 Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset (Visitor Center at Nichols Arboretum open seasonally mid-March through mid-November) Cost: free Enjoy looking at native Michigan plants along with varieties from around the world at this 123-acre arboretum, which has both indoor and outdoor sections. Michigan Theater Address: 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor Phone: 734-668-TIME Hours: vary by show Cost: $10/general, $8/students with valid ID and ages 12 and under This magnificent old-fashioned theater houses two auditoriums under the same roof. Don’t miss Not Just for Kids series live stage shows, as well as a series of occasional flicks children will love. The Peaceable Kingdom Address: 210 S. Main St., Ann Arbor Phone: 734-668-7886 Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday This local gift store has an eclectic mix of finds, including jewelry, toys, folk art and even a fairy door. Ask inside about the fairies that built the store! Planet Rock Address: 82 Aprill Drive, Ann Arbor Phone: 734-827-2680 Hours: 3-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; open early at 11 a.m. on Thursdays in September-May Admission: Rental and play prices vary, packages available Seeking a new adventure? Try your hands (and feet) at Planet Rock – a huge indoor climbing gym. Rock walls, ropes and play gyms are open to climbers of all ages and levels for an exciting day of finding new heights. For first-timers, the training session will teach you everything you need to know to reach the top. Camps, daily passes, lessons and teams are also available, whether you’re looking to climb competitively or for recreation. ABC for Kids climbing is even open to tykes as young as 4. The Scrap Box Address: 581 State Circle, Ann Arbor Phone: 734-994-0012 Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; closed Monday A dream come true for all and any crafty cravings, The Scrap Box offers anything you could ever want to cut, paste, paint, string or collage. Thanks to donations from local businesses and households, The Scrap Box encourages creativity and recycling by collecting remnants of all sorts that’d make for unique crafting materials. Wander through the main room, where you can purchase materials in bulk ($7.50 to fill a large bag and $5 for a small), or stroll into the Green Room for more limited-quantity items. Craft examples are also displayed throughout the store for inspiration (photo-taking welcome), and staff is on hand to answer questions or offer ideas. Plus, a kids’ table is available in the lobby for free creating projects. Seva Restaurant Address: 2541 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor Phone: 734-662-1111 Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Sunday Two words: yam fries. For creative, vegetarian meals that will have your kids begging for more greens, try Seva. Opened in 1973, Seva has a variety of entrees to choose from. University of Michigan Museum of Art 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 Cost: free; $10/person suggested donation With collections from across the globe, this institute lets your family look through paintings, sculptures and more one-of-a-kind pieces of art. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History Address: 1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor Phone: 734-764-0478 Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday Admission: free; $6/person suggested donation Marvel at the mysteries of our universe in space, nature and through time at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Natural History. The planetarium engages inquiring minds, young and old, through recreations of the night sky and all its phenomena, shows about space research and discoveries, and even offers story times for children! Afterwards, time-travel back to the age of dinosaurs at the Hall of Evolution exhibit, learn about the histories of human cultures in the anthropology wing, observe the butterfly garden outside and more. Washtenaw Dairy Address: 602 S. Ashley St., Ann Arbor Phone: 734-662-3244 Hours: winter: 5 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; spring: 5 a.m.-9 p.m. daily; summer: 5 a.m.-10 p.m. daily Munch on doughnuts, ice cream and an assortment of other goodies at this Ann Arbor landmark. Zingerman’s Delicatessen Address: 422 Detroit St., Ann Arbor Phone: 734-663-3354 Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily There’s often standing room only to order sandwiches at lunchtime. But don’t let the crowd hold you back; it’s worth it to sample the corned beef and pastrami sandwiches topped with homemade dressings, cheeses and breads. Make sure to order an extra loaf to bring home with you! This post was originally published in 2012 and was updated for 2016 by Jessica Schrader.