September is Grandparents Month, and it’s perfect time to let Grandma and Grandpa shine. So, don’t just take them out for dinner, bingo and done. Take them somewhere where the whole family gets in on the fun. We combed southeast Michigan for cool and grandparent-friendly spot that will serve up treats for everyone – whatever the age. Gather nana and papa, and head to one of these destinations for a day in celebration of them.
- Locations and hours vary
- It’s usually free to get in! (fees apply for some activities)
With the nippy fall weather comes the desire for tart apples, apple cider and fresh cinnamon sugar doughnuts. Why not tickle your taste buds at the source? Southeast Michigan is packed with tons of apple orchards where you can pick your own fruit right off of the tree, indulge in some sugary sweetness and grab a gallon of cider to go. Try out some spots like Apple Charlie’s in South Huron, Lutz Orchard in Saline, Diehl’s Orchard and Cider Mill in Holly and Blake Farms Apple Orchard and Cider Mill in Armada to get your fill. You might even get to try out a corn maze or other cool fall attraction while you’re there.
- Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak
- Phone: 248-541-5717
- Hours: Winter hours (October-March): 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Summer hours (April-August): 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (open until 7 p.m. April 23-24, 30 and May 28-29, open until 8 p.m. Wednesdays in July and August); September hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 1-5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 6-30; closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
- Admission: $14/adults (ages 15-61), $10/seniors (62-plus) and active military with ID, $10/ages 2-14), free/under age 2 and zoo members; $6/parking
Animal lovers of all ages go wild at the zoo’s Giraffe Encounter, 4-D Theater and the new Polk Penguin Conservation Center, along with the other exhibits. Swing by in the autumn and winter months for the fall-favorite, Zoo Boo (which runs weekends in October) and Wild Lights (which runs select weekends in November and December). They offer special events events, pet adoption weekends, 5K and 10K runs and adult-only events through the spring and summer months, too.
- 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; $7/car parking in adjacent lot
Grandparents who grew up in the Detroit area take their grandkids on a trip down memory lane, literally! The lower level of this unique museum is transformed into the Streets of Old Detroit, complete with 19th and 20th century storefronts and building that once thrived in Detroit. You can also delve into the auto roots of the Motor City at the exhibit, America’s Motor City, or learn about the innovations that came out of Detroit; plus there’s kids’ activities to enjoy, more than 600 artifacts to explore and more.
- Address: 1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores
- Phone: 313-884-4222
- Hours: House: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, April-December; Garden and Grounds: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day; plus two weeks each winter
- Admission: House Tour: $12/adults, $11/seniors, $8/ages 6-12, free/5 and under; Premium House Tour: $15/adults, $14/seniors, $11/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)
The Fords are one of metro Detroit’s most iconic families, and you can experience just how they lived when you take a tour of their magnificent home, and beautifully maintained grounds. Go on a bird walk tour, on which you can spy the birds that call the grounds home, or check out other special events throughout the year. They even have a cafe, where entrees, soup, sandwiches and salads are served, for older kids and guests (don’t worry if smaller ones tag along, though), or bring a picnic lunch of your own to enjoy (ticketed guests only).
- Address: Birmingham: 209 Hamilton Row (248-385-0500); Canton: 39535 Ford Road (734-721-3456); Macomb: 15251 23 Mile Road (586-372-3456); Novi: 44425 W. 12 Mile Road (248-468-2990; Rochester Hills: 200 Barclay Circle (248-243-3456); Royal Oak: 200 N. Main St. (248-414-1000); Woodhaven: 21720 Allen Road (734-561-1060)
- Hours: call ahead for show times
- Admission: $6/matinees, $10/adults, $8/seniors and student, $7/kids 11 and under
The whole family lineage, parents included, can choose from seven locations to see the hottest new flicks on the big screen, and we mean a huge screen – from wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor! Each of the locations comes complete with comfortable reclining chairs, stadium-style; plus pizza and more. They even also autism-friendly movies on select dates each month, so those family members with autism spectrum disorders can enjoy a show, too. (Amenities vary by location).
- Locations and hours vary
- Admission: It’s usually free to get in! (some fees may apply)
Don’t let the school year keep you from family fun. This autumn, southeast Michigan is full of local fairs and festivals that serve as a great excuse to get out and about with the grandkids! Grab the gang and head out to get a glimpse at some classic cars or great local artwork (and maybe pick a piece to take home), introduce the young ones to a new flavor or treat (pierogies or apple fritters, anyone?), explore another culture together, take in some tunes or hit up a midway for some games and rides – all before the cold weather sets in.
- Address: 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-833-9700, ext. 205
- Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily
- Costs: Monday-Thursday: $8/hour 11 a.m.-6 p.m., $16/hour 6 p.m.-2 a.m.; Friday-Sunday: $12/hour 11 a.m.-6 p.m., $25/6 p.m.-2 a.m.; $3/shoe rental
Open since 1913, this local hotspot boasts as being the oldest active bowling alley in the United States, and is sure to strike a chord with kids and grandparents. Head down to the D to brush up on your bowling skills on the 16 lanes offered here, and teach the grand-kiddos your techniques. Afterwards, get a slice at Sergeant Pepperoni’s Pizzeria or stick around for a “rock ‘n’ bowl” party.
- Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn
- Phone: 313-982-6001
- Hours: The Henry Ford Museum: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; Greenfield Village: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily April-October and 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends in November; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
- Admission: $21/adults (ages 12-61), $19/seniors (ages 62-plus), $15.75/kids (ages 3-11), free/2 and under and members; $6/parking
This local favorite offers up four different experiences for grandparents and their grandkids to enjoy. The actual museum features planes, trains and cars from earlier eras on display. Plus, find tons of gadgets and artifacts from the past, including the Rosa Park Bus and a Wright Flyer Replica, traveling exhibits and tons of hands-on activities. Finish browsing the museum and head outside into the 80-acre Greenfield Village – the living exhibit of America’s past, which features 83 authentic structures, costumed characters, a working farm and more. You can also swing by for a tour of the Ford Rouge Factory, or a 2D and 3D movie experience. Need a lift to participate in it all? The museum offers wheelchair and electric scooter rentals for a fee (get there early though because supplies are limited).
- Address: 7171 Auburn Road, Utica
- Phone: 248-601-2400
- Hours: Vary per game; gates open one and a half hours before each game
- Costs: $10-$35
The Utica Unicorns, Eastside Diamond Hoppers and the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers are all members of the United Shore Professional Baseball League, metro Detroit’s first independent professional baseball league, and play at this local field. Take the grandparents to enjoy America’s favorite pastime for a fraction of what it costs to see our Detroit Tigers.
- Address: 1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-997-1553
- Hours: Office: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; Critter House: noon-3 p.m. Sundays; Grounds and Trail hours: sunrise-sunset daily
- Cost: free/admission; fees apply for special events
This outdoor space will get you up close and personal with nature on the grounds, hiking trails and at its raptor enclosures. They also offer special events throughout the year that focus on a variety of animals and other aspects of nature. Bring the kids out and enjoy the day.
- 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
This odd spot is home to literally thousands of mechanical gizmos and oddities; plus a one-of-a-kind arcade museum that is packed with vintage coin machines that Marvin, the mastermind behind the menagerie, has been collecting since 1960. Grandparents over 50 are hit with a dose of nostalgia as soon as they walk in the door and can share a piece of that with their grandkids through the games that they use to play as kids. Challenge the small fries to a game of tic-tac-toe or pinball and pick out a prize as a pair.
- Address: 1800 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-647-7600
- Hours: Conservatory, Garden Store, Lobby and Display Garden Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily mid-May-Labor Day; Botanical Gardens and Arboretum: sunrise-sunset daily; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
- Admission: free, but donations are welcome; parking: $1.50/hour, $5/maximum per day
Visit the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in the Metro Parent Going Places video!
Future botanists, patriarchs and matriarchs enjoy a day together in the great outdoors at this Ann Arbor space. Find hiking trails and art installations, a campus farm and conservatory, along with the Gaffield Children’s Garden, which features a butterfly and hummingbird garden, an oversized bird nest to climb into, a maze, a fairy and troll knoll and more.
- Address: 5020 John R St., Detroit
- Phone: 313-577-8400
- Hours: Regular hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday-Tuesday; summer hours (June 13-Sept. 4): 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday
- Admission: $14/adults (ages 13-59), $11/youth (ages 2-12) and seniors (ages 60-plus), free/under 2, fees/parking
This family-friendly educational spot is totally wheelchair accessible and even offers wheelchair rentals, so older guests won’t have to miss out on any of the 200-plus hands-on activities and displays offered. Together, grandparents and grandkids learn about everything from space travel and robots to nutrition and dinosaurs, check out a planetarium or IMAX theater shows and enjoy the traveling exhibits that pop up throughout the year.
- Address: 45799 Grand River Ave., Novi
- Phone: 248-735-1050
- Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
- Cost: free/admission, $1.50/soccer cages, $7/Go-Karts, $3-$4/mini bowling, $4/Kiddie Karts, climbing wall and trampoline center, $6.50/mini golf
Kids can introduce Grammy and Gramps to some new-age-style fun like laser tag and Go Karts, see who can bounce higher at the trampoline center, and then get schooled when Nana and Papa beat them at some classic fun like soccer and mini golf, seven days a week and all year round.
This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated for 2016.