Being a toddler is tough! So much to explore and touch, but so many things are off limits. And parenting a toddler can be a lonely ride if the only person to chat with in the house keeps redirecting the conversation to Elmo’s latest gaffe. So whether it’s your toddler who needs a break from the same-old toys or just mom who wants a change of scenery (and maybe a latte), here are 10 places where you and your curious little one will be very welcome.
- Address: 318 W. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale
- Phone: 248-955-3219
The focus is on baby and mom at this all-natural play/wellness center. Stop by for drop-in play and get away from the modern devices and distractions while your little one enjoys handmade, natural toys intended to stimulate imagination. Chat with like-minded caregivers or join in classes and support groups on breast-feeding, baby wearing and natural childbirth.
- Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak
- Phone: 248-541-5717
The zoo is a classic family outing, even if your tot isn’t quite old enough to appreciate all the sights. Open year-round, ours boasts 125 acres of naturalistic habitat and is a great place for a stroll to see the animals. Then enjoy a picnic lunch or meet up with friends at the Arctic Cafe (bonus: they serve Starbucks). Good news – kids younger than 2 years old get in free.
- Address: 15444 N. Haggerty Road, Northville
- Phone: 734-667-4965
At this indoor kid-sized play village, tykes explore a house, supermarket, veterinarian’s office and more. It’s designed for ages 6 and younger and includes a special play area just for infants. Moms and dads can sit in the parent lounge and enjoy some freshly brewed coffee, snacks and free Wi-Fi.
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- Address: 220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-995-5437
Hands-on is the key word at this popular family attraction, where toddlers will especially enjoy the water tables, tornado exhibit and kid-sized fire engine. Explore Engineers on a Roll, too – a combined engineering lab, playscape and climber where preschoolers can experiment with balls in motion. Kids under age 2 have free entry.
- Locations in Ann Arbor, Canton, Clinton Township, Farmington Hills
These play destinations have special areas just for tykes younger than 3. JJ specializes in getting kids active in a safe environment while parents relax, socialize and enjoy a latte. Full menu; free Wi-Fi.
- Address: 7025 E. Michigan Ave., Saline
- Phone: 734-944-3628
This mini city caters to ages 0-5, with everything on ground level. “Infant Park” has soft toys and mats, and “downtown” for tykes has a fine arts room, dress-up theater and library with books and toys. Parents get coffee, wireless internet, shopping and access to lactation consultants, car-seat techs and other moms! Up to 6 months are free.
- Address: 29115 Greenfield Road, Southfield
- Phone: 248-443-5300
The owners of this newer establishment know what you want. For ‘rents: organic coffee, plenty of places to sit and chat with other grown-ups and a color scheme that won’t give you a headache. And kids’ imaginations run wild as they explore a child-size town with barber shop, music studio, bank and more. An enclosed area serves the town’s pre-walking citizens. Get a craft with each admission.
- Address: 1928 Star-Batt Drive, Rochester Hills
- Phone: 248-852-6288
Moms and toddlers will find a playful, educational and safe environment (and clean – read about their UV-C sanitizing method) featuring open play, live music concerts, a cafe and lounge, tree house play structure and craft area. Plus: classes in dance, music, sign language, Love and Logic and more.
- Address: 1101 S. Main St., Chelsea
- Phone: 734-475-1555
In addition to the huge tree house, this indoor play center has a climbing and playing structure, five slides, swinging bridges and a special area just for babies and toddlers. Parents will dig the comfy chairs and selection of snacks, light meals and hot or cold drinks.
- Address: 20372 Van Horn Road, Woodhaven
- Phone: 734-692-3867
This indoor spot’s got soft play equipment that encourages movement, exploration and creativity in a playful setting. Its Toddler Time program, offered twice a week for kids up to age 2, lets moms and dads interact with their tots and have the place to themselves.