Being a toddler is tough! So much to explore and touch, but so many things are off limits, meaning finding things to do with toddlers in Michigan’s southeast region can be a challenge. 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. 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 11 toddler play places and destinations where you and your curious little one will be very welcome – including indoor play places for toddlers in Michigan’s metro Detroit area.
- Address: 703 Livernois St., 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 like music and sign language or support groups on breastfeeding 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 eco-friendly Arctic Café (bonus: they serve Starbucks coffee). Check out the Wild Summer Nights concerts in July and August and other family events throughout the year. 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 freshly brewed coffee, snacks and free Wi-Fi. Check for specials on admission (like Twin Tuesday and Sibling Saturday), and check out their class offerings, too (look for those starting back up in the fall).
- Address: 220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-995-5439
Hands-on is the key word at this popular family attraction, where toddlers will especially enjoy the water tables and kid-sized fire engine in the special Preschool Gallery. Also be sure to check out the World Around You area, too, where little ones will love the Bubble Capsule and Magnet exhibits. Kids under age 2 get in free.
- Locations in 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. They boast a menu of healthy food choices (not the greasy, deep-fried variety).
- Address: Two locations: 29115 Greenfield Road, Southfield; 37051 Gratiot Ave., Clinton Township
- Phone: 248-443-5300
The owners of these establishments know what you want. For ‘rents: organic coffee, 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 a barber shop, music studio, bank and more.
- Address: 1928 B Star-Batt Drive, Rochester Hills
- Phone: 248-852-6288
Moms and toddlers will find not only a fun environment, but an educational and safe environment, too (and clean – read about their UV-C sanitizing method). This is a great spot for open play, live music concerts, a cafe and lounge, tree house play structure and craft area; plus puppet magic shows and slot racing.
- Address: 1101 S. Main St., Chelsea
- Phone: 734-475-1555
In addition to the huge tree house, this 9000-square-foot indoor play center has a climbing and playing structure, 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, and the facility is 100-percent nut free.
- Locations in Canton and Woodhaven
- Phone: 734-335-7402 (Canton), 734-692-3867 (Woodhaven)
These indoor spots have soft play equipment that encourages movement, exploration and creativity in a playful setting. At the Woodhaven location, check out the Toddler Time program, offered twice a week for kids ages 2 and under, and lets moms and dads interact with their tots and have the place to themselves. The newer location in Canton also offers toddler-friendly programing and events. Call for details.
- Address: 380 E. Second St., Rochester
- Phone: 248-650-PLAY (7529)
This indoor play center is great for toddlers, since it has an area designated just for little ones. There are even cool games and family events (moms and dads will want to check out the Parents’ Night Out happening around once a month). The café here puts an emphasis on healthier eats, to boot.
- Address: 7127 Dixie Highway, Clarkston
- Phone: 248-297-5453
This indoor play place lets kids creatively explore a gigantic three-story play area while the grown-ups get to take a breather (plus enjoy Wi-Fi and cafe treats). There’s also a smaller two-level play structure for the little ones.
This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated in 2017.