Summer in the City: How to Spend a Family Day in Detroit

A look at some of the coolest places in the city for parents and kids to explore.

It’s no secret that a historic revival is well underway in downtown Detroit, complete with cool new places to live, work, eat and play popping up everywhere.

But there’s one big question the average diaper-bag-toting, minivan-driving parent in southeast Michigan wants to know: What’s there for kids?

It’s a no-brainer for some, but many suburban families just haven’t explored the city beyond the occasional Tigers game or MiSci field trip.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have people reach out and say ‘I’m coming downtown with kids for a show, where do I take them to dinner? What should we check out?'” says Francesca George, director of tenant development at Bedrock Real Estate Services, the largest real estate partner in downtown Detroit.

Parents often don’t realize just how many perfectly kid-friendly things to do and places to see can be found in the city. That’s changing daily, though, as more people discover what Detroit has to offer for all ages.

“There are really so many great things for families to do,” George says. “Detroit is an incredible place for families to visit all year round and offers an experience that you really can’t get anywhere else.”

So where should you go? Think about some of the places you and your kids have been itching to check out – maybe a new exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts, for example, or a concert on the Riverfront – and plan a full day around it.

“Traditionally people from the suburbs come down to experience one thing, like a game, but they could spend a whole day if they knew what was going on,” she says. “You could go down to the game early, grab lunch, check out some artwork in The Belt, have a drink. People don’t realize that you can accidentally spend a whole day down here.”

Families have also been drawn to new shopping hotspots as a destination for all or part of a day exploring the city. The Downtown Detroit Markets exclusively feature local entrepreneurs – more than 90 percent from Detroit and more than half women-owned. Found at Capitol Park, Cadillac Square and 1441 Woodward, the markets offer more than just shopping by bringing in entertainment programs along with food and beverage options to enjoy.

“We’re continuing to establish downtown Detroit as a premier shopping destination,” George points out, and the markets are ideal since they feature unique goods and allow shoppers to support local artisans. “This adds a lot of life, creativity and exceptional retail offerings in the heart of the city. The Downtown Markets strengthen small businesses and really support creativity.”

Initially launched during the holiday season, the markets were so popular that shoppers and vendors wanted them to continue. They’ll now be open seasonally every winter and summer.

Head to Capitol Park, for example, for a “summer oasis” in the heart of Detroit’s Central Business District. There’s a rotating-chef kitchen and bar, a weekly farmers market, around a dozen retail markets and a full schedule of live entertainment.

The 1441 Collective on Woodward is an indoor retail incubator where vendors are trying out a brick and mortar experience with an emphasis on boutique and home goods. And at Cadillac Square, you’ll find an ultimate summer hangout complete with a seasonal beer garden, retail shops, basketball courts and even festive yard games.

“It’s a one of a kind experience,” George says. “You could spend a day just shopping downtown with your family.”

The only issue families might face, of course, is where to begin. To help with that, Bedrock recently launched XO Detroit – a new guide to Detroit where people can map out a day of fun in the city based on their interests and what’s nearby.

“XO Detroit is the best place for you to go to find out all that’s happening,” adds Chris Dorais, creative director at Bedrock, and you can even set a filter to only show family-friendly activities and places. “Now that school’s out, there’s a ton for families to do during the day. There’s so much to explore and see.”

For more information on Bedrock Detroit or to plan a visit downtown, visit or


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