100 Best Things to Do with Kids in Metro Detroit

Play tourist for the day at these kid-friendly restaurants, attractions and exciting events around the city (and suburbs!)

The Motor City is home to a stunning riverfront, Motown music, a vibrant culinary scene and many historic sites for families to explore. Foodies, sports fans, musicians and travelers love metro Detroit for reasons that are diverse as its residents. 

Whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor, getting to play tourist in Detroit is always exciting. On your next family day out, use this list of 100 kid-friendly things to do in metro Detroit to check off iconic bucket list items or discover a new-to-you hidden gem. 

Check something off your Detroit bucket list

Heidelberg Project best things to do detroit kids
Photo credit: The Heidelberg Project

Whether you’re a suburbanite or a city dweller, you’re not a true Detroiter until you’ve checked a few of these quintessential attractions off your bucket list. 

  1. Explore Eastern Market. Browse local vendors and purchase healthy food and farm-fresh goodies, all while enjoying live music and other free family programming. 

2. Visit the Fisher Building. This historical landmark is perhaps the most distinctive building in Detroit’s skyline. Public access is limited to the lobby and retail shops, but tours are offered on Saturdays

3. Ride the Detroit People Mover. Families can zoom all over downtown for free on Detroit’s elevated light rail. 

4. Tour the Shinola factory. Families with kids 12 and up can take a 90 minute tour of the company’s production facility, which makes leather goods and other luxury lifestyle items. 

5. Eat at Mom’s Spaghetti. Kids will love the simple comfort food on the menu. Parents will love that the restaurant is owned by iconic rapper Eminem and showcases memorabilia from the metro Detroit native’s career. 

6. Play at the Monroe Street Midway. One of my personal favorite outdoor attractions in Detroit, the Midway is a summer playground located in the heart of downtown. Hoop it up on the colorful basketball courts, hit the roller rink or relax and take in the scenery and live music from local DJs. 

7. Visit the Heidelberg Project. Instantly recognizable by its iconic polka dots, the house at The Heidelberg Project attracts artists and curiosity seekers. The non-profit art space never charges an admission fee, making it one of metro Detroit’s great free attractions for families

8. Get inspired at Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum. See 21 art installations made out of handmade African beads and other unique materials. Admission is always free

9. Explore the city’s neighborhoods. While tourist attractions are part of what makes Detroit such an exciting city, so much of the city’s vibrancy and culture lies in its neighborhoods. Go beyond downtown and explore a new neighborhood using one of our family neighborhood guides. Plus, we have tons of guides for exploring the suburbs, too! 

Indulge in a food tour

best coney dog metro detroit
Photo credit: Lipuma’s Coney Island

Detroit has a diverse and vibrant food scene. From classics like coney dogs and Detroit-style pizza to incredible desserts and yummy allergy-friendly options, it would take you a lifetime to eat your way through this city! 

10. Pan pizza or thin crust? That’s for you to decide! (Personally, I’ll take those crispy edges on Detroit pan-style any day!) Check out these local pizza joints for families that are serving up everything from Detroit-style pies to and bold BBQ pizza to vegan and allergy-friendly slices. 

11. Try a coney dog. Topped with chili, onion and mustard, coney dogs are a staple in Detroit’s culinary scene. These family-friendly hot dog spots carry classic coney dogs, as well as plain options for picky eaters. 

12. Indulge in a grilled cheese. Speaking of picky eaters, every parent knows you can’t go wrong with grilled cheese. Visit these local spots for the best grilled cheese sandwiches in metro Detroit, including options to add bacon or even lobster to your sammy. 

13. Satisfy your sweet tooth. Whether you’re visiting for a vacation or just for the day, no trip is complete without dessert! Like me, Detroit has a serious sweet tooth and the city takes its dessert seriously. Find milkshakes topped with sugary treats, loaded cookies, waffles and cheesecake, vegan treats and even more over-the-top desserts at these metro Detroit sweet shops

On a hot day, you can’t go wrong by visiting one of these independent ice cream shops.

14. Eat at a themed restaurant. Turn your next family meal into an exciting experience with a visit to one of these themed restaurants for metro Detroit families. Dine in a miniature museum, or enjoy a meal in old school digs that honor the Motor City’s industrial history. 

Visit a cultural gem with your kids

best things to do with kids metro detroit
Photo credit: EE Berger

Metro Detroit is home to amazing cultural experiences, including art, history and science museums. Here are just a few of the city’s great cultural centers and events to visit with kids. 

15. Educate your family on the city’s history at the Detroit Historical Museum. Residents of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park can visit for free with a Detroiter membership. 

16. Visit The Henry Ford. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is an exciting way to learn how Detroit got its nickname as The Motor City. The museum is also home to the Rosa Parks bus, the Kennedy Limousine, over a hundred antique cars and exciting rotating exhibits. 

17. Travel back in time with a visit to Greenfield Village. This outdoor adventure includes nearly 100 historic buildings. Explore seven historic districts, catch a ride in a real Model T and much more. 

18. Visit The Wright. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History celebrates the rich cultural history of African Americans, both here in Detroit and throughout the nation. 

19. Get funky at the Motown Museum. The museum is located in the original Motown Studios headquarters and recording studio. Photographs, artifacts, costumes and other memorabilia will transport your family back to a time when the city was known as Hitsville, USA.

20. Discover dinosaurs, unseen worlds and more natural wonders at the University of Micihgan’s Museum of Natural History

21. Take a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Recently named the top museum in the country by USA Today, the DIA’s collection has more than 65,000 works of art. Plus, we love the views from the museum’s cafeteria-style Cafe DIA. 

22. See modern and contemporary art at the Cranbrook Art Museum. The museum’s campus is home to world-renowned architecture, sculpture and beautiful gardens. 

23. Take advantage of free admission at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Tweens and teens will love the unique rotating exhibits and contemporary art. After your visit, grown ups can stop at the museum’s cafe for coffee drinks or cocktails — plus yummy treats for all ages! 

24. See a spectacular performance. Enjoy the city’s thriving theater scene by attending one of these must-see theater shows for families.

25. Michigan Science Center offers hands-on activities and exciting science experiments for curious kiddos. 

26. Cranbrook Institute of Science is home to interactive exhibits, a planetarium and observatory, world-class collections and even a T.rex and a meteorite! 

27. Explore the cosmos at one of these local planetariums that are out of this world.

Cheer on a Detroit sports team

best things to do in detroit with kids detroit tigers
Photo credit: Detroit Tigers

With a sports team for every major pro sport, Detroit is a great city to spend the day catching a game and cheering on the home team. 

28. Play ball! Cheer on the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. 

29. Cheer on the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. 

30. Bundle up and hit the ice for a Detroit Red Wings game at Little Caesars Arena. 

31. Cheer on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. 

Attend an annual event 

best events in metro detroit for families
Photo credit: Blake Farms

Consider adding one of these annual events to your Detroit Bucket List for an experience that is quintessential Detroit. 

32. From dinosaur and dragon strolls to charming holiday events, Canterbury Village has a full events calendar of exciting activities for families. Even when there’s not an event, the village’s shops, restaurants and beautiful grounds make the historic village a great destination for a family day out. 

33. Celebrate the season at Blake Farms. From lavender and sunflower festivals to Cider Dayze and pumpkin patches, there’s a fun outdoor festival for every season. 

34. Attend a family-friendly summer festival and enjoy live music, vendors, food, kids activities and more. 

35. Catch a movie in the park.

36. Enjoy free live music at these music in the park events for families

Spend time in the great outdoors 

Detroit riverfront with kids
Photo credit: Nadir Ali

Midwest weather is notorious for being, well, a bit unstable. It’s not unusual to see people out enjoying the sunshine one day and bundled up to brave the snow the next. Winters here can be frigid, and summers can be hot hot hot! 

No matter what the forecast calls for, southeast Michigan offers a variety of ways to enjoy the outdoors in all seasons. Check out these nature spots and places for outdoor play the next time your family wants to enjoy a breath of fresh air. 

37. Enjoy riverfront views, public art, fun playgrounds and peaceful parks along the Detroit Riverfront

38. Explore the Dequindre Cut Greenway, an urban recreation path built on an old railway. The two-mile path offers paved lanes for pedestrians and cyclists. Along the route you’ll find outdoor stages, plazas and the Dequindre Cut Freight Yard bar. 

39. Go for a walk or a bike ride on the Border to Border Trail

40. Campus Martius Park was recently named the Top Public Square by USA Today. 

41. Belle Isle State Park is home to a beach, an aquarium, a nature center, a conservatory, a maritime museum, a giant slide and much more.

42. Nichols Arboretum showcases the natural beauty of Michigan, including scenic trails and reflection gardens. 

43. Stop and smell the flowers at Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor. 

44. Visit William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor. Located on the Riverfront, this state park is a popular place for family picnics. The park is divided into three areas: the harbor, the picnic area and a bern area that offers two spotting scopes to see across the river to Canada. 

45. Play at the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. These 13 parks offer playgrounds,m bike trails, fishing, ice skating, camping and biking more outdoor fun for metro Detroit families. 

46. Have a beach day at one of the best beaches for metro Detroit families

47. Pick your own flowers and snap the perfect Instagram photo at one of these beautiful flower fields worth the drive from Detroit

48. Go kayaking at one of these scenic waterways in Michigan

Get up close with animals 

local farms in metro detroit
Photo credit: Huron-Clinton Metroparks

Lions, tigers and bears — and so much more! Your family can visit and learn about their favorite animals, enjoy nature-based activities and get up close and personal with wildlife at these aquariums, nature centers and more. 

49. Visit a nature center. Southeast Michigan has many free nature centers that offer educational programming, nature activities, kid-friendly hiking trails and more for outdoorsy families. Check their upcoming events to find out when you can visit for an animal encounter.

50. Take a trip to a local farm and interact with friendly farm animals like horses, cows, donkeys, chickens and even reindeer! 

51. Explore your family’s wild side at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak

52. Have an under the sea adventure at SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium

53. Keep an eye out for when the new Legasea Aquarium opens this spring. 

54. Enjoy free admission at the Belle Isle Aquarium, the oldest original aquarium in the nation. 

55. Get hands-on at The Reptarium. Reptile enthusiasts will love the variety of snakes, lizards, tortoises and other scaly creatures that are on display. Even visitors that are scared of reptiles can learn to conquer their fears and learn something new about these incredible creatures. 

56. The Creature Conservatory in Ann Arbor is a non-profit organization that educates visitors of all ages about exotic animals. 

Find new ways to play inside

best things to do with kids detroit city
Photo credit: Detroit Kid City

Don’t let the rain dampen your family fun! Whether the weather isn’t cooperating or you just need a new place to play, kids can spend all day at these exciting indoor spots in southeast Michigan. 

57. Play the day away at one of the best indoor play places in southeast Michigan. You’ll discover family fun centers, play places with exciting themes and even some spots that offer coffee shops and Wi-Fi for parents. 

58. Build a brick-tastic creation at Legoland Discovery Center. Plus, enjoy Lego-themed movies, rides and activities. 

59. Get creative at The Coloring Museum

60. Explore the natural world at Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. This museum has 10 exhibit areas with hands-on activities for kids of all ages. 

61. Experience the Great Indoors. Located on Detroit’s Riverfront, the Outdoor Adventure Center brings all the outdoor fun inside, with activities like archery, a fishing simulator, nature exhibits and even an indoor waterfall! 

62. Play pretend at Detroit Kid City

63. Let your imagination run wild at Fascination Factory

64. Go fowling. This unique combo of bowling and football is a blast for older kiddos and families that love sports. Try it yourself at Fowling Warehouse in Hamtramck

65. Try axe throwing at one of these family-friendly axe throwing spots in metro Detroit. The sport is best for older kids, so be sure to check out any age requirements before you go. 

66. Get your game on at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, a free admission arcade with vintage coin-operated machines, new video games and tons of oddities and unique memorabilia. 

67. Enjoy arcade games, mini golf, kiddie rides and more at these indoor amusement parks around metro Detroit.

68. Putt around at these indoor mini golf courses in metro Detroit

69. Enjoy some old school fun at one of these roller rinks worth taking a spin at

70. Spend the day at the library. These amazing children’s libraries in the city and suburbs offer free activities, a great selection of children’s books, toys and games and other learning resources for families. 

Embark on a thrilling adventure 

cedar-point-boardwalk
Photo credit: Cedar Point

If your family loves an adrenaline-filled adventure, these amusement parks and thrilling adventure parks are sure to deliver tons of family fun. 

71. Get your thrills at Cedar Point, an amusement park just two hours away from Detroit. Ride more than 70 rides, including 17 record-breaking roller coasters. 

72. Climb through the treetops at TreeRunner Adventure Parks. Navigate an aerial ropes course in the forest, or enjoy on-the-ground activities like gemstone mining and mini golf. 

73. Make a splash at an exciting water park near metro Detroit

74. Rock climbing is a great activity for adventurous kids, especially when the Midwest weather isn’t cooperating with an outdoor adventure.

Go on a magical quest

dinosaur attractions in the midwest
Photo credit: Jurassic Gardens

Embark on a family quest to discover magical realms and mythological creatures, right here in Michigan! Magic is all around metro Detroit — if you know where to look! 

75. Go searching for dinosaurs. From fossil digs to animatronic dinos, there are dinosaurs hidden in plain sight all over town. On your next family adventure, check out one of these places to see dinosaurs in metro Detroit.

76. Spot a mermaid. Michigan is home to a variety of marine life, including mermaids! Here are the best places to spot a mermaid in metro Detroit

77. Transport your family back in time with a trip to the Michigan Renaissance Festival. Meet artisans, jousters, fairies and more whimsical folk at this exciting Renaissance faire. 

Take a day trip 

detroit day trip with kids
Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids

When you need a change of scenery, Detroit is just a drive away from these exciting destinations. 

78. Ann Arbor is less than an hour from Detroit, making it the perfect city for your family’s next day trip adventure! Visit the University of Michigan’s campus, museums and arboretum; stroll through a charming downtown; discover kid-friendly dining and much more. 

79. Head to Shores & Islands Ohio, a.k.a Sandusky, Ohio. The thrilling attractions at Cedar Point and the natural beach scenery of Put-In-Bay are two of the area’s main draws for families. 

80. Grand Rapids is home to craft breweries, a gorgeous sculpture park, fun festivals and a great children’s museum. Plus, it’s just two-and-a-half hours away! 

81. Holland is a popular destination for its annual Tulip Time Festival in May, but the lakefront town offers beautiful scenery and exciting activities for families all year round. 

82. Drive two hours to Kalamazoo, a college town that offers something for every family. Catch a sporting event, dine at a farm-to-table eatery, sample craft brews, visit an aerospace museum, book a unique crafting experience and more. 

83. Visit the state’s capital city. Lansing offers affordable fun for families on a budget. Check out the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum and the Impression 5 Science Center, which has a Scooby-Doo exhibit through May 12, 2024. 

84. Take a beach trip to New Buffalo. Although it’s a bit of a hike for a day trip — just under 4 hours — this charming town is the perfect beach escape for making you forget you’re in the Midwest. 

Enjoy seasonal activities 

best things to do with detroit kids spring
Photo credit: Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill

No matter what time of year you choose to explore Detroit, there are exciting seasonal activities and traditions to experience with your kids. Discover some of these traditions and events that are unique to this city. 

85. Start your year off with something sweet by attending one of these maple sugaring events for families

86. Go green at the Detroit St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Corktown

87. Indulge in paczki. Fat Tuesday is the day before Lent begins, and Detroiters celebrate by eating paczki, indulgent Polish pastries that are traditionally filled with cream, custard or other yummy goodies. Here is where to find paczki in metro Detroit, but be warned — these delicacies sell out quickly! 

88. Go berry picking. Add fresh flavors to your spring and summer meals by picking your own berries at these farms near metro Detroit

89. Browsing a farmers market is a great way to shop for produce and farm fresh goodies. You’ll also find live music, kids’ activities, cooking demonstrations and much more at these southeast Michigan farmers markets

90. Get sprayed. When the summer heat hits a little too hard, cool off at a splash pad or spray ground

91. Go apple picking. Welcome the fall season by picking your own apples at one of these apple orchards in southeast Michigan

92. Get lost in one of these corn mazes. There are even haunted mazes and mazes to navigate by flashlight for older kids! 

93. Pick your own pumpkin, snap fall photos and enjoy apple cider goodies at these pumpkin patches near metro Detroit

94. Walk through a haunted forest at Glenlore Trails in Commerce Township. 

95. Happy Thanksgiving! Kick off Thanksgiving by watching or attending the America’s Thanksgiving Parade. 

96. Enjoy holiday lights. Watch your child’s eyes light up at one of these dazzling holiday light displays

97. Deck the halls with holiday cheer at Winter Wonderland at Decked Out Detroit.

98. Walk through an enchanted town at Holiday Stroll at Canterbury Village.

99. Discover a winter wonderland at Glenlore Trails Aurora.

100. Get in the holiday spirit at Wild Lights, the annual winter lights festival at the Detroit Zoo.


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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Metro Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for metro Detroit families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.

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