Spending The Best Day in Downtown Detroit with Kids

Explore like a local with these family-friendly suggestions on where to eat, shop, play and explore.

Whether you’re visiting Detroit for the first time or you proudly rep the 313, there will always be something exciting about experiencing the sights and sounds of the city’s downtown. 

Discover downtown Detroit with kids — even if you already live like a local — with our family guide. First time tourists will love eating at Motor City staples and browsing classic shops, and even city dwellers will enjoy seeing Detroit through fresh eyes with these ideas on where to explore and play as a family. 

Ready to head downtown? Below are some of our favorite kid-friendly sights and spots around downtown Detroit.

This article was recently updated on March 7, 2024 by Metro Parent’s Assistant Editor, Nikki Roberts. The update included her fact-checking expertise to provide the latest and most recent information on family-friendly attractions in downtown Detroit, aligning with Metro Parent’s mission to provide the top parenting resources for local families. Questions? Please reach out to nikki@metroparent.com.

Eat

Photo credit: JoJo’s Shake Bar

The Hudson Cafe

Start off a full day of exploring with a hearty breakfast. At The Hudson Cafe, you can indulge in a sweet breakfast with specialty pancakes, stuffed french toast and sweet crepes, or go savory with eggs Benedict, omelets, and hearty salads and sandwiches. Did we mention there’s a children’s menu with Mickey Mouse pancakes? 

American Coney Island

Nothing tastes more like Detroit than a coney dog. Family-owned and operated since 1917, American Coney Island is serving up classic coney dogs — hot dogs topped with chili, mustard and onions — as well as gyros, Greek salads, cheese fries and other yummy options. 

Lafayette Coney Island

We couldn’t include American Coney Island without also including its delicious competitor, Lafayette Coney Island. Our suggestion? Get a coney dog at both locations and put them to a taste test! 

Downtown Street Eats

Explore limitless lunch options from more than 75 food trucks. From 11 a.m.-3 p.m. from June-October, this daily food truck rally offers hungry downtown patrons a taste of Detroit. Some of our favorites include Cousins Maine Lobster Truck, Hero or Villain Food Truck and Detroit Mini Donuts, just to name a few, but there are so many more great food trucks to choose from

JoJo’s Shake Bar

Over-the-top milkshakes, classic diner food, trendy decor and a kids menu? What more could you want? A meal at JoJo’s Shake Bar is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and make your stomach (and your kids) happy. 

Mom’s Spaghetti

Detroit-raised rapper Eminem’s spaghetti restaurant may seem like a bit of a tourist trap, but there’s a reason it’s so popular! A clever riff on one of the rapper’s best-known song lyrics, Mom’s Spaghetti has a simple menu of pasta dishes and even spaghetti sandwiches. Who knows, you might get lucky and spot a celebrity  — the rapper has been known to make appearances while helping out the restaurant staff. 

Mister Dips

Hailing all the way from the east coast, Mister Dips’ second location brings all-natural angus beef dipped sandwiches to Detroit. Try a classic dip, or branch out with the bacon hatch chili dip or the vegan dip made with plant-based beef. There’s also shakes, soft serve and even alcoholic milkshakes on the menu. 

Shop

Historic Eastern Market in Detroit

Eastern Market

Since 1891, the shops and vendors at the Eastern Market have been committed to nourishing a “healthier, wealthier, happier Detroit.” From traditional farmer’s market vendors with fresh produce and goods to local artists, cooks, jewelers and more, you won’t believe all the treasures your family will find. 

Shinola

What began as a state-of-the-art watch factory in 2012 has grown to a distinctly Detroit brand that produces high-quality leather bags and purses, jewelry, accessories and yes, watches. Pick up a top-notch souvenir that will last you a lifetime.  

Bon Bon Bon

Photo credit: Bon Bon Bon

Just staring through the window of this chocolate shop will have you drooling. Made locally in Hamtramck, these gourmet Bon Bon Bons are handmade truffles that range from classic, familiar flavors like nonpareils and coffee to Hot Cheetos, birthday cake and black truffle. 

Play 

Comerica Park

Catch a Detroit Tigers game, ride the ferris wheel and take in MLB history with a trip to Comerica Park. Kids ages 4-14 can run the bases after all Sunday home games! Check out our family guide to Comerica Park to make the most of your family’s game day experience.

Ford Field

Cheer on the Detroit Lions during football season, or see a performance from one of the many pop stars, rock bands or other sporting events that stop at Ford Field when they come to town. 

Little Caesars Arena

The Detroit Pistons and the Detroit Red Wings proudly carry pieces of the city’s history in their names. See an NBA or NHL game in the 313 or, if you’re not much of a sporting family, see what other entertainment and community events are taking place at this massive arena.  

Fox Theatre

Downtown dinner and a show! This iconic Detroit theater hosts some of the biggest names in show business as well as family-friendly musicals and Broadway productions, interactive stage shows and holiday programs. 

The Fillmore Detroit

Nothing completes a night on the town like enjoying live music as a family. The Fillmore hosts a variety of musical performances, from pop, rap and R&B to rock ‘n’ roll, heavy metal and comedy shows. 

Explore

Photo credit: Joe Gall

Detroit Riverwalk

Detroit’s Riverwalk has it all: scenic, historic plazas; bike and walking paths with views of both nature and urban scenery; the Outdoor Adventure Center; plenty of parks with space to play and even a state park with a lighthouse! 

Beacon Park

With events for the entire family, Beach Park is so much fun to explore! Listen to live music, watch a movie in the park, play field games and more. Check the park’s calendar to see what’s going on during your visit. 

Campus Martius Park

During the summer, this public square turns into an urban beach complete with sand, lounging chairs and picnic tables with bright umbrellas. In the winter, Campus Martius Park is your go-to destination for ice skating with a city view. 

Dequindre Cut

Photo credit: Joe Gall

This 1.5 mile pedestrian path connects downtown and nearby neighborhoods directly to the riverfront. The greenway was formerly a Grand Trunk Railroad line, but today it is a beloved recreational path that features urban views, murals and plenty of seating options to rest along the route.

Spirit of Detroit Plaza

Also known as “The People’s Plaza,” this public space has art, sculptures and event programming that uplift the voices of Detroit residents. The plaza’s family-friendly events include live music, face painting, food and ice cream truck appearances and so much more. 

The Belt

  • Address: Between Broadway and Library streets linking Gratiot and Grand River

Photo credit: Library Street Collective/Alessandra Ferrara

Located in the heart of downtown, the Belt redefines what an alley can — or should — look like. Captivating artwork, plants and brightly colored benches, twinkling lights and public art fill the small space, packing so much Detroit art and culture into what could have been just another alley. 

Detroit Princess Riverboat

Once you’ve explored downtown by foot, why not see it by boat? A cruise on Detroit Princess Riverboat combines classic sightseeing and waterfront views with fun themes like Murder Mystery or Motown music that your family will love.


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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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