Family Fun Things to Do in January in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor

Jumpstart your year and make the most of this chilly, laid-back month with these 15 kid-friendly fun things to do in January in southeast Michigan for 2020.

Santa has long packed his bags, the smell of holiday ham has faded and the outside air hurts your face. The longest, coldest weeks of winter are upon us. But luckily, there are snow piles of fun things to do in January here in southeast Michigan, too.

Don’t let the year’s cruelest months keep you in pajama pants with the curtains drawn. This season’s slower pace makes it the perfect time to catch up on those activities you’ve had back-burnered for too long, from family excursions to a little self-care.

You just might find the cure for the winter doldrums is around the corner at a cultural institution, in the pages of a new cookbook or on a massage table where you’ll forget the cold ever came knocking.

So get a jumpstart on a fun and productive 2020 now with our list of 15 fun things to do in January – and warm up this ultra-“chill” month.

1. Say ‘yes’ to a messy project

Holiday hosting is over, so why not let the kiddos destroy the kitchen just this once? Say “yes” this month to a ridiculously messy (and definitely memorable) project like painting with spaghetti noodles or molding and erupting a volcano.

For something slightly less DIY, try the edible Jell-O Play Slime (just add water!) that debuted in December 2018. It runs about $9.99 on Amazon.

2. Volunteer your time

Many organizations need volunteers more than ever this time of year. Get involved in a local charity, sign up to give blood or donate your time at an animal shelter (some even have junior volunteer programs for kids).

Consider taking part in volunteer activities surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day, too (which is the third Monday of January) – or check out our listing of teen volunteer options in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor.

3. Step outside your culinary comfort zone

Resolve to expand your family’s palate this year by switching things up in the kitchen with a new cookbook (try Chrissy Teigen’s bestselling Cravings: Hungry for More for ideas like the Everything Bagel Cream Cheese Breakfast Bake).

Or try dining out somewhere you wouldn’t usually choose (go vegan for a night at Chive Kitchen in Farmington; they’ve got an expansive kids menu, too).

You might even consider a family cooking class at Eastern Market in Detroit, Nanny’s Kitchen in Troy or Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor.

4. Shop the Cadillac Square Markets in Detroit

The picturesque holiday markets you’ve heard about in downtown Detroit are still open for a couple more weeks into January – and they’re a bit less busy now that the holiday rush is over.

Spend some time exploring the seasonal lodge and retail markets at Cadillac Square – also featuring basketball and yard games – through Jan. 31, 2020.

It’s free to enter but closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Located at Cadillac Square and Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

5. Get into gaming

Always wanted to institute a family game night? Check with The Loaded Die in Ferndale for board game rentals and gaming libraries around metro Detroit.

Or take the family to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, known for its impressive collection of coin-operated machines and game.

6. Do something crazy

You always say you’ll do more active play with the kids, right? Make it happen this month with a family outing to a trampoline park, indoor rock wall climbing facility or zip lining spot – and get out there with the kids; no spectating allowed.

7. Get cultured

The metro Detroit area is full of museums rich in art, history, science and culture – but families with young kids often struggle to find time to visit. Now’s your chance. The toasty indoor spaces might draw you in this winter but what you’ll find inside will bring you back.

Don’t miss And Still We Rise, a permanent exhibition on African-American history and culture at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, located at 315 E. Warren Ave. in Detroit.

8. Try a winter sport

You might not think you’re a skiing and snowboarding kind of family – but you’ll never know until you try it. Head out to your nearest participating Huron-Clinton Metropark for a low-key introduction or go all-out with a trip to Crystal Mountain.

Best case scenario: You and your kids take to the slopes with ease and gain a lifelong hobby. Worst case: You get some great Insta pics (don’t forget to tag it #MPMoment) and you can say you tried. It’s a win-win chance when it comes to fun things to do in January.

9. Declutter and organize

The next time you’re stuck in the house during a snowstorm (it’s bound to happen at some point during January in Michigan), grab a box out of the attic or basement and get to work reducing the amount of stuff you keep in storage.

It’s never too late to join the KonMari decluttering craze popularized in The New York Times bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo by Ten Speed Press, which is under $10 on Amazon.

10. Take care of yourself

Self-care looks different for everyone, but January’s a great time to make it a priority. Send your spouse and the kids to grandma’s house for the day so you can have an interruption-free Netflix binge – or start saving up for a full day at the spa with your partner, a friend or blissfully on your own.

At Beach House Day Spa in Birmingham, the “Day at the Beach” package costs $285 for four hours of services as of early 2020: a 60-minute massage, facial, manicure and pedicure.

11. Establish a date night

You always talk about it, but it never – or rarely – actually happens. Change that this winter by making date night a recurring event on your calendars and arranging a sitter well in advance.

Browse our weekly roundup of date night ideas for inspiration.

12. Be a good host

No parent thinks their house is ever clean enough or nice enough to host new people, so it’s easy to put off inviting over those neighbors or the parents you’ve been wanting to get to know better. But building up your “village” is beyond valuable.

Turn those school and soccer acquaintances into friends by hosting an off-season party for the team, a moms night in or a cookie-decorating party for your kids’ friends and their parents.

13. Print some pictures

Seriously. Those photos living in your phone (and hopefully in the cloud) want out and the longer you wait to order prints or put them in a Shutterfly book, the harder it’ll be to get it done one day.

You can even use a service like My Social Book to automatically make keepsake albums based on your Facebook and Instagram pics, or an app like MixTiles to easily order ready-to-hang prints from your smartphone.

14. Join a club

Maybe you’ve resolved to finally join that book club your coworkers rave about, or to take up a sport you stopped playing ages ago. The start of the year is an ideal time to get you or your kids involved in a group that matches your interests.

Find one at Meetup or check out a local MOMS Club chapter. Virtual book clubs are another option. Start your own, join Oprah’s online book club or dive into the forums at Goodreads.

15. Brave the cold at a winter festival

Everything is more memorable when you’re freezing cold, right? Embrace that philosophy and choose a winter festival or two to attend this season.

Be sure to find the latest activities all around town in the Metro Parent calendar.

This post was originally published in January 2019 and is updated regularly. 


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