Family Neighborhood Guide: Visiting Ferndale with Kids

Get out to explore this bustling city with small-town charm.

Once not much more than a residential bedroom community for commuting workers due to its close proximity to Detroit, the city of Ferndale has evolved over the past few decades into a bustling hub for small businesses, families and creatives of all backgrounds — establishing itself as a wonderful place to live, work and visit.

Its downtown shopping area along Nine Mile Road flanking Woodward Avenue offers a wide variety of popular restaurants and bars, eclectic retail shops, cafes and community gathering spaces that teem with people during peak business hours yet somehow retains its tight-knit, small-town charm.

Getting there: Conveniently located along the Woodward corridor, it’s very easy to get to Ferndale via Woodward Avenue from neighboring communities like Detroit, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Hazel Park, Oak Park and Berkley. Located less than a mile from the I-696 and I-75 Interchange, it’s also easily accessible via major freeways from communities throughout metro Detroit.

Eat

Pop’s For Italian

Located in the heart of downtown at the corner of Nine Mile Road and Allen, this Ferndale staple takes a modern approach to traditional Italian cuisine. All of the offerings are made daily from scratch using the freshest ingredients, from wood-fired pizza to handmade pastas. It offers gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives for many of the dishes and boasts an expansive wine bar to fit all budgets.

Ferndale Project

The former site of Axle Brewing Co.’s Livernois Tap, this beloved indoor/outdoor spot was acquired by Eastern Market Brewing Co. in 2019 and has grown to be a beloved local gem by residents, families (and their dogs) to hang out, grab a bite, coffee or locally brewed beer. Offering a variety of rotating, experimental brews, a full menu and a dedicated cafe serving coffee, bagels and vegan doughnuts, the space is both warm and inviting all year round — and complete with a kids play corner to keep littles busy. 

Bobcat Bonnie’s

One of several locations in the metro Detroit area, this funky, brightly decorated gastropub is a perfect go-to spot for a quick bite with family and friends. Offering weekly food specials, more than a dozen signature cocktails, extensive weekend brunch offerings and an impressive kids menu, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.

Fly Trap Diner

Once featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” the Fly Trap has been a fan favorite since it was founded in 2014. After staffing issues and other factors led to its closure in September 2021, local restaurateur and Bobcat Bonnie’s owner Matt Buskard reopened the Fly Trap with the goal of keeping the Ferndale landmark exactly as it was. From the creative food menu and kitschy decor to the friendly staff and nostalgic diner vibes, the new Fly Trap is just as charming as it was before, carrying on the “Finer Diner” legacy.

Culantro

This family-owned Peruvian eatery is so popular among Ferndalians that it is opening a second location in Ann Arbor. Offering a variety of authentic Peruvian dishes — including classic appetizers like ceviche and favorite entrees pollo a la brasa, a rotisserie chicken marinated in Peruvian spices for up to 24 hours, and lomo saltado, steak strips cooked in a soy and vinegar sauce with onions and tomatoes — you are sure to leave satisfied. 

Detroit Cookie Co.

Open seven days a week, this spot is one of the best in Ferndale to indulge your sweet tooth. Offering freshly baked cookies and ice cream in a variety of fun and unique flavors, many of the treats have Detroit-inspired names or incorporate local ingredients. The Big 3 cookie features Better Made potato chips, Michigan dried cherries and chocolate chips mixed in the original dough. It also has seasonal flavors like Brown Butter Pecan and Sweet Potato Casserole, as well as gluten-free options, coffee, and yes, ice cream sandwiches.

Shop

Modern Natural Baby

Owned and operated by husband-and-wife duo John and Emily Murray, this one-stop shop for all things baby and toddler is one of the largest independent baby stores in Michigan and a must-visit for any metro Detroiter with kids in their lives to spoil. Selling everything from books and toys to clothing and baby care items, it’s the perfect place to find a gift, and the staff members are always ready and willing to help. It offers personalized gifts and free professional-grade gift wrapping!

The Rocket Gifts & Candy

Looking for odd or eccentric? There is something for everyone at The Rocket, from colorful household items, books and unique toys to pop culture merchandise, joke gifts and candy — all with a major dose of nostalgia. A simple trip to this store itself could be a fun activity for littles — just know you won’t be leaving empty-handed.

The Rust Belt Market

A collection of more than 30 local artisan shops and vendors, The Rust Belt Market is a great place to peruse locally made items and interact with the artists who made them! Stop by the Market Bar for a cocktail or coffee or pay a visit to Ferndale Radio 100.7 FM, which also calls the space home. Typically only open on weekends.

Play

Harding Park

This expansive 18-acre park is a popular spot for local families and residents, and the second-largest park in the city. Located just south of I-696 and west of Hilton Road, it features a modern playground, swings, a basketball court, baseball diamond, soccer field, in-line skating rink, pavilion, walking path and restrooms. 

Martin Road Park

Where: 1615 E. Lewiston Ave., Ferndale

A hotspot for sledding during the winter months, Martin Road Park is home to Ferndale’s largest sledding hill, as well as the city’s only splash pad in the summer. It also offers play structures, a basketball hoop, baseball diamonds, a soccer field, restrooms and large pavilion.

Explore

Ferndale Area District Library

Offering extensive programming and events for kids and adults, the Ferndale Library is a community hub for much more than just checking out books and media. From storytimes and book clubs to live performances and art shows, there is no shortage of activities to engage all ages. It also has a dedicated kids space with a play area, computers and cozy spots to curl up with a book.

Nature’s Playhouse

Where: 777 Livernois St., Ferndale

This little natural play and wellness center has had a big impact on local families and their well-being. Offering drop-in play hours and family enrichment classes weekly, as well as counseling, fitness classes and a variety of support services for parents and families, Nature’s Playhouse is working to build its own village of support for individuals on their parenting journeys.

Good Day Selfie Museum

Featuring more than 20 unique, colorful and interactive sets, as well as a 360-degree camera, every inch of this 3,000-square-foot studio is designed to provide visitors with perfectly Instagrammable photos. Owned and operated by a Ferndale High School and Central Michigan University grad, it is a great place to visit with littles for a fun, self-guided photo shoot.


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