Being a toddler is tough! So much to explore and touch, but so many things are off limits, meaning finding things to do with toddlers in Michigan’s southeast region can be a challenge.
And parenting a toddler can be a lonely ride if the only person to chat with in the house keeps redirecting the conversation to Elmo.
So whether it’s your toddler who needs a break from the same-old toys or just mom who wants a change of scenery (and maybe a latte), here are 10 toddler play places and destinations where you and your curious little one will be very welcome — including indoor play centers for toddlers in Michigan’s metro Detroit and Ann Arbor areas.
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
- Address: 220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor
- Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday
Hands-on is the key word at this popular family attraction, where toddlers will especially enjoy the water tables and kid-sized fire engine in the special Preschool Gallery.
Also be sure to check out the World Around You area, too, where little ones will love the Bubble Capsule and Magnet exhibits. Kids under age 2 get in free.
- Address: 1928 B. Star-Batt Drive, Rochester Hills
- Hours: 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday
Moms and toddlers will find not only a fun environment, but an educational and safe environment, too (and clean — read about their UV-C sanitizing method). This is a great spot for open play, live music concerts, a cafe and lounge, tree house play structure and craft area; plus puppet magic shows and slot racing.
Detroit Kid City
- Locations: 37051 Gratiot Ave., Clinton Township and 29115 Greenfield Road, Southfield
- Hours: Temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Check with your chosen location for updates
The owners of these establishments know what you want. For ‘rents: organic coffee, places to sit and chat with other grown-ups and a color scheme that won’t give you a headache. And kids’ imaginations run wild as they explore a child-size town with a barber shop, music studio, bank and more.
- Locations: 6481 Canton Center Road, Canton, 44595 Enterprise Drive, Clinton Township and 27658 Middlebelt Road, Farmington Hills
- Hours: Vary by location
These play destinations have special areas just for tykes younger than 3. JJ specializes in getting kids active in a safe environment while parents relax, socialize and enjoy a latte. They boast a menu of healthy food choices (not the greasy, deep-fried variety).
- Address: 18602 Fenkell St., Detroit
- Hours: Contact for details
Detroit’s first indoor playground boasts massage and fitness classes for kids and parents, a custom-designed treehouse and a bounce castle.
- Address: 703 Livernois St., Ferndale
- Hours: Contact for details
The focus is on baby and mom at this all-natural play/wellness center. Stop by for drop-in play and get away from the modern devices and distractions while your little one enjoys handmade, natural toys intended to stimulate imagination.
Chat with like-minded caregivers or join in classes like music and sign language or support groups on breastfeeding and natural childbirth.
Peppa Pig World of Play
- Address: 4362 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills
- Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday
Kids get to explore the world of Peppa Pig including George’s Fort, Grandad Dog’s Garage, Miss Rabbit’s Supermarket and Peppa’s TreeHouse.
- Address: 380 E. Second St., Rochester
- Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. for private parties on Sunday
This indoor play center is great for toddlers, since it has an area designated just for little ones. There are even cool games and family events. The café here puts an emphasis on healthier eats, to boot.
The Chelsea TreeHouse
- Address: 1101 S. Main St., Chelsea
- Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. daily
In addition to the huge tree house, this 9000-square-foot indoor play center has a climbing and playing structure, slides, swinging bridges and a special area just for babies and toddlers.
Parents will dig the comfy chairs and selection of snacks, light meals and hot or cold drinks, and the facility is 100-percent nut free.
The Detroit Zoo
- Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak
- Hours: Changes seasonally: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. January-February and October-December, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April-August, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. September
The zoo is a classic family outing, even if your tot isn’t quite old enough to appreciate all the sights. Open year-round, ours boasts 125 acres of naturalistic habitat and is a great place for a stroll to see the animals.
Enjoy a picnic lunch or meet up with friends at the eco-friendly Arctic Café. Check out the Wild Summer Nights concerts in July and August and other family events throughout the year.
Good news: kids younger than 2 years old get in free.
This post is updated regularly.
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Went to Under the Sea in Troy. Sorry the place was left out. My granddaughter and I had a lot of fun there. Not overstimulating, ample space to move around and a snack bar with healthy snacks.