Walking through Detroit Kid City – with locations in Southfield, Clinton Township and, arriving by January 2019, Dearborn – is like stepping back in time and right into a dollhouse.
You won’t see any plastic slides or ball pits at this indoor play cafe. Instead, you’ll discover a custom little town complete with a pint-sized automotive factory, bank, barbershop, post office, pizzeria and music studio. After all, the importance of play in child development is key, and this spot is designed to spark that sort of imaginative creativity.
Business is brisk, says general manager Garrett Dixon. “The community really needs something where parents interact with the kids,” he says.
Tiny play for all
That means instead of zoning out on laptops while children run wild, adults are encouraged to join the fun. Duck through doorways and you’ll discover scaled-down rooms filled with Detroit antiques, vintage-inspired toys (many for sale in the gift shop), dress-up clothes and delightful surprises.
In Hitsville U.S.A., your kids can rock out on acoustic instruments while you “record” them on vintage sound boards. At the miniature market, they’ll fill canvas bags with toy food, while you ring them up on an old-school cash register full of play money.
Sara Montgomery of Royal Oak sat on a soda-fountain stool one afternoon while her then-3-year-old daughter Veda served up felt pizza while wearing a gingham apron and oven mitts. Montgomery says they are regulars. “She loves all the pretend play,” Montgomery says. “And I always get inspired and think I want to decorate our own playroom like this.”
A regular boom town
Since it first opened its little doors in Southfield in early 2012, Detroit Kid City has grown. And, slowly but surely, this micro metropolis is expanding in metro Detroit.
In November 2015, a second location opened in Clinton Township. This Macomb County spot offers the same amenities as Southfield, but also features a mini Comerica Park baseball stadium and more cafe seating for parents.
A Dearborn location is opening up by about January 2019, marking the play cafe’s first location in Wayne County.
It “will be the first franchised unit,” says operations manager Laura Lewis, “and will offer a mini Ford Field,” this time in honor of the Detroit Lions, “in place of mini Comerica Park – as well as a larger cafe area.”
Food, costs and hours
Its slogan is “Where imagination grows and coffee flows” – and Detroit Kid City delivers with organic roasted java alongside fresh-made “Yooper Chillers.”
“The Yooper Chillers are DKC’S version of blended drinks like a smoothie or milk shake,” Lewis says. “Espresso or coffee can be added to them – or made kid friendly without.
The name is to match the Michigan theme, because up in the UP, it’s always colder.”
There’s Faygo soda pop, too (of course!).
You’ll also find snacks ranging from hometown Better Made potato chips to vegan cookies. The kids menu even features Mitten Milk, aka flavored hot milk. Most menu items average $2.50-$3.50.
This spot is recommended for children 18 months-8 years old. Daily admission is $10, or free for adults with purchase of a drink and children under 12 months (it’s set up to welcome younger siblings, too).
Open play hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Sundays are closed to the public and reserved for private parties.
Photo from Detroit Kid City’s Facebook page
This post was originally published in 2013 and is updated regularly.