Metro Detroit Museums Families Should Visit At Least Once

From compelling artwork to hands-on activities, these kid-friendly museum attractions at local museums are sure to be a hit.

There’s so much to see and do in metro Detroit! Michigan is home to many museums and centers for art, culture, history, science and more.

Luckily for you, we’ve done some of the legwork when it comes to finding which museums are best suited for family outings. Here’s a look at some must-see kid-friendly museum attractions at 25 of the best museums around metro Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum 

The museum offers 10 gallery areas for children to explore. Young visitors will love the “Preschool Gallery”, a space designed for children 4 years old and younger where kids can splash in water tables, experiment with balls and ramps and dress up as a fireman to play on the child-sized fire engine.

Arab American National Museum

  • Address: 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
  • Cost: $8/general admission, $4/seniors (ages 59-plus), students and educators with ID, free/members and ages 5 and under

The Arab American National Museum collects and preserves a variety of items that help illustrate the Arab American experience. You’ll find beaded shoes, a Qanun, a portable typewriter and other significant historical attractions. The museum offers tours tailored for individuals and groups of all ages, as well as events such as English-Arabic Storytimes for ages 2-6, and workshops.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Check out the “And Still We Rise” permanent exhibit, which showcases a comprehensive look at the history of African American resilience, and “Detroit Performs!” exhibit, which showcases performers from Detroit that changed the music scene.

Cranbrook Art Museum

Check out The Healing Memorial, an exhibit in which metro Detroit residents have created small memorial pouches using fabric belonging to their loved ones and folded a note of prayer, commemoration wish or intention into it. The museum features many changing exhibits and drop-in design events for the kids.

Cranbrook Institute of Science

Offers mind-blowing planetarium shows and stargazing in the observatory, plus a science garden, exploreLAB Dino Dig and more. Also find galleries that feature exhibits on dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts, “The Story of Us Gallery,” which showcases human history and the “Every Rock Has a Story” exhibit, which explores the Earth’s geological past.

Detroit Historical Museum 

  • Address: 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit
  • Cost: $10/adults, $8/seniors, students, active military and first responders, $6/children, free/members and ages 5 and under. $9-$10/parking in the adjacent museum lot on Kirby Street

The museum features “America’s Motor City,” which explains how cars built metro Detroit and vice versa and why Detroit became the Motor City. The “Automotive Showplace” exhibit at its entrance showcases the car collection. Young train lovers will appreciate the “Glancy Trains” exhibit, which features a playful representation of rare artifacts and one-of-a kind trains, interactive buttons and the opportunity to learn about the history of rail travel in Detroit. Watch for traveling and changing exhibits throughout the year.

Detroit Institute of Arts

  • Address: 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit
  • Cost: Free/residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties (ID required; others: $18/adults, $10/seniors and college students; $8/ages 6-17, free/members and ages 5 and under); $7/parking

This art museum features more than 65,000 artworks from early civilization to present. The 19 sculptures in “Rethinking Monuments” show different approaches from American artists made between 1850-2000. One of the best things that families can do is take advantage of the free family tours offered at the museum, usually on weekends. There is also a scavenger hunt that families can try when they download the free GooseChase app. Drop-in art workshops and films showing at the Detroit Film Theatre, too.

The Discovery Center of Macomb 

This children’s museum provides immersive events, workshops, projects and labs to promote STEAM careers. Be sure to keep up with the museum on Facebook so you don’t miss any events.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum  

  • Address: 100 Strand Drive, Belle Isle, Detroit
  • Cost: $10/adults; $8/seniors, students, active military and first responders; $6/children 6-17; free for children 5 and under. $12/recreation passport required to enter Belle Isle

Enjoy a self-led experience or Maritime Miniatures Scavenger Hunt at this museum on Belle Isle. Kids will get a kick as the step into the Pilot House and behind the wheel of an actual Great Lakes freighter, the S.S. William Clay Ford, which was scrapped in 1987. You’ll also a replication of an early 1900s gentlemen’s lounge in the spot’s “Gothic Room” exhibit, a bow anchor from the Edmund Fitzgerald, naval cannons, a submarine anchor and the fastest hydroplane boat of the 1940s, Miss Pepsi. 

Ford House 

Explore the main residence and grounds of Edsel and Eleanor Ford. There is also a lakeside restaurant and many different events and classes kids throughout the year.

Greenfield Village

At Greenfield Village, kids will love the playground that looks like a historic construction site and the Firestone Farm – a historic working farm where kids can see inside the barns and fields. Buy some candy at Sir John Bennett Sweet Shop and make sure to take a ride on the carousel.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum

What kid wouldn’t love a museum that is full of pinball machines and other games? The museum features the largest collection of well-kept pinball machines in the area, with every decade accounted for. Your kids might enjoy finding out that the museum was once listed in the World Almanac’s 100 most unusual museums in the U.S.

Meadow Brook Hall

Meadow Brook Hall has earned third place in USA Today’s 2022 Best Historic Homes. You have the option to tour the inside of the mansion or the grounds outdoors along with holiday tours during the Christmas season. There are also tons of events for kids and families to take part in throughout the year, so make sure to keep an eye out for those.

Michigan Firehouse Museum

Kids will love knowing they’re in an original 1898 firehouse complete with a bunk area and brass pole. As families explore the museum’s more than 26,000 square feet of space they’ll see fire trucks, extinguishers, bells, helmets, ladders, hose carts and more. Watch for family-friendly events happening here, too.

Michigan Science Center 

MiSci is home to Michigan’s only immersive domed IMAX theater, the Dassault Systémes Planetarium and the Toyota 4D Theater. The IMAX is back open so check here to see what’s showing. Also, see “What’s up? Your guide to the night sky” and “Global Soundscapes” at the planetarium.

Motown Museum 

The museum reopened in February 2023 to provide guests of all ages with tours of music history. Be sure to take a picture of your kids in front of Hitsville U.S.A, the nickname for Motown’s first headquarters and the foundation of the Motown Museum. Check out our family museum guide for tips on visiting with kids.

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

  • Address: 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit
  • Cost: $5/suggested donation for nonmembers, free/members, seniors, students and ages 12 and under

The exhibits at MOCAD are ever changing and explore the best of contemporary art, connecting Detroit to the rest of the world. It offers kid-friendly events so be sure to follow it on Facebook so you don’t miss out!

Plymouth Historical Museum 

Take a walk down “Main Street”, a museum exhibit featuring a late 19th-century Victorian recreation of Main Street where visitors can trace the growth of the town.

At the “Weldon Petz Abraham Lincoln Exhibit”, families can check out artifacts from Lincoln’s youth, rare family genealogy and photos, handwritten legal documents, a lock of Lincoln’s hair and more.

Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm

Featuring original structures from 1840 to the early 20th century, the 16-acre museum complex includes a farmhouse, dairy barn and schoolhouse that kids will love to explore. Families can also have a fun day visiting the museum’s gardens, meadow, beehives, apple orchard and more.

Stahls Automotive Foundation

Check out the automobile collection at the museum featuring movie cars, pre-war era, post-war era, veteran era, vintage era, brass era and performance era. Also, music machines and gas pumps here, as well.

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

At the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, a popular attraction is the “With Liberty and Justice For All” exhibit, where kids can sit on the actual Rosa Parks bus. Also, the “Driving America” exhibit is a big hit with kids and includes automotive artifacts like Henry Ford’s original quadricycle and the Goldenrod race car, interactive touch-screen kiosks and the chance to test drive a virtual Model T. Kids and adults can also take part in the daily Build a Model T activity.

Troy Historic Village

There are so many kid-friendly events and seasonal exhibits that happen at this historic gem. The village offers self-guided tours of the historic buildings ranging from the 1840s to the 1920s. Cheddar the Village Mouse will be in one of the historic buildings and older kids will love completing the scavenger hunt for special artifacts throughout the village.

University of Michigan Museum of Art 

Explore a variety of art from around the world, including “Dopamine Dressing”, which is inspired by the fashion trend, Dopamine Dressing. You’ll see bright colors and surprising textures in Natsu Oyobe’s art. Be sure to keep an eye out for events happening here, too.

Yankee Air Museum

  • Address: Willow Run Airport, 47884 D St., Belleville
  • Cost: online prices: $13/adults, $10/seniors 60-plus and veterans/military, $10/ages 2-17, free/under 2; Admission is $2 more if you purchase at the museum

Kids will get a thrill as they check out the museum’s fleet of flyable and retired aircraft. Families can book a flight experience on the B-17, B-25, C-47 or WACO Biplane May through October. Special events are also offered throughout the year.

Zekelman Holocaust Center

This museum will teach visitors about the Holocaust. You will be able to explore the exhibits that include “The Boxcar”, “The Eternal Flame” and “Memorial, The Camp System” and more. Guided tours are available to the public Sunday-Friday at 1 p.m.

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