Exploring the Detroit Riverfront with Kids

Discover kid-friendly hangouts, exciting activities, public art and more for the entire family on the Detroit Riverfront.

One of Detroit’s most known public places is the Detroit Riverwalk. It spans more than three miles and lets visitors take in the breathtaking views of the city, Detroit River and Canada.

This article was recently updated on March 11, 2024 by Metro Parent’s Assistant Editor, Nikki Roberts. The update included fact-checking attractions on Detroit’s Riverfront to provide the most up to date information, aligning with Metro Parent’s mission to provide the top parenting resources for local families. Questions? Please reach out to nikki@metroparent.com.

Quick details about the Detroit Riverfront

Detroit riverfront with kids
Photo credit: Alanna St. Laurent

  • Address: Detroit, Michigan
  • Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Parking: There are plenty of parking structures along the riverfront that allow hourly parking. Limited free parking is available on the Riverfront’s western side at Rivard Plaza.

Tips for families when exploring the Detroit Riverfront

Detroit riverfront with kids
Photo credit: Joe Gall

  • The restrooms along the Riverfront are at Cullen Plaza, Mt. Elliott Park, Valade Park and Gabriel Richard Park.
  • You may bring your dog, but they must be leashed at all times.
  • Rent bikes from Wheelhouse Detroit or Segways from Detroit Segway.
  • Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older after 6 p.m.
  • Alcohol is not permitted along the Detroit Riverfront.

Things to do with kids on the Detroit Riverfront

Detroit riverfront with kids
Photo credit: Joe Gall

  • Cullen Plaza is a kid-friendly hangout spot, which has a carousel, fountains, a glass-sculpture map of the St. Lawrence Seaway and a children’s playscape.
  • Stop by the historic Hart Plaza for photo opportunities with skyscraper backgrounds. Come at night to see everything lit up, including the Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain.
  • Head to William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor to go fishing, biking, walking, to see the lighthouse or for a family picnic.
  • Take your kids to play at Atwater Beach Playground or to enjoy the interactive water play feature at Mt. Elliott Park.
  • Enjoy the sandy beach with chairs and umbrellas and play area for kids at the Robert C. Valade Park.
  • Gabriel Richard Park features a whimsical fountain, butterfly gardens, fishing outlooks and more.
  • Walk or bike the two-mile-long Dequindre Cut Greenway. Take pictures of the art walk along the way.
  • Show your kids the historical landmark for the International Memorial to the Underground Railroad. This could open up the discussion to talk about race with your children.

What to do with kids near the Detroit Riverfront

Photo credit: Detroit Institute of Arts

  • Inside the Renaissance Center, check out the latest General Motors automobiles in GM Plaza’s car showroom and the many restaurants and shops to enjoy.
  • Enjoy a day at Outdoor Adventure Center, which features more than 20 interactive and educational exhibits that bring the outdoors indoors. They also have archery programs and other family-friendly events.
  • Browse the works of art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Make sure to use our DIA family guide to get the most out of your visit there.
  • Get some Middle Eastern and American food at Bucharest Grill, which is known for having one of the best shawarmas around. The family pack meal features two shawarmas, two sticks, one quesadilla and one order of fries.

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Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano is a mom of one and Metro Parent's Audience Development Coordinator. She tracks down the best events every week and shares the inside scoop with families in print and online. She enjoys reading, traveling and exploring metro Detroit with her son.

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