Are you looking to road trip with your kids for spring break? Our mitten state is full of great day trip destinations to make with kids. In this roundup, you’ll find six spots that families from Michigan must visit. Plus, how long it’ll take you to get there, ages the location is best suited for and fun ideas on what to do once you get there. Safe travels!
Durand Union Station, Durand
Distance from Detroit: 82 miles
Best for ages: Preschool-Late Elementary
Known for: Kids with an affinity for trains will love the Durand Union Station, a historical stop that also includes the Michigan Railroad Museum. The village of Durand (formerly Vernon Center) was created thanks to the Grand Trunk Western and Ann Arbor Railroads that needed a stop. The museum includes artifacts, records and ever-changing exhibits. Learn more on your drive there listening to the station’s podcast: Depotcast, available on Spotify and iTunes.
While you’re there: A short 12-mile drive from Durand is Owosso, home to the Curwood Castle. James Oliver Curwood was a novelist who built a castle on the Shiawassee River, which is now the location of a park for visitors.
Potter Park Zoo, Lansing
Distance from Detroit: 90 miles
Best for ages: Birth-Middle School
Known for: If your kids know the Detroit Zoo like the back of their hands, meet some new animals at the Potter Park Zoo. Learn about the banded mongoose, the red kangaroo and the binturong that call Lansing home. Masks are required at all times, even outdoors, and families are asked to purchase tickets in advance.
While you’re there: As the state capital, there’s no shortage of things to do for kids of all ages. A short two miles away from the zoo is Lansing Community College, with a sculpture walk that includes giant pencils, a girl holding balloons and a woman with two massive umbrellas. When the weather is great, families can enjoy a walk on the path between the Capitol building and the Justice Building. Take a virtual tour before you go, then families can work together to identify what they see.
American Museum of Magic, Marshall
Distance from Detroit: 110 miles
Best for ages: Late Elementary-High School
Known for: Through the end of March, the museum is available by appointment only, but it’s worth the phone call in advance. Learn the tricks of Harry Houdini or Michigan’s own Harry Blackstone. The museum houses the largest collection of magic artifacts in the U.S. and includes the life stories of magicians from around the world.
While you’re there: Make a stop at Turkeyville USA, a restaurant and gift shop that also offers cooking classes, retro sweets and an ice cream parlor. The next exit west on I-94 from Marshall is Battle Creek, the home to Binder Park Zoo. The zoo closed this winter with plans to reopen when the warmer weather is more conducive to see animals like the bontebok, giraffe and snow leopard.
Air Zoo, Kalamazoo
Distance from Detroit: 140 miles
Best for ages: All Ages
Known for: The Air Zoo is an extensive collection of planes and flying vehicles from early flight through the modern era (including space shuttles). With more than 100 aircraft, space craft and interactive exhibits, families can learn about women in flight, the history of Black pilots and engineers, aliens and more. An area for toddlers and preschoolers helps younger kids enjoy the experience, too. Online tickets are encouraged during COVID-19 as capacity limits are in place.
While you’re there: For a yummy treat, stop by Chocolate with Convictions, a fair-trade chocolate shop on Crosstown Parkway that employs youth from the court system. Walk off all the chocolate with a jaunt through the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, the newest park in Kalamazoo County with a 10-foot-wide trail for walking, roller blading and biking.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids
Distance from Detroit: 160 miles
Best for ages: Preschool-High School
Known for: The outdoor garden and sculpture park is open year-round, housing seasonal plants paired with permanent and changing art exhibitions. This spring, a butterfly experience is slated for March 1-April 30 so that families can see more than 60 species of butterflies from across the globe. Advanced ticket purchases are encouraged and masks are required indoors.
While you’re there: If your kids love to build with Lego bricks or just can’t get enough nature, head to the Grand Rapids Public Museum that is hosting Wild Connections, an exhibit of Lego nature builds, through the spring. With art at its heart, Grand Rapids is known for its murals and there are at least 26 that make great photos for the ‘Gram.
Nelis’ Dutch Village, Holland
Distance from Detroit: 180 miles
Best for ages: Preschool-Late Elementary
Known for: Holland is known for its Dutch heritage and late-spring tulip festival. Kids can enjoy a petting farm, rides, a carousel, cooking demonstrations and more in the village. The park opens in early April, and families can allow 3-4 hours to see everything. Restrictions during the pandemic include reduced capacities inside the park and in eating areas, frequent cleanings and advanced ticketing.
While you’re there: Not far is the Windmill Island Gardens, with a giant windmill that stretches 125 feet into the air. Crane’s Orchards is a high producer of apples in the southwestern corner of the state, and feeds the hungry families at Crane’s Pie Pantry. Take a pie or two for the road.
Looking for a destination even further away? Check out these Midwest road trip destinations.