Family activities in Detroit
Detroit river with view of downtown and lovely couple

The 10 Best Family-Friendly Activities in Detroit

Detroit, which is known as the Motor City, is a great place for a family vacation. The birthplace of the Motown Sound offers a wide variety of family-friendly attractions, including museums, parks, and sporting events. If you’re considering a trip to Detroit, here are our top 10 picks for family-friendly activities.

Detroit, MI, USA – December 20, 2014: The Detroit Institute of Arts, shown on December 20, 2014, is hosting an exhibit on Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt at the Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection, which is considered one of the top six in America, showcases works by famous artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Diego Rivera. The museum has more than 100 galleries and over 65,000 works dating from ancient times to the present. The collection is remarkably diverse thanks to the inclusion of African, Asian, Native American, Oceanic, and Islamic art.

The museum’s Center for African American Art features pieces by 19th-century and early 20th-century painters like Robert S. Duncanson and Henry Ossawa Tanner and contemporary artists like Kehinde Wiley. Your kids can use the museum’s free Wi-Fi to go on app-based scavenger hunts.

Try Simulated Car Racing at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation celebrates the ingenuity and courage of our nation’s trailblazers. Its exhibits and interactive displays showcase inventions that propelled the development of planes, trains, and automobiles. 

Explore history by stepping into Rosa Parks’ bus, driving the world’s fastest cars in simulators, and admire vintage aircraft like the Boeing 40 and Ford Tri-Motor.

Polar Bear Viewing tunnel at Detroit Zoo via Getty Images

Meet the Polar Bears at the Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo, which delights animal lovers, is home to more than 2,000 amphibians, mammals, birds, and reptiles. The Arctic Ring of Life has many polar bears and the African Grasslands have lions, giraffes, and zebras.

Your family can enjoy educational exhibits, including the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery. It offers a garden with hundreds of free-flying butterflies and an aviary with more than 20 species of birds. The kids can ride on the Tauber Family Railroad and take a spin on a custom-made carousel. 

You can check out family-friendly events such as Nocturnal Adventures, which are dusk tours of the zoo featuring animals you might not see in the daytime.

Enjoy Nature at Belle Isle Park

Belle Isle Park is located in the Detroit River’s international waters. The 982-acre natural oasis offers a wooded area, swimming beaches, and a marble lighthouse. And several museums and cultural attractions are situated in the park. 

Your family can see one of the world’s largest collections of air-breathing fish at the Belle Isle Aquarium, you can check out historic ship models at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and you can get some exercise at Belle Isle Golf Center’s driving range, mini-course, and chip-and-putt area. 

Belle Isle Bridge via Getty Images

Honor Detroit’s Musical Legacy at the Motown Museum

The Motown Museum is a mecca for music lovers of all ages. It is located in Motown Records’ original headquarters and studio, where legendary artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross recorded their hit songs. 

Your family can tour the studio, Berry Gordy’s apartment, and curated exhibits with a guide whose anecdotes will bring the history of Motown music to life.

Play and Learn at the Michigan Science Center

The Michigan Science Center is a museum with more than 220 interactive exhibits that engage curious minds of all ages. 

Your family can explore the night sky in a planetarium, see a film in a 4D theater, have fun in a STEM Playground, and learn about science in galleries devoted to topics such as the exploration of outer space, the process of invention, and the properties of matter and energy.

Attend a Detroit Pistons Game

If you’re visiting the city during pro basketball season, your family can catch a Detroit Pistons game at Little Caesars Arena, which is also the home of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team. The arena, which opened in 2017, features state-of-the-art technology and, in addition to sports, hosts many other entertainment and community events.

View of Detroit Riverfront Via Getty Images.

Do Yoga on the Riverfront

The Detroit Riverfront is a revitalized area filled with shoreline parks, plazas, and pavilions connected by a pathway called the RiverWalk.

Your family can stroll, run, bike, fish, or relax and get some fresh air in this waterfront haven. You can also take part in recurring programs such as volleyball at Valade Park, tai chi at Milliken State Park, and moonlight yoga at Gabriel Richard Park.

Take a Walk Through The Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project is a unique outdoor art installation on Detroit’s East Side. Artist Tyree Guyton created the massive art environment by painting brightly colored polka dots on his childhood home and using refuse to create gigantic sculptures on vacant lots.

The city demolished the project on two occasions in the 1990s, but Guyton rebuilt it.

Your family can do a self-guided exploration of the thought-provoking art installation or book a tour with a docent who will tell you all about the project’s history and mission. 

Henry Ford Museum via Getty Images

Visit the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving and honoring Black culture. 

Your family can broaden their knowledge by viewing exhibitions that focus on the tragedy of slavery and the heroism of the Civil Rights Movement; Detroit’s theater, dance, and music scene; and works by stained glass artist Samuel A. Hodge. 

If you’re planning a summertime visit to Detroit, you can attend the African World Festival, which the museum hosts in Hart Plaza. The event features live entertainment and food, art, and clothing vendors.

Plan a Visit to Family-Friendly Detroit

Detroit is a family-friendly destination. Its museums foster learning and celebrate Black culture, while its parks and zoo provide entertainment for people of all ages. So be sure to include Motor City in your family’s upcoming travel plans.

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