100 Kid-Friendly Activities in Detroit 100 Kid-Friendly Activities in Detroit skip to Main Content

100 Kid-Friendly Activities in Detroit

Detroit Riverfront

We love Detroit and it’s a great city to explore with your kids. From outdoor adventures to major league sporting events, museums and musical events – there’s lots to do in the D.

 

Explore Downtown Detroit

Start your trip downtown at the center of the city – Campus Martius Park. The heart of the urban center has the best views and seasonal fun – a sand beach in the summer months and ice rink in the winter. Detroit’s grid is a wheel with spokes that lead you down its major thoroughfares.

  • Woodward Avenue: 

    The most famous street in Detroit passes through Campus Martius entirely. In one direction you can take the Esplanade (a pedestrian walkway) to get a selfie with the Spirit of Detroit and Joe Louis‘ fist. Let the kids play on the playset and cross Jefferson Avenue to enter Hart Plaza for a view of Canada. You can’t miss the Renaissance Center and you will definitely want to head inside to get lost in the spiraling towers.  If you head in the opposite direction, you’ll find another signature Detroit skyscraper. The Hudson’s Site has a storied history in Detroit, and will soon be the newest and tallest building in the city. Shop retail favorites like Nike, H&M, Madewell and more. Be sure to walk through Parker’s Alley behind Shinola Hotel for soft served ice cream from Huddle or the best soft pretzels from Twist.

  • Michigan Avenue:

    You CAN take it all the way to Chicago but you don’t need to go far for fun. Take part in a coney dog challenge at the iconic American and Lafayette diners. Stroll through the urban gardens of Lafayette Greens next door too.

  • Monroe Street:

    It’s #TBT every day of the week at the Monroe Street Midway, a one-of-a-kind outdoor roller skating experience. Walk a little further and enter Greektown. The historic neighborhood has the best food for family dinner and a casino for date night.

  • Cadillac Square:

    Find seasonal activities, public games and two no fail family dining options –  Shake Shack and Pop+Offworld (a retro pizza bar and arcade).

  • More Downtown Destinations:

    Beacon Park hosts FREE special events throughout the year from family-friendly festivals to outdoor classes, concerts and art installations it’s always a good time. If you’re looking for family-friendly shows check the performance schedule at the Fox Theatre, Detroit Opera House and TCF Center to see who’s in town. See all the sites and take a ‘train’ ride on elevated public transit – The People Mover.

 

A Cultural Experience

Detroit has some of the best museums in the world. They are educational and a lot of fun. Four favorites are located across the street from each other: Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan Science Center, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Detroit Historical Museum. Others for your list: Motown Museum, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Ford Piquette Plant, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Parade Company Studio Tour, and Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum.

 

Visit America’s #1 Riverfront

The Detroit Riverfront is the best in the country and our favorite place to explore. Families can walk, stroll, bike (rentals are available from Wheelhouse Detroit), sail or play along the riverfront. There are multiple public restrooms and free public parking lots located along the 5 ½ miles of Riverfront property, making it easy to spend an entire day exploring.

 

Cullen Plaza is the heart of the Detroit Riverfront. Located next to the Renaissance Center you can feel the big city energy while relaxing next to the gentle waves in the river. Kids will love the Cullen Family Carousel, playground and Michigan DNR Outdoor Adventure Center. If you want to hit the water, get tickets for a tour on the Diamond Jack Riverboat. Other favorite places to play are Valade Park (a sand beach that hosts special events throughout the year) and the splash pad at Mt. Elliott Park.

 

The Dequindre Cut is a two mile urban greenway connecting the Detroit Riverfront to Eastern Market. The below-street level greenway is perfect for walking, strolling or biking with kids because they can’t run into the street or get to far away.

 

Root For the Home Team

Detroit is a big sports city with 4 major league teams playing within walking distance to each other. Get tickets to cheer on the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings or Pistons. Other local sporting favorites are Detroit City Football Club soccer and Detroit Roller Derby. Mark your calendar for the annual sporting events – Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle and the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

 

Have Fun Outside

Start your trip downtown at the center of the city – Campus Martius Park. The heart of the urban center has the best views and seasonal fun – a sand beach in the summer months and ice rink in the winter. Detroit’s grid is a wheel with spokes that lead you down its major thoroughfares.

  • Belle Isle State Park

    A trip to the city isn’t complete without a visit to the Jewel of Detroit. Belle Isle is a 982 acre island in the Detroit River that features enough attractions to fill the day. Take in the best views of downtown and get a picture next to the James Scott Memorial Fountain. Visit the country’s oldest aquarium – Belle Isle Aquarium, walk around the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservancy, find animals at the Belle Isle Nature Center, and check out the newest attraction, the Oudolf Garden is both artistic and ecological. Let the kids run around the playgrounds at Kids Row (7000 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207) and Oakway Road (176 Lakeside Drive, Detroit, MI 48207). Make a splash at Belle Isle Beach, find street art and wildlife on the nature trails, and practice your swing at the Belle Isle Golf course.

  • Palmer Park

    Palmer Park is comprised of 296 acres of lawns and historic woodlands, tennis courts, splash park, hiking and biking trails, Lake Frances and its lighthouse, an historic log cabin, the Detroit Mounted Police horse stables and an awesome new Kaboom playground with a Gaga Ball pit. Pick up Dutch Girl Donuts from across the street and spend the day exploring the park.

  • Detroit Farm & Cider:

    Detroit Farm & Cider is a family operated urban farm in the middle of the city. It is open for u-pick in the summer and harvest gatherings in the fall. Grab cider and donuts (sourced from Parmenter’s) and gather around the bonfire to take in the season like never before. Kids can take turns on the kiddie zipline, climb the haystack, say hi to the roaming chicken and baby goats before the entire family hops in the tractor for a tour of the orchards.

  • Detroit Abloom:

    A hidden gem, Detroit Abloom is a non-profit cut flower farm is open to the public and free to explore. Created from abandoned space in a Detroit neighborhood, it’s proof that beauty is all around us. Have fun exploring the grounds, scoping out the vegetable gardens and chasing butterflies. On your way be sure to drive-thru Yellow Light Coffee & Donuts for snacks.

  • Brightmoor Flower Farm:

    Brightmoor Flower Farm is a small, urban farm specializing in growing the brightest blooms. Plan a visit on Saturdays between July and October to tour the farm, learn about botany and pick a bouquet to take home with you.

  • Riverside Skate Park

    The 15,000 square foot Riverside Skate Park by the Ambassador Bridge along the Detroit River is the perfect place for little boarders and bikers. Kids can also play on the playground, basketball courts, soccer and baseball fields.

  • Rouge Park

    Rouge Park is one of Detroit’s signature parks that features natural trails. the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center (where you can say hi to horses), swim at Brennan Pool, run around the playgrounds and explore the community gardens at D Town Farms.

 

Have An Indoor Adventure

When that Michigan weather hits, you can still have fun in the D! Climb to new heights at DYNO Detroit rock wall gym, let your littles test their skills at Ganbaru Ninja Gym, go for the high score at the 100 year old Garden Bowl Bowling Alley, let your kids bike inside at the Lexus Velodrome, play a new game at the Fowling Warehouse.

 

Neighborhoods To Visit

Detroit is a BIG city and there is plenty to do and great neighborhoods to explore.

  • Corktown

    The iconic Michigan Central Station is being transformed into a AV headquarters by the Ford Motor Company and it’s a sight to see. The original food hub of ‘New Detroit’, here are our top picks for family dining.  Take in Roosevelt Park from the patio of Slows BBQ on Michigan Avenue, order sandwiches from Mudgie’s and have a picnic at the playground across the street or play a round or two of bocce ball under the stars while enjoying delicious Italian at Ottava Via.

  • Eastern Market

    If you’re in Detroit on a Saturday, stop by Eastern Market. The year-round open-air market is all things Detroit. Shop local food vendors in the market sheds and in the storefronts surrounding it. There are food trucks, live music and the best atmosphere.

  • The Villages

    If you love beautiful houses and quaint neighborhoods, head to the Villages. Pick out a treat at Sister Pie in West Village, then drive to Indian Village for playtime at Mollicone Park.

  • Grandmont Rosedale

    My favorite spot to buy new books is Pages Bookshop in Grandmont Rosedale. The locally owned shop has the best selection and after you find a book or two, have story time at North Rosedale Park.

  • Southwest

    Experience Mexican culture and enjoy a delicious dinner in southwest Detroit. Mexican Village and Armando’s are two of my favorites. After you eat let the kids run around Clark Park or race across the Bagley Street Pedestrian Bridge. Be sure to treat your kids (and yourself) to something sweet from La Michoacana or the Mexicantown Bakery.

 

Save The Date

It’s always a good time to visit Detroit but if you want an extra special experience be sure to check out Marche Du Nain Rouge, Detroit’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Ford Fireworks, DLECTRICITY, America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Detroit Tree Lighting Ceremony.

 

 

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Kerry

About Kerry Doman

Kerry Doman is the founder and CEO of LittleGuide Detroit and After 5 Detroit. She has lived downtown Detroit for 10+ years and still calls the city home with her husband and son. As a relatively new mom, she’s excited to explore downtown with her family and hopes you’ll enjoy doing the same!

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