Family days are fun but they can also be expensive – here’s a list of fun activities everyone can afford!
Free is wonderful but also hard to come buy. Another cost saving tip is to consider getting a membership when you visit a local attraction. The cost may sound like a lot upfront but if you go twice you will probably experience a per person/per visit cost savings. You will also get member perks and added incentive to plan another family outing!
BONUS: Most local museums have reciprocity agreements with each other. That means your membership grants you free admission to the museum you joined and other museums in the network. For example, if you have a membership to the Michigan Science Center you can also visit the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, the Cranbrook Institute of Science and more for FREE!
Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202 (Midtown) | 313.833.7900
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is one of the premier art museums in the United States, is it home to more than 60,000 works. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera’s world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range, and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art. Admission is free to residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents. All kids ages 5 and under are free.
Detroit Historical Museum
5401 Woodward Ave, Detroit, 48202 (Midtown) | 313.833.1805
The Detroit Historical Museum is the only museum dedicated to chronicling our region’s history. Permanent exhibits include the Streets of Old Detroit, Allesee Gallery of Culture, Kid Rock Music Lab, Doorway to Freedom: Detroit and the Underground Railroad, Detroit: The “Arsenal of Democracy,” America’s Motor City, and The Glancy Trains. Changing exhibits rotate throughout the year in spaces including our Booth-Wilkinson Gallery, Community Gallery and Automotive Showplace.
Belle Isle Aquarium
900 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI, 48207 (Belle Isle) | 313.402.0466
The Belle Isle Aquarium is a public aquarium located in Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Michigan. Designed by noted architect Albert Kahn, it opened on August 18, 1904, and was the oldest continually operating public aquarium in North America when it closed on April 3, 2005. The aquarium reopened to the public on August 18, 2012, and is now run entirely by volunteers. The 10000sqft historic building features a single large gallery with an arched ceiling covered in green glass tile to evoke an underwater feeling. Admission is free, to drive on Belle Isle you need a Michigan State Park Pass. It is $11 annually and grants vehicle access to all state parks.
Belle Isle Nature Center
176 Lakeside Drive, Detroit, MI, 48207 (Belle Isle) | 313.402.0466
The Belle Isle Nature Center visitors are able to get an insider’s view of an actual beehive and get an up-close view of Michigan wildlife. A bird observation window allows guests to watch native and migratory birds as they feed from natural and supplemental food sources. The Deer Encounter allows guests the opportunity to observe the fallow deer while learning about their history with Belle Isle. Admission is free, to drive on Belle Isle you need a Michigan State Park Pass. It is $11 annually and grants vehicle access to all state parks.
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
900 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI, 48207 (Belle Isle) | 313.821.5428
The Conservatory is divided into various ‘houses’. The Palm House which includes tropical trees and palms, the Cactus House including succulents and cactus, the Fernery which is sunken to provide cooler conditions and more humidity, the Tropical House where many plants that provide food are housed including bananas, oranges, figs and the Show House which has changing displays of flowering plants. Admission is free, to drive on Belle Isle you need a Michigan State Park Pass. It is $11 annually and grants vehicle access to all state parks.
Dossin Great Lakes Museum
100 The Strand, Detroit, MI, 48207 (Belle Isle) | 313.833.5538
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is dedicated to showcasing the story of the Great Lakes, with a special emphasis on Detroit’s role in regional and national maritime history. Permanent exhibits include Built by the River in the John A. and Marlene L. Boll Foundation Gallery, the Miss Pepsi vintage championship hydroplane, the Gothic Room from the S.S. City of Detroit III, the S.S. William Clay Ford pilot house, and one of the largest known collections of scale model ships in the world. Significant artifacts include a bow anchor from the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald and an 18th century British canon salvaged from the Detroit River. Admission is free, to drive on Belle Isle you need a Michigan State Park Pass. It is $11 annually and grants vehicle access to all state parks.
FREE ADMISSION – 2ND SUNDAY OF EACH MONTH
Charles H Wright Museum of African American History
315 East Warren Ave, Detroit, MI, 48201 | 313.494.5800
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History opens minds and changes lives through the exploration and celebration of African American history and culture. This 125,000 square foot museum includes “And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture,” the museum’s 22,000 square foot, interactive core exhibit, which attracts and enthralls thousands of visitors per year. An amazing adventure of history, art and achievement awaits you or your group at The Wright Museum!
FREE ADMISSION – 1ST FRIDAY OF EACH MONTH STARTING AT 5PM
Cranbrook Institute of Science
39221 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills, 48304 | 248.645.3200
Cranbrook Institute of Science promotes experiences in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The planetarium at Cranbrook Institute of Science is an intimate theater that allows you to explore and experience the universe. It features a state-of-the-art Digistar star projector that allows star fields and other images to be projected and moved through. The Erb Family Science Garden, designed by Landscape Architect Peter Osler, is situated in the courtyard of Cranbrook Institute of Science. Within a dynamic garden of Michigan native plants that change with the seasons, the science garden displays water for which the Great Lakes are famous – featuring water in its vapor, liquid, and solid states. At the garden entrance, flow pools drop in stages of three terraces, cascading over a waterfall.
Stage Nature Center
6685 Coolidge Hwy, Troy, MI, 48098 | 248. 688.9703
The Stage Nature Center is a 100 acre nature preserve with resident deer, a wide range of Michigan native plants, rolling meadows, forest trails, boardwalks over marshlands and the Rouge River, which rolls though the grounds. Explore the ground and visit the Stage Nature Center Interpretive Center, naturalists host nature inspired educational programs throughout the year.
24915 Farmington Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48336 | 248.477.1135
Heritage Park is a 211-acre park with 4.5 miles of trails for hiking and nature study. In the winter these trails are used for cross-country skiing. A large picnic area is located at the north end of the park, it includes a splash pad, group picnic shelter, youth playground, in-ground grills, two sand volleyball courts, an in-line hockey rink and six horseshoe pits. Also located in Heritage Park is a Nature Center with interpretive exhibits reflecting the natural world such as a life-sized animal habitat, a backyard habitat bird viewing area, native fish aquariums, a nature library and activity table as well as a hands-on touch table and Discovery Cove.
River Raisin National Battlefield Park
1403 East Elm Street, Monroe, MI, 48162 | 734.243.7136
The River Raisin National Battlefield Park preserves, commemorates, and interprets the January 1813 battles of the War of 1812 – the Battle resulted in the greatest victory for Tecumseh’s American Indian confederation and the greatest defeat for the U.S. The Heritage Trail has eight miles of paved hike-bike trails that provide safe and scenic routes to walk, run, cycle and in-line skate. The trail connects major historic sites, state and local parks, nationally significant buildings and ecological features. Parking areas and facilities can be found along the trails for your convenience.
FREE ADMISSION – LAST SUNDAY OF EACH MONTH
Flint Children’s Museum
1602 W. University Ave. Flint, MI 48504 | 810.767.5437
The Flint Children’s Museum has over 40 hands-on educational and fun exhibits are tucked in every corner. Each trip to the museum is a new experience with monthly themes, daily activities and events, and special guests! The Museum offers hands-on experiences of all types for children from ages 2 to 10 The Discovery Zone, our rotating exhibit space, changes every three months, so check back to see what’s new.
Photo credit: Facebook
About Carrie Budzinski
Carrie Budzinski is the Vice President of LittleGuide Detroit. She grew up in Livonia and Detroit and continues to live life in both cities. Carrie loves exploring the city and finding hidden gems in the suburbs..