19 November 2010

Advice Needed from Detroit-Area Readers

Maddie, Riley, and I are headed to Michigan next week to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with John's family in greater Detroit.

Now that the twins are old enough to really enjoy getting out and exploring, I'm looking for recommendations on preschooler-friendly things to do in the area. What of these activities are worthwhile for the four-year-old set? What else do those of you who know the area recommend?

Detroit Children's Museum
Detroit Science Center
Arts & Scraps
Cranbrook Institute of Science
Detroit Zoo

We arrive on Wednesday evening, and Thursday will be dedicated to Thanksgiving and (for Riley, at least) football. We'll be spending Friday night in Frankenmuth, which should be a lot of fun, then we're back in Detroit until Tuesday morning.

What say you, Detroit experts?


kpotter19 said...

As a lifelong Detroiter I would say get yourselves to the Science Center without a doubt - it's fun for everyone! Greenfield Village in Dearborn is also great fun for kids and parents alike. I do love the zoo, but not so much in unpredictable November weather. If you get lucky with a nice day then it's well worth it. If you're anywhere near Ann Arbor the Hands On Museum is very fun for that age group. Have fun!

michaela said...

I've only been to Detroit once - for a conference of business journalists at that - so I don't have any firsthand knowledge to contribute. But Jim from Sweet Juniper wrote a design-oriented guide to Detroit for Design-Sponge the other day - it doesn't include many of the places you mentioned, but it might spark some good ideas.

lisak said...

I would say Cranbrook is out until they are older. Detroit Zoo is nice but big and would require lots of walking in potentially cold weather. Also, if I recall correctly, some of the animals won't be out if the weather is cold. It's been a really long time since I've been to the Det. Science Ctr, but I know my kids enjoyed it when they were mid-elementary age (currently they are 11 and 13 yo). A better alternative to Detroit Science Ctr might be the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum or the Imagination Station in Toledo, which has an awesome preschool hands-on area (http://www.imaginationstationtoledo.org/content/2010/01/kidspace-science-studio/). Though Toledo may be too far--I'm in Ann Arbor and Toledo is only 45 mins down the road for us. Toledo also has a great zoo--smaller for walking purposes but not small in size or exhibits. Sorry, I know nothing of the Detroit Children's Museum or Arts and Scraps. Enjoy! Have a safe trip and a good Thanksgiving!

Gwen said...

I live in Ann Arbor, which is just south of Detroit. Depending on which suburb you'll be in, the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum is awesome. Also the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor have a children's section that is really fun, my three year olds love it. (Depending on the weather, because the coolest part for kids is outside) Also I agree with the suggestion to make a day-trip to the Toledo Zoo, it's so fun.

Raddit said...

I've never been to Detroit, but like michaela, I was going to send you to Sweet Juniper--he makes me want to visit! He has some great local business profiles as well--I haven't looked at his Design Sponge guide yet, so I'm not sure what all he covers.

django's mommy said...

We were just up in Detroit for the first time in July, and went to the Henry Ford Museum (at Greenfield Village) in Dearborn. N was 5 and liked seeing all the vehicles, but it's not quite as hands-on as I would have liked. Still, I'd recommend it, especially if M & R like trains/trucks/cars/farm equipment.

Anonymous said...

I think Cranbrook would be fine for 4 year olds...and it is such a beautiful place to walk around. The Science museum at Cranbrook has many hands on exhibits for youngsters. Also Greenfield Village!

I am a long time reader of your blog, but rarely comment. Your writing is inspiring; you are able to put emotions into words in a beautiful way.

Jan said...

Check out the blog 'Sweet Juniper'. he lives in Detroit and has two small kids.

Carrie said...

I'm from Toledo originally, so I second taking a day trip down there. It's not a long trip and the zoo is really awesome. The animals are actually WAY more active when it's cool outside rather than during the heat of the summer. Ride the train, it's pretty fun for the 4 year old set. The Lights Before Christmas opens before T-giving usually, and that is SUPER fun. (Can you tell I worked there for years?)

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

The Detroit Science center is great! It's not very large so you should be able to cover the entire museum. Also, Thursday is the Detroit Thanksgiving day parade if you want to go downtown. There is ice skating downtown as well.

Any chance us Michigan/Detroit readers will get a chance to meet you and the kids?

Anonymous said...

I have lived and raised three kids in Detroit for the last 20 years. My kids are now 17, 13 and 11. They love the Science Center and the Zoo (my oldest worked at the Zoo this past summer.) There are wonderful indoor exhibits that you can get to and I think the walking is fine for four year olds. The Hands On Museum is great as well - I think Cranbrook would be lost on 4 year olds.

Jes said...

I'm a metro-Detroiter - definitely go to the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum. There's a lot to do in Ann Arbor, too - a great farmer's market on Saturdays, awesome kid's shops and downtown (try Zingerman's!), and overall could just be a wonderful trip. The twins might also like Henry Ford (inside part of Greenfield Village). The Christmas Lights on Hines Drive are great, too.

Susan said...

If the weather is cooperating, the kids may enjoy running around and exploring at Greenfield Village. It is outdoor fun so they would need to be dressed for the weather.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ann Arbor and have a 5-year old. We LOVE Greenfield Village and go frequently even as the temperatures drop. It is great for active kids. In Ann Arbor: the Hands-On museum, the Natural History museum at UM (also has a planetarium that is great for kids). You might also check the local orchards to see if they are still open for corn maize fun. As a side note - if you are queasy about old-fashioned zoos I would avoid Toledo. (Detroit Zoo has much more open space). However, there are a lot of other great things to do in Toledo, including the imaginarium as other commentors mentioned.

Stacy said...

I lived in Ann Arbor for several years and taught little kids religious school. Some of their favorite things in the area were:

the scrap box: http://www.scrapbox.org/

jump city: http://www.jump-city.com/

Dexter cider mill: http://www.dextercidermill.com/hours.htm

they also loved the Toledo Zoo, though it's something of a drive, and the Henry Ford Museum (which my whole family adored as well; I didn't expect it to be as popular with little kids as it was, though)

University of Michigan also has a small natural history museum, with dinosaurs and other stuff--not worth going there just for that, but a nice add-on to other things in the area.

Anonymous said...

I second the idea for the nightime ride through Hines Park. The kids will talk about it for years it is so amazing. The entrance is in Livonia off Merriman Road and ends in Dearborn/Dearborn Heights right off Telegraph. I would suggest not going on Thanksgiving as the traffic will be crazy. The best night may be Sunday or Monday. You can even dress the kids in their pjs and pop them into bed when your done.

Anonymous said...

We just did the Lights Before Christmas display at the Toledo Zoo with our 2.5 year old. It was beautiful, but we saw ZERO animals. Sam was very disappointed, but very much enjoyed running around amongst the lights. It was well worth the drive from our home in Ann Arbor.

Also, the Hands On Museum in AA is nice (though I've been to better children's museums). Kerrytown Marketplace downtown AA has a great toy store, but not much more that's exciting for the younger crowd (you could pair it with the Hands-On museum, though, and kill two birds with one stone).

Aaand, though I haven't been there myself, my neighbors and their five kids go to Greenfield Village on a regular basis. All the kids (ages 3-12) love it!

Have a wonderful time in the Detroit area!

scott davidson said...

"There should be pictures of food in the dining room and landscape in the living room," says my daughter, who is just starting her interior design course at our local university. So I asked her to browse to wahooart.com on the computer.
There she can choose good canvas prints to be made from a vast choice of Western art and she picked this one of fish by Braque, http://en.wahooart.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LJ278 for the dining room.