The Motor City exudes energy with its rich auto heritage and bustling cultural sites. Families get a taste of that energy in lively museums, parks and restaurants. Here are 10 ways to let the kids explore.
Detroit Zoo Visitors in underwater tunnels watch penguins as they dive into a 25-foot-deep pool at the new Polk Penguin Conservation Center (opening April 18). It’s the largest addition since the zoo opened in the 1880s. Lions and tigers and bears are some of the other stars; you'll also see Japanese snow monkeys, kangaroos, giraffes and pythons while wandering the parklike grounds. detroitzoo.org
The Henry Ford With exhibits honoring aviation pioneers, car culture and U.S. inventors, it’s easy to be inspired by the American ingenuity on display at this sprawling attraction in nearby Dearborn. Kids learn important history lessons at the bus where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat (pictured), Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, the home of the Wright Brothers and the limo JFK was sitting in when he was assassinated. thehenryford.org
Michigan Science Center Hands-on, high-tech activities pack this Midtown attraction. Kids get a charge out of learning about electricity in the Energy Sparks Theatre and launching rockets in the space exhibit. Preschoolers play for hours in Kids Town and stroll across an 80-foot replica of the Mackinac Bridge. An Imax theater and planetarium round out the activities. mi-sci.org
Comerica Park The Detroit Tigers' stadium holds so many diversions, you might forget there’s a baseball game going on. Once through the castlelike entrance gates, you’ll find a Ferris wheel with baseball-shape cars, a tiger-theme carousel, batting cages, and life-size sculptures of Ty Cobb and other famous players. On Sundays, kids 14 and under ride the carousel and Ferris wheel for free and run the bases after home games. wap.mlb.com
Detroit Institute of Arts This world-class museum impresses adults with its collection of African art, Impressionist works and Diego Rivera murals. But it also makes visits fun for children with eye-spy activities, in-studio workshops and audio tours. Visit on Family Sundays for storytelling, art demonstrations and live performances. dia.org
Buddy’s Original Pizza What was once an inner-city speakeasy is now the place to go for square slices of Detroit’s most popular deep-dish pizza (there are 11 locations in the city and surrounding burbs). We like the chicken fajita variation with picante sauce and roasted peppers. The plain cheese lets the chewy crust shine. buddyspizza.com
Photo courtesy of Bill Bowen
Detroit Kid City Kids rely on their imaginations at a series of play stations that include a school, a barbershop, a post office, a bank and an auto factory. (This is Detroit, after all.) Parents appreciate the organic coffee. detroitkidcity.com
Detroit International RiverWalk The 4-mile path links parks, gardens, splash fountains and an adventure center. Stop at Rivard Plaza to take a ride Great Lakes-native animals on the carousel. detroitriverfront.org
Pegasus Taverna No need to worry about the kids being noisy here. Shouts of “Opa!” ring out every few minutes as the waitstaff delivers flaming saganaki. This Greektown staple serves a sizable selection of moussaka, kabobs and gyros, and the portions are as ginormous as the menu. pegasustavernas.com
Best Western Plus Sterling Inn About 30 minutes north of downtown and close to sports venues and shopping, this family-friendly hotel has roomy accommodations and an indoor water park with a 110-foot water slide, lazy river, a splash park and a poolside snack bar. sterlinginn.com
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