1) Michigan Science Center The former Detroit Science Center reinvented itself as this Midtown attraction. Hands-on, high-tech activities pack the place. 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 the pint-size Kids Town area; and all ages stroll across an 80-foot replica of the Mackinac Bridge. An Imax theater and planetarium round out the activities. mi-sci.org
2) The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village With exhibits honoring aviation pioneers, car culture and U.S. inventors, it’s hard not to be inspired by the good old-fashioned American ingenuity on display in nearby Dearborn. Ford amassed an astonishing collection of Americana, including the bus where Rose Parks refused to give up her seat, 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
Greenfield Village. Photo courtesy of Bill Bowen.
3) Comerica Park The home field of the Detroit Tigers holds so much fun stuff that you might forget there’s a baseball game going on. Once through the castlelike entrance gates, you’ll find a Ferris wheel with giant baseball-shape cars, a tiger-theme carousel, batting cages, and life-size sculptures of Ty Cobb and other famous players. Kids 14 and under can ride the carousel and Ferris wheel free on Sundays, as well as run the bases after Sunday home games. wap.mlb.com
Comerica Park. Photo courtesy of Vito Palmissano.
4) Detroit Institute of Arts Museum This world-class museum impresses adults with an amazingly broad permanent collection that includes African art, Impressionist works and Diego Rivera murals. But it also makes visits fun and interesting for children with eye-spy activities, in-studio workshops, a self-guided nature “hike” through the galleries and audio tours designed with young visitors in mind. Family Sundays up the ante with storytelling, art demonstrations and live performances. dia.org
5) Buddy’s Original Pizza What was once an inner-city speakeasy is now the place to go for signature square slices of Detroit’s most popular deep-dish pizza. Don’t let the unassuming exterior and long lines deter you; this pizza is worth waiting for. We like the chicken fajita variation for something different, but the classic plain cheese lets the quality of the ingredients really shine. buddyspizza.com
Buddy's Original Pizza. Photo courtesy of Bill Bowen.
6) Detroit Zoo A stunning fountain and parklike grounds set the Detroit Zoo apart. A local fixture since the 1880s, this zoo spreads over 125 acres and is to more than 2,800 animals and 265 species. Lions and tigers and bears are just a few of the stars; you'll also see Japanese snow monkeys, kangaroos, giraffes, pythons and butterflies. Last year, the zoo opened a $29.5 million penguin conservation center which is the largest facility of its kind in the country. detroitzoo.org
Detroit Zoo. Photo courtesy of Bill Bowen.
7) Detroit Kid City You won’t find any flashy electronic exhibits or noisy video games at this Southfield play zone. Instead, kids rely on their imaginations at a series of pretend-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 and Michigan-sourced snacks. detroitkidcity.com
8) Detroit International Riverfront Studded with pretty parks and fountains the kids can splash through, the RiverWalk is still a work in progress, though it’s come a long way in recent years. The 5.5-mile path stretches beyond the borders of downtown to link Joe Louis Arena and Gabriel Richard Park. Along the way are landmarks such as the GM Renaissance Center and Eastern Market. Stop at Rivard Plaza to take a spin on the carousel adorned with Great Lakes-native animals. detroitriverfront.org
9) 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 traditional cuisine, such as moussaka, kabobs and gyros. The portions are as ginormous as the menu, but try to save room for one of the delectable desserts. pegasustavernas.com
10) Best Western Plus Sterling Inn About 30 minutes north of downtown Detroit 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