A visit to the Motor City with kids will most certainly involve checking out a car or two (try the Detroit Historical Museum), but Detroit has a lesser known reputation for its zoo, science center, theater, and other things to do with kids that go way beyond the typical tourist destinations. Here are our picks for an Aretha-approved visit to the birthplace of Motown records.

You’ll be happy to know that Detroit is also a relatively easy city to navigate with kids, especially if you take public transportation. Kids can ride the Qline free with an adult. From the Qline you can access the Michigan Science Center and the Detroit Public Library.

To highlight everything that Detroit has to offer, we’ve scoured the streets to find the best activities for parents and children of all ages. Whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor, here are our ideas and suggestions for the 8 best places in Detroit for families and kids.

Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo is 125 acres of natural habitats for more than 2,000 animals. Kids will love the opportunity to feed the giraffe at the Giraffe Encounter, take a ride on the carousel, and get from place to place on the gorgeous vintage train. Train lovers will also love the Thomas the Train 4D show. No matter what their interest, the Zoo offers spectacular events for kids of all ages.

8450 W 10 Mile Rd
Royal Oak, MI 48067
(248) 541-5717


Detroit Historical Museum

Detroit’s rich history is chronicled at the Detroit Historical Museum, where visitors can learn about cobblestone streets,19th century stores, the auto assembly line, toy trains, fur trading from the 18th century, and more. Bonus: this museum is free!

5401 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-1805


Michigan Science Center

Your kids will never tire of the MiSci’s seemingly endless exhibits. With live stage shows, a planetarium, 250+ exhibits, and lab activities, there’s more than a week’s worth of entertainment and education.

5020 John R St
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 577-8400


Fox Theatre

The Fox Theatre has hosted some of the biggest names in show business, and it’s no wonder — this gorgeous spot is considered Detroit’s crown jewel. Kids will be awestruck by its majesty while attending one of many special Children’s Theater events.

2211 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 471-3200


The Fowling Warehouse

One part bowling, one part football, “fowling” involves throwing a football at bowling pins. There are special family hours on the weekends; kids are allowed noon – 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

3901 Christopher St
Detroit, MI 48211
(313) 264-1288


Outdoor Adventure Center

DNR Outdoor Adventure Center is a uniquely Detroit experience that’s fantastic for kids (and adults!) of any age. There are trees to climb, interesting displays, and interactive pretend adventures like kayaking, snowmobiling, four wheeling, fishing and more.

1801 Atwater St
Detroit, MI 48207
(844) 622-6367


Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory

This Conservatory is the oldest continually-running conservatory in the United States and occupies 13 acres. Kids will love the feeling of discovering secret gardens around every corner, with a wide variety of plants from all over the world. Bonus: the museum is technically free, but a donation is requested.

900 Inselruhe Ave
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 821-5428


Belle Isle Aquarium

The Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest aquarium in the country — and it’s free. The aquarium educates about fish all over the world, and specifically the Great Lakes.

900 Inselruhe Ave
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 402-0466


Detroit Institute of Arts

One of the top six museums in the United States, The DIA has a global collection that spans from Egyptian and European works to contemporary art. Their kids program is the “Detroit Institute of Awesome” which features special events and activities geared toward kids.

5200 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-7900


The Best Upcoming Events for Kids in Detroit

If you’re looking for events and activities, don’t miss our local Detroit family-friendly events calendar, which has everything from story times to seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin patches, and Christmas tree farms.