Library Story Time
Two-year-olds can enjoy a visit to the Fenton Winegarden Library. This branch, situated on East Caroline Street, is open Monday through Saturday. The children's center in the library makes a trip to the library more enjoyable for kids by offering book lending and scheduled story times. Weekly story time gives young children an opportunity to see and make new friends, listen to stories, sing songs and take part in other various activities offered from time to time.
Fenton offers a variety of parks for residents and visitors to enjoy. Bush Park, one of the city's largest parks, situated along the peaceful Shiawassee River, offers a children's playground with a tot lot area designed just for young children. The tot lot area is ideal for 2-year-olds to run and play safely. Millpond Park, next to Fenton City Hall, also has play equipment for children and picnic areas to enjoy a picnic lunch.
Flint Children's Museum
Flint Children's Museum, just a 23-minute drive away, is on the campus of Kettering University. Young children will enjoy the exhibits and all sorts of hands-on experiences at this museum. There is even a tot spot, designed especially for children under the age of 3. In the tot spot, visitors enjoy a room filled with activities and toys designed with young children in mind, including mirrored walls, crawling mats and tot-size furniture.
Chuck E. Cheese's
Two year-old's can run and play all over Chuck E. Cheese's, just a 19-minute drive away, in Flint, Michigan. Games, entertainment and rides are available for children of all ages, including toddlers. While there, families can also enjoy the salad bar and a freshly baked pizza of their choice. Parents are able to relax knowing about the kid check program. When parents and children arrive, both will receive matching hand stamps to ensure children are only able to leave with their parents.
Twenty-eight minutes away, in Flint, young children and families can enjoy Crossroads Village and the Huckleberry Railroad. Upon arrival, guests step back into the 19th century. Villagers are on hand to welcome visitors, dressed up in 19th century period clothing, adding to the charm of the village. There is a cider maker, blacksmith, crafts, train rides, ferris wheel, carousel and various activities scheduled throughout the year. During the holidays, Crossroad Village is lit up with Christmas lights and decorated to put visitors in the holiday spirit. The lights are sure to excite toddlers.
Kids will enjoy visiting a fully operational dairy farm. Jilbert Dairy (jilbertdairy.com) produces milk and ice cream locally and distributes throughout the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin. Visitors can pick from a selection of sundaes and ice cream flavors and even view the milk processing plant activity. The Moosewood Nature Center (moosewood.org) has live animal exhibits in varied natural habitats. Kids can learn all about bog, forest and lakeshore habitats through the center's educational programs. Special events often take place such as Birds of Prey presentations and Earth Day celebrations.
Sports and Games
The Marquette Center for Dance (mqtdance.com) has dance classes in tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and contemporary. Children 3 to 4 years old can take Baby Ballet and 2-year-olds can take a Mommy and Me class. For kids who like to ski or snowboard, Marquette Mountain (marquettemountain.com) provides ski lessons for 3- to 10-year-olds. The session includes a lift ticket, snacks and playtime. For some fun and games, Superior Entertainment (wingsandbowling.com) features open bowling, glow bowling, a video arcade, pizza and ice cream treats.
Parks and Beaches
The city of Marquette (mqtcty.org) provides several parks that are prime locales for kids to play and run around in. Ellwood A Mattson Lower Harbor Park (no website; 100-174 N. Lakeshore Blvd.; 906-228-0460) provides kids with a large wooden playground structure called Kid's Cove Playground. Shiras Park (no website; 1020-1030 Allouez Road; 906-228-0460) has sandy beaches, open grassy areas, picnic tables and a playground with tot riding toys. South Beach Park (no website; 196-1044 S. Lake St; 906-228-0460) has a swimming beach, climbing structures, swings and volleyball courts.
The Marquette Regional History Center (marquettehistory.org) houses several historical exhibits including a beaver pond, fur trading post, a look at the history of firearms and recreational hockey. Hands-on activities and guided tours are available for all ages. The Upper Peninsula Children's Museum (upchildrensmuseum.com) tailors its exhibits to active kids, featuring an airplane to climb in and simulate operation, a giant head to crawl through and a mechanical engine cutout to examine. The Marquette Maritime Museum and Lighthouse (mqtmaritimemuseum.com) offers a tour through a lighthouse and kids can learn about famous shipwrecks of the area.
You and your family can enjoy some activities together at the Detroit Zoo. Explore this 125-acre zoo, checking out exhibits like the Australian Outback Adventure, Arctic Ring of Life and the Holden Reptile Conservation Center. You'll see more than 3,300 animals representing 280 various species. Attractions at the zoo include the carousel, Tauber Family Railroad and the Giraffe Encounter, where your kids can feed a giraffe. The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is situated inside the Belle Isle Conservancy in Detroit and covers 6 acres of forested wetlands. This zoo is home to 15 fallow deer and offers an assortment of family programs that are nature-based.
You can make your way through the Detroit Institute of Arts with your children, taking in the collections on display, or plan to participate in one of the programs, such as Family Sundays, where your family can enjoy art workshops, stories and family performances. Children can also participate in camps and classes at the museum, including summer camp and The Potter's Wheel for Adults and Children. Alternatively, kids can get hands-on with a variety of exhibits at Ann Arbor's Hands-On Museum. Your children can experiment with water at the water table, experiment with simple machines in the Legacy Gallery, learn about nature in the Michigan Nature exhibit and play at the Bubble Capsule and Climbing Wall at the World Around You exhibit.
Family Fun Parks
Your family can have some memorable times together at one of the area's family fun parks. At the American Fun Centers in Flint, Troy and Warren, you and your children can enjoy arcade and redemption games such as Guitar Hero, air hockey, pinball, Skee ball and Dance Dance Revolution. In Detroit, your family can visit the Bayou Adventure Entertainment Center to enjoy laser tag, miniature golf, a high ropes course, climbing wall, bungee trampoline, mini bowling and an inflatable shark slide.
The City of Ann Arbor maintains the Dolph Nature Area, a 57-acre park where your family can go for a nature hike, fish in the only naturally formed lakes in the area and picnic together. At the Leslie Science and Nature center in Ann Arbor, your children can go for hikes, tour the DTE Energy Nature House, meet birds of prey in the Birds of Prey and Raptor Enclosures and observe animals like snakes, rabbits, turtles and frogs in the Animals and Critter House. Kids can also attend nature camps and participate in programs like Nature Tales, Tykes and Tiny Tots, to learn more about nature.
Places to See Santa
If you have children who count on visiting with Santa once a year, you have several places you can find Saint Nick. Through Midtown Detroit Inc., there is an annual celebration near the beginning of the month called Noel Night. The night includes several shopping vendors, carriage rides, family craft activities and, of course, Santa Claus visits. The Detroit Zoo, located 14 miles from downtown in Royal Oak, hosts a Breakfast with Santa event several times throughout the month. You and the kids can enjoy a buffet-style waffle breakfast, participate in crafts and visit with Santa and even a few of the furry residents of the zoo.
There are all kinds of exciting holiday celebrations around Detroit that the kids would enjoy. At The Campus Martius Park in the heart of downtown, you can attend the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Party as the 60-foot tree is lit. An ice skating rink is there as well and is open all winter long. Twelve miles from downtown in the suburb of Dearborn, you can also attend the Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village. Activities for kids include horse-drawn wagon rides, model-T rides, live musical performances, ice skating, bonfires, artisan demonstrations and a fireworks display.
Museums are an excellent option during cold weather. The Henry Ford Museum is 13 miles from downtown in Dearborn. It features interactive kiosks, vintage automobile displays and many other interesting historical exhibits. During the holidays, the museum has special offerings such as decorated train displays and story readings for kids. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit features many art exhibits, performances and educational activities for children. Kids can gain a better appreciation of the arts with a visit to the MOCAD. At the Motown Museum you and the kids can learn all about how the sound of Motown became famous. You can stand where many artists such as The Temptations and The Supremes got their start.
Family Fun Centers
Taking kids to a nearby family fun center is an excellent way to stay active during December. Galaxy Zone is 8 miles from downtown in Dearborn. It features a multi-level laser tag arena complete with glowing towers and bridges. You will also find an abundance of arcade games, including Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. In Farmington, just 24 miles from Detroit, you can check out Zap Zone. It also has an indoor laser tag arena along with go-karts, glo-golf, bumper cars, an arcade, cannon blasters and mini bowling.
Kalamazoo Nature Center
The Kalamazoo Nature Center (naturecenter.org) is 5 miles outside of town and encompasses 1,100 acres of wooded countryside. Kids will enjoy exploring the 10 miles of trails and identifying the plants and animals in the natural habitats along the paths. The nature center also features interactive exhibits, an interpretive center, sculpture garden and a hummingbird-butterfly garden. A family program is every Sunday and special events occur throughout the year.
Air Zoo of Kalamazoo
Down the street from the Kalamazoo airport is the Air Zoo of Kalamazoo (airzoo.org), a museum that introduces kids to the adventure of flight. More than 50 aircraft are on display along with exhibits such as the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame to space exploration. Other activities include a Ferris wheel, a paratrooper jump ride, pilot ground school, a 4D theater and simulation rides.
In winter, Kalamazoo receives an average of 78.6 inches of snow. The Echo Valley Winter Sports Park (echovalleyfun.com) uses the snow to its advantage and offers a variety of winter activities, including tobogganing, tubing and ice skating. Admission includes unlimited rides for the activity of your choice. Once the snow melts, Markin Glen County Park (kalcounty.com/parks/markinglen) offers warm-weather activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, and sports and play areas.
Kalamazoo Valley Museum
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum (kalamazoomuseum.org) has exhibits that feature the cultural and scientific history of the area as well as rotating exhibits throughout the year. The museum offers a self-guided tour worksheet for kids that highlights important aspects of the exhibits. A planetarium is a must-see during a trip to the museum. Special events and learning programs are offered throughout the year.
The Indoor Waterpark Recreation Center at the Best Western (sterlinginn.com/hotel/waterpark) provides kids with lots of water fun year-round. With 32,000 square feet, the park features a three-story water slide, lazy river, vortex, geysers, bubble seats, whirlpools and a splash play area for younger children. The Sterling Heights Nature Center (no website; 42700 Utica Road; 586-446-2710) has touch tables with live animals on display. The center also has nature classes, nature walks and movies, all designed to pique the curiosity of young minds.
The city of Sterling Heights (sterling-heights.net) maintains several parks. Chappelle Park (no website; 35748 Ensign; 586-446-2489) has playground equipment, swings, picnic areas, open space and outdoor ice skating in the winter. Clinton River Park North (no website; 8600 Riverland Drive; 586-446-2489) is 82 acres of recreational space with playgrounds, spring riders, hiking trails and picnic areas all resting along the Clinton River. Dodge Park (no website; 40620 Utica Road; 586-446-2489) has two play structures, volleyball courts, outdoor ice skating in the winter and picnic pavilions.
Bowling can be a fun activity for kids. Sterling Lanes (bowldetroit.com/sterling-lanes) provides a family friendly environment making the game fun for all ages. Family specials and youth leagues are offered along with pizza and other snacks. Glow bowling takes place weekly 5-Star Lanes (5-starlanes.com) has 50 synthetic lanes, a restaurant, karaoke, pizza, burgers, games and league play.
Performing Arts Classes
Arthur Murray Dance Studio (arthurmurraymi.com) offers dance classes for kids 6 to 11 years old. It is a drop-in format; no registration is needed. Gotta Dance Studio (gottadancestudios.com) teaches dance to kids in a number of styles such as lyrical, jazz, tap, hip-hip, all star pom, acro, ballet and tap. Anita's Theatre Dance and Performing Arts (anitastheatredance.com) provides kids with acting classes instructing in improv, stage direction, character development and musical comedy. Voice lessons are offered teaching the kids in singing and vocal production. Anita's also offers dance instruction in a variety of styles.