16 Museums for the Entire Family
Toddler, tween or teen--kids know fun. Giving them a say in where to go and what to do on vacation is a sure-fire way to ensure the whole family has a blast—even the people who are only kids at heart. Travel back in time or pilot a fighter jet for indoor fun at Michigan’s kid-friendly museums and learning centers. Kids zoom, navigate and crawl their way through hands-on innovative discovery zones and 4-D explorations. Our kid-friendly museums have so much to discover.
Check out our list of 16 family-friendly ways to explore Michigan’s great indoors:
Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids
D stands for dolls, M is for musical instruments, and Z means zoology on an alphabetical scavenger hunt that leads young explorers through three floors of exhibits.
Frankenmuth Historical Museum, Frankenmuth
Kids get in touch with animal hides, yokes for carrying water and other relics of pioneer-era life as they imagine themselves as settlers in the charming German-infused town.
Air Zoo, Portage
Walk through the clouds as you enter this Smithsonian-affiliated air and science museum. Inside, indulge your inner pilot by strapping into a full-motion flight simulator or experiencing a World War II bombing mission in 4-D. Docents share their personal experiences—some with the aircraft you see.
Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, Midland
Create problem-solving inventions in the Spark!Lab Smithsonian, plus see a giant pendulum that proves the Earth rotates.
Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, Alpena
This museum takes an experiential approach to Great Lakes shipping history. A storm rages on a replica schooner with thunder booming, lightning cracking and shipmates frantically shouting orders as visitors struggle across the ship’s heaving deck. A simulated underwater world lets kids crawl through clear tunnels like divers exploring a shipwreck.
Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing
Visitors walk into a 7-foot-tall eye to learn about sight, explore water through a two-story exhibit called Flow, and grasp kinetic and potential energy by hurling tennis balls and paper airplanes.
Sloan Museum, Flint
Blast off! As an engineer and astronaut aboard a space capsule, orbit the Earth, moon, Mars, Jupiter and the dwarf planet Ceres during Be the Astronaut (January 20–May 13, 2018). Using simulators, virtual crew members guide guests through thrilling interactive space exploration as they pilot landers, fly spaceships and drive rovers.
Mount Pleasant Discovery Museum, Mount Pleasant
Watch your scarf fly through a wind-tunnel raceway, learn about bees, and sample Japanese culture by folding paper into basic origami shapes.
Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum, Rogers City
Cabin furniture, foul-weather gear, lockers and lifeboats paint a picture of life aboard a Great Lakes shipping vessel.
Curious Kids’ Museum and Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone, St. Joseph
Find plenty of ways to play (and learn) at these neighboring museums. The Curious Kids’ Museum’s 100 hands-on exhibits take kids through an orchard, into a giant soap bubble and to the top of an active volcano. At Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone, climb a 25-foot-high lighthouse tower, sail handmade boats in the table-size version of Lake Michigan, and use wind power to make crashing waves.
Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Dearborn
Visitors step into a shiny Texaco station and repair a car at the Driving America exhibit featuring a century’s worth of autos from every decade. Listen to tunes and test your trucker lingo on touch screens. Hands-on displays and thoughtful interpretations offer insights into Henry Ford’s collection of artifacts.
Lakeshore Museum Center, Muskegon
Children gravitate to the museum’s Science Center, where they can simulate a tornado and use pedal power to turn on lights.
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor
Create a splash, work the magic of chroma-key (green screen) as a TV meteorologist and climb aboard an ambulance like an EMT on a lifesaving mission.
Kids ‘n’ Stuff Children’s Museum, Albion
At the museum’s farm exhibit, drive a combine and feed cows. Then follow the food to a grocery store and scan items at the checkout.
Sandcastles Children’s Museum, Ludington
Meet Sumo (the resident bearded dragon), work a shift at a pretend pizza joint and see if you can hack it as a computer coder at this museum.
Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, Marquette
Fly high in an actual airplane cockpit, dig deep in a mine, and look within by sliding down a giant intestine. Touch turtles in the Creative Kingdom.