4 Great Activities with Kids in Detroit

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We recently took advantage of an IHG Points Break hotel stay for only 5,000 points per night at the Farmington Hill, Michigan Holiday Inn Express. This made for a perfect opportunity to spend a short weekend away as a family and take in some of the activities within the region. While we initially planned this trip to maybe do one or two things, we ended up finding 4 Great Activities with Kids in Detroit plus have a list of many more places to go in the future.

Detroit Zoo

First up was the Detroit Zoo. It had been a number of years, 2011 to be exact, since our family made the pilgrimage up to this zoo. While I recall fond memories of the animals encounters at the Detroit Zoo, we were also excited to finally get up there since we knew the new food service manager who has been creating great, fresh new meal options at the park.

We visited on a chilly Saturday morning, and after bundling up for our visit, found the park nearly empty. With so few guests in the park, it provided the perfect opportunity for the kids to take their time throughout the exhibits.

While I remember the polar bear/sea lion exhibit being my favorite in the past, this visit allowed us to see the new Penguin Center. The exhibit allowed up close encounters with the penguins, as well as undersea views. Also be sure to pay attention in the walkway down to the lower level, as the experience is “chilling.”

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We also had the opportunity to try some of the food at the Arctic Cafe. The cafeteria style restaurant offered a wide variety of freshly made food options that really step up the game of quality. Guests can enjoy everything from freshly made-to-order salads, secret recipe hand breaded chicken tenders, and our personal favorite, the custom crafted mac and cheese, which was amazing!

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Outdoor Adventure Center

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When looking for things to do around Detroit, one place that struck our fancy was the Outdoor Adventure Center in downtown Detroit. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources bought an old warehouse, and after an extensive remodel, brought the outdoors in. The building is packed full of fun activities for families to experience, which is especially helpful during the winter months.

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The idea being to show the guest the many activities one could do outdoors in the state of Michigan. Guests can experience what it is like to sleep in a yurt, see and try your hand at the many different types of fishing, climb a multi-story tree and explore the canopy, walk behind a two-story waterfall, touch the many furs of animals in the region, and even ride virtual snowmobiles and four-wheelers.

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What was even better was the Outdoor Adventure Center is spectacularly affordable. Our $19 family visit provided a couple hours of fun for the boys and interesting exhibits for the parents.

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We need to get one of these back in Ohio!

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum

For several years we have been hankering to visit Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum up in Farmington Hill, Michigan. The museum was said to be packed with intricate details that would spike the curiosity of the littlest minds. However, as our lives got busier, Marvin’s fell off our radar.

170304 Detroit (9) Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

As we were driving to our hotel in Farmington Hills, we just so happen to drive past a shopping center and see this strange neon sign in between the buildings, and it was so out-of-place, it sparked our interest. As we peered closer into the sun-drenched horizon, we realized what we were looking at for the first time. We were staying across the street from the amazing Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum.

I felt like a kid in a candy factory, as the sight of Marvin’s meant we were finally going to experience this masterpiece of mechanical history. While we did not plan this adventure, we soon learned why is must have been destiny to make this pilgrimage to Farmington Hills.

Marvin has collected the most magnificent, historical mechanical machines on the planet. As amusement and theme park bloggers for the CPFoodBlog.com, we often see various attempts at mechanical machines, but they never quite live up to the experience. Cedar Point, for example, has a whole museum full of several old mechanical machines, but none of them work, and the magic is lost.

That is where Marvin’s is simply marvelous! All of his machines work! The museum is free to get in, and everything works off of quarters. Normally I am not much of an arcade money swallowing connoisseur, but Marvin’s could gladly empty my wallet.

170304 Detroit Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

Every square inch from floor to ceiling had amazing, historical things to look at from carnival banners to old amusement park props. The museum was simply amazing! Over the years Marvin had collected some of the most amazing old mechanical machines known to exist. However, what gets even better was that if Marvin could not find what we wanted, he had it custom made. Simply fantastic!

170304 Detroit (10) Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

I was SOOOOOO glad to have experienced Marvin’s with my family, and it was probably the highlight of the trip! I could spend hours inside Marvin’s looking over all of the old artifacts. Marvin’s is the prize jewel of Detroit!

Henry Ford Museum

Our family loves historical villages like Williamsburg, and often finds ourselves up at the Greenfield Village, part of the Henry Ford complex in Deerborn, Michigan. However, it is less often that we go into the Henry Ford Museum. So before wrapping up our trip and heading home, we decided to make a day of it at another museum.

170305 Detroit (1) Henry Ford Museum

The Henry Ford Museum is quite different from when I was a kid on our many family outings to the museum. Today the Henry Ford Museum is packed full of kids activities and exhibits throughout the facility. What used to be rows of machinery and historical technology over the decades is now an information driven experience to help drive curiosity in kids minds.

The most notable change I noticed was the classic car collection. As a kid I remember it being just rows and rows of vehicles, which I always had an interest in, but my little legs just could not take…another…step. Today the cars have been rearranged in multi-level platforms and a more user-driven experience to tell the historical past of the cars we love today.

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Of course a visit to the Henry Ford Museum would not be complete without a picture with the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and a trip to the hot dog diner next door.

Summary

While we originally booked our Points Break hotel stay for a quick and relaxing getaway, our family trip to Detroit was packed full of some amazing activities that really gave us a fun weekend together!

The Farmington Hill, Michigan Holiday Inn Express was also a great, new hotel that was ideally located within an easy drive to all of our above activities.

170304 Detroit (1) Farmington Hills Holiday Inn Express

The Holiday Inn Express had a really good free breakfast that had some of the best sausage gravy and biscuits I had ever eaten at a hotel.

The staff was exceptional and friendly!

The room was large and reminiscent of our favorite hotel, the Hotel Indigo we stay in next to Disneyland.

Of course we could not go without mentioning the pool, which is a critical to a fun stay for our family.

2016 Cleveland LEGO Kidsfest

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If you are looking for something fun to do with the whole family, hopefully you purchased your tickets for the 2016 Cleveland LEGO® Kidsfest early, because all sessions are completely sold out, and for good reason. The LEGO Kidsfest Cleveland has not been back in town since 2011. Therefore, we were due for a return of this family friendly event.

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The LEGO Kidsfest is specifically designed for kid level builders. Throughout the entire show floor are tons of areas for kids of all ages to build various builds. There are specific areas to just build Ninjago, or LEGO Friends, or build in only purple blocks. Kids also have the chance to make custom builds that get displayed on walls or there is a complete outline of the United States where builds are displayed from throughout the event.

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While we did not take part in them, be sure to take part in some of the zones where there are specific challenges, as kids get to take home LEGO sets for participating.

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One of our favorite areas is looking at all the lifesize figures made entirely out of LEGO. The mastery is quite amazing!

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The Cleveland LEGO Kidsfest takes place through Sunday, November 6, 2016.

For those looking to attend Kidsfest in your city, you are encouraged to buy your tickets as soon as possible, because the events can and do sell out in advance. See the www.LEGOkidsfest.com for available times and events.

Disclaimer: Our family was provided with tickets in exchange for an honest review of the event.

Review: Lego Brick Universe (Columbus, Ohio)

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My parents always taught me that you should always learn something from the experiences you do in life. So I live with that mantra on a daily basis and strive for greatness and learning from my mistakes.

Growing up, I was quite fortunate that my parents bought me quite a few Lego playsets throughout my childhood. I quickly learned to appreciate the brick and always took care of my Lego, making sure they carefully got taken apart and placed back within their boxes.

One of my favorite memories as a kid was when I went away for 5th grade camp, only to return to see my parents and sister took the better part of the week putting together every single one of my Lego sets to build a huge city. It was wonderful and awe inspiring to see them all together at the same time.

Today, all of my childhood Lego sets are tucked away neatly in their boxes and stored in my basement. It was not until I met my wife’s father that I began to once again appreciate those little bricks. Then after having 3 sons of our own, I now get to see my kids eyes light up every time they go to my father-in-laws and want to go into his basement so they can play with his huge Lego train layout and village.

While my kids continue to grow their own Lego collections, as they age, I will eventually break out my sets and show them.

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Brick Universe

Our family was recently invited to attend Brick Universe in Columbus, Ohio, which is taking place August 20-21, 2016. Our only prior experience to going to a Lego convention was that to the Lego Kidsfests when it visited Cleveland a number of years ago. Our kids were also substantially younger and had less of an appreciation for Lego at the time.

Going into the Lego Brick Universe event, I had no expectations other than to have a great time with our kids. However, I quickly learned that some of the questions I had prior were answered at the event, as well as I had new ones among the mountain of plastic cities.

For example, I always wondered why Lego never built military sets. It always seemed like a massive target audience. However, upon entry to the hall, you were presented with HUGE military displays of war ships, tanks, and battle scenes, of course all made out of Lego.

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What I come to find out is that everything was custom made, as Lego will not make violent sets. So a private company has taken to making custom sets, mini-figures, and weapons for use in creating war scenes. The ingenuity was quite spectacular!

Along the same “violence” lines, we overheard the story behind the really expensive mini-figures, specifically the DeadPool character. Apparently Lego created the DeadPool mini-figure, only to find out once the movie was created that it was an R rated film. Since they did not want tied to a deadly character, they pulled him from shelves, thus creating scarcity. Kinda interesting and something we did not know.

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As we walked around the hall, we were presented with spectacular scenes of buildings and vehicles, and everything these creative geniuses could conjure up out of Lego bricks. It really was quite spectacular and made us wonder not only how much time and money went into creating each scene, but how they went about transporting such elaborate buildings and such, often without gluing the pieces together like some master builders.

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Through all the questions, we sorta got lost in the moment and ended up spending hours and hours at the Brick Universe event, being nearly the last guests to leave the hall. It was not because it was so large and overwhelming, but because we got lost in the moment. The outside world was behind us as we spent time sitting at tables building elaborate Lego dreams coming out of our children’s minds and coming to fruition at various tables throughout the convention hall. Or because our boys would go round and round the various displays seeing what new items they could discover.

The experience was a chance to relive our own Lego childhood memories while letting our kids build their own. For that, we are thankful!

Our family was provided with tickets to attend the Brick Universe event as well as given a family four pack of tickets that we gave away during pre-promotion of the event.