4 Great Activities with Kids in Detroit

170304 Detroit (2) Zoo

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.”

170304 Detroit (3) Zoo

170304 Detroit (4) Zoo

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!

170304 Detroit (5) Zoo

170304 Detroit (6) Zoo

Outdoor Adventure Center

170304 Detroit (8) Outdoor Adventure Center

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.

170304 Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center (1)

170304 Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center (2)

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.

170304 Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center (3)

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.

170304 Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center (4)

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.

170305 Detroit (2) Henry Ford Museum

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.

Toledo Zoo Lights Revisited

Back in November 2011, and before our family really learned about the benefits of traveling over Thanksgiving, we had a local staycation and headed out to Toledo to see the Zoo Lights and other area attractions. So we were due to make another trip out to Toledo and show the grandparents the great light displays.

For our visit in 2011, we were surprised on two fronts. First, the Toledo Zoo puts on a FANTASTIC Christmas lights display. This year they have over a million lights spread out across the park. This was the first park I ever saw the dripping lights, which now hang from our garage during the month of December. The other thing we were surprised to learn in 2011 was that our Cleveland Zoo membership, or any other zoo, did not offer reciprocal benefits during the holiday lights. This in turn was quite the sticker shock.

So during our visit this year, we knew ahead of time that there were no discounts available. Well turns out, as soon as we got there we learned that if we had arrived one hour earlier, before 3:00 PM, we could have used our reciprocal zoo membership discount.

Regardless of what it costs, the Toledo Zoo still puts on a great Christmas display. While the animals may be sparse during the cooler months, the lights and displays were more than present.

141220 Toledo Zoo Lights

141220 Toledo Zoo Lights

141220 Toledo Zoo Lights

141220 Toledo Zoo Lights

Tips:

– Dress for the weather and with good walking shoes.
– Try and arrive early and before the lights go on. This will ensure you get a good parking spot and see some of the animals in the daylight, before the crowds transcend onto the park.
– Visit on a weekday to avoid peak crowd times.
– While there is food available in the park, and stations selling popcorn and hot chocolate, the meal options are limited to your standard park food. You might want to consider eating prior or after to the event.

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Source: InACents

What is a Zoo, Without a Little Boo?

Our family’s recent trip to the Pittsburgh area found us using one of our best annual investments, our zoo membership. Our Cleveland Zoo membership gets us a 50% discount on the cost of admission at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Our visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo also happen to correspond with Zoo Boo, a kid friendly Halloween event throughout the property.

We happen to arrive on a cool, Saturday morning right as the park opened. We were also one of the only people in the zoo, making it an excellent opportunity to not only see the grounds, but get a head start on the Boo activities.

We happen to travel pretty minimally on this trip, and did not originally plan on visiting the zoo, so we only brought one stroller for our infant son. So we opted to rent a safari cart from the zoo. For only $8, the safari cart provided two seats.

Scattered across the park were tables sponsored by local companies. Each table than handed out trick-or-treat items to the kids.

We selected to go around the zoo and end back at the front of the park where two kid friendly haunted houses were constructed. Both were really cute for entertaining the kids with just enough scary not to make them frightened.

141018 Pittsburgh Zoo Boo

141018 Pittsburgh Zoo Boo

141018 Pittsburgh Zoo Boo

141018 Pittsburgh Zoo Boo

141018 Pittsburgh Zoo Boo

Overall, our family had a great time visiting the Pittsburgh Zoo Boo event. My personal favorite part of zoo happens to be the PPG Aquarium, with its super large viewing tanks with impressive habitats.

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Source: InACents