Doing fun things with your kids doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. But unless you have a membership it can cost a pretty penny to spend a day with your family.
With the school year coming to a close we thought you might be in need of some ideas for cheap things to do with your family around metro Detroit.
My main criteria was keeping the price at or below $5 per person in your family. So if you have a family of 4 that would keep the cost around $20. Let’s get started.
1. Introduce your kids to the joys of film at The Redford Theater
Feel like taking the kids to the movies, but don’t want to break the bank? I suggest checking out the Redford Theater. You probably won’t be able to see the newest blockbuster, but there is something special about introducing your kids to your favorite movie from growing up.
2. Walk the streets of Old Detroit at the Detroit Historical Museum
If you are interested in finding out about the history of Detroit you have to go to the Detroit Historical Museum. The best part is that admission is free. My toddler’s favorite part of the museum is the Glancy Trains exhibition.
3. Check out the Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts
It is never too early to teach kids about the importance of art and culture. The fact that the DIA is free for residents who live in the tri-county makes learning about art even easier.
4. Pretend to be the Captain of a freighter at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum
Have a kid that loves boats? You have to bring them to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle. Be sure to check out the William Clay Ford Pilot House and the Edmund Fitzgerald anchor outside of the museum.
5. Keep those kids reading by visiting your local libraries
I highly suggest checking out your local libraries during the summer. Every library has programs set up for kids of all ages. Don’t forget to check out the Michigan Activity Pass. If you have a library card you can check out an activity every seven days.
6. Explore the Detroit Riverfront from East to West
Spend the day at the Detroit Riverfront. Each park has it’s own attractions, so check out the Detroit Riverfront Conservatory website to see what you might want to do for the day.
7. Visit the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House and check out all the great gardens and outer buildings
Did you know that you can walk around the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House for only $5 per person and kids under 5 are free? This includes the outer buildings like the 1930’s playhouse that Clara Ford had built for Josephine Ford.
8. Hop on Detroit People Mover (or the QLINE if it’s not packed)
What kid doesn’t like riding a train? Sure the QLine only goes down Woodward and the DPM goes in a huge circle but kids don’t realize that. Best part the QLine is free until July and the DPM only costs $.75 per person.
9. Visit the Belle Isle Nature Center
Ever want to learn more about Michigan wildlife? Check out the Belle Isle Nature Center. Make sure you go out to the deer encounter.
10. Check out the Park It Family Fun Nights around metro Detroit
Looking for a movie night in the park? Check out the Park It Family Fun Nights for a list of all of the parks they will be holding events this summer. There are plenty of things for kids of all ages to do during these events, and the best part is it is free.
11. Bike along the Dequindre Cut
Is there anything better than getting out in the fresh air and biking along the Dequindre Cut?
12. Shop in Eastern Market
Head out to Eastern Market for either the Saturday or Tuesday markets this summer. If your kids are a bit older why not give them each a few dollars to pick out some produce for the week. It gets them trying new things, and it also shows them own much things cost.
13. Visit the beach at Campus Martius
Campus Martius is basically a giant sand box during the summer. So it goes without saying that kids are going to loose their minds. Don’t forget to check out all of the events they have going on during the summer.
14. Ride down the Giant Slide on Belle Isle
I have a ton of memories of going down the giant slide on Belle Isle when I was growing up. For $1 a ride I say you could get your money’s worth of entertainment.
15. Picnic at Palmer Park
This Detroit park has a ton of entertainment to offer families, the park is 296 acres after all. The splash pad is pretty great during the summer. This year Log Cabin Day is June 25. It is the one-day a year the log cabin is open to the public.
16. Wave hello to the head bowling pin at your local bowling alley
There are bowling alleys around metro Detroit that offer kids under the age of 15 two free bowling games all summer long. You can sign up for this great deal at Kids Bowl Free website.
17. Head Out To One of the Many Metro Parks
There are 13 Metro Parks to choose from, so the choices are endless. A day pass to one of the parks is $10 per car, but you can grab a year pass for $35.
18. Explore Historic Fort Wayne
Interested in checking out a historic fort, but don’t want to have to drive up north to do it? Pack a picnic and head over to Historic Fort Wayne for a tour.
19. Get dirty at Wayne County Mud Day
Just mark down Tuesday, July 11 in your planner for a really fun messy time. The Wayne County Parks will be transforming Nankin Mills Park into a giant mud pit from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Kids 12 and under will be able to go bonkers in the mud. Western Wayne Hazemat Team will be on hand to clean off the kids. Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes and towels.
20. Take the outdoors inside at the Outdoor Adventure Center
If you have yet to check out the Outdoor Adventure Center what are you waiting for? First of all it is cheap to get into, secondly there is a ton of fun things for kids (and adults) of all ages to do.
21. Check out the gardens at Cranbrook
The gardens at Cranbrook are free to enter all summer. If you have never visited this estate you really should.
22. Break open your piggy bank at Marvin’s Mechanical Museum
Kids love arcades, so why not take them to Marvin’s Mechanical Museum for an alternative to your everyday arcade. Admission is free, so all you need to pay for is the games.
23. Take a dip in the Detroit River
The Belle Isle beach opens on Memorial Day and stays open until Labor Day.
24. Spend an afternoon fishing
I spent a good majority of my childhood fishing with my dad. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world. You will have to buy some stuff up front like a fishing pole and hooks but after you have it you can go fishing anytime. Don’t forget your worms! Kids under the age of 17 do not need a fishing license so that eases up on some of the cost.
25. Keep an eye out for free admission days
Sometimes a corporation will sponsor a free day at the zoo, Henry Ford Museum, or the Michigan Science Center. You might have to deal with a larger crowd, but it’s free.