Summer in the City: 20+ FREE Kid-Friendly Activities in Detroit

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Summer is in full swing here in Michigan, and without the school-year routine keeping families on a strict schedule, there is both the freedom and need to explore new and exciting activities. Many head to the pool or the beach, off to camps, up north, or to grandma’s house. All great options.

But when was the last time you spent the summer showing your kids around downtown? Whether you’re a Detroit regular or a novice, it’s a great time to experience the amazing things the city has to offer kids and families. Even better, so much of the fun is also FREE!

Check Out These Favorite AND Free Summer Activities in Detroit

1. Baby + Me Yoga at Beacon Park Detroit

Location :: Beacon Park, 1901 Grand River Ave., Detroit

Date/Time :: Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Cost :: FREE

This Baby + Me Yoga program will be happening throughout the summer. A great way to get your workout in with your baby right by your side! Classes are taught by Living Waters Yoga Detroit and are free to anyone who wants to join. The classes are for children of all ages, and both moms and dads are welcome to bring little ones. Bring your own yoga mat and water.

 

2. Market Thursdays at Beacon Park Detroit

Location :: Beacon Park, 1901 Grand River Ave., Detroit

Date/Time :: Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

Market Thursdays at Beacon Park Detroit will showcase local produce, desserts, packaged goods, and plants! This event will run every Thursday until September 26!

 

3. Beacon Park Family Fun Days

Location :: Beacon Park, 1901 Grand River Ave., Detroit

Date/Time :: Sundays, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

Family Fun Days at Beacon Park Detroit are back by popular demand! Offering make & take activities, lawn games, inflatables, face painting, crafts, and much more! Food trucks available and Lumen Detroit will also be open. Every Sunday through the summer!

 

4. The Campus Martius Beach

Location :: Campus Martius Park, 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Date/Time :: Daily, 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

Right in the center of downtown is 400,000 pounds of sand and colorful, comfortable lounge chairs, offering a fun atmosphere for families to enjoy the outdoors in an urban beach setting this summer! Whether it’s building sand castles with the family or attending a themed BBQ event or one of the weekly beach parties with food and drink specials and live entertainment, this urban beach is for everyone! Check out the park’s shipping container restaurant, The Fountain Detroit, nearby. Or for a little more upscale, Parc.

 

5. Rocket Mortgage Sports Zone

Location :: Cadillac Square Park, Detroit

Date/Time :: Daily 6/1-8/17, 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE for walk-ups (But reservations can also be made! Basketball half court – $30/hr; Kids’ court – $20/hr)

The Rocket Mortgage Sports Zone, located in Cadillac Square Park, features four outdoor basketball courts for both organized and pick-up games all summer long. Come play at lunchtime, after work, and on the weekend!

6. RiverWalk

Location :: 3.5 miles of east riverfront from Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park

Date/Time :: Daily, 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

Attractions include parks, plazas, pavilions, pathways, and open green space, all connected by the ever-popular RiverWalk.

 

7. Dequindre Cut

Location :: 2 miles running parallel to St. Aubin Street between Mack Avenue and Atwater Street, just north of the riverfront.

Date/Time :: Daily, 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

Bike or walk along this predominately below-street level greenway. The cut is known for its examples of urban artwork and graffiti, and you can find bike racks, seating options, and plazas/parks along the way between Eastern Market and the Detroit Riverfront.

 

8. Eastern Market

Location :: 2934 Russell St., Detroit

Date/Time :: Varies; Saturday market 6:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Sunday market 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Tuesday market 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Thursday night market 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

There are so many great, family-friendly, and fun activities to do at Eastern Market! Check out the traditional weekend markets, Thursday night markets, summer markets, shopping with local vendors, cooking classes, special programming, and more!

 

9. Beacon Park Summer Sessions

Location :: Beacon Park, 1901 Grand River Ave., Detroit

Time :: Fridays, 7:00 p.m. – Midnight

Cost :: FREE

Let’s dance, Detroit! Sunset Sessions are back at Beacon Park Detroit, so bring a blanket and hang out on the lawn, dance to the DJ, or play lawn games. Either way, Sunset Sessions is FREE and family-friendly. Food and drink are available for purchase from Lumen Detroit. Every Friday all summer.

 

10. Movie in the Park

Location :: New Center Park, 2998 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit

Date/Time :: Fridays, Gates open at 8:00 p.m., film starts at dusk

Cost :: FREE

Come to New Center Park for its summer-long entertainment series with weekly movie nights, theatre performances, and more! All events at New Center Park are FREE and open to the public, making for a fun-filled, unforgettable summer. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy great films, outdoor theatre, or a simple afternoon picnic with family and friends in this unique green space near the Fisher.

 

11. Movie in the Courtyard

Location :: New Center Park, 2998 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit

Time :: Film starts at dusk, food and happy hour specials beforehand

Cost :: FREE

Come to New Center Park for its summer-long entertainment series with weekly movie nights, theatre performances, and more! All events at New Center Park are FREE and open to the public, making for a fun-filled, unforgettable summer. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy great films, outdoor theatre, or a simple afternoon picnic with family and friends in this unique green space near the Fisher.

The popular free movie series returns to Trumbull & Porter’s outdoor courtyard this summer. The courtyard has a bonfire, chairs, picnic tables, and ground area to sit with blankets. Check out Red Dunn Kitchen’s website for the movie schedule.

 

12. The Night Market at Beacon Park Detroit

Location :: Beacon Park, 1901 Grand River Ave., Detroit

Date/Time :: Saturdays, 7:00 p.m. – Midnight

Cost :: FREE

Come and shop with a variety of Detroit small businesses, enjoy live music, food trucks, a cash bar from Lumen Detroit, and more! Every Saturday night this summer!

 

13. The Z Lot

Location :: 1260 Library St., Detroit

Date/Time :: 24/7

Cost :: FREE (unless you decide to park there, which you probably have to park somewhere if you’re driving anyway, and this is a prime location with similar rates as elsewhere…so why not!?)

Visit a parking structure for fun, you say? Why yes! The Z Lot is a 10-story structure conveniently located downtown that combines a clean and easy parking experience with the work of 27 mural artists from across the globe. Named because the structure zigzags the corners of Broadway/East Grand River, and Library/Gratiot, the garage is a collaboration between Bedrock Detroit and Library Street Collective that opened in 2013. The 500,000-square-foot project includes 34,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Be sure to check out the colorful murals and make your way to the very top where you won’t want to miss the incredible views of the city!

14. DIA

Location :: 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Date/Time :: Tues.-Thurs., 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Fri. 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE to all residents of Wayne, Oakland & Macomb counties, and to children under 5

Walk through the DIA’s premier art collection, enjoy the beautiful architecture, catch special exhibits, make crafts for kids, see movies, music & special events, and much more!

 

15. Detroit Historical Museum

Location :: 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Date/Time :: Tues.-Fri. 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

The only museum dedicated to telling our region’s history, the Detroit Historical Museum has several signature exhibits, as well as traveling and special exhibits throughout the year! The signature exhibits include: the Gallery of Innovation, the Allesee Gallery of Culture, the Kid Rock Music LabLegends PlazaDetroit: The Arsenal of DemocracyDoorway to Freedom: Detroit and the Underground Railroad, America’s Motor City, and Frontiers to Factories: Detroiters at Work, 1701-1901

16. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Location :: 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit

Date/Time :: Tues.-Sat. 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sun. 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE every 2nd Sunday

Otherwise…

Adults (13 – 61) $8
Adults (62+) $5
Youth (3 -12) $5
Members and children under three are admitted free

The Wright Museum opens minds and changes lives through the exploration and celebration of African American history and culture. The museum contains over 35,000 artifacts and archival materials and is home to the Blanche Coggin Underground Railroad Collection, Harriet Tubman Museum Collection, Coleman A. Young Collection, and the Sheffield Collection, a repository of documents of the labor movement in Detroit. The museum also features several signature exhibits, holds annual public events including concerts, theatrical productions, film screenings, lectures, and offers family and children’s programming.

 

17. Fisher Building Tours

Location :: 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit

Date/Time :: Sat. & Sun., Noon & 2:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

The Pure Detroit Fisher Building tour offers exclusive access to the building known as Detroit’s Largest Art Object. An expert will lead you through Albert Kahn’s 1928 masterpiece where you will learn intimate details regarding the family, business, and architects involved in its creation. You will see firsthand the exquisite design and ornamentation of the interior arcade, including one-of-a-kind mosaics, painted ceilings, Art Deco chandeliers and the finest craftsmanship in stone, brass, and bronze. Pure Detroit is happy to offer exclusive access to the third floor of the grand arcade, as well as the building’s 22nd floor. The tour is free and open to the public of all ages.

 

18. Belle Isle Aquarium

Location :: 900 Inselruhe Ave, Belle Isle State Park, Detroit

Date/Time :: Fri.-Sun., 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

The Belle Isle Aquarium was designed by famed Detroit architect, Albert Kahn, and opened on August 18, 1904. It is the oldest aquarium in the country and has served the Detroit community as a beloved attraction for generations. In 2005, the city of Detroit announced that the Aquarium was to be closed due to lean economic times for the city. The building remained closed to the public until the Belle Isle Conservancy reopened it on September 15, 2012.  Recently, the aquarium has exploded in popularity, evident by the attendance numbers that have TRIPLED over the course of the past year. “Momentum” is truly the best term for what is happening in this historic building! A work-in-progress, the aquarium continues to grow and flourish as new exhibits and fish are added, tanks are restored, and history is preserved for generations to come.

 

19. Belle Isle Nature Center

Location :: 176 Lakeside Drive, Belle Isle State Park, Detroit

Date/Time :: Daily, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

Bringing the wilds of Michigan to the heart of Detroit, the Belle Isle Nature Center offers the perfect location for educational, environmental, and natural experiences in the metro Detroit area. Visitors are able to get an insider’s view of an actual beehive and get an up-close view of Michigan wildlife. A bird observation window allows guests to watch native and migratory birds as they feed from natural and supplemental food sources. The Deer Encounter allows guests the opportunity to observe the fallow deer while learning about their history with Belle Isle.

 

20. Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory

Location :: 900 Inselruhe Ave, Belle Isle State Park, Detroit

Date/Time :: Wed.-Sun., 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is an exotic and rare collection of plants from around the world. It is the oldest continually-running conservatory in the United States and is divided into five distinct sections: the Palm House, the Tropical House, the Cactus House, a sunken Fernery, and the Show House. The Conservatory occupies a 13-acre parcel of land shared by the formal gardens and the Lily Pond. On the grounds is the Levi Barbour Memorial Fountain designed by Marshall Fredericks, a Japanese Tohro donated to Detroit in 1985 by the city of Toyota, Japan, and the Peacock Sundial erected in 1927.

 

21. Dossin Great Lakes Museum

Location :: 100 Strand Drive, Belle Isle State Park, Detroit

Date/Time :: Fri.-Sun., 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Cost :: FREE

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is dedicated to showcasing the story of the Great Lakes, with a special emphasis on Detroit’s role in regional and national maritime history. Visitors at this 16,000 square foot museum enjoy exhibits that tell more than 300 years of the region’s rich maritime history from the shipping fleets that rule the waterways to the varied roles that the Great Lakes and the Detroit River have played in our region’s industrial and social history.

 

22. Detroit Jazz Festival

Location :: Hart Plaza to Campus Martius Park, Detroit

Date/Time :: Labor Day Weekend 8/30-9/2, varying times

Cost :: FREE

Leading jazz festival offering hundreds of acts on multiples stages over Labor Day weekend. Also educational and fun activities for kids, fireworks, meet-and-greets, and more.

 

23. Detroit River Days

Location :: West Riverfront Park, Detroit RiverWalk, Detroit,

Date/Time :: June 21-23, Varying ttimes

Cost :: FREE on Friday 6/21 11:00 a.m. – 5:00p.m.; $5 otherwise (to support the non-profit Detroit Riverfront Conservancy)

A celebration of Detroit’s Riverwalk with activities on land and water. Experience all the Riverwalk has to offer from the jet-ski demos to live music, sand sculptures, delicious eats, and much more!

Did we miss your favorite FREE kid-friendly activities in Detroit?
If so, comment and we’ll add it in. 

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