45 Fun Places To Visit In Michigan’s Lower Peninsula With Kids

A young girl feed a goat while visiting Deer Tracks Junction with her family.
Photo Courtesy: The MittenTog

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly destination in the United States, the Lower Peninsula of Michigan (also known as Lower Michigan) is a great choice for families. From bustling cities such as Detroit to lowkey towns like Bay Harbor, the area has many attractions that will appeal to kids of all ages. Lower Michigan is also home to some of the best lakeside beaches in the country. It also has some great museums and historic sites. And of course, Lower Michigan is home to some of the best food in Michigan. So whether you’re looking for a fun family vacation or a chance to relax and enjoy the outdoors, we’ve put together a helpful list of the 45 Fun Places To Visit In Michigan’s Lower Peninsula With Kids. Stay tuned to find out things to do, where to stay, and more! 

Best Time to Visit Michigan with Kids

A group of teens, wearing life jackets and holding paddles, awaits a rafting trip down the Indian River in Michigan.
Photo Courtesy: Nisha Kapoor Yusaf

Before planning your trip to Michigan with kids, you may be wondering: what’s the best time to visit Michigan with kids? The answer largely depends on where you’ll be visiting and what you want to do. Summer is the best time to visit for swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, and quick weekend getaways. This is especially true along Lake Michigan or Lake Superior. Winter is great for ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, etc. Certain Lower Peninsula Michigan towns, like Frankenmuth, are fantastic for the Christmas season. Now that you know all about when to visit Michigan with kids, keep reading to find out what to do and see! 

Best Small Towns + Cities to Visit in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula with Kids

From the bustling streets of Detroit to the quiet, Dutch-themed town center in Holland, Michigan is filled with countless charming towns and cities! Whether you want a busy city escape or to reconnect with nature, we’ve rounded up some of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids. Keep reading to find out more! 

Saugatuck

Two young girls run hand-in-hand along the sand at Oval Beach in Saugatuck, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Saugatuck/Douglas

Saugatuck is a charming town in Michigan that is perfect for families. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, it has a small-town feel and a laidback atmosphere that families will love. There are many things to do in Saugatuck, including exploring all the shops and restaurants downtown.

The town is also home to several art galleries and studios, so it’s a great place for art lovers. There are also a lot of outdoor activities to do, such as hiking, biking, and kayaking. For families who want an outdoor adventure, don’t forget to visit Saugatuck Dunes State Park to see the famous dunes! Of course in the summer, families can visit Oval Beach. Oval Beach can be accessed by car or by climbing Mt. Baldhead (303 steps to the top) and then running down the dune to the beach. Or, enjoy the sand by taking a dune buggy ride with Saugatuck Dune Rides. The Saugatuck Chain Ferry also travels across the Kalamazoo River. With so much to offer, you’ll quickly see why Saugatuck is one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.

Look here for a homestay in Saugatuck with Vrbo!

Holland 

A colorful garden in Holland, Michigan, featuring a gazebo, flags. and a windmill at one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Discover Holland

If you’re looking for a charming town to visit with your family in Michigan, you can’t go wrong with Holland. This quaint town is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and is full of Dutch-inspired architecture and sights. There are also plenty of shopping and dining options spread throughout the downtown area.

If you’re visiting Holland in the springtime, see if you can schedule your trip near the Tulip Time Festival. To learn more about Dutch history and heritage, families can also check out Nelis’ Dutch Village. This family-friendly attraction features a small theme park, Dutch-inspired crafts, and delicious foods to thrill the whole family! Families can also try everything from sailing Lake Michigan to hiking wooded trails and more. On a rainy day, check out BAM! Entertainment Center, which offers everything from escape rooms to bowling alleys! 

RELATED: 16 Fantastic Places To Visit In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With Kids

Traverse City 

An empty bench rests along a beach with a view of the lake at Mission Point Park in Traverse City, Michigan, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Megan Taylor

Traverse City is an outdoor lover’s paradise! Overlooking the scenic waters of Grand Traverse Bay, this family-friendly destination is known for its natural beauty and recreational activities. In fact, this is a super popular place to go hiking and biking, or visit the beach, especially at nearby Sleeping Bear Point Beach, which is of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. No wonder Traverse City is one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids!

Families can also see three lighthouses: Mission Point, Frankfort, and Grand Traverse. For a more urban experience, explore the charming downtown area. Featuring Victorian walkways dotted with shops, cafes, and restaurants, there are also lots of galleries and cultural activities. Kids will love the colorful street performers! The town is also home to many family-friendly festivals, such as the National Cherry Festival. During the cherry-picking season in July, families can even visit a nearby farm and take some fresh fruit home! In fact, Jacob’s Farm is a great option for families during the summer and fall! Not only do they offer regular outdoor music and a playground for kids, but you can grab a pizza for dinner. They also offer seasonal events and activities that kids will adore.

Book an Expedia-recommended hotel in Traverse City now!

Bay City 

A large pirate ship sits in the bay of Lake Huron in Bay City, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Bay City Government

Enjoy your next family vacation in one of Michigan’s most charming waterfront towns, Bay City! Located near the base of Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, there’s plenty to do with your kids in this scenic destination. From exploring the historic downtown area to visiting one of the city’s many parks or museums, families can spend their days bonding together and having fun.

Learn more about the area’s maritime history at the U.S.S. Edson – Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, located aboard a replica ship! Kids will also love taking a ride on the trolley car or going for a walk along the Riverwalk Pier. Then, stop in a shady spot at Carroll Park, which also has a duck pond. Make sure to also check out the Bay City State Park, where you can go swimming, hiking, or fishing.

Grand Rapids 

A mom and dad hold the hands of a young child, all on snowshoes through the snow on a trail in Blandford Nature Center near Grand Rapids.
Photo Courtesy: Experience Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is an excellent city to visit with kids. Offering families a mixture of history, culture, and nature-focused activities. it has a great selection of attractions that will keep all ages entertained. Visit the John Ball Zoo, get creative at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, or hike the Provin Trails.

The city also has several great parks for families, including Riverside Park and Millennium Park. Kids who love art will also have a blast roaming around the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. It features a ton of funky pieces spread across a lush green property! If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, the Grand River is a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or picnic. Of course, no trip to Grand Rapids would be complete without sampling some of the delicious food from one of the many local restaurants.

Frankenmuth 

Who doesn’t want to celebrate Christmas all year round? In Frankenmuth, families can! Designed as a replica of a German village, this quaint town is located in the heart of Michigan’s thumb and features lovely Bavarian-style architecture. Visitors can enjoy a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as yearly events like Oktoberfest and Christkindlmarkt.

Of course, visiting the “world’s largest Christmas store” is a must, so make your way to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Here, families will find a stunning array of Christmas decorations like ornaments, trees, and lights. Families can also explore the charming town on a horse-drawn carriage ride. Kids will love riding the decorated train at Crossroads Village, too (about a 30-minute drive from Frankenmuth)! From ice skating to hot chocolate, there are plenty of ways to get into the holiday spirit during the winter as well. Finally, enjoy a  European-inspired family meal at The Station 100!

An epic holiday adventure awaits your family at these Magical Christmas Towns For Families!

Ann Arbor 

A little boy turns to look at the camera, while canoeing down the Huron River with his family near Ann Arbor, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Destination Ann Arbor

For a mid-sized city with a small-town feel, families should plan a stop in Ann Arbor. Located west of Detroit, this vibrant university town always features something new and exciting to see. As one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids, there’s also plenty to do, including the extremely walkable downtown area.

In the mood for an animal adventure? Head to the petting zoo animals at Domino’s Farms! Kids will also find lots of fun museums to keep them busy, like the hands-on exhibits at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. There’s also the University of Michigan Museum of Art for teens or preteens interested in modern and contemporary art. There are also a lot of parks and playgrounds in Ann Arbor, so kids can run around and explore. For a scenic stroll, don’t miss the Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum.

Detroit 

A family of three stands in front of colorful street art in Detroit, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Samantha D’Onofrio

Detroit is a must-visit on any vacation itinerary. Known for its historic automobile industry, expansive arts scene, and as the birthplace of Motown, this diverse city has a rich history and culture to experience. It has many kid-friendly attractions too, such as the Michigan Science Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the Detroit Zoo.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is also a great place to explore, as it has a wide variety of art and artifacts from different cultures. The streets of Detroit are also lined with many sculptures and murals, which makes for a great walking tour. Don’t forget about Belle Isle Park, which has a zoo, an aquarium, and plenty of green space to explore. Plus, Detroit is home to many professional sports teams, so kids can watch their favorite players in action.

Of course, no visit to Detroit would be complete without experiencing the food! From Coney dogs to Detroit-style pizza, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Lansing 

A family looks at an informational plaque while exploring Lansing together.
Photo Courtesy: Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

There are many reasons to visit Lansing with kids! Firstly, it’s Michigan’s capital city and has a variety of kid-friendly attractions. From visiting the Potter Park Zoo to exploring the many museums, there’s something for everyone in Lansing.

The Michigan State Capitol offers tours that are specifically geared toward kids. Or, families can also visit the Impression 5 Science Center, a great place for kids to learn about science and have fun at the same time. During your vacation, you can also learn more about history, from the cool vintage vehicles at R.E. Olds Transportation Museum to the Michigan History Museum. There are also several parks and playgrounds where your kids can burn off some energy. Lansing also showcases many family-friendly hotels and restaurants, making it easy to find somewhere to stay and eat with kids.

Kalamazoo 

Two people kayak down a river in Kalamazoo, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Discover Kalamazoo

Plan your next family getaway to Kalamazoo! Located halfway between Detroit and Chicago in southern Michigan, there are plenty of things to do and see, and the city is very kid-friendly.

One great option for families is to explore the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Kids can learn about different animals and plants, and even get up close to some of the animals. Several hiking trails wind around, perfect for exploring on a nice day. Another fun option is to visit one of the many museums in Kalamazoo. The Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum is a great choice for kids who are interested in airplanes and space. Or, kids can visit ​​The Kalamazoo Valley Museum to learn about the history of Kalamazoo. To explore the city, The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail is perfect for a family hike or bike ride! 

Best Outdoor Adventures in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula with Kids

Families who love the outdoors will be in paradise when visiting Michigan! From hiking to biking, kayaking, fishing, and more nature-oriented fun, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the fresh air and scenic views during your vacation. To help you plan, here are our favorite outdoor adventures in Michigan for families! 

Lake Michigan 

A young girl and her mom swim in Lake Michigan, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Rebecca Giguere

Lake Michigan is perfect for a family adventure. As one of five Great Lakes, it’s shaped like a handprint and the only one located entirely within the United States. Plus, spanning Michigan’s West Coast for nearly 23,000 square miles, you’ll find tons of space to have fun with your kids!

Water sports are in abundance, and families can soak up the sun at Grand Haven State Park or Sleeping Bear Point Beach. Little ones who love building sandcastles may particularly enjoy a visit to Sleeping Bear, known for its miles of dunes. From spotting Lake Michigan’s many lighthouses to visiting the Michigan Maritime Museum, there are plenty of ways to keep entertained and learn about the area too. Don’t forget to visit one of Lake Michigan’s delicious fudge shops on Mackinac Island, accessible by ferry from Mackinaw City. Certainly, Lake Michigan is one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.

Plan your next lakeside stay with our list of 8 Best US Lakes For Families

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

A view of the beach and water at Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan.
Photo Courtesy: Kritika Storer

Families who want the unique experience of visiting a sugar sand beach in the Midwest can’t miss Sleeping Bear Dunes. Located along Lake Michigan, this family-friendly destination gets its own special shout-out because it’s just that fun!

When you visit, be sure to check out The Dune Climb. While this climb is strenuous, you can turn around anytime and kids will have a blast running back down. In addition to climbing the dune, families can also hike other trails within the park. Then, when you’re ready to relax at the beach and splash in the water, choose from several beaches where you’ll find clear water, lots of sunshine, and plenty of fun to keep your kids happy. For entertainment away from the water, there are also charming downtowns to shop, eat, and explore. 

Soak up the sun with your family at these Beautiful Beaches in the U.S! 

Skiing in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula with Kids

A woman and a man ski down a hill at Boyne Mountain Resort during the winter, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Boyne Resorts

Families looking for an outdoor adventure during Michigan’s cold winter should try skiing! There are countless ski resorts across the state where families can hit the slopes, whether your kids are just learning or already experts. Boyne Mountain Resort, located in Boyne Falls, is a popular option with families due to its variety of terrain. There are free beginner skiing and snowboarding areas, an arcade for kids, and an outdoor heated pool. Plus, little ones will love the indoor waterpark! 

Another popular ski resort in Michigan for families is the Crystal Mountain Resort just west of Thompsonville. With over 100 acres of terrain and three areas for all skill levels, it also boasts kid-friendly amenities like an indoor pool with a play area. Finally,  Shanty Creek Resort is another option for families to consider.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes 

Families explore the area below a lighthouse along a beach in Michigan, called Silver Lake Sand Dunes, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Think Dunes

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are surely one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids! Located along Lake Michigan on the west coast of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, this off-the-beaten-track destination offers towering sand dunes that are a sight to behold.

Kids will love playing in the sand and seeing how far they can climb! There are also plenty of places to go swimming, hiking, and camping in the area. Visit Dune Beach for a relaxing afternoon or walk up to the Little Sable Point Lighthouse. Keep an eye out for different types of birds, plant species, and more wildlife during your adventures! Families can also learn more about Michigan’s history in the Hart Historic District. Here, kids can explore an original flour mill, a restored windmill, and more artifacts. 

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 

Families gather around for story time in the Children's Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 

Have a creative kid in your family? Watch art and nature fuse together at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park! Located in Grand Rapids, this indoor and outdoor sculpture and botanical garden will be a fun and educational experience for your little ones. With over five miles of walking trails, sculptures, and various themed gardens, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Wander through gardens full of beautiful flowers and sculptures, featuring interactive exhibits where kids can learn about plant life and the importance of conservation. There are also plenty of places to sit and relax, including one of the nation’s largest Children’s Gardens, so you can take a break from walking around while kids tire themselves out. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the picnic pavilion located near the main entrance, or stop by the on-site café for a bite.

Bald Mountain State Recreation Area

A large boardwalk extends into a body of water, with a forest flanking the other bank, at Bald Mountain State Recreation Area.
Photo Courtesy: Bald Mountain State Recreation Area

Experience some of the most rugged terrains in southeast Michigan at Bald Mountain State Recreation Area! From hiking to a swimming beach, several picnic areas, fishing, hunting, and more outdoor fun, it’s the ultimate destination for adventurous families. Divided into two areas, north and south, families will find the beach on the southern end. Families can also rent kayaks or paddleboats to explore the lake, plus there’s a nice BBQ area. There are many hiking trails at the northern end of the park, like the Orange Loop Trail, Red Loop Trail, White Loop Trail, etc. Some are easier to walk than others, but most are under the shade and provide pretty views. If you visit Bald Mountain State Recreation Area in the height of the summer, remember to bring your bug spray! 

Best State Parks in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula with Kids

From Warren Dunes State Park to Belle Isle State Park, Lower Michigan is also home to some amazing state parks. Here are some of our favorite options for families, including some of the best places to visit in Lower Michigan with kids! 

Warren Dunes State Park

Sand dunes rise into the sky at Warren Dunes State Park, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Phil Roeder

Warren Dunes State Park is one of the best state parks in Michigan for families. Located in southwestern Michigan along the stunning shores of Lake Michigan, it offers visitors of all ages a range of recreational activities. During the summer, lots of families flock to the park’s beautiful sandy beach, which is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles.

There are also hiking trails, many of which give kids a closer look at the famous, 260-feet tall dunes! Try the 3.6-miles Warren Dunes Beach Trail for a moderate trek that isn’t too hard for kids. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, and rabbits. When kids want to learn more about the ecosystem of the park, there are many different programs for families. This includes ranger-led programs about the plants and animals in the park. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder this is one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.

Bay City State Park

A long stretch of beach runs alongside Lake Michigan at Bay City State Park.
Photo Courtesy: Bay City State Park

Bay City State Park is a great place to take the family for a day trip. Situated on the shores of Saginaw Bay, it’s home to one of the largest remaining freshwater, coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes, the Tobico Marsh. Families will find lots to do here, including a visit to the sandy beach, where kids can swim and play in the summer. There are also many hiking trails that wind through the woods. One of the easier and most popular trails is the 2.8-miles Tobico Marsh Trail, which leads families to the top of a scenic observation tower. The 1.1-mile Tobico Lagon Trail is even shorter, located partially along the boardwalk. Plus, Bay City State Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, so you might even see some deer or other animals while you’re exploring! 

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

An overlook at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, with a view down to the lake and shoreline at one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Adam Buzzo

Reconnect with nature at Saugatuck Dunes State Park! Located along the shores of Lake Michigan between Alpena and Holland, this kid-friendly state park is home to 2.5 miles of sandy shoreline, coastal dunes, and over 13 miles of trails. The trails range from easy to difficult, so there is something for everyone. Many families like the 1.9-mile Saugatuck Dunes North Trail, which gives amazing shoreline views. The 2.3-mile Livingston Trail Loop is also a popular option for families since it’s an easy hike. Either way, kids will definitely be amazed by the towering sand dunes, which are over 200 feet tall! There are also some great picnicking spots, plus a playground for kids to enjoy. No wonder this is one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids! 

Belle Isle State Park

Two geese walk along a shoreline at Belle Island State Park with a view of the Detroit skyline in the distance at dusk.
Photo Courtesy: Kelly Verdeck

Enjoy the natural beauty and fascinating history of Detroit at Belle Isle State Park. Located in the middle of the Detroit River, this family-friendly island showcases stunning views of the Detroit Skyline. It also features so much to do, see, and explore! Families can rent a bike and ride a loop around the over 900-acre property. Stop to see the koi pond outside of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, sculptures, and a lighthouse. Hiking is also a popular activity, and there are lots of easy options for kids. Try the 5.1-mile Belle Isle Park Trail or the 1.3-mile Mud Creek Trail. When it’s time to cool down, families can also visit the public beach. Plus, there are a ton of sports fields, picnic spots, and other fun adventures. Don’t forget about the Belle Isle Zoo or the Belle Isle Aquarium

Muskegon State Park

South-west view from the shoreline of Muskegon State Park. The Muskegon Channel leading into Muskegon Lake is visible in the distance at one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Darwin Smith Jr. via Wikimedia Commons

Muskegon State Park is a great state park for families in Michigan. Located four miles west of North Muskegon, the park has over 1,000 acres of land to explore. This includes three miles of gorgeous shoreline (two miles along Lake Michigan and one mile on Muskegon Lake). Kids can go fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking, and have more fun on the water! There are also plenty of hiking and biking trails, some of which pass through forested dunes. Though moderate, the 4.6-mile Dune Ridge Trail is a popular option. For something easier, try the 4.5-mile Lost Lake Trail. At the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park, adventurous children can enjoy ice skating through the woods, a sledding hill, cross-country ski trails, zip line runs, archery, and so much more fun! 

Petoskey State Park

A stretch of sandy, rocky beach runs along a large lake at Petoskey State Park.
Photo Courtesy: Protopian Pickle Jar

A fun summer adventure awaits your family at Petoskey State Park! Located on the north end of Little Traverse Bay, this family-friendly state park is nestled on over 300 breathtaking acres. There’s also lots to do as a family here, including visiting the sandy beach. Popular with locals and tourists alike, this stunning stretch of shoreline features calm waters for kids to swim in. Kayaks, bikes, and paddleboards are also available to rent. Alongside the beach, Petoskey State Park offers hiking trails, biking, picnic facilities, volleyball courts, and a small playground.

There are two trails for families to explore: the 0.5-mile Petoskey-Old Baldy and the 1-mile Petoskey-Portage Trail. The former includes a set of stairs and ends on top of a sand dune, providing amazing views of the lake. The Portage Trail is mostly flat and easily walkable for young kids. 

Best Animal Encounters in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula with Kids

If your kids love animals, you’re in for a real treat when visiting Michigan! Of course, sprawling city zoos, like the Detroit Zoo, are a must. But there are also lesser-known animal adventures across the state, like Deer Tracks Junction or Potter Park Zoo. Stay tuned to hear more of our suggestions! 

Detroit Zoo

A penguin swims through the water in an aquarium at Detroit Zoo, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Detroit Zoo

Detroit Zoo is perfect for a fun day filled with animal adventures! Kids will love seeing all of the different wildlife at this urban oasis, from birds and reptiles to mammals. Home to over 2,000 animals and over 200 species, it showcases tigers, lions, elephants, and more fascinating creatures to discover in interactive habitats. Little ones can even get up close and personal with some of the animals during the zoo’s many interactive programs and experiences, like a giraffe encounter. Besides animals, there are lots of other things to keep kids entertained at the zoo, including a carousel, playground, and even a miniature railroad. Plus, Detroit Zoo is always adding new exhibits, so there’s always something new to see!

Potter Park Zoo

A red panda plays with foliage, in an exhibit at Potter Park Zoo.
Photo Courtesy: Potter Park Zoo

Families who want a lowkey and authentic zoo experience should add Potter Park Zoo to their Michigan itinerary. Located in Lansing within the larger Potter Park, this 20-acre zoo is home to 350 animals, from lions to rare reptiles like a Madagascar hognose snake. It’s also a perfect place to take younger kids since it’s not as sprawling and overwhelming as other larger city zoos. Stroll through the Feline & Primate House to see outdoor habitats with tigers, cougars, etc. Inside, you’ll find rare reptiles, birds, and monkeys such as the cotton-topped tamarin. After you’re done strolling, be sure to visit the animal farm for a peek at goats, pigs, and cattle. For a really fun adventure, kids can even enjoy the zoo’s most popular activity, a camel ride! 

Binder Park Zoo

Want to visit one of the largest zoos in Michigan? Look no further than Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek! Located on a lush and sprawling property, this family-friendly zoo features a wide array of animals and plants. Plus, there’s a special Wild Africa exhibit that’s a hit with all ages. From zebras to lions, waterbuck, gazelles, and more, they can see the animals roaming free in a savanna-like setting.

To get a closer view, you can even walk a short path to a small African-inspired village. Kids can also explore the zoo on the zebra-striped Wildnerness Tram, where they’ll feel like they’re on their own African safari. Don’t miss the chance to feed a giraffe! Finally, there’s also a carousel for all ages, and a mini locomotive that goes around in a loop. 

The Creature Conservancy 

A teen girl holds a small animal at The Creature Conservancy, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: The Creature Conservancy

For a hands-on zoo experience in Michigan, look no further than The Creature Conservancy! Located in Ann Arbor, this wild animal conservation education center features over 75 species of exotic animals, many of whom were former rescue pets. It’s a wonderful place for kids to learn about these animals and how they can promote their conservation.

Though you can explore the outdoor facilities on your own, many families choose to take a private tour to get more in-depth information and view animals in other parts of the facility. Kids will love seeing all the different animals, including a bald eagle, a cougar, macaws, alligators, sloths, and more! The Creature Conservancy is open to the public on weekends from 1-5 pm with special animal presentations at 2 and 4 pm. 

Calder Dairy and Farm

An aerial view of Calder Dairy and Farm during the fall.
Photo Courtesy: Calder Dairy and Farm

A visit to Carleton, Michigan, is incomplete without taking time to visit the Calder Dairy and Farm! For families who want a glimpse of what life is like at a real working farm, this family-owned one is the place to be. It may get a bit muddy or stinky at times, but it’s wonderful for letting kids roam around and interact with the animals. They’ll see everything from cows to geese, ducks, chickens, and more. Plus, it’s inexpensive too, all you have to do is buy a bag of feed! Kids will definitely get a kick out of watching everyday farm activities too, like farmers milking the cows in the milking parlor. Once you’re done exploring, you can also visit the farm store to grab some cream cheese, ice cream, and other homemade goodies. 

Deer Tracks Junction

For a fun family adventure in the summertime, look no further than Deer Tracks Junction! Located in Cedar Springs, this is certainly one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids. From pigs, bunnies, and goats to donkeys and other farm animals, children have a chance to get up close and personal with all kinds of creatures here. There are also many animals on the safari trail you wouldn’t typically see, like water buffalo, Tibetan yaks, and ostrich, as well as brown and black bears. You can even feed can the bears in the adventure park by tossing them treats! Plus, when kids want a break, there are plenty of play areas around and even an ice cream shop for a sweet treat. Another special part about visiting Deer Tracks Junction is Site 57 Safari, Michigan’s only drive-thru safari! 

John Ball Zoo

A mom, grandma, and infant girl look through aquarium glass at a swimming otter at John Ball Zoo.
Photo Courtesy: John Ball Zoo

One of the best things to do in Grand Rapids with kids is to visit the John Ball Zoo. Located within John Ball Park, this urban zoo is home to 2,000 different animals, from lions to tigers and even chimpanzees! There are plenty of ways to explore the extensive property, whether by yourself or with a guided tour. In fact, the John Ball Zoo even offers a special “Stroller Safari” for kids under three! Hands-on adventures are also in abundance, between animal feedings, arts and crafts, and more fun. Throughout the year, the zoo also hosts a few “Kids’ Night Out,” where children can experience live animal encounters, crafts, stories, and games. Another great thing about the zoo is that it offers educational programs for both kids and adults to learn about protecting our planet’s wildlife. 

Pro Tip: Once you’re done exploring the zoo, you can also wander around John Ball Park, which has a playground for kids to enjoy! 

SEA LIFE Aquarium Michigan

A young girl holds out her arms, measuring up against the sharks in an aquarium tank at SEA LIFE Aquarium Michigan, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: SEA LIFE Aquarium Michigan

Exploring the SEA LIFE Aquarium Michigan is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime for your animal-loving kids! Located in Auburn Hills, it’s the state’s largest aquarium, with over 250 species and 2,000 animals, including sharks, stingrays, and green sea turtles.

Children will have a blast exploring the 10+ interactive exhibits, from the doodle reef, home to the famous clownfish, to seeing an abandoned shipwreck. Kids can even touch sea anemones, sea stars, and other unique creatures in the interactive touch pool! Get a 360-degree view of the shoaling school of fish, then head to the aquarium’s main attraction: the underwater ocean tunnel. Kids will surely be amazed as they make their way through this 180-degree underwater tunnel, showcasing sharks, sea turtles, and more! For a more behind-the-scenes look, the aquarium also offers tours and live animal feedings.

Best Museums in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula with Kids

Whether you’re an art fanatic or a history buff, there’s a Michigan museum to keep your family entertained and constantly learning. From children’s museums to maritime museums located on replica ships, these are surely the best places to visit in Michigan with kids. Here are some suggestions! 

Detroit Institute of Arts 

Two parents and their young child explore an exhibit at Detroit Institute of Arts.
Photo Courtesy: Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts is a great place to take your kids if you’re looking for something creative to do in Detroit. Home to one of the biggest and most expansive collections in the world, the museum has a wide variety of art, both modern and historical, from all over the globe. There are also many interactive exhibits and activities that your kids will enjoy exploring, such as the African art section or the American art section. Temporary exhibitions teach little ones about interesting subjects like the life of Vincent Van Gogh or the 21st-century printmaking boom in the United States and beyond. If you’re looking for a hands-on activity, the Detroit Institute of Arts also offers art classes for kids of all ages. Kids can participate in hands-on activities, such as making masks or painting! 

Michigan Science Center

The exterior of the Michigan Science Center, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Michigan Science Center

Encourage your little ones’ love of science at the Michigan Science Center! Located a few blocks away from the Detroit Institute of Arts in Midtown, it’s the perfect place to take kids if you’re searching for something educational and fun. There are over 100 hands-on exhibits that will teach them about science, technology, engineering, and math.

From the Space Gallery, where they can hear more about rockets, to the STEM Playground, there are lots of activities to keep everyone engaged and learning the entire time. Don’t forget about the Smithsonian Spark! Lab, where they can learn about some of the greatest inventors in the world. Families can also explore the planetarium or see a show in the 4D theater. With everything there is to see and do, it’s no wonder this is one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids! 

Hands-On Museum

A young Asian girl plays in a water table exhibit at the Hands-On Museum in Ann Arbor, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Destination Ann Arbor

Discover your inner scientist at the Hands-On Museum! Located in Ann Arbor, this interactive science and technology museum is certainly one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids. The museum has over 250 interactive exhibits that are designed to spark imagination and curiosity. Kids can touch, feel, and explore the exhibits at their own pace. Discover more about mechanics at the STEAM exhibit or about the science of television at MediaWorks. There’s also an “All About You Gallery” to teach kids how to stay happy and healthy. There’s even a preschool section for younger visitors! Though this museum doesn’t have an age limit, we think kids between three and eight would enjoy it best. 

Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center 

Inside an exhibit at Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, featuring a boat and other marine information areas at one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: NOAA/TBNMS

Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center is a must-see for families visiting Michigan. Located in downtown Alpena along the Thunder Bay River, this free shipwreck museum, theater, and archaeology lab are dedicated to preserving the maritime history of the Great Lakes region. Families can take a tour of a life-size replica of a Great Lakes schooner, explore interesting exhibits, and watch a film about the history of the area.

The center also offers interactive displays for kids to learn about shipwrecks, lighthouses, and different types of boats. (Be sure to open the drawers below the exhibits for more cool artifacts!) Little ones will love being able to walk the decks like a real sailor and see the huge timbers resting on the lake bottom. The center also has a kids’ play area, making it a great place to spend the day with the family. Finally, the tour boat Lady Michigan also leaves from the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

Motown Museum

The exterior of the Motown Museum.
Photo Courtesy: Motown Museum

Any music lover visiting Detroit can’t miss the Motown Museum! Located near New Center, this educational museum is home to the famous record label, Motown, and has many interactive exhibits for kids to explore. Families can learn more about the history of Motown, the recording process, and the impact that Motown had on American culture. There is also a chance to see some of the label’s famous recording studios. Of course, parents will also have a fantastic time seeing artifacts from the label’s artists, like authentic costumes from Diana Ross and The Supremes. It’s a great opportunity for kids to see how the music is made. Then, they can even try their hand at making their own music and recording an accompanying video! 

Note: The Motown Museum is currently closed this summer, but plans to reopen soon after a multimillion-dollar expansion. 

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

A young boy explores the Mathematica exhibit at The Henry Ford, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: The Henry Ford

Let your imagination run free at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation! Clever kids who are always thinking up new inventions will love this fascinating museum in the suburbs of Dearborn. It features over 300 years of American automobile history and culture, from the first cars to the space shuttle. Children will love seeing all the different displays and how cars have evolved. There are also many interactive exhibits, such as the chance to sit in a real car, drive a simulator, or even check out a vintage steam locomotive. From the Civil Rights Movement to 17th-century furniture, there are also various other exhibits. The Museum also has a Giant Screen Experience, where you can watch movies about American history.

Impression 5 Science Center

The Impression 5 Science Center is a great place to take kids when visiting Michigan. Located in downtown Lansing, it has interactive exhibits on various science topics. Kids can learn about the human body, space, and the environment, in addition to seeing how different types of machines work. For example, in the Build Room, kids can build using blocks, magnetic tiles, panels, bridges, and more. In the spectrum exhibit, little ones can create a colorful masterpiece on a life-size Light Mosaic or strike a pose with a Shadow Wall. Don’t forget about FLOW: A Water Experience, where kids can build their own sailboat! For young guests, there’s even a First Impression Room, featuring a play structure, light sensory table, puzzles, books, and other fun activities for kids younger than four. 

Michigan Maritime Museum 

A ship with large sails goes down a body of water in Michigan, as part of the Michigan Maritime Museum, one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Michigan Maritime Museum 

The Michigan Maritime Museum is located in South Haven, Michigan, and offers a variety of activities for children. Here, you’ll find several interactive exhibits that will teach your children about the state’s maritime history. Families can explore a replica of a 19th-century ship, see how lighthouses work, and even see staff dress up like a sailor. In addition to the interactive steamship exhibit in the new Maritime Heritage Center, there are different exhibits around the museum’s large waterfront campus. 

During the summer, you can supplement your visit with an on-water adventure aboard their four historic vessels including a 36-foot Coast Guard motor lifeboat and a turn-of-the-century electric river launch. Or take a sail aboard the Friends Good Will, a replica 1810 square topsail sloop. During this 90-minute tour, you’ll get to watch the crew put up/take down the sails. Who knows, kids may even get to steer the ship for a bit!

Best Water Parks & Amusement Parks in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula with Kids

There’s nothing like cooling off from a long day at a water park! Or maybe you’d rather get your daily dose of adrenaline at a theme park? Either way, Michigan has plenty of both, which is why we’ve compiled the best water parks and amusement parks in Michigan for families. Keep reading to learn more about some of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids: water parks and amusement parks!

Michigan’s Adventure

A large yellow and red rollercoaster carries a crew full of people at Michigan’s Adventure, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Michigan’s Adventure

Michigan’s Adventure is the perfect place to take your kids if you’re looking for a fun-filled day. Located in Muskegon, it’s the biggest amusement and water park in Michigan. In fact, it features over 50 rides, including roller coasters, water rides, and more. The park has rides for all ages, from gentle kiddie rides to thrilling roller coasters.

At the Wild Water Adventure Park, there’s also a wave pool, an interactive water play area, and a kids’ play zone. Kids will have a blast exploring all the different rides and even seeing their favorite characters in costume, like Charlie Brown and Snoopy! If you’re looking for a break, check out one of the shows or visit the arcade. Plus, when you’re hungry, there are plenty of food options available, including pizza, burgers, and ice cream.

Note: Michigan’s Adventure is only open seasonally during the summer months. Please check their website for updated hours before planning your trip.

Nelis’ Dutch Village

Tulips flanks a small republic canal at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Michigan, with historic buildings in the distance.
Photo Courtesy: Nelis’ Dutch Village

Enjoy an authentic Dutch experience with your family at Nelis’ Dutch Village! Located in Holland, this fun theme park celebrates all things related to The Netherlands. Here, families can step back in time 150 years through a variety of fun games, rides, and more. As one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids, the rides are well-suited for young kids, whether bumper cars or a choo choo train.

Designed to look like a small Dutch village, complete with windmills and canals, the theme park also showcases traditional activities like clog dancing and wooden shoe painting. Plus, children can take advantage of unique play structures, like a slide shaped like a giant wooden shoe or a Dutch pirate ship. Kids will also surely get a kick out of visiting the petting zoo. They can feed goats, pet a bunny, and even say hello to a baby cow! 

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark 

A young boy crosses a lily pad pool at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark.
Photo Courtesy: Boyne Resorts

Get your splash on no matter the season at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark! Located within the larger Boyne Mountain Resort, this family-friendly destination is known as the largest indoor waterpark in Michigan. Of course, it has enough to keep your entire family entertained, whether you’re with little kids or teens.

Children have access to three different pools, with one zero-depth pool specifically for little ones. There’s also a relaxing Lazy River Adventure for them to enjoy a thrilling experience! Adrenaline seekers will appreciate the steep drop of the Big Couloir. If you’re traveling with older kids, don’t miss the Rip Zone Surf Stimulator. You can even race side-by-side in a four-lane slide! Since Avalanche Bay is located within a bigger resort, guests of the resort also have access to other amenities like a spa, on-site dining, etc. 

Find more water parks in the Midwest on our list of Best Midwest Hotels and Indoor Water Parks For Families! 

Zehnder’s Splash Village 

Inside the indoor water park at Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Water Park, featuring colorful slides and splash zones at one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Water Park

Spend your Michigan vacation in the water at Zehnders Splash Village Hotel and Water Park with your family. Located in Frankenmuth, it’s one of the few indoor destinations in America with two distinct water parks, both with retractable roofs. Here, kids can enjoy an array of rides and water attractions to keep them happy, like riding a four-person raft or cruising down an action river. Maybe they’d rather play a friendly game of water basketball instead? Either way, there’s enough for your entire family, including a Super Loop speed slide! Kids who love to splash will also appreciate the zero-entry pool with water geysers. Plus, if they’re staying at the resort, families can also make use of large hot tubs, family cabanas, an arcade, and so much more! 

Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City, MI

The large indoor water park, featuring a woodsy theme, at Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Great Wolf Lodge

One of the best parts about passing through Traverse City, Michigan, is the chance to visit Great Wolf Lodge! No matter the season, kids can get their splash on at this indoor water park featuring endless rides and attractions. This includes the famous Fort Mackenzie, an interactive, four-story water treehouse with slides and play stations! Together, families can enjoy the River Canyon Run or Alberta Falls, an exhilarating tube ride for four people! If you want to take it easy, Crooked Creek is the ideal lazy river for kids of all ages. There are also a variety of kiddie swimming pools for little ones just learning to swim. In addition to these main attractions, families who stay at Great Wolf Lodge can also enjoy amenities like arcade games, bowling, mini-golf, and more. 

Arzo Sports & Fun Park 

An aerial view of Arzo Amusement Park, featuring mini golf and a go-kart track.
Photo Courtesy: Arzo Amusement Park

Vacationing can be tiring for some kids, but Arzo Sports & Fun Park is the perfect place to blow off some steam! Located in Alpena, this newly-opened theme park features countless attractions for kids of all ages. From bumper cars to go-karts, adrenaline seekers will love the endless chances to race, thrash, and have a blast with friends. In terms of rides, there’s also a fun dragon-themed roller coaster, plus a cute carousel and a Ferris wheel that gives an amazing view. Sporty kids will also appreciate the batting cages, driving range, and mini-golf course. Or, hold on to the Orbitron as it spins you 360 degrees! Brave little ones can also try their hand at another thrilling activity: bungee jumping! Indoors, you’ll find an arcade to keep kids occupied, and the chance to play laser tag. 

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Michigan

A family of four goes through a lego-themed ride at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Michigan, one of the best places in Michigan to visit with kids.
Photo Courtesy: LEGOLAND Discovery Center Michigan

Take your kids to the ultimate LEGO playground in Michigan! Legoland Discovery Center Michigan is an awesome hangout spot for kids ages three to ten. Located in Auburn Hills, it gives children a chance to build, explore, use their imaginations, and make new friends!

Interactive attractions give kids a chance to play games like Kingdom Quest, where they can hop aboard a chariot and rescue a captured princess. Or, see the landmarks of Michigan come to life in MINILAND, a detailed replica of Detroit! Of course, Finding Nemo fans can’t miss Merlin’s Apprentice, a fun ride where kids can pedal to beat their mission. End your visit with a look inside the 4D theater, which screens short films with cool special effects like water, buzzing, and popping. 

Best Resorts in Michigan for a Family Getaway

The exterior to Boyne Mountain Resort, with a lush green lawn in front, where families are playing outdoor lawn games at one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Boyne Resorts

Looking for somewhere to stay in Michigan with kids? For a cute, European-themed stay in Frankenmuth, don’t miss the Bavarian Inn Lodge. It has cute architecture, a prime downtown location, and even costumed employees! Other hotels in Michigan for families include the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Traverse City, Treetops Resort in Gaylord, and Inn at Bay Harbor in Bay Harbor. 

Michigan also boasts several resorts families will love. To start planning your next adventure on the slopes, book a stay at Boyne Mountain Resort, Shanty Creek Resort, or Crystal Mountain Resort. Regardless of where you choose to stay, you’ll be able to explore some of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids!

Happy Travels!

A tandem kayak holding two people paddles through the Huron River near Ann Arbor.
Photo Courtesy: Ann Arbor

We hope you liked this article on the 45 Fun Places To Visit In Michigan’s Lower Peninsula With Kids! From boat rides to hiking, biking, historic sites, and so much more, this is surely a fantastic state to visit as a family. Enjoy these best places to visit in Michigan with your kids!

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision. 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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Families Love Travel Team

The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.