Gaffield Children’s Garden, U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 North Dixboro
The Gaffield Children’s Garden is part of the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens. It offers a natural setting specifically designed from a kid’s point of view and invites discovery for all the senses. The gardens offer educational programs that promote a child’s understanding of plants. Kids can go through mazes, climb objects, and gets their hands dirty while digging holes. The garden has a butterfly and hummingbird garden as well as a builders’ garden and a hiking trail.
115 East Liberty St.
734-761-3463 | www.826michigan.org
826michigan is a nonprofit organization which helps students ages 6-18 with their writing skills. It offers field-trip options that include storytelling and bookmaking as well as writing labs. 826michigan also has drop-in writing programs where participants experiment with writing prompts, discuss creative writing, get feedback on poems, and get the chance to publish, record, and perform their work. Workshops are also offered to help strengthen writing skills and are taught by volunteer writers, educators and publishing professionals from the community.
Dexter Cider Mill
3685 Central Street, Dexter
734-426-8531 | dextercidermill.com
The Dexter Cider Mill is the oldest, continuously operating Cider Mill in the state, and it still makes cider like it was done 120 years ago, using an oak rack press. Three to five varieties of locally grown apples are used in every pressing so that each press is unique. In addition to cider, the mill sells fresh apples, caramel apples, doughnuts and apple nut bread from its bakery. On weekends, apple pies, apple strudel, and hand rolled gingersnaps are also available along with other apple related products.
Leslie Science Center
734-997-1553 | www.lesliesnc.org
The Leslie Science Center educates children about their natural environment and offers programs for all ages.It’s a destination for field trips and birthday parties. The grounds include non-releasable birds of prey as well as raptor enclosures and trails. Every season offers different opportunities to explore animals and plants of the forest, There are special programs just for toddlers with walks along trails as well as nature tales, and story time accompanied by hands-on, nature-themed activities. Programs are designed for specific ages and include teaching about food, water, and shelter and related crafts and experiments.
Michigan Firehouse Museum
110 West Cross Street, Ypsilanti
734-547-0663 | www.michiganfirehousemuseum.org/index.html
The Michigan Firehouse Museum offers a history of firefighting with informative exhibits and teaches fire safety and prevention. It includes displays of both an 1898 firehouse and a modern one. One of the highlights is a 1917 American LaFrance Type 31 tractor with an aerial ladder. There are also fire engine steamers, and a variety of antique fire trucks and early fire rigs as well as historic artifacts like tools, helmets, clothing and fire truck bells. It’s appealing to all ages and offers group tours.
82 Aprill Dr.
734-827-2680 | www.planet-rock.com
Planet Rock offers passes and hosts birthday parties and also offers lessons, and memberships. The staff plans and facilitates parties for all ages and gives kids access to walls in the gym. There are programs for kids as young as three with the focus on developing agility, balance and coordination. There are obstacle courses, a climbing gym (for kids five and older) and a training center. Kids learn the importance of fitness, to build strength, and to work as a team. First time climbers will learn safety skills, using knots, and belaying (how to hold the ropes)- for ages 14 and older.
Spring Valley Trout Farm
12190 Island Lake Rd., Dexter
734-425-4772 | Dextrout@aol.com
The Spring Valley Trout Farm has a children’s trout pond reserved for children 10 and under, where a catch on every outing is guaranteed. The fish are in spring-fed, pollution-free ponds and are stocked weekly with fish grown on the farm-raised Channel Catfish ponds or Rainbow Trout pond. The site has a total of nine spring fed ponds ranging from a 1/2 acre to an acre. There are two covered picnic pavilions, a children’s play area and an authentic American log cabin used as a fishing lodge. No fishing license is required.
1101 South Main St., Chelsea
734-475-1555 | www.thechelseatreehouse.com
The TreeHouse is an indoor playground with 9,000 square feet of play area that includes a climbing and playing structure, five sliding boards, swinging bridges, and an enclosed area for babies and toddlers. There are also basketball hoops and a huge tree house. The facility will host birthday parties and has a cafe that sells freshly made sandwiches, salads, soups and healthy snacks.
5565 Merritt Rd., Ypsilanti
734-390-9211 | www.wiards.com
Wiard’s Apple Orchard offers u-pick apples and a u-pick pumpkin patch. There is also a corn maze, hayrides, a country store and more. The property covers nearly 100 acres, and has haunted attractions for Halloween. Wiard’s has been around for 178 years and provided apples and cider vinegar for Union Troops in the Civil War. Wiard’s also offers the Learning Barn Country Classroom for school field trips.
Museum of Natural History
1109 Geddes Avenue
734-764-0478 | www.lsa.umich.edu/ummnh
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History has exhibits and programs for all ages and facilitates active participation and promotes the understanding of science. Permanent exhibits include those on dinosaurs and other prehistoric life, anthropology, geology, Michigan wildlife, and a Planetarium. There are preschool programs, school field trip programs, dinosaur and space birthday parties, and Planetarium shows. The museum also offers the Family Reading and Science Program, which includes workshops around SouthEast Michigan aimed at children ages 6-11 and culminates with a Discovery Day at the museum in March.