It wont be long until Spring Break is here and the kids will want to head off to some place exotic. We all know it’s not always in the budget, and sometimes a stay-cation is more fun than leaving anyhow. But with gas prices as low as they are right now – why not take them on a quick get away within the state? Depending on where you are in Michigan, most of these locations are only a couple hour drive away and you can enjoy them then drive home the same day – all are kid friendly and a lot of fun for adults to attend to!
1. Belle Isle Aquarium, Detroit
The Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest Aquarium in the country. At the heart of Belle Isle, it has different fish and aquatic creatures from around the area and beyond. The Aquarium reopened to the public in 2012, and is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10-4 for FREE! After you tour the aquarium, walk next store to the Conservatory and check out some beautiful flowers. Enjoy the parks and a view of the Detroit Skyline while you’re on the island.
Please note – that while the Aquarium and Conservatory are free, Belle Isle is now considered a state park. You will either need the recreation pass on your plate or get a day pass for the park for $9. Still, for $9 a car full – that’s a great deal for some fun!
For more information: Belle Isle Aquarium website
2. The Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak
I really don’t think there is a bad time of year to visit the Detroit Zoo! You could be there all day and explore the different animals and exhibits. Take the train to the back of the park and walk all the back and catch everything as you go. Right off of I-696 you’ll find everything from lions, camels and even the brand new penguin exhibit! Visit the art galleries and grab some snacks in the cafe. Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to visit the Antarctic exhibit and look for the polar bears. Every time we go to the Detroit Zoo, we discover something new and different.
- Feburary 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- March 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- April 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Spring/summer hours begin
- Adults $14
- Children (2-14) $10
- Seniors $10
- Military with ID $10
- Under 2 FREE
- Parking $6
For more information: The Detroit Zoo
3. DeYoung Family Zoo, Wallace, MI
Opening back up to the public on April 1st, the DeYoung Family Zoo is one of the few “couple day” trips we’d suggest, but it’s absolutely worth it! Featured on My Life is a Zoo on National Geographic Wild, the DeYoung Family Zoo is a small privately owned zoo in the Upper Peninsula. On our way to the zoo, we actually cut through part of Wisconsin to get there (which was not on our plan!). The DeYoung Family Zoo is 80 acres of animal sanctuary and zoo where you can find tigers, bears, monkeys and even ocelots in an area we’d never expect them. After you tour the zoo, stop by the front gates to pet babies animals or visit the petting zoo!
Zoo Admission Prices:
- Adults: $12 (Age 16 – 65)
- Seniors: $10 (Age 65 and older)
- Children: $8 (Age 5 – 16)
- Free (Age 4 and under)
For more information: DeYoung Family Zoo
4. Oswald’s Bear Ranch, Newberry, MI
We’re always warned about the bear when we go camping up north, but I always need to make a stop at Oswald’s Bear Ranch while we’re there! It’s only $20 per vehicle to visit – so load up the car and check out the bear rescue. The Bear Ranch wont open up again until Memorial Day weekend, but it deserves a mention of something to put on your “kids to do list”. You can walk around the ranch and see the 29 bears roaming in their pens, and for an additional fee even feed baby bears. Your kids will love that the baby bears love fruit loops and say “omnomnom” when they do.
There is Free Admission for Active Military
For more information: Oswald’s Bear Ranch
5. Frederick Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI
Open year round, the Frederick Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park is filled with beautiful flowers, plant and even glass artwork by Chihuly. It’s a great place to explore and walk around, and when it starts to warm up – the outside garden and kids space is fun for playing! Seasonally they offer a kids Tram to take them around the property, and offer other children’s activities depending on age group. Explore the grounds and see the DiVinci Horse. Let your child explore the children’s garden and see the Great Lakes represented in a fun water fountain they can play in. Don’t forget to schedule a day trip back there when the butterflies are in the green house – you wont want to miss it!
- Adults (14 – 64) $14.50
- Seniors (65 and older) $11
- Students (with student ID) $11
- Children (5–13) $7
- Children (3–4) $4
- Children (2 and younger) FREE
For more information: Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
6. Dutch Village, Holland, MI
Celebrating the Dutch heritage on the West Side of the state is Nelis’ Dutch Village, a small theme park devoted to Dutch heritage. Learn traditional Dutch dances, visit the petting zoo, try traditional food, watch wooden shoes get made (then buy some of your own) and of course ride the rides! Modeled after a village in the Netherlands, Dutch Village features windmills, rivers, bridges and cute shops. Watch candles get carved, and don’t forget to place your tulip bulb order.
- Adults $12
- Seniors $11
- Children (3-15) $10
For more information: Nelis’ Dutch Village