Family-Friendly Activities at NAIAS

Family-Friendly Activities at NAIAS

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opens in Detroit this weekend and runs through January 22. The Detroit Auto Show is held at Cobo Center. If you’re planning to visit with your children, there are plenty of family-friendly activities at NAIAS.

Family-Friendly Activities at NAIAS

This week I attended Media Days as a brand ambassador for SheBuysCars along with a number of other influencers. Hyundai, Genesis, and the Steel Market Development Institute sponsored our visit.

Family-Friendly Activities at NAIAS

While I was at the Auto Show, I kept my eye out for activities that kids will enjoy at the Auto Show. The two best displays for kids are at Ford and Chevrolet. While they are across the aisle from each other, I suggest spacing out these booths to keep the kids entertained. The kids will also want to visit Lightning McQueen from the Cars movies.

Kids Activities at Ford

In our years of attending the Detroit Auto Show, the Ford display has always had kids activities. This year is no exception. 


The Ford display includes Virtual Reality and simulators, video games, and coloring. Some of the activities have a suggested minimum age (12 for the Virtual Reality).

Family Friendly Auto Show Activities - Ford Simulators

Other activities like coloring a button are great for all ages.

Family Friendly Auto Show Activities - Ford Buttons

Kids Activities at Chevrolet

Chevrolet also offered a number of fun activities for kids. I had a chance to digitally color a Corvette and sketch a Camaro. These booths are designed just for kids with handy pullout stools for the kids to stand on and reach the tablets. 

Family Friendly Auto Show Activities - Chevrolet My Camaro Sketch

I also drove a robot and then got to watch it drive autonomously. In addition to these activities, kids can also get their picture taken for trading cards. The trading card activity was not setup during media days.

Family Friendly Auto Show Activities - Chevrolet Robot

Pixar Display

Be sure to stop by the Pixar display to see Lightning McQueen from the upcoming Cars 3. Don’t miss our interview with the filmmakers and coverage from the press conference.

Family-Friendly Activities at NAIAS - Visit Lighting McQueen

Other Kids Activities

Throughout the show there are several racing simulators including at Hyundai. 

Family-Friendly Activities at NAIAS - Hyundai Racers

Hyundai will also have an hourly SWAG game show complete with bleachers for spectators. There will be trivia and Hyundai prizes.

Cars on Parade

Every day at 3:30 and 7p there will be Cars on Parade. The daily parade on the show floor will include luxury vehicles, local personalities (media & sport). There will also be clowns and props from The Parade Company.

Attending the Auto Show with Kids


I found parking at Joe Louis Arena to be very convenient. It is easy to access from M-10 and walkable to Cobo Center. Just watch for Red Wings games, particularly if you are attending late afternoon or evening. 

In general, the show is less crowded on weekdays. However, parking can be difficult on weekdays since many lots are reserved for local commuters with monthly passes.

Coat Check

The Auto Show happens in winter which means most people are wearing coats. Cobo has a convenient coat check for $3. 

Family-Friendly Activities at NAIAS - Coat Check

Bring a Helper

We have visited the Auto Show as a family several times over the years. On some visits, it has just been a general fun family outing to see the different cars. Other visits, we have used the Auto Show to kick off a vehicle search. When we were in an information gathering mode, it was helpful that we brought grandparents with us. That allowed us to talk with representatives while my daughter was with her grandparents at some of the fun activities.

If you are in a serious shopping mode, I suggest bringing an extra adult to entertain the kids.


There is some food available at Cobo Center. When we have attended the Public Show in the past there have been snacks available for purchase on the show floor. We have used the People Mover to leave the Cobo Center to get lunch before or after attending the show.


The NAIAS public show runs from Saturday, January 14 through Sunday, January 22. They show is open from 9a-10p daily except for the last day when it closes at 7p. The last admission is 1 hour before closing time.

Tickets for the Auto Show

Tickets are $13/adults and $7 for children (ages 7-12) and seniors (ages 65+). Children 6 and under are free with a parent or guardian. You can pre-order tickets, however you will still need to pick them up in person at the Auto Show. Also, discounted children and senior tickets can only be bought in person. When we attended in 2014, we bought our tickets in person at a kiosk using our credit card and did not have to wait in line. The line to pick up online tickets was longer than the kiosk line.

Join our Twitter Party

After attending the Auto Show, I will be helping to moderate a Twitter party on Friday, January 13th from noon-1p. At the end of the party, we’ll also be announcing the winners of the Ticket Giveaway below. 

First, follow myself (@a2withkids) and the other moderators: @shebuyscars, @debthompson, @Week99er, @Solomomtravel, @roastedbeanz, @purposeblog and @tatanishapw. Then, follow along at our hashtags (#DetroitLovesAutos, #HyundaiNAIAS, #SteelMatters).

Win Tickets to Detroit Auto Show

Want to visit the Auto Show? SheBuysCars has collaborated with Detroit Auto Show, Hyundai and DriveUsingSteel to give away 10 pairs of tickets to the show and a grand prize of 2 tickets and a $150 gift card. Entries must be received by January 13 at 12:45p ET via the Rafflecopter form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

  Family-Friendly Activities at NAIAS

3 thoughts on “Family-Friendly Activities at NAIAS”

  1. Are you allowed to bring snacks/drinks with you in a bag for the kids? Or do they not allow bags?

    Als0- will today (MLK day) be very busy? Anyone have experience with this?

  2. I’m not positive, but I think you’ll be able to bring snacks/drinks. I know we’ve bought food inside the show before.
    I’d expect MLK Day to be less crowded than a weekend, but more crowded than a typical weekday. Parking may also be tricky with some lots that open on weekends only available to monthly pass holders, but increased crowds compared to a typical weekday.

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