Kid-Friendly Detroit Auto Show

Kid-Friendly Activities at Detroit Auto Show with Free Printable

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A Girls Guide to Cars sponsored my attendance at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) Media Day on Monday. While there, I searched out the kid-friendly activities at the Detroit Auto Show.

Exploring Cars

The Auto Show includes a mix of cars on display stands, cars that are locked, and cars that you can climb in. Even as a toddler my daughter enjoyed climbing in the open cars. It was a special treat for her to be able to climb in the front seat or explore the cargo areas.

Kid-Friendly Auto Show - Cadillac XT6 Cargo

It was a special treat on Monday for us to explore the interior of a new Cadillac XT6 with one of the designers. 


Car Rides

A new kid-friendly attraction at the Auto Show for 2019 is car rides. With the move to June for NAIAS 2020 and the inclusion of outdoor displays, there will hopefully be more ride-alongs offered.

Kia is featuring their new Telluride in an off-road ride experience in Cobo Center. The ride takes you around tight corners, over uneven terrain, and up small hills. I was told this was for ages 8+.

Kid Friendly Auto Show - Kia Telluride Ride

Ford is offering a virtual ride in a 2020 Ford Explorer. You actually ride in a 2019 Explorer with a virtual reality headset. The ride includes some uneven terrain and a steep hill. I was told that children ages 4+ could ride in the Explorer and that booster seats would be available for ages 4-8. This ride along is new for the Detroit Auto Show and they were still working out the technology when I rode. Hopefully it is fully functioning for the public show.


Virtual Reality Experiences

The number of virtual reality experiences continues to grow each year.

This year my favorite virtual reality experience was Chevrolet’s Home Run Derby. My second time I actually went 8/8.

Kid Friendly Auto Show - Virtual Baseball

Chevrolet also returns their 4D ride experience from last year.

Kids Activities at Detroit Auto Show - Chevrolet Virtual Design Lab

Toyota had two virtual experiences. You can race a new Toyota Supra in a motion simulator. The second experience is in their Olympic area.

Honda introduces their new Passport using Honda Lens which is augmented reality and overlays images on what you are actually seeing. These glasses were heavy and the least comfortable. It is also the least exciting experience for the kids.

Other Activities

Ford has the king of all activities – cargo nets! Behind the display of trucks you will find two cargo net tunnels high above Mustangs. Kids (ages 5+) and adults can walk through the tunnels. I know my daughter would love the cargo net, so I had to test them out.

Kid Friendly Auto Show - Cargo Net Tunnel

Chevrolet returns their model car that can be controlled via a video game controller. After trying it at the 2017 and 2018 shows, I was much more successful this year.

Family Friendly Auto Show Activities - Chevrolet Robot


Printable Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is a great way to entertain your kids at any event. While at the show I took pictures of interesting sights and made it into a Free Printable Scavenger Hunt.

The scavenger hunt is split into two parts – easy and hard.

Easy Scavenger Hunt

The easy scavenger hunt has 9 items to look for. These are either things you will see many instances of all over the show or large items that will be easy to spot. The Easy Scavenger Hunt.

Hard Scavenger Hunt

The hard scavenger hunt has 16 items to look for. These items may require a bit more searching. They tend to be smaller or just in a specific locations, often deep in a brand’s display.


Parental Help

All of the items in the scavenger hunt are visible from the show and do not require any special experiences. The scavenger hunt also does not include any food or treat stands to minimize begging for food.

I know my child would be persistent in trying to find everything in the hunt. I have made it easy for you with the hint sheets. This gives locations where I took each picture. For the Easy Scavenger hunt, I also listed a few other places to find the items.

Check out the answers here: 

NAIAS 2020

There are big changes in store for the Auto Show in 2020. It moves from its traditional January date to June. The show will start on June 8, right after the Detroit Grand Prix and will wrap up on June 20, just before the Detroit Fireworks. The June date will also be great for families because the public show dates will hopefully be during summer vacation from school.

This move will allow the show to expand beyond the walls of Cobo with Hart Plaza and along the Riverfront. They are also hoping to have outdoor events throughout Detroit.

With the show moving outdoors, there will be opportunities for ride alongs, drives, demonstrations, and more. They are also planning to have high end food trucks offering improved dining options at the Auto Show.

We can’t wait to see what the show looks like in 2020.


Tips for attending NAIAS 2019

Parking is limited at Cobo Center. I parked in Greektown and took the People Mover to Cobo Center. This is a great option and fun for the kids. Another option is to use the Q Line to Campus Martius Park.

Coat check is available at Cobo for $4. With wintry weather and cold temperatures, this is much easier than carrying your coats through the auto show.

This year food is available on the show floor. As always there are Fudge, Nut and Coffee stands, but there is also a food court this year. The Food Court includes Baked Mac & Cheese, D Burger Bar, 313 Slice Company (Pizza), and a Grilled Cheese stand.

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