Museums are a great choice year round. They are a great option for rainy summer days (or really hot days when the air conditioning is a welcome relief). They are also a great option for freezing cold winter days. There are a number of great museums in and around Ann Arbor that are a great choice for a family visit. Below are my Family’s Picks as our 5 Favorite Ann Arbor Museums for Kids.
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum offers a fun interactive visit with plenty to explore for all ages. The Preschool Gallery is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers to explore balls, water, and climbing. She was thrilled to take her cousin to this section to visit Engineers on a Roll which opened a few years after she aged out of the Preschool Gallery. Since the gallery is just for kids ages 4 and under, it is a great place for toddlers and preschoolers to escape the big kids.
My daughter has always been fascinated by the bubble display in the Legacy Gallery.
They opened a temporary exhibit, Keep Smiling! with the support of Delta Dental in February 2019.
Another favorite is Block Party, which was supposed to be a temporary display in 2011 and proved so popular that it is still around today. Over the years they have replaced the blocks a couple of times (moving to a stiffer foam with the last replacement).
The museum adds exhibits several times a year, so we always have fun on our visits. The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum’s address is 220 E. Ann St in Downtown Ann Arbor. They are open from 10a-5p on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 9a-5p on Tuesdays, from 10a-8p on Thursdays, and from noon-5p on Sundays. Admission to the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum is $12.50 for all those ages 2 and over. The offer discounted admission of $5 on Thursdays from 5-8p.
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University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History reopened in April 2019 with additional exhibits opening in November 2019.
We visited the first week that they re-opened and enjoyed seeing new exhibits and old favorites. We returned in February 2020 and loved the new additions particularly the hands-on activities offered.
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is located on campus. They are open daily. Admission is free with a suggested donation.
Check out our review of the new University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.
Yankee Air Museum
The Yankee Air Museum is a new addition to our list. The museum was empty the day we visited (Winter Break January 2018).
You can climb in some of the planes kept indoors. There are also some planes outdoors (although we visited on a frigid day and skipped those).
My daughter enjoyed exploring the Simple Machine displays. These show how planes are controlled by simple machines like levers, pulleys, and inclines.
With their Exploration Station, there are plenty of activities for kids of all ages.
Yankee Air Museum is open 10a-4p Tuesdays-Saturdays and 11a-4p on Sundays. Admission is $12/adults (18+) and $8 for children, seniors, students & past and present military with ID. Children under 2 are free. Yankee Air Museum is at 47884 D St, Belleville, MI. You can also check out a Michigan Activity Pass from the library for free admission.
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
My daughter loves ancient history so she has enjoyed the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology since she was a preschooler. She particularly likes the child mummy.
Even for my daughter, the Kelsey Museum is a short visit.
They periodically offer Family Days with kids activities.
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is on the campus of University of Michigan at 434 South State St. The museum is open from 9a-4p Tuesday through Friday and 1-4p on Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed on Mondays and University Holidays. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are welcome.
Michigan Firehouse Museum
The Michigan Firehouse Museum is located adjacent to Ypsilanti’s Depot Town. The Firehouse Museum has a nice collection of historic fire trucks and a replica firehouse. The museum is perfect for preschoolers who love fire trucks (be prepared, there is no climbing on the trucks). My daughter and her friend had a blast when I took them as preschoolers and we returned a second time as a family one year during the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival.
The Michigan Firehouse Museum’s address is at 110 West Cross St in Downtown Ypsilanti. The museum is open from 10a-4p Tuesday through Saturday, noon-4p on Sundays. The Firehouse Museum is closed on Mondays. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 2-16.
University of Michigan Museum of Art
I have to admit that art museums are not my thing, so I have only visited the museum once without my daughter. The museum periodically offers Saturday story and Family Art Studios.
Museums Beyond Washtenaw County
The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
My daughter loves both The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. The Henry Ford has plenty of hands-on activities for kids such as paper planes, K’nex race cars, and rubbings at various exhibits.
My daughter loves exploring the historic buildings at Greenfield Village. She loves watching the tradespeople in various shops such as glass-blowing, ceramics, and tin shop. She has even had the chance to help in the print shop.
We have also enjoyed the historical skits featuring historical figures like the Wright brothers and Laura Ingalls.
They are a little far from Ann Arbor, but my daughter has such a great time, that I thought it was worth including them.
Check out our summer 2016 review of Greenfield Village.
The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village are located at 20900 Oakwood Dr in Dearborn, about 40 minutes from Ann Arbor. The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village (seasonally) are open from 9:30a-5p daily. Greenfield Village is open from mid April through the end of October. They are only open Friday-Sunday in November and are closed from December-mid-April.. Admission to Greenfield Village is $28/adults, $25.50 for Seniors (62+), $21 for Youth (ages 5-11), and free for children 2 and under. Admission to The Henry Ford Museum is $23/adults, $21 for Seniors (62+), $17.25 for Youth (ages 5-11), and free for children 4 and under.
Toledo’s Imagination Station is a great museum. As Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum member, we received half price admission. My daughter and I had a great time at Imagination Station last summer.
Michigan Science Center
We visited the Michigan Science Center several years ago when they had a Toytopia and Dinosaur Named Sue exhibit. They have since added a STEM Playground and a Smithsonian Spark! Lab.
Cranbrook Institute of Science
On our to visit list is the Cranbrook Institute of Science.
Detroit Institute of Arts
As I mentioned above, I am not an art person. However, this summer we visited the DIA for their temporary Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit. It was a great exhibit, but our schedule did not allow us to spend additional time exploring the museum. My daughter visited last year with her class and enjoyed the trip.
What other museums near Ann Arbor does your family like?