Michigan’s hot summer weather can be both a blessing and a curse. When the temperatures become a little too unbearable for outdoor exploration, never fear: the Great Lakes State is home to plenty of incredible indoor wonderlands that encourage learning, discovery, and togetherness for family members of all ages. Here are ten incredible hands-on museums to check out this summer.
1. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum (11 Sheldon Ave NE, Grand Rapids)
While this fun-filled museum in downtown Grand Rapids is geared toward young children, it’s nearly impossible to visit without sparking your childlike imagination -- no matter what your age. This multi-level wonderland of costumes, make-believe storefronts, giant bubbles, and more encourages play and exploration for excited kiddos.
2. Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (220 E Ann St, Ann Arbor)
It’s right there in the name: this museum is all about being hands-on! Set aside a few hours during your next trip to Ann Arbor and venture through this fascinating spot, which encourages young visitors to explore everything from electricity to music-making through an incredible array of interactive exhibits. Once your family steps inside, they might never want to leave.
3. Impression 5 Science Center (200 Museum Dr, Lansing)
Science is the name of the game at this Lansing fixture, which seeks to bring the joy of scientific discovery and understanding to visitors of all ages. From water to chemistry to the great outdoors, there are exhibits here to introduce young learners to all sorts of topics — and they’ll leave feeling inspired. Impression 5 also offers a variety of educational programming opportunities and summer camps, so the learning never has to end!
4. Air Zoo (6151 Portage Rd, Portage)
This amazing attraction in the Kalamazoo area brings the fascinating world of aviation right to your fingertips. Whether you’re a frequent visitor or a first-timer, we promise you’ll have a blast at the Air Zoo. Try your hand at a flight simulator, participate in one of several plane-themed rides, or marvel at historical replicas throughout the museum. What’s not to love?
5. The Henry Ford (20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn)
This massive museum complex in Dearborn truly has a little something for everyone. While much of the museum is not hands-on, you’ll find a truly immersive experience as you explore some of the Henry Ford’s special events or venture through Greenfield Village, which brings history to life with its re-enactors, Model T rides, and functional historic shops. You’ll wonder if you’ve hopped into a time machine.
6. Upper Peninsula Children's Museum (123 W Baraga Ave, Marquette)
If you find yourself in the U.P., prioritize a trip to this awesome Marquette museum. A plethora of highly interactive exhibits helps families learn about everything from the human body to the animal kingdom, and it’s tough to imagine a more fascinating experience for little ones. There’s no better place to combine genuine learning with all sorts of up-close and personal fun.
7. Michigan Science Center (5020 John R St, Detroit)
There’s no telling what you’ll discover with a visit to the Michigan Science Center. This one-of-a-kind museum houses five theaters, countless hands-on exhibits, and a wide array of scientific demonstrations that will leave the whole family enthralled. Whether you’re checking out the on-site planetarium or catching an educational IMAX movie, it’s nearly impossible to have a bad time here.
8. Curious Kids' Museum (415 Lake Blvd, Saint Joseph)
Has your kiddo ever dreamt of hosting their own TV show? At the Curious Kids’ Museum, they can do just that — this awesome spot in St. Joseph features a make-believe television studio where children can try their hand at presenting the news. If that’s not enough, the museum also offers a simulated market, vet clinic, and radio station — among so much more. What could be better?
9. Sloan Museum (1221 E Kearsley St, Flint)
While this wonderful Flint museum houses some exhibits that are more geared toward adults, it has no shortage of hands-on opportunities for visitors seeking a more "touchable" experience. Check out Wisner's Whizbang Emporium, a section of the museum that seeks to spark interaction between imaginative explorers of all ages. Check out a real ambulance, cook a make-believe dinner, or settle down and read a book or two. There’s no better way to spend a hot summer afternoon.
10. Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum (315 W Genesee Ave., Saginaw)
This fantastic attraction in Saginaw encourages learning and exploration for aspiring doctors, astronauts, and everything in between. Most exhibits at the museum are geared toward kiddos 12 years of age and younger, but parents will certainly be excited by the unique opportunities for discovery offered on-site. Whether your kids visit for a field trip or as part of a family vacation, they’ll never forget their stop at the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum.
Did we leave any of your favorite museums off the list? We would love to hear your suggestions in the comment section below. Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring with the whole family!