Michigan Science Center
Located on John R just behind the DIA, the recently re-opened Michigan Science Center was our last museum stop. Since we had a membership with the Detroit Science Center (before it closed), we were able to get a free 4-month membership renewal. On museum trifecta Sunday, we only had about an hour to explore the Science Center before it closed at 6pm – but we were able to come back again the following Friday during Winter Break. The Michigan Science Center has a lot of the same displays as the former Detroit Science Center with a few new additions and some better organization. One of our favorite areas was the US Steel Fun Factory and the new Hot Mix Asphalt Plant. Both of these exhibits offer a hands-on approach to learning about manufacturing and engineering. This was especially exciting for me since I am an engineer. The displays gave me a great opportunity to teach my kids about topics I love! (And they couldn’t figure out why I was so excited to show them a baghouse!)
Another great exhibit is the Jam Room. With real guitars, lights that flash with the music, and TV screens that display your rock moves, you don’t need to be a kid to have fun rocking out in the Jam Room! And for the little kids (recommended for 5 and under) there is “Kids Town”, located on the lower level. My 4.5 year old’s favorite is the diner where she could take our order and serve us dinner. There is also a water table, dress-up stage, veterinary clinic, and a crawling area for the littlest scientists.
The Michigan Science Center also has several special exhibits and shows. We were able to hit the DTE Energy Sparks Theater for a fun show featuring lightening bolts from Tesla coils and an exploding wire grand finale and the Toyota Engineering Theater for a fun movie about the exciting world of engineering. They Toyota Engineering Theater includes seats that move, wind, and water sprays to help convince the kids that engineering really IS cool! (Which of course, it is!)
Also from now through May 26, 2013, check out the “BODIES HUMAN: Anatomy in Motion Exhibition”. This exhibit costs an extra $8.95, but is definitely worth it – there are over 100 authentic human specimens that give you an up close look at tissues, organs and muscles. My 7 year old and I were both fascinated by all the intricacies of the human body. We had an up-close look at a spinal cord, saw the valves of a heart, viewed the blood vessel system of the head, and saw a healthy lung compared to a smoker’s lung. It was an amazing experience that I highly recommend. (Note: The website says that this exhibit is recommended for ages 12 and up – due to human anatomy – but leaves it up to parents to decide what is best. My 7 yo really enjoyed it and I thought it was a great learning opportunity for him. Each kid is different though, so consider the Science Center’s recommendation before taking your kids.)
Traffic Jam and Snug Restaurant
We rounded out our Sunday with a stop at Traffic Jam and Snug restaurant for dinner. Traffic Jam is located at Second and Canfield – a short drive from the museum district – and has its own secure parking lot across the street. This is one of my long-time favorite restaurants for so many reasons – but I’ll focus on the kid-friendly ones here. Traffic Jam keeps the kids’ happy right from the start by handing out crayons and a color-able kids menu that features all the “normal” kid favorites. So no worries for picky eaters here! All kids meals also come with a “clown cone” for dessert – an added bonus. (And the clown cone is made with homemade icecream so you might want to order your own bowl of icecream- I did!) The restaurant also has a great ambiance – lots of antiques on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. My son made a game of deciding which items the guys from the show “American Pickers” would want to buy. And Traffic Jam has amazing “grown up” food too – everything is homemade and the menu is constantly changing. You will not be disappointed!
If you haven’t been museum hopping in Midtown lately then it is time for you to go. And if you didn’t know that Detroit has museum district then it is REALLY time to go! Keep in mind, we only visited 3 museums, but there are several more – including the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Museum of Contemporary Art. With so many options, you can cater to your family’s interests. Also, with free admission to the Historical Museum and DIA (for locals), you are able to explore with your kids for as short or long as their attention spans. Parking is also easy in this area, there is a $5 lot next to the Detroit Historical Museum and another located on John R right near the Science Center. Both lots are a short walk to several of the midtown museums.