Places to go, Things to do

Ask your local library if they have family or child activities, like reading days.For some, summer break means a chance to get away and explore some new places with their children. You don’t need an interstate map to find adventures, though. One of our previous camp articles talked about creating adventure in your own backyard, now let’s find it in your neighborhood.

Here are 6 local activity ideas for a fun-filled day with your children:

1. Library

Your pubic library is a great place to kick off a day of fun with your child. Most have children’s sections where you can sit and read through some books together. Ask if there are special reading events, summer programs or activities for kids. Many will have fun and free ways to engage your children in reading during the summer. If you live in Ann Arbor, start here: http://www.aadl.org/events.

2. Hardware Store

Sounds a bit funny, but from the eyes of a child, the hardware store is new and interesting. Talk before you go about the tools they are familiar with, what they want to see, and questions you may have for the hardware employees. Ask at stores near you if there are children’s kits available. Some stores have affordable and fun projects designed to entertain kids. Who knows – you may kick start their inner-carpenter!

3. Public Museums

Keep an eye on exhibits and events at museums in your area. Even if you do not have a children’s museum nearby, there are lots of ways to enjoy museums as a family. If you cannot find a family-friendly event or exhibit, try to come up with a game–like hunting for paintings with lots of a certain color or selecting your favorite work of art in each room. If you’re in Southeastern Michigan, start here: http://www.dia.org/learn/kids-and-families.aspx.

4. Zoo, Dog Park, Pet Store or Animal Shelter

Visiting animals can be a fun experience for kids at many age levels.Lions, tigers and bears…or maybe bunnies, puppies and kitties. For toddlers or preschoolers, seeing animals can mean learning new names of species or the way that different creatures move. For older kids, resources at places like the zoo or animal shelter can help them learn about animal behavior, habitat and diet. For everyone in the family, it’s a fun and local activity for the summer. Look for local petting zoos, local farm carts, kids events at your zoo and ways for families to experience animal shelters. If you’re nearby C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, start here: http://www.hshv.org/site/PageNavigator/education/kids.html, http://www.detroitzoo.org/education/safari-day-camps

5. Fire Station

Particularly great for kids around preschool or kindergarten, many fire stations have public tours available to your family. They’ll get to see the impressive trucks, meet the firefighters and probably leave with some safety tips. Check out your local government website to find information about fire station tours. If you’re in Ann Arbor, start here: http://www.a2gov.org/government/safetyservices/Fire/Pages/Tours.aspx.

6. Non-profit Center

Many of these ideas were great ways to teach your children about nature, art and science. Finding a local non-profit that serves your community is a great way to teach them about humanity. Call places you know of to ask if they have a family-friendly volunteer opportunity. Many churches or local organizations may also have ideas. If you are in Michigan, start here: http://www.mivolunteers.org/. This year, Family Volunteer Day is November 17.

What other things do you do as a family locally? Share your ideas with our readers in the comment section below.


This article is part of a six-week series of summer activity ideas, healthy recipes, and safety tips for Camp Little Victors: Virtual summer camp, real summer fun. We hope you can use this and other articles in the series from physicians and staff at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to make this a happy and health summer break for your family. Enroll now!


University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” including #4 in the country for heart and heart surgery. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.