Aviation, Firefighting & More: Metro D’s Quirkiest Museums

By: Amber Ogden | March 25, 2015

This time of year is tough in terms of planning for anything. One day, it’s 60 degrees and sunny, and the next, you’re digging your winter coat out of the closet because it’s dropped thirty degrees and there’s frost on your car again.

What is a guy or gal in Metro Detroit to do? Well, if it’s one of those aforementioned sunny days, you best get yourself outside and enjoy the warmth. Otherwise, you’re probably sick of running through your list of indoor activities you’ve spent all winter doing. Instead of boring yourself, try something new: head to one of Metro Detroit’s coolest, most unusual museums!

While I’m sure we all adore the DIA and MOCAD, there’s nothing wrong with changing things up, is there? Let’s take a gander at the options:

Yankee Air Museum, 47884 D. St., Belleville, is located at Willow Run Airport and will provide an afternoon of fun for families. You’ll learn plenty about aviation history, through the indoor and outdoor aircraft displays, as well as special exhibits and events.

Upcoming events include a Behind the Scenes Tour of the museum this Saturday, March 28, in which participants will be able to tour the museum and workshops and get an up close look at flyable aircraft.

A recurring event, Fly Zone Family Days, take place the first Saturday of every month, the next of which will be on Saturday, April 4. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., students ages 10 to 18 and their parents can take part in the Fly Zone aerial challenge course.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission costs $8 for adults 18 and up, $5 for children, seniors, students or military members, and is free for children ages two and under.

Michigan Firehouse Museum, 110 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti, is a local museum dedicated to the history of firefighting. As an avid “Chicago Fire” fan, I’m all about this. The museum and education center spans over 26,000 feet and boasts the largest collection of firetruck bells in the country!

Upcoming events at the Firehouse Museum include Make it in March, which allows children ages 8 and up to engage in hands-on workshops. All workshops take place at the museum on Saturday mornings from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and include model making and firefighting history. This Saturday, kids can learn how a small steam engine works, then build one of their own! Registration costs $15 for each workshop and includes admission to the museum for one adult and one child. To register, call 734-547-0663.

The Michigan Firehouse Museum is a great place for group tours and field trips, too. Admission costs $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 2 to 16, and is free for children under 2.

Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, 1011 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor, resides within the University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry. While I bleed green and white, this place still provides a pretty cool educational opportunity to check out more than 15,000 different objects related to dentistry from the 1700s to present day.

The latest exhibit, “Dental Hygiene: A Century of Progress,” highlights the transformation that has taken place over the past 100 years. Additional exhibits include “Inside the Dental Practice 1860-1940” and “Women Dentists: Changing the Face of Dentistry.”

The museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is free. Note that since this museum is on U of M’s campus, there are classes, research labs and clinics taking place within the same building, so you may want to leave your littlest ones at home.

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

(Photo courtesy of Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum Facebook page)

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, 31005 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills, is certainly an oddity, but one of the most fun ones around! Do you enjoy classic video games? Then you’ll love Marvin’s. If you’ve never been, a) get there immediately and b) take a peek at the photos in the link provided above to see for yourself just how decked out this place is.

Coin operated video games, Skee-Ball, pinball, a fortuneteller and Auto Wed machine are all amongst the many things you need to check out while you’re there. There’s a snack bar with funnel cake, fries, onion rings and plenty of other healthy snacks to keep your energy up while you play. Who doesn’t get a rush winning oodles of tickets and cashing them in for super cool prizes?

Keep your eyes peeled to the Marvelous Marvin’s Facebook page, where Marvelous Mondays will give you a chance to win! If your first name is written on the snack bar board for the week, you can receive a free small popcorn and slush.

Marvin’s is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Motown Museum, 2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, may not be quite as quirky as some others on this list, but it’s certainly one of the coolest in Metro Detroit. The museum was founded 30 years ago and the collection features a fantastic look at all things Motown.

The museum is closed for renovations through this Saturday, but group tours resume as usual on Tuesday, March 31. Guided group tours will give you great insight into Motown’s history and you’ll also have the opportunity to see Studio A along with the (restored) flat where Berry Gordy, Jr. used to reside. Tours can be booked by calling 313-875-2264.

Motown Museum’s regular business hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and the last tour begins at 5 p.m. each day. General admission costs $8 to $15.

No matter the weather, there’s no way you can be bored in Metro Detroit with all of these fun (and sometimes odd) opportunities for fun at your fingertips! Whether you’re looking for a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon with your kids or just want to get out of the house with your honey, head to one of these museums in Metro Detroit to do so.