Metro Detroit’s Christmas Vacation: Plan a Fun Break with the Kids

By: Toni Cunningham | December 17, 2014

Do you remember uttering the words “I’m bored” over Christmas break as a kid? Well, if you did, don’t let your own offspring do the same! Whether you have your own kids, or you’re the best big brother, auntie or grandpa in the world, you may be spending time with some little ones over the next few weeks while they’re off of school. Don’t let them get restless!

With so many fun activities for children in Metro Detroit, that’s virtually impossible. If you’re looking for something fun to enjoy together over your holiday break, try one of the following:

The Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, should seem like a no-brainer. While your very young children may not appreciate the “Ordinary People by Extraordinary Artists: Works on Paper by Degas, Renoir and Friends” exhibition (on display through the end of March 2015), they certainly will enjoy the holiday drop-in workshops and drawing workshops provided.

Drawing in the Galleries for Youth and Adults will be held on Sunday, Dec. 21 and Sunday, Dec. 28. It’s a great opportunity for your kids to get in touch with their artistic sides, whether they have experience or not! Create a pencil drawing from noon to 4 p.m., take it home, and proudly display those works of art on the fridge.

The Oregon Shadow Theatre presents Puss in Boots on Friday, Dec. 26 through Sunday, Dec. 28, and there are holiday drop-in workshops all weekend long, including crafting of felt hand puppets, bug rod puppets and butterfly marionettes.

The Michigan Science Center, 5020 John R. St., Detroit, is another opportunity for an educational experience, but it’ll be so much fun, your kids won’t even catch on. Convince them to take a break from video games just this once, because the Michigan Science Center has plenty to offer.

MiSci is celebrating its second birthday on Friday, Dec. 26, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the public is welcome to enjoy free general admission! Birthday cake and special activities will also be provided. Your children will be able to use recycled materials to make their own model car. Keeping them entertained, and it doesn’t cost you a penny? You’re welcome.

Current special exhibits include the Kidstruction Zone, which includes 3,000 sq. ft. of 10 separate build zones, where kids can build with giant Lego bricks, planks and more. It’s open until Wednesday, Dec. 31 and is free with museum admission. There are over 250 different exhibits where children can explore space, health, engineering, physical science and more. Plus, they’re all hands-on!

Tiny Town Play Lounge, 15444 N. Haggerty Rd., Northville, is for children ages 6 and younger, so skip to the next one if you’re looking for something for middle school aged children, and read on if you’ve got a young one at home. Tiny Town features designated areas for children to wander and visit a play house, grocery store, vet office and more, as well as a designated area for crawlers.

The Tiny Town Café is perfect for hungry little tummies, and includes lunch items such as pizza, mac and cheese, hot dogs and PB&J. If you visit Tiny Town Play Lounge and find that you and your little one really enjoy it, you may want to take advantage of the music, art, and Spanish classes that are offered.

If you need a break, you can sip on a coffee while your tot runs around and explores. There’s even a store where you can shop for the two of you, and purchase activity books and handmade items.

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, 220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor, is another great place to spend an afternoon with your kids that doesn’t involve them vegging out in front of the TV all day. The museum provides knowledge in a variety of different areas, including technology, science, art, engineering and math.

Exhibits include a Michigan Nature gallery, Preschool gallery for young children, Legacy gallery (which teaches children how to try out simple machines) and more. If you’ve got a whole group of kids to bring along, or are looking for a cheap outing, be sure to head here after 5 p.m. on Thursdays, when the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is open until 8 p.m. and admission is just $5!

Hands-On Holidays will be held Friday, Dec. 26 through Sunday, Jan. 4, and features daily activities until 4 p.m. along with performers and demonstrations. Your kids will love exploring the more than 250 different exhibits!

If all else fails, take your little tykes to the movies! I’m sure not everyone’s children are ready for an educational break from school, so if you can’t convince them to go to any of the above places for a little bit of enlightening fun, head to a local movie theater. At least you’re all getting out of the house!

The Penn, 760 Penniman Ave., Plymouth, is a great local theater where tickets cost just $3 a pop. “The Polar Express” is playing on Saturday, Dec. 20 and Sunday, Dec. 21, while “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” will be shown on Friday, Dec. 26 through Sunday, Dec. 28. Both are great movies for kids, and rated G and PG, respectively.

No matter how you end up spending time with your children over their holiday break, you’ll be making memories, and that’s the most important thing. Have fun, and don’t forget to snap a few photos!