Michigan: Detroit, Free or Almost Free Family Vacation Fun.
Not every memory making moment need tax the family vacation budget. There are plenty of cool "free" things to do almost any family vacation destination (Well, maybe not Disney.) but adding the free fun and extra value takes a little sleuthing.
We’ve checked out the best free or almost free things to do in and around Detroit, and assembled them below.
Detriot delivers on the fun.
Enjoy a Midtown Midsummer.
This year the University Cultural Center Association and Wayne State University are presenting a new summer series for Detroit’s Midtown District – Midsummer Nights in Midtown. Midsummer Nights in Midtown spotlights a different Midtown venue each evening of the series, presenting an admission-free performance by international, national and local guest artists ranging from acclaimed musicians to award-winning poets and authors, and large-puppet theater for children. In total there will be more than a dozen participating venues and over 25 performances amid the state’s premier arts and cultural institutions, neighborhood galleries, and entertainment facilities. Bonus Points:
The Detroit Science Center will host the “Midsummer Children’s Fair” on Saturday, June 13th, featuring the Hudson Vagabond Puppets’ latest production, “Butterfly: The Story of a Life Cycle”. This evening of non-stop, hands-on fun includes twenty-four young artists in the Youth Artists Market and more than a dozen imaginative children’s make-and-take crafts for all ages – as well as the Detroit Science Center’s huge variety of novel installations and educational experiences. (Midtown, Detroit. 1(313) 577-5088 or www.midsummernightsinmidtown.com
Tour the GM Renaissance Center.
Auto enthusiasts should take advantage of the free one-hour tour of the landmark GM Renaissance Center, which focuses on the interaction between the history of General Motors and the city of Detroit. The tour includes the GM Showroom, full of vintage, new model and concept vehicles and the GM Collection, which houses souvenirs and books related to GM, the tallest vertical glass sculpture in the world (“Borealis”), as well as the architectural highlights of the iconic center. Tours run twice daily, Monday-Friday at noon and 2:00 pm. Bonus Points:
The one-hour tour concludes with a glass elevator ride to the 72nd floor of the Detroit Marriott Hotel for a breathtaking view of the Detroit and Windsor skylines. (200 Renaissance Center, Detroit 48243. 1(313) 568-5740 or www.gmrencen.com
Walk Along the River.
The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, a non-profit organization, was founded in 2003 with the mission of bringing public access to Detroit's Riverfront. The Riverwalk is open seven days a week from 6AM – 10PM. The Detroit RiverWalk is a 5½-mile promenade along the Detroit International Riverfront running from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle. The path is located directly on the river, sometimes bridging it, and has separate lanes for pedestrian and bicycle/in-line skate traffic. There are several public plazas along the path, including Rivard Plaza and Richard Plaza. Rivard Plaza at the end of Rivard Street has covered seating, a carousel, concessions and bike rentals, while Richard Plaza located in Gabriel Richard Park features covered seating, concessions and a butterfly garden. Bonus Points:
This summer the Detroit RiverFront will host its fourth annual River Days, a fun family-oriented festival that showcases Detroit’s RiverFront. This year’s River Days will run from June 18-21, and will feature ferry boat rides, live music, kids activities, jet-ski demos, sand sculptures, a carnival and more. (600 Renaissance Center #1720, Detroit, MI 48243. 1(313) 566-8200 or www.detroitriverfront.org
Go through history.
Detroit Historical Society manages two great museums in the Detroit area: the Detroit Historical Museum and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. Each museum offers a lot for families to enjoy. The Detroit Historical museum features exhibits which detail the history of Detroit and southeastern Michigan. One of the coolest parts of the museum are recreated Detroit street scenes from the 1840s, 1870s, and 1990s. Model train enthusiasts and kids of any age will dig the large interactive model train exhibit. These two museums have a lot to enjoy. The Historical Museum contains exhibits detailing the history of southeastern Michigan. The Dossin Great Lakes Museum focuses on the maritime history of southeastern Michigan, focusing in particular on the history of the local area’s ports. Bonus Points:
Admission to both museums is free on Wednesdays. On all other days adult admission is $6, senior/student/youth (ages 5-17) admission is $4, and children under 4 are always admitted free. (Detroit Historical Museum. 5401 Woodward, Detroit, MI 48202. 1(313) 833-1805. Dossin Great Lakes Museum. 100 Strand Drive, Belle Isle, Detroit, MI 48207. 1(313) 833-5538. www.detroithistorical.org
From Crowning Glories to the Brown Bomber.
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is located next to the Detroit Science Center and within one block of the Detroit Institute of Arts, in the heart of Detroit's Cultural Center. Through September 2010 at the museum visitors can check out Crowning Glories. Crowning Glories: Status, Style, and Self-Expression is a tribute to the beauty, style, and self-expression of black women, and a historical survey of their hat-wearing traditions from the late 1700s to the present. Through October 2010, visitors can check out the Joe Louis: Hometown Hero exhibit, which is a must for sports fans everywhere. Joe Louis, also known as the African American heavyweight champion named the "Brown Bomber," who was a national hero symbol of American democracy versus Nazi intolerance. Bonus Points:
The museum offers a series of free admission days throughout the year: May 3, June 7, July 5, August 6, September 6, October 4, November 4, and December 6. (315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48201. 1(313) 494-5800 or www.maah-detroit.org
Midtown Midsummer information and image courtesy of University Cultural Center Association. Copyright 2010.