How to Experience the Mitten State – for Free
Yes, we are biased, but Michigan really is the best.
For starters, our peninsulas mean we basically have two great states in one. And who else is bordered by four out of the five Great Lakes?
Or boasts so many majestic sand dunes and thousands of miles of freshwater shoreline?
Michigan is overflowing so much with history, nature, invention, art that you’ll never tire of finding something to do in this great state.
And since we don’t think adventure needs to break the bank, we raised the stakes a little and compiled a list of nearly free or FREE things to do in Michigan with kids – or without.
And we are guessing this is just the tip of the iceberg because every time we look, we find more ideas!
Whether you are searching for urban adventure, rural vibes or experiences in the great outdoors, you can do that in Michigan, affordably.
All it takes is probably some transportation, a spirit of adventure and snacks. Lots of snacks.
Where Will Your Next Free Michigan Adventure Take You?
We’ve broken the list into sections of the state. After you’ve experienced the free things to do in Michigan near you, venture out to new parts of the state.
And if you find something incredible that’s not on our list, drop us a line. We’d love to share your discovery so others can enjoy it, too!
Free Things to Do in Michigan With Kids: Statewide
Drive the Great Lakes Circle Tour
#1 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Michigan Driving Tour
Road trip! Pick a portion or enjoy the entire 6,500 miles!
Follow the Great Lakes Circle Tour, a scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
Explore a Lighthouse
#2 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Michigan Locations
Visit one of Michigan’s 92 lighthouses.
The exterior views are FREE, but admission rates may apply if you want to go inside.
Some lighthouses host free community days throughout the year. Watch for them!
#3 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Inland Lakes and Great Lakes’ Waters
The Michigan DNR offers Free Fishing Weekends twice each year, once in the winter, and once in the summer.
Double the fun and combine this with Free ORV Weekend, which runs in conjunction with the summer Free Fishing Weekend. Use your ORV on trails and state parks to find your perfect fishing spot, all without requiring an ORV license or trail permit.
Stop by a Michigan Farmers Market
#4 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Michigan Markets
Okay, so this one isn’t completely free, but buying food is a necessity.
Experiencing the signs and scents of Michigan homegrown at a farmer’s market is free, and worth it.
Play a Round of Disc Golf
#5 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Michigan’s 400+ courses
Whether you are looking to try your hand at Disc Golf in GR or at one of the 400 plus courses in Michigan, you’ll find a way to enjoy the great outdoors all while keeping everyone active.
Take advantage of the course location, usually within a park, and pack a picnic, check out the playground, or take a hike while you are there.
Ride a Bike
#6 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Michigan Locations
Ride your bike on the masses of beautiful Bike Trails Michigan has to offer!
Take in the sites as you bike past riverfronts, catch views of a Great Lake, or ride your bike through a handful of Michigan cities. The options are endless!
Explore a Beach Town
#7 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Michigan Locations
As the Great Lake State, one of our greatest features is our beaches.
Fly kites, build sandcastles, explore local shops, splash in the water, or take in the wonder of winter water at one of Michigan’s beach towns.
#8 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Michigan Locations
Play a game of hide and seek with geocaching or letterboxing! Go on a treasure hunt using GPS or an app on your smart phone.
Ready, Set, Go!
Take a Hike
#9 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Michigan Locations
Go hiking on over 4,000 miles of state trails! The North Country National Trail connects seven states and is headquartered in Lowell, MI!
Don’t miss our list of favorite west Michigan trails.
Check out a Michigan Activity Pass
#10 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
450 partner destinations across Michigan
Use your library card to check out a Michigan Activity Pass, good for discounts and FREE passes to cultural attractions across the state!
Don’t forget to take advantage of the other amazing programs our library systems have to offer.
Visit a Fair or Festival
#11 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Michigan Locations
Visit a local fair or festival.
Whether it be music, art, ice, syrup, tulips, chocolate, kites, cherries, or magic, you can find one that suits you in Michigan…and many are FREE!
Enjoy a Free Movie
#12 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Michigan Locations
Enjoy Celebration Cinema’s Free Kid Flicks periodically throughout the year with FREE admission for kids 12 and under to select movies.
Or take the fun outside for free outdoor movies during the summer in West Michigan and throughout the state.
Go Bowling or Skating
#13 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Michigan Locations
Go bowling…or roller skating…FREE!
Bowling and Skating are great activities when Michigan weather makes it a challenge to be outside.
Kids Bowl FREE all summer long and Kids Skate FREE all year long at participating alleys and rinks all over the state!
Visit a State Park
#14 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
101 Michigan Locations
Purchase a Recreation Passport and receive FREE admission to all state parks, state recreation areas and state boat launches.
Some gems include Warren Dunes State Park, Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Fort Custer State Park, the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic Site, Fayette Historic Townsite, Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, Tahquamenon Falls, Bond Falls or the Porcupine Mountains.
Free Things to Do in Michigan: Grand Rapids
Stop by Rosa Parks Circle
#15 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
135 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Explore Rosa Parks Circle, a public art space in the heart of downtown GR by renowned artist, Maya Lin.
Many FREE events and concerts take place here all year long, and (almost FREE) outdoor ice skating is offered in winter months.
Ride the Tire Swing
#16 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Behind the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building, 110 Michigan St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Take a ride on Motu Viget, a giant tire swing.
This large, interactive sculpture, originally installed in 1977, combines art and fun for kids (and adults) to enjoy.
Hang Out at Millennium Park
#17 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
1415 Maynard Ave SW, Walker, MI 49534
Millennium Park offers nearly 18 miles of paved and natural-surfaced trails, fishing, recreational areas, and great playgrounds.
Also available is a great beach and splash pad, paddle boats and more. However please note, unlike the rest of the park, these water-based features of the park are fee-based.
Go on a Tag Tour
#18 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Grand Rapids Locations
Strap on your walking shoes and choose one of two interactive Grand Rapids Tag Tours.
Want to see more? Download the GR Walks app, and have FREE guided walking tours in the palm of your hand. Or visit Experience Grand Rapids and choose from a variety of tour options, including a beer tour, black history tour, or heritage tour.
Visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum
#19 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
101 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Visit the World’s first LEED certified art museum, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and enjoy FREE admission all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings.
Explore all three floors of the museum’s collections and exhibits.
Watch the Fish at the Fish Ladder
#20 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
624 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Visit Fish Ladder Park. Observe salmon, steelhead, trout and many other species of fish travel up the fish ladder.
Get up close to the Grand River, and watch the fish jump up the ladder in a seasonal migration in the spring and late summer!
View the Planes Land
#21 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
4820 Kraft Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Watch planes take off and land at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Viewing Area. Take advantage of the newly renovated pavilion with an abundance of picnic tables, and bring a sack lunch.
Spend Time Outdoors at Calvin Eco Preserve
#22 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
1750 E Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Foster a natural curiosity in your family for the great outdoors by joining one of Calvin Ecosystem Preserve Education Programs for families with guided walks, lawn games or animal encounters.
Or check out a Discovery Field Pack while you are there, filled with exploration guides and tools, to use as you explore the preserve.
Be Awed at ArtPrize
#23 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Grand Rapids Locations
An international art competition, open to any artist and decided by public vote, ArtPrize fills downtown Grand Rapids with art and visitors from all over the world.
Go on a Mural Crawl
#24 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Grand Rapids Locations
Grand Rapids boasts over 100 street murals for all to enjoy.
Some by way of ArtPrize, and many more through the Downtown Development Authority’s dedication to supporting the artist community in Grand Rapids.
Free Things to Do in Michigan: Detroit
Tour Art Deco Masterpieces
#25 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Guardian Building – 500 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226
Fisher Building – 3011 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202
Detroit is home to some of the most impressive Art Deco masterpieces in America, including the Guardian Building and Fisher Building.
Self-tour the Guardian during open business hours. Pure Detroit offers free Fisher Building tours on Saturdays.
Explore Belle Isle
#26 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Island in the Detroit River
Take the bridge to Belle Isle and discover 200 acres of woodland, trails, swimming, recreational facilities including the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, Belle Isle Aquarium, Belle Isle Nature Center and much more!
Admission is free to pedestrians, bicyclists and those who take public transportation…but please note, a Recreation Passport is required when accessing the island by vehicle.
See the Pewabic Pottery Museum
#27 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Island in the Detroit River
Pewabic Pottery’s historic tile craftsmanship can be seen at many incredible architectural landmarks in Detroit, including the famed fireplace at Detroit Public Library.
Visit the the Pewabic Pottery store and museum, and if time allows, get a special tour from staff to see the production studio in action.
Walk or Bike a Trail
#28 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
Take a walk, run, or bike ride along the Dequindre Cut Greenway.
Two miles of trails to explore that used to be a section of the Grand Trunk Railway.
Local artists have been known to leave their mark along the greenway since the appropriate graffiti been permitted to stay along the pathway.
Learn African American History
#29 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
315 E Warren Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
Open your mind to a world of adversity and achievement at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Kids 12 and under are free on Thursdays with purchase of an adult ticket.
Appreciate Hellenic History
#30 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
67 E. Kirby, Detroit, MI 48202
Visit the Hellenic Museum of Michigan and take a trip back in time to learn about Greek history. Learn about historical Greek culture through photos, documents, instruments and more.
#31 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Several Locations throughout Detroit
Pick a Self-Guided Tour of Detroit and choose from over 10 tour options, including automotive heritage, architectural and scenic drives.
Next, explore a section of the beautifully transformed Detroit Riverfront with a walking tour, offered the first Saturday, May-September.
Play iSpy at the Colorful Heidelberg Project
#32 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
3600 Block of Heidelberg, Detroit, MI 48207
Take in an open-air art environment in the heart of an urban community and be amazed – explore The Heidelberg Project.
Download the free app for a self-guided tour and explore the vacant lots and houses that have turned into this one-of-a-kind art installation.
Try a Cider Mill
#33 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Cider Mill | 1990 E Avon RD, Rochester Hills, MI 48307
Store | 2375 Joslyn Ct. Lake Orion, MI 48360
Enjoy the sights, sounds, aromas and scenery of historic Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills, or check out its store in the charming Olde World Canterbury Village in Lake Orion.
Free Things to Do in Michigan: Lansing
Tour the Capitol
#34 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
State Capitol Building | 100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933
Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center | 9925 West Ottawa Street, Lansing, Michigan 48915
Michigan History Museum | 702 West Kalamazoo Street, Lansing, MI 48915
Tour public areas of the State Capitol Building, or learn about Michigan’s judicial branch by checking out the Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center, filled with exhibits, a mock-courtroom, computer programs and more! Visiting on a Sunday?
Head to the nearby Michigan History Museum where admission is also FREE!
Soak in the Arts
#35 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
300 S. Washington Sq. Suite 100, Lansing, MI 48933
Head to the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center, a showplace dedicated to promoting the works of Michigan artists.
View the art work of local students, hear from local artists, or grab a free Art Ability Bag for a self-directed art project. Registration required.
Surround Yourself with Beauty in MSU Gardens
#36 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
MSU Beal Botanical Gardens | W Circle Dr, East Lansing, MI 48824
Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden | 1066 Bogue St, East Lansing, MI 48823
Learn about and enjoy plants in a beautiful setting at the MSU Beal Botanical Gardens, or explore the MSU Children’s Garden. In addition to a large variety of plants, you’ll find compilations of mazes and play structures.
Visit MSU and Listen to Beaumont Tower’s Carillion
#37 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
375 W Circle Dr, East Lansing, MI 48824
Find a spot on the lawn outside Beaumont Tower, home of the MSU Carillion, and hear one of MSU’s most recognizable sounds in concert form.
Weekly performances take place all year long, and concerts are held in July, when the tower also opens for tours and demonstrations.
Find Your Inner Artist at Broad Art Museum
#38 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
547 E Circle Dr, East Lansing, MI 48824
Visit the architecturally awesome MSU Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.
Stop by on the first Saturday of the month and experience FREE themed interactive fun for the whole family. Registration required.
Hike an Accessible Nature Center
#39 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
2020 E Mt Hope Ave, Lansing, MI 48910
Take a hike on over four miles of paved, handicapped accessible trails at the Carl G. Fenner Nature Center.
Stop at the the Monarch House, next to the Pollinator garden, to observe the current life cycle stage of the Monarchs.
Explore the Ledges
#40 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
133 Fitzgerald Park Dr, Grand Ledge, MI 48837
Visit nearly 5 miles of million-year-old sandstone rock formations along the Grand River.
Climb the ledges, swing on the playground, watch for a train on the trestle, play a round of disc golf and so much more at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge.
Free Things to Do in Michigan: Kalamazoo
Learn While You Play
#41 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
230 North Rose Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is a hidden treasure located in Kalamazoo, full of family-friendly exhibits, play areas and demonstrations.
While you are there, visit the planetarium and be taken down to the depths of the Great Lakes or be amazed at the expansive universe.
Ride a Christmas Trolley
#42 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Nine Stops in Downtown Kalamazoo
If you’re in downtown Kalamazoo during the holiday season, hop aboard the San-Francisco style Holly Jolly Trolley.
On your ride, take in the holiday lights, seasonal decorations and then pick your favorite business storefront display, part of the annual Winter Window Decorating Contest.
Visit a Farm
#43 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
WK Kellogg Farm | 10461 N. 40th St., Hickory Corners, MI 49060
MSU Farms | Souths side of MSU’s campus, located between Mount Hope and Jolly Roads
Visit the robotic milking viewing area and Michigan Garden at the Dairy Center Kellogg Biological Station in Gull Lake, or visit MSU’s Farms on campus for self-guided tours of the Dairy, Sheep and Beef Teaching and Research Centers.
Enjoy Nature’s Beauty
#44 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
7787 West Main St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Hike the Lillian Anderson Arboretum; 140 acres of marsh, meadow, pine, and deciduous forest in Kalamazoo.
Explore the Arboretum with a self-guided hike available on their website, or download their app for a more interactive experience.
Admire Classic Cars
#45 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, MI 49060
Attend a Wednesday Night Cruise-In at the Gilmore Car Museum, May through September.
Participate with your own collector car or enjoy watching classics, muscles, antiques, and hot rods “cruise” past you.
Walk Marshall’s Historic Streets
#46 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Several Locations in Marshall
Take a Walking Tour of Historic Marshall. Take in historic homes, museums, grave sites of influential Marshall residents and much more on one (or several) of their seven self-guided tours.
Stroll Historic Charlton
#47 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
2545 S. Charlton Park Rd, Hastings, MI 49058
Explore Historic Charlton Park in Hastings, including 25 historic residences, businesses and community buildings moved from locations throughout Barry County. Have extra time, walk the city, and then cool off in their splash pad.
Feed the Fish at a Hatchery
#48 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
34270 County Road 652, Mattawan, MI 49071
Enjoy hatchery tours, trails and fishing programs at the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery in Mattawan. View fish on the giant show pond, including sturgeon over five feet in length!
Learn About Prehistoric City Times
#49 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
508 E. Main Street, Niles, MI 49120
Head south to Niles and visit the Fort St Joseph Museum, featuring exhibits that tell the story of the city from the prehistoric era through the modern business and industrial era. Experience Niles with one of the Museum’s family programs or walking tours of the historic district.
Walk Through an Arboretum and Children’s Garden
#50 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
928 W Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49037
Take a walk through the Leila Arboretum and Kaleidoscope Garden in Battle Creek and discover 2,500 marked trees and plants, dozens of gardens and walkways, art and more!
Stop by next door at the 1.5 acre enclosed Children’s Kaleidoscope garden, and experience nature through the worm house or sundial station.
Free Things to Do in Michigan: West Coast Lakeshore
Hit the Beach
#51 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Various Muskegon Locations
Duck Lake State Park – 4733 N Scenic Dr, Whitehall, MI 49461
Go to the beach! While there are many options, if you have the Recreation Passport, definitely check out Duck Lake State Park.
With the shallow channel between Duck Lake and Lake Michigan to play in, and many smaller dunes to climb, Duck Lake State Park is the perfect size for kids!
Visit the Muskegon Museum of Art
#52 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
296 W. Webster Avenue Muskegon, Michigan 49440
Spend your Thursday at the Muskegon Museum of Art for a free docent-guided tour through the museum.
Or stop in on the second Saturday of the month (another free admission day) and pick up supplies for a STEAM-related activity to take home and complete after your visit.
Learn African American History
#53 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
7 East Center Street Muskegon Heights, MI 49440
Explore the important roles African Americans played, that shaped Muskegon County at the James Jackson Museum of African American History.
Join in on special programs, take a tour, listen to lectures, view films or engage with the exhibits.
Watch a Movie on a Ship
#54 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Mart Dock, adjacent to Heritage Landing Park (1050 7th St, Muskegon, MI 49440)
Enjoy a movie at sunset on the deck of the USS LST 393, a historic warship located in Muskegon.
With many popular movies in the lineup each summer, all you need to do is bring a chair to have an entertaining Friday night.
Explore the Universe
#55 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
221 S. Quarterline Rd, Muskegon, MI 49442
Explore the universe at the Carr-Fles Planetarium, the only free, public planetarium in West Michigan.
Shows are by reservation only until Fall 2022, then walk-ins are welcome.
Ride the Chain Ferry
#56 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
528 Water Street, Saugatuck, MI, 49453
Ride the last remaining chain driven ferry in the country for just $2 per person (almost free).
Cross the Kalamazoo River by a hand-cranked Chain Ferry in Saugatuck and then take the walking path to Oval Beach.
Hang Out at the Critter Barn Farm
#57 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
9275 Adams St, Zeeland, MI 49464
Keep ‘moo-ving’ up the lakeshore and stop by the Critter Barn, an educational farm that is home to a variety of animals available to watch, interact with and learn from.
Go Dutch at the Wooden Shoe Factory
#58 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
12755 Quincy St. Holland, Michigan 49424
Visit the DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delftware Factory in Holland and talk with artists as they produce wooden shoes and paint Dutch pottery right in front of your eyes.
After, stop at Veldheer between the last week of April until the middle of May and behold five million tulips in bloom!
Be Dazzled by the Musical Fountain
#59 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium | 1 N Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
Take in the sights and sounds of the World’s Largest Musical Fountain in Grand Haven. Shows feature a synchronized water and light show, accompanied by musical themes, and run nightly at sunset each year between Memorial and Labor Day.
Get Lost in a Lavender Labyrinth
#60 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
9600 W. Buchanan Road Shelby, Michigan
Wander through a giant lavender labyrinth at the Cherry Point Farm and Market, one of the oldest operating farms in Oceana County.
Farm and Market are open daily March through October.
Meet an Alpaca
#61 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
4907 River Road Frankfort, MI 49635
Make a new friend at the Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm in Frankfort. This small, but high quality, alpaca farm welcomes visitors to experience and live the “alpaca lifestyle”.
Take a Seat at a Community Bonfire
#62 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
1 Old Homestead Rd, Glen Arbor, MI 49636
Further up the coast, stop by the Leelanau School to attend the Beach Bards (community) Bonfire, a 30-year tradition.
It kicks off with an 8 PM children’s hour, and continues with storytelling, music and more.
Eat All the Cherries
#63 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Six Locations Throughout Michigan
Visit Cherry Republic, at any one of its six locations, including its home base in Glen Arbor or in downtown Traverse City.
Cherry Republic boasts over 200 cherry products, including sauces, salsas, jams, baked goods, and cherry wine.
Enjoy FREE samples of all things cherry.
Eat All the Chocolate
#64 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
1050 Bay View Rd, Petoskey, MI 49770
Tour Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen and enjoy free samples at their headquarters in Petoskey.
Or watch them make many of their delicious confections right in front of you!
Visit Historic Silver Beach
#65 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
333 Broad Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Explore the Silver Beach Center in St. Joseph and experience the past of the park that graced the shores of Lake Michigan from 1891-1971 at the Silver Beach Amusement Park Museum.
If you’re visiting in the summer, head next door to the Whirlpool Compass Fountain, Michigan’s largest splash-pad!
Free Things to Do in Michigan: Bay Area and the Thumb
Live Like a Pioneer
#66 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
205 S Hanselman St, Bad Axe, MI 48413
Visit Pioneer Log Village in Bad Axe, the largest collection of authentically restored pioneer log buildings in Michigan.
Explore one or all six individual museums, including a pioneer home, general store, a blacksmith shop and more. Open on Sunday afternoons between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
#67 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
7400 Bay Road, Saginaw, MI 48710
Check out a unique, fun collection of over 2,000 works by Marshall M. Fredericks, Detroit-based public sculptor, at his museum in University Center.
While you are there, explore the rotating exhibits from other local and international artists.
Celebrate Christmas Every Day
#68 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Frankenmuth Visitor & Welcome Center | 635 S Main St, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland | 25 Christmas Ln, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Visit Michigan’s Little Bavaria, Frankenmuth.
Be sure to stop in the Visitor’s Center and pick up a Gnome Hunt log, one of the many free things to do in the city.
Don’t forget to stop at the world’s largest Christmas Store, Bronner’s, where it’s Christmas year-round!
See a Dinosaur Skeleton
#69 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
323 Erie St. P.O. Box 5015 Port Huron, MI 48061-5015
Get Inspired at the St Clair County Community College Experience Center.
View an installation of a gifted Tarbosauras skeleton cast, explore the bird exhibit, or dig for fossils.
Engage with many self-directed STEM programming exhibits in this 10,000 square foot facility.
Ride a Trolley Ride in Port Huron
#70 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
720 McMorran Blvd, Port Huron, MI 48060
Ride the Blue Water Trolley and get a picturesque tour of Port Huron’s historical sites, including the Blue Water Bridges.
The narrated one-hour tour is (almost) FREE at a cost of only 10 cents per person.
Visit an Orchard
#71 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
2985 N Sheridan Road Stanton, MI 48888
Have fun on the farm at the Anderson & Girls Orchard in Stanton.
In addition to seasonal events, the farm is home to a variety of barnyard animals, ranging from camels to hedgehogs.
Be a Good Steward
#71 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
400 S Badour Rd Midland, MI 48640
Step back in time and explore four historic features, like a log schoolhouse or reconstructed wigwam at the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland.
Then think about the future as you learn about the environment and how to be responsible stewards of the land, water and air.
Free Things to Do in Michigan: Ann Arbor
Hunt for Fairy Doors
#72 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Located throughout Ann Arbor
Go on a Fairy Door hunt throughout the city of Ann Arbor. Test your skills to find these tiny doors ‘hiding’ inside and outside of many popular buildings throughout Ann Arbor and beyond.
Love Science and Nature
#73 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
1831 Traver Road Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105
Visit the grounds of the Leslie Science and Nature Center and uncover trails, raptor enclosures and a great critter house where you can observes frogs, turtles, snakes and more.
Walk the Matthaei Botanical Garden
#74 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Matthaei Botanical Gardens | 1800 N Dixboro Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Uncover a wide variety of habitats, trails, formal gardens, a conservatory and a great Children’s Garden at the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
Encounter the Natural World at Nichols Arboretum
#75 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Nichols Arboretum | 1610 Washington Hts. Ann Arbor, MI 48104
See what’s gorgeous flowers are bloom at the Nichols Arboretum and walk their trails.
See Masterpieces in Person
#76 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
525 S State St Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Stop in The University of Michigan Museum of Art, a small, but architecturally beautiful building that contains the works of Rodin, Picasso, Monet and more!
If visiting on the second Friday of the month, stop in for a themed family-friendly ‘Feel Good Friday’ event.
Be an Archaeologist
#77 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
434 South State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Enter the ancient world at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, which is home to more than 100,000 artifacts. Explore an Egyptian mummy coffin, magical amulets, Greek pottery and more.
Watch Vintage Baseball
#78 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
13220 M-50 Brooklyn MI, 49230
Watch a vintage Walker Wheels Baseball Game where the players don old-fashion jerseys and play under 1860 rules. The event is FREE, though a Recreational Passport is required to enter the Cambridge Junction Historic Park, where it is played.
Learn About Railroads
#79 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
110 E. Church St., Adrian MI 49221
Learn about the railroads, military and Underground Railroad through photos, documents and more at the Lenawee County Historical Museum and Archives. Open Fridays and Saturdays.
Free Things to Do in Michigan: Northern Michigan & Mackinac
Experience Early Logging Life
#80 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
1701 W Houghton Lake Dr., Houghton Lake, MI 48651
Experience life as it was in an early Michigan Logging community, at the Houghton Lake Historical Society. The historical village and museum is open Friday and Saturday afternoons from Memorial to Labor Day.
Chase Model Trains
#81 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
815 Lake St, Roscommon MI 48653
The Roscommon Model Train Club opens its doors every Wednesday and Saturday (the one day you can hitch a ride on their oversized model train). Stop in around the holidays and you may find a special exhibit featuring the Polar Express and Harry Potter!
#82 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
398 Chestnut St, Cadillac, MI 49601-1821
Make music in Cadillac’s Sound Garden, rustic metal sculptures that double as instruments. Then visit the other attractions at the Sound Garden, including a ground sundial and 20,000 blooming daffodils (if you time your visit just right).
Visit the Cross in the Woods
#83 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
7078 M-68 Indian River, Michigan 49749
Visit the Cross in the Woods National Shrine in Indian River, home to one of the largest crucifixes in the world. Walk the grounds and take in several other statues and shrines on the property.
Stay Dry While Exploring a Shipwreck
#84 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
7500 W. Fletcher Street Alpena, Michigan 49707
Explore a full-size replica wooden Great Lake schooner and shipwreck, without getting wet at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s 10,000 square foot Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena.
Explore the Galaxy
#85 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
15675 Headlands Rd, Mackinaw City, MI 49701
Witness the galaxy at Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City, open year round every day (and night).
Walk the grounds on five miles of well-groomed trails, learn about the cultural history of planets through the planetary stations near the main entrance, or travel the one mile trail leading to the designated Dark Sky Viewing Area.
Visit the Mighty Mac
#86 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
231 East Central Avenue Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701
Visit our state’s crown jewel and the 5th longest suspension bridge in the world, the ‘Mighty Mac.’
Learn all about it at the Mackinac Bridge Museum, started by one of the iron workers who constructed the Mackinac Bridge.
Enjoy a Laser Light Show
#87 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
248 South Huron Ave Mackinaw City, MI 49701
Enjoy a nightly Laser Light Show at Mackinaw Crossings, May through October. Live bands perform periodically throughout the summer prior to the Laser Light Show, so time your visit just right for double the entertainment!
Be a Lumberman
#88 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
5401 Monument Road, Oscoda, MI 48750
Learn about the industry that helped develop northern Michigan through hands-on activities, video displays, and trails at the Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center in Oscoda.
Free Things to Do in Michigan: Upper Peninsula
Discover Waterfalls and Incredible Views
#89 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | N8391 Sand Point Rd, Munising, MI 49862
Eben Ice Caves | Frey Rd, Deerton, MI 49822
Take in the splendor of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Alger and the numerous waterfalls around it.
In winter, head down the road to check out the Eben Ice Caves in Hiawatha National Forest Rock River Canyon Wilderness Area.
Learn About Mining
#90 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Calumet Visitor Center| 25970 Red Jacket Road Calumet , MI 49913
Michigan Iron Industry Museum | 73 Forge Road Negaunee, MI 49866
Discover Calumet’s beginnings and its explosion into a major copper mining boomtown, by checking out the Calumet Visitor Center, or head west and learn about the state’s iron mining history at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee.
Hike to Narnia
#91 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
M-134, Cedarville, MI 49719 (just west of the Cedar by the Bay camp entrance)
Take a magical hike through an open forest with fern and wildflower-laden floors as you search for the secret place known to the locals as Narnia.
Your trip starts at the John Arthur Woollam Preserve.
Eventually, you will weave your way through moss-laden boulders that tower overhead.
(And don’t forget to spot the magical lamp post!)
Your hike ends with sweeping views of Lake Huron and more boulders to hike through as you watch the waters for freighters in the distance.
Wade in Tahquamenon Falls
#92 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
41382 W M-123, Paradise, MI 49768
Easily Michigan’s best waterfall spot, Tahquamenon Falls brags upper and lower falls and miles of picturesque trails.
Michigan State Park Vehicle Permit needed for admission.
Jump off the Black Rocks into Icy Lake Superior
#93 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Peter White Dr, Marquette, MI 49855
Test your bravery as you jump off the Black Rocks at Presque Isle Park in Marquette. Take the plunge into Lake Superior from these ancient rock formations, with jumps 10 to 15 feet high.
Visit a 95,000 Acre Refuge
#94 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
1986 River Road, Germfask, MI 49836
Fish, hike, ski or drive through the Seney National Wildlife Refuge; 95,000 acres of diverse habitats which provide a home to a wide variety of plant and wildlife species.
Visitors may spy a bald eagle, red fox, deer, or bear during their visit to the refuge.
Ride Over a Double Decker Lift Bridge
#95 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Houghton & Hancock, MI 49931
Ride over the world’s widest and heaviest double-decker vertical lift bridge on Portage Lake.
This historic bridge connects Houghton and Hancock and is celebrated each year Mid-June in Houghton with Bridge Fest, a community-wide celebration filled with parades, pickleball, fireworks and more.
Observe Ships at the Soo Locks
#96 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Soo Locks Observation Platform and Visitor Center | 312 W Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
Castle Rock | N2690 Castle Rock Rd. St. Ignace, MI. 49781
Observe ships at Soo Locks Observation Platform and Visitor Center in Sault Ste. Marie. On the way up, stop by Castle Rock in St Ignace and snap a picture with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. While you’re there, pay the (almost) free $1 fee and climb to the top.
Tour Stormy Kromer’s Factory
#97 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Stormy Kromer Factory Tour | 1238 Wall Street Ironwood, MI 49938
Historic Ironwood Depot and Museum | 150 N. Lowell Street, Ironwood, MI 49938
Take a Stormy Kromer Factory Tour, in Ironwood, home to their signature cap, and conclude the tour with a picture in front of their Giant Cap Statue.
While in town, learn about its history and the Ironwood culture and community at the Historic Ironwood Depot and Museum.
Discover Junk Yard Art
#98 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
2800 M-28 East, Marquette, MI 49855
Find a unique collection of ‘Junkyard Art’ at Lakenenland Sculpture Park, near Marquette.
Take a walk on the Sculpture Trail, featuring over 100 of Tom Lakenen’s metal works of art, then enjoy everything else the grounds has to offer like fishing ponds, a playground and timbered pavilion.
Climb a Mountain
#99 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Pine Mountain | Near N3332 Pine Mountain Road, Iron Mountain, MI 49801
Millie Mine Bat Viewing Area | Mine Shaft Park Ave. off East A St, Iron Mountain, MI 49801
Take in a spectacular sunset view of Pine Mountain, well worth the 500 steep steps it takes to get there, then head to the Millie Mine Bat Viewing Area, and watch as one of the largest bat colonies in North America, depart at dusk.
Ride a Self-Operated Raft
#100 FREE THINGS TO DO IN MICHIGAN WITH KIDS
Palms Book State Park | 8970W County Road 442 Manistique, MI 49854,
Cross Michigan’s largest spring, Kitch-iti-kipi in Manistique, on its self operated observation raft.
Observe clouds of swirling sand and trout in the clear spring water below, even during winter as the spring never freezes.
Michigan State Park Vehicle Permit needed for admission.
Have something to add to this list? Let us know in the comments so our readers can check it out, too!
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162 thoughts on “Ope! List of 100 Free Things to do in Michigan!”
“Wedding happens once is a life, so enjoy every moment.
This seems to be a great place for spending holidays and fun. Waiting for weekends so I can enjoy with my family and must visit this place.
Ironton Ferry in East Jordan, MI by Charlevoix. $3 per car, .50 per person, but neat experience. Beautiful lake.
Just came across this list for the first time through Google and I love it! Thanks for compiling it. For the sake of participating in commenting, I’ll throw in a childhood favorite of mine (it’s still around) in Lake Orion/Orion Township – Canterbury Village. There’s a lot of shopping, so technically not “free” in that sense. But we always just liked to walk around the grounds and play on the giant rock.
(And I’m now dying to go to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, whether or not I can get a kid to go with me! 😉 )
I love the list each year….but do not understand for a moment the wonderful places in the the Flint area that are always left from the list.
Steam train and ice cream r not free but you can walk around and see everything for free
Heston steam trains, near Three Oaks, MI. Complete with ice cream parlor!!!
I recommend the Henry Ford Museum, also Greenfield Village both are in Detroit. don’t forget the Detroit Zoo either. Another recommendation is in Manistee, MI, two beautiful beaches, Ramsdell Theater Opera House, as a child I loved going to the Wednesday afternoon shows for children. I have lived in Arizona for a good number of years, the above places I love to spend time at when I’m in Michigan.
Visit Anderson and Girls in Stanton. Farm market, cider mill and wonderful “fun on the farm”.
This is a great extensive list of things to do in Michigan. My bucket list just got bigger. I love all the museum’s and parks!
I recommend adding The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI, to your list of vacationing, sight-seeing, and/or things to do in Michigan. It is also extremely educational, interesting, and fun. I have been there three times and there is always something new to see and learn. It also has a fantastic gift shop.
In central Michigan, on M-66, just north of Stanton, is a place called Anderson’s Orchard. They have an amazing zoo! It started off with goats and other petting zoo type animals. Now there are camels, zebras, marmosets, sloths, lemurs, kangaroos, wallabies, prairie dogs, an arctic Fox, a giant tortoise, several tropical birds, including a room where parakeets fly freely and will land on you, pigs, sheep, rabbits, and more!
Wow, Julie, that sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing this!
Lansing has a Planet Walk – replica of solar system, 2 mile walk starting at Impression 5 Museum and ending at Potter Park Zoo. Not something to cause a trip, but a great free add-on to something you have going on!
There is a raft you can ride on in the upper peninsula which is called Big Springs(Kitchi-Kitipi). You ride across the water on a raft which is above 3 freshwater springs located 7 miles west of Manistique, Mi. A great place to take your kids. The water is stocked with some of the biggest trout and salmon in the state. And the water is crystal clear.
Were is the water slide…park pictured on the front page?
Hi Eva! On the front page of what? I’m not sure what page you’re referencing. If you can point me to the URL you’re interested in, we can get you an answer. Thanks!
Jiffy baking co. factory tour in Chelsea (near Ann Arbor) is free. They also give you a goodie bag.
While in the thumb area, check out the Thumb Octagon Barn just east of Gagetown. It features a restored barn, farm house, one room school, and more. Web site http://www.thumboctagonbarn.org
Although I hate to encourage more public attendance (it is such a peaceful place I want to keep it all to myself!), anyone who loves the outdoors will enjoy Shiawassee Natural Wildlife Refuge and many similar state game areas.and area metro-parks.
Although its not Free, its very cheap, but Tawas City has a Zoo. They have a lion named Damba, 2 bears, a coyote, 2 wolves, a bob cat, and farm animals. Last time i was there its $5 for and under 3 was free. Also In Hale there is the Bear Store, they have a bear named Sophie, 2 peruvian Cavy’s, a wallaby, rabbits, horses and 2 fox. Also in Tawas is Lumbermans Monument and Iargo Springs
There’s also The Cross In The Woods in Indian River. It’s very beautiful there and one of my favorite places. And it’s free!
Geocaching is huge in Michigan and free.
Yes – glad to hear you love it too, Becki! 🙂 It made our list…#9. We also wrote an article about it last summer for those new to the sport. http://grkids.com/a-real-life-treasure-hunt-in-your-own-backyard/
Take time to drive up to copper harbor, at the top of the Keweenaw. Brockway mountain drive is only one of the breath taking sights to be enjoyed along the way. Many waterfalls, light houses, and gorgeous sunsets from the west shore drive. All easily accessed from, or within a short walk, of your car. Check out the web sites numbered map. So many attractions to choose from. You won’t be disappointed. http://www.keweenaw.info/attractions-7/
Wow – this list is Fantastic! Thank you and I also admire your wannabe list…I too have those same interests. Extra tidbit for #70 – Frankenmuth. Stop in the Visitor Center on Main Street, and pick up a “map” that gives all the participating shops in the hunt for “Gnomes.” The kids love the game as do the workers when they get to help locate it within their establishment. There was no purchase required, and this “event” is year round. Great fun for the kids and parents, while exploring all of Frankenmuth. 🙂
Love the gnome map idea – thanks, Kari! 😀
FREE – chocolate/candy/history tour at main Kilwins headquarters in Petoskey, MI… with a free sample at the end!
Great list! Up past Marquette there is a great view of Lake Superior from high up Sugar Loaf Mountain. There are stairs (and resting benches! ) for easy access.
Everything at your local library is FREE! Books, movies, storytimes, special events, concerts, parties, summer reading, etc. Libraries often have FREE tickets to community events, too! Be sure to check out your library this summer.
Grand Rapids: Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Check out the Children’s Garden, The Farm Garden, etc….
We LOVE Meijer Gardens too, Constance – sadly it is not free 🙁 For those who want more info on this awesome venue, you can find it in our article here. http://grkids.com/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-frederik-meijer-gardens/
Love this article! Love Michigan! One question – where are the water slides that show up as the picture? I’m dying for some water slide fun! Thank you so much for posting!
I’m not sure which picture you’re talking about, but if it’s one of the one’s on the side bar to the right you may be referring to this post about MVP Sports Plex: http://grkids.com/win-mvp-summer-camp-giveaway/. Or you may also be referring to Camp Henry: http://camphenry.org/, or even Silver Lake Campground: http://grkids.com/try-cappucino-camping-this-summer-at-silver-lake-campground/
The water slides in the picture are at Rolling Hills water park in Washtenaw County.
Thank You for all this info.
Touted as the “world’s largest gemstone”, few people are familiar with Jasper Knob in (almost) downtown Ishpeming (Yooper-Land). This is a must-see for budding geologists. It is private land (Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company) but it is publicly accessible — read the supplied link.
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we are Ruby Campground and we have a lot to offer but not only what we offer we are close to Port Huron where there is rails-to-trails walk ride your bike or horse trails to Avoca. The Blue Water Bridge goes over to Sarnia, beautiful blue waters beautiful beaches and close to the casinos.
In mackinaw city. Where you can ferry to the island there is also a nightly light show on the walls of the mall on the water. I believe its just weekends but a very good tourism spot for a road trip andsome of the best eats you will find. You can also go to the black bear safe haven in Paradise and see black bears close up. I dont remember the name of the conservatory but its gorgeous and when we went a few years ago we got to pet a cub named Molly. She was a sweetie.
One more thing to add to Traverse City…..we have an observatory with high power telescopes looking into space. They have a list of viewing nights to show what will be visible each month. It is only open when something is worth of viewing but I believe it’s free. Check out their list online Traverse city observatory schedule. The kids will love it!!!
There is also Whitefish Point in the UP. They have a ship wreck museum and lighthouse and one of the best beaches to walk and find beautiful rocks to collect.
Whitefish Point is beautiful and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is amazing, but the museum is not free – actually pretty pricey.
If your kids are the gamer types in the SE/Ann Arbor area, U of M’s North Campus Library (2281 Bonisteel Blvd) has, in its basement, the Computer and Video Game Archive, a “Library” of hundreds upon hundreds of video games from every era including the newest systems and the oldest, free to play on site, and fully open to the public. Summer hours are weekdays noon to seven.
There is WAY more free stuff to do in Southwest Michigan – check out the visitor bureau sites,
Just one example, the World’s Largest Breakfast Table in the Cereal City, Battle Creek MI. This year is June 13th!
There are many awesome free events…it was hard to pick 101! We did try to limit them to things that were at least seasonal or year-round, eliminating many 1-day events…but thanks for sharing! 😀
Thanks for the great list. Michigan is great place. Lived here all of my 64yrs but 1. How can I get a printed list. Thought the Grandkids could mark things off. Thanks for caring about MI and it’s people. Especially the little ones.
We’ve made a printable version available! Please follow this link: http://grkids.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2015/01/101-Things-to-Do-in-Michigan-with-Kids-Printable.pdf and print! Thank you,
Hi Stephanie – a quick update to #49: could you change it to “hike the Lillian Anderson Arboretum?” Bikes are not allowed to help minimize trail damage/erosion. Thanks!!
I just updated it – thanks for the head’s up Sara! 😀
Don’t forget the 3mile Detroit River Walk where you can watch ships cruise by. There’s a merrygoround for $1 and a free play water jet area.
see the world’s largest bronze/wood crucifix at the National Catholic shrine in Indian River, Cross in the Woods
Mackinaw City at Mackinaw Crossing has a free Laser Light Show every night in the summer at dusk. http://www.mackinawcrossings.com/attractions.html
Sounds like a great addition to the list – thanks for sharing, Pam!
Regarding number 11: At the end of May 2015 the Park and Read program is being rolled into Michigan Activity Pass program available from your local library. MAP includes one day free or discounted entry to more than 200 locations around the state.
I hadn’t heard of the Park and Read program, Cindy – thanks for sharing!
I wish I could pin this. Great ideas!
You should be able to pin from our page (I know I can, but phones and browsers could vary). You can also find it pinned here 🙂
THE Henry Ford both village and museum (use ro be greenfield village)
Down river Calder farm see milking and ice cream making
Thanks, Sharon. They are both great places to visit in Michigan, BUT sadly neither are free.
i would also add that people should check out the libraries wherever they’re going. Often they will have free programs (especially during the summer reading program months). Your local library card will also give you free or reduced access to a ton of museums and other sites throughout michigan through the MIchigan activity pass program (MAP)…you can find out the discounts by going to this link….http://www.eventkeeper.com/prmaps/code/index.cfm?mn=628322 . Last, but not least, St. Joseph has a fabulous compass fountain that is free, and fun, all summer long AND free movies outside on Friday or Saturday nights all summer long as well.
Yes! Our local libraries are wonderful, aren’t they? We do cover this a little bit in number 11, but you’re right, there are many awesome free programs that take place daily! And, we’ll be sure to look into the Compass Fountain and the other fun free things St. Joseph has to offer – it might be worth a 1 tank trip post of it’s own 🙂 Thanks, Stephanie!
MSU has one of the oldest and most successful breeding programs for Arabian horses in the country. The barns and surrounding pastures are open to the public. From April – June, the babies make for a very fun visit (bring carrots)! There are other barns open to visitors as well (cows, sheep, etc.) but we have never made it past the horses. I’ve brought my own as well as daycare children and seriously – we couldn’t get enough. Very fun and a great experience for kids – it’s pretty amazing to see those big horses interact with tiny people. http://www.tour.msu.edu/locations/farms
I LOVE this Mandy, and had NO idea that free tours were available, or that these farms even existed! Thank you so much for sharing!! 😀
My daughter loves the dairy barn. There is a maternity barn with births happening almost daily. We have seen six births. If you are there when it happens you can help name the new female calfs.
When i lived there, Battle Creek had a place on Kelloggs history, cool place, there was a theatre presentation, and a walk line you could see how the grain is transformed into cereal, and you could put your picture on a box of corn flakes or wheaties AND you did not mention the automotive/motown tours or Henry Ford Museum/ Greenfield Village, sad but true, not everybody knows about them
Unfortunately, Kellogg’s no longer offers a plant tour and Cereal City is closed…and, although the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are great places to visit, they are not free, nor is the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. 🙁
Didn’t see the air zoo in Kalamazoo or holland or frankenmuth all fun places your kids need to see or the binder zoo in battle creek or really any zoo or the impressions 5 science center in Lansing
Frankenmuth and Holland are on the list…and although the other places you listed are all great…none are free. Thanks for the note.
The Cascades in Jackson. As a kid I use to love watching them light up at night. I believe it every night in the summer and free for the whole family.
Marge – The Cascades are beautiful, and I did intend to include them in the original list. However, it appears that there are now admission fees. :/
The good news is that now the view blocking wall has been taken down, so the falls are visible, even if one doesn’t go inside to walk around them…there is also a great ice cream stand nearby and lots of walking areas, fishing, and playgrounds in the park which are all free.
What a great list thank you! I am wondering why you listed the number 34 lighthouses. Michigan has many, many more than that for the public to view and tour.MI actually has 126 lighthouses to see. Some are not viewable from land. But the number 34 would not be correct. I have seen 43 of them so far and all of those were free to see.
Thank you, Sue! 🙂
As for the lighthouses, we obtained the list from Pure Michigan. They show 92 lighthouses in Michigan, 34 as being ‘open to the public’. We went with the 34, to play it safe, but thanks for this great information! http://www.michigan.org/lighthouses-public/#&&page=0&sort=&miles=20&ips=B2037&dt=11%2f16%2f2014&dte=11%2f23%2f2014&rpp=96
Lansing also has a great hands on museum – Impression 5
Yes Shelia, we LOVE Impression 5 (you can check out our visit there via the link below). Unfortunately we could not include it on this list, as it is only free when you use a reciprocal museum membership. Regular admission for those 1 and over is $7, except for Seniors who receive a $.50 discount.
The science/art museum in midland is not free, it’s $5pp. But if you need something to replace that, in the winter city forest has sledding on a groomed hill (with snow-making), ice skating, lit trails for cross country skiing and a fire pit, all free. Can rent skis, skates, sleds, and toboggans for a toboggan run (for a cost, $2-$6)
Thanks for the catch, Karen. I see now that only the aquarium is free (bummer), and have since updated. I just took a peek at City Forest as well. What a great park – thanks for sharing!
Sorry, but Belle Isle is not free anymore. It’s a state park now.
Yes, Belle Isle is a State Park…however, admission is still free for pedestrians, bicyclist and those who use public transportation to enter the park. I’ll be sure to note that on the list – thank you! 🙂
I felt that St Clair County has been over looked (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2d5hgBhFBg). How about viewing our beautiful bridges to Canada in Port Huron while watching the freighters go up and down the St Clair River into Lake Huron, the Port Huron Float Down (http://www.porthuronfloatdown.com) from Lake Huron into the St Clair River and Port Huron’s biggest draw of people from all over the world is Boat Night (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Huron_to_Mackinac_Boat_Race) in which the sail boats line up the next day for the Race to Macinaw Island. There is Cruise Night, shared between Port Huron and Fort Gratiot Twp over the years (http://bluewatercruiseweekend.com/) which is not as large as the Dream Cruise on 8 Mile but ours is getting bigger every year. Please come visit and enjoy our pristine blue water ways.
Thanks for sharing, Lisa – those sound like great events to check out! 😀
Finally, someone mentioned the East side of our beautiful state! Thank you ,Lisa. But let’s not stop at Port Huron. Stay on M-25 and keep going north along the shore of Lake Huron. I am partial to Lexington, “The first resort north”. Free music in the park on Friday nights, live music in four venues every weekend, great acts in the Village Theater, Fine Arts Fair, and craft shows and antiques! Come see us!
I am so glad to see geocaching on this list! It is an activity that can be done all over Michigan . It’s FREE. Kids and adults of all ages enjoy it. I take my 12 year old and her friends all the time. I have also taken my nephews age 4-7. Very kid friendly activity. I can’t wait to check out some of the other activities on this list. Thank you for creating it!
How do you geocache? I have a cousin and her son coming this weekend and would like to know how. Do you need any special equipment? Will a smartphine do the job?
Whirlpool Splash Pad in St Joseph is free. Michigan Flywheelers Museum in South Haven is free except for special events. They do accept donations for tours though.
Thanks so much.
You could add Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor
Looking for something to do with the kids on a Saturday morning?
Young Modelers Club continues through April 25th!
The Michigan Military Technical & Historical Society (MTHS) and the Warren Chapter of the International Plastic Modelers Society (IPMS) are happy to announce the return of the Young Modelers Club
When: Every Saturday Morning, starting until
April 25, 2015
What Time: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Where: The Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society Museum
16600 Stephens, Eastpointe, MI
For Ages 8 to 16, (younger than 8 are welcome with parental supervision)
First time builders receive a free snap-together kit to build and take home!
Feel Free to bring your own kit to build! All supplies such as tools, paint, glue, etc. will be provided FREE.
Members of IPMS Warren model club will be there to help and teach modeling techniques
For more info, contact Jim Ashford, 248-399-2386, or [email protected]
Thank you! You are more than welcome to add this to our events calendar!
The ThunderBay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena is awesome and its free to go through too!!!
Saginaw is home of the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum, a great place for kids and parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sitters, nannys… anyone to spend time Playing and Learning togeather!
It is a super fun Museum, Charlene! Just not free…but we did just include it on our Reciprocal Membership post yesterday! 🙂
Ocqueoc falls In between Cheboygan and Rogers City. Fun!,
you need a park pass for the falls. when its summer they have a dnr person there to check for the pass on your license
Alpena has the Thunder Bay Shipwreck museum. It is free and open all year. In the summer you can take tours of the shipwrecks in a glass bottom boat for a fee.
Thanks for sharing this, Alicia! 🙂
be prepared that glass bottom boat is $50 per person
Most of the time the tickets for the glass bottom boat tour in Alpena is $30 for adults and $10 for 12 and under. July 4th for the fire works tour usually when the tickets cost a little more!
On MSU’s campus in E. Lansing, Abrams Planetarium is almost free ($2-$3, I think) and a neat experience for everyone! Also, in April-Oct, MSU Observatory offers free public viewing one weekend a month.
EAST LANSING (MSU)
You most definitely CANNOT park on the lawn by the Beaumont tower nor can you park for free near the tower from 7am-6pm on weekdays even during the Summer. I cannot stress enough of how little parking in EL is there period and absolutely none of it is free during the daytime.
There is a large parking garage on Circle drive that is paid but only a short walk from the tower, the botanical gardens and MSU Musuem which is a very cool free 3 story natural and cultural history museum.
Great info, thanks for sharing! Trust the author too, lol…
Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery in Mattawan has free learning to fish programs for kids on weekends through spring and summer. They also have free tours.
Critter Barn in Zeeland Michigan is great family destination.
Skidmore Park Petting Zoo in Three Rivers. Weekends only in June through August.
Awesome additions – thanks, Darin!
Not sure if I missed seeing it on your list but…. Dutch Village in Holland usually has a Community Days on the last Sat. of April where you get in free if you bring a canned good. You also get free passes for additional visits. https://www.facebook.com/NelisDutchVillage
(Here is your writeup about last year’s Community Days – http://grkids.com/calendar/index.php?eID=41269)
No, that’s a great one, Deb! We tried to limit the list to things that you could do year round, or at least seasonally…but I’m glad you shared!
The Warren Astronomical Society holds a free Open House at their Stargate Observatory every month. And, all meetings are free. Calendar on meetup.com (link in red on left). http://www.warrenastro.org/
In fact, all of the GLAAC clubs have free meetings and star parties. http://www.glaac.org/
Membership may confer other benefits.
That’s a great addition to the list…thanks for sharing Stephen 🙂
1.Presque Isle in Marquette, 2 mile hike paved or can walk entire inside of island, around Lake Superior
2.drive up Mt. Marquette, at top view city of Marquette, beautiful
3.Many very nice hikes, viewing water falls
The annual Mackinac Bridge walk on Labor Day is a great family-fun event that’s free.
We did the Mackinaw Bridge Walk for the first time last Labor Day. It was a blast. Going again this year!
Hastings has become a true destination spot, including fun and free activities for families. We now have a Spray Plaza for kids to play in during warmer months, with an adjoining outdoor amphitheater featuring some of our great Michigan/West Michigan local talent, including some special acts for kids. The Hastings Sculpture Tour is another exciting, free year round attraction that draws families to Hastings. The number of sculptures is growing, I believe we are up to 24 or more. View them as you walk downtown and take time to visit the shops and restaurants along the way. Hastings also has many other fun events that draw people in throughout the year, visit http://downtownhastings.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/City-of-Hastings-Michigan/172713452898567?sk=timeline to view more events and photos.
Thanks so much for sharing, Cindy. I don’t live too far from Hastings, and will be sure to check these things out this summer! 😀
Under the Upper Peninsula, #98 it’s Lakenenland, not Lakeland 🙂
I would love to print this article out, but it won’t print. I’ve tried everything and only get the very first page printed. I even tried to “save as” but only got the ads. Seems like so many great ideas, that it should be printable…thanks for any other suggestions on how to print this wonderful article out! THANKS!
Mary – try copying the information you want, then go to Word and paste “special”, select unformatted text. That almost always works for me.
Hi Mary! A printable version now available within the post 🙂
Not far from Fayette in the UP, about six miles from Manistique in the Palms Book state park there is the Big Spring, or Kitch-iti-kipi. 10,000 gallons of water flow into it every minute. It is forty feet deep and you can see the bottom clearly. There are lots of huge fish. Trout that are at least three feet long. There is a wooden raft that can hold a crowd (30 or so) that is propelled across the spring via a cable strung from one side to the other. It is very cool for both kids and adults.
That sounds amazing, Mary! We’ll definitely check it out – thanks so much for sharing this gem! 😀
Forgot to mention, it is free.
Been there!! Beautiful and the kids love to pull the raft across to the deepest spot!! They were amazed of seeing all the way to the bottom!!
I was also going to mention Kitchitkippee “big spring”. It is by far the most profound place in mich, will blow you away. There are areas for picnicking as well and restroom facilities. It is a State Park, so all that’s needed is your sticker from Sec of State to visit all state parks, I believe you can do a day fee as well. Look up the old Indian legend to it as well. You can’t miss this spot!!!
Coming from MI, I know that has some of the Greatest places. I still believe that MI has the BEST STATE PARKS for camping in all 50 states!!!
We would agree, Laura! 🙂 Here are a few of our favorites.
I may have missed the Detroit Institute of Arts on your list. ( Free except for special attractions that MAY have a fee. ) How about original Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor MI where the beauty of the flowers in Spring and Summer make for wonderful family pictures, not to mention the fall leaves for the same reason. Also driving on over to Glen Arbor (west) from TC is the quaint Christmas Shop. Open for browsing (shopping) beautiful Christmas Items many made by MI residents. So many more free, wonderful places on the Leelanau Peninsula. Our favorite is Friday nights in July and August at the fire pit behind the Leelanau School, where the conch shell is sounded calling all story tellers, poetry, prose and song smiths to share their talents. It begins around the bonfire with a children’s hour followed by extended time for adults. The Beach Bard’s Bonfire is the BEST summer free fun for our family.
Thanks for the great additions – it sounds like the Leelanau Peninsula/Glen Arbor area has a lot of free fun to offer! And the DIA is wonderful…although, I believe it is only free for residents of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties, so we chose to leave it off the list…but I’m glad you noted it here. Thanks again!
For residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, admission to the Detroit Institute of Arts is free.
Cranbrook science center in Bloomfield Hills has free admission the first friday of the month from 5pm-10pm
Another one I looked at Suzanne – I used to LOVE walking around Cranbrook! I’ll be sure to add it to the list. Thank you!
In Lansing, the Michigan Historical Museum is free every Sunday. I’ve been many times and have never paid a dine! It’s huge and quite kid friendly. One of my favorite Sunday activities!
Thanks for the information, Rose! I did look up the Michigan Historical Museum, but missed that admission was free on Sundays – good to know. My son loves it there! 😀
Krispy Kreme does not give away free doughnuts. You can get one free doughnut for downloading their app to your cell phone but the app and the red light in the store only indicate they have fresh doughnuts coming out of the cooker.
Participating locations do give away free doughnuts when the red light is on, including the one in Grand Rapids (sadly, we’re regulars) 🙂 I have not yet confirmed whether the Troy and Allen Park locations participate, but thanks for bringing this to our attention.
Allen park gives them away free as well when the light is on!
Allen Park gives away a free doughnut to each customer between 5-7 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. everyday. 🙂
the Troy location also gives you a free doughnut when the light is on.
Thanks for confirming, ladies! 😀
Krispy Kreme gives free doughnuts for A’s (or equivalent) on report cards too.
you are WRONG every time the red light is on I go in and they DO give you a fresh hot off the line glazed donut!!!!! have done it many times
Terry, Please tell my hips that Krispy Kreme doesn’t give away free donuts. I was in Grand Rapids last week and not only received a free original donut but a free donut hole as well. Not all in one day, but whenever the light was on!
Howell has the Howell Nature Center, which is getting a big fairy garden/tree house expansion this spring and summer!
Thanks for sharing, Heather – we’ll be sure to check it out! 😀
Hell Michigan was interesting the kids had some fun there but, there wasn’t a lot to do and some of it did cost but, it was a unique experience. The drive from erie to their was also beautiful.
Due to the popularity of this very article, our site was down yesterday and into this morning. We apologize for the inconvenience. The site is live again, and this article is now viewable! Victoria Worden, Tanya Mitz, Nicole Looks.
I can’t open it either.
I can’t open the link either.. 🙁
Is there something wrong with the link? It says “website not found” when I click on it…
Theirs also the metro parks. They do cost to enter unless your on foot rollarblades,bikes.and theirs nature center.
Also in sterling heights they have music in the park is free also the park& nature walking trails. My kids love going there in the summer
I also wanted to add kitchikippi the big spring in Manistique its a fun and educational stop.
I highly recommend Hitsville U.S.A. The best $10 I’ve ever spent!!! Will be going back soon!!
What about the western end of the UP? In the UP there is great skiing, hunting, fishing, Black River Harbor and the Lake Superior coast up there is beautiful. And the best rocks on the planet are found in those waters.
I grew up there when it was thriving.
The Vesper Cruises out of St Ignace and Mackinaw City during the summer on the week-ends are free. Great opportunity to take one of the ferries and go under the Mackinac Bridge.
We’ve taken the Vesper Cruises several times and everyone from the children to the grandparents have loved them!
I would add GWEN FROSTIC — she was an artist who did would cutting/carving to create stationery. The old printing presses still run, and there is a gift shoppe associated with the whole area. (Also it is now down the street from a Llama farm, of great interest) in Benzonia. (Nature preserve is all around, as well)
I love Gwen Frostic’s, have been there many times. However, I was very disappointed when there last summer. It is NOT kid friendly as they no longer have a public bathroom. I had to quickly leave and pack up my 3 toddlers and go to McDonald’s to use the facilities. They told me they have no plans of re-opening the bathroom. 🙁