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Kid-Friendly Museums & Education

Both the kids and the adults in your family will have fun while learning at these museums and educational spots.

 

Climb a lighthouse to enjoy great lake views from the top, and learn what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper. There are plenty of lighthouses to check out along the lakeshore, and you can add in an educational element with places like the Heritage Museum & Cultural Center in St. Joseph or the Pump House Museum & Learning Center in Holland.

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts offers free admission for kids through age 12! They have ten galleries filled with art, including a “Please Touch” Kids Corner, recently updated with a black light alcove, music making stations, art books, and more.

Kids have been visiting the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary for generations to learn about the area’s bird species. The Sanctuary, located in Augusta, has a paved path with the chance to see Trumpeter Swans, a Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owls, and many other birds. Best of all, the Sanctuary Trails are open 365 days a year!

February and March bring Bluesy Suzy, Make & Take Puppets, and Artists of Tomorrow to the South Haven Center for the Arts. Artists of Tomorrow is an annual exhibition that showcases the talent of South Haven, Bangor, and Covert art students in a gallery setting. Kids won’t want to miss a fun afternoon with puppets when Bluesy Suzy & Palamazoo visit for a free concert on Saturday, March 2nd. The South Haven Center for the Arts hosts monthly family-friendly events throughout the year, so keep an eye out for upcoming family fun.

The Michigan Maritime Museum offers a STEM-focused summer camp for kids in third to fifth grade. The day camp, held on the Michigan Maritime Museum campus in South Haven each summer, features a maritime-themed program through engaging STEM activities and lessons, including hands-on activities, lessons aboard the tall ship Friends Good Will, campus tours, and a cruise on the late 19th-century replica river launch Lindy Lou. The 2019 STEM Camp runs from July 22nd to 26th with registration opening on March 1st.

The Forever Curious Children’s Museum in Fennville is all about hands-on learning through interactive exhibits and imaginative play. The museum is designed for kids between the ages of 1 to 10 years old. They have STEAM Challenges, a rock wall, Toddler Town, The Forever Curious Vet Clinic, Bailey’s Nature Corner, and much more!

The Kingman Museum, located inside the beautiful trails of Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek, houses an extensive natural history collection, three floors of exhibits, and the Digistar Planetarium. A local landmark in Battle Creek for over 80 years, Kingman Museum offers free admission on Saturdays and Sundays.

Country Dairy in New Era has been in the same family for four generations, producing butter, cheese, and ice cream. The farm offers tours year round, with summer tours being held Monday through Saturday. In the warmer months, tours take guests on a tractor-drawn wagon ride to the bottling plant. Guests can even visit and pet the farm’s cows! After your tour, visit the Farm Store & Restaurant for a meal or treat.

Looking for a fun and educational way to get outside with your family this winter? Visit the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta to see and learn about a variety of bird species, including Trumpeter Swans, a native species that the Sanctuary helped to reintroduce to the Midwest. Walk one of the trails around beautiful Wintergreen Lake to see waterfowl, birds of prey, game birds, and songbirds.

The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is the place for play in Grand Rapids. With two floors of rotating exhibits, there’s something for kids of all ages! Toddlers will love the shapes, colors, and textures in the Wee Discover exhibit. Older kids can create a giant bubble, build a rocket ship in the all-new Think Tank exhibit, or shop and explore in Little Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids’ museum fun doesn’t stop there. The Grand Rapids Public Museum has both permanent and traveling exhibits along with a carousel.

A palette of colors awaits you as you wind along the entrance to Holland’s treasured Windmill Island Gardens. Tour five stories of the DeZwaan windmill, the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States. From the top, you can survey 36 acres of manicured gardens, dikes, and canals. Complete your immersive Dutch experience with their costumed guides, hand-painted Dutch carousel, children’s gardens, gift shops, and more.

The Air Zoo in Portage welcomes their newest traveling exhibit with Game Changers. Game Changers is a highly interactive and immersive traveling exhibition exploring how innovation has shaped gameplay in video gaming systems and transformed the way you interact with technology. Visitors also learn about the concepts behind key game developments, play with the technologies behind the games, and explore the future of gaming.

Looking for something off the beaten path for the entire family? You won’t have to search far for exciting and unique activities if you are visiting Holland. The Holland area is home to over 1,800 acres of parks for hiking, cycling, picnicking, and playing. If you’d rather spend time inside, visit one of the many entertainment centers or museums for some indoor fun. Attractions like the Critter Barn in Zeeland or the Holland Area Arts Council are also family favorites.

Every child in West Michigan should experience Spark!Lab Smithsonian at the Holland Museum! The hands-on activities provide visitors with opportunities to explore the invention process and demonstrate the central role that invention plays in American history and today. Spark!Lab is great for kids of all ages!

The Tri-Cities Historical Museum in Grand Haven is the perfect place for young learners who prefer an interactive approach. Here, they can, step in, see, touch, and even smell all things history. Each exhibit is housed in a structure that is appropriate for the era. While The Tri-Cities Historical Museum is open to all ages, parents, and guardians typically find first grade and above to be the most invested in the exhibits, though highly-engaged parents will find something teachable in each exhibit!

Ever wondered what it would be like to be stuck in a tornado? Find out (safely!) with the virtual Tornado Simulator at the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon, where they have all sorts of hands-on fun in their Science Center.

The Harbor Springs History Museum in Harbor Springs has a number of fun interactive exhibits designed to educate the young and young at heart! The museum is very family friendly and welcomes children of all ages to learn about the history of the Harbor Springs community.

The Ludington area has fun educational experiences for your kids. The newest jewel in Ludington’s museum-tourist attraction crown is the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum.  Located in the former 1934-era U.S. Coast Guard Station, a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum instructs through a variety of diverse interactive exhibits about the rich maritime heritage of Ludington and West Michigan. The S.S. Badger is another staple of Ludington’s maritime history, with special themed cruises offered in the summer. Historic White Pine Village is a living history, family-friendly village comprised of 30 historic buildings of Mason County from the late 19th to early 20th century. More kids activities await in Ludington, from arts and museums to outdoor adventures.

Looking for a fun activity to help break cabin fever? The Oliver Art Center in Frankfort is hosting a Children’s Art Day on Saturday, February 2nd. Kids will have fun making early Valentines and looking at the world through the eyes of famous artists to create their own works of art.

Getting cabin fever this winter? Bring the kids to learn and explore at the Raven Hill Discovery Center in East Jordan. Nestled in a rural setting with pond, swamp, forest, and fields, Raven Hill is a place where kids of all ages can immerse themselves in a world of hands-on discovery. With topics ranging from science and technology to history and the arts, Raven Hill Discovery Center is a great place to spend the day anytime of the year.

Give your kids a history lesson they don’t know they’re taking with the Mackinac State Historic Parks in both Mackinaw City and on Mackinac Island. From cannon firings to dressing in soldiers’ clothing to a walk through history, kids will learn as much here as they would in a classroom.

Based out of Suttons Bay, the Inland Seas Education Association has two ships that provide STEM+Art hands-on educational programs for youth and adults. In the spring and fall, students learn about the health of the Great Lakes as they become scientists aboard the 77′ schooner Inland Seas. During the summer, both ships provide programs for the public at various ports around the Great Lakes.

The local children’s museum in Marquette offers hands-on exhibits and innovative programs for children and their families. This is one of the many stops you can make during your family vacation to Marquette.