For those who want to put a little learning in the family vacation, or just want a quick shot of high culture while on the road, Michigan museums can be a great place to stop. Check out some of these options!
One of the largest air and space museums in the United States, this Portage museum has a connection with the Smithsonian, and a theme that's hard to beat for kids or anyone else: aircraft. Featuring full aircraft and mock-ups ranging from early-age propeller craft to an SR-71 Blackbird that even the tall can stand comfortably beneath, the Air Zoo also includes exhibits on space, physics, and the dreams of scientists that gave us aeronautics as we know it.
If you've got gamer kids in the house, or if you happen to be one, a trip to Marvin's in Farmington Hills won't go amiss. Focused on arcade machines going back to the earliest days of the arcade, like the gypsy fortune teller, to the very latest in video game. Museum proprietor Marvin Yagoda has even been involved in evaluating arcade-based and similar items for the popular television show "American Pickers," which makes him-and his museum-a great source for the arcade's history.
It's impossible to think about Michigan without thinking about the Great Lakes at some point, and though very few kids have gone around whistling "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," the lakes have been home to plenty of shipwrecks. Paradise's Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum shows off several of these wrecks, including the Edmund Fitzgerald, along with several digital presentation tools for added impact. The Great Lakes' darker side is on clear display here, so it's worth checking out the danger along with the beauty and grandeur.
Science museums often have a little extra edge with the kids because of their interactive nature. With IMAX films, a host of special exhibits including the upcoming "After Dark: Superheroes and Comics" exhibit starting Sept. 15, and the special Spark!Lab, Detroit's Michigan Science Center offers exciting things to do and see for children and adults alike. So consider putting a little learning in that vacation, in a fashion the kids will thank you for.
Considering the name of the museum itself, this Ann Arbor museum is clearly tailor-made for kids. Offering everything from the interactive Creature Feature display-involving getting up close and personal with a huge range of wildlife-to the twice-weekly convocations of the Little Scientist Club, it would be safe to think this is a kids-only option. That just isn't so, as adults-only events like Ciders and Sliders-revealing the science behind hard cider-are also on hand depending on when you go.
About time we got a look at some straight up art, isn't it? But Ann Arbor's University of Michigan Museum of Art has a pretty loose definition of "straight up art," including such things as Japanese folk ceramics and a series of special events called "Nights at the Museum" in which the contact with art starts before you even walk in the museum proper. Several galleries and outdoor sculpture gardens are also on hand to inspire the soul.
Another great unconventional museum choice in Grand Rapids, the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park offers a little something different depending on the time of your visit. Being mainly a garden, arriving in garden season offers visitors access to a range of experiences focused on flowers and gardens. Featuring a campus measuring 158 acres, a single walkthrough can take as long as eight hours. Tram lines are also available for those who want a little less exercise with their museum experience.
Car buffs, you already know that Michigan is the focus of automotive history for the United States and much of the world as a whole. So you're not surprised to hear that the state is home to the biggest car museum in North America: The Gilmore Car Museum. Located in Hickory Corners, this multi-building facility offers an array of exhibits focusing on cars and their unique place in America's history. Home to Donald Gilmore's collector car exhibits and the work of "Kalamazoo's Edison" Jay B. Rhodes, car buffs and those interested in scientific history should be at home here.
Before Michigan was an automotive powerhouse, it was a mining paradise. With iron ore and other minerals routinely pulled from the ground, there was no shortage of industry and noteworthy minerals. That's exactly what the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum in Houghton celebrates, showing off raw minerals like copper and how these minerals are used. Chrysler joined in to help make a permanent exhibit showing how Michigan's minerals made Michigan's cars. For those less interested in minerals, a memorial garden is also on hand.
Detroit's history, for many, is intermingled between cars and squalor. There's another chunk of history that often goes unconsidered, and that's Detroit's musical history. The Motown sound came from Detroit, after all, and that's a lot of history, history chronicled by the Motown Museum. Containing such wholly unique exhibits as the restored apartment of Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. and the original Studio A where a host of Motown legends recorded songs, for those eager for a slice of musical history, it's hard to go far wrong with the Motown Museum.