10 Northern Michigan Kids Activities

Need to get the kids out of the house? Plan a Northern Michigan staycation! Whether you head to the beach or go ice skating, these 10 kids activities from Manistee to Traverse City will be tons of fun for both you and your family.


1. Hike the Sleeping Bear Dunes Climb

This central attraction of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is open 24 hours a day, 365-days a year. And who needs snow to hike up and roll back down? And if it does snow—even a little—know that it doesn’t take more than a nice icy coating to make the dune sled-able.

You’ll need a visitors pass to access the Dune Climb. Purchase it at the Philip A Hart Visitor Center in Empire (231.326.4700) open daily all year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Or purchase your pass online and have it sent to you.

2. Splash Out the Energy

Open swim at the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA or a day pass to the Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark in Boyne Falls may be calling your kids’ names! Let them kick and splash out cooped up energy in the pools day or night.

3. Catch a Matinee Movie

When the weather isn’t cooperating, head to a local theater for an afternoon matinee. Check out showtimes at The Bay Theatre in Suttons Bay, The Garden Theater in Frankfort, and the Cherry Blossom in Traverse City.

4. Learn Something New

Just because school isn’t in session, it doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to learn something new. From sea to sky, children’s museums across Northern Michigan can be educational and fun, come rain, snow, or shine.

5. Flashy Lights of Lazer Tag and Arcade Games

You have to be quick on your feet to survive a game of lazer tag at Lucky Jack’s and Incredible Mo’s in Traverse City, and even quicker with the controls in the arcades at Tucker’s in Northport and Manistee PBX.  

6. Get Crafty

Paint your own pottery at Handz on Art or build a one-of-a-kind DIY terrarium at Darling Botanical Co. These local boutiques are both located with Traverse City’s Warehouse MRKT. Take a look inside with this MyNorth video

7. Ice Skate Indoors

With temperatures not being cool enough to freeze our lakes, we can still skate indoors! Kalkaska’s Kaliseum has open ice skating available for as little as $2.

8. Go Rock Hunting

Who can find the most Petoskey stones? Grab a bucket and hit the shoreline to find out! Rock hunting is a fun outdoor activity for any season. Check out these tips for rock hunting in Northern Michigan before you head out.

9. Explore Michigan Legacy Art Park

Thirty wooded acres sprinkled with 40 larger-than-life sculptures make Michigan Legacy Art Park an amazing (and free!) hike any time of year. Find it on the grounds of Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville.

10. Visit ELF in Traverse City

Traverse City’s newest family-friendly space, ELF, is fun for the whole family. Little ones can frolic in the play structure and older kids can explore the book nook, all while adults enjoy local eats. Learn more about the educational and entertaining hot spot at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons with this MyNorth Media video.

Check out the Northern Michigan Map to Just About Everything Fun for more kids activities!


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