For a family day out or all-ages fun with the grandparents, we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorite family-friendly outings across Northern Michigan, from sailing Grand Traverse Bay to strawberry picking.
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Cozy Up with a Snow Days Day Pass
Dip into the steamy, 94-degree outdoor pool, unwind in the sauna, roast s’mores, play board games by a roaring fire … this all-access pass at Traverse City’s Delamar hotel is delightfully cozy. Daily passes available Sunday through Thursday until March 30.
More on Delamar’s Snow Days Pass: Enjoy an Adult Snow Day at Delamar Traverse City.
Devour Tom’s Mom’s Cookies
This pastel-painted cookie shop with gingerbread trim has been baking up delicious family memories in Harbor Springs since 1985. Work off that sugar buzz at nearby Thorne Swift Nature Preserve’s 1.5-mile trail system (typically open April 15 to November 15).
More on Tom’s Mom’s: The Holiday Magic of Tom’s Mom’s Cookies in Harbor Springs.
Go Strawberry Pickin’
In mid-June, U-Picks and farm stands overflow with plump, juicy berries. Two favorites: Urka Farm in Brethren and Jacob’s Farm in Traverse City (get a pizza afterward from Jacob’s Kitchen).
More on Jacob’s Farm: 100-Year-Old Jacob’s Farm in Traverse City is a Must for Fall Fun.
Make furry friends at Hungry Ducks Farm
Cuddle goats, feed sheep, take a hay ride, spin on the carousel, fish in the trout pond and don’t miss the model trains. And that’s just the start of the fun at this Charlevoix attraction.
More on Hungry Ducks: New Business Highlight: Hungry Ducks Farm in Charlevoix.
Photo by Carly Simpson
Sail Grand Traverse Bay
Two Brothers Sailing offers a private Power Island Cruise that lets you play out your Swiss Family Robinson dreams. Spend five hours with up to six guests sailing crystal clear waters, swimming to shore and exploring the island, and then picnic and relax back on the boat (pack your own food and drinks).
More on East Grand Traverse Bay: How to Play on East & West Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City.
Photo by Gail Snable
Find Hidden Clues … and Your Way Out
At Know Way Out in Petoskey, your group has 60 minutes to escape a meticulously themed room (think medieval castle, spy academy, Bermuda Triangle) by solving puzzles, completing challenges and finding hidden clues. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Yo Ho, Yo Ho—a Pirate’s Life for Me
Join a crew of swashbuckling buccaneers on the pirate ship Good Fortune. Operated by Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Company, it offers passage to or from Mackinac Island along with evening cruises.
Related Page: More Ways to Explore Mackinac Island.
Be a Pinball Wizard
Family-friendly Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City has an impressive lineup of arcade games, including pinball, Skee-Ball and Ms. Pac-Man. Order dill pickle popcorn and a soda from the bar, then play the silver ball. Bonus Points: Bike to the brewery along the Boardman Lake Loop Trail.
Walk an Old-Growth Forest
Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling is home to some of the state’s last old-growth pines. Hike the accessible, paved 1.25-mile Old Growth Forest Trail (stroller and ADA friendly) that’s adjacent to the visitor center. Watch for annual events like maple-syrup tapping and wood-shaving days in July.
More from Hartwick Pines: Let it Glow: Lantern-Lit Snowshoe Hikes at Hartwick Pines State Park.
Meet Real Life Lumberjacks
At Mackinaw City’s Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows, audience members are divided into rival logging camps—the Mill Creek camp versus the Mackinaw City camp—and they cheer wildly as lumberjacks scale cedar poles, race across floating logs and send wood chips flying.
More from Jack Pine: Carrying on the Traditions of Michigan’s Mighty Loggers.
Photo by Dave Weidner
Wander in Wonder
A few area museum exhibits we love: Wonderground and its archaeological dig site at the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum; the giant Lite-Brite board in the interactive Discovery Gallery at Traverse City’s Dennos; the theater stage (lots of costumes and instruments!) at Sandcastles in Ludington.
Kayak the Crystal River
Pretty in every season, but especially fun during October’s salmon run when the river is teeming with large fish heading upstream to spawn. Rentals available at Crystal River Outfitters; the team will drop you off and a two- to three-hour paddle will land you right back at the shop in downtown Glen Arbor.
More from Leelanau County: 3 Family-Friendly Summer Activities: Craft, Paddle & Discover.
Photo by Taylor Brown
Believe in Fairies
Discover Alden’s delightfully mischievous “dinkies” and their eight doors scattered throughout town (more info online at aldenvolunteers.com). Or explore the homes of forest fairies at The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City.
Explore All Alden’s Dinky Doors: Visit These 4 Mysterious & Magical Dinky Doors in Alden & Family Fun: 4 More Magical Dinky Doors Appear in Alden.
Search for Shipwrecks
Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours in Munising take you on a two-hour Lake Superior excursion past sandy beaches, colorful sandstone cliffs, a historic lighthouse, Grand Island and two shipwrecks. Daily from Memorial Weekend until the end of September.
More Upper Peninsula Paddling: Picture-Perfect Paddling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Hop a Ferry to Paradise
Board the Emerald Isle in Charlevoix and fill a weekend on Beaver Island with mountain biking, snorkeling, kayaking and simply sitting ’round a bonfire.