10 Family-Friendly Winter Break Activities in Metro Detroit
| 5 min read
Families itching to get out of the house and capture the holiday spirit this year are in luck. There’s plenty to get into toward the end of December, when some have time off work, and the kids are on winter break from school. Keep this list of 10 ideas handy as you pencil in activities for the holiday season.
Observe Winter Holidays in the D
Between the Christmas tree and the rest of Campus Martius Park’s lighting display, Downtown Detroit is always a treat this time of year. The Menorah in the D was lit on Dec. 7, to observe the first night of Hanukkah and will stand tall in Cadillac Square for eight nights. Then on Dec. 26, the Kwanzaa Kinara will be lit. The 30-foot-tall monument brings a celebration of African American life, community, and culture together at Campus Martius Park.
Monroe Street Midway
Open now through Jan. 7, 2024, both new and returning displays highlight Monroe Street Midway this year. Experience a world of winter fun with an 80-foot arctic sled ride, bumper cars, a winter edition of putt-putt played with a hockey stick and a puck, new larger-than-life original murals, interactive art displays and more. Plus, enjoy photos with Santa and brunch with Santa on the weekends through Dec. 23.
Light shows in and around Detroit
Let there be light! Detroit and its beautiful surrounding cities and suburbs never disappoint with seasonal light shows. Here are a few to keep tabs on:
- Wayne County Lightfest in Westland.
- Northern Lights at Beacon Park.
- Magic of Lights at the Pine Knob Music Theatre.
- Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo.
- Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village.
For more a extensive list of drive-through and walk-through light displays, read this from A Healthier Michigan: Michigan Bucket List: Christmas Light Displays
LEGOLAND Holiday “Bricktacular” in Auburn Hills
Bring the family out to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Michigan between Dec. 1 and Dec. 26 for a kid-friendly holiday event. Already the ultimate indoor LEGO® playground in Michigan decked out in Detroit-area landmarks made from millions of LEGO bricks, the center gets a festive holiday makeover every year. Kids can build Santa’s sleigh and race against friends and family on LEGO zip lines, snap a selfie in the life-size LEGO sleigh and LEGO Santa and so much more. Tickets start at $19.99. The event can be visited daily between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Ford House Holiday events in Grosse Pointe Shores
Month-long tours, walkthroughs and Santa Claus meet-and-greets are on the agenda at the historic Ford House this year. The Home for the Holidays event allows guests to enjoy a beautifully lit evening walk throughout the historic estate, including a self-guided tour of the Main Residence’s first floor. Separate events include Cookies with Santa, Breakfast with Santa, an Accessible Holiday Tour and more. Visit the Ford House events page for more information.
A Holiday to Remember in Downtown Northville
The Northville Downtown Development Authority is excited to bring back “A Holiday to Remember” Dec. 16 and 23. The family-friendly event features holiday music, Santa visits, free horse and wagon rides and more. Shop, dine and enjoy the city’s Social District Holiday as you celebrate the season in Downtown Northville.
- The Rink at Campus Martius, Detroit.
- The Riley Park Ice Rink, Farmington (includes a New Year’s Even “Harry Potter and the Bicentennial Skate” event this year).
- Arctic Coliseum Public Skate, Chelsea.
- Ann Arbor Ice Cube, Ann Arbor.
- Garden City Ice Arena, Garden City (includes a “Skate with Santa” event on Dec. 10).
Holiday Theater and concerts
- Magic School Bus: Lost in the Soler System, Michigan Theater, Dec. 16.
- The Music of The Nutcracker, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Dec. 20.
- Aaron Radatz 2023 Holiday Magic Show, Village Theatre at Cherry Hill, Dec. 21.
- The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays, Fox Theatre Detroit, Dec. 21-23.
- Elf In Concert, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Dec. 22-23.
- Home for the Holidays, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Dec. 15-17.
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra the Ghosts of Christmas Eve, Fox Theatre Detroit, Dec. 23.
Old-Time Christmas events
Santa House and Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides in Downtown Birmingham Shain Park: Birmingham Carriage Rides are offered at Shain Park at the corner of Henrietta and Merrill Street in Downtown Birmingham. Holiday Carriage rides are free and honored on a first-come, first-served basis. Birmingham will also offer Santa House for the on weekends throughout December. Click here for Santa House and carriage ride info and schedules.
Holiday Nights in Greenfield at The Henry Ford Museum: Mingle with merrymakers amid the smells of roasting chestnuts and warming bonfires and the sounds of carolers, fiddlers and bustling yuletide activity at Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village. Celebrated as one of the country’s premier holiday celebrations, Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village has been an annual tradition for nearly 25 years. The final events of the year run between Dec. 27-28. Click here for more info, including ticket availability.
The Detroit Circus on New Year’s Eve
Cap off 2023 with an all-ages, animal-free circus extravaganza! Give the whole family something memorable this New Year’s Eve with an array of showcases that will leave you all on the edge of your seat. The circus will feature high-flying aerial performances, mind-and-spine bending contortion, unicycling, juggling, a host of sizzling fire acts and more. Learn more about the event, parking and tickets at this link.
Photo credit: @simplytiff___ on Instagram