12 Things to Do with Family in Dearborn, Michigan

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Dearborn, Michigan is a charming city located just outside of Detroit that offers families many great things to see and do. From world-renowned museums and hidden local gems to outdoor recreation and beloved festivals, Dearborn has something for every member of the family to enjoy.

No.ActivityBrief Description
1The Henry Ford MuseumA historical museum showcasing America’s innovation.
2Arab American National MuseumA museum celebrating Arab American heritage.
3University of Michigan-Dearborn Environmental Interpretive CenterAn educational center with nature trails and exhibits.
4Ford Rouge Factory TourA tour of the Ford factory showcasing vehicle assembly.
5Dearborn Hills Golf CourseA golf course offering various recreational activities.
6Detroit ZooA zoo featuring a wide range of animals and exhibits.
7Ford House Historic EstateThe historical estate of Edsel Ford with tours.
8Dearborn Ice Skating CenterA venue offering ice skating and related activities.
9Evergreen Regency and Hecker-Smiley Farmstead MuseumsMuseums depicting life in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
10Dearborn Farmers and Artisans MarketA market with local produce and artisanal goods.
11Dearborn Performing Arts CenterA center hosting various cultural and artistic performances.
12Homecoming and Community EventsSeasonal events featuring community and cultural activities.

Dearborn, Michigan has a long and storied history as the world headquarters of the Ford Motor Company. Although the auto industry remains a pillar of the local economy, the city offers much more for visitors beyond its manufacturing roots. Dearborn has developed into a diverse and dynamic destination where families can learn about the automobile and innovation, experience Arabic and Middle Eastern culture, and explore beautiful parks and recreation.

With so many things to see and do, planning a family trip to Dearborn can feel overwhelming. To help, here are 12 of the top attractions and activities to check out with kids of all ages. From educational exhibits at The Henry Ford to natural wonders at the University of Michigan-Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center, families will find non-stop entertainment and adventure. Read on for the inside scoop on making memories with the family during a visit to Motor City’s more playful suburb.

1. The Henry Ford Museum

Name and Location: The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI

History and Significance: Founded in 1929 by Henry Ford, this iconic museum houses priceless artifacts that chronicle 300 years of American innovation and ingenuity, including the bus Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on.

What to Expect: Visitors can expect an immersive walk through history, with exhibits on Washington’s camp bed, Edison’s Menlo Park lab, the limo JFK rode in, and so much more. Truly highlights key moments and objects that shaped America.

Visitor Information: Open 7 days a week. Check website for hours and pricing. Food court and gift shop on site. Wheelchair accessible.

No trip to Dearborn is complete without a visit to the world-famous Henry Ford Museum. Part of a collection of historical and cultural attractions that make up “The Henry Ford,” this museum transports families back in time as they explore America’s traditions and storied innovation. Immersive exhibits detail seminal moments in United States history including the Industrial Revolution.

Kids can climb aboard iconic trains like the massive Allegheny locomotive, watch Model T cars being assembled, or explore the Rosa Parks bus and more at this interactive museum. Families should plan on spending at least four hours immersed in hands-on history with options to enhance the visit like rides in a Model T or train, 3D movies about innovation, and special exhibits on American innovation.

Make a full day of it by also visiting Greenfield Village next door where the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, and the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law still stand.

2. Arab American National Museum

Name and Location: Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, MI

History and Significance: Opened in 2005, it is the first and only museum devoted to Arab American history and culture. Showcases Arab contributions while promoting cross-cultural understanding.

What to Expect: Permanent and rotating exhibits using artifacts, documents, photos to bring Arab American stories to life. Oral histories, art gallery, artifacts representing 22 Arab countries. Cultural events held often.

Visitor Information: Located in Dearborn’s cultural district. Open Tues-Sat, closed holidays. Check website for hours and admission pricing. Guided tours available. Gift shop onsite.

Dearborn is known as the Arab American capital of the United States thanks to its high concentration of Arabic residents, businesses, culture, and heritage. Families can immerse themselves in this vibrant community at the Arab American National Museum near downtown Dearborn. This history, arts, and culture museum helps visitors learn about the Arab American experience from early 20th century immigration to today.

Younger children will love the hands-on Youth Museum with activities like playing Arab music, “riding” a camel, or digging for artifacts. Meanwhile, informative exhibits detail Arabic traditions, artworks, achievements and more to foster cross-cultural understanding for teens and parents. Don’t miss experiencing a bit of Dearborn’s diversity by grabbing a bite at one of the city’s many excellent Middle Eastern restaurants after visiting this fascinating museum as well.

3. University of Michigan-Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center

Name and Location: University of Michigan-Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center, Dearborn, MI

History and Significance: Opened in 1999, this hands-on museum teaches sustainability through interactive exhibits about regional ecosystems, alternative energy sources, recycling, green technology and more. Great for families.

What to Expect: Visitors of all ages can expect dozens of engaging exhibits fostering appreciation for the environment. Learn how ecosystems connect, human impact, and steps towards sustainability. Fun and educational.

Visitor Information: Free admission. Located on UM-Dearborn’s campus. Open Tues-Sat. Check website for hours. Programs and tours available for schools, youth groups and more.

Nestled along the Rouge River within University of Michigan-Dearborn’s campus lies this hidden gem: the Environmental Interpretive Center (EIC). Perfect for families who love the outdoors, the EIC offers free public access to hiking trails that wind through prairie grasses and towering oak trees along the riverbank. Interactive exhibits inside detail the Rouge River ecosystem and Great Lakes watershed using hands-on education perfect for curious kids.

After learning about topics like water quality, families can embark on a self-guided tour along the rustic trails searching for local wildlife like deer, birds, butterflies, and more. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy along the water or let the kids roam and play within the Center’s grassy “backyard.” Families who want to extend their visit can borrow fishing poles or kayaks from the EIC to enjoy more outdoor recreation opportunities as well.

4. Ford Rouge Factory Tour

Name and Location: Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Dearborn, MI

History and Significance: Get an inside look at Ford’s legendary Rouge manufacturing complex, now modernized as a model of green technology and vertical integration where raw materials transform into F-150 trucks.

What to Expect: This behind-the-scenes walking tour shows the awe-inspiring scale of factory robots, assembly lines and sustainable practices that keep Ford at the forefront of American automaking after over 100 years.

Visitor Information: Free tickets required. Closed-toe shoes mandatory. Tours run daily year-round, about 1.5 hours. Check website for schedules and accessibility options.

No family visit to Dearborn is complete without touring a real-life 21st century assembly plant. Ford’s iconic Rouge complex has produced iconic vehicles like the Ford Mustang and F-150 truck for over 100 years. Today families can get an inside look at the factory’s inner-workings through the Ford Rouge Factory Tour.

This behind-the-scenes walking tour takes visitors right onto factory floors where state-of-the-art assembly lines create the brand’s famous F-150 pickup trucks. See robots and other high-tech manufacturing up close alongside human assembly line workers piecing trucks together before your eyes. With glimpses of molten steel pouring and intricate assembly, kids of all ages will revel in this real-life look at automotive manufacturing magic from start to finish.

5. Dearborn Hills Golf Course

Name and Location: Dearborn Hills Golf Course, Dearborn, MI

History and Significance: Carved from rolling terrain back in 1922, this historic course is considered Michigan’s oldest continuously operating public golf course known for tricky elevation changes and superb conditions across 18 championship holes.

What to Expect: Golfers face strategic bunkering and undulating greens calling for accurate iron play. Carts equipped with GPS outline safest routes across hills. The clubhouse offers full restaurant service with covered patio.

Visitor Information: Located minutes from The Henry Ford campus. Open year-round, weather permitting. Call for tee times up to week in advance. Online rates and season pass info available.

While its manufacturing legacy understandably grabs headlines, Dearborn also overflows with outdoor recreation for active families. At Dearborn Hills Golf Course families can play a round together or visit the on-site 165-foot toboggan run open year-round. This legendary sledding hill sees sledders reach exhilarating speeds topping 35 miles per hour as they whoosh down its icy slope.

When the weather warms up, mini-golf presents a more relaxing alternative perfect for family bonding. Groups can also rent canoes and kayaks during summer to enjoy paddling down the nearby Huron River. With opportunities for sports like disc golf, tennis and hiking along its scenic trails as well, Dearborn Hills become an instant playground for athletic adventurers.

6. Detroit Zoo

Name and Location: Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak, MI

History and Significance: Founded in 1928, America’s third oldest zoo is situated on 125 acres of naturalistic habitats housing over 2,000 exotic animals from amphibians to zebras. Home to renowned Arctic Ring of Life and tiger exhibits.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy traversing themed zones like the Australian Outback Adventure to get eye-level with kangaroos, or Butterfly Garden containing over 1,000 free-flying butterflies each season. Feed a giraffe!

Visitor Information: Located 25 minutes from Dearborn. Open daily with seasonal hours. Check website for ticket rates. Tram tours and rentals available. Dining and shopping on grounds.

No family trip is complete without a visit to see exotic animals from around the globe. The renowned Detroit Zoo sits only around 15 minutes from downtown Dearborn, making it an easy add-on for animal-loving families. Home to more than 2,500 animals of nearly 240 species, highlights here include the Arctic Ring of Life polar bear exhibit and the brand-new Devereaux Tiger Forest habitat.

Kids can ride the unique Wildlife Carousel populated by intricately carved endangered species figures instead of typical horses for a one-of-a-kind keepsake. With special events like sting ray feedings in summer and apple butter-making workshops in fall, the Detroit Zoo offers memorable family fun beyond simply seeing incredible creatures year-round. Don’t forget to refuel with lunch at one of the zoo’s family-friendly cafes after burning energy exploring this massive 125-acre park.

7. Ford House Historic Estate

Name and Location: Ford House Historic Estate, Dearborn, MI

History and Significance: Built 1916-1957 as residence for Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford and his wife Clara, the historic estate along Lake St. Clair allows visitors rare glimpse into personal side of the famous inventor and philanthropist.

What to Expect: Guides lead tours showcasing furnishings, photos and artifacts within the stately main house and surrounding landscape that Henry and Clara cherished, including Model T garages, farms, a lighthouse replica and more.

Visitor Information: Estate located 10 minutes west of The Henry Ford along Lakeshore Drive. Check website for season dates, tour times and admission pricing.

History buffs and design aficionados flock to Ford House Historic Estate, the beautifully preserved lakeside home of iconic automotive pioneer Edsel Ford. The expansive property contains an extravagantly decorated mansion home along with formal gardens, scenic walking trails and more for families to explore.

Inside the home, kids gain insight into 20th-century high society by seeing Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s lavish art and decor. Meanwhile, outdoors, groups can play lawn games on sweeping great lawns or embark on a scavenger hunt for nature sightings along tree-lined trails. Special events like an annual old-fashioned baseball game and outdoor movie nights on the great lawn add to the estate’s family appeal as well. After a day of play, families can dine in the estate’s new restaurant or bring a picnic basket to savour on its verdant grounds.

8. Dearborn Ice Skating Center

Name and Location: Dearborn Ice Skating Center, Dearborn, MI

History and Significance: Opened in 2010 after massive renovation upgraded the dated facility, today it shines as an eight-sheet ice arena able to host skating competitions and championships at all levels with Olympic-size rinks.

What to Expect: Skaters swoop and twirl across pristine ice while families cheer from heated stands. Lessons, open skating sessions, hockey leagues run year-round on these professional ice surfaces maintained daily by a expert crew.

Visitor Information: Located 15 minutes west of Henry Ford campus. Call for public skating schedules and rates on equipment rentals or Ice Box concession stand fare.

For year-round family fun indoors, lace up the skates at Dearborn Ice Skating Center. The city’s beloved indoor rink hosts open skating sessions daily where beginners can learn the ropes and experts alike can perfect triple jumps. Family discounts make admission affordable including skate rentals as well so no need to pack your own blades.

Beyond open skate times, the facility offers group lessons, hockey clinics, mom and tot-focused sessions and more on its Olympic regulation-sized rink surface.

Sky high ceilings mean no shortage of space for tiny tots just finding their ice legs to seasoned skaters keeping skills sharp. Off-ice the rink hosts game rooms, concession stands and skate shops for well-rounded indoor entertainment when the Michigan chill proves too much outside.

9. Evergreen Regency and Hecker-Smiley Farmstead Museums

Name and Location: Evergreen Regency and Hecker-Smiley Farmstead Museums

History and Significance: These two city-run historic buildings transport visitors back to 19th century Dearborn, showcasing furnishings and artifacts from early settlements through the Victorian era into the early 20th century rise of auto manufacturing.

What to Expect: Costumed docents lead tours through the 1836 farmhouse and lavish Italianate mansion relocated next door, containing heirlooms from Dearborn’s pioneering farmers, merchants and prominent industrialist families.

Visitor Information: Located behind Dearborn Administrative Center. Tours available weekends afternoons only. Check City Recreation guide for hours and group reservations.

Immerse the family in 19th and early 20th century life through homestead tours at a pair Dearborn’s living history museums. At Evergreen Regency families explore an 1836 farmhouse fully decorated to reflect life in the mid-1800s before electricity and other modern comforts. Costumed interpreters demonstrate tasks like open hearth cooking, butter churning and tending heritage breeds of livestock.

Meanwhile at Hecker-Smiley Log Cabin kids can play 19th century lawn games or help feed farm animals at this 1831 homestead. Special events like a Civil War Family Day or retro Halloween party transports visitors back in time as well.

Both museums sit adjacent allowing families to easily visit both and compare 19th century farming and homesteading experiences firsthand. Don’t miss their gift shops stocked in 19th century toys and games for nostalgic souvenirs sure to engage kids imagination long after visiting.

10. Dearborn Farmers and Artisans Market

Name and Location: Dearborn Farmers and Artisans Market

History and Significance: Launched in 2006, this producer-only market now hosts over 100 vendors each season supplying southeast Michigan’s finest fruits, vegetables, baked goods, artisanal fare and crafts while fostering food security and entrepreneurship.

What to Expect: Visitors browse colorful tents stocked with just-picked produce, farmstead cheese, spice blends, fresh cut flowers, apothecary items, art and more while supporting the local food economy and small businesses.

Visitor Information: Located west of Henry Ford campus off Michigan Ave. Mid-June through October on Saturdays, 8AM – 2PM. Season highlight is Harvest Festival each September.

On warm weekends the West Downtown Dearborn Farmers and Artisans Market delights foodie families with Michigan-made treats and handcrafted goods. Onsite food trucks and pop-up restaurants offer multicultural bites featuring Dearborn’sArabic fare alongside farm-fresh American classics. After tasting test bites, peruse market stalls overflowing with locally-grown produce, artisanal pantry items and gourmet goodies from spice blends to baked sweets.

Beyond edible delights, a dedicated artisan alley showcases jewellery, pottery, glass art, clothing and more lovingly handmade by Great Lakes State artisans. Grab an iced coffee and stroll while kids make the rounds sampling their way through this diverse al fresco market perfect for an easygoing weekend morning. Don’t forget to grab picnic provisions for lunching along the river or having an impromptu dining picnic anywhere in town.

11. Dearborn Performing Arts Center

Name and Location: Dearborn Performing Arts Center

History and Significance: Opened in 1958 and expanded over time, this cultural mainstay hosts live entertainment spanning Dearborn Civic Symphony concerts, comedy shows and national Broadway touring productions inside the 1,400-seat Michael A. Guido Theater.

What to Expect: Patrons marvel at the soaring lobby and glittering chandeliers before the velvet curtain rises, then applaud world-class symphonic performances or smash hit musicals like Les Miserables gracing the oak-flanked stage.

Visitor Information: Located 15 minutes west of Henry Ford campus. Season runs September through May. Visit website for performance calendar and ticket information.

No matter the season, Dearborn’s stunning Performing Arts Center hosts exhilarating events for families to enjoy indoors year-round. Catch a children’s theatre show like Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live where animatronic dinos take the stage to educate and excite. Later in the evening nationally touring music, comedy and dance acts entertain older family members with rotating performances showcasing diverse talents.

Beyond busy event calendars, the venue’s soaring atrium with suspended glass sculpture installations wows visitors with art even when no performances occur.

Grab dessert next door at City Hall’s Espresso Cafe or take a free behind-the-scenes tour learning about the performing arts world from costume and set design to life backstage. With dynamic performances almost daily, Dearborn’s PAC makes experiencing culture an engaging adventure easily accessible to families.

12. Homecoming and Community Events

Name and Location: Homecoming and Community Events

History and Significance: Dearborn residents show hometown pride across lively festivals and annual events bringing families and friends together in celebration of heritage, culture, innovation and community spirit – quintessential traditions spanning more than a century.

What to Expect: Can’t-miss highlights include Ford Arts, Beats and Eats street fest each Labor Day weekend, or the Memorial Day Parade honoring veterans along Michigan Avenue’s freshly scrubbed storefronts bedecked in red, white and blue.

Visitor Information: Event listings at CityofDearborn.org. Most civic gatherings like summer concert series in Ford Field Park downtown are free to enjoy. Street parking available.

Among the city’s greatest assets: is a packed calendar of special events embracing Dearborn’s community spirit all year long. Annual favourites like Dearborn Homecoming sees families come together honouring traditions through carnival rides and games, nightly fireworks, parades, contests and more. While Homecoming anchors the summer, events like free concerts by the pond, a downtown pub crawl for parents and even Santa arriving by helicopter make every season celebration-worthy.

For easy planning, the City of Dearborn’s events page details upcoming happenings allowing families to join the festivities. From used book sales benefitting the library and sidewalk chalk art contests to races supporting local causes, Dearborn overflows with community camaraderie at events welcoming locals and visitors alike. When it comes to family fun, every day brings community togetherness to enjoy in Dearborn, Michigan.

Final Thoughts

With nonstop options for family fun, Dearborn embodies Midwestern hospitality and offers memorable adventures without leaving town. Whether touring iconic automotive history at The Henry Ford, immersing in Arabic culture at the Arab American Museum or playing your way through a festival calendar stuffed with special events, Dearborn delivers quintessential Americana tailored to family travellers.

Beyond downtown, families find community parks offering ball fields to the town’s cherished ice skating center providing year-round opportunities for play indoors and out.

Of course classic attractions like Ford House and the ever-popular Detroit Zoo sit just minutes outside city limits for families craving even more to experience together as well. At the end of the day families can cosy up in budget-friendly hotels before hitting reset and doing it all over again with 12 can’t miss things offered up in Dearborn perfect for bonding across generations all year long.

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