Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center

Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center, Michigan

The Detroit Riverfront continues to grow and add great family-friendly activities, the newest addition is the Outdoor Adventure Center.  The center is a Michigan DNR facility and they spent the last couple years renovating the abandoned Globe Building. The transformation is incredible and another great example of restoring, instead of removing, history. Located at the entrance of the Dequindre Cut the center is perfectly situated for a fun day on the river and a trip up to Eastern Market.

Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center, Michigan

We borrowed our favorite girl for the trip but I was pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of adults decided to check it out even without kids. At $5 admission for adults and $3 for kids 2 and older it’s a great deal and definitely not an activity that will break the bank – pretty rare these days.


The nice thing about the center is that it’s not a museum. I had to remind myself of that because I’m used to going to a museum and since everything is modern I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone where our world was a part of the past. Admittedly, I fear it’s only a matter of time before that is the case but I’m sure we have five years or so. Anyway…. since this is NOT a museum it’s great for kids of all ages because they can touch everything. All of the exhibits are interactive and subtly educational.

Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center, Michigan

A few of the interactive activities were simulated fishing, kayaking, biking, snowmobile riding, ATVing, hunting, camping and more – it’s Pure Michigan abound. I would also say that even though there was a nice crowd it wasn’t crowded and everything moved quickly so you weren’t waiting in long lines and could easily jump from one machine to the next.

Smokey the Bear, Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center, Michigan

Everyone’s favorite forest safety ranger is also on hand. Slightly creepy for an adult but Gwen was quite enamored. The background pieces in the picture are a lot cooler: you can climb up and around the big tree in the background, walk across the shaky wood bridge to another platform and get in the floating rescue plane.

The Outdoor Center is exactly the kind of place Detroit needs. There are plenty of grown-up activities in the city but the places for small kids is limiting. Detroit’s long-term success definitely rest on its ability to attract and retain families so I plan to do my part and encourage as many parents as I can to take their kids to check it out. Great news is there is free gated parking!

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