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Northern Michigan Vacations: Kids are out of school for the summer. Instead of dreading the seasonal free time, get excited for all the neat interactive museums and activities that you'll get to take the little ones to this summer. Designed for kids, these mindfully planned Traverse City spots are both educational and fun, and you'll undoubtedly avoid the summer couch potato rut.
Take the kids because they’re aching to go, but don’t forget to have some fun yourself. With two 18-hole mini golf courses (voted the best in Michigan by AAA), go-carts, zip-lines, a ropes course and full arcade, there’s no reason the whole family won’t smile. 1710 U.S. 31 N., TRAVERSE CITY, 231.938.9599, PIRATESCOVE.NET.
Great Lakes Children’s Museum
A captivating rainy-day spot to bring young kids, this hands-on venue is equal parts entertainment and education. Children learn all about the magnificent Great Lakes watershed as they pilot freighters, become raindrops in the water cycle, and splash around in the “water table”—a free-flowing water installation that’s the museum’s most popular exhibit. $6 for all day admission; kids under age 2 are free. 13240 S. WEST BAY SHORE DR., TRAVERSE CITY, 231.932.4526, GREATLAKESKIDS.ORG.
Dennos Museum Discovery Gallery
A solid bet for kids of all ages, this permanent gallery at Dennos puts a focus on both the arts and sciences. Highlights include the Laser Harp, Anti-Gravity Mirror, Sound Wall (an interactive sculpture that creates music when you touch it), and the Hubble Space Telescope Theater, which features an ongoing transmission from NASA. 1701 E. FRONT ST., TRAVERSE CITY, 231.995.1055, DENNOSMUSEUM.ORG.
Pebblebrook Fun Park
Another solid choice for an afternoon of mini golf, featuring two 18-hole courses, go-carts, an arcade and a snack bar stocked with Michigan-made Ashby’s Sterling Ice Cream. 2072 U.S. 31 N., TRAVERSE CITY, 231.938.2066, PEBBLEBROOKGOLF.NET.