Just north of Wayne State University on Second Avenue is the Detroit Children’s Museum. Previously operated by Detroit Public Schools, it is now part of the Detroit Science Center. Housed in a former Detroit Edison substation, it is the third oldest children’s museum in the country. We parked free in the ajacent lot, upon entering the building the first thing I noticed was the sound of excited children. I was greeted at the desk, “Two” I said, “One adult and one child?” she questioned, “No, two adults” I said. She looked at me kinda strange, I paid her the $8.00 admission for two and off Kris and I went. Children’s museums are not just for children you know, they usually have all kinds of great exhibits, and cool things to see and do. Whether you have kids, grandkids, or no kids at all, the DCM is a fun place to visit!
The museum is two floors, a large dinosaur on a pedestal takes center stage on the main level.This area has a little bit of everything; glass display cabinets take you through a timeline beginning with the Indians, the Jeremiah Hudson Doll House is amazing, this miniature residence is loaded with intricate details, model airplanes and kites are suspended from the ceiling, everything is bright and colorful here. There is also a small planetarium where you can catch a show. The museum is an open space from the floor to second story ceiling; there are things to climb through, giant fish are mounted on the exposed brick walls, they even have a set up of a grocery store where kids can pretend they are the grown ups and shop.
Take the stairs to the second floor and find yourself “Up North’. Tall Evergreens line the walls, here you will find things like snow shoes, and bears, they did a nice job with it! From up here you get a great perspective of the whole place, adults can overlook the main floor. It’s really a nice size, plenty of activities to enjoy and it doesn’t take a whole day to see it. All of the kids we saw were having a good time, oh, and the adults were too!
For lunch we thought we’d try an old stand-by, Majestic Cafe. We have been coming here for years, and always enjoyed it. As of late they have gone through some changes, both menu and decor, so we wanted to check it out. The restaurant is in the old Majestic Theater lobby, the theater is still there,and is used primarily for rock concerts now. Originally built in 1915 and designed by C Howard Crane (think Fox Theater) it was the largest theater in the world at that time built for the purpose of showing movies. In 1934 Woodward was widened, the theater lost 35 feet off the front, so the facade was redesigned in the Art Deco style. Also in the theater complex is the Garden Bowl, built at the same time it is currently the oldest active bowling center in the US .We selected a Tempeh Burger and a salad, while both were quite tasty, the portions were small for the price. The restaurant is modern and attractive inside, works by local artists decorate the walls, large windows face Woodward, and there are tables along the sidewalk if you prefer to eat outdoors.
To complete the afternoon we stopped in at the Guardian Building downtown for a coffee. Enter the respledent Guardian lobby and climb the Italian Travertine marble steps to the promenade level where Rowland Cafe is located. Named for the architect who designed this magnificent Art Deco masterpiece, Wirt Rowland, the cafe serves Italian brand Illy coffee, light lunch, and desserts. Have a seat and take in the beauty that surrounds you; the Monel metal screen that divides the lobby from the promenade level is exquisite, be sure and notice the Tiffany clock. The colors used to paint the Aztec design were the fashion of the late 1920′s, this building was completed in 1929. It is difficult to imagine in this day and age that this building was built as a bank, The Union Trust Company, and that once 80 teller cages lined the walls. The mural of Michigan on the south wall to my knowledge has never been retouched. The giant mitten is adorned with illustrations of Michigan’s major commercial strengths at the time; mining, fishing, finance, and automobile manufacturing. This is a place to come to be completely removed, to take your mind off the everyday. The Guardian, an awe-inspiring “must see” in downtown Detroit. Stop in for a coffee and see for yourself!