Detroit is a family-friendly place, but not enough people know it.
So says Kerry Doman, who has just launched a new project called LittleGuide Detroit, which lets parents know about the kid-friendly things going on in metro Detroit.
The idea stems from her own experience as a new mom to a now 18-month-old. Doman has lived downtown for years and is the founder of After5 Detroit, a website for young professionals that highlights where to eat, drink and play in Detroit, but she knew little about what the city offers for families. She looked for a place that listed baby classes, events and other things her little guy would enjoy. There was none.
So this serial entrepreneur created LittleGuide Detroit, a one-stop-shop that highlights what’s cool for little people to do with their parents, and grandparents, in the region.
“I wanted to address the issue for new parents … what do I do with them now?” she says, referring to finding activities for little people when they start walking, talking and their growing curiosity and energy level gets them into just about everything.
“I wanted to create a positive, great experience for him that was also fun for us,” says Doman, who laughs and says she used to be younger, cooler and able to stay out past 11 at night.
It’s true that many in Doman’s generation are having their children older and are used to a busy lifestyle that included all the things After5 Detroit highlighted. When the kids come along they want to know how to give their kids the best life experiences.
“Older parents is one reason why (LittleGuide Detroit) is so needed,” she says. “They have a busy life style and want to fit their kids into that life style but it is hard to know what a museum is doing, and so on.”
Unfortunately, many of those parents aren’t aware of all that is available in metro Detroit. For example, downtown there’s the splash pad on the riverfront at Mt. Elliott, the aquarium on Belle Isle, skating at The Rink at Campus Martius, the MSU Community School-Detroit, the Puppet Theatre and more.
Downtown is great, but the LittleGuide doesn’t stop there. It lists kid-friendly events throughout Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties. There’s the Grosse Pointe Music Academy and a Robot Garage in Grosse Pointe plus one in Rochester. Further out, there’s the Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music in Royal Oak, Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township, and the Ford Drive-in in Dearborn (yes, there is still a drive-in in metro Detroit).
And, for course, there’s the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak.
The list goes on, and on.
LittleGuide Detroit also tells people where to park and gives restaurant suggestions. “We want to offer the whole experience,” Doman says.
She points out it’s not all about bringing people downtown. It’s about making sure those living in suburbs know they have kid-friendly options throughout metro Detroit, and making it easy for them to find them.
“We need to showcase this place as a number one location for families,” Doman says.
That, she says, could help attract more businesses to the region. She points out one of the reasons Detroit lost its bid for Amazon’s new headquarters could be because the city is not viewed as family-friendly. She hopes LittleGuide Detroit will help change that.
There are other issues, however. Educating children is one.
Keeping young people downtown or in the neighborhoods when the kids come along and they head off to school drives some families to the suburbs. Many are leery of sending their child to a Detroit public school and the cost of a private school is often simply too much. That’s especially true now that the cost living downtown has escalated.
“We all got a little spoiled,” says Doman. “You can’t buy a condo for $20,000 anymore – or a house for $1. Those days are gone and we have to get over that.”
The goal, she says, is to be part of the plans to improve the Detroit public schools.
With After5 Detroit, and its Connect After 5 and the After 5 Intern programs, she has worked hard to get young people to come downtown to live, work and play. Now the goal is keep them in the downtown and the neighborhoods, as well as in the region.
“We need to sell and fill the pipeline,” she says. “We need to attract more people to downtown Detroit.”
LittleGuide Detroit is aimed at doing that, but not just to get them to live there. The idea is to bring more young families downtown to play with their kids, and also position metro Detroit as a family-friendly place to live, work and play.
There’s work to be done. Besides improving the schools, downtown Detroit still needs a few things to make it a family-friendly place to live such as a big hardware store and a furniture store. As for Doman … “I want a Target.”
For those of you who are parents or grandparents, LittleGuide Detroit shares these things to do with kids this month:
March 13 – 18
@ Fisher Theatre
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA is the Tony Award®– winning Broadway musical that’s delighting audiences with its contemporary take on the classic tale.
Thursday, March 15 / Show Times: 9:30am & 12:00pm
@ Macomb Center for the Performing Arts
Go, Dog. Go! brings the adventures of P.D. Eastman’s book to life in a frolicking musical dog party.
Friday, March 16 / 6:30pm – 8:00pm
@ Goldfish Swim School, Birmingham
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a family with a swim at the Goldfish Swim School!
Friday, March 16 / 6:00pm – 8:30pm
@ The Robot Garage: Birmingham, Rochester & Grosse Pointe locations
Register to bring your kids to The Robot Garage for a Kid’s Night Out. Our amazing staff will lead LEGO and robotic activities for ages K-8.
Saturday, March 17 / 1:00pm – 5:00pm
@ Beacon Park, Detroit
Celebrate inside the 10,000 sq. ft. heated tent with face painting, lawn games, Irish dancing, and St. Patrick’s Day-themed make and take crafts.
Sunday, March 18 / 12:00pm – 3:30pm
@ Berman Center for Performing Arts, Bloomfield Township
Hanna is a fantastical, interactive musical for children about the magic of a good deed.
Sunday, March 18 & Monday, March 19
@ Music Hall Center, Detroit
In this live production, the eager Little Nutbrown Hare and his story comes to life before your eyes!
Saturday, March 24 / 10:00am – 11:00am
@ Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Uncle Gerry and friends from the world-renowned Music Together® program lead a fun-filled and interactive concert of classic children’s songs. Let’s sing, dance, learn, and make music together!
Saturday, March 24 / 1:00pm – 4:00pm
@ The Community House, Birmingham
This hands-on class will allow the kids to experience the pleasure associated with baking and sharing their very own fresh homemade cupcakes, icing and decorating cakes like a pro.
Saturday, March 24 / 7:00pm – 9:00pm
@ Royal Oak Music Theatre
Get yourself out of the house, for once, and join comedians Shayna Ferm and Tracey Tee to laugh – hard – about all the things that usually make you cry.
Sunday, March 25 / 2:00pm – 3:30pm
@ Music Hall, Detroit
Five jungle friends, including an elephant, a snake, a bird, a monkey and the one and only turtle, answer some of life’s most important questions like, how do you measure a snake?
Friday, March 30 & Saturday, March 31
@ Fox Theatre
The beloved musical story of Maria and the von Trapp Family will once again thrill audiences with its Tony®, Grammy® and Academy Award®–winning Best Score
Friday, March 30 / 6:00pm – 9:00pm
@ Royal Oak Music Theatre
Go! Go! Power Rangers! Power Rangers, the global pop culture phenomenon, is celebrating 25 morphinomenal years and is heading to a city near you with the awesome martial arts spectacular, Power Rangers Live!
CLICK HERE FOR MORE EVENTS THIS MONTH