Dexter, Michigan is a small village that sits on the banks of the Huron River. Because the town of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan are just minutes away, Dexter gets plenty of visitors. Despite its small population, Dexter has an active downtown area and plenty of local and regional parks providing recreation and learning facilities that are good for kids.
Just a mile outside Dexter, you can take the kids to the Miller-Smith Preserve. The 29-acre preserve has a variety of trails and natural spaces to offer, including wetlands, swamp and oak-hickory forests. Miller-Smith is the perfect place for birdwatching, catching a sight of wildlife and exploring the great outdoors. For a more urban outing, visit the 122-acre Dexter-Huron Metropark to enjoy kayaking and canoeing in the Huron River. The park features hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, a children's play area complete with swings and other playground equipment and even a softball diamond court.
Animals and Nature
The Great Lakes Zoological Society, just eight minutes away in Ann Arbor, is a rescue and education center where kids can learn about conservation, animal care and rescue and pet care. The facility has a number of indoor exhibits, home to giant tortoises, snakes, monitor lizards, spiders and birds. Many of the smaller animals are available for adoption, while others are reintroduced back into the wild. With 50 acres of lush forest, prairies and ponds, The Leslie Science & Nature Center, located 20 minutes away from Dexter in Ann Arbor, offers many options for outdoor exploration. Hikers and campers can get glimpses of the local wildlife, including many mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The center also offers educational programs for kids, where the little ones can learn about science and the environment through puppet shows, songs and nature walks. The Birds of Prey Program features Bald Eagles and many types of owls, falcons and hawks, while the Critter House allows kids to get close to snakes, spiders, turtles and frogs.
Playgrounds and Waterparks
Jungle Java, located in Ann Arbor and about 15 minutes from Dexter, is an indoor play facility for kids ages 10 and younger. This jungle-themed facility allows kids to run freely while parents relax and watch. There's a separate area for toddlers and a snack bar offering healthy choices such as salads and smoothies. Rolling Hills Water Park in Ypsilanti, just 20 minutes away from Dexter, is a great way to beat the heat and have fun with the whole family. Water features include zero-depth pools for the little ones, tube slides and body slides, lazy rivers and water-fountain spraygrounds.
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is located in Ann Arbor, just 20 minutes away from Dexter. Within the museum, there are several different galleries focusing on science and technology, nature, music and mechanics. Children will learn about how the human body works, experiment with how machines, light and optics work. Interactive displays include climbing walls and magnet exhibits. The Chelsea Center for the Arts, located in Chelsea,15 minutes from Dexter, offers a variety of art and music programs for all ages, including a number of visual arts summer camp programs for kids ages 6 and older. Children can get creative with painting, drawing, ceramics, and arts and crafts. The center also offers workshops in music, where kids can learn to play a variety of musical instruments and sing. Parents are invited to join in many cases.
- EWashtenaw: Miller-Smith Preserve
- Pure Michigan: Dexter-Huron Metropark
- MetroParks: Dexter-Huron
- Great Lakes Zoological Society: Conservation and Rescue Center
- Leslie Science and Nature Center: Programs and Events
- Jungle Java Play: Welcome to Ann Arbor Jungle Java
- Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission: Rolling Hills Park
- Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum: Exhibits
- Chelsea Center for the Arts: Classes and Activities
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images