GLCM Voted Red Hot Best #1!

2015, 2016 and AGAIN in 2017!


Thank you Northern Michigan for voting us the #1 Place to Take the Kids on a Rainy Day!

Of course, the GLCM is also AWESOME on snowy days, and even on nice days too- sometimes you and the kiddos need a break from the sun for a few hours!


More than 10,000 voters from across the state weighed in on 101 things they love about Northern Michigan. Their votes determined over 300 Red Hot Best winners and 700 honorable mentions!


Write-up in SW Michigan Dining!


SW Michigan Dining
Eating out & Entertainment in Kalamazoo and SW Michigan

Our big plans for Saturday in Traverse City was checking in to Great Wolf Lodge.  L couldn’t wait, but we had a few hours between lunch and when we could actually get in.
In past trips up north, we have always found a lighthouse on our second day.  The first year we went, we went out to Mission Point Lighthouse.  Last fall, we headed out to Lealanau State Park to check out the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum.  It was pretty warm for being the  middle of January but we still didn’t want to be out in the cold, so we found something else to do.  A children’s museum.
The Great Lakes Children’s Museum over looks the West Arm of the Grand Traverse Bay in Elmwood Charter Township just outside of Traverse City.  It’s a short drive from downtown north on M-22.  The building is on the Discovery Center – Great Lakes campus in an old boat supply store and repair shop that was donated to the museum in 2006.
We pulled in to the parking lot just before 1:00 on a Saturday afternoon.  The small parking lot seemed pretty empty, but the “open” sign was lit up in the window.

Mini Mac Bridge
The first thing you notice when walking to the building is the replica “Mighty Mac” on the outside of the building. It’s part of the Building Bridges exhibit which would be more fun in the summer time.   L wanted to run across the bridge a few times even though it wasn’t between us and the front door.  We let her because who wouldn’t want to run across that bridge.

There’s a mural on the side of the building that works as the back drop to the bridge.  On the other side of the entry way, the sky is filled with children’s hand prints.

Hands outside

The first thing you come to inside is the small Power of Play gift shop and admission counter.  The price for everyone over the age of one is $7 per person.  B just turned one not too long ago so it cost the four of us $28 to get in and play for a couple of hours.

Power of Play

The museum itself isn’t that big, but they have packed a lot of neat stuff in to the small space.  The first thing we tried to tackle was the water table known as Fluids 101.  We know that B loves splashing in the water and thought he might like that.  He’s still a little too short and not good enough on his feet to stand on a step stool by himself.  We took turns holding him up and splashing water, but he didn’t have much interest.  L was kind of the same way.  She played with me for a while redirecting the water and pushing the boats down the chutes.  She used to love the water tables at children’s museums, but didn’t have much of an interest in this one.  We kept coming back though thinking B would warm up to it.  He did for a while once we showed him the boats and how to move the channels, but he’d play with it for a few minutes then find something else.

Water Table

The big winner for the day for my kids was a slide near the water table.  B liked it for the stairs.  He just wanted to go up and down the stairs.  He wasn’t really into the tubes that connected the stairs to the slide.  I had to go in and fish him out once, but he loved the stairs.  L was having a blast running up the stairs and chasing the other kids to the slide.  This area also has a couple of boats for the kids to play on.


One of them, Row Row Row, is a small row boat with magnetic fishing poles and large stuffed fish with magnets in the noses.  Both kids played with that for a while, but the one L tried to really take control of was the Welcome Too.  I know nothing about boats, but it’s described “as our authentically reproduced, single-masted, gaff-rigged sloop fashioned after “Welcome.”  L called it a “Moana Boat.”  She pulled that sail up and down and pretended she was sailing out in the ocean for as long as we’d let her.


We got both kids over to the other side of the wall for a little while where they have a couple of larger structures dealing with Coast Guard and Great Lakes maritime history.  There’s a replica of a Great Lakes freighter to play on, but the hit on this side for my kids was the Coast Guard Helicopter with a blade you could turn from the inside and the Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters.  The helicopter and lighthouse are constructed so they can be accessed by a single staircase large enough for an adult to climb up.  I chased L up and down the stairs and did my best to keep B out of people’s way as he tried to chase us.  The lighthouse overlooks the whole museum and out in to the bay.  The Keeper’s Quarters are underneath the lighthouse.  There’s dress up clothes, a kitchen, and play area.  B really liked this.  He got to playing with one of the other kids with some of the plastic food.  No one dressed up, but the Quarter’s are just big enough that J and I could duck our heads down and get in there and play with the kids.

Puppet Theatre

My favorite part of the museum is the Lilliputian Puppet Theatre. They have a really cool space set up with a number of different puppets and backdrops.  There’s also a camera pointed at the opening in the theater and a feed of that camera into the “backstage” so you can see what you’re doing without putting your head into the window.   L and I crawled back there to put on a show for B and J.  B loved it.  He was so intrigued by the puppets and kept reaching out to grab them off our hands.  L didn’t quite get the concept of how to do a puppet show, but we did our best to provide a little entertainment.

There are a few more areas that are more on the educational side that I tried to get L interested in, but she’s still at the age where she views it as a play area and not so much a learning area.  Let’s Go Sailing is an area that focuses on the physics of sailing that I found interesting.  There’s also a Living River exhibit near the entrance which is projected on to the floor from the ceiling and actually reacts when you step on it.  There’s a toddler area that’s totally enclosed, but B was not a fan at all.  As soon as we set him down, he was trying to get out.  He really didn’t give it much of a chance though…he just wanted to play on the stairs.

The Great Lakes Children’s Museum was a really good way to spend an afternoon.  It’s not the biggest children’s museum you’ll ever come across but there’s a lot to do and a lot to keep the kids happy.  We’ve driven by this place on the nice sunny days we’ve been in Traverse City in the past, but on a cold winter day, this was perfect for an afternoon before heading to the water park.


Great Lakes Children’s Museum


Thank you SW Michigan Dining! Please come back any time!








Daddy Daughter Sweetheart Dance February 10th!

Daddy Daughter Sweetheart Poster

 The Great Lakes Children’s Museum presents a Daddy Daughter Sweetheart Dance on Friday, February 10th, 2017 to support the hands-on, play-based learning opportunities offered at the Museum. This year’s dazzling evening will be held from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City.


All girls of all ages and her father or father-figure are invited!


Please come out for a few hours of laughter, twirling and FUN! You can register via the Great Lakes Children’s Museum’s website at, or by visiting “upcoming events” on their Facebook page.


Each Daddy and Daughter will receive a professional, commemorative photograph from the event, so be sure to dress to impress! Oh- and of course- tiaras are encouraged!


Snacks and punch will be provided.


In between your time on the dance floor, daughters can visit the art station to create a beautiful, one of a kind frame for their keepsake photograph! 


The atmosphere, family connection and community fellowship are all going to be MAGICAL- and it’s all for a great, local cause.
Proceeds from this special event will help support the long term, strategic vision of the Great Lakes Children’s Museum- and allow it to continue to provide the free and discounted admissions given to some of our community members who need it most -our military, at-risk and lower income families.


Purchasing tickets to the event in advance is appreciated. Tickets are $50 per Daddy and Daughter pair online, and can also be purchased at the door. Each additional daughter is $10.


Sponsorship opportunities to support the event vary, and are welcomed!


For more information, call the Great Lakes Children’s Museum at 231.932.4526 or email


GLCM programs in the news again!

Program celebrates King’s legacy


Peace, science, understanding promoted at Great Lakes Children’s Museum



Peace Day Activity Madison

·         Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael Stump

Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael StumpMadison Harrington, 6, examines the peace symbol she decorated during Peace Day activities in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City. The museum offered activities and readings that highlighted the work of Dr. King, with themes of peace and acceptance.



TRAVERSE CITY — Eight-year-old Yasmin Alfonseca recalled with ease the message behind a book she heard while planted on a colorful, cushy mat at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum.

The book, “It’s Okay to be Different” by Todd Parr, had a fundamental message.

“It’s ok to be different because it doesn’t matter whatever you look like, it matters what’s inside,” Yasmin Alfonseca said.

Yasmin, in third grade at Traverse Heights Elementary School, and her mother, Victoria Alfonseca, attended the museum’s Peace Day celebration to learn about Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the annual holiday celebrating his life as a nonviolent civil rights leader before he was assassinated in 1968.

King wanted to stop the unfair segregation between African Americans and white Americans, Yasmin Alfonseca said. He taught people how to change their communities and the world by organizing, motivating each other and doing what is right.

Yasmin Alfonseca is optimistic that change can still happen — she wants to follow King’s footsteps to band with others to stop the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipelines’ operation under the Straits of Mackinac.

There is a harmony to celebrating both science and peace, Great Lakes Children’s Museum Educator Anne Drake said. She flipped to a page from “The Peace Book,” also by Todd Parr, that read “Peace is keeping the water blue for all the fishes.”

Parr’s works were part of a collection of children’s books about diversity and King’s life from which Drake read during the museum’s Peace Day.

King’s groundbreaking civil rights work is an example of creating peaceful relationships among people, Drake said. His legacy can also show children how their decisions impact other people, animals and the earth. She said early exposure to those principles is important for young children growing up amid so much “craziness.”

“Peace is such a big concept that it embraces science, too,” Drake said.

Children milled about a set of special activities inspired by famous King quotes inside the museum. They decorated bookmarks printed with an excerpt from King’s famous 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech, played with a puppet display and crawled inside a shadowy refrigerator box that showed what a difference is made by even a small beam of light.

Drake’s favorite exhibit was more hands-on — a wheelchair children could practice maneuvering around the museum. The wheelchair was there to help children imagine living with a physical disability and hopefully take away a lesson about respect.

“The next time they see someone in a wheelchair, maybe they’ll be a little kinder or more understanding,” Drake said.

Yasmin Alfonseca took a turn in the wheelchair as she made her way through the Peace Day activities. She and her mother are regulars at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, especially on holidays when school is closed and the pair want to find educational ways to spend their free days.

Peace Day was just what they were looking for. Victoria Alfonseca said it was important to have an event that teaches children to embrace social progress and respect their differences. It’s an especially vital program in Traverse City, a largely homogenous community that is about 95 percent white, according to 2015 census estimates.

“When we’re showing them at an early age, it’s definitely building a good foundation for the future,” Victoria Alfonseca said.



 Spalla and Noelle listen to story

·         Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael Stump

Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael StumpDan Spalla and his daughter Noelle, 3, listen to Volunteer and Events Coordinator Mindy McCutcheon read a book during Peace Day activities.

Willow peace star

·         Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael Stump

Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael StumpWillow Baumann, 3, of Traverse City places a star she decorated during Peace Day activities in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City.






Member Night Jan 20th- this Friday evening!

Dory BabyWe will play the movie “Finding Dory” at 5:30 pm in the Great Lakes Room, and

the uniform for the evening is PAJAMAS! 

(Parents, bring your cameras!)

Children can alternate between watching their favorite parts of the movie, creating Finding Dory- themed crafts, snacking on underwater themed munchies and playing with the Museum exhibits.

For more information please call the Museum at 231-932-4526 or visit the website: .org.

GLCM Member nights are just one way that the Museum says THANK YOU to patrons for being Great Lakes Children’s Museum family members!

Tickets for Member Night are FREE for members and their families!.

ALSO- each member child may bring one non- member guest for FREE to join in on the fun!

Fun, safe family time- be here or be SQUARE!



Need a holiday present idea that isn’t just more STUFF??


Fortunately, we all probably have a little too much stuff these days…  so just what is a good present? What do we all need more of?




Just think- wouldn’t it be nice to drop in to the Great Lakes Children’s Museum with the kiddos while driving by this morning, or that afternoon, for a quick 20- 30 minutes, randomly? No pressure, no buildup, no fussing or getting ready to go on a major outing…


That’s what a museum membership allows people to do! It makes it convenient and EASY to have FUN with kids on the fly!


Don’t have a whole 3-4 hours to spend to get your money’s worth?

Purchase a membership so you can freely come and go anytime!


A Great Lakes Children’s Museum Membership is the gift of hands-on family fun for an entire YEAR- at an extremely reasonable price!Act now– rates increase January 2017!


What’s that, you say? Rates are increasing!?


Current members can act now too to take advantage of our Membership Rate Lock!

Beat the price increase by renewing at the 2016 rate and extending your membership for one year from your current expiration date.

Click HERE to renew!

Thank you for your support!


GLCM and Jet’s Pizza partnership for Toys For Tots!


The Great Lakes Children’s Museum and JET’S PIZZA team up for the Toys For Tots 2016 Annual Holiday Toy Drive!


Donate a toy…Get a FREE JET’S PIZZA! We are still collecting and giving out free pizza coupons through the 23rd of December so please come on in and bring a toy!

Please visit us at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum to donate a brand-new, unwrapped toy. (Located at 13240 S. West Bay Shore Dr.) All toys purchased from the newly updated Power of Play Museum Store receive a 10% discount on toys donated directly to the Toys For Tots box. The first 500 people to donate a toy will receive a coupon for a free Jet’s Pizza!


Executive Director Mike Long says, “We are extremely excited about partnering with Jet’s Pizza. Jet’s has been a longtime supporter of our community, and we truly appreciate that they chose the Great Lakes Children’s Museum to team up with in support of Toys For Tots. Over the last two years, we have restructured and revamped almost everything about the Museum, including our Power of Play Store, and if you haven’t been here in a while- you haven’t seen The Great Lakes Children’s Museum! Please come in, bring a toy and check it out.”


Your generous donations will bring smiles to the faces of many children this holiday season! Please call the Great Lakes Children’s Museum at 231-932-4526 or email for more information or with any questions. Thank you for your support!




Local Artist Kat Brown in Museum November 5th!


Be sure to come in from 10:00am to 1:00pm this Saturday to dance and PLAY with local children’s dance and activity leader Kat Brown!


For more info, check out the event on Facebook here:


Or call the Museum for more info!

Member Night in the Great Lakes Children’s Museum!

Member Night in the Great Lakes Children’s Museum


Gear up for family fun during The Thrillin’ and Chillin’ Halloween Member’s Night at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum on Friday, October 28th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.


GLCM Member nights are just one way that the Museum says THANK YOU to patrons for being Great Lakes Children’s Museum family members! Tonight’s activities include “Pop Goes the Pumpkin!” (a Martha Stewart original), “The Pumpkin Seed Slime-Off”, “Pound the Pumpkin”, Creepy Crafts and lots of other NON-frightening fun!


(Parents, bring your cameras!) There will be freaky fun, ghostly games, cider and spooky snacks for everyone in the Great Lakes Room.

Tickets for Member Night are FREE for members and their families.

New this year- each member child may bring one non- member guest for FREE to join in on the fun!

Fun, family time- be here or be SQUARE!

Executive Director Mike Long says, “We are hoping that families will take this opportunity to bring a “play date” to the Museum and have their own, free, after hours party. We envision these evenings as a way for families and friends to add an easy, enjoyable activity into their busy schedules.”


Exploring Traverse City with Kids

Exploring Traverse City with Kids

*A HUGE thank you to Say-n-Play Columbus for visiting and highlighting Traverse City’s own Great Lakes Children’s Museum!*

October 6, 2016

Located on Lake Michigan, Traverse City is the “Cherry Capital of the World” and a wonderful place for a weekend trip in the fall for any family. We had heard so many wonderful things about Northern Michigan that we decided to hit the road to check it out for ourselves. In one weekend, we fell in love with the city and it’s residents! The people were refreshingly friendly, the scenery was breathtaking and we never had to search far for a good meal. Read on to see how we spent a fall weekend exploring Traverse City, Michigan, with our 14-month-old daughter.

Where to Stay

The Sugar Beach Resort Hotel – Located on East Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan. The highlights of this resort are the room size, complimentary breakfast, an indoor swimming pool and, of course, the beautiful sandy beaches. We arrived after sunset, in the rain, and didn’t know what to expect from our location. We woke to find this view right outside the hotel.

The staff at the resort were all incredibly welcoming and helpful in answering any questions we had. The resort was well maintained and clean. We felt completely at home at The Sugar Beach Resort Hotel. Although, we were there for only a weekend on this trip, I could easily see us spending an entire week there in the future.


The suites are so spacious! Along with a dining and seating area, our suite had a separate bedroom with double doors where we could put our daughter down in her portable crib for bedtime. When we arrived at the Sugar Beach Resort, it was too late to explore downtown, but with the separate rooms, my husband and I were able to order in food and unwind together while our daughter was sleeping soundly in the other bedroom. Generally, when it comes to hotel living, we often spend our evenings clumsily tip-toeing around the room in the dark after our daughter goes down for the night…This was a welcome change!


The resort is a 10-minute drive from downtown Traverse City. Given the location, the amenities, and the room size, this resort was an ideal home base for us.

Baby girl loved the room, too. She had plenty of space to explore and wear out her tiny legs.

The Highlights

The Great Lakes Children’s Museum – A hands-on interactive environment designed for children ages 1 to 10. Admission is $7 per person (children under 1 year-old are free) and is valid all day.

kneeling-girllighthouse map-girl water-table-girl

We were the first ones in the door when the museum opened at 10 a.m. We had the whole museum to ourselves for a while! Our first stop was the Great Lakes Room. This is a play space near the museum entrance and separate from the main exhibits. On the day we visited, the room was set up with interactive stations designed for a variety of ages (building blocks, interactive books, etc.). My girl spent most of her time between the alphabet letter board (pictured below), sensory bins filled with uncooked rice and noodles, and boxes filled with noise-making toy birds and bugs.

Overall, we spent an hour and a half exploring the museum. The museum itself is the perfect size for little ones. Not too small that their done exploring in 2o minutes, but not so big that your little one can’t explore it all before they’re tuckered out. Each corner offers something for your child to see or touch. There was so much for my girl to take in she was constantly on the move to see it all. Baby girl loved the water feature and the interactive map of the Great Lakes (pictured below).


Downtown Traverse City – Take the time to wander up and down the main strip. There are toy stores, clothing stores, and bookstores to explore…and so many treats to taste! My girl loved taking in the sights, waving to people on the street and reaching for items she wanted to buy. We were so struck by the friendliness of everyone. We were greeted up and down the street and in every store with smiling faces and warm hellos.


Mission Point Lighthouse – Located at the end of the Old Mission Peninsula north of Traverse City. The lighthouse is a 30-minutes drive from downtown Traverse City, but well worth the trip. The picturesque drive on State Route 37 takes you past cherry orchards and vineyards. The lighthouse is open daily for self-guided tours from May-October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the rest of the park is open daily from dawn to dusk.

We arrived after 5 p.m., so an inside tour of the lighthouse wasn’t on the agenda for us. We walked around the lighthouse and then made our way down to the beach. The beach itself was worth the drive! Crystal clear water and some of the softest sand imaginable. My girl’s favorite part was swinging on the swings we found that overlooked the lake and playing in the sand.

City Playgrounds – There are several playgrounds scattered throughout Traverse City. A complete list can be found here. Being a new walker, my girl needed some time to move on her own on a manageable surface. She loved the freedom she had while at the playground. The rubberized surface on the ground gave us some peace of mind as she walked (and fell…and fell, again) around the playground. Many of the playgrounds over look Lake Michigan, which serves as a beautiful backdrop for any little one’s adventure.


Sleeping Bear Dunes – Located in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, approximately 30 minutes west of Traverse City. The park offers a variety of ways to access the dunes, including dune climbs, a scenic drive, and hiking trails.

The thought of a strenuous hike with a 14-month-old seemed daunting, so we opted to take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The scenic drive is a 7.4 mile loop with 12 marked points that allow you to park your car and explore.

These are the stops you shouldn’t miss:

#2 Glen Lake – There is no parking lot at this stop, just a pull off point. But once out of the car, you are treated to this spectacular view.

#3 Dune Overlook – A very short walk from the car to the overlook. A beautiful stop.


#9 Lake Michigan Overlook – It is a short walk from the car to the Lake Michigan Overlook. Then, there is then a short path uphill to stop #10, Sleeping Bear Dune Overlook. It is well worth the stop for the views! Baby girl’s favorite part was playing in the sand. Both stops offer breath-taking views of Lake Michigan. Honestly, the photos don’t even do it justice!


Where to Eat

Grand Traverse Pie Company – The perfect stop to refuel at lunchtime. There is a kids menu and a variety of options to choose from for adults (sandwiches, soups, salads, etc.). Make sure you save room for a slice of pie at dessert! There are tons of options from which to choose. We recommend any pie that includes cherries (you are in the “Cherry Capital of the World,” after all). Baby girl recommends the blueberry applesauce!


The Filling Station Microbrewery – A wonderful spot for dinner for both children and adults. This microbrewery is located in an old train depot and offers a list of craft beers, food, indoor/outdoor seating, live music and activities for children.

Upon our arrival, the waitstaff was extremely helpful directing us in how and what to order (it’s all done at the bar and delivered to your table). The staff was warm and inviting. They had great suggestions on food and drink pairings, and took the time to ask questions to better understand our personal tastes. They also helped us locate a high chair, which made dining on the patio much easier for our family.

My husband and I split a fresh garden salad and wood-fired pizza. After a full day of site-seeing, both were delicious and hit the spot. My beer geek husband even approved of the in-house microbrews in his sampler! After enjoying our meal (we were pleasantly surprised at how quickly it arrived, despite a large weekend crowd), we walked across the tracks to a children’s garden. This gave our girl a chance to move on her own after being strapped in a high chair during dinner. Baby girl loved exploring the wooden train (pictured below).


Cherry Republic – The world’s largest exclusive retailer of cherry food creations. We didn’t realize until we arrived to Traverse City that more than half of the nation’s cherries are grown in Northern Michigan. Cherry Republic is a shrine to Northern Michigan’s the cherry growing glory!

Upon entering, we found samples located throughout the store. We tasted chocolate covered cherries, cherry salsa, cherry barbecue sauce and dried cherries. This is literally only a small example of the cherry food items in the store. You could spend hours in this store and find dozens upon dozens of cherry items. The store offers a retail area, a wine bar, a cafe and children’s play space. We highly recommend the cherry salsa and may be traveling back to Traverse City just to restock! Baby girl highly recommends the dried cherries.

That’sa Pizza – When we arrived in Traverse City on the first night, it was just in time for baby girl’s bedtime. We were hungry, tired and hoping to unwind. After speaking with the front desk, we were informed that That’sa Pizza delivered to the resort. The pizza was delicious and the salad was made with fresh vegetables. It was reasonably priced and arrived quickly. If you’re looking to eat in, this checks all the boxes.

Until next time – A huge Thank You to Sugar Beach Grand Resort for hosting our stay in Traverse City, Michigan, and to Traverse City Tourism for coordinating our visit. We truly had a wonderful time and fell in love with this beautiful and inviting city!

We couldn’t possibly visit all that Traverse City had to offer in one weekend and hope to return to explore further. Please, leave a comment and share your favorite spots for next time we visit!

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