preschool_water_lgParents looking to beat the heat and entertain the kids in southeast Michigan should consider the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Located downtown in a converted brick firehouse building, the interactive museum is over 40,000 square feet and has more than 250 exhibitions for children of all ages.

Divided into nine galleries on four floors, the exhibitions explore subjects ranging from physics to health to nature to mathematics, all with a hands-on approach to learning. My kids (ages 2 and 4) enjoyed the Preschool Gallery in particular, where they could splash and play in water tables and explore a child-sized fire engine.

The museum also has several temporary exhibitions throughout the year; the current Block Party is a favorite of ours, where the kids (and grownups) can build all sorts of creations with hundreds of foam blocks – then knock them down and start all over again.

Admission is free for children under 2; the museum also offers special rates on Thursday evenings in the summer – the $5 After Five program runs every Thursday from June 23-Aug. 25. Visitors pay $5 each for admission to the museum from 5-8 p.m.