30+ Best Kid-Friendly & Family-Friendly Events in Jackson MI [in 2020]

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Whether you’re a local or a visitor looking for family-friendly events in Jackson MI, there’s almost always something happening in the city. From sports events to fairs and conventions, there are plenty of kid-friendly and fun events throughout the year. Make sure that your camera is ready!

Family-Friendly Jackson Events in the Spring

Sugaring, Shearing, and Science Festival

Hundreds of kids appear at Ella Sharp Museum every March for the Sugaring, Shearing, and Science Festival. This free, annual event welcomes spring with sap-to-syrup demonstrations and sheep shearing and herding. The children get to pet the animals too.

Fairy Festival

Your kids will love the magic and wonderment of the Fairy Festival in April. With a host of crafts, vendors, and activities, their imaginations will run wild. In fact, there are dancing fairies, carriage rides, and opportunities to meet a Fairy Princess, walk through Mermaid Cove, explore the Fairy Kingdom, and more.

Fairy Festival - one of the best events & festivals in Jackson Michigan
photo via Fairy Festival’s photo gallery

Youth Outdoor Day

Hosted by Trail Life USA Troop 317 in May, Youth Outdoor Day is an outdoor adventure program for boys ages kindergarten through 12th grade. The boys learn skills while participating in a variety of outdoor activities, such as archery, bicycle riding, fly fishing, hiking, rock climbing, and so much more.

Jackson County Museum Day

Across the county, many museums open their doors for free during Jackson County Museum Day in May. Some of them host kid-friendly activities, festivals, demonstrations, and guided tours. Others allow you to walk in and explore on your own. Ella Sharp Museum, Lost Railway Museum, and Waterloo Farm Museum are a few participants.

Jackson Cruise-In

Starting in May, hundreds of classic cars pull onto Michigan Avenue for Jackson Cruise-In each month through September. You and your children can walk among the 200 to 400 vehicles and talk with the owners. There’s also a DJ, contests, giveaways, food vendors, and more.

Downtown Jackson Cruise In - a kid-friendly and family-friendly event in Jackson Michigan
photo via Downtown Jackson on Facebook

Memorial Day Fireworks

At Cascades Park, Jackson County Parks puts on a wonderful Memorial Day fireworks show. Children ages 3 and younger are admitted for free. After the dusk display, your family can hang out for the Grand Light Show. The concession stand, museum, and gift shop will be open as well.

Splash Pad at The Cascades

From Memorial Day until Labor Day, your kids can enjoy the Splash Pad at The Cascades. Located within a fenced-in area, it has more than a dozen water features, including a giant dumping bucket. Admission is free for children ages 3 and younger. Concessions and ice cream are available too.

Cascades Splash Pad - a kid-friendly attraction in Jackson Michigan
photo via Facebook user Krystal A

Best Summer Kid-Friendly Events in Jackson Michigan

Jackson County Rose Festival

Kicking off the summer with excitement, the Jackson County Rose Festival is held every June to celebrate the history and heritage of the city. The Rose Parade, Jackson County Teen USA Pageant, and RoseQueen Pageant are the main events. However, Picnic in the Park at Ella Sharp Park afterward features a range of food vendors and activities, including live music, a petting zoo, a pie-eating contest, and free face painting.

Kids’ Fest

The free Kids’ Fest event is designed to teach kids about various topics while having fun. They learn about art, community, health, nutrition, safety, and more through crafts, games, and hands-on activities. Free lunches are available for children under 18.

Carp Carnival

Children’s eyes light up when they enter the Carp Carnival in June. The event features a petting zoo, a parade, live music, food trucks, and carnival rides. Admission into the festival is free, and you can get wristbands for the carnival rides. Additionally, there are fishing contests for children and adults.

Michigan Center Carp Carnival - one of the best events & festivals in Jackson Michigan
photo via Carp Carnival on Facebook

Nixon Water Park

From June through August, Nixon Water Park is open for getting cooled off on hot summer days. Admission is $4 per person but only $2 per person during certain hours in the evening on most weekdays.

Hanover-Horton 4th of July Celebration

Celebrating the country’s birthday, the Hanover-Horton 4th of July Celebration is held at Heritage Park. You’ll find food vendors, tractor pulls, karaoke, a bounce house, and children’s activities. There’s even a parade, car show, and 3-on-3 basketball tournament. The fireworks start at around dusk.

Hands-On Learning Fair

Your kids can discover the joy of learning during the Hands-On Learning Fair at Northwest Elementary School in July. This event gives children a unique opportunity to explore the arts and technology through demonstrations from nationwide companies and craftsmen. Thanks to local sponsors, there’s no admission or activity fee.

Hot Air Balloon Jubilee

Every July, the Hot Air Balloon Jubilee attracts thousands of people to Ella Sharp Park to see 25 to 30 hot air balloons from across the nation. Along with watching the colorful flights, this free event features rides, craft booths, vendors, a car show, and more.

Hot Air Balloon Jubilee - one of the best events & festival in Jackson MI
Hot Air Balloon Jubilee photo courtesy of PicheaPlace.com

Jackson County Fair

Each August, the Jackson County Fair meets the expectations of children and children at heart. It offers a full week of exciting rides, fun games, and tasty food. There’s also live entertainment every night, livestock demonstrations, and other events.

Childrenz Challenge

For kids ages 4 to 14, the Childrenz Challenge is an obstacle course at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Every August, this fundraiser supports local schools while providing entertainment and fun for families.

Childrenz Challenge at MIS - one of the best events & festivals in Jackson Michigan
photo via Childrenz Challenge on Facebook

MeggaXP Convention

Organized by Michigan’s Entertainment, Gaming, Geek and Arts Experience, the MeggaXP convention is a relatively new event in Jackson. Since 2015, the annual convention has featured animes, comics, card and board games, video game tournaments, guest panels, and artist appearances. You and your kids can dress up along with the many other cosplayers and take photos with your favorite characters.

Best Fall Family Friendly Events in Jackson MI

Labor Day Fireworks

Similar to Memorial Day, Jackson County Parks hosts a Labor Day fireworks show at Cascades Park. It has live music and a Grand Light Show afterward, and food and ice cream are available.

Fireworks at the Cascades - one of the best events & festivals in Jackson Michigan
photo via Cascades fireworks event on Facebook

Michigan Spartan Race

In September, the Spartan Race comes to MIS in Brooklyn. This obstacle course has categories for kids and adults. Children ages 4 to 13 can participate in the kids’ races, which range from ½ mile to 2 miles long.

Freedom Festival & Steam Engine Show

Every September in Tompkins, the Freedom Festival & Steam Engine Show kicks off with a flag-raising ceremony. Then, an array of free activities begin, such as tractor pulls, a car show, and many displays and demonstrations. There’s even a working sawmill, steam engines, a rock crusher, and teeter-totter.

Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm Fall Festival

Celebrating the harvest season, the Fall Festival at Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm offers jam-packed family weekends from September through October. There are wagon rides, a corn maze, a bounce house, pony rides, and a bonfire. You can also go pumpkin picking, watch cider being made, and more.

Fall Festival at Meckley's Flavor Fruit Farm - a kid-friendly and family-friendly event in Jackson Michigan
photo via Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm on Facebook

Jackson StoryFest

Bringing together famous and talented storytellers from across the nation, Jackson StoryFest is a three-day event in October. Storytimes are held throughout Jackson, such as local school campuses, Ella Sharp Museum, Michigan Theatre, and more.

Jackson YMCA Turkey Trot

For a fun Thanksgiving Day activity, join the Jackson YMCA Turkey Trot. There are races for all age levels, including a Kids Run for children that lasts about ½ mile. Adults can participate in the 5K Run/Walk or the 10K Run.

Downtown Jackson Christmas Parade

Since 1990, the Downtown Jackson Christmas Parade has celebrated the coming holiday and brought smiles to children’s faces. The parade features marching bands, floats by local businesses and organizations, and Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Nite Lites

Starting in late November and running through December, MIS in Brooklyn hosts Nite Lites. Along with driving through the animated Christmas display, your kids have the opportunity to see Santa and have their pictures taken with him. There will be train rides and a puppet show too.

Nite Lites - one of the best things to do in Jackson Michigan
Photo via Nite Lites on Facebook

Best Kid-Friendly Jackson Events in the Winter

Walton Annual Holiday Walk Thru

For more winter wonderland fun in December, the Walton Annual Holiday Walk Thru is one of the most kid-friendly events in Jackson Michigan. Hundreds of children are greeted by characters like the Grinch, Cat in the Hat, Disney Princesses, Spiderman, and others. Of course, there’s always Santa, Mrs. Claus, live reindeer, and many elves too. There are also Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, and movies.

MIS Backyard Hockey Tournament

In January, there’s a Backyard Hockey Tournament at MIS in Brooklyn. All ages get to compete in the 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 games. Meanwhile, the fans get to enjoy winter activities, food, and beverages.

Jackson Toy Show

At Jackson Fairgrounds in February, the Jackson Toy Show takes center stage. There are more than 240 tables of toys and collectibles at this convention. You can find everything from movie posters and sports cards to model cars and action figures. It’s a dream come true for children and adults.

More Events and Activities for Kids and Families

These family-friendly events in Jackson MI aren’t the only activities that will keep your kids busy. Here’s a look at some indoor and, weather permitting, outdoor activities for your kids to enjoy.

Fundays Family Fun Cafe

Located in Summit Oaks, Fundays Family Fun Cafe offers great indoor play for kids of all ages. It has a 40-foot, double-decker playground, a special toddler area, and an artist corner.

Fundays Family Fun Cafe - one of the best things to do in Jackson Michigan
Photo via Funday’s on Facebook

Jackson District Library Events

If your kids love a variety of indoor activities, take them to the Jackson District Library. It hosts more than just story readings. Children get to enjoy crafts, Lego contests, movie showings, and book character costume contests.

Imagine Planet

For a free, unique experience with animal ambassadors and chemistry activities and demonstrations, Imagine Planet is the place to go. It has events too, such as snake day, Earth Day at the park, and Earth and space science day.

Parks & Trails for Outdoor Family Fun

When the weather permits, you can take your kids for traditional outdoor fun. Ella Sharp Park, Waterloo Recreation Area, and Clark Lake County Park are a few of the places that have hiking trails and other activities.

There’s more to Jackson, Michigan, than events and festivals. Check out our guides for the best things to do and best restaurants to visit in the city.


There are so many great family-friendly events in Jackson Michigan. To be in the know, sign up for our weekly “what’s happening in Jackson” emails.

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This post was lovingly written and is updated regularly by the team at Join in Jackson!

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