Nestled in the Upper Midwest, Detroit is the largest city in Michigan. Nicknamed the Motor City, this bustling metropolis is famous for cars, Motown Records, and its lively arts and restaurant culture. On the art front, it’s particularly known for its murals by renowned artist Diego Rivera which showcase the city’s varied industrial history.
As far as cities go, especially in the Midwest, Detroit still has a ways to go before it breaks free from its stereotypes around poverty and violence. Even so, it deserves to be thought of as a place to go. All the times I’ve been there, I have never felt unsafe. There are so many gems here just waiting to be rediscovered.
You never have to look far to find a plethora of things to do in Detroit. Whether you’re spending the day ogling the auto industry at the Henry Ford Museum or learning at the Michigan Science Center, getting wild at the Detroit Zoo, or exploring the numerous other Detroit attractions, you too will learn to appreciate this deeply undervalued Midwestern city.
- Most significant landmark — The Guardian Building
- Best park — Belle Isle Park
- Best free activity — Detroit Institute of Arts
- Best activity for kids — Detroit Zoo
- Best activity for adults — Fox Theatre
- Best all-around accommodation — The Henry, Autograph Collection
Fun & Best Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan
1. Visit the Motown Museum
Address: 2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208, USA
One of the things that put Detroit on the musical map was Motown Records which was founded in 1958. This was the first recording studio in Detroit, and now you can take a tour of the home that was purchased by founder Berry Gordy that later became Motown Museum. Nicknamed “Hitsville USA,” Gordy purchased this home back in 1959, and it’s become one of the top Detroit attractions.
Gordy’s sister transformed the home into the Motown Museum in 1985. As you walk through the house, you can see Studio A, where many hits were recorded before the label moved its headquarters to Los Angeles in the 1970s.
The Motown Museum, rightly, is chock-full of Motown memorabilia and artifacts. You can choose a self-guided tour, but it’s highly recommended you take a guided tour. That way, you can see all the exhibits and listen to an expert tour guide.
See Related: Chicago vs Detroit: What’s Better to Visit?
2. Walk Along the Detroit Riverwalk
Address: 600 Renaissance Center #1720, Detroit, MI 48243
The Detroit Riverfront (also referred to as the Detroit Riverwalk) is one of our favorite free things to do in Detroit. It is watched over by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. While nothing beats walking along the Detroit Riverwalk in the sunshine, the area offers activities for people, regardless of the season.
Running along the Detroit River from Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle, the Detroit Riverwalk extends for about 5.5 miles one way. This makes it perfect for seeing the beautiful Detroit River, the city, and even glimpses of Canada.
During the warmer months, you’ll find carousels, beautiful flowers, and places to spot and exercise along the Detroit Riverwalk. There are stands with hot chocolate, hot coffee, and firepits nearby to warm up your chilly spirit.
See Related: Things to Do in Michigan & Best Places to Visit
3. Catch a Game at Comerica Park
Address: 2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Whether you’re a Detroit Tigers fan or not, visiting Comerica Park is an experience worth having. This stunning open-air baseball stadium is fun and offers great views of downtown Detroit while you watch the baseball game.
You have food and drink options while at Comerica Park — because one of the best things about baseball games is the snacks. Grab yourself some classic baseball eats like hotdogs, burgers, fries, and Cracker Jacks. For those over 21, there are also many places to grab a beer or another adult beverage of your choice.
If you’re traveling with kids, there’s a carousel in the middle of the food court that they can ride. Even if America’s favorite pastime isn’t yours, seeing a baseball game is a quintessential way to spend a day in the city of the Detroit Tigers.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in the Midwest
4. Tour the Detroit Historical Museum
Address: 5401 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
You’ll find the Detroit Historical Museum in Midtown. As you wander through the halls of this museum, which first opened in 1928, you’ll get a glimpse at how the city became an industrial powerhouse.
A popular signature exhibit here is the Motor City exhibition entitled American Motor City, an excellent overview for first-time Detroit visitors to get a better understanding of how this city operated in the past. It showcases artifacts and replicas of how cars were some of the building blocks for Motor City.
Other permanent exhibits are the museum’s Doorway to Freedom and Frontiers to Factories. The Doorway to Freedom exhibits examines Detroit’s role in the Underground Railroad and how Detroit helped slaves to freedom. Whereas Frontiers to Factories shows the city’s evolution from 1701 to 1901.
See Related: Fun and Best Things to Do in Troy, Michigan
5. Admire the Wildlife at the Detroit Zoo
Visiting zoos is always fun, regardless of your age, and this is one of the top Detroit attractions. Personally, it’s one of my favorite things to do in different cities because it’s fun to see how each zoo is laid out and how the critters are integrated into the location. In 1928, the same year the historic museum opened, the zoo opened its doors as well.
Since then, the Detroit Zoo has grown to house over 3,300 animals across more than 245 different species. These critters include kangaroos, gorillas, penguins, bison, camels, polar bears, and so much more.
If you need a break from all the excitement that animals bring, there’s a carousel, a playground for kids, a 4D theater with regular showings throughout the day, and areas where you can grab a bite to eat.
Should you be interested in staying closer to the zoo, the Hyatt Place Detroit/Royal Oak is an excellent choice. It’s only a few minutes from the zoo, and it’s pet-friendly to make your Detroit trip even more animal-centric. Plus, the Royal Oak area is a gorgeous place to just look at houses too.
See Related: Best Resorts & Hotels With Animals On-Site
6. Eat a Coney Hot Dog
Address: 114 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
The origins of a Coney Hot Dog are hotly debated. Some say it comes from Coney Island in New York, but Midwesterners and Michiganders know that they were born in the Mitten State. Though the real debate is about which of the Michigan eateries actually invented the Coney: American Coney Island in Detroit, Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit, or Todoroff’s Original Coney Island in Jackson.
That’s why trying a Coney dog here is so popular among visitors. To try one of the most iconic Coney dogs in the Detroit area, you need to head to American Coney Island. This family-owned and operated hotdog restaurant may be the oldest operating business in downtown Detroit where it has been open since 1917.
If you’re not familiar with a Coney dog, don’t worry, I wasn’t either! A Coney is a beef frankfurter in a soft, steamed bun. The dog is then topped with an all-meat chili, white onions, and yellow mustard. This is a must for any foodie Detroit itinerary.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Grand Rapids, Michigan
7. Visit the Automotive Hall of Fame
Address: 21400 Oakwood St, Dearborn, MI 48124
Detroit is famous for cars, largely because of the famous Detroiter Henry Ford. So spending a few hours at the Automotive Hall of Fame is a unique experience that you can’t do anywhere else. Even if you’re not obsessed with cars, this attraction is one of the musts for things to do in Detroit.
As you walk through the Automotive Hall of Fame, you’ll see important people and milestones in the automotive world since 1939. Some Hall of Famers include the founders of car brands like Bugatti, Buick, Porsche, and the man himself, Henry Ford. You’ll also be able to see the hall’s impressive collection of cars throughout the years that are in pristine condition.
Besides looking at all the vintage cars, you’ll learn about our daily connection with vehicles. They’re open year-round, so it’s the perfect Michigan museum stop regardless of what time of year you go. The hours vary by season, so be sure to check their website for hours.
If you’re eager to carry the car theme through your whole Detroit trip, why not stay at The Henry? This gorgeous hotel, an homage to Henry Ford himself, is a chic, modern hotel perfectly positioned for all of your area adventures. The Hall of Fame is a few minutes away, as is the Detroit Institute of Arts.
See Related: Best Road Trips in the USA
8. Spend Time at Campus Martius Park
Address: 800 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
In the heart of Detroit sits the beautiful Campus Martius Park. This unique city park is highlighted by the Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, which was erected following the Civil War.
Since it’s open year-round, the park caters to activities through the seasons. When it’s warm out, you’ll see people lounging in chairs or towels in the sandy area. But when winter rolls around, the park comes to life with holiday lights. Then the park’s star becomes the ice skating rink which is a great way to get in the holiday spirit and experience Detroit in a new way.
One of the best parts about this park is that you don’t need to do anything fancy to enjoy just being there. There are often food trucks posted nearby where you can grab a bite to eat and then take a seat at any of the benches to enjoy the fresh air and a great meal.
See Related: Best National Parks in the USA to Visit
9. Try Local Beers at Motor City Brewing Works
Address: 470 W Canfield St, Detroit, MI 48201
Chances are you don’t think of brewery touring as one of the popular things to do in Detroit, but there is a strong craft beer scene here. One of the city’s most popular craft breweries is Motor City Brewing Works. There are multiple other breweries in the city worth checking out, too, like B. Nektar Meadery. As someone who doesn’t drink beer, B. Nektar’s fruity meads are much more my speed.
Motor City Brewing is one of the oldest craft breweries in Detroit, as they opened back in 1994 and have since become a staple brewery in the city. You’ll find the brewery at the core of Detroit’s Cultural Center neighborhood, where they brew their beers and have a public taproom where you can hang out with friends and relax. The tap room has a kitchen, too, so you can nosh while you sample some of Detroit’s best beers.
They have a little bit of everything for different palates, from lagers to pale ales to hard seltzers and more. The atmosphere is classic Detroit, and it’s a great place to savor a drink after exploring all day.
See Related: German Beer: History & Different Types
10. Explore Historic Fort Wayne
Address: 6325 W Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48209
Not to be confused with the Indiana city of the same name, Fort Wayne is also a historic fort in Detroit. You already know that Detroit has a long and exciting history in the industrial industry and with cars, but Fort Wayne helps paint a full picture of the city’s history. Its importance in fights of old is largely because of the area’s proximity to the river and Canada.
The United States military constructed the fort back in the 19th century. It was the first military fort in the city and the first to be built by American citizens. If you’re wondering whether the military ever used Fort Wayne for combat, it didn’t. But just because it wasn’t ever involved in combat doesn’t mean it is any less important.
The remaining structures still resemble the original fort because the city of Detroit has done a spectacular job of maintaining it throughout the years. You can visit the fort with some of its original buildings dating to the 1840s for free on weekends during the summer. When you visit, you can also choose a self-guided tour or reserve a spot on a guided tour.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Fort Bragg, California
11. Stay Amongst the Ghosts at the Fort Shelby Hotel
Address: 525 West Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
Spooky fans, listen up! If you’re in search of a place to stay to pique your creepy interest while you’re in town, DoubleTree Suite by Hilton Detroit Downtown, formerly The Fort Shelby Hotel, is where you need to be. Part of the downtown skyline, the Fort Shelby Hotel was first constructed in the 19th century and opened to guests in 1916.
This century-old hotel has stories to tell, but one of the most fascinating ones is its supposed resident ghost. People believe the ghost is a man named Al, who died on the premises of the hotel. While the circumstances that the man died are largely unknown, it’s said to be a homeless man who sought shelter at the hotel when it was unoccupied.
Even though The Fort Shelby Hotel ceases to exist, it’s rumored that the ghost of the homeless man still wanders the halls of the now DoubleTree Suites by Hilton. Needless to say, if you like paranormal activity, you’ll want to check out this historic spot — especially the back alley and the lobby area. Do you dare to say overnight?
See Related: Most Haunted Hotels in the US
12. Spend a Day Outdoors at Belle Isle
On the Detroit River is the petite island of Belle Isle. Situated between Detroit and Canada, this island has to be seen to be believed. It easily became one of my favorite things to do in Detroit. Not only do you have beautiful views of downtown Detroit but if the skies are clear, you can see into Canada as well.
Belle Isle Park has a sprawling space of grassy fields to lounge in or play sports, picnic tables, and plenty of relaxing places to take in the fresh air. On the Detroit-facing side of the island is Belle Isle Beach. When the weather is right, you’ll see people sunbathing, swimming in the river, and playing on the sandy shores. Even when it’s colder out, it’s still a fun place to sit in the sand — just maybe not swim.
The island is small enough that you can walk around the entire thing easily if you want to get some exercise. While you’re walking, you won’t want to miss seeing the illustrious James Scott Memorial Fountain.
13. Tour the Michigan Science Center
Address: 5020 John R St, Detroit, MI 48202
The Michigan Science Center is a massive, world-class museum in Detroit. This museum houses over 220 interactive exhibits, live shows, an IMAX theater, a 4D theater, and a planetarium. Despite being such a huge facility, the center is still very underappreciated when placed alongside other things to do in Detroit.
Across the 13 different exhibit galleries, some of the most popular exhibits at the Michigan Science Center focus on space exploration, the health gallery where you learn all about staying healthy, and more. One fun activity for kids is to try and make it up Math Mountain. To make it to the top, you’ll have to complete a range of addition and subtraction problems.
There are more exhibits to learn about tunnels and bridges, electricity, waves, and vibrations. When you need a break from participating in interactive exhibits, you can see what’s playing at the IMAX or check out a live science show.
See Related: Best Road Trip Books for Kids
14. Go on a Bar Hunt in Greektown
Address: 225 Gratiot Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
For those over 21 years old, Greektown is the place to be if you want to see some local bars with live music. While you could just go for a night of traditional bar hopping, why not make a game of it with a bar scavenger hunt? With Let’s Roam, you can participate in photo and video challenges as you bar hop all through Greektown.
This bar-hopping scavenger hunt lasts for two hours, and it is a great way to see the Detroit bar scene and make new friends along the way. You will need a smartphone to participate in the challenge, as the photo and video challenges are on the app.
You’re awarded points for every challenge you complete. The person with the most points at the end of the night is declared the bar crawl champion.
See Related: Best Sites for Booking Tours & Excursions
15. Take a Class at Pewabic Pottery
Address: 10125 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48214
Ceramics are an important part of Detroit’s history, as you can see this art modeled throughout some of the city’s most incredible architectural features, like the Guardian Building and the Detroit Institute of Arts. As the creator of many of those historic tiles, Pewabic Pottery is one of the best places to learn about the art form.
You’ll find this century-old pottery establishment in the East Village on East Jefferson. Founded in 1903, Pewabic is one of the oldest continuously operating potteries in the country!
One thing people love doing here is taking a ceramics class. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy learning how to create something here. Skilled artists will support you as you create a bowl, vase, mug, or whatever else your heart desires. Even if you’re not sold on taking a class, you can still tour Pewabic Pottery and see their stunning works of art.
16. Find Beautiful Street Murals
Believe it or not, Detroit is one of the premier places in the country to see some amazing street art. There are over 500,000 square feet of commissioned murals all over the city. Throughout Detroit, you’ll be able to find these stunning murals covering a wide range of topics.
The Belt is a famous alley in Detroit with numerous murals on both sides that is popular for visitors. They’re vivid and make perfect photo opportunities. There are more murals throughout the city than only in The Belt. There’s a mural on the side of the Pewabic Pottery building, multiple in the Lincoln Street Art Park, and more.
The mural scene is so prevalent in Detroit that they host a Murals in the Market event each fall. For ten days, artists gather for public events, live music, new mural creations, and a whole lot of art-centered fun.
See Related: Best Minneapolis Murals You Need to Visit
17. Browse Eastern Market
Address: 2934 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207
This neighborhood is named Eastern Market because of the 19th-century market that’s still in operation on Saturdays and Sundays. If you’re visiting on the weekend, this hip neighborhood has to be on your list of things to do in Detroit.
Regardless of the day you stop by, Eastern Market is one of the best spots to explore year-round. When you walk through this area on weekends, you’ll wander through stalls with 225 vendors on average. Whereas during the week, the myriad shops and restaurants beckon visitors to come again.
These weekend vendors range from fresh produce to clothing to other handmade goods. You’ll find folks selling baked goods and other foods that you can eat while you walk through or find a place to relax for a while. There are often local musicians playing live music around Eastern Market to enjoy as well.
18. Visit the Oldest Bar in Detroit
Address: 17897 Mt Elliott St, Detroit, MI 48212
If you want to see a place with an interesting history, you need to visit the oldest bar in Detroit, the Two Way Inn. This bar dates back to 1876 and even served as a speakeasy during the era of Prohibition.
Keep in mind that the Two Way Inn is a little bit off the beaten path in Detroit. It’s north of downtown in the Osborn neighborhood. For the most part, it’s your typical, old-school bar. The main difference is that the staff here love to talk about the saloon’s history over a round of drinks with patrons.
Are you wondering why the bar is called the Two Way Inn? Well, it’s fairly simple. Back in the day, many establishments had two ways in and two ways out of them. This was to allow people to escape if the police or an unhappy partner came looking for them. And, for some reason, the name stuck.
19. Admire Artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts
Address: 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
Detroit is home to many museums, and for art aficionados, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is the place to be. You’ll find this world-class art museum in Midtown. This large art museum houses one of the United States’ largest art collections in over 650,00 square feet of space.
The Detroit Institute of Arts was established in 1885 and had space for over 100 galleries with stunning works of art. Within the 100 galleries, you can view and admire over 65,000 works of art during your time here. Most people opt for a self-guided walking tour of the museum. If you prefer to go on a guided tour, you can look online for availability.
If you want to appreciate everything that the DIA has to offer, you’ll want to plan to spend a few hours here. They have exhibitions on ancient Egyptian artifacts, Africa, Oceania, Indigenous Americans, Asia, Islam, Europe, and everything in between.
See Related: Best Museums in the US to Visit
20. Try Detroit-style Pizza at Buddy’s
Address: 1565 Broadway St, Detroit, MI 48226
You’ve had Chicago deep-dish and New York-style pizzas, but you can’t plan on visiting Detroit without going to Buddy’s and ordering Detroit-style pizza. You may be set in your ways about how you like your pizza, but you have to try it when in Detroit.
Back in 1946, the chefs at Buddy’s developed a new type of pizza. The Detroit-style pizza is made in a square pan rather than a circular shape. This unique shape is an homage to Detroit’s automotive industry. These creative chefs used steel pans from the automotive plants to create the square pies.
Other characteristics of this pizza are how they layer the pizza toppings backward and how the cheese goes all the way to the edges, making it extra crispy. Buddy’s isn’t just famous for creating this style of pizza; they were also crucial in spreading the popularity of this style.
See Related: Best Pizza in Minnesota: Top Pizzeria Options
21. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
Address: 4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Along with the Detroit Institute of Arts, downtown Detroit is known for the highly-acclaimed Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). One of the top ten art museums in the Midwest, this is a non-collecting museum housed in a converted car dealership.
Some of the previous temporary exhibits at MOCAD include Judy Bowman: Gratiot Griot, Sterling Toles: S(h)elves, Peter Williams: Black Universe, and Unboxing: Double Speak. As a contemporary museum, this place will challenge your perception of art and even, perhaps, life itself.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit features exhibits that are always changing since they’re a non-collecting museum. You can check online before going to see which artists are featured or be surprised when you walk through the doors.
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22. Wander Milliken State Park
Address: 1900 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48207
You may be surprised to learn that one of the best Detroit attractions is also Michigan’s first urban state park. William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor is a 31-acre spot of nature amongst the bustle of downtown Detroit.
Milliken is comprised partially of the former St. Aubin Park and Marina. When the Michigan Department of Natural Resources claimed the space, it was going to be called Tri-Centennial State Park to celebrate the founding of Fort Detroit in 1701.
The park, with its replica lighthouse modeled after the Tawas Point Lighthouse, opened in 2004. As well as the greenery, the park is home to a portion of the city’s aforementioned Riverwalk. From Milliken, you can enjoy the natural spaces, go fishing, walking. and even rollerblading. There are also boat slips from which you can head out onto Lake Michigan for the day.
See Related: Best State Parks in Iowa to Visit
23. Tour the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Address: 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
One of the oldest independent African American history museums in the world is the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. It originally opened in 1966 as the International Afro-American Museum and since has become a cornerstone of Detroit’s ties to the Black community.
The Wright Museum of African American History has five permanent exhibits, though that shouldn’t deter you. What is clear about this museum is that it’s dedicated to making its exhibits as illuminating as possible. One of their most popular permanent exhibits is: And Still, We Rise. This is a comprehensive exhibit that details the tragedy of the Middle Passage to the Civil Rights Movement.
There is also an exhibit that showcases Black performers that called Detroit home, like Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson, as well as live exhibits where people come to speak on issues of race in politics, education, and more. And that’s not even speaking to the temporary exhibits that visit the museum from time to time.
24. Visit the Fisher Building
Address: 3011 E Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202
The Fisher Building is a landmark skyscraper that houses office space, retail shops, and some of Detroit’s best architecture. It is lovingly referred to as Detroit’s Largest Art Object and is known as one of renowned architect Albert Kahn’s greatest works. The 441-foot tower opened in 1928 and remains one of Detroit’s most significant pieces of architecture.
When you walk inside, you’ll be able to see century-old Art Deco designs from floor to ceiling. There are 30 stories to the building, which is already high, but that doesn’t count the towers without floors you can visit. Don’t be surprised if you see a photoshoot or two taking place here; there’s a reason area wedding parties and fashion designers love to visit for portraiture.
You can wander through the building on your own and explore, or you can take a guided tour. If you’re interested in learning more about the building, I highly recommend that you sign up for a guided tour. Art Deco aficionados, like myself, need to have this on their list of things to do in Detroit — thank me later.
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25. Eat at Joe Muer Seafood
Address: 400 Renaissance Center #1404, Detroit, MI 48243
If you’re itching to taste some of the best and freshest seafood in Detroit, you need to stop by Joe Muer Seafood. Joe Muer has been a staple in the city for over 100 years, and it draws visitors in with its elegance, friendly service, and amazing food. Besides their fresh fishy selections, they’re also known for extensive wine and cocktail offerings too.
Joe Muer’s is along the Detroit Riverfront, which comes with a great view. Although it’s a surf and turf kind of place, it’s still a welcoming and casual location for all patrons. Something people love about Joe Muer’s, besides the food, is the decor that’s both modern and somewhat retro.
You’ll be able to feast on almost any type of seafood you can imagine. Their raw bar, for example, is very popular and features fresh shrimp, oysters, and crab legs for you to enjoy.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Ocean City, Maryland
26. Take a Ride on the Detroit Princess Riverboat
Address: 131 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48226
You can find the Detroit Princess Riverboat, one of the best ways to see the city from the water, docked in Hart Plaza. This riverboat was constructed in 1993 in Louisiana. It’s been in Detroit for almost two decades and is a beloved experience for people of all ages.
There are five decks on the boat, and it can hold a maximum of 1,500 passengers. The fourth and fifth decks have the most significant outdoor viewing options, so if you want the best views during your cruise, these are the decks you’ll want to be on.
If you’re interested in taking a cruise on the Detroit Princess Riverboat, you have a few options to consider. They offer lunchtime cruises, afternoon cruises, dinnertime cruises, and even cruises under the stars around midnight. Generally, these cruises last from two to three hours, so you can easily fit one into even a short visit to the city.
See Related: Best Things to Do on the Mississippi River
27. Browse John K. King Used & Rare Books
Address: 901 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
Since 1971, John K. King Used & Rare Books has been one of the most popular places in the city to browse for books. With over a million books in stock, the space is quite large. There are four floors crowded with books to be explored.
The store is so massive that you can find a map online, as well as when you walk in, to help guide you. Needless to say, the selection at John K. King includes a little bit of everything. They have kids’ books, adult fiction, nonfiction, travel books, historical books, language books, and so much more.
Even if you’re not interested in purchasing a book while you’re here, you’ll be amazed by the beautiful store and the incredible selection that they have. Perhaps you’ll even discover a rare book you didn’t know you were even looking for!
See Related: Best Travel Photography Books to Inspire You
28. Catch a Show at the Fox Theatre
Address: 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
In downtown Detroit sits an iconic Art Deco venue, the likes of which we only see rarely now. The Fox Theatre, a National Historic Landmark, first opened in 1928 and is one of the only grandiose movie palaces left standing from the 1920s.
Fox Theatre is huge, with more than 5,000 seats. Given its capacity, it is the largest theater in the Detroit metro area. These 5,000-plus seats span over three stories. All kinds of shows occur here, including pop artists, rock artists, classical pianists, shows for young children, and everything in between.
Regardless of why you’re in Detroit, seeing a show here is going to be memorable. If you’re in search of a place to stay downtown near the theater, the Hotel Indigo is a wonderful choice. Indigo’s modern feel is the perfect dichotomy to Fox Theatre’s retro vibes.
See Related: Best Travel Movies to Inspire You to Explore
29. Visit the Belle Isle Aquarium
Address: 3 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207
On Belle Isle is a small, free aquarium that’s one of the lesser-known things to do in Detroit. Albert Kahn, of other architectural marvels around the city, designed this gorgeous building as well. is a famous architect from Detroit who designed this beautiful building. The aquarium opened in 1904 and is the oldest public aquarium in the United States.
At the time of its opening, this aquarium was the third largest in the world, if you can believe it! The aquarium has gone through changes throughout its century-long life span.
This aquarium is rather small when compared to other aquariums throughout the country, but they still have a little over 1,000 animals from multiple different species. Keep in mind that the aquarium is only open on Fridays and the weekend. If that doesn’t fit into your schedule, you could visit the Sea Life Michigan Aquarium in Auburn Hills, which is only about 30 minutes from Detroit.
30. Spend a Day at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124
If you are looking for a good day trip (or two) from Detroit, you need to visit Greenfield Village in Dearborn. Greenfield Village houses the iconic Henry Ford Museum along with a few other great attractions, particularly for lovers of history. The area is generally still considered Metro Detroit, so it won’t be a long trip from downtown, though both the museum and Greenfield can easily take up a day on their own.
The Henry Ford Museum, which is named after the famous American industrialist and innovator, showcases a range of technological achievements in America throughout his career. While not entirely focused on Ford’s contributions, the museum is quite appropriately named after him.
One of the most impressive collections in the museum includes the Rosa Parks bus from Montgomery, the world’s first steam locomotive, the car in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the earliest Ford vehicle.
See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the USA
31. Hang at LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Address: 4240 Baldwin Rd, Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Sorry grown-ups, this activity isn’t for you unless your youngsters are with you — adults must have a child under 16 present to enter. Still, for families, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in nearby Auburn Hills is an incredible way to spend the day.
Here you’ll be surrounded by millions of LEGOs and can even build with expert builders to learn a thing or two about being a LEGO master. You can also ride some attractions like Merlin’s Apprentice or Kingdom Quest and even see a movie in the 4D theater.
You’ll probably spend between two and three hours enjoying the Discovery Center. Though paid admission does not have a time limit, so feel free to enjoy it to your heart’s content!
See Related: Best Family Vacations on a Budget
32. Detroit Red Wings
Address: 2645 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Formerly at home in the Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Red Wings now play in Little Caesars Arena. Called just the Wings by locals and fans, this is Detroit’s professional team with the National Hockey League (NHL).
The Wings have more Stanley Cup Championships than any other US-based team in the NHL, so it’s no surprise that seeing them in action is one of the best things to do in Detroit for sports fans. Fandom for this team is so intense that Detroit is colloquially known as Hockeytown. Even if you aren’t a big hockey fan, catching a Wings game would be an excellent one to take in for a newbie.
Keep in mind that the NHL season generally runs from October to April. So if you aren’t a fan of cold weather, you may not want to go to Detroit during hockey season.
See Related: Warm Places to Visit in the US During Winter
33. Check Out the Detroit Masonic Temple
Address: 500 Temple St, Detroit, MI 48201
Resembling a massive cathedral, the Detroit Masonic Temple is the largest Masonic temple in the world. Construction began in 1920 before the temple was finally opened in 1926. With 14 floors, it’s easy to believe this tremendous building is the largest of its kind. It was meant to serve the Masons and also have a public theater space as well.
When the cornerstone was placed on September 19, 1922, they used the trowel which George Washington used to set the cornerstone of the United States Capitol building. This makes sense as Washington was a Freemason himself. He joined the organization in 1752, so it’s fitting that his artifact was used for this momentous occasion.
Although you won’t witness any secret Freemason festivities, you can take a tour of the temple while you’re in Detroit. Over the two and a half hours, you will learn all about the magnificent building in all its artistic glory.
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34. Discover the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
Address: 461 Piquette Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
Built in 1904, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is considered one of the most important places in automobile history. Why? Because this is where the Ford Model T — arguably the most iconic of the Ford cars — was created.
Though car production ceased here long ago, the public is invited to visit the former factory turned museum. It is the oldest auto factory that is open to the public. Besides being a historic place, this is also home to one of the only complete Ford alphabet car collections. Piquette Avenue houses Ford Models A, B, C, F, K, N, R, S, and T, which you can see if you visit.
This museum is open throughout the week, including weekends, but is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. If any motorheads out there are looking for something to do in Detroit, you can’t get much more creative than this.
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35. Tour the Ford Rouge Factory
Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124
Get to know another element of Henry Ford’s legacy by visiting the Rouge Factory. Here you can experience the immense nature of a car factory, learn about how the Ford F-150 was created, and get to know the automobile industry more intimately.
At over 250 acres, this factory-turned-museum is an immersive way to learn about cars. You can even learn at your own pace on a self-guided factory tour. You may want to spend a few hours discovering every corner of the three-floor museum complex.
The most popular exhibits at the Rouge include the Legacy Theater, where you learn about the history of Ford, the Manufacturing Innovation Theater, which teaches about the innovation of automobile building, and the Observation Deck. From the deck, you can look around at the Detroit metro area of today and ponder how it’s morphed in the time since Ford changed the way we manufacture forever.
What are the top attractions to visit in Detroit, Michigan?
Music fans, in particular, love to see Detroit because of its roots in American musical history. The Motown Museum is among the favorites in Motor City. The Henry Ford Museum is also a highly popular place to visit to get a greater sense of the city’s history and that of the Ford plant employees.
What are the top family-friendly things to do in Detroit?
Taking a stroll along the Detroit River, spending the day at the Detroit Zoo, learning at the Michigan Science Center, or just discovering downtown Detroit is sure to please the whole family. Some of our other favorite things to do in Detroit with kids are visiting Belle Isle, the Henry Ford Museum, and visiting the LEGOLAND Discovery Center.
What are the must-visit museums and galleries in Detroit?
Without a doubt, the Wright Museum of African American History is a significant part of Detroit’s museum culture, and so too is the Detroit Institute of Arts. Even less artsy folks will appreciate the art all around the city, too, from the Art Deco architecture to the miles of murals.
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