Nestled in the Midwest, Detroit is a bustling city and the largest in Michigan. Nicknamed The Motor City, Detroit is famous for cars, Motown Records, and its rich culture. If you’re wondering what to see in Detroit, you’re not alone.
Whether you’re five years old, 85, or somewhere in between, there are plenty of places to visit in Detroit where you can have a blast. If you’re planning a trip to Detroit, you won’t run out of fun and exciting things to do.
Best Things to Do in Detroit, MI
Wondering what to do in Detroit? As you figure out how you want to spend your time there, check out the 28 fun and best things to do in Detroit, MI.
1. Visit the Motown Museum
One of the things that put Detroit on the map is the Motown headquarters.
This was the first recording studio in Detroit, and now you can take a tour of the Motown Museum. Nicknamed “Hitsville USA,” Motown founder Berry Gordy purchased this home back in 1959, and it’s become one of the top tourist attractions in Detroit.
While Berry Gordy’s sister purchased the home in the late 1950s, she didn’t transform it into a museum until 1985. As you walk through the house, you can see studio A, where many hits were recorded before the label moved the headquarters to Los Angeles, California, in the 1970s.
The museum has plenty of Motown memorabilia and artifacts. You can choose a self-guided tour, but it’s highly recommended you choose a guided tour.
This way, you can see all the exhibits and listen to a tour guide who’s an expert in everything in the museum.
The Motown Museum is at 2648 W. Grand Blvd. Detroit, MI 48208, east of Rosa Parks Boulevard.
2. Walk Along the Detroit Riverfront
The Detroit Riverfront is one of the best things to do in Detroit, MI. While nothing beats walking along the riverfront in the sunshine, the Detroit Riverfront offers activities for people, regardless of the season.
The riverfront runs along the Detroit River from Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle. The entire walking path runs for about 5.5 miles one way and is perfect for seeing the beautiful river, the city, and glimpses of Canada.
There are different activities set up at various points along the riverfront throughout the year.
During the warmer months, you’ll find carousels, beautiful flowers, and places to spot and exercise. There are stands with hot chocolate, hot coffee, and firepits nearby to warm up during the winter.
The Steel Modern Art Man statue is along the path. You don’t need to walk the full 5.5 miles unless you want to. You can start and end at any point.
It’s also a great spot in the city to snap some pictures to remember your trip to Detroit by.
The main address for the riverfront is 588 E Jefferson, Detroit, MI 48207.
3. Catch a Game at Comerica Park
This stunning open-air baseball stadium is fun and offers you great views of downtown Detroit while you watch the baseball game.
If you can snag tickets to a Tigers game, you’ll not only get to watch the baseball game, but the stadium is part of the whole experience. Some call a baseball hall of fame on the main concourse. You’ll see memorabilia of baseball throughout the years, not just the history of the Tigers.
You’ll have food and drink options while at Comerica Park.
There are places to grab classic baseball foods like hotdogs, burgers, fries, and more. For those over 21, there are plenty of places to grab a beer or another drink of your choice.
Their frozen treats are perfect during the summer to help beat the heat.
If you’re traveling with kids, there’s a carousel in the middle of the food court that they can ride. Watching a game here is one of the best things to do in Detroit, MI. Whether you’re a Detroit Tigers fan or not, seeing a baseball game is a great way to spend a day in the city.
Comerica Park is in downtown Detroit. The address is 2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201.
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4. Tour the Detroit Historical Museum
You’ll find the Detroit Historical Museum in Midtown. As you wander through the halls of the Detroit Historical Museum, you’ll get a glimpse at how the city became the industrial powerhouse it is.
Like many museums across the country, there are signature or permanent exhibits here and changing ones.
A popular signature exhibit is the American Motor City. It showcases artifacts and replicas about how cars were some of the building blocks that put Detroit on the map.
Other popular signature exhibits are their 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. The Frontiers to Factories shows the city’s evolution from 1701 to 1901.
This museum is at 5401 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202. It’s across the street from Wayne State University.
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 tourist attractions. The Detroit Zoo has over 3,000 animals for you to learn about and admire.
The Detroit Zoo was pivotal for zoos across the country because before this one, no other zoos used bars for their animal enclosures.
The Detroit Zoo sits on 125 acres of land just north of the city.
They have animals from across the globe from different climates and habitats. Some of the animals you can admire and learn about are 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, playground for kids, a 4D theater with regular showings throughout the day, and areas where you can grab a bite to eat.
One of the best things you can do at the Detroit Zoo is participating in their giraffe encounter. You’ll be able to get up close with these magnificent creatures while being safely guided by animal trainers.
If you’re interested in staying closer to the Detroit Zoo, the Hotel Saint Regis is a great option. It’s only 15 minutes from the zoo.
The address for the zoo is 8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067. It’s right outside the city of Detroit.
6. Eat a Coney Hotdog in Downtown
That’s why trying a coney hotdog here is one of the many popular things to do in Detroit, MI.
To try one of the best coney hotdogs in Detroit, you need to head to American Coney Island in downtown.
American Coney Island is a family-owned and operated hotdog restaurant that opened in 1917.
If you’re going to eat a coney hotdog anywhere in Detroit, this is the place to do it. If you’re not familiar with what a coney hot dog is, it’s a beef hotdog topped with chili sauce, raw onion, and yellow mustard.
American Coney Island is minutes from Campus Martius Park. The address is 114 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226.
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7. Visit the Automotive Hall of Fame
Detroit is famous for cars, 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 greatest things to do in Detroit, MI.
As you walk through the Automotive Hall of Fame, you’ll see important people and milestones in the automotive world since 1939.
You’ll be able to see various cars throughout the years that are in pristine condition.
Besides looking at all the vintage cars, you’ll learn about our daily lives’ connection with vehicles.
They’re open year-round, so it’s the perfect thing to do in Detroit regardless of what time of year you go. The hours vary by season, so be sure to check their website for hours.
You’ll find this attraction at 21400 Oakwood St, Dearborn, MI 48124.
8. Spend Some Time at Campus Martius Park
In the heart of Detroit sits the beautiful city park, Campus Martius Park. This is a unique city park that offers both visitors and locals plenty of activities in Detroit. It’s open during the day and night and year-round.
Since it’s open year-round, there are several activities and things to do based on the season.
When it’s warm out, you’ll see people lounging in chairs or towels in the sandy area during the summer and days. Yes, there’s a massive sandy area in an urban park.
The park lights up with holiday lights during the winter, and a decent-sized ice skating rink is installed. It’s 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 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.
Campus Martius Park is downtown at 800 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226.
9. Try Local Craft Beers at Motor City Brewing Works
Craft beer is one of the best ways to experience a new city. One of Detroit’s most popular craft breweries is Motor City Brewing Works. There are several other breweries in the city worth checking out, but this is one you cannot miss.
Motor City Brewing is one of the oldest craft breweries in Detroit and one of the best things to do in Detroit, MI.
Their doors first opened back in 1994 and have become a staple brewery in the city. The brewers are committed to creating fantastic craft beer and celebrating Detroit’s rich culture and history.
You’ll find the brewery in the heart of Detroit’s Cultural Center, where they brew their beers and have a taproom where you can hang out with friends and relax.
They have a kitchen, too, so that you can grab a bite to eat while you sample some of Detroit’s best beers.
They have everything from lagers to pale ales to hard seltzers and more. The atmosphere is classic Detroit, and it’s a great place to enjoy a meal and great drink after exploring all day.
This brewery is in Midtown. The address is 470 W Canfield St, Detroit, MI 48201.
10. Explore Historic Fort Wayne
If you want to explore an area of Detroit that’s over 1,000 years old, Historic Fort Wayne is a fun and educational experience.
You probably 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.
Fort Wayne displays Detroit’s importance within the military. The 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 wasn’t. But just because it wasn’t ever involved in combat doesn’t mean it is any less important. The military used this facility for training and lodging.
The structure still resembles the original fort because the city of Detroit has done a spectacular job of maintaining it throughout the years. You can visit the fort on weekends during the summer. You can choose a self-guided tour or reserve a spot on a guided tour.
Historic Fort Wayne is along the river at 6325 W Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48209.
11. Stay Amongst the Ghosts at the Fort Shelby Hotel
If you’re looking for a place to stay while you’re in town, The DoubleTree, formerly The Fort Shelby Hotel, is great for those who love haunted places. The Fort Shelby Hotel was first constructed in the 19th century and opened its doors for the first time in 1916.
This century-old hotel has stories to tell, and one of the most fascinating ones is that it’s supposedly haunted by a man 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.
The Fort Shelby Hotel has seen its fair share of remodeling and construction throughout the years and is now The DoubleTree.
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 DoubleTree. Needless to say, this is one of the best things to do in Detroit, MI for paranormal enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike.
This hotel is in downtown at 525 West Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226.
12. Spend a Day Outdoors at Belle Isle
On the Detroit River is the small island of Belle Isle.
Nestled between Detroit and Canada, this island has plenty of things for you to do. It’s one of the best free things to do in Detroit. First things first, you’ll have beautiful views of downtown Detroit, and if the skies are clear, a view into Canada.
Belle Isle offers one of the best things to do in Detroit, MI. It has an area with grassy fields to lounge in or play sports, picnic tables to enjoy a meal, and plenty of relaxing places to take in the fresh air.
On the side of the island facing Detroit is Belle Isle Beach. When the weather is warm, 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, but maybe not swim.
You can walk around the entire island if you want to get some exercise. While you’re walking, you won’t want to miss seeing the massive and beautiful James Scott Memorial Fountain. Belle Isle has several activities that will help fill your day of exploring Detroit.
To get to Belle Isle, you’ll take the MacArthur Bridge. It’s off of East Jefferson.
13. Tour the Michigan Science Center
The Michigan Science Center is a museum in Detroit that’s perfect if you’re traveling with children, but adults will love learning and experiencing the interactive exhibits too.
You can participate in over 220 interactive exhibits, see live shows, an IMAX theater, a 4D theater, and Planetarium.
Some of their most popular exhibits focus on space exploration, the health gallery where you can learn all about keeping your body healthy, and more.
An educational and fun activity is to try and make it up “math mountain.” To make it to the top, you’ll have to complete various 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 a live science show.
The Michigan Science Center is near Wayne State University at 5020 John R St, Detroit, MI 48202.
14. Go on a Bar Hunt in Greektown
For those over 21 years old, Greektown is the place to be if you want to see some local bars. Instead of traditional bar hopping, why not go on a bar scavenger hunt?
If you love trying new bars, this is one of the best things to do in Detroit, MI.
With Let’s Roam Detroit, you can participate in photo and video challenges as you bar hop all through Greektown.
The bar hopping scavenger hunt lasts for two hours, and it is a great way to see the local bar scene and make new friends. You’ll need a smartphone to participate in the challenge. All 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.
While you’ll be walking around during the bar crawl, you’ll be starting at 225 Gratiot Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, USA.
15. Take a Class at Pewabic Pottery
Ceramics are an important part of Detroit’s history, and Pewabic Pottery is one of the best places to learn about the art form.
Something 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 other ceramic work of art. Even if you’re not sold on taking a class, you can still tour Pewabic Pottery and see stunning works of art.
They offer tours of the building so you can learn more about the various works of art and how ceramics play an important role in Detroit’s history.
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16. Find Beautiful Street Murals
Throughout Detroit, you’ll be able to find stunning street art and wall murals.
You can find stunning works of art throughout the city, but if you’re interested in making it easier on yourself, the Detroit Mural Project that Viranel Clerad created in 2015 is helpful.
He took it upon himself to study and classify Detroit’s street art scene so that curious minds could find the murals easier. The Belt is a famous alley in Detroit with various murals on both sides. They’re colorful and 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, several in the Lincoln Street Art Park, and more.
The wall mural scene is so prevalent in Detroit that they host a Murals in the Market event annually.
17. Browse the Eastern Market
This area of Detroit is named Eastern Market because of the 19th-century market that’s still in operation here. If you’re visiting Detroit on the weekend, this needs to be on your list of things to do.
It’s one of the most perfect things to do in Detroit, MI, year-round.
When you walk through this market, you’ll wander through stalls with 225 vendors on average. The vendors range from fresh produce to clothing to other handmade goods.
You’ll find vendors selling baked goods and other foods that you can eat while you walk through or find a place to sit before continuing to explore. There are often local musicians playing live music.
It’s one of the most popular activities for locals and visitors to do on Saturdays. There are approximately 40,000 visitors on any given Saturday. They’re also open on Tuesdays and Sundays from June to September.
This neighborhood is between Chrysler Drive and Chene.
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18. Visit the Oldest Bar in Detroit
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 served as a speakeasy during the era of prohibition.
The Two Way Inn is a little bit off the beaten path in Detroit. It’s north of downtown in the Osborn neighborhood on Mt. Elliot Street.
For the most part, it’s your standard, 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? Many establishments had two ways in and two ways out of them back in the day. This was to allow people to escape if the police or an unhappy partner came looking for them. For some reason, the name stuck.
The bar is in Krainz Woods at 17897 Mt Elliott St, Detroit, MI 48212.
19. Admire Artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts
This large art museum houses one of the United States’ largest art collections in over 600,00 square feet of space.
This art museum 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.
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 that cover artwork from Africa, Egypt, Oceania, Indigenous Americans, Asia, the Islamic World, North America, Europe, and everywhere in between.
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 to see if they have any group tours available for when you want to visit.
You’ll find the DIA at 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202.
20. Try Detroit-Style Pizza at Buddy’s
You’ve had Chicago deep dish and New York-style pizza, but you can’t visit Detroit without going to Buddy’s and trying Detroit-style pizza. You may set in your ways about how you like your pizza, but you have to try it when in Detroit.
Back in 1946, Chef’s at Buddy’s developed a new type of pizza.
The Detroit-style pizza is made in a square pan rather than a circular shape. Cars play a huge role in Detroit’s history, and they used steel pans from automotive plants to create the shape. The cheese goes all the way to the edges and is extra crispy.
Another characteristic of Detroit-style pizza is how they layer the pizza toppings backward. Buddy’s isn’t just famous for creating this style of pizza. They were crucial in spreading the popularity of this style.
This is one of the many family-friendly things to do in Detroit, MI, because who doesn’t love pizza?
Their menu is extensive, and you’re more than welcome to create your own pizza when you order here.
There are several Buddy’s locations in Detroit. A popular one is near Grand Circus Park at 1565 Broadway St, Detroit, MI 48226.
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21. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art
In downtown Detroit is the Museum of Contemporary Art. This is a large museum with 22,000 square feet of space. It’s a non-collecting museum housed in a converted car dealership.
On the outside of the building, a minimalistic wall mural saying “everything’s going to be alright.” This is one of the top ten art museums in the Midwest.
The artwork you see here may seem somewhat unconventional compared to a traditional art museum, but it’s sure to broaden your understanding of art.
Some of the most popular exhibits include one from John Korner titled “International Superfruits.” The museum also features artwork from artists such as Hannah Toticki, Jeannette Ehlers, Jan Tichy, and so many more.
Their exhibits 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.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is near other museums in Detroit. The address is 4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201.
22. Play Corn Hole on Woodward Avenue
Woodward Avenue is a long street that runs from downtown Detroit and north into the suburbs. As you walk through downtown, you’ll probably find yourself walking on it or nearby.
You’ll find several establishments with corn hole boards outside. These are free to use, and you can start a game with friends or strangers. It’s a great way to spend some time outdoors, meet new people, or show off your skills.
23. Tour the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
One of the oldest independent African American history museums is the Charles H. Wright Museum.
The doors to this museum opened in 1966 as the International Afro-American Museum. This museum has become a cornerstone with Detroit’s ties to the black community.
The Charles H. Wright Museum has permanent and visiting exhibits like other museums. One of their most popular permanent exhibits is called And Still We Rise.
This is a comprehensive exhibit that details events from the tragedy of the Middle Passage to the resilience of African Americans throughout the Civil Rights Movement.
There are exhibits that showcase African American performers from Detroit, live exhibits where people come to speak on issues of race in politics, education, and more. They even have performances from African American musicians from around the world.
You’ll want to check their website for traveling exhibits. Currently, you can see the King Tut exhibit.
This museum is next to the Michigan Science Center at 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48201.
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24. Visit the Fisher Building
The Fisher Building is a landmark skyscraper that houses office space, retail shops, and some of Detroit’s best architecture. This marvelous architectural masterpiece has been something to admire for almost 100 years.
Besides everything inside the building, just basking in how enormous the building is from the outside is enough to make your jaw drop.
When you walk inside, you’ll be able to see century-old art deco designs from the floor to the ceiling. There are 30 stories to the building, which is already high, but that doesn’t count the towers without floors you can visit.
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, it’s recommended that you sign up for a guided tour.
The Fisher building is at 3011 E Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202.
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25. Eat at Joe Muer Seafood
If you want to taste some of the best and freshest seafood in Detroit, you need to stop by Joe Muer Seafood. Joe Muer Seafood has been a staple in the city for over 100 years, and it draws visitors in with its elegance, friendly service, and amazing food.
Joe Muer’s is on the Detroit riverfront, and while it offers an elegant location with a great view, it’s still a welcoming location for 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 is very popular. They have fresh shrimp, oysters, and crab legs for you to enjoy.
Joe Muer Seafood is along the water at 400 Renaissance Center #1404, Detroit, MI 48243.
26. Take a Ride on the Detroit Princess Riverboat
It’s been in Detroit for almost two decades and is an experience for people of all ages.
There are five decks on the boat, and they can hold a maximum of 1,500 passengers. The fourth and fifth decks have the most significant outdoor viewing options, so if you want to see Detroit well, 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, dinner time cruises, and even cruises under the stars around midnight.
They only operate during the summer since it’s warmer out, but if you’re traveling to Detroit around this time, it’s one of the best things you and your travel buddies can do.
You’ll board and disembark from 131 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48226.
27. Browse the Selection at John K. King Used and Rare Books
Since 1971, John K. King Used and Rare Books has been one of the most popular places in the city to browse for books. The shop has a little over one million books for locals and visitors to browse and even find their new favorite read.
With over a million books in stock, the space is very large.
There are four floors crowded with books inside. The store is so massive that you can find a map online and when you walk in to help guide you to the areas of the store you may be the most interested in.
The book selection at John K. King has a little bit of everything.
They have picture books, adult fiction, nonfiction, historical 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.
The bookstore is outside of downtown at 901 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226.
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28. Catch a Show at the Fox Theater
In downtown Detroit sits one of the most iconic music venues and movie theaters in the world.
The Fox Theater first opened in 1928 and is one of the only movie theaters standing from the 1920s. If you’re spending time in downtown Detroit, you’re bound to see the Fox Theater.
The theater is relatively large, with more than 5,000 seats. The 5,000 seats span over three stories. There are all kinds of shows that occur at the Fox Theater. They host pop artists, rock artists, classical pianists, Elmo Live, and everything in between.
Regardless of why you’re in Detroit, seeing a show here is going to be memorable. You can look online to see who is performing. If you’re looking for a place to stay downtown near the theater, the Hotel Indigo is a wonderful choice.
The Fox Theater is near Comerica Park. The address is 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201.
29. Visit the Belle Isle Aquarium
On Belle Isle is a small aquarium that’s worth visiting. Albert Kahn is a famous architect from Detroit and designed this beautiful building. If you’re looking for things to do in Detroit with kids, this is something they’ll love.
The aquarium opened in 1904 and is the oldest aquarium in the United States.
The aquarium has gone through changes over the course of its century-long life span. It closed in 2005 due to an economic crisis before reopening in 2012 when the Belle Isle Conservancy took over.
The Belle Isle Aquarium is rather small when compared to other aquariums throughout the country, but they still have a little over 1,000 animals from several different species. Some of the animals housed here are beavers, raccoons, opossums, and more.
They’re only open on Fridays and the weekend, though, so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you’re planning on visiting.
This aquarium is on Belle Isle at 3 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207.