Best Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan: 12 Must-See Attractions

by Emil Backup
Best Things to Do in Detroit Michigan
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Do you have any plans to travel to Detroit, Michigan soon? Here are a few of the most exciting, fun, and captivating things to do in Detroit. A wonderful vacation experience is guaranteed with these sights, activities, and attractions.

Detroit, the Motor City, the birthplace of Motown, a city that has seen it all. From the roaring twenties to the economic downturn, Detroit has always bounced back, stronger and more vibrant than ever. This resilient spirit is what makes it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a unique blend of history, culture, and innovation. Continue reading to learn more about the best things to do in Detroit.

Known for its rich automotive history, a city that has shaped the world in more ways than one, but there’s more than just cars. The city is a melting pot of cultures, a place where art, music, and food come together to create a vibrant, dynamic atmosphere that is hard to find anywhere else.

From the stunning Riverwalk to the historic Motown Museum, from the bustling Eastern Market to the awe-inspiring Detroit Institute of Arts, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Detroit. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an art lover, or an adventure seeker, Detroit has something for everyone.

In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through the best places to visit in Detroit, Michigan. We’ve curated a list of 12 must-visit spots that capture the essence of this incredible city. So, buckle up and get ready to explore the heart and soul of the Motor City.

The coolest things to do in Detroit for all types of travelers
Discover the heart of Motown! Check out these 12 must-see attractions in Detroit, Michigan.

Best Places to Visit in Detroit, Michigan

Are you eager to experience all there is to do and where to go in Detroit, Michigan? Everyone will enjoy this under-appreciated vacation destination, as was already mentioned. To learn more about these best places in Detroit Michigan, keep reading.

Are you trying to find tourist and cultural spots in the city? Or will a peaceful retreat in nature suit you better? These must-see attractions can meet your needs no matter what you have planned. Here are all the best Detroit things to do that you should be aware of.

Explore Detroit's cultural gem at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A must-visit destination for art lovers!
Explore Detroit’s cultural gem at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A must-visit destination for art lovers!

1. Detroit Institute of Arts

Looking for the best things to do in Detroit? Don’t miss this one! The Detroit Institute of Arts, often referred to as the DIA is a world-class museum that is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Housing one of the largest art collections in the United States, the DIA features over 100 galleries that span continents and centuries. The museum’s collection is incredibly diverse, with works from the likes of Diego Rivera, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh.

One of the museum’s most notable features is the Detroit Industry Murals, a series of frescoes by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. These 27 panels depict the automotive industry at Ford Motor Company and Rivera even considered them his most successful work.

The DIA is not just for art aficionados; it’s a place for everyone. The museum offers a variety of programs and events, including art-making workshops, film screenings, lectures, and music performances.

Whether you’re an art lover or just looking for a way to spend an afternoon, the Detroit Institute of Arts is a destination that should not be missed. It’s open from 9AM-4PM Tuesday to Thursday, 9AM-10PM on Friday, and 10AM-5PM on the weekend. Tickets are $14 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8 for college students, and $6 for youth ages 6-17.

Step into the Soulful Rhythms of History at Motown Museum
Step into the Soulful Rhythms of History at Motown Museum.

2. Motown Museum

It would be a crime to write an article on the top places to go in Detroit without mentioning the Motown Museum. Music lovers, prepare to step back in time at the Motown Museum, located in the house where Berry Gordy Jr. founded the Motown Record Corporation in 1959. This unassuming house on West Grand Boulevard became Hitsville U.S.A., the birthplace of a whole new sound in American music.

The Motown Museum is a time capsule of musical history. The guided tour takes you through the building, including Studio A, where artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and the Supremes recorded their hits. You’ll see vintage recording equipment, photographs, and other memorabilia from the era.

One of the most memorable exhibits is the flat where Berry Gordy lived with his young family while getting Motown off the ground. It’s a poignant reminder of the humble beginnings of this cultural phenomenon.

The Motown Museum is a celebration of the music that broke barriers and continues to inspire artists today. It’s a must-visit for any music fan visiting Detroit. With so much charm and personality, Motown Museum is one of the top places to visit in Detroit.

Explore Detroit's vibrant past at the Historical Museum, celebrating its automotive legacy and iconic music scene.
Explore Detroit’s vibrant past at the Historical Museum, celebrating its automotive legacy and iconic music scene.

3. Detroit Historical Museum

Looking to visit one of the best places in Detroit? Add this to your bucket list! Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Detroit’s past at the Detroit Historical Museum. This museum is a treasure trove of the city’s history, offering a comprehensive look at Detroit’s evolution from its founding in 1701 to the present day.

The museum’s exhibits cover a wide range of topics, from the city’s role in the automotive industry to its influence on music. You’ll find accurate models of old Detroit railways and streets, as well as different exhibitions from various periods throughout the city’s history.

One of the highlights is the “Detroit: The Arsenal of Democracy” exhibit, which explores the city’s contributions to World War II. Another must-see is the “America’s Motor City” exhibit, which showcases Detroit’s rise as the world’s automotive center.

The Detroit Historical Museum is a fascinating journey through time that will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation of this resilient city. It’s a must-visit for history buffs and anyone interested in learning more about Detroit’s past.

Escape to Detroit’s urban oasis, Belle Isle Island. A must-visit destination

4. Belle Isle Island

Yearning for a getaway like no other? This place to go in Detroit has got you covered. Situated in the Detroit River, Belle Isle Island is a relatively small yet captivating destination. Measuring about 3 miles in length and only a mile wide, the island is packed with activities to keep visitors entertained. The parkland on the island is stunning, providing a great place for hikers to enjoy a long walk, and facilities for a number of other sports.

After enjoying the terrain and the scenery, you can visit the island’s aquarium or the Great Lakes Museum. The latter features models and other artifacts to explore the history of commercial shipping on the Great Lakes.

Belle Isle Island is a delightful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Its natural beauty combined with its cultural attractions make it a must-visit when in Detroit. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful picnic spot, a scenic hiking trail, or a dose of history, Belle Isle Island has it all. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best attractions in Detroit!

Dive into innovation at Detroit's Henry Ford Museum, a captivating journey through history's groundbreaking inventions.
Dive into innovation at Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum, a captivating journey through history’s groundbreaking inventions.

5. Henry Ford Museum

As far as things to do in Detroit go, this activity is among the coolest! Immerse yourself in the rise of technology at the Henry Ford Museum. This institution, although not entirely focused on Ford himself, is aptly named as it focuses on the technological and industrial inventions and achievements of the United States throughout history.

Some of the most notable exhibits within the museum are the very first steam locomotive, built in 1829 by George Stephenson, the car in which John F Kennedy was assassinated, and of course, the first-ever Ford car. This museum is a testament to the spirit of innovation that has driven America forward, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of technology and industry.

Discover architectural grandeur at Detroit Masonic Temple, a majestic landmark hosting events and tours.
Discover architectural grandeur at Detroit Masonic Temple, a majestic landmark hosting events and tours.

6. Detroit Masonic Temple

For a unique experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in Detroit. The Detroit Masonic Temple is a visual marvel and a testament to the city’s architectural prowess. As the largest of its kind in the world, it stands as one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the United States. The temple, built from fine Indiana limestone, has three main areas to explore: the ritualistic tower, the so-called Shrine Club, and the auditorium.

The temple is currently used for hosting concerts and other events, making it a vibrant part of Detroit’s cultural scene. Whether you’re interested in architecture, history, or simply want to attend an event, the Detroit Masonic Temple is a must-visit. Its grandeur and historical significance make it a standout attraction in the city. There’s so much to see at Detroit Masonic Temple, that it’s no wonder this is among the best places to visit in Detroit.

Experience the best attraction to visit in Detroit, the Motown Museum, where music history comes alive.
Experience the best attraction to visit in Detroit, the Motown Museum, where music history comes alive.

7. Detroit Public Library

Looking for things to do in Detroit that don’t break the bank? Then this is what you’re looking for! The Detroit Public Library is a testament to the city’s commitment to knowledge and learning. When it first opened its doors in 1865, its collection consisted of 5,000 books, all of which were contained in a room within the old Capital High School building.

Now, the library has moved to a grand building on Woodward Avenue and houses a staggering number of books. But the main reason to visit is the building itself, which is as impressive inside as it is imposing outside. The Detroit Public Library is rightfully listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.

Whether you’re a bookworm or an architecture enthusiast, the Detroit Public Library is a must-visit. Its vast collection and stunning architecture make it a standout attraction in the city.

Cheer for your favorite team at Comerica Park, the best attraction to visit in Detroit for baseball fans.
Cheer for your favorite team at Comerica Park, the best attraction to visit in Detroit for baseball fans.

8. Comerica Park

Home to the Detroit Tigers baseball team, Comerica Park is more than just a sports venue. Aside from watching a thrilling game of baseball, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Comerica Park while in Detroit. The park houses a museum of baseball history, a must-see for any fans of the sport. Additionally, there’s a carousel and Ferris wheel situated here to entice anyone who’s not a fan of baseball.

The park also offers a range of food and drink options, ensuring visitors can enjoy a full day out without having to leave the premises. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or just looking for a fun-filled day out, Comerica Park is a must-visit where you can engage with the coolest things to do in Detroit. Its combination of sports, entertainment, and dining makes it a standout attraction in the city.

Explore the vibrant flavors and colors of Detroit Eastern Market.
Explore the vibrant flavors and colors of Detroit Eastern Market.

9. Detroit Eastern Market

A visit to Detroit would be incomplete without a trip to the Detroit Eastern Market. It’s a paradise for antique lovers. Whether you are a serious dealer or just a part-time bargain hunter, Detroit has a number of places to shop for collectibles and memorabilia. The Detroit Antique Mall is widely regarded as the best spot for antique shopping in the city while the Eastern Market is also very popular.

There is something for everyone at each of these locations and the phrase “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” will never be far from your thoughts. The Eastern Market, in particular, is a vibrant and bustling hub of activity, with vendors selling everything from fresh produce to unique crafts and antiques.

Visiting the Eastern Market is not just about shopping, it’s about immersing yourself in the local culture and community. With its lively atmosphere, diverse offerings, and historic charm, it’s a must-visit destination when in Detroit. As one of the top Detroit attractions, you’ll definitely want to add this to your travel itinerary.

Indulge in the rich heritage and lively ambiance of Greektown, a taste of Greece in Detroit
Indulge in the rich heritage and lively ambiance of Greektown, a taste of Greece in Detroit

10. Greektown

This is one of the best places to go in Detroit, hands down. Greektown is a vibrant neighborhood in Detroit that’s known for its bustling nightlife, delicious food, and rich history. Established by Greek immigrants in the 20th century, Greektown has grown into a cultural hotspot that offers a taste of Greece in the heart of Detroit.

The neighborhood is filled with traditional Greek restaurants serving authentic fare, from mouthwatering gyros to delectable baklava. The lively atmosphere, complete with music and laughter, will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to a lively taverna in Athens.

But Greektown is not just about food. It’s also home to a variety of shops selling Greek goods, from olive oil to handmade crafts. And let’s not forget the Greektown Casino-Hotel, a popular destination for those feeling lucky.

Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or just someone looking for unique things to do in Detroit, Greektown is a must-visit. Its unique blend of culture, cuisine, and entertainment make it a standout destination in Detroit.

Is this one of the coolest places to visit in Detroit? You bet!

Sail away on the Detroit Princess Riverboat, the best thing to visit in Detroit, for a scenic and unforgettable adventure.
Sail away on the Detroit Princess Riverboat, the best thing to visit in Detroit, for a scenic and unforgettable adventure.

11. Detroit Princess Riverboat

Attractions in Detroit come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is among the best! For a unique perspective of Detroit, consider a cruise on the Detroit Princess Riverboat. This massive five-story vessel accommodates up to 1,500 passengers, offering a delightful blend of sightseeing, dining, and entertainment. As you glide along the Detroit River, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the city’s skyline and waterfront.

The Detroit Princess Riverboat isn’t just about the views, though. It’s also about the food and the fun. The onboard chefs serve up mouth-watering meals, including carved prime rib and juicy pork tenderloin, along with a buffet offering a wide range of choices.

But the experience doesn’t stop at dining. You’ll also enjoy live performances of Motown classics, adding a touch of nostalgia to your cruise. And with a full bar on each level, the Detroit Princess Riverboat turns into a floating party, making it a fantastic option for a night out in Detroit.

Cruise times and prices vary depending on the season, and it’s advisable to check their schedule and book your tickets in advance. Whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic evening or a group of friends seeking a unique experience, a cruise on the Detroit Princess Riverboat is a must-add to your Detroit itinerary.

For those seeking rest and relaxation, the Detroit Princess Riverboat is one of the best places in Detroit you should know about.

Unleash your inner scientist at the Detroit Science Center, an interactive wonderland of discovery and fun.
Unleash your inner scientist at the Detroit Science Center, an interactive wonderland of discovery and fun.

12. Detroit Science Center

The Detroit Science Center is a must-visit for those interested in the wonders of science and technology. This interactive museum, located in Midtown Detroit, offers a wide range of exhibits that cater to both children and adults. The center features a planetarium, an IMAX Dome Theatre, and a 4D theater, providing an immersive experience that brings science to life.

The center’s exhibits cover a broad spectrum of scientific fields, from space exploration to human anatomy, and from physical sciences to environmental studies. The Kidstown section is specially designed for children under five, offering hands-on activities that make learning fun and engaging.

The Detroit Science Center also hosts special events and programs throughout the year, including science talks, workshops, and camps. These programs aim to inspire a lifelong interest in science and technology and to foster a culture of scientific inquiry and innovation.

The center’s Science Stage showcases live science demonstrations that are both educational and entertaining. From chemistry to physics, these demonstrations bring scientific concepts to life in a way that is accessible to all.

Visitors can also explore the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium, which offers a stunning visual journey through the cosmos. The planetarium features state-of-the-art digital technology, providing a breathtaking view of the universe.

The Detroit Science Center is not just a place to learn about science; it’s a place to experience science. Whether you’re a science enthusiast or just curious about the world around you, this science center offers an enriching and enlightening experience.

Get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Detroit, MI, USA!
Get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Detroit, MI, USA!

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Detroit, Michigan? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Detroit:

Is there anything cool to do in Detroit?

Absolutely! Detroit, often called the “Motor City” due to its historical ties to the automobile industry, has undergone significant revitalization in recent years and boasts a variety of cool attractions and activities:

  1. Detroit Institute of Arts: The city is home to one of the best art collections in the United States. This museum showcases works from ancient to modern times.
  2. Motown Museum: Experience the birthplace of the Motown sound. See where artists like Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, and Diana Ross recorded their hits.
  3. Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village: Delve into the American industrial revolution, explore historic artifacts, and step back in time in the village where actors reenact past lifestyles.
  4. Detroit Riverwalk: A scenic 5-mile stretch alongside the Detroit River with parks, plazas, and green spaces. Ideal for walking, jogging, or just enjoying the views.
  5. Belle Isle Park: Located in the Detroit River, this island park offers a zoo, botanical garden, and an aquarium.
  6. Motor City Casino and MGM Grand Detroit: Test your luck or enjoy world-class entertainment and dining experiences.
  7. Detroit Auto Show (North American International Auto Show): Held annually, this is a must-visit for car enthusiasts.
  8. Eastern Market: The largest historic public market district in the United States. It offers fresh produce, meats, spices, and baked goods.
  9. Live Music: Known for its rich music heritage, including Motown, jazz, and techno, Detroit has numerous venues like the Fox Theatre, Majestic Theatre, and Saint Andrew’s Hall where you can catch live performances.
  10. Corktown: Detroit’s oldest neighborhood. It’s known for its historic architecture and hip vibe with trendy bars, restaurants, and shops.

These are just a few highlights. The spirit of resilience and innovation in Detroit, combined with its rich history and cultural assets, ensures there’s plenty of cool and intriguing things to do in the city.

Is Detroit safe to visit?

Detroit, like any other city, has areas that are safe and others that are less so. The city has seen a significant decrease in crime rates over the years. For instance, the violent crime rate in Detroit decreased from 2,071.4 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to 1,126.6 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020. The property crime rate also saw a significant decrease during the same period. As a visitor, it’s advisable to stick to safer neighborhoods such as Downtown, Greek Town, Mid Town, Corktown, and Belle Isle. Always be aware of your surroundings and take the same precautions you would in any other major city.

What are the must-visit places in Detroit?

Detroit is rich in culture, history, and art. Some must-visit places include the Detroit Institute of Arts, Motown Museum, Detroit Historical Museum, Belle Isle Island, Henry Ford Museum, Detroit Masonic Temple, Detroit Public Library, Comerica Park, Detroit Eastern Market, and Greektown. Each of these places offers a unique perspective on the city’s vibrant history and culture.

What are some unique experiences in Detroit?

Detroit offers a variety of unique experiences. You can attend a Detroit Tigers baseball game at Comerica Park, explore the oldest neighborhood in the city, Corktown, or visit the Eastern Market, a spot comprised of market vendors, restaurants, and retail shops. The Detroit Jazz Festival is another event that fills the city with amazing music and energy.

What are the best places to eat in Detroit?

Detroit’s food scene is diverse and exciting. Some popular spots include Astro Coffee in Corktown, Avalon International Breads for a caffeine pick-me-up, Central Kitchen + Bar for an Americana infused menu, Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters for a true coffee shop atmosphere, and Dime Store for a brunch experience. For a unique dining experience, visit The Apparatus Room located at the Detroit Foundation Hotel.

Detroit, Michigan, often dubbed “Motor City”, is renowned for several iconic contributions and attractions:

  1. Automotive Heritage: As the birthplace of the American automobile industry, Detroit is home to the “Big Three” auto manufacturers: Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis North America (previously Fiat Chrysler Automobiles). The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village showcases this rich automotive history.
  2. Motown Sound: Detroit is synonymous with Motown Records, which produced some of the biggest hits of the 1960s and 1970s. The Motown Museum celebrates this musical legacy.
  3. Sports: Detroit takes pride in its major sports teams, including the Detroit Lions (NFL), Detroit Tigers (MLB), Detroit Red Wings (NHL), and Detroit Pistons (NBA).
  4. Detroit Institute of Arts: This world-class museum boasts an extensive collection, including Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals.
  5. Architecture: The city features notable architectural landmarks like the Guardian Building, Fisher Building, and the Detroit Public Library.
  6. Music Scene: Beyond Motown, Detroit has made significant contributions to jazz, rock, and techno music. The city hosts various music festivals and has vibrant live music venues.
  7. Belle Isle Park: A large island park in the Detroit River, offering a range of attractions, including the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and the Belle Isle Aquarium.
  8. Gastronomy: Detroit has a growing culinary scene, known for specialties like Detroit-style pizza, Coney dogs, and unique eateries in neighborhoods like Corktown and Greektown.
  9. Cultural Festivals: Detroit hosts numerous festivals celebrating its diverse culture, such as the Detroit Jazz Festival, Movement Electronic Music Festival, and the Motor City Pride.

These popular facets capture the essence of Detroit’s storied past, dynamic present, and promising future.

Where should I stay when visiting Detroit?

When visiting Detroit, it’s recommended to stay in the downtown area, which is considered the heartbeat of the city. One highly recommended place is the Detroit Foundation Hotel, a boutique hotel full of history as it used to be the Detroit Fire Department Headquarters.

Is Detroit worth going to?

Detroit is certainly worth a visit. Known as “Motor City” because of its deep roots in the American automobile industry, Detroit blends rich history with modern energy. Here’s why:

  1. Historical significance: As the birthplace of the American auto industry, Detroit houses landmarks that tell the story of the nation’s industrial growth.
  2. Cultural richness: The Detroit Institute of Arts is a world-class museum, and the Motown Museum offers an immersive journey into the iconic Motown sound that changed America’s music landscape.
  3. Music and nightlife: Beyond Motown, Detroit has contributed to jazz, rock, and techno genres. The city’s live music venues, bars, and clubs offer lively entertainment.
  4. Sports: Detroit is passionate about its sports. Catch a game from one of its major league teams: Lions (NFL), Tigers (MLB), Pistons (NBA), or Red Wings (NHL).
  5. Architectural beauty: Detroit’s architectural gems, such as the Guardian Building and Fisher Building, offer a glimpse into its grand past.
  6. Food scene: From Detroit-style pizza to upscale dining experiences and the bustling Eastern Market, there’s a culinary adventure awaiting every palate.
  7. Waterfront & parks: The Detroit Riverwalk provides a beautiful urban escape, and Belle Isle Park is a vast recreational island with an aquarium, conservatory, and more.
  8. Revitalization: Detroit’s downtown and many neighborhoods have witnessed significant revitalization, with new businesses, art installations, and parks bringing fresh energy.
  9. Community & festivals: Experience Detroit’s spirit at various cultural, music, and art festivals that showcase the city’s diversity and creativity.
  10. Affordability: Compared to other major U.S. cities, Detroit offers many attractions at a more affordable price point.

In recent years, Detroit’s narrative has shifted from that of decline to one of rebirth and resilience. Visitors will find a city with a rich history, thriving arts scene, and a community dedicated to its renaissance.

Final thoughts in visiting Detroit, MI

Detroit is a city that has faced challenges but is also a city of resilience and rebirth. It’s a city that embraces its history while looking forward to the future. From its rich cultural institutions to its vibrant food scene, Detroit offers a unique experience for visitors. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, a sports fan, or an art lover, Detroit has something for you. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the Motor City!

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