35 Things To Do in Detroit

By Janet Benoir – May 20, 2024

Welcome to Detroit, a city that’s more than just cars – it’s a place full of culture, history, and excitement. From its rich automotive history to its vibrant art scene and beautiful parks, Detroit has something for everyone. Whether you love exploring the past, enjoying art, or being outdoors, you’ll find plenty of amazing things to do.

Here are the top 35 reasons to discover and fall for Detroit, a city that keeps moving forward.

Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) houses an impressive collection of over 65,000 works that span continents and eras. Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals stand as a striking homage to the city’s manufacturing heritage and workforce, reflecting on the deep connection between art, industry, and the indomitable spirit of Detroit. This mural invites visitors to contemplate the intricate relationship between artistic expression and industrial progress.

Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA

As you explore the DIA’s extensive galleries, you embark on a journey through the world’s artistic legacy. Each exhibit tells a unique story that transcends time and place. The DIA provides a comprehensive experience that enlightens, motivates, and touches the hearts of all who walk its halls, establishing itself as a pivotal destination for anyone interested in the arts and culture.

Detroit Riverwalk

The Detroit Riverwalk is the heartbeat of the city, offering breathtaking views and a peaceful break from city life. Whether you’re walking, jogging, or cycling, you’ll be treated to the stunning sights of Canada and a chance to immerse yourself in Detroit’s green spaces and rich maritime history. It symbolizes the city’s rejuvenation, turning the waterfront into a lively, green haven for both locals and tourists to enjoy nature.

Detroit Riverwalk

This award-winning promenade is a dynamic place of leisure and discovery, with boats sailing by, lush parks, and water from fountains enriching your experience. With art displays, seasonal festivities, and local food to enjoy, there’s always something new to discover. The Riverwalk is perfect for anyone looking to enjoy a gorgeous view of the sunset or a refreshing morning walk, offering a picturesque and tranquil slice of Detroit’s vibrant life.

Motown Museum

Hitsville U.S.A. stands as a monument to the Motown Sound, echoing with the timeless tunes of Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, and the Jackson 5. This simple house, where countless hits were born, offers music enthusiasts a chance to explore the very studio where these iconic tracks were recorded. With original instruments and memorabilia on display, the museum invites visitors into the heart of Motown’s unparalleled musical heritage.

Motown Museum

The Motown Museum celebrates not only the music but also the visionaries who crafted it. Exhibits showcase everything from Michael Jackson’s iconic gloves to Smokey Robinson’s poignant lyrics, highlighting the creativity and perseverance that defined Motown. For anyone who steps through its doors, the museum is a gateway to the past, offering a chance to experience the birthplace of musical legends and the enduring magic of the Motown phenomenon.

Belle Isle Park

Belle Isle Park stands as a lush oasis amidst the urban landscape, offering both adventure and serenity. With attractions like the historic aquarium, the vibrant Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, and beautiful trails and beaches, the park is a testament to Detroit’s natural beauty and the city’s skyline. It’s a place where visitors can immerse themselves in nature, enjoy panoramic views, and explore the rich tapestry of the city’s history.

Belle Isle Park

This island not only invites exploration with its architectural and natural wonders but also offers a peaceful retreat right in the city’s heart. Whether you’re wandering through exotic flora, observing wildlife, or relaxing by the water, Belle Isle provides a perfect blend of excitement and tranquility. It’s an ideal spot for families, nature enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a moment of peace and connection with nature amidst the bustling city life.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Step into the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to explore the profound journey of African Americans. This museum is a celebration of resilience, creativity, and the significant contributions African Americans have made to science, arts, and society. It offers visitors a chance to connect deeply with the stories and achievements that have shaped the African American experience.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

As you wander the museum, you’ll be touched by the rich cultural heritage and the spirit of the African American community. The museum serves as a vibrant space for learning and dialogue. Visiting this museum is an essential experience for anyone looking to appreciate the complex tapestry of American history and the invaluable role African Americans have played in it.

Campus Martius Park

Campus Martius Park is the beating heart of Detroit, offering something special in every season. Summer turns the park into a beach right in the city center, where you can enjoy the feel of sand under your feet and live tunes in the open air. Come winter, it transforms into a festive ice skating rink, surrounded by the glow of holiday lights, echoing with joyful sounds.

Campus Martius Park

More than just a place to gather, the park reflects Detroit’s enduring spirit and creativity. It’s where families share sunny picnics and couples skate together through chilly evenings, capturing the city’s essence in moments of leisure and togetherness. Campus Martius Park stands as a cherished spot in Detroit, a pause from the rush of daily life for fun, connection, and cherished memories.

Detroit Zoo

Detroit Zoo is a world of wonders where the wild calls home, stretching across vast landscapes that replicate habitats from the frigid Arctic tundra to the sweeping African savannah. Here, you can come face-to-face with majestic polar bears in the Arctic Ring of Life, one of North America’s largest polar bear habitats, offering an underwater viewing tunnel that brings you up close to these magnificent creatures.

Detroit Zoo

The African Grasslands exhibit, a sprawling space mirroring the open expanses of the savannah, offers a unique opportunity to observe the graceful strides of giraffes and the powerful presence of lions. Detroit Zoo is more than just an animal exhibition; it’s an immersive experience of the lives of Earth’s diverse inhabitants, educating and inspiring conservation efforts through each encounter.

Historic Fort Wayne

Historic Fort Wayne stands as a guardian of history, nestled along the banks of the Detroit River. This 19th-century fort opens a window to the past, allowing visitors to walk through its original barracks and imagine the lives of soldiers who once stood guard over the city. The fort’s rich military history comes to life, offering a glimpse into Detroit’s strategic importance through various conflicts.

Historic Fort Wayne

The sprawling grounds of the fort, with its imposing walls and serene river views, invite contemplation and exploration. It’s a place where history buffs can delve deep into the stories of yesteryear, and families can enjoy a picnic on the lush green lawns, surrounded by the echoes of history. Historic Fort Wayne is a cherished green space where the past and present coalesce.

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is a beacon of modern creativity, nestled in the heart of Detroit’s vibrant cultural district. This dynamic museum challenges perceptions and pushes boundaries through its eclectic mix of exhibitions, installations, and performances. At MOCAD, art is not just observed; it’s experienced, inviting visitors to engage with thought-provoking works that reflect the complexities of the modern world.

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)

Each visit to MOCAD offers a fresh perspective, as the museum’s ever-changing roster of exhibitions showcases the work of emerging and established artists alike. It’s a place where dialogue and innovation intersect, making art accessible and compelling for all. Whether you’re an art aficionado or a curious newcomer, MOCAD promises an immersive journey into the forefront of contemporary art.

Michigan Science Center

Michigan Science Center is a playground for the mind, where curiosity leads to discovery. With hands-on exhibits that span the realms of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the museum invites visitors of all ages to touch, interact, and explore. The planetarium whisks you away on a cosmic adventure among the stars, while live science demonstrations spark awe and wonder with experiments that fizz, pop, and dazzle.

Michigan Science Center

This family-friendly museum is a testament to the joy of learning, making complex scientific concepts both understandable and engaging. As children marvel at the wonders of the universe and adults rediscover their sense of wonder, the Michigan Science Center stands as a pillar of inspiration, fueling the imaginations of the next generation of innovators and explorers.

Comerica Park

Step inside Comerica Park and immerse yourself in the electrifying atmosphere of a Detroit Tigers game. Feel the buzz of anticipation as the crowd roars, the scent of ballpark snacks fills the air, and the first pitch is thrown. This iconic stadium isn’t just a venue; it’s the heart of summer in Detroit, offering not just baseball but a panoramic backdrop of the downtown skyline that takes your breath away.

Comerica Park

Even on non-game days, Comerica Park stands as a testament to Detroit’s love for sports and community gatherings. Wander around to admire the statues of Tigers legends, or take a guided tour to explore behind-the-scenes areas usually reserved for players and staff. The park’s openness invites the city in, making it a perfect spot to enjoy a sunny afternoon, reflecting on the storied history of America’s favorite pastime.

Fox Theatre

The moment you step into the Fox Theatre, you’re transported to an era of lavish entertainment and architectural grandeur. Marvel at the stunningly preserved décor, from the shimmering chandeliers to the intricate plasterwork, each detail a testament to the golden age of cinema and performance. This historic venue, a crown jewel of Detroit, hosts a dazzling array of Broadway shows, concerts, and performances, making every visit an unforgettable experience.

Fox Theatre

Whether it’s the enchanting melodies of a Broadway musical or the powerful performances of renowned musicians, the Fox Theatre promises unparalleled entertainment. Its opulent interior and world-class acoustics ensure that every seat in the house offers a magical experience, solidifying its status as a centerpiece of Detroit’s cultural landscape.

Heidelberg Project

Wander through the Heidelberg Project, and you’ll find yourself in an extraordinary world where art emerges from the unexpected. This visionary project has turned the streets into a vibrant exhibition space, where everyday objects find new life as pieces of a larger, ever-evolving canvas. The creativity and resilience of Detroit shine through in each installation, challenging perceptions and inviting reflection.

Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project is not just an art environment; it’s a movement that speaks to the soul of Detroit. Each piece tells a story of survival, transformation, and hope, engaging visitors in a dialogue that transcends traditional art boundaries. This living canvas embodies the spirit of community and the power of artistic expression to enact change, making it a truly unique Detroit experience.

The Spirit of Detroit

The Spirit of Detroit is more than just a statue; it’s a symbol of hope and togetherness that reflects the city’s enduring spirit. Standing in front of this iconic sculpture, visitors are reminded of Detroit’s resilience through hard times and the strong sense of community that binds its people together. It’s a powerful monument that captures the heart of the city, offering a space for reflection on Detroit’s journey.

The Spirit of Detroit

This landmark not only represents the city’s past struggles and victories but also its future aspirations for renewal and growth. As a poignant emblem of Detroit’s spirit, it connects onlookers to the city and its inhabitants in a meaningful way. For anyone looking to grasp the essence of Detroit and its path toward revitalization, a visit to The Spirit of Detroit is a must.

GM Renaissance Center

The GM Renaissance Center, or “RenCen,” soars above the Detroit skyline, a testament to the city’s architectural ambition and its storied automotive heritage. Standing at the water’s edge, this complex of skyscrapers is not just a workplace for thousands but a symbol of Detroit’s resilience and future aspirations. Visitors can ascend to the observation deck for breathtaking views of the city and the Detroit River.

GM Renaissance Center

Explore RenCen’s interior to discover a world of innovation and design. With its array of shops, restaurants, and exhibits, the center offers a glimpse into the heart of the automotive industry that drove Detroit to global prominence. Whether you’re marveling at the latest car models or enjoying a meal with a view, the GM Renaissance Center is a vibrant hub of activity and inspiration.

The BELT

Step into The BELT, a once ordinary alley now transformed into a pulsating vein of Detroit’s art scene. Here, the walls speak volumes, adorned with vibrant murals and installations that capture the city’s soul. It’s a place where art lovers and curious wanderers alike can immerse themselves in the creativity that pulses through Detroit’s streets. Each piece tells a story, turning a simple stroll into an exploration of artistic expression.

The BELT

The BELT has redefined the concept of an art gallery, blurring the lines between public space and creative sanctuary. As you wander through this urban canvas, you’re invited to engage with art in a way that’s both intimate and expansive. It’s more than just viewing; it’s about experiencing the energy and passion of local and international artists who have left their mark on Detroit’s cultural landscape.

Detroit Princess Riverboat

Climb aboard the Detroit Princess Riverboat and embark on a journey that offers a fresh perspective of the Motor City from the gleaming waters. As the cityscape unfolds before your eyes, the riverboat offers a serene escape from the urban hustle, serving up a blend of panoramic views and fine dining. The gentle lapping of the waves against the hull provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and discovery.

Detroit Princess Riverboat

Whether it’s the sparkle of the city lights or the warmth of the setting sun, the Detroit Princess Riverboat promises an unforgettable experience. With every course served, you’re not just tasting exquisite cuisine; you’re dining against the backdrop of Detroit’s evolving skyline, making every moment on board an opportunity to create lasting memories.

Detroit People Mover

The Detroit People Mover is your ticket to a whirlwind tour of the city from an unparalleled vantage point. This elevated train whisks you around Detroit, offering glimpses of the city’s architectural wonders and bustling streets from above. It’s an adventure that combines convenience with curiosity, allowing you to cover significant ground while soaking in the urban landscape’s unique beauty.

Detroit People Mover

As the city unfolds below, the People Mover becomes more than just a mode of transportation; it’s a moving observation deck. Each station is a gateway to Detroit’s diverse districts, inviting you to hop off and explore further. From historic landmarks to modern marvels, the People Mover ensures you don’t miss a beat of what this dynamic city has to offer.

Fisher Building

The Fisher Building stands as a beacon of Art Deco elegance in Detroit’s skyline. Step inside this architectural masterpiece to marvel at its ornate details and grandeur, a testament to the city’s golden age of design and craftsmanship. The building’s towering presence and intricate facade speak volumes of its historical significance, making it a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Fisher Building

But it’s more than just a feast for the eyes. It’s a vibrant hub of culture and entertainment, home to the Fisher Theatre. Here, the stage comes alive with performances that range from Broadway hits to local productions, each adding a layer of artistic vibrancy to Detroit’s rich cultural tapestry. A visit to the Fisher Building is an immersion into a world where history, art, and community converge.

Greenfield Village

Greenfield Village is a time capsule where America’s past is not just remembered but relived. This sprawling outdoor museum brings history to life through authentic buildings, historical reenactments, and hands-on experiences. From the clatter of the blacksmith’s hammer to the whistle of the steam train, every corner of the village tells a story, inviting visitors to step into the shoes of those who shaped the nation.

Greenfield Village

As you wander through the village, you’ll encounter characters from the past, engage with age-old crafts, and explore homes that once belonged to America’s forefathers. Greenfield Village is more than an educational journey; it’s an opportunity to connect with the pioneering spirit that defines the American experience, offering a profound sense of continuity and inspiration.

Z Park Garage

Imagine parking your car and stepping into a kaleidoscope of color and creativity. Z Park Garage transforms the mundane act of parking into an immersive artistic experience. Each level of this vibrant structure is adorned with dynamic murals painted by artists from around the globe, turning a simple structure into a vertical gallery that captivates and delights.

Z Park Garage

Each turn and ascent through Z Park Garage reveals a new visual story, a testament to Detroit’s rich artistic culture. As you navigate through this unique space, the lines between functionality and art blur, inviting visitors to appreciate the beauty in the everyday. This isn’t just a place to leave your car; it’s a destination that celebrates creativity and the city’s spirit of innovation.

Detroit Historical Museum

Step into the Detroit Historical Museum and travel back in time to witness the city’s transformation from humble beginnings to pivotal roles in American history. Each exhibit tells a part of Detroit’s story, from its founding along the straits to its undeniable influence on the nation’s automotive industry, civil rights movements, and musical legacy.

Detroit Historical Museum

Explore the streets of old Detroit, feel the tension and triumphs of its labor movements, and marvel at the ingenuity that fueled the automotive boom. The museum not only preserves the past but also connects it to the present, inviting visitors to reflect on how Detroit’s history shapes our world today. It’s a profound journey through time that enlightens and inspires.

Hart Plaza

Hart Plaza serves as Detroit’s pulsating heart, a sprawling riverside gathering space that’s alive with the energy of festivals, concerts, and public celebrations. Here, the Detroit River provides a stunning backdrop to a venue that’s seen the footsteps and heartbeats of millions, gathering to experience the cultural tapestry of the city.

Hart Plaza

As the epicenter of Detroit’s major events, Hart Plaza encapsulates the city’s love for music, food, and community. From the soulful melodies of the Jazz Festival to the vibrant displays of the River Days, this plaza is where Detroit’s diversity and unity are on full display. It’s more than a place; it’s where the city’s heartbeat is felt strongest, inviting everyone to be part of its ongoing story.

Third Man Records

Step inside Third Man Records and enter a world where music’s past and present converge in a symphony of sights and sounds. Founded by Jack White, this iconic record store is a treasure trove for vinyl enthusiasts, offering a rare collection of records, limited editions, and live performances that resonate through the heart of Detroit.

Third Man Records

The store isn’t just about browsing through racks of records; it’s an immersive experience that celebrates the art of music. From the vintage ambiance to the spontaneous in-store performances, Third Man Records embodies the soulful energy of Detroit’s music scene. It’s a haven where music lovers gather, discover, and connect, all under the watchful eye of one of rock’s most iconic figures.

Detroit Masonic Temple

Explore the grandeur of the Detroit Masonic Temple, the largest of its kind in the world. This architectural masterpiece is a maze of ornate rooms, grand ballrooms, and hallowed halls, each telling a story of brotherhood, mystery, and history. The temple’s imposing Gothic facade invites curiosity, while its interiors reveal the opulence and grandiosity of Masonic tradition.

Detroit Masonic Temple

As you wander through its corridors, the Detroit Masonic Temple offers a glimpse into a world of ritual and splendor. From the breathtaking auditorium to the solemn temple rooms, this building is a monument to the Masons’ legacy and a testament to Detroit’s architectural ambition. It’s an exploration of mystery and history, all housed within the walls of this monumental structure.

John K. King Used & Rare Books

Venture into the labyrinth of John K. King Used & Rare Books, where the scent of aged paper and the sight of towering shelves create a sanctuary for those who worship the written word. With over a million volumes, from out-of-print gems to beloved classics, this treasure trove invites you to lose track of time and immerse yourself in literary history.

John K. King Used & Rare Books

Every corner holds a story, every page a different world waiting to be discovered. Bibliophiles will find themselves in a state of bliss, browsing through collections that span centuries and genres. It’s not just a bookstore; it’s a journey through the annals of storytelling, where each book you pull from the shelf whispers secrets of its past.

“Reflector” Art Installation

Underneath the Cass Avenue viaduct, the “Reflector” art installation transforms an ordinary walkway into an enchanting tunnel of light and shadow. As daylight fades, this interactive masterpiece comes to life, casting an array of reflections that dance across the surfaces, captivating the imaginations of all who pass through.

Reflector Art Installation

The installation, a creative collaboration between local artists, uses thousands of reflective surfaces to play with the concept of light, turning a simple structure into a canvas of brilliance. Visitors find themselves part of the art, their movements creating ever-changing patterns that illuminate the underpass in a kaleidoscope of colors.

Eastern Market

Eastern Market stands as a vibrant heart in Detroit’s culinary landscape, pulsating with the energy of local farmers, artisans, and food enthusiasts. Every visit promises a sensory overload, with stalls bursting with fresh fruits, vegetables, and handcrafted goods, all set against a backdrop of stunning street art that tells the city’s rich, colorful stories.

Eastern Market

The market is more than a place to shop; it’s a community hub where you can savor the flavors of Detroit, from smoky barbecue to sweet pastries and everything in between. The murals that adorn the market’s walls are as diverse as the produce on offer, making every stroll through the aisles an adventure in culture and taste.

Dequindre Cut Greenway

The Dequindre Cut Greenway offers a slice of tranquility amidst the urban hustle, a green artery that pulses with the life of the city. This below-ground path invites cyclists and pedestrians alike to explore Detroit’s dynamic landscape, flanked by verdant spaces and adorned with vibrant graffiti art that celebrates the spirit of the community.

Dequindre Cut Greenway

As you traverse this urban oasis, the city’s hum fades into the background, replaced by the sounds of nature and the soft murmur of fellow adventurers. The Dequindre Cut is a testament to Detroit’s resilience and creativity, a place where art and nature coalesce to offer a peaceful retreat from the concrete jungle.

Milliken State Park and Harbor

Along the scenic shores of the Detroit Riverfront, Milliken State Park and Harbor offers a serene escape from the city’s bustle. Here, you can bask in the beauty of the waterfront, watch boats glide by, or explore the historic lighthouse that stands as a beacon of Detroit’s maritime heritage.

Milliken State Park and Harbor

This lush park is a haven for both relaxation and exploration, with trails that wind through natural landscapes and offer stunning views of the river and city skyline. Whether you’re picnicking on the grassy knolls, fishing from the pier, or simply enjoying a stroll, Milliken State Park and Harbor encapsulates the peaceful side of Detroit’s vibrant heart.

New Center Park

Nestled in the bustling New Center, this park is an oasis of entertainment, where the air buzzes with melodies and the magic of cinema under the stars. It’s not just a park; it’s a cultural epicenter where every event feels intimate, surrounded by the soft glow of string lights and the collective warmth of the community.

New Center Park

In summer, the park transforms into an outdoor theater, inviting families to spread their blankets on the lush grass and immerse themselves in blockbuster hits and timeless classics. As the sun sets, the stage comes alive with the vibrant sounds of live music, ranging from jazz to indie and everything in between, making New Center Park a must-visit destination for those looking to tap into Detroit’s pulsating cultural heartbeat.

Boston Edison Historic District

Walking through the Boston Edison Historic District is like stepping back in time, where each street tells the tales of Detroit’s golden age. Here, magnificent homes stand as monuments to the city’s automotive barons, their grandeur preserved through time, inviting onlookers to marvel at their architectural splendor and opulent designs that speak volumes of the past’s luxuries.

Boston Edison Historic District

This neighborhood, a canvas of historical elegance, offers a serene stroll beneath the canopy of mature trees, with each turn revealing another stunning example of early 20th-century craftsmanship. It’s a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle, allowing visitors to ponder the lives of those who once walked these halls, from titans of industry to the creative minds that fueled Detroit’s cultural revolutions.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum

Located on Belle Isle, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is a tribute to Detroit’s significant maritime history. It brings history to life, sharing stories of the grand ships that navigated the Great Lakes, facing nature’s fury to connect Detroit with the world. This museum serves as a gateway to understanding how vital water was to Detroit’s development, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s soul.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum

Within its walls, visitors can explore a variety of exhibits filled with stories of adventure, peril, and innovation. From the opulence of passenger steamers to the ruggedness of cargo ships, the museum showcases a collection of artifacts and interactive exhibits that engage and inform. The Dossin Great Lakes Museum stands out as a valuable resource for anyone interested in the maritime forces that have shaped Detroit’s history.

Belle Isle Aquarium

The Belle Isle Aquarium is a jewel in Detroit’s crown, a place where the beauty of aquatic life is celebrated in a setting of historical elegance. As you step through its doors, you’re greeted by a world of tranquility and wonder, where exotic fish glide through crystal-clear waters, their colors a testament to the diversity hidden beneath the world’s oceans.

Belle Isle Aquarium

This aquarium, one of the nation’s oldest, has been meticulously restored, its stunning green-tiled interior providing a perfect backdrop for the vibrant life it houses. It’s a place of discovery and learning, where each tank offers a glimpse into the mysteries of aquatic ecosystems, making the Belle Isle Aquarium an enchanting destination for visitors of all ages.

Lincoln Street Art Park

Lincoln Street Art Park is a colorful showcase of Detroit’s imagination and commitment to the environment. Sculptures made from recycled materials stand tall, offering a fresh perspective on beauty and sustainability. This park isn’t just a place to look; it’s a place that gets people talking and thinking about how we can change our communities for the better.

Lincoln Street Art Park

Walking through the park, you’re surrounded by creative works that tell stories of environmental care. With vibrant murals and dynamic graffiti, the park serves as a unique space where art and eco-awareness come together. It’s an essential stop for anyone interested in how art can highlight the importance of caring for our planet, right in the bustling heart of Detroit.

Traveling through Detroit, you’ll find surprises at every turn, from the lively Eastern Market to the peaceful RiverWalk. This city, full of contrasts, will capture your imagination. Every place you visit tells a part of Detroit’s story, showing its history, its now, and its future. So, grab your sense of adventure and dive into exploring all that Detroit has to offer. Here, every corner and every old building shares a tale of toughness, comeback, and new beginnings.