Category: Michigan
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Updated

The 33 Most Fun Things to Do in Detroit [2024]

#13-18 can all be done on the same street...
The name 'Detroit' on a public art structure near Campus Martius park. Visiting Campus Martius is one of the 25 best things to do in Detroit.

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Anyone visiting Detroit in 2024 will be spellbound by the artistic architecture, monumental museums, renowned riverfront, magnetic murals, stunning sculptures, and athletic achievements of this midwest metropolis.

Detroit, a.k.a "the Motor City" and "Hockeytown", is back and better than ever. In the past decade, the city has undergone a tremendous renaissance. Restored to its former glory, Detroit is the next major U.S city you should visit this spring, summer or fall in 2024!

Throughout the twentieth century, Detroit's reputation as a city rivaled other large metropolises such as Chicago and New York. Due to the boom in the automobile industry and the high pay of manufacturing jobs, Detroit became known as the city who 'put the world on wheels'.

Like most big cities, Detroit has a rich history in art & music. There are multiple art museums and murals scattered around the city commemorating Detroit's impact to the visual arts. Genres such as soul and hip-hop also accredit Detroit for one of the cities where the music flourished the most.

As a Michigan-based travel blogger, I have the luxury of living not only about 20 minutes away from Ann Arbor but also about 30 minutes from Detroit!

I visit the city on many weekends I am not traveling out-of-state so I know this city very, very well! The Motor City is in my top five U.S cities!

I have organized the list in the most efficient way I could do so: grouping attractions by their proximity to one another.

With so much to do in this iconic city, I bring you, my dear readers... the 33 best things to do in Detroit, in 2024!

IN THIS ARTICLE...
MISC...
PEOPLE ALSO ASK...

For 2024, here are the 33 most fun things to do in Detroit...

01 // Monroe Street Midway

A newly built public park called Monroe Street Midway located in downtown Detroit Michigan. Monroe Street Midway is one of the best things to do in Detroit.
One of Detroit's newest year-round attractions!

For the first several recommendations in this article, I'm going to mention things all located in (or very close to) the downtown district of Detroit. The first item to kick off my curated list of the best things to do in Detroit is... Monroe Street Midway!

Monroe Street Midway is a fresh, colorful, hip and mostly free outdoor attraction in downtown Detroit as of 2021! The project was funded by Michigan billionaire Dan Gilbert in an effort to attract tourists and locals to Detroit. It worked.

The attraction is so new that a lot of faux "travel bloggers" who just Google 'things to do in X' and write as if they've been to these places haven't heard of it.

Bring cash for this one. Monroe Street Midway is technically free to enter. You have to go through a metal detector to enter the park. Once inside, some of the attractions, like the rollerskating rink, cost money.

In the warmer months of the year, Monroe Street Midway has sections of the park where people can play on colorful, artistically painted basketball courts, skate in an outdoor rollerskating rink, play on see-saws, and play large versions of classic games like Connect Four and chess.

On November 9, 2023, the park switched over to winter-themed activities, such as "bumper cars on ice", a tall "Arctic slide", and a variation of putt-putt golf with hockey pucks! This will last until January 7, 2024.

Whether it is warm or cold outside, Monroe Street Midway is a Detroit attraction you should definitely check out!

Address: 32 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226
Hours: M-W closed, Th-S 12:00 p.m - 11:00 p.m, Su 12:00 p.m - 9:00 p.m

02 // Campus Martius

Campus Martius park in downtown Detroit Michigan. Taking pictures in Campus Martius is one of the most fun things to do in Detroit!
Lots of public art to admire and photograph in Campus Martius!

Located in very close proximity to Monroe Street Midway is Campus Martius, one of the most beautiful and active city parks in the United States! In recent years, Campus Martius has undergone some incredible renovations.

I think my personal favorite addition to the city square is the bronze "Waiting" statue. It depicts two standing anthropomorphic mouse-esque figures with 'X' over their eyes. It's a fun addition to the many pieces of public art adorning the city of Detroit.

Another new addition I'm quite fond of is seeing the Q-Line pass you by. In a city nicknamed 'The Motor City', the idea of public transportation has historically been at odds with the 'big three' automotive companies (Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis).

In 2017, younger generations especially welcomed the arrival of Detroit's streetcar system called the Q-Line. I'll get back to this later. Going back to Campus Martius...

Campus Martius is a public square with incredible views of downtown Detroit. Depending on where you stand in the park, you can take in some of Detroit's most architectually aesthetic skyscrapers, such as the Penobscot Building or the General Motors Renaissance Center.

There is a lettered sculpture "WE ♥ DET" and also a wheel-shaped sculpture with "DETROIT" written on it which are incredibly popular spots for tourists to snap some pictures.

During the colder months of the year, Campus Martius has an ice skating rink which can hold around 1,000 skaters. A Christmas tree lighting ceremony also takes place toward the end of the year. Reminds me a bit of Rockefeller Center with the rink and Christmas tree in New York City.

Address: 800 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226
Hours: 6:00 a.m - 10:00 p.m

03 // The Guardian Building

The 32nd floor of the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit Michigan. Exploring this skyscraper is one of the most fun things to do in Detroit.
Taken from the 32nd floor, the views outside the windows are extraordinary.

One of the remarkable skyscrapers adding to the beauty of the Detroit Skyline is the Guardian Building!

The Guardian Building is a must-do in downtown Detroit for two reasons: first, it's open twenty-four hours a day and two... it's free! How can you go wrong being able to just walk inside one of the Detroit's most beautiful skyscrapers without spending any money!?

Look up at the ceiling as you wander through the building. The colors and patterns will lock your attention. Not only is this building elegant on the outside, it's spellbinding on the inside as well.

That being said, to make your visit to the Guardian Building truly worth it, you should go on Sundays at either 12:00 p.m or 1:30 p.m. You'll join a free tour where you'll be able to access the 32nd floor of the skyscraper. On this floor are several windows where you can get some lovely birdseye views of the city.

On the tour, you'll also be able to enter an executive board room on the 6th floor and also can walk through two bank vaults. When I went, there was an old bank teller window made of monel which felt like it weighed 90 lbs. See if you are strong enough to lift it!

One more interesting fact is two of the only four stained glass clocks in the world designed by an artist named Louis Tiffany are located inside the Guardian Building! The other two are both in my favorite U.S city-- New York City. You'll learn on the tour where the other two are located!

Address: 500 Griswold Street, Detroit, MI 48226
Hours: 24/7

04 // The Spirit of Detroit

The Spirit of Detroit is one of the most famous public art pieces in all of Detroit Michigan, located in downtown. Seeing the Spirit of Detroit is one of the most fun things to do in Detroit!
The 'Spirit of Detroit' statue in downtown Detroit.

I have a separate article describing the best pieces of public art in Detroit. The most famous sculpture in Detroit is undeniably the Spirit of Detroit and is a must-see during your visit here!

This statue, located at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in downtown Detroit is the largest statue designed for a city anywhere in the world since the Renaissance! What's even more notable is the artist who designed the statue created the structure for free.

So, what exactly is the 'spirit' of Detroit? Well, when I look the statue, I see a strong man capably handling stresses of adulthood. It's an inspiring statue I interpret to be about perseverance.

Last, this is something I did not notice the first time I laid eyes on the statue, but in the background of the statue is a scripture from the New Testament:

Now the Lord is that spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. - 2 Corinthians 3:17

Address: 2 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226
Hours: 24/7

05 // The Joe Louis Fist

Up close image of the Joe Louis Fist sculpture in downtown Detroit Michigan. Seeing 'The Fist' is one of the most fun things to do in Detroit!
Any structure of a clenched fist is bound to get people's attention!

One structure in downtown Detroit that surely grabs people's attention is the giant clenched fist, usually referred to as just 'The Fist'.

Located less than one minute's walk across the street from the Spirit of Detroit statue is an art sculpture honoring boxer Joe Louis. It's convenient that such distinguishable art pieces in the city are so close to one another!

The legendary boxer was raised in Detroit. He even worked for Ford Motor Company at the River Rouge plant before he became a professional athlete. Louis is most famous for defending his title as the world heavyweight champion 25 times.

There used to be a sporting arena in Detroit called the Joe Louis Arena but it was closed in 2017. The Joe Louis Arena may no longer be a thing to see but you can still check out this fun sculpture!

Tell you what-- if you take a picture of yourself fist bumping the statue, feel free to tag me on Instagram (@michaelvisitsall) or send me your picture via email. I love hearing from my readers!

Address: 5 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226
Hours: 24/7

06 // Hart Plaza

The circular 'Transcending Monument' structure which can be found in Hart Plaza in Detroit Michigan. Walking around Hart Plaza is one of the most fun things to do in Detroit!
Another glorious sculpture in downtown is the circular structure in Hart Plaza.

Here's a third glorious art sculpture you can check out in downtown! It is located very close to both the Spirit of Detroit and the Joe Louis Fist. In Hart Plaza, there is a tall circular statue. The name of structure is 'Transcending'.

During the summer, Hart Plaza is a popular spot for festivals and concerts-- perhaps the most famous event being the Movement Electronic Music Festival. When it's being used for such events, Hart Plaza is usually closed off, which impedes one's ability to explore it. In the autumn and spring months of the year, it's easier to check this place out.

Hart Plaza is only a few minutes walk away from the Detroit Riverwalk, the General Motors Renaissance Center, and downtown.

Address: 1 Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI 48226
Hours: 8:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m.

07 // The General Motors Renaissance Center

Main entrance to the General Motors Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit Michigan. Exploring the Renaissance Center is one of the most fun things to do in Detroit!
My favorite skyscraper in the entire U.S: the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.

As someone who loves to explore cities, I've seen lots of impressive skyscrapers with my own eyes, such as the Space Needle in Seattle, the Pink Tower in Portland, the Willis Tower in Chicago, and the Empire State Building in New York.

But I must say-- my favorite skyscraper in any U.S city has got to be the General Motors Renaissance Center, colloquially referred to as the 'Ren Cen', in downtown Detroit.

One thing I feel I should clarify before someone attempts to correct me: the 'Ren Cen' is not just one building. It's actually seven connected edifaces. When I say the 'Ren Cen' is my favorite skyscraper, I'm particularly referencing the cylinder-shaped building in the center.

When there isn't an event taking place, the first level of the Ren Cen has exhibits of some of General Motors (GM)'s' vehicles. Colorful slideshows grace the walls in the center of the first level which opens opportunity for some good photos.

Side note: if you enjoy seeing GM's vehicles on display, then you must drive over to Dearborn and go to the Henry Ford Museum and the Automobile Hall of Fame.

Visitors are also welcome to advance to the upper levels of the Ren Cen as well. Various shopping and dining options are available based on what floor you go up to. You'll feel fancy sipping a cocktail looking out the window at the High Bar, which is located on the 71st and 72nd floor.

Address: 400 Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI 48243
Hours: 6:00 a.m - 10:00 p.m (restaurants & stores will have differing hours)

08 // The Detroit Riverwalk

View of Windsor, Ontario from the Detroit side of the Detroit River. Walking along the Detroit riverfront is one of the most fun things to do in Detroit!
That's Canada, an entirely different country over there!

One of the most impressive landmark achievements of the Motor City is the 3.5 mile pass along the Detroit riverfront, also known simply as the Detroit Riverwalk. While many cities in the U.S offer a riverwalk as one of their best things to do, the enchanting stretch along the Detroit River is unrivaled.

The Detroit Riverwalk has been voted the best riverwalk in the United States for three consecutive years (2021, 2022, and 2023) by USA Today.

What makes the Detroit Riverwalk triumph in comparison to other riverwalks in the country, such as the Canal Walk in Indianapolis or Bricktown in Oklahoma City?

One attribute that makes the Detroit riverfront unique is the opportunity for Americans and international visitors to see Canada from across the water. In particular, the Canadian city you can see up so close from across the Detroit River is Windsor, located in the province of Ontario.

Aside from the Canadian view, the Detroit Riverwalk grants visitors the combined opportunity to see public art, skyscrapers, public parks, and easy access to select restaurants along the way.

The Detroit Riverwalk commences at the old site for the Joe Louis Arena and terminates at Gabriel Richard Park.

On October 21, 2023, the city of Detroit welcomed an expansion of the Detroit Riverwalk between Mt Elliott Park and Gabriel Richard Park which extended the riverwalk to Belle Isle. The newly completed section is the Uniroyal Promenade.

We'll cover Belle Isle soon, don't you worry, but since I mentioned Canada earlier, one thing you can also do is...

09 // Take a bus or drive into Windsor through the tunnel

Entrance of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, on the Detroit Michigan side.
Entrance to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, on the Detroit side.

Quick story about this picture: I actually took this picture on foot. I walked as close as I could to the entrance before a friendly guard stopped me. His name was Mike! He asked me if I was visiting out of town and I explained to him I was a local just visiting the city for a few days.

How many U.S cities can you visit where you can so easily just enter another country? Exactly! From Detroit, if you don't feel like driving your own car or renting a car, you can hop on a bus and enter Canada! It only costs $10 either way.

Fun fact: the Detroit-Windsor border is the busiest international crossing in North America.

As an alternative to the tunnel, you can drive into Canada via the Ambassador Bridge. I love the turquoise-colored towers of the Ambassador Bridge. Of all the three bridges you can take from Michigan to Canada, the Ambassador Bridge is my favorite-- somewhat just due to its beauty.

There is another bridge called the Gordie Howe International Bridge being built at the moment.

For things to do in Windsor, well... there aren't many. The Caesars Windsor casino is pretty nice. So is the Windsor Sculpture Park. You can walk around Windsor for an hour or two and then head back into Detroit.

If you want more information on every way a Michigander can enter Canada, I have an entire article dedicated to this.

Address: 100 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
Hours: 24/7

10 // The Belt

Entrance to the Belt off Grand River in Detroit Michigan
Entrance to The Belt from Grand River.

The Belt is a really cool cultural alleyway between Broadway and Library Street, with entrances on Grand River and Gratiot, that I honestly missed my first few visits to Detroit! I walked past it and had no idea!

The Belt is also located next to a really cool parking garage called The Z, which also happens to have quite a few awesome colorful pieces of street art inside!

The Belt is decorated with murals, hanging fairy lights, and colorful banners for every floor connecting adjacent buildings. There are also some bars and restaurants down the alleyway as well.

Address: 1274 Library Street, Detroit, MI 48226
Hours: 24/7

11 // Greektown

A street in Greektown, a small neighborhood in downtown Detroit Michigan
A street in Greektown.

Similiar to how some cities will have a "Chinatown" or "Little Italy", Detroit has a neighborhood centric around Greek culture named 'Greektown'.

In addition to some choice Greek cuisine, Greektown is also terrific for barhopping. There are a few cool rooftop bars in this neighborhood as well.

A common reason people visit Greektown is for its casino. In fact, if gambling is your thing, Detroit is a prime hub for gamblers, as there are two other casinos (which I'll elaborate on later) in the city, not to mention Caesars Casino Windsor.

Note: Greektown can sometimes get a bit rowdy. Be careful when exploring the area.

12 // The People Mover

The People Mover in front of the General Motors Renaissance Center stop in Detroit Michigan.
Cool ground view of the People Mover in front of the stop for the 'Ren Cen'.

If your feet need a rest and you want to get a slightly higher view of downtown Detroit, take a ride on the People Mover!

The People Mover used to cost 75 cents to ride. Starting on January 2, 2004, the People Mover will be free, thanks to a sponsored pilot program called the Zero Fare program. The program is expected to last for at least one year.

There are twelve stops along the loop the Detroit Mover operates on. To complete the loop takes about 15 minutes. It's a fairly short ride!

Regarding public transportation, Detroit also has the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) bus system, which operates mostly in Detroit and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) bus system, which services several areas in the metro Detroit region.

I won't be discussing the bus systems in this particular article, and they're fine to use if you're unable/unwilling to drive/rent a car, but there's one more mode of public transit I will mention here, and that's going to be...

Address: Twelve stops - address will vary.
Hours: M-Th 7:00 a.m - 10:30 p.m, F 7:00 a.m - 12:00 a.m, S 10:00 a.m - 12:00 a.m, Su 10:00 a.m - 8:00 p.m

13 // The Q-Line

The Q-Line streetcar that goes down Woodward Avenue in downtown and midtown Detroit.
The Q-Line streetcar in between the Congress St and Campus Martius stops.

The next six items in this article can all be found on just one street: Woodward Avenue.

If your feet are sore, your back hurts, and you don't feel like driving in the city, there's a mode of transportation you can use to see all these attractions: the Q-Line.

As mentioned earlier, the Q-Line was the latest installment in Detroit's effort to provide the city with more public transportation options. It is a streetcar which runs down Woodward Avenue spanning from Congress Street in downtown to Grand Boulevard in New Center.

The Q-Line is free to ride!

Service is frequent during its hours of operation, with a waittime of about 15 minutes.

Address: Twelve stops - address will vary.
Hours: M-S 7:30 a.m - 12:00 a.m, Su 7:30 a.m - 9:00 p.m.

14 // The Detroit Institute of Arts

The entrance to the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit Michigan
The entrance to the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Located in midtown, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is one of the largest art museums in the country with over 65,000 pieces of art in its interior.

Spanning around 658,000 square feet, the DIA is now larger than the Art Institute of Chicago (562,000 square feet), rendering it the largest art museum in the midwest.

For those residing in Michigan, if you live in Wayne, Macomb, or Oakland county, admission to the museum is free! For everyone else, cost for an adult ticket is $18.00.

The DIA has three floors. When you enter the museum, you will be on the second level, which I believe is the largest floor of the three. Nearly half of the second floor is dedicated to European art, primarily from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Most of the other half places great emphasis on African-American art.

One section on the second floor I find particularly interesting was seeing how colonial homes were decorated. On the third floor, there is a section called "fashionable living" where you hear harp music playing as you see how a living space for the wealthy in 18th century France was arranged.

On the first floor, you'll find art of southern Asia, native American art, Egyptian art, and photography.

The third floor of the DIA is the smallest of the three floors, housing primarily British and Dutch art.

One thing that has surprised me on my travels is how good the food is in art museums! I thought the food at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Newgrounds in Indianapolis, IN were great and it's no different at the CafeDIA in the DIA!

Address: 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
Hours: M closed, T-Th 9:00 am - 4:00 p.m, F 9:00 a.m - 9:00 p.m, S-Su 10:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m

15 // The Detroit Historical Museum

The recreation of 'Old Streets' in Detroit in the Detroit Historical Museum in Detroit Michigan
The lower level of the museum has a recreation of 'old streets' of Detroit.

When I travel throughout the major cities, I sometimes overlook museums dedicated to the city's history. In Detroit, I would advise against this! The Detroit Historical Museum is well-worth the visit!

The Detroit Historical Museum has such a convenient location: it is right across the street from the Detroit Institute of Arts! Thus, you can definitely visit both museums in the same day!

On the main floor of the museum, one of the coolest sections to check out is the wing dedicated to Motown. There's an interactive portion where you select one of three songs and you can "mix" the songs. I put "mix" in quotes since all you can do is just raise or lower the volumes of instruments in the songs. You don't get to EQ, compress, or add effects, like you would in actual mixing.

Of course, you'll see exhibits on the lower level centric around the automobile industry because, yeah, how could you not? There's another interactive feature where you can use an assembly line to attach the body of a car! However, when I visited most recently, the mechanism was out of order.

If you visit when this part of the museum is running again, feel free to let me know how it is!

My favorite part of the museum is on the lower level. There's a large exhibit where the museum re-creates the look of Detroit streets from the late 19th century and early 20th century. You can even walk inside some of the "stores", such as an old pharmacy!

Admission to the Detroit Historical Museum is $10.00.

Address: 5401 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
Hours: M-T closed, W-S 10:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m, Su 1:00 p.m - 5:00 p.m

16 // The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

A large colorful mural in the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit dedicated to Yolanda Nichelle Curry in Detroit Michigan
Mural inside the museum.

About a 14 minute walk from the Detroit Historical Museum and the Detroit Institute of Arts is the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit-- abbreviated as MOCAD.

The building is a standout black building with the words 'EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT' etched on the side facing Woodward Avenue. Getting a picture of the lettering is tough because of the pesky trees in front of it. Why are those trees even there??

For an art museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is noticeably much, much smaller than the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Admission is technically free though donations are encouraged.

Address: 4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Hours: M-T closed, W 11:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m, Th, F 11:00 a.m - 8:00 p.m, S-Su 11:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m

17 // Comerica Park

Entrance to Comerica Park, where the Detroit Tigers play in Detroit Michigan
Can you guess which Detroit team plays here?

I've mentioned a few times on this blog that I am not a sports fan. However, Detroit is a city known for its stunning architecture, and one of its sports stadiums is no exception.

Detroit is home to all four of the major American sports: baseball, football, hockey, and basketball. Can you guess which one of the four teams plays at Comerica Park?

The stone tigers on top are a big hint. It's the Detroit Tigers, the baseball team!

Of course, the main reason why someone would visit the stadium is to see the Detroit Tigers play. That being said, everyone can at least appreciate the numerous tiger statues all around the stadium. The statues make for some fun photo ops.

For the sports fans' reference, next to Comerica Park is Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play, and a 12 minute walk from Comerica Park is Little Caesars Arena, where the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons play.

Address: 2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Hours: depends on when the games start.

18 // Little Caesars Arena & headquarters

The Little Caesars World Headquarters in Detroit Michigan
The headquarters of the slogan, "Pizza! Pizza!"

The Little Caesars World Headquarters is another entry in the list of buildings with eye-catching architecture in Detroit.

Look at the windows. Notice their shape? The triangles? Yep-- those are meant to be in the shape of pizza slices! I'll be totally honest: I did not even notice that the first time I laid eyes on the building!

I'm going to share a fact with you that'll make you want to order a Hot N' Ready: Mike Illitch, the founder of Little Caesars, paid Rosa Parks's rent for over a decade until she passed away in 2005. Isn't that amazing??

As I mentioned earlier when writing about Comerica Park, you can also walk by and admire Little Caesars Arena, where you can see a Detroit Red Wings game or a Detroit Pistons game!

But, speaking of pizza...

Address: 2125 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201 (headquarters), 2645 Woodward Ave, Detroit MI 48201 (arena)
Hours: n/a

19 // Eat some Detroit style pizza

Detroit style pizza, which you find a lot of in Detroit Michigan
Similar to Chicago style pizza, Detroit style pizza is a filling rectangular pan pie and something you must eat in Detroit!

Source: Shutterstock

Just like how Chicago and New York have their signature styles of pizza, Detroit does as well! So, when visiting Detroit, you should definitely treat yourself to some amazing, authentic Detroit-style pizza!

Detroit style pizza is a thicker, rectangular shaped pie. While not as large as Chicago style, the individual pieces are still quite filling. Two slices can be enough for most people.

Here is my favorite recommendation for Detroit style pizza: go to Sgt. Pepperoni's Pizzeria & Deli off Woodward Ave in downtown (hence the reason I mentioned it at this point in the article). One big reason I'm fond of this place: it's open late!

Oh, I should mention too... there's a bowling alley inside this restaurant too! So, that's something else you can do as well!

Address: 4120 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
Hours: M 11:00 a.m - 12:00 a.m, T-S 11:00 a.m - 2:00 a.m, Su 11:00 a.m - 12:00 a.m

20 // Try a coney dog at either American Coney Island or Lafayette Coney Island

The entrances to both American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit Michigan
Two incredible restaurants who serve one of Detroit's most iconic foods are right next door to each other!

When visiting a new city, trying cuisine that city is known for is part of the fun! Save one meal for Detroit style pizza and another meal for a coney dog!

What is a coney dog? It's a variation of a hot dog, a classic American food, but this time, chili and onions are served on top of the meat.

There are two places in downtown I'd advise where you can try a coney dog: either American Coney Island or Lafayette Coney Island.

American Coney Island has been in operation since 1917! It is one of Detroit's oldest running businesses. To put that in perspective, your great-grandparents could have eaten here when the restaurant first opened!

As someone who was a math major in college, one decoration I especially appreciate about American Coney Island is a banner which reads "MATH IS COOL".

Two great reasons you should try a coney dog at either restaurant: 1) they are very cheap and 2) they are super fast! Seriously, I've ordered a coney dog at both places and in one minute have had my coney dog at my table. It's not "fast food"; it's great food served quickly!

Which restaurant is better between the two? The coney dogs are both are quite good. I don't have a strong preference either way on the food quality. When it comes to atmosphere though, I do prefer American Coney Island. But for hours open, I prefer Lafayette!

Address: 114 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226 (American Coney Island)
Hours: M-Th 10:00 a.m - 7:00 p.m, F 10:00 a.m - 12:00 a.m, S 11:00 a.m - 12:00 a.m, Su 11:00 a.m - 7:00 p.m.

21 // Drink a Vernors ginger ale

Author holding a bottle of Vernor's against a backdrop of downtown Detroit in Detroit Michigan
Me holding a bottle of Vernor's ginger ale in downtown.

To wrap up foods you should try while visiting Detroit, also be sure to try some Vernors! While the drink is sold in more states than just Michigan, it is infamous for being rather to find. Even I myself don't see Vernors sold in a lot of convenience stores in Michigan!

Vernors is the oldest brand of ginger ale in the United States and was started in a drugstore on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

Compared to the other ginger ale sodas, like Schweppes, I would say Vernors is a little sweeter, due to a higher blend of vanilla.

One of your days in Detroit, have a coney dog and a Vernors, and some Detroit style pizza for dinner!

22 // The Motown Museum

The recording studio visitors can tour when they visit the Motown Museum in Detroit Michigan. The Motown Museum is one of the best things to do in Detroit!
The recording studio you can visit during your Motown Museum tour!

When it comes to cities with vibrant music scenes, Motown Records was instrumental (see what I did there?) in putting Detroit on the map. While you get a sample of Motown's significance when exploring the Detroit Historical Museum, immerse yourself with all that is this iconic record label at the Motown Museum.

A popular misconception is that "motown" is a genre of music. This is inaccurate. "Motown" was just the name of the record label-- that being Motown Records. The reason many people think "motown" is a genre is that many soul music artists with a similar sound were on the label.

Unlike the other museums mentioned in this article, the Motown Museum is by guided tour only and lasts about an hour.

On the tour, you'll get to enter the coveted 'Studio A', where music artists as famous as Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson recorded some of their music.

I would recommend purchasing tickets online in advance. Being one of Detroit's most popular attractions, tickets can sell rather quickly! Admission to the Motown Museum for an adult ticket is $20.00.

Address: 2648 W Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48208 (the street is also named Barry Gordon Jr. Boulevard)
Hours: M, T closed, W-F 10:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m, S 10:00 a.m - 8:00 p.m, Su 10:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m

23 // The Fisher Building

A painted ceiling inside the Fisher Building in the New Center district of Detroit Michigan
Third floor view inside the building. The Fisher Building is another one of Detroit's most architectually stunning skyscrapers.

Like many big cities, Detroit has lots of skyscrapers. However, the Motor City distinguishes itself by having some of the most architectually glamorous-- inside and out-- skyscrapers in the U.S. Add this to the list of reasons Detroit is one of my favorite U.S cities!

The art deco designed Fisher Building is located in the New Center district of Detroit. This building is of utmost importance to Detroit's history and is a must-do for any Detroit itinerary.

The Fisher Building is often referred to as "Detroit's Largest Art Project". It stands at an impressive 441 feet and is the world's tallest marble structure.

Compared to the other skyscrapers in Detroit, I think the Fisher Building has the most mesmerizing interior. You'd think you were inside an old Renaissance era church in Europe staring at the ceilings.

There is 24/7 access to the skyscraper, as there is in the Guardian Building. However, to see much more of the stunning skyscraper, you will want to do a free guided tour hosted by Pure Detroit. Tours are offered every Saturday at 12:00 p.m and 2:00 p.m.

The tour will take you to the 3rd and 22nd floors of the building. One thing you'll notice when riding the elevators (which themselves are stunning) is that the elevators are quite fast!

In the same way the Guardian Building guided tour grants you breathtaking views of the city, you'll get to enter several rooms to look out the windows to take in some amazing views of Detroit from the 22nd floor of the Fisher Building.

Address: 3011 W Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48201
Hours: 24/7

24 // The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

An exhibit inside the Wright Museum which showed costumes for the Marvel film 'Black Panther'. The museum is located next to the Michigan Science Center in Detroit Michigan
An exhibit inside the museum.

Besides the DIA, I think the second most inspiring museum in Detroit has to be the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

With immaculate detail, the Wright Museum of African American History chronicles the history and showcases the cultural achievements of the African American community throughout Detroit and the United States from defining eras like the slave trade, the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement, and modern day.

At one section in the museum, you can walk through two floors of a re-imagined slave ship during the Atlantic slave trade.

Like the Detroit Historical Museum, the Wright Museum of African American History has historical recreations of streets from the early twentieth century, complete with shops, like a barbershop and saloon, that you can walk inside.

The Wright Museum is located in midtown Detroit on the Wayne State University Campus and neighbors the Michigan Science Center. As the Michigan Science Center is more oriented toward children, I personally did not choose to include this as thing to do in this list.

An adult ticket to the Wright Museum will run you $30.

Address: 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Hours: M closed, T-W, F-Su 9:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m, Th 9:00 a.m - 7:00 p.m.

25 // Eastern Market

A mural depicting the name of the neighborhood 'Eastern Market' nearby the main market area of Eastern Market in Detroit Michigan
A mural with the neighborhood name 'Eastern Market' nearby the main market area.

There's a picture I've seen most other blogs use in their Detroit articles when describing Eastern Market. In the main market area, there's a brick structure with the words 'EASTERN MARKET' over the entrance. It felt more 'Michael Visits All' to use a mural with the neighborhood name instead!

Eastern Market is one of Detroit's oldest and currently operating attractions, dating back all the way to 1891!

The best days to visit Eastern Market are on Saturdays and Sundays. There is a wide spectrum of selection from the food and art vendors.

Across the street from the main market area, you can listen to live jazz & soul music at Bert's Marketplace and get some really tasty ribs!

My favorite part of Eastern Market? You might have guessed it from the picture I used: it's all the murals and street art on the nearby streets. There is a lot in just this spot alone.

I'm not done about street art quite yet. In fact, here is something else any lover of colorful street art should 100% do...

Address: 2934 Russell Street, Detroit, MI 48207
Hours: M closed, T 9:00 a.m - 3:00 p.m, W-F closed, S 6:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m, Su 10:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m.

26 // Go on a mural hunt

A mural outside a restaurant in midtown Detroit Michigan.
A mural outside the Hopcat in midtown Detroit.

One reason why Detroit is in the top five of my favorite cities in the U.S is the sheer abundance of amazing murals scattered throughout the city. In addition to the amazing public art sculptures, Detroit is truly a city who prides themselves heavily on the visual arts.

I'll help start your tour: start at The Z Park on Gratiot & Broadway in downtown and walk down Gratiot.

As I also mentioned in my mural hunt suggestion for my Ann Arbor article, there is an awesome app you can download to help in your search for only the iPhone (sorry Android users!) called CANVS Street Art. Toggle 'Mural Hunt On' and you will be alerted when you are nearing a mural.

There are so many throughout Detroit that it may be time consuming to spot all the murals on foot. You can definitely do this activity in a car too. I'm guessing part of your mural hunt journey will be by walking and the rest by car.

Before I stop talking about the art in Detroit, this next attraction is one you absolutely cannot miss...

27 // The Heidelberg Project

A polka dot painted house on Heidelberg Street in Detroit.
A polka dot painted house on Heidelberg Street in Detroit.

Take a ride in a car or hop on a bus and then get on foot to check out one of Detroit's most bohemian locales: the Heidelberg Project.

Located on the east side of Detroit, the Heidelberg Project was an outdoor art project led by artist Tyree Guyton. It was an attempt to revitalize a worn-down neighborhood where people in previous decades were afraid to traverse even in the daytime.

Colorful and large polka dots adorn the street, as well as the signature house in the above image. However, I'd say the most reoccuring element in this outdoor art project is the idea of "time". There are countless artistically designed clocks all with random times on them.

By happenstance, when I explored the Heidelberg Project on my own, I met Tyree Guyton and his son. We chatted for about 20 minutes. Tyree is definitely the artistic type! He is very philosophical and he may ask you some questions that'll really make you think!

The Heidelberg Project is free to explore, however, donations are definitely welcome!

Address: 3600 Heidelberg Street, Detroit, MI 48207
Hours: 8:00 a.m - 7:00 p.m.

28 // Hamtramck Disneyland

The colorful public art piece entitled 'Hamtramck Disneyland'.
This 'disneyland' is wayyy cheaper than the one in Anaheim...

Spoiler: this is not a "secret" Disney theme park. You'll have to go to Anaheim and Orlando for those!

When Apple Maps had me park by a house, I wasn't sure if I had to knock on the door of the house first or just proceed into the yard on the left side of the house. I went straight to the yard, if this helps!

Hamtramck Disneyland is another residential public art project visitors to Detroit will love. Whereas the Heidelberg Project is on a whole street, Hamtramck Disneyland is in the yard of one house.

This eclectic collage of toys, vehicle replicas, vibrant colors, photographs, and classic Americana memorabilia took 30 years to complete! It was designed by a Ukrainian immigrant named Dmytro Szylak who spent his career working for General Motors.

I was lucky to have met the artist behind the Heidelberg Project. Unfortuantely, lightning won't strike twice here, as Dmytro Szylak passed away in 2015.

Technically, this attraction is located in Hamtramck, not Detroit, but since Hamtramck is a town surrounded mostly by Detroit, I feel justified in including it. Besides, it'd be really tough of me to also exclude something as colorful and quirky as this!

There is no admission fee. Donations are encouraged.

Address: 12087 Klinger St, Hamtramck, MI 48212
Hours: 24/7

29 // Belle Isle

A fountain in the center of the island of Belle Isle in Detroit Michigan
A fountain on Belle Isle.

Belle Isle Park, commonly referred to as 'Belle Isle', is a 982-acre island park located on the Detroit River. It is a place many visitors and locals go to sit, relax, and enjoy the view, but there are opportunities to walk and explore for travelers-on-the-go, like myself.

Belle Isle is a national historic landmark.

Those walking along the Detroit riverfront now have more opportunity to lay eyes on Belle Isle, as the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy completed the Uniroyal Promenade, a park which is directly across from Belle Isle.

You can access Belle Isle a few different ways. If you walk, ride a bike, or take the DDOT #12 Conant bus onto the island, there is no fee!

Since Detroit is known as the Motor City after all, it'll be of no surprise many people prefer to drive onto Belle Isle. If you elect this option, you will need a "Recreation Passport" to access the island. Before you fret that you don't have one, you can purchase one at a kiosk on the island. They are only $12 and last up to one year.

The James Scott Memorial Fountain is placed in the center of the island and is easily one of Belle Isle's most popular spots. The Belle Isle Aquarium, also located on the island, is the oldest aquarium in the country. There is no cost of admission to the aquarium.

Besides the Belle Isle Aquarium, there is also a conservatory. However, at the time of this writing, it is under renovation and is not expected to re-open until sometime in 2024.

Hours: 5:00 a.m - 10:00 p.m.

30 // Belle Isle Aquarium

The inside of the Belle Isle Aquarium on Belle Isle Park.
If you go at the right time, you can see these little guys get fed!

Even though I did mention the Belle Isle Aquarium previously, I feel it really does deserve its own entry. If lounging on Belle Isle Park isn't your thing, then perhaps checking out the aquarium is!

My favorite attraction on Belle Isle Park is definitely the aquarium. Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest aquarium in the United States. The architecture to this building honestly is half of its appeal.

When other media sources and blogs mention the aquarium, they usually will photograph the aqua green arched tiled ceiling. I'm standing out using a picture of some of the waterlife you'll get to see in the aquarium!

Most recently, I visited the aquarium on a Saturday morning close to 11:30 a.m, where one of the employees announced they were going to show the visitors the piranhas being fed.

After hearing some fascinating trivia about these South American piranhas, we got to see them eat!

There is also another fish (I can't recall what kind, sorry) toward the entrance of the aquarium where, if you touch the glass, it'll follow your finger. One of the employees told me the fish often does this!

Despite this aquarium also being regarded as one of the best in the country, it is free to enter!

Bear in mind though: the aquarium is only open Friday through Sunday.

Address: 3 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207
Hours: F-Su 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., M-Th closed

31 // Do a behind-the-scenes tour of the Masonic Temple

The Detroit Masonic Temple.
The outside of the Detroit Masonic Temple.

More than just a high-profile concert venue, the Detroit Masonic Temple is the largest gathering place on Earth to the secret and elusive Freemason society.

Visitors can embark on guided tours throughout this majestic temple at different price points: $25, $40, $50, and $75. Their $75 offer is called the "Behind the Scenes" tour and this is the tour I personally recommend. Why?

For me, the biggest catch is the spellbinding architecture. This is a highlight of visiting Detroit in the first place! Turns out, the Masonic Temple in Detroit has lots of rooms. In the thousands. You'll see much more of the gorgeous temple than the regular $25 tour and learn a couple extra secrets of the Freemasons!

Here's the tricky part though: when you can actually go on the guided tours. All year round, guided tours in the Masonic Temple are offered on the first and third Sundays of each month at 3:00 p.m. In July and August, guided tours happen on the first and third Fridays at 7:00 p.m.

Address: 500 Temple Street, Detroit, MI 48201

32 // The Book Tower

The lobby of the newly renovated Book Tower.
The lobby of the newly renovated Book Tower in downtown Detroit.

By coincidence, this attraction re-opened up to the public as I was nearing completion of this article!

The Book Tower is another eye-catching ediface you should freely explore during your visit to Detroit.

You can check out the first and second floors of the Book Tower.

At the time of this writing, you can book hotel reservations at the Book Tower. In the near future, the Book Tower will include dining options.

Address: 1265 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226

33 // John K. King's Used & Rare Books

On the third floor of John K. King's Used & Rare Books in Detroit.
See the spines of the books? They're all old guides for various states! Fitting for a U.S travel blogger, wouldn't you say?

When I lived in downtown Portland, one of my favorite attractions there was a bookstore. Great place for dates, just to hang out, and, of course, buy books!

Now that I am back residing in Michigan, I think I found myself my new favorite bookstore in the state: John K. King's Used & Rare Bookstore!

With four floors carrying over 1,000,000 vintage books, this place is the largest used bookstore in the state! Any topic you want to find a book on, you can be safe this bookstore carries it.

Like a library, one thing you always count on a bookstore being is quiet. If you've been out in downtown all day and have had enough of the noise, John K. King's Used & Rare Books will be a pleasant break!

One thing I thought was funny was that they had Bibles and books on atheism right next to each other. I would think those books would normally be kept in separate aisles! Little things like that amuse me.

Address: 901 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
Hours: M 11:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m, T-S 9:30 a.m - 5:30 p.m, Su closed

Honorary mention: The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn

Inside the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, MI.
Planes, trains, and (of course) automobiles in this museum!

One thing I don't like about other articles which cover fun things to do in Detroit is including attractions in other cities. It's something I find slightly annoying about search engine optimization (SEO).

Since other blogs have inserted the Henry Ford Museum in their lists, I feel obliged to include it in mine, even though it's my intent to only provide things to do within Detroit, not outside it. By car, this massive museum is only about a 20 minute drive from downtown Detroit.

Much of what earned Detroit the nickname "the Motor City" can be found in the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn. Of all the museums I've been to throughout the states, the Henry Ford Museum would likely be in my top five!

What I personally love about the Henry Ford Museum is the large exhibitions with all the Model A and Model T cars. In case you are unaware what these vehicles are, they were the among the first vehicles produced by Ford Motor Company. I am especially spellhound by anything vintage.

There isn't just cars to see here. The Henry Ford Museum has large sections of the museum dedicated to aircraft and locomotives.

Admission is $35 for an adult.

Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124
Hours: 9:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m

Honorary mention: The Ford Rouge Factory Tour

The lobby of the Ford Rouge River plant.
More classic Ford vehicles to be found in the lobby.

Famous boxer Joe Louis worked at this Ford plant before he entered the world of professional sports.

Like the Henry Ford Museum, this attraction is also located in Dearborn. While on the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, you will get to walk through an actual production floor seeing the Ford F-150 being assembled.

This tour is unique that there is no photography nor video allowed.

Tickets for adults are $24.

Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124
Hours: M-S 9:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m. Closed on Sundays.

Honorary mention: Detroit Zoo

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center exhibit inside the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak. The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is the world's largest penguin exhibit.
The world's largest penguin exhibit is at the Detroit Zoo.

Source: Shutterstock

Albeit being named the Detroit Zoo, the Detroit Zoo is actually located in Royal Oak. From downtown, Royal Oak is only about a 15-20 minute drive.

The Detroit Zoo is one of (metro) Detroit's oldest and most visited attractions, having opened in 1928. The zoo spans over 125 acres and features 2000+ animals.

Featured in the image for this item is the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, the world's largest penguin exhibit.

Address: 8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067
Hours: 10:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m.

How long do you need in Detroit?

This article took me four weekends or eight days to complete. That being said, do you need eight days to have the best time in Detroit? No-- and I understand that many people will not be able to spare that many days.

If you only have 1-3 days in Detroit, here is a compressed version of what I'd recommend you do:

Get pictures by the 'Spirit of Detroit' and 'The Fist'. Also, be captivated by all of the public art and colorful murals. There is stunning street art pretty much everywhere in Detroit!

Definitely get a taste of Detroit's architectural beauty by checking out the Ren Cen, Guardian Building, and the Fisher Building. While you're at the Ren Cen, walk along the Riverwalk too.

Ride the People Mover to get a heightened view of downtown Detroit. Also, take the Q-Line down the Woodward, as many of Detroit's well-known landmarks on just on this street.

Finally, definitely go to the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Historical Museum, since the museums are right next to each other.

Is there anything cool to do in Detroit?

Yes-- there are so many cool things to do and see in Detroit!

One of the coolest things about Detroit that resonates with me the most is the sheer plethora of colorful and vibrant street art. Every neighborhood of Detroit has plenty of awesome murals to admire. There is truly no shortage of awesome photos and videos you can take of the public artwork here.

The Heidelberg Project is one of the coolest free attractions the city of Detroit has to offer! The residential streets are all painted in polka dots and you'll see plenty of artistically crafted clocks, and painted houses.

The architecture in Detroit is amongst the best in the U.S! Another cool thing you can do in Detroit is check out some of Detroit's most captivating skyscrapers for free. The Guardian Building and Fisher Building both offer free guided tours on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and both towers will give you incredible birdseye views of the city!

Visitors who are sports fans will be delighted to know that Comerica Park, Ford Field, and the Little Caesars Arena are all in very close proximity to one another.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is the largest art museum in the midwest and is certainly one of the coolest things to see in Detroit. In the lower level of the Detroit Historical Museum, you can see re-constructed streets of Detroit from the late 19th and early 20th centuries!

Visitors with children should check out the Michigan Science Center. Admission to the Michigan Science Center for children 2 and under is free. The Michigan Science Center is also quite close to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Detroit Historical Museum.

What is Detroit famous for?

Historically, Detroit has been most famous for its significant contributions to the automobile industry. In the 20th century, Detroit gained further prominence as an influential city for its distinctive "Motown scene". In the world of sports, Detroit's hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings, won the Stanley Cup two years in a row.

In more recent years, Detroit gained notoriety for being a city that had fallen from grace, due to city declaring bankruptcy. Thankfully, due to investments in the early 21st century, Detroit has undergone a renaissance and has now become a very popular U.S city for visitors all around the world to see.

What is Detroit the best at?

Detroit has an impressive history of being the best in a variety of dimensions. In the 1950's, Detroit was the wealthiest city in the United States, primarily due to the huge boom of the automobile industry in the early 20th century.

The Detroit riverfront has received praise from USA Today for three consecutive years. The riverwalk in Detroit has been recognized as the best riverwalk in the United States.

The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airport is ranked #1 by J.D Power in customer satisfaction. The Fisher Building is the world's largest marble structure.

The Detroit Institute of the Arts is the largest art museum in the midwest region of the United States.

The 'Spirit of Detroit' statue is the largest public art statue constructed for a city since the Renaissance.

What is Detroit most popular street?

Detroit's most popular street is Woodward Avenue. A majority of Detroit's most famous landmarks, such as the Spirit of Detroit, Campus Martius, Comerica Park, the Fox Theatre, and the Detroit Institute of Art, are all located off Woodward Avenue. The Q-Line goes down Woodward, traveling from downtown and into midtown and New Center.

What time of year is best to go to Detroit?

The time of year that is best to visit to Detroit is arguably late spring to early fall, so roughly from the months of May to November. While Michigan summers are not known for being the hottest, the warm weather is more mild in the late spring or early autumn.

In the fall, sports fans will have opportunities to see all four of Detroit's major sports teams play a game. Even better, the stadiums for the four teams are all in close proximity to one another.

Being surrounded by three large lakes, Michigan winters can be exceptionally cold. It is not advised to visit Detroit during the winter months.

Is Detroit cheap to visit?

Presently, Detroit is a major city in the United States that is still rather inexpensive to visit! Even good quality hotels can run you less than $100 night in Detroit. Public transportation costs are extremely low, since the Q-Line is free, and the People Mover only costs 75 cents to ride.

Two of Detroit's best guided tours-- the Guardian Building and the Fisher Building, are free!

Conclusion

For most of my life growing up, I heard from my parents and grandparents what an amazing city Detroit used to be. It was heartbreaking having such a big city so close by and yet being told to not go to it.

I am especially grateful for the renaissance Detroit has undergone, especially in the past decade or so. Detroit is once again a place people from all over the world are visiting again and it makes me really happy!

One thing you will definitely remember about Detroit after you visit is how beautiful the city is. The architecture of its skyscrapers and the vast quality of public art in city really show how much the city of Detroit treasures and prioritizes aesthestics.

I hope you find my long list of the most fun things to do in Detroit useful and will be making a trip to the Motor City in 2024!!


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