Detroit is the biggest city in Michigan and one of the most well-known cities in the American Midwest.
Detroit is waking up from its post-slumber and gentrifying once more, where automotive tradition meets a tough rock reputation and a longstanding art scene.
Whatever comes to mind when thinking about this Midwestern metropolis, one thing is certain: there is never a dull moment in Detroit, with so many unique and entertaining things to do.
From the raucous crowds at football, hockey, and baseball games to the instructive and one-of-a-kind museums, beautiful parks, and magnificent year-round festivals, not to mention the Riverwalk that overlooks neighboring Canada, Detroit never ceases to wow.
Soak in Downtown’s vibrant atmosphere and historic architecture, or party it up at the lengthy list of craft breweries and eccentric pubs, and you’ll immediately see why Detroit deserves a spot on your bucket list.
- The 22 Best Things To Do In Detroit, Michigan
- The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is the perfect place to start your trip
- Take a look at the collections at the Detroit Institute of Arts
- Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History to gaze into the stars
- Take a stroll along the Detroit Riverfront
- Visit the Detroit Zoo for a fun-filled day
- Find your favorite book in John King Used and Rare Books
- Discover Belle Isle's beauty
- Visit The Amazing Eastern Market
- Take a tour of the multi-attraction GM Renaissance Center
- Experience Detroit's history at the Detroit Historical Museum
- Get awe-struck by Detroit's largest art object, the Fisher Building.
- Visit William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor for some relaxation
- Take a walk through the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and admire the palm trees
- Wander around The Heidelberg Project
- Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and admire its exhibits
- Take a stroll along the Dequindre Cut Greenway
- Visit the statue of the Spirit of Detroit
- Take a look at the famous Joe Louis Monument
- Experience the multi-culture of Detroit at the Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum
- Gather your crew, bring some drinks, and experience Detroit on a Pedal Bar
- Walk through The BELT
- Visit the Campus Martius Park
- Final Thoughts about the things to do in Detroit
The 22 Best Things To Do In Detroit, Michigan
20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124, United States // +13139826001
A journey to Detroit, fittingly nicknamed “Motor City,” would be incomplete without a stop at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation!
This huge, 250-acre museum in Dearborn is committed not only to honoring the history and achievements of one of America’s most famous businessmen but also to innovation and advancement on a much larger scale.
The Driving America exhibit features early inventions like the Model T automobile and the 1865 Roper; the Rosa Parks Bus pays attention to a different kind of innovation, a critical milestone in the civil rights movement.
With over 300 years of artifacts to examine, not to mention changing exhibitions that keep things fresh and exciting for returning visitors, this is one place where it’s easy to get caught up and find out some of the best things to do in Detroit!
5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, United States // +13138337900
For art lovers and cultural vultures, the Detroit Institute of Arts is a top-notch museum open every day of the week, free to attend.
The majestic institute has over 65,000 pieces of art, spread across 100 separate gallery sections, showing everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to Rembrandt and Van Gogh paintings.
Thanks to a rotating roster of unique exhibitions, there’s always something fresh to see.
1105 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, United States // +17347640478
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, near Ann Arbor, is another excellent option for anyone wishing to get up and personal with anything scientific.
Anyone with a thirst for knowledge will love the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, which features everything from dinosaur fossils to taxidermy animal displays, an amazing collection of gems and minerals, and interactive exhibits that let you learn more about Michigan’s ecosystems and more.
Don’t forget to check out the immersive planetarium — an interstellar adventure awaits!
The Detroit Riverfront is a sight to behold, stretching roughly 5.5 miles from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park. It was designed with both pedestrians and cyclists in mind. This is absolutely one of the best things to do in Detroit when you have free time.
Enjoy the sun during the day or take a romantic evening stroll along the West or East River Walks while the Detroit cityscape shimmers in the background.
There are also plenty of family-friendly attractions, such as the nautical-themed Mt. Elliott Park water wonderland and the Outdoor Adventure Center’s treetop climb.
8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067, United States // +12485415717
One of the things to do in Detroit is to visit The Detroit Zoo, a family-friendly Detroit institution that has welcomed over 1.5 million people annually for decades, lives up to its reputation as one of America’s top 10 zoos.
This sprawling zoo in Royal Oak (just north of the city limits) provides a home for more than 230 species (a total of 2,600 animals) and welcomes people into open settings that encourage them to interact with creatures large and tiny alike.
Begin your day with kangaroos and koalas at Australian Outback Adventure, then head over to the Holden Reptile Conservation Center and Butterfly Garden for up-close encounters with slithery snakes and colorful fliers.
Feed the cute creatures at the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, and keep a lookout for various birds of all kinds and sizes.
901 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226, United States // +13139610622
If you’re seeking for a local experience that isn’t on most “Top 10 Things to Do in Detroit,” this is the place to be!
John King Used and Rare Books is a massive four-story structure with seemingly limitless bookshelves.
You can get lost in a maze of used books, and it’s unlike any bookshop you’ve ever visited. It claims to have over a million books in stock!
The structure was formerly a glove factory before King purchased it in 1983.
A few years later, King purchased the Otis Elevator building next door, which now houses the offices, art annex, and rare book room.
It is advised that you spend at least one hour visiting this old store!
Discover Belle Isle’s beauty
99 Pleasure Dr, Detroit, MI 48207, United States // +13133317760
Sunset Dr, Detroit, MI 48207, United States // +13138219844
100 The Strand, Detroit, MI 48207, United States // +13138212661
With its extensive green areas, playgrounds, and family-friendly aquarium, this island haven straddling the Detroit River between Canada and the United States serves as a refreshing breath of fresh air from the big city hustle and bustle.
The Belle Isle Aquarium, the city’s main attraction, is the oldest aquarium in the nation and is home to more than 1,000 aquatic species.
Step outside and wander along the pathways to find the James Scott Memorial Fountain and the William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse, two postcard-worthy sites.
Also, make time to visit the free Dossin Great Lakes Museum, which features an excellent maritime exhibition commemorating the history and geography of the Great Lakes which makes it one of the best things to do in Detroit.
This weekend market is a local favorite. It has a long history and is the largest historic public market district in the world, spanning 4.5 acres and dating back to 1891.
Eastern Market is made up of five separate sheds. Fresh food, flowers, artistic items, livestock, and other items are sold in these sheds.
On a busy Saturday, approximately 40,000 people may pass through the market!
The best thing to do at Eastern Market is simply to walk around and look at what each vendor offers!
Make sure you go hungry since there is plenty of excellent food to try, ranging from fresh crepes to tacos.
Devries & Co 1887 is a beautiful store to visit when you’re in the area. It’s a must-visit with fresh cheese, amusing packaged foods, and local Detroit arts and items (upstairs).
Breweries and restaurants continue to crop up around the Eastern Market neighborhood as Detroit grows and expands, creating a friendly atmosphere for a fun weekend day!
Detroit, MI 48243, United States // +13135673126
One of the things to do in Detroit is to visit the GM Renaissance Center is a top-tier shopping, dining, and observation deck destination, towering over glittering downtown and the riverfront, with Canada visible far away from its observation deck.
It is not only the world headquarters of General Motors, but it also has a variety of stores, restaurants, bars, and even a movie theater and hotel spread across seven connected buildings.
Make your way to the General Motors store, where automobiles slowly spin on the world’s largest turn-style. Meanwhile, if you need a place to stay, go as far as the opulent Detroit Marriott.
5401 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, United States // +13138331805
The Motor City isn’t just about fast automobiles and loud music! In truth, Detroit has a long history that predates Motown. This is one of the best things to do in Detroit and make a memorable experience.
The Detroit Historical Museum, located in Midtown’s Cultural Center Historic District Detroit, is brimming with objects, movies, interactive settings, automobiles, and more that collectively document the region’s various lives and times.
Beer drinkers enjoy the Brewing Heritage section, which offers a thorough overview of all the region’s brewing companies over the decades.
Other popular attractions include the old-fashioned diner and staged historical town, the Motor City Exhibition, which shows how a Cadillac is built, and the Motor City Exhibition, which also demonstrates how a Cadillac is built.
3011 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202, United States // +13138741100
Detroit is a real playground for those who love architecture, with both beautiful historic and modern structures to discover.
The Fisher Building, in particular, is a must-see not only for its Art Deco architecture but also for its history.
This renowned skyscraper, built by architect Albert Kahn and completed in 1928, is one of the largest remaining buildings from his career.
Take a stroll inside the interior, available to the public, observe the beautiful features on the front, or simply relax in the lush courtyard garden.
1900 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48207, United States // +13133960217
Are you tired of the noise and bustle and the swarms of snap-happy tourists? Then head over to William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, a lovely grassy waterfront area ideal for escaping the city – even if only for an hour!
The area, which is connected to the West RiverWalk, is full of wetlands and natural beauty. It also has a marina where you can wander about at your leisure and view the opulent yachts bobbing up and down on the lake.
Remember to check out the lighthouse and the Steel Modern Art Man.
4 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207, United States // +13138215428
Looking for another place to take in Mother Nature’s splendor? The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, located on the beautiful Belle Isle, has five unique zones, each designed with a particular climate in mind. It is the ideal spot to cool off and find peace, quiet, and serenity.
This Victorian-style greenhouse, which houses numerous manicured gardens, including an outstanding palm court, has enticed tourists since it opened in 1904, making it the oldest continuously-running conservatory in the United States and one of the most amusing things to do in Detroit.
Even the building itself is stunning, bouncing light off its glass dome against the clear blue skies.
3600 Heidelberg St, Detroit, MI 48207, United States // +13134588414
While Downtown and the Riverwalk get the most attention, Detroit’s suburbs are just as diverse, with outdoor sculpture, murals, and a variety of local hidden gems.
The quirky Heidelberg Project in the McDougall-Hunt area is one such attraction.
Tyree Guyton began the project in 1986, and it is a collection of outdoor art pieces on vacant lots and residences that employ everyday materials such as tires, shoes, televisions, and garments to create an ever-changing show.
The result is eye-opening, thought-provoking, and frequently humorous – ideal for taking unusual social media photos!
4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201, United States // +13138326622
If you need a cultural fix, look no farther than the Museum of Contemporary Art. This is one of the most fascinating things to do in Detroit.
This museum is constantly updating its exhibits to keep things fresh and fascinating, hosting permanent and rotating exhibitions by some of the world’s most cutting-edge artists working in painting, sculpture, video, and odd installations.
The MOCAD, which is 22,000 square feet in size and has the tagline “Everything is going to be okay” etched and lighted onto its front, has hosted exhibits on a variety of intriguing topics, including International Super Fruits, Monsters, Black Art, Underground Detroit, and many more.
Take a stroll along the Dequindre Cut Greenway
The Dequindre Cut Greenway is one of Detroit’s best-kept secrets regarding hidden jewels.
This 2-mile section of former railway track connects the Riverfront to the Eastern Market (which hosts a six-block farmers market every Saturday) and has been transformed into a thriving green space.
It takes you through several exciting parts of town and through diverse terrain peppered with graffiti, murals, and eccentric sculptures.
So long as the sun is shining, it makes for a great afternoon stroll whether you jog, walk, or hire a bike.
2 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, United States // +13132243270
If you want to snap a photo with a historic Detroit landmark, go no farther than the Spirit of Detroit statue at Hart Plaza – a more-than-60-year-old relic meant to represent divinity and human connections.
The 26-foot-tall statue, which originally cost $58,000 ($550,000 by today’s standards), makes for a quick but necessary stop when strolling through Downtown.
Remember that most free walking excursions will include a stop here.
“The Fist,” a large sculpture, was created to honor world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, who was born and raised in Detroit.
It measures over 27 feet tall and weighs over 8,000 pounds.
Its location in Hart Square makes it a popular and typical area for passersby to take a selfie and add a piece of Detroit culture to their social media.
6559 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48208, United States // +13138983007
The Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum demonstrates how immigrants and their descendants worldwide have impacted Detroit.
The fantastic and fascinating location, which opened in 2002 and occupied nearly a whole city block, depicts the narrative of Detroit via its ethnic diversity.
It offers an excellent collection of African art, beading, jewelry, installations, and sculptures that create a bright contrast to the dreary hues of the surrounding environment.
Detroit pedal bars open the door for a mighty enjoyable afternoon in the sun and the chance to meet a ton of other thirsty travelers.
Pick from companies like Detroit Rolling Pub or The HandleBar Detroit, which both provide a three-hour tour that will take you to some of the city’s most well-known attractions as you and your friends peddle and drink along the way!
The BELT, an old, once-run-down alleyway that has been renovated and reinjected with life into a creative and cultural hub, is one of Detroit’s most innovative and uplifting concepts.
Located between Broadway and Library Street, it serves as an outdoor gallery and is currently home to various temporary attractions, including food trucks, pop-up stores, and more.
Whatever you choose to do, be sure to include The BELT on your list of the things to do in Detroit. You may bike there, walk there, or just stroll through at your leisure.
800 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, United States // +13135668250
Campus Martius Park, a true landmark, is one of the things to do in Detroit.
Since its establishment in 2004, this 8-acre public square has served as the city’s focal point, serving as a gathering place for a variety of events ranging from ice skating in the winter to concerts and festivals in the summer.
When the temperature rises, the Cruzan Rum Shack hosts one hell of a beach-rescue party and Parc Detroit, winner of the Restaurant of the Year Award, are both within walking distance of each other.
The Point of Origin Marker in Detroit and the Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument are two significant landmarks worth visiting.
The former is a 6-foot-tall post placed underground at Woodward and Michigan Avenues intersection, commemorating the site where Detroit was rebuilt following the 1805 fire.
Meanwhile, the latter pays tribute to the 90,000 Michigan Civil War veterans that fought for the Union.
What is the weather like in Detroit?
Detroit has a humid continental climate, with hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. The average high temperature in the summer is around 82°F (28°C), and the average low temperature in the winter is around 20°F (-7°C).
What is the public transportation system like in Detroit?
Detroit has a comprehensive public transportation system that includes buses, light rail, and a regional rail service called the Detroit People Mover.
What is the food scene like in Detroit?
Detroit has a vibrant food scene, with various restaurants serving cuisines worldwide. The city is known for its Coney Island-style hot dogs, which are served with various toppings, and its world-famous pizza.
What is the music scene like in Detroit?
Detroit’s rich musical history is known as the birthplace of Detroit Techno and Motown music. In addition, the city has a thriving music scene that includes a variety of venues and events.
What are some famous events in Detroit?
Some popular events in Detroit include the Detroit International Jazz Festival, the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, and the North American International Auto Show.
Final Thoughts about the things to do in Detroit
And that sums up all the tremendous fun and entertainment you can have to experience the best things to do in Detroit.
We hope this guide has helped you by taking a deep look into what this city has to offer beyond just the automotive plants, museums and restaurants.
You might just discover some hidden gems you never thought possible.
That’s the beauty of traveling and exploring different locations worldwide – you never know what you might find.
So pick a destination, grab your tickets, and start out on an incredible adventure waiting for you ahead and we are happy to help you to find the best things to do in Detroit.
Visiting other cities in Michigan? Check out our foodie guides to the following cities:
- The 24 Best Restaurants In Detroit Michigan
- Best Detroit Burgers
- 10 Fun Things To Do In Holland MI
- Best Mexican Food In Holland MI
- 5 Best Must-Try Restaurants In Holland Michigan
- 15 Michigan Dishes You Must-Try
- 10 Must-Try Grand Rapids Restaurants MI
- Best Pizza In Holland MI
Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever