The state of Michigan is yet another US state that’s often overlooked by tourists but it has a lot to offer in terms of tourism. The state accommodates over 1 million tourists a year and a huge chunk of these tourists head on over to Detroit. This is one of the largest and most populous cities in Wayne County.
The city of Detroit has a unique culture surrounding it. Other than that, it also features distinctive architecture which includes historic sites, natural wonders, and even man-made attractions. Many publications list Detroit as one of the top places to visit in the US, and there’s an increasing amount of tourists visiting each year.
If you are within the historic cultural neighborhood, you’re in luck as that part of Detroit has the most attractions. Some of the attractions include the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Science Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Basically, this part of the city features both historic and entertainment-filled attractions to get in to.
Aside from this, the entertainment hub of Detroit is also frequented by tourists. This hub is in Greektown and in features three downtown casino resort hotels. The other key areas for tourism are the Midtown and the New Center Area which has about millions of visitors annually because there are numerous museums and cultural centers in it. Just the Detroit Festival of the Arts in Midtown alone is responsible for drawing about 350,000 visitors to the city.
Annual events and celebrations are also a part of Detroit’s charm. Some of the important annual events in the city include the Electronic Music Festival, International Jazz Festival, the African World Festival, and the Woodward Dream Cruise.
Of course, we can’t help but give praise to the friendly locals of Detroit as well. As they have been accustomed to getting more and more tourists each year, they’ve become warmer and welcoming to those that visit. We know you’re excited to visit this place but before proceeding with the best things to do and best places to visit, here are some important pointers to keep in mind.
- 1 How To Get To Detroit, Florida
- 2 Getting Around Detroit
- 3 Best Time To Visit Detroit
- 4 Detroit Activities
- 4.1 The Grande Ballroom
- 4.2 St. Agnes Church and School
- 4.3 John K. King Used and Rare Books
- 4.4 Belle Isle Aquarium
- 4.5 Michigan Central Station
- 4.6 Hamtramck Disneyland
- 4.7 Detroit Children’s Zoo
- 4.8 Motown Museum
- 4.9 Michigan Theatre
- 4.10 Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry
- 4.11 Russell Industrial Center
- 4.12 Abundant Life Christian Center
- 4.13 Detroit Masonic Temple
- 4.14 Eight Mile Wall
- 4.15 Geodesic Dome House
- 4.16 Baker’s Keyboard Lounge
- 4.17 Guardian Building Art Deco Lobby
- 4.18 Packard Automotive Plant
- 4.19 Monumental Kitty
- 4.20 The Dequindre Cut Greenway
- 4.21 Vanity Ballroom
- 4.22 The Caryatids of Book Tower
- 4.23 Grand Army of the Republic Building
- 4.24 MBAD African Bead Museum
- 4.25 Lincoln Street Art Park
- 4.26 The Raven Lounge
- 4.27 Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
- 4.28 Eastern Market District
- 4.29 St. Joseph Oratory
How To Get To Detroit, Florida
By far the best way to get to Detroit is via a flight to the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. This well-developed airport is located less than 30 minutes away from Downtown Detro making it easily accessible for tourists once they land within the Detroit area. Moreover, there are countless taxis and rental cars waiting for them.
As of 2019, the airport presently serves over 50 non-stop destinations across North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe. This makes it one of the busiest airports in Michigan and in the US. In 2018, the airport handled over 21 million passengers making it one of the busiest airports in the US. The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport also accommodates the top airlines which include American Airlines, Air Canada, American Airways, and many more. Simply put, Detroit is just a flight away from wherever you are.
Getting Around Detroit
Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are available in Detroit. This makes it relatively easy to get around the key spots in the city but as there is congestion from time to time, this option may not be as great as you could end up spending too much on these services. That goes the same for metered taxis. You’d want to avoid taking taxis or ride-sharing services during the early morning and afternoon as this is the peak for traffic.
Alternatively, car rental services like Hertz Rent-A-Car and others are readily available at the airport or within the city limits. This is a great option especially if you want to explore the city at your own leisure while you go around the top attractions off the city as well.
For public transportation, there are several options as well but by far the easiest is via the People Mover. This is an automated light-rail system that’s elevated from the streets of Detroit. There are 13 stations that the system passes by in so if you are planning on staying within the core of Detroit, this is the best option for you.
Alternatively, you can also try the QLine streetcar service. This streetcar will connect you to 12 stops up and down Woodward Avenue. Some of the locations this service passes through include Little Caesars Arena, The Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. A day pass is $3 and it can be bought online as well.
Best Time To Visit Detroit
Arguably the best time to visit Detroit is either during its famous summers or fall. This time of the year may bring in tourists from all over the world but it will be well worth the trouble as Detroit is at its liveliest at these periods. Fall is what you should be focusing more on as it features perfectly warm weather.
While the summer season is also great, you have to keep in mind that the beginning of the rainy season in Detroit is around the end of July so watch out for weather advisories. As these seasons are the peak for tourism, make sure to book your rooms ahead so you can save 10% off on rooms.
Alternatively, if you want to spend less on rooms while avoiding the fall and summer crowds, you should opt for a January to February visit. Rooms are at least 30% off this period. Temperature-wise, it doesn’t get too cold in Detroit.
Detroit is the largest city in Michigan. Thus, you can expect that a lot of activities awaits you here. In case you’re traveling to this city, here are the top things to do in Detroit that we highly recommend. However, do note that some of these activities are not as touristy as others but we’re sure you will enjoy them too.
The Grande Ballroom
Visiting the Grande Ballroom is probably one of the most non-touristy things to do in Detroit that we can recommend if you’re looking for some off the beaten path activities. Apparently, this is because this place is already abandoned. Still, the remnants of this once legendary concert venue are still visible and can play a perfect backdrop for some dramatic travel photos.
St. Agnes Church and School
Another non-touristy things to do in Detroit is visiting St. Agnes Church and School. It’s not frequented by tourists as like the Grande Ballroom, this place is already abandoned but its ruins are still picturesque that is also perfect for some dramatic photoshoot.
John K. King Used and Rare Books
If you love books, visiting John K. King Used and rare Books is one of the things to do in Detroit that we highly recommend as this will probably the biggest bookstore you’ll ever see in your life. It’s so big that once you enter the place, an employee will hand you a map so you will not get lost in this four-story bookstore with over millions of books in stock.
Belle Isle Aquarium
The Belle Isle Museum is also not to be missed when traveling to Detroit. Aside from the fact that the admission to this attraction is free, this place also houses different marine animals that aren’t just nice to see but also lets you learn about them, as well as their habitats.
Michigan Central Station
Another off the beaten path things to do in Detroit is visiting Michigan Central Station. Although abandoned, this place still retained its beauty. In fact, it is probably the most photographed abandoned building in the city. Sneaking inside the building can be risky, though, as there are already many construction workers rehabilitating the building.
Don’t be fooled by its name, though, this is not the usual Disneyland we all know. Rather, this is a two-story-tall sculpture made with carved and found objects that lights up at night as traditional Ukranian folk music plays. This unique attraction will make your trip all the more one-of-a-kind.
Detroit Children’s Zoo
Also another abandoned attraction that you need to see is Detroit Children’s Zoo. While it’s already abandoned, this place still maintained even just a small portion of its beauty too. Aside from the long history that it has that lead to its state today, it also has some spots that will also make your every frame dramatic.
Motown Museum may not be like the other first attractions we’ve mentioned that are not frequented by tourists. In spite of that, this place is also a must-visit as aside from the fact that it once housed Berry Gordy Jr. and has served as the original headquarters or Motown Record Corporation, this place is also filled with artworks, photographs, costumes, and other historic memorabilia.
Also one of the things to do in Detroit is to park at the Michigan Theatre. Yes, just park, because apparently, this place doesn’t function the way it did before – a historic theater – rather, it now merely serves as a parking lot that will keep your car safe while you’re away. But it’s still worth talking about as you can still get to see the remnants of this once-majestic attraction that provided good entertainment to its citizens back in the day.
Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry
If you want to take a break from Detroit’s abandoned off-the-beaten-path attractions, heading to Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry is what we can recommend. Here, you can get to see lots of murals that depict a distinctly Marxist tribute to capitalism. Fill your eyes with these awesome artworks and even get to take some Instagram-worthy photos to remember your trip by.
Russell Industrial Center
Speaking of art, if you want to see more of it, head to the Russell Industrial Center as this place serves as a home for a lot of artists of all styles and techniques. Here, they develop, produce, and sell their work. From clothing designers, architects, graphic designers to even glassblowers, you’ll definitely meet all artists and their works here.
Abundant Life Christian Center
Originally known as the Calvary Presbyterian Church, this place is also what we can recommend for visitors like you who want some really off-the-beaten-path attractions. Although abandoned, this place is something worth talking about too, especially if you want to take some gothic or dramatic photos.
Detroit Masonic Temple
Known as the world’s largest Masonic temple with 14 floors and more than a thousand rooms, visiting this place is also one of the things to do in Detroit that you shouldn’t miss as it also has a rich history to tell. However, if you plan to visit this place, note that tours are only available once or twice per month and times can vary based on the season so always keep an eye out for their schedule.
Eight Mile Wall
If you want to see some more art, the Eight Mile Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall or Birwood Wall) is a must-see. Initially served as a wall to segregate the black community, this place is now filled with colorful murals and will surely make your Instagram or travel photos all leveled up.
Geodesic Dome House
No need to head to the far north of Canada or Greenland as you can also get to see one in Detroit. Detroit’s versions are not made of ice, though, but of concrete and is painted a bright blue. It’s a unique place that will surely grab anyone’s attention.
Baker’s Keyboard Lounge
For some good jazz music, heading to the Baker’s Keyboard Lounge is one of the things to do in Detroit that we can recommend. Known as the oldest operating jazz club in the world, this place is also worth stopping by as you might even get to see your favorite jazz musician play live.
Guardian Building Art Deco Lobby
Guardian Building already stands out even from the sidewalk. And if you enter this place, you’ll surely be in for more jaw-dropping art from its ceiling to each of its corners, making visiting it as one of the best things to do in Detroit, especially for the artsies.
Packard Automotive Plant
This abandoned building where the most advanced automobiles were created in the early 1900s now serves as a playground for graffiti artists, making it one of the best places in the city where you can have the most artistic backdrops for your travel photos. On top of that, if you’re lucky enough, you might even get to enjoy other stuff like paintball and other entertainment as businesses sometimes occupy parts of this area.
Charming drivers since 2010, the Monumental Kitty is not to be missed as well, especially if you’re driving near Cochrane Street and I-75. It’s a unique monument that was really made to entertain passersby. However, as of April 2019, the monument has been destroyed but a handwritten sign assures visitors that it will be restored soon so watch out for it.
The Dequindre Cut Greenway
Once a lonely railway, this place is now a two-mile stretch of a beautiful greenway that will surely relax you and make you love nature even more aside from its history. Stroll this area or rent a bike, it is definitely one of the best things to do in Detroit that you shouldn’t miss.
Another abandoned building to visit is the Vanity Ballroom. Once known as one of the city’s most popular music venue, this place, like some of the places we listed here has also fallen host to scavengers looking to own a piece of its unique architecture. In spite of that, it still has its beauty that is also worth seeing.
The Caryatids of Book Tower
This 38-story baroque tower is also one of the architectural wonders in its early days in Detroit. However, it eventually fell into decline. But visiting it is still one of the activities to add to your list of things to do in Detroit because it’s being renovated.
Grand Army of the Republic Building
At first glance, you might think that this building is a mere old castle but aside from the tours being offered to explore this old castle, it is also flocked by both locals and tourists because of its restaurants that have taken up shop here: The Parks & Rec, a breakfast diner; and the republic Tavern, an up-scale American-style eatery; and you need to try them both.
MBAD African Bead Museum
MBAD African Bead Museum is also something you shouldn’t pass on. Don’t worry, this isn’t your ordinary museum because unlike others where you can only see the artifacts inside a glass container, this museum even encourages its visitors to touch its displays, particularly the beads even if they carry a lot of cultural significance.
Lincoln Street Art Park
Another Instagram-worthy place in Detroit is the Lincoln Street Art Park. Here, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an outdoor studio with the paintings and sculptures (which are, by the way, made with recycled materials) that you can spot. And if you time your visit, you might even witness the monthly Full Moon party where you can enjoy a night of moonlit festivities. It’s one of the attractions that you need to try out when traveling to Detroit, especially if you love art and parties.
The Raven Lounge
And speaking of parties, The Raven Lounge is also a place that you shouldn’t pass on. But don’t be fooled with its humble exterior. Inside, you can get to see performances that will make you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time. If you want to see such performances, make sure to visit the Raven Lounge between Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 PM to 2 AM. Don’t worry if you arrive a little bit earlier than that as a few minutes into any performance, you and/or your friends can start dancing to the music. You’ll definitely have so much fun if you love this kind of activity so check this out as well.
Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
If you are fascinated with cars, why not add Ford Piquette Avenue Plant to your travel itinerary too? Here, aside from the vintage cars, particularly Ford’s, on display that you can get to see, you can also get to have a glimpse of the automobile history. The plant is open every Wednesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM. But if you want to go on a guided tour, note that guided tours start at 10 AM, 12 PM, and 2 PM. Also, you can score some discounts if you bring your family and/or friends; just make sure that your group consists of 10 or more people.
Eastern Market District
If you want to buy some local stuff as memorabilia or some goods to give your friends or family back to your home town, don’t forget to check out the Eastern Market District. But aside from the goods, what makes this place worth visiting is the murals that it has that are really Instagram-worthy. Even if you plan to not buy anything from the market, this place is definitely worth the drive because of the murals. In fact, many visitors even choose to leave their cars farther away to enjoy the scenic walk towards the market.
St. Joseph Oratory
Giving you more piece of the city’s history is the St. Joseph Oratory. Here you can get to see the oldest stained-glass windows in the country. Its overall structure is something worth talking about as well. However, make sure to time your visit when there are no masses or sacraments going on so you can enjoy the beauty of the place even more.