Detroit Travel Guide: Fun Things To Do In Detroit

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Most Americans know Detroit as the Motor City, but it offers more than automobiles and other manufacturing industries. 

It is the birthplace of many musical careers and has other attractions like museums, sports teams, restaurants, and entertainment joints.

Here is a list of the things to do when in Motown. 

Detroit Institute of Art

Detroit Institute of Art is one of America’s largest and most visited art museums. 

It stands at the city center in an architectural masterpiece designed by Cass Gilbert. 

Inside, it houses several collections covering millenniums of American and global history.

Notable Artwork

When you visit this building, you can see ancient and modern art from all over the world. 

Some notable pieces include Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera, Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh, and Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. 

Special Exhibitions

Besides its permanent collection, you can enjoy special exhibitions at the Detroit Institute of Art. 

These shows display fashion trends from other continents, works from impressionists, and other art forms. 

You also get an opportunity to learn more about art from industry experts. 

Campus Martius Park 

Campus Martius is a fantastic attraction site that changes its outlook to match the prevailing season. 

Campus Martius park visit
Campus Martius park 

During summer, it looks like a modern beach with a stretch of sand, beach sports, toys, bars, etc. 

In winter, it magically transforms into a winter wonderland. 

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Summer Vibes

During the hot season, Campus Martius offers the best summer experience.  Resident DJs entertain guests with tropical music on weekends. 

Then on weekdays, you can listen to recorded mixes through the sound system. Although the former is livelier, it’s exciting or stays at the park any day of the week. 

Winter Wonderland

When winter arrives, Campus Martius turns into a wonderland. Decorations include ice rinks, light tunnels, and pines. 

Kids can interact with Santa, who awaits families in many locations in the area. 

You will also find coffee shops, markets, restaurants, and several temporary stalls.

The Masonic Temple

The Masonic Temple is one of the leading attractions in the US. 

It combines classic elegance with modern architectural designs, world-class facilities, and state-of-the-art lighting, staging, and sound equipment. 

The temple can hold up to 4,650 people in one sitting. It’s ideal for hosting galas, graduations, meetings, private concerts, receptions, and other events. 

The venue also has small rooms for smaller events like birthdays and meetings. 

Moreover, the Masonic Temple offers exceptional catering and beverage service. 

You don’t have to hire an outdoor catering service when having an event, as the venue already has many bars and restaurants. 

Belle Isle

Most people’s idea of a city tour involves visiting multiple attraction sites in a day. 

However, Detroit’s Belle Isle is worth spending the entire day. The 982-acre island offers several activities and sightseeing areas that can keep you entertained from morning to night. 

Belle Isle Detroit visit
Belle Isle in Detroit

When you visit the Belle Isle, you can enjoy barbeques and other snacks while on picnics with family and friends. 

Alternatively, you can explore nature trails or relax on the beach. 

Other popular attractions in this park include:

  • Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory – a tranquil botanical garden that allows you to interact with nature.
  • Belle Island Golf Range – practice shots at this golf course.
  • Dossin Great Lakes Museum – learn more about how Detroit plays a role in regional and national maritime history.
  • Giant Slide – a large playground slide for kids and adults.

Detroit Riverwalk

The Detroit Riverwalk resulted from the reclamation of an industrial wasteland by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. 

The area covers 3.5 miles, from the Belle Isle Bridge to Rosa Parks Boulevard.

Detroit Riverwalk fountain
Detroit Riverwalk

Walking through it, you will encounter many historic districts, eateries, restaurants, scenic parks, and countless outdoor recreational activities. 

Aside from walking or riding across the park, you can ride the carousel, see the new buildings in Detroit and get a glimpse of Canada. 

The Riverwalk has something for everyone, from tai chi lessons for the youth to walking tours for the elderly. Canoes, kayaks, and snowboarding are available if you like water sports.

Eastern Market

Eastern Market is a historic marketplace located a few minutes from downtown Detroit. 

Mack Avenue surrounds it to its north, St. Aubin Street to its east, Gratiot Avenue to the south, and the Interstate 75 Highway to the west.

Eastern market
Detroit Eastern market

Some call it ‘Little Italy’ although it has no connection to the European country.

The market currently covers 43 acres and is the largest public market in the US. 

It is renowned for its fresh farm produce, including meats, fish, vegetables, and fruits.  Saturdays are the busiest. 

Recently, local and international galleries have established spaces near the market. 

These include:

  • Inner State Gallery
  • OmniCorp Detroit
  • The Red Bull House of Art
  • and Riopelle

E-commerce companies like 1xRun and Cyberoptix also have shops in the commercial district. The Detroit Festival of Books attracts 10,000 visitors to the Eastern Market every July. 

Fox Theatre

The Fox Theatre is the best to relax after walking through the city during the day. 

The famous entertainment spot was recently renovated to upgrade it to current levels. 

The theatre hosts different event types, from live music performances to Broadway shows. 

Fox Theatre in Detroit
Fox Theatre

It’s advisable to check the schedule before a visit to ensure you catch a performance. 

If you aren’t lucky to find tickets, consider visiting the theatre to see its design. 

It is simply fantastic, with the main theatre that exudes luxury and an equally beautiful six-story lobby. 

Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo is one of the unique animal enclosures in the world. It has a cageless design, where visitors and animals feel like they’re in an open park. 

As you traverse the zoo, you will not see a barrier between you and the animals. 

It might sound scary, but there are deep moats around each habitat to protect you from dangerous animals. 

Walking around gives you an unrivaled experience of seeing animals in their natural habitat.

Final Words

Detroit had a poor reputation for being polluted due to its industrialization. However, locals and authorities have worked hard to restore its glory through nature parks. 

The city is now clean and offers a variety of attractions to suit every visitor’s needs. 

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