Detroit, Michigan, is home to unique museums, free attractions, scenic water views, fun activities, date ideas, and excellent restaurants. Visit the Detroit Institute of Arts to explore one of the best art collections in the country, take a romantic walk along the Riverfront, or go on a tour of a major league baseball park. Here are the best best things to do in Detroit, Michigan on a day trip or weekend getaway. Hours/availability may have changed.
1. Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
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Located on Woodward Avenue in Midtown Detroit, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) houses one of the largest art collections in the United States and one of the top attractions in Detroit. Established in 1885, it contains over 100 absolutely riveting galleries and covers 658,000 square feet. Van Gogh’s celebrated Self Portrait is one of the most well known paintings in the collection.
The Detroit Institute of Arts offers several kinds of tours including daily guided tours and audio/multimedia tours like the Director’s Choice and Youth Audio Tours. There are also family-oriented performances such as live music and puppet shows, storytelling, and art workshops. The Detroit Institute of Arts is open every day except Monday.
5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 313-833-7900
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When the snow starts melting and the grass starts coming back to life, Detroit residents head to the riverfront. The entire area along the Detroit River has undergone drastic renovations under the leadership of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. This non-profit organization dedicates its attention to the establishment, operation, improvement, security, maintenance, programming, and expansion of the Detroit RiverWalk and surrounding green areas.
The riverfront transforms into a hub of activity as the weather warms up. There are yoga and tai chi classes, running and biking races, seniors walking tours, rock and pop concerts, and much more. If you are looking for things to do in Detroit today, the Detroit Riverfront is a great place to visit. The ultimate goal of the Conservancy is to develop all five and a half miles of riverfront starting from the Ambassador Bridge and going all the way to Gabriel Richard Park, turning it into a place where Detroit residents can come and enjoy their town in safety and with pride.
Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, 600 Renaissance Center, Suite 1720, Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 313-566-8200
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3.Comerica Park Tours, Detroit, Michigan
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Comerica Park is the home of the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball Team. It is an open-air ballpark located on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. Comerica Park Tours are offered from June to September and last about 90 minutes.
Visitors get a fascinating behind-the-scene look at some of the popular attractions within the park and are welcome to take photos along the way. Comerica Park Tours offers public tours on both game days and non-game days, and private tours are an option for groups of 15 or more on non-game days.
2100 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 313-962-4000
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4. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Tour
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The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Tour takes visitors to the only “Brass Era” auto assembly plant in Detroit that is open to the public. A National Historic Landmark, the Ford Piquette Road plant was built in 1904, and it was the first factory owned by the Ford Motor Company and specifically built to manufacture the Ford. It was in that building that Mr. Ford designed his Model T and forever guaranteed himself a spot in the pages of the history.
Visitors can touch the beautiful brick walls and walk the original wood floors of the factory, which have become slightly worn since the days when workers manufactured and assembled various Ford models. You can even sit in one of the shiny old Ford beauties and take yourself back to the times of the automobile revolution. Even Mr. Ford’s office has been painstakingly preserved and is open to the public. If you are wondering what to do in Detroit on a rainy day, this is a great place to visit. Find more weekend getaways in Michigan
461 Piquette Street, Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 313-872-8759
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© Cliff Bell's
Everything about Cliff Bell’s tells story of an elegant and romantic time of the past – a time of speakeasies, prohibition, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Cliff Bell’s calls to mind a time when going to a club meant donning an evening gowns or a black suit. The restaurant is located in an artfully renovated Art Deco building designed in the 1930’s by Albert Kahn. The club’s charm and lavish interior is only matched by the superb food, another tribute to the 30’s.
The restaurant-style seating allows customers to enjoy their food while listening to long-time favorite tunes and tapping their feet. The cocktails menu features old classics – you might want to try a Hemingway. Naturally, the music is and always will be timeless – it is jazz at its best and in all its incarnations. Musicians come from all over the world to play at Cliff Bell’s, always the perfect place to dine, unwind, and take in the music.
2030 Park Ave., Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 313-961-2543
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6. Show Me Detroit Tours
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Whether you are visiting Detroit for the first time, a new resident who has just moved to the city, or an event planner, it’s always nice having an insider who knows all the nooks and crannies of the town to take you around. Show Me Detroit Tours are designed to cater to small groups with a maximum number of six people.
Participants spend two thrilling hours going from one attraction to another in a comfortable luxury van, and everyone is encouraged to ask questions and comment on what they see and visit. Some of the attractions on the Tour’s list include the downtown area, Campus Martius Park, Stadium & Entertainment District, Greektown, Midtown/Cultural Center, Eastern Market, RiverWalk/Rivertown, Heidelberg Project and Belle Isle.
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7. Michigan Science Center
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Located at the site of the former Detroit Science Center between the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Michigan Science Center (MiSci) is an innovative hands-on museum designed to present science in a fun and creative way, inspiring curious minds and allowing them to learn.
A non-profit organization, the museum has an IMAX theater, a planetarium, interactive exhibits, a designated area for kids, and more. If you are looking for fun things to do in Detroit with kids, this is a popular family friendly attraction.
5020 John R Street, Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 313-577-8400
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8.Joe Muer Seafood
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Joe Muer Seafood is an exquisite seafood eatery on the Detroit River waterfront with elegant décor that pays tribute to the retro 60’s yet still incorporates a modern touch. Here, seafood is king. You can enjoy your meal in the main room or in one of three bars: The Raw Bar, which serves freshly shucked oysters, delectable raw fish at the Sushi Bar, which is known for delectable raw fish and its gorgeous blue granite counters, or the Piano Bar, where you can take it easy and listen to great music.
Joe Muer Seafood also offers private dining, an experience which can include the special treat of dining in the kitchen with ten of your best friends or colleagues at “Joe’s Table.”
400 Renaissance Center Suite 1404, Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 313-567-6837
9.Detroit Princess Riverboat
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Built in 1993 in Jennings, Louisiana, the Detroit Princess is an impressive cruise ship that offers several different kinds of river tours including lunch, afternoon, dinner, and moonlight cruises. The Detroit Princess is also available to host a variety of events such as corporate functions or private events like birthday parties, family reunions, and weddings.
With its four decks, the Detroit Princess has a capacity of 1,500 passengers and began operating in Detroit in 2005. Guests are provided with meals and other dining options, and there are bars on each level serving beer, champagne, cocktails, spirits, and wine. The Detroit Princess Riverboat maintains a business casual dress code. If you are looking for date night ideas in Detroit, try a romantic river cruise.
201 Civic Center Drive, Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 877-338-2628
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10.The Rattlesnake Club
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Located in the Stroh River Place complex, The Rattlesnake Club is a 25-year-old Detroit institution that serves superb food you can enjoy while admiring the view of the Detroit River. When weather permits, visitors can feel a nice breeze on the spacious terrace. The restaurant maintains a policy of only serving the highest quality seasonal and sustainably harvested foods. The kitchen uses locally harvested produce, certified prime Angus beef, and not-from-farms finfish and shellfish in all their dishes.
The wine selection is extensive and there are also many locally brewed beers. During the summer, Executive Chef Chris Franz occasionally offers grill-inspired hands-on instruction and demonstrations. Sometimes he even shares his tips and tricks on the Club’s Garden Terrace. Keep in mind that this fine dining establishment has a slightly formal/business casual dress code.
300 River Pl Dr, Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 313-567-4400
11. Detroit Zoo
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The Detroit Zoo is located on West 10 Mile Road in Royal Oak, about two miles north of Detroit. Covering 125 acres, the Detroit Zoo is one of the largest and most popular family attractions in Michigan. The Detroit Zoo was the first in the United States to showcase barless exhibits, and it is home to over 3,300 animals, representing about 300 species.
Its exhibits include a beautiful butterfly garden, the Australian Outback, Amphibiville, the Arctic Ring of Life, wetlands, a wolf habitat, Dinosauria, and many more. Kids can have fun riding the colorful train and the carousel which is open during the warmer season.
8450 West 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067, 248-541-5717
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12. Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
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The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is located in the city’s cultural center, along with the College for Creative Studies, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Wayne State University. It is a non-collecting museum housed in a 22,000 square foot building. The building formerly served as an auto dealership, and architect Andrew Zago worked hard to preserve its historic atmosphere.
The museum constantly strives to increase appreciation for exhibits of contemporary art, which is evidenced in the many works they showcase. It also promotes education through its numerous cultural programs that include concerts, discussions, films, lectures, readings, and workshops. The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
4454 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan, Phone: 313-832-6622
13. Dime Store
© Dime Store
Dime Store is a popular downtown Detroit American Brunch Bar located in the Chrysler House. Dime Store serves breakfast, lunch, and drinks. Diners will be pleased to learn that brunch is served all day long. The atmosphere is casual and friendly, the décor modern and inviting. Dime Store has implemented a policy of serving only the freshest ingredients of the highest quality, resulting in very distinct and flavorful dishes.
Let Executive Chef Josh Taylor surprise you with his House Sausage Omelette, Reuben Duck Sandwich, or Sweet Poached Pear Salad. Don’t miss their fabulous Zingerman’s coffee and delicate Rishi organic teas. The restaurant also offers private parties for up to 65 people.
719 Griswold Street, Ste 180, Detroit, MI, Phone: 313-962-9106
14. The Whitney, Detroit, Michigan
© The Whitney
Visiting the Whitney in Detroit is a special treat, whether you are dining with a client, enjoying high tea at the Katherine McGregor Dessert Parlor, treating friends to drinks and a bit of adrenaline at the Ghostbaror having a special celebration in the Whitney's exquisite Gardens.
Located in an iconic Romanesque revival mansion built in 1894 by the lumber baron David Whitney Jr., the Whitney takes full advantage of its elegant, lavish setting and offers its guests refined contemporary American cuisine focusing on veal, beef, lamb, fish and seafood. Treat yourself with their Beef Wellington, a beef tenderloin stuffed with prosciutto, mushrooms and spinach, wrapped in puff pastry and served with veal cabernet sauce. Enjoy the restaurant's excellent wine cellar, it has something for everyone.
4421 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201, Phone: 313-832-5700
© La Feria
La Feria is a Spanish tapas and wine bar that you simply must visit on a cold Michigan evening in order to truly appreciate the dining experience. An inviting warmth and an explosion of colors and aromas reminiscent of a Seville summer greets you as you enter. The restaurant is simple and consists of one room with rustic wooden tables.
The atmosphere, however, is sizzling. Rioja and sangria flow freely, and cold and hot tapas are rushed out of the kitchen. In this lively environment, it is easy to imagine what it must be like in Seville during the annual feria (weekly festival.)
Chef and owner Pilar Baron Hidalgo happily and creatively experiments with traditional recipes from her native Spain, drawing on everything she has learned from her mother and grandmother. La Feria isn’t a large place, but it is exceedingly popular, so don’t be surprised if there’s a bit of a wait. Browse Michigan beaches
4130 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, Phone: 313-285-9081
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© Motown Museum
Located on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, the Motown Museum was established in 1985 by Esther Gordy Edwards, sister of Motown Record’s founder Berry Gordy. The nickname of Motown’s original headquarters is “Hitsville U.S.A.” Today, it is the home of the Motown Museum. Guests can visit the famous “Studio A” where many beloved Motown hits were recorded before the headquarters moved to Los Angeles in 1972.
The museum houses an impressive number of Motown artifacts, memorabilia, and photos – there is even a Motown Museum store. Guided tours are available and highly recommended as they are led by experienced museum docents. The Motown Museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday.
2648 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI, Phone: 313-875-2264
17.John K. King Used and Rare Books
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John K. King Used and Rare Books is an iconic used bookstore in Detroit, operated by its namesake owner since 1971. The bookstore, which was originally opened in Dearborn and was temporarily housed within Detroit's renowned Michigan Theatre building, found its permanent home within the city's four-story Advance Glove factory building on West Lafayette Boulevard. Today, used and rare books of all sorts spill over into the adjacent Otis Elevator factory building and the facility's basement, including special collections related to topics ranging from African-American history and international interests to botany, horology, and the Michigan logging industry. More than a million books in total are housed at the store's main location and its two outposts, one at the city's Cultural Center and one in Detroit suburb Ferndale.
901 W. Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226, Phone 313-961-0622
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18.Fox Theatre, Detroit, Michigan
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Located on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit, the Fox Theatre is a historic theater that opened in 1928. With more than 5,000 seats, the Fox Theatre is the largest surviving movie palace from the 1920s. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The theatre is rather grandiose; there are three levels of seating, and the interior is ornately decorated with Burmese, Chinese, Indian, and Persian themes. During its long history, several acclaimed performers have graced the theatre with their presence, including famous entertainers like Shirley Temple, Elvis Presley, and Frank Sinatra. Today, the Fox Theatre is as beautiful as ever, as it was completely restored in 1988.
2211 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI, Phone: 313-471-3200
19.Eastern Market, Detroit, MI
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Located approximately one mile north of downtown Detroit, Eastern Market is a historic market area that is doubly fascinating: it is a Michigan State Historic Site and it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally opened as a farmer’s market in 1841, it has expanded over the years, and additional sales sheds were added. Today, it covers 4.5 acres and is the largest historic public market in the United States.
The market has many tempting items for sale like fresh fruits and vegetables, excellent cuts of meat, and flavorful spices. Eastern Market also displays the works of local artists and allows musicians to perform, an added bonus to the homegrown food.
1445 Adelaide, Detroit, MI, Phone: 313-833-9300
20.Campus Martius Park
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Latin for “The Field of Mars,” Campus Martius Park is a two square block area that serves as the commercial heart of Detroit. After a fire in 1905, Judge Augustus Woodward chose this area to be the focal point of the efforts taken to rebuild the city. Today, this lively park is home to a seasonal ice skating rink, several public spaces that can be put to various uses, thought-provoking sculptures, and two performance stages.
Several multiple purpose spaces encompass these park features, including Compuware, One Kennedy Square Buildings, Quicken Loan Headquarters, and the Penobscot Building, a city landmark and an impressive example of historic architecture. A trip to the park will surely lead to other adventures as all of Detroit’s major avenues radiate out from Campus Martius Park.
800 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI, Phone: 313-962-0101
21 Best Things to Do in Detroit, Michigan
- Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI, Photo: Courtesy of naokit - Fotolia.com
- Detroit Riverfront, Photo: Courtesy of hstiver - Fotolia.com
- Comerica Park Tours, Detroit, Michigan, Photo: Courtesy of Andre Franke - Fotolia.com
- The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Tour, Photo: Courtesy of John Sfondilias - Fotolia.com
- Cliff Bell's, Photo: Cliff Bell's
- Show Me Detroit Tours, Photo: Courtesy of John McGraw Photog - Fotolia.com
- Michigan Science Center, Photo: Courtesy of Viacheslav Iakobchuk - Fotolia.com
- Joe Muer Seafood, Photo: Joe Muer Seafood
- Detroit Princess Riverboat, Photo: Courtesy of icholakov - Fotolia.com
- The Rattlesnake Club, Photo: The Rattlesnake Club
- Detroit Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of foto frank - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Photo: Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
- Dime Store, Photo: Dime Store
- The Whitney, Detroit, Michigan, Photo: The Whitney
- La Feria, Photo: La Feria
- Motown Museum, Photo: Motown Museum
- John K. King Used and Rare Books, Photo: Courtesy of Anna - Fotolia.com
- Fox Theatre, Detroit, Michigan, Photo: Courtesy of aerogondo - Fotolia.com
- Eastern Market, Detroit, MI, Photo: Courtesy of sun lover 616 - Fotolia.com
- Campus Martius Park, Photo: Courtesy of andreaobzerova - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of icholakov/Fotolia.com
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