Although Detroit is known best as a landmark of industrial innovation and automotive history, it has also emerged as a vibrant and diverse destination for tourists from around the world. In fact, Detroit was named the 10th best global travel destination for 2023.
The city offers a compelling blend of historical significance, artistic expression, and urban renewal. From world-class museums and iconic music legacies to architectural marvels and natural oases, Detroit invites tourists to explore attractions and experiences that encapsulate the city’s past, present, and promising future.
To help you get the most out of a trip to Motor City, we’ve delved into the best attractions, nature areas, and events that make Detroit, Michigan, a prime destination.
Table of Contents
Where is Detroit, Michigan?
Detroit, Michigan, is located in the southeastern part of the state, near the border that separates the United States and Canada. It is the largest city in Michigan and serves as the county seat of Wayne County.
Detroit is situated along the Detroit River, which separates the state from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The city’s strategic location has historically made it a key transportation and trading hub in the Great Lakes region.
Detroit’s proximity to several surrounding states makes it easily accessible from various other tourist destinations and cities in the USA. To the west, the city is relatively close to the states of Indiana and Illinois. To the south, it’s within driving distance of Ohio.
Additionally, Detroit is well-connected by major highways, including I-75, I-94, and I-96, making it accessible by road from neighbouring states and cities. These highways make it a perfect stop during a cross-country road trip.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) is the primary international airport serving Detroit and the surrounding region. Located just 20 miles southwest of downtown Detroit in the city of Romulus, DTW is one of the busiest airports in the United States.
It offers a wide range of domestic and international flights, making it a convenient choice for tourists flying to and from Detroit. The airport provides excellent connectivity and modern facilities to ensure a smooth travel experience for visitors.
Travel To and From Canada
Detroit’s proximity to Canada is a significant feature of the city’s location. The Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel provide direct road access between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
This accessibility makes it relatively easy for residents and tourists to cross the international border, whether for business or leisure. Additionally, the Detroit-Windsor corridor is an essential trade route between the United States and Canada, further emphasizing the city’s strategic location for commerce and international relations.
Historical and Cultural Attractions
The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Detroit, Michigan, are among the most prominent historical and cultural attractions in the United States. These two institutions collectively offer visitors a captivating journey through American history, innovation, and culture.
The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village form a sprawling complex covering approximately 250 acres. The museum and village are named after Henry Ford, the pioneering automobile industrialist who founded the Ford Motor Company.
The site is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the achievements and innovations that have shaped the American way of life. It is a testament to Ford’s vision of celebrating not only the history of industry and technology but also the daily lives of ordinary Americans.
The Henry Ford Museum boasts an extensive collection of artefacts, machines, and memorabilia that span over four centuries of American history.
Visitors can explore historic automobiles, such as the first mass-produced Model T and presidential limousines, including the one in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The museum also houses iconic inventions like Thomas Edison’s lightbulb and the Wright Brothers’ plane.
In contrast, Greenfield Village is an open-air museum that replicates an American village from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here, visitors can walk through historic buildings, including the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop and the childhood home of Henry Ford, gaining insight into life during those eras.
The Motown Museum, located in the heart of Detroit, Michigan, is a musical landmark that holds immense historical significance in the world of music. Founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959, Motown Records played a pivotal role in shaping the American music landscape and achieving cultural milestones.
Motown Records is often referred to as “Hitsville U.S.A.,” a name that speaks to its extraordinary impact on the music industry. It was founded with a vision to produce music that transcended racial barriers and united people through the universal language of song.
Motown became a powerhouse in the 1960s, producing an array of legendary artists like Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder. The label’s “Motown Sound” was characterised by catchy melodies, tight harmonies, and a blend of R&B and pop influences.
This unique approach not only revolutionised music but also played a pivotal role in breaking down racial segregation in the entertainment industry.
Tour of Hitsville U.S.A.
A visit to the Motown Museum provides a captivating tour of the birthplace of the Motown Sound: Hitsville, U.S.A. Visitors can step into the actual recording studio, where many of Motown’s greatest hits were created.
The tour takes guests through the humble beginnings of Motown, showcasing the original Studio A, where legendary tracks like “My Girl” by The Temptations and “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes were recorded.
It’s a chance to stand in the same room where musical history was made and to see the vintage recording equipment used to produce those iconic songs. The museum also preserves the Berry Gordy family’s living quarters, giving visitors a glimpse into the personal side of Motown’s story.
Detroit Institute of Arts
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), located in the heart of Detroit, Michigan, is one of the most renowned and culturally significant art institutions in the United States. The DIA is a sprawling cultural treasure trove housed in a magnificent Beaux-Arts building.
It opened its doors to the public in 1927 and has since been a beacon of artistic and cultural enrichment in the region. The museum’s extensive collection spans over 100 galleries, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the country.
The DIA’s collection is made up of art from different cultures spanning centuries. Notable highlights include Diego Rivera’s monumental “Detroit Industry Murals,” which adorn the museum’s courtyard and depict the city’s industrial history.
The European art collection features works by masters like Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Claude Monet. In addition, the American art collection includes iconic pieces by artists such as Grant Wood and Charles Demuth.
The museum also boasts an extensive collection of African, Asian, Native American, and Islamic art, showcasing the rich cultural diversity that Detroit represents.
The Detroit Institute of Arts holds deep cultural importance both locally and nationally. It serves as a cultural anchor for the city of Detroit, providing a space for artistic expression, education, and community engagement.
Additionally, the DIA has been a symbol of Detroit’s resilience. It has weathered economic challenges and remained committed to its mission of enriching the lives of the people it serves.
Sports and Entertainment
Comerica Park, located in downtown Detroit, Michigan, has been the proud home of the city’s MLB team, the Detroit Tigers, since its opening in 2000. The stadium replaced the historic Tiger Stadium and has since become a modern and vibrant venue for baseball fans.
The park’s design incorporates elements that pay homage to the Tigers’ rich history, including a replica of the iconic Tiger Stadium clock and a statue of Tigers legend Al Kaline. The stadium’s outfield features a massive fountain that lights up with water displays and fireworks to celebrate home runs and victories.
Attending a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park is an iconic Detroit experience. The stadium offers a wide range of amenities and activities to enhance the game day experience. Fans can savour delicious ballpark treats, including Detroit-style pizza, Coney dogs, and craft beers.
The park also boasts a carousel, a Ferris wheel, and a dedicated “Paws” play area for younger fans, making it a family-friendly destination. The design of the stadium provides excellent sightlines and comfortable seating, ensuring that every seat in the house offers a great view of the action on the field.
Tours and Events
Comerica Park offers guided tours that provide an insider’s look at the ballpark’s history, architecture, and inner workings. These tours give fans a chance to explore areas typically off-limits to the public, including the dugout, the press box, and even the Tigers’ clubhouse.
Additionally, Comerica Park hosts various events and concerts throughout the year, showcasing its versatility as an entertainment venue. The park has been a stage for renowned musical acts, cultural events, and even outdoor movie nights, cementing its role as a hub for community and entertainment in downtown Detroit.
Ford Field, located in downtown Detroit, Michigan, is a multifunctional stadium known for its role as the home of the Detroit Lions, the city’s NFL team. Opened in 2002, the stadium was designed to provide Lions fans with a modern and comfortable setting to enjoy NFL games.
Its retractable roof ensures that fans can revel in the excitement of football while being protected from the unpredictable Michigan weather. The stadium’s seating capacity and layout are designed to create an intimate and engaging atmosphere, with excellent sightlines and seating close to the action on the field.
Ford Field offers guided tours that provide fans and visitors with an insider’s look at the stadium’s facilities and behind-the-scenes areas. These tours offer insights into the history of the Detroit Lions, the architecture of the stadium, and the inner workings of the venue on game days.
Visitors can explore areas that are restricted to the public, such as the locker rooms and the press box, exploring what it’s like for players, coaches, and journalists during the NFL season. These tours provide sports fans the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the stadium’s significance and its role in the community.
MGM Grand Detroit Casino
The MGM Grand Detroit Casino is a high-end resort and casino complex that offers a taste of Las Vegas-style entertainment right in the heart of Detroit, Michigan. The casino features a sprawling gaming floor with a wide array of slot machines, table games, and poker rooms for casual and experienced gamblers.
The casino provides an extensive selection of gambling options, including slot machines, video poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, and more. Poker enthusiasts can test their skills in the dedicated poker room, which hosts regular tournaments and cash games.
The resort boasts a contemporary and upscale ambience, making it a popular choice for those seeking a sophisticated gaming experience. Beyond the gaming floor, it also has luxury accommodations, spa facilities, and various entertainment options to explore.
Natural and Outdoor Attractions
Belle Isle Park
Belle Isle Park, situated in the Detroit River and connected to Detroit, Michigan, is a picturesque island park that offers a serene escape within the bustling city. Belle Isle spans over 982 acres, making it the largest city-owned island park in the United States.
The island is a haven of natural beauty and urban recreation, accessible via the historic Belle Isle Bridge. The lush, green oasis includes meadows, woods, wetlands, and miles of scenic shoreline along the Detroit River.
Belle Isle’s design is influenced by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City’s Central Park. The island’s unique blend of natural beauty and architectural gems makes it a cherished destination for residents and tourists in Detroit, Michigan.
Belle Isle is home to a wide range of attractions that cater to various interests. The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is a botanical wonderland featuring a diverse collection of plants and exotic species within its beautiful greenhouse structures.
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum celebrates the maritime history of the Great Lakes and is housed in an elegant Beaux-Arts building. The Belle Isle Aquarium, one of the oldest in the United States, offers a captivating glimpse into underwater life.
The Belle Isle Nature Center provides educational experiences about the island’s natural habitats and wildlife. Additionally, visitors can explore the iconic James Scott Memorial Fountain, which provides a spectacular display during the summer months.
Belle Isle Park offers a wide range of outdoor recreational activities for visitors of all ages. The island boasts numerous picnic areas, making it an ideal spot for family gatherings and enjoying warm summer days in Detriot.
Nature enthusiasts can explore hiking and biking trails that wind through the lush woods and offer breathtaking views of the Detroit River. The park also features sports facilities, including a beach for swimming, a golf course, and numerous athletic fields.
Fishing and boating are popular activities along the island’s shoreline, with designated fishing piers and boat launches available. Belle Isle’s natural beauty and diverse recreational opportunities make it a year-round destination within Detroit’s urban landscape.
The Detroit Riverfront, once an industrial and neglected waterfront area, has undergone a remarkable revitalisation effort that has transformed it into a vibrant and scenic destination in Detroit, Michigan.
Historically, the riverfront was dominated by factories and warehouses, isolating the river from the community. However, a revitalisation initiative has removed blighted structures, created green spaces, and developed public amenities that have rejuvenated the riverfront and connected it to Detroit’s neighbourhoods.
The heart of the Detroit Riverfront is the Riverwalk, a scenic promenade that stretches for miles along the banks of the Detroit River. The Riverwalk offers visitors a serene and picturesque path with panoramic views of the river and the Windsor, Canada, skyline across the water.
Along the Riverwalk, there are well-maintained parks, gardens, and outdoor art installations. These add to the beauty of the riverfront and make it a great place for couples, families, and solo travellers to explore.
Events and Festivals
The Detroit Riverfront has become a hub for events and festivals throughout the year. Various cultural, music, and food festivals are held here, attracting locals and tourists. One of the most notable events is the annual River Days festival, which features live music, food vendors, and family-friendly activities.
During the winter months, the Detroit Riverfront comes alive with the Meridian Winter Blast, featuring ice sculptures, winter sports, and warm comfort food. These events contribute to a vibrant and engaging riverfront community, drawing people together to celebrate Detroit’s culture and history.
Dequindre Cut Greenway
The Dequindre Cut Greenway is a beloved urban oasis that has breathed new life into an abandoned rail line and created a vibrant space for outdoor activities and community engagement in Detroit, Michigan.
One of the defining features of the Dequindre Cut is its biking and walking trails. The greenway offers a dedicated and protected path for cyclists and pedestrians, making it a popular route for commuters and recreational users alike.
The trail also connects to other major bike paths and routes in the city, providing seamless access to Detroit’s growing network of urban trails. The greenway’s level of accessibility and its tranquil, car-free environment make it an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the city.
Art and Community
The Dequindre Cut is not just a recreational trail; it’s also an open-air art gallery. Visitors can admire a vibrant array of art installations and murals created by local and international artists throughout the greenway.
Community involvement has been a driving force in maintaining and protecting the greenway. Regular clean-up and beautification efforts involve volunteers and organisations, fostering a sense of ownership and pride among Detroiters. The Dequindre Cut has become a canvas for artistic expression and a symbol of the city’s creative spirit.
Cultural and Ethnic Neighbourhoods
Corktown, located just west of downtown Detroit, Michigan, is a neighbourhood steeped in historical significance. It is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods and has helped shape Detriot’s culture today.
Corktown earned its name from the large Irish immigrant population that settled there in the mid-19th century, many of whom came from County Cork in Ireland. Its rows of well-preserved Victorian-era homes and historic landmarks exemplify the neighbourhood’s historical significance.
One of the most notable landmarks is the Michigan Central Station, a grand Beaux-Arts-style train station that, though long abandoned, is an iconic symbol of Detroit’s past. Corktown’s history reflects the immigrant experience in Detroit and contributes to the city’s cultural tapestry.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Corktown is best known for its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the largest and most celebrated in the region. The parade dates back to 1958 and draws crowds from all over to celebrate Irish culture and heritage.
Residents and tourists dress in green and line the streets to watch colourful floats, marching bands, and traditional Irish dancers. The festivities continue with lively music, food vendors, and a festive atmosphere in Corktown’s bars and restaurants.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade has become a cherished tradition that embodies the neighbourhood’s Irish roots and sense of community.
Eastern Market, located in the heart of Detroit, Michigan, is a bustling and historic market district that has been a cornerstone of the city’s culture and economy for over a century. It is one of the largest public markets in the United States, covering approximately 43 acres.
Eastern Market is a vibrant and diverse district that encompasses a variety of market sheds, open-air stalls, speciality shops, and surrounding businesses. The market’s roots trace back to the 19th century when it was established as a central hub for fresh food distribution.
Today, it continues to be a lively marketplace where people come together to celebrate food, art, and community. Its colourful and bustling atmosphere makes it a beloved destination for Detroit residents and visitors.
Eastern Market is not just about food; it’s also a hub for art and cultural events. The district hosts various festivals, art shows, and live performances throughout the year, showcasing the city’s vibrant arts scene.
The annual Flower Day event is a beloved tradition where thousands of people flock to the market to purchase flowers, plants, and garden supplies while enjoying live music and food vendors.
Additionally, the market’s walls and streets are adorned with colourful murals and street art, making it an outdoor gallery that reflects the city’s creativity and cultural diversity. Eastern Market’s commitment to the arts underscores its role as a vibrant and inclusive community space.
Detroit, Michigan, is a Fantastic US Destination
Detroit, Michigan, is known for its tourist attractions and activities that showcase the city’s rich history, cultural diversity, and vibrant spirit of revitalisation. Detroit is a city of resilience, where a storied past has paved the way for a bright future.
The tourist attractions in Detriot encapsulate the essence of transformation and the city’s commitment to offering visitors a diverse and enriching experience. Whether exploring its cultural institutions, savouring its culinary delights, or witnessing the city’s architectural wonders, Detroit invites tourists to discover its unique charm and spirit.
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