Top 12 Attractions in Detroit

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Detroit is a city with a remarkable history and an exciting future. Once known as the automotive capital of the world where the famous Model T was first built, Detroit has transformed into a vibrant hub of culture, food, and entertainment while still celebrating its manufacturing roots.

AttractionDescription
The Henry Ford MuseumExpansive museum complex celebrating American innovation.
Detroit Institute of ArtsRenowned art museum with over 65,000 works.
Motown MuseumIconic music history museum in the original Motown HQ.
Belle Isle ParkIsland park offering a zoo, aquarium, and great city views.
Detroit RiverWalkScenic riverside path for walking and cycling.
GreektownLively district known for its dining and nightlife.
Comerica ParkMajor league baseball park, home of the Detroit Tigers.
Detroit Historical MuseumMuseum dedicated to Detroit’s rich history.
Michigan Science CenterInteractive museum with educational exhibits and IMAX theater.
Eastern MarketHistoric commercial district famous for its farmers market.
Fox TheatreIconic venue for performing arts and entertainment.
Guardian BuildingLandmark art deco skyscraper with tours available.

Visitors to Detroit will find a diverse range of attractions from museums that explore the city’s past to innovative galleries looking towards the future. Outdoor spaces like the enormous Belle Isle Park provide plenty of recreation while theaters and concert halls in the Art Deco skyscrapers of Downtown host ambitious performances. And across the different neighborhoods, a thriving food scene satisfies cravings.

Even with so much to offer, many of Detroit’s top sites fly under the radar of typical tourist destinations. But those willing to venture into the Motor City will be rewarded with an affordable, accessible, and authentic all-American experience.

The Henry Ford

Name and Location: The Henry Ford is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex located in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, about 10 miles from downtown Detroit.

History and Significance: Founded in 1929 by auto pioneer Henry Ford, The Henry Ford is a National Historic Landmark that chronicles 300 years of American innovation and ingenuity. It is one of the largest and most extensive history museums in the United States.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore Henry Ford’s historic automobile collection, ride in a Model T, visit Henry Ford’s childhood home and the factory where he first built cars, take in various exhibits about American innovation, and experience nineteenth century life at Greenfield Village. There are also various special events and demonstrations year-round.

Visitor Information: The Henry Ford is open 7 days a week. Tickets are $25 for adults, $23.25 for seniors, and $18.50 for kids. Parking is free.

The Henry Ford history attraction in Dearborn, just outside Detroit, provides an illuminating look into the inventions and innovations that shaped America. Spread across a massive complex, the site includes multiple museums and historical buildings to explore.

The centerpiece is The Henry Ford Museum, an utterly captivating collection of Americana artifacts such as the Rosa Parks Bus and the chair Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated. Visitors can climb aboard the titanic steam locomotive named the Allegheny or stare down the mighty 1948 FELIX B-29 Superfortress Bomber suspended overhead. Cultural relics like the Kennedy Limousine used in Dallas the day of the assassination provide a chillingly intimate connection to the past.

Also on the campus is Greenfield Village, an outdoor history park filled with nearly 100 iconic structures relating to the founding and pioneering periods of the United States in the late 18th and early 19th century. Here you can wander through the workshop where the Wright brothers developed the first airplane, take in a show at Thomas Edison’s laboratory, or ride around in a Model T. The Henry Ford is thoroughly engaging, educational and entertaining for all ages.

Detroit Institute of Arts

Name and Location: The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is an art museum located on Woodward Avenue in midtown Detroit.

History and Significance: The DIA was founded in 1885 and moved to its current Beaux-Arts building in 1927. It houses one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States with pieces spanning 3000 years of human creativity.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore one of the best art collections in the country with galleries featuring Ancient, African, Asian, Native American, Oceanic, Islamic, and European art. Popular exhibits include the Detroit Industry mural cycle by Diego Rivera.

Visitor Information: General admission is $14 for adults and $9 for youth ages 6-17. The DIA is open Wed-Sun and has free general admission on Wednesdays.

The magnificent Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) houses one of the most significant art collections in the country. The encyclopedic museum owns more than 65,000 individual works comprising an astoundingly diverse permanent collection.

European old masters such as Bruegel, Rembrandt, Matisse, and Van Gogh have a captivating presence at the DIA. The galleries also showcase contemporary American works, decorative arts including early American furniture, Native American and Mesoamerican art, modern and graphic design exhibits, collections of African, Asian and Islamic Art, and so much more.

In addition to the sprawling permanent installations, the DIA hosts ambitious temporary exhibits ranging from retrospectives of influential artists to themed displays placing different movements in cultural context. The 1927 building itself is considered a marvelous work of art, with visitors welcome to admire the majestic architectural details throughout the massive structure.

With free general admission and reasonable parking rates, the DIA makes experiencing world-class art easily accessible. Come ready to get lost wandering the bright galleries as a seemingly endless array of artifacts transport you across different eras, cultures, and schools of artistic expression.

Motown Museum

Name and Location: The Motown Museum is located on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan in the house that was first headquarters of Motown Record Corporation.

History and Significance: Founded in 1985, the Motown Museum is the site of Motown Records’ first headquarters and recording studio. Motown and its distinctive Motown sound played an important role in the racial integration of popular music.

What to Expect: Museum exhibits chronicle the story of Motown Record Corporation through photographs, displays, costumes, and personalities. Visitors can see Studio A where early Motown hits were recorded. Guided tours run frequently.

Visitor Information: The Motown Museum is open Tues-Sun. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and youths. Guided tours should be booked in advance online.

No trip to Detroit is complete without a pilgrimage to “Hitsville U.S.A”, otherwise known as the Motown Museum. Located where Berry Gordy Jr. founded the iconic record label in 1959, the humble two-story house turned into a hitmaking headquarters for artists like Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Temptations and many more.

Visitors can stand in Studio A, the cramped room where stars were born and their chart-topping songs were recorded. Costumes, photographs, gold records and other memorabilia throughout the house help share the stories behind the incredible talent nurtured within these walls. To learn about the operations of the legendary record company and get a behind-the-scenes view of how they created the world famous Motown Sound, this delightful museum delivers an intimate, joyous experience.

As you step outside, imagine the likes of Marvin Gaye, The Miracles or Stevie Wonder strolling down West Grand Boulevard. And if you feel so inclined, visit the street sign on the corner where fans and friends attach handwritten messages of appreciation to their beloved hitmakers.

Belle Isle

Name and Location: Belle Isle is a 982-acre island park located on the Detroit River east of downtown Detroit.

History and Significance: Belle Isle opened as a city park in the late 1800s after being purchased by the city of Detroit. It contains beautiful manicured gardens, fountains, historic structures, a conservatory, a beach, and giant slide along with trails, fields, picnic areas, and scenic river views.

What to Expect: Visitors come to Belle Isle for biking, running, hiking, walking, kayaking and general relaxation surrounded by nature while still being in the city. Other attractions include the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the giant slide, and the James Scott Memorial Fountain.

Visitor Information: Belle Isle is open daily 5am to 10pm. There is a $12 annual fee for a recreation passport to drive onto the island, otherwise access is free.

An oasis situated on the Detroit River between the United States and Canada, the 982-acre Belle Isle provides endless opportunities for recreation and relaxation just minutes from downtown Detroit. Locals flock to the island to enjoy the vast green space that includes playgrounds, picnic grounds, nature trails, gardens and more without ever leaving the city.

At the heart sits the stunning Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. The historic greenhouse transports visitors into lush tropic climates surrounded by exotic plant life. Also popular is the Detroit Yacht Club overlooking the scenic shore, the James Scott Memorial Fountain reminiscent of iconic French designs, and the retired Coast Guard Lighthouse built in 1930.

Those looking for livelier activities can visit the municipal golf course, swimming beach, athletic courts or boat launches. Anglers can try their luck fishing as freighters slowly sail across the Detroit River. Special events held at venues around the park provide additional options for entertainment and fun throughout the year.

With magnificent skyline views of Detroit and Windsor as a backdrop, Belle Isle Park has something delightful to offer every season for visitors seeking outdoor adventure just minutes from the heart of downtown.

Greektown

Name and Location: Detroit’s Greektown is a lively restaurant and entertainment district located just northeast of downtown Detroit near the Greektown Casino.

History and Significance: Detroit’s Greektown dates back to the 1890s when Greek immigrants first settled in the neighborhood. By the 1910s it was thriving as Detroit’s prime entertainment district with restaurants, shops, bakeries and nightclubs.

What to Expect: Today Greektown remains an entertainment hotspot with over 50 restaurants to choose from for authentic Greek dishes and pastries. The district comes alive at night with people out clubbing, gambling at the casino, and taking in the electric neon lights.

Visitor Information: Greektown is centered along Monroe Street. Most establishments are open for lunch and close late. Parking is available at the casino garage.

The vibrant enclave known as Greektown offers lively restaurants, bustling bars, and exciting gaming opportunities anchored around Monroe Street and Beaubien in downtown Detroit. Explore the pedestrian-friendly district adorned in classic Hellenic décor and soak up the energetic ambiance.

By day, check out the many wonderful Greek eateries serving up authentic Old World specialties like moussaka, dolmades, or spanakopita paired with sweet baklava for desert. Shop the boutiques for olive oils, spices, artwork and more to take home.

When the sun goes down, Greektown comes alive. Hit the casino at the Greektown Hotel to try your luck at slots and table games. Or visit one of the popular nightclubs hosting DJs and live music while serving craft cocktails late into the evening. With neon lights all around, the neighborhood truly lives up to its name.

Campus Martius

Name and Location: Campus Martius is a public park located in downtown Detroit at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Michigan Avenue.

History and Significance: Campus Martius originated as a gathering place for early Detroiters in the 1800s. Today the park serves as a central community hub hosting concerts, markets, ice skating, and various events throughout the year.

What to Expect: Visitors relaxing in Campus Martius can grab food from an upscale café, play a game of chess, ride the carousel, cool off by the fountain, or do some shopping as they take in skyline views of downtown.

Visitor Information: Campus Martius is open 24 hours daily. Admission is free. The nearest parking garages charge a fee.

Detroit’s central public square since it was first designated in 1805, Campus Martius Park today serves as the nucleus of downtown. The small green space squeezed between several restored landmark skyscrapers provides a communal venue hosting concerts, events, food festivals and seasonal activities throughout the year all within view of incredible architecture.

Visitors will notice the iconic Civil War Monument standing tall in the center. The lovely turn-of-the-century Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument capped with the bronze figure of Michigania now overlooks outdoor yoga classes, lunchtime loungers and live entertainment rather than military drills.

Surrounding the square sit several notable historic buildings such as the old Cadillac Tower, the multicolored Roosevelt Warehouse and the stately Wayne County Building. The 1920s gem nicknamed the “jewel of Detroit”, the 40 story Guardian Building, dazzles from a block away with vibrant art deco adornments around all sides.

For panoramic vistas high above it all, check out some of Detroit’s best rooftop bar restaurants on top of buildings nearby. And at ground level, there’s no better spot to sit, people watch and take in Downtown Detroit’s unique beauty.

Eastern Market

Name and Location: Eastern Market is a large historic farmers market district spanning six blocks on Detroit’s east side.

History and Significance: Founded in 1891, it is one of the oldest and largest continuously operating farmers markets in the United States. Eastern Market continues to be important for supporting local food growers and small businesses.

What to Expect: Every Saturday year round, Eastern Market hosts an energetic open air farmers market selling produce, meat, cheese, spice blends, and flowers. Many permanent stores and wholesalers are also open on other days.

Visitor Information: Eastern Market is located between Gratiot Ave, I-75, Adelaide, and Wilkins St. The market area is busiest on Saturday mornings but many shops are open Tuesday-Sunday.

The iconic Eastern Market neighborhood represents the best in food and culture. Lively, walkable and welcoming, the district revolves around the historic Eastern Market halls that have served as food distribution centers since 1891. Every Saturday, owners of independent farms, butcher shops, bakeries, spice merchants and other specialty food vendors gather for a bustling open air market that seems to stretch on endlessly.

Outside the main halls, explore stores featuring handcrafted goods, custom furniture, unique fashions and more. When hunger calls, take your pick from dozens of superb eateries dishing up everything from chicken and waffles to banh mi sandwiches to innovative small plates. Many establishments focus on high quality local and seasonal ingredients sourced straight from regional farmers and producers.

In addition to the regular weekends at Eastern Market, seasonal events like flower days, harvest gatherings and evening markets help incubate a gratifying, tight-knit community where everyone shares a passion for incredible food.

The Fisher Building

Name and Location: The Fisher Building is an Art Deco skyscraper located at 3011 West Grand Boulevard in the New Center area of Detroit, about three miles north of downtown.

History and Significance: Built by the Fisher brothers in 1928, the Fisher Building is considered one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the world and often called Detroit’s largest art object due to its intricate decorative designs.

What to Expect: Visitors can view the soaring, lavishly decorated lobbies with marble, gold, and ornate mosaics as well as shop and dine at the retail shops and restaurants now occupying space.

Visitor Information: The Fisher Building offers free self-guided tours. There is metered parking along West Grand Boulevard or paid parking in nearby garages.

Described as “Detroit’s largest art object”, the Fisher Building stands as the city’s most iconic example of Art Deco grandeur completed in 1928. Master architect Albert Kahn designed the ornate 30-story tower to serve as the headquarters for luxury automaker Fisher Body with lavish decorative details around every corner.

Visitors entering the bronze and glass lobby should gaze upwards at the resplendent barrel vaulted ceiling capped by inlaid mosaics and intricate metalwork. Intricate custom fixtures like the etched glass light sconces resemble elegant automotive coach lamps of the era. Columns, friezes and murals incorporate automobile manufacturing imagery into the overall design. Throughout the soaring, grandiose interior, the quality of artistry and craftsmanship dazzles just as much today as when it first debuted.

Several architectural walking tours make this landmark a key stop to appreciate Detroit’s diverse aesthetics spanning different eras. While the spaces today house a mix of corporate offices and a theater, the public is welcome to admire the main lobby with advanced arrangements. For the most magnificent view, visit the Fisher Building sky bar on the rooftop New Year’s Eve when fireworks burst overhead.

Detroit RiverWalk

Name and Location: The Detroit RiverWalk is a 3.5 mile recreational waterfront trail route paralleling the Detroit River from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle.

History and Significance: The RiverWalk connects key sites along Detroit’s riverfront such as Hart Plaza, the Renaissance Center, Milliken State Park and other destinations while serving as a place for walking, running, biking, fishing, and events.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy impressive views of skylines and river activity in Detroit and Windsor while passing by fountains, pavilions, plaques describing Detroit’s history, benches, greenery and sometimes public art installations.

Visitor Information: The Detroit RiverWalk is open 24 hours a day year-round for free public access.

In recent years, significant investment along Detroit’s riverfront has helped transform the shoreline into one of the city’s premier gathering spots. The Detroit RiverWalk stretches from river’s edge behind the Renaissance Center east for 3 total miles to Gabriel Richard Park with plans to extend further in coming years. Visitors strolling or biking along the promenade can take in views across to Canada while passing by landmarks like the outdoor sculpture park, Hart Plaza event grounds, historic buildings and more.

Several linked green spaces along the way provide room for manicured gardens, performance venues, fountains, art installations and urban beaches. Special programming brings fitness events, concerts, food festivals and family activities throughout the year. The Mount Elliott Park honors the Underground Railroad history while the Robert C. Valade Park commemorates Detroit’s labor legacy.

Further development continues on both ends to expand access and amenities all along the rejuvenated waterfront. Already the scenic, multipurpose RiverWalk serves as a communal backyard for residents and compelling attraction for visitors seeking Detroit’s natural beauty.

The Renaissance Center

Name and Location: The Renaissance Center, nicknamed the Ren Cen, is a complex of seven connected skyscrapers located along the Detroit River in Downtown Detroit. It is home to the headquarters for General Motors.

History and Significance: Completed in 1981, the Renaissance Center revitalized Detroit’s riverfront. The complex includes offices, shops, restaurants, a hotel, and public spaces. At 727 feet, it is the tallest building in Michigan.

What to Expect: Visitors can dine, shop, take a scenic riverfront stroll, view artwork, and go up to the top of the tallest Ren Cen tower for panoramic city views on clear days. The Wintergarden food court provides a great glimpse of the interior glass-covered atrium architecture.

Visitor Information: The Renaissance Center is open 7 days a week and located downtown right off Jefferson Avenue. A variety of paid parking options are nearby.

As the tallest building in Michigan soaring 73 stories high, the Renaissance Center, known locally as the RenCen, looms large on Detroit’s skyline. The contemporary glass tower complex rises from the banks of the Detroit River as the headquarters for General Motors.

Even those not working at the RenCen are welcome to venture inside. Ride the elevators up to the Wintergarden glass atrium providing dazzling 360 degree views around Detroit. Visit one of several stores or dine at a restaurant like Coach Insignia overlooking the water. Guests at the Detroit Marriott Hotel inside have access to amenities like an indoor pool.

The prominent complex also serves as the gateway hub to downtown. Hop on the People Mover or join a guided tour at the glass station out front under the sparkling towers. As a recognizable anchor around the riverfront, the Renaissance Center keeps expanding its presence opening up more experiences for visitors and locals to enjoy.

Comerica Park and Ford Field Stadiums

Name and Location: Comerica Park and Ford Field are two major league sports stadiums located side-by-side just north of downtown Detroit. Comerica Park houses the Detroit Tigers baseball team while Ford Field is home of the Detroit Lions football team.

History and Significance: Comerica Park opened in 2000 to replace historic Tiger Stadium. Ford Field opened in 2002 as a futuristic domed football stadium replacing the Pontiac Silverdome as the Lions’ home. The two facilities anchor The District Detroit sports and entertainment area.

What to Expect: Fans flock to Comerica Park and Ford Field on game days to cheer on the Tigers and Lions. The stadiums also host concerts and other events. Tours allow visitors to explore areas like locker rooms when games are not happening.

Visitor Information: Parking rates and availability varies per event. Year-round public tours at Ford Field run Fridays-Sundays for $7 per person.

Diehard sports fans visiting Detroit can catch exciting professional games in two fan-friendly stadiums found just a quick stroll apart downtown. Opened in 2000 and 2002 respectively, Comerica Park is home to the Detroit Tigers while the Detroit Lions prowl Ford Field over on Brush Street. The successful venues help incubate community pride while bringing energy and visitors downtown.

Baseball lovers will delight in Comerica Park’s open promenades, brick façade and quirky features like the outfield fountain and giant tiger sculptures. Catch a thrill from the roars reverberating under the steel girders when the Tigers hit a home run. The ballpark seamlessly incorporates sights around the outfield like the enormous scoreboard topped by iconic tigers or views of surrounding historic buildings.

Similarly, Ford Field’s half dome roof design projects amplified crowd noise around the spacious NFL arena’s sleek interior. Grab someslow roasted pulled pork from Slow’s BBQ behind the northern end zone for authentic Detroit tailgating. Local craft beers and hip entertainment surrounding both stadiums make enjoying Detroit sports an affordable, unforgettable experience whether you snag tickets or just soak up the ambiance at a neighborhood bar.

Detroit Institute of Music Education

Name and Location: The Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) is located at the historic Metropolitan Building at 33 John R St in downtown Detroit.

History and Significance: Founded in 2005, DIME provides contemporary music education including instrument instruction, songwriting, production and music business training. DIME enables students to create, play, and release original music.

What to Expect: Guests can stop by the DIME music store, check out the facilities, sit in on classes, explore the Media Center production suites, attend concerts, or even take a tour to learn more about the music education opportunities available.

Visitor Information: DIME Detroit welcomes visitors Monday-Friday 11am to 5pm. Tours run select Fridays at 4pm and can be booked online in advance.

Dedicated music lovers will want to check out the incredible Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME). The innovative college occupying an interconnected six building campus near Wayne State University takes a hands on approach for aspiring musicians, producers and industry professionals seeking cutting edge music technology instruction. Visitors are welcome to stop by and inquire about sitting in on recitals, recording sessions and more at one of Detroit’s coolest spots for the next generation of talent.

Founded in 2013, DIME focuses on individually mentored instruction and access to professional facilities like fully equipped recording studios and rehearsal spaces.. Rather than arbitrary grades, students receive continual feedback focused on developing well-rounded creative abilities based on real world demands. The institute regularly hosts music events open to the public like artist showcases as well as workshops exploring topics like music production, artist management and concert promotion.

For those passionate about music as art or business, DIME provides a welcoming hub to engage with Detroit’s thriving cultural community.

Conclusion

Beneath the shadow of abandoned factories, beyond the superficial ruin porn imagery, a vibrant, resilient Detroit now emerges with creativity, diversity and opportunity. Visitors who look closer will discover the soulful, captivating spirit that moves this great American city. From world-class museums to an exploding food scene, motor city continues accelerating with unique attractions around every corner. By exploring this iconic destination, you become part of the story defining its next triumphant chapter. Where will your Detroit journey take you?

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