12 Attractions in Sterling Heights, Michigan

Sterling Heights is a large city located in Macomb County in the U.S. state of Michigan, about 15 miles north of downtown Detroit. With a population of over 132,000 as of 2020, Sterling Heights is the second largest city in Metro Detroit and the fourth largest city in Michigan.

AttractionBrief Description
Upton House and GardensA historic farmstead with gardens and nature trails.
Dodge ParkOffers trails, picnic areas, and river access.
Community Center ParkFeatures sports fields, courts, and recreational facilities.
Sterling Heights Public LibraryA modern library with diverse resources and programs.
Sterling Heights Nature CenterFocuses on local wildlife and nature education.
Senior Citizen CenterProvides activities and services for seniors.
Lakeside Mall Shopping CenterA large shopping mall with various stores and eateries.
Nelson ParkOffers lakefront vistas and recreational activities.
Clinton River ParkA park with playgrounds, trails, and river access.
American Polish Cultural CenterCelebrates Polish heritage and culture.
Maple Lane Golf ClubA golf course with updated facilities and landscaping.
Freedom Hill County ParkFeatures an outdoor concert venue and recreational areas.

Originally a largely rural area first settled in the early 19th century, Sterling Heights experienced tremendous growth and development throughout the 20th century. Today, the city is a thriving suburban community known for its diversity, affordable cost of living, quality schools and public services, and abundance of parks and green space.

In addition to fine residential neighborhoods and excellent schools, Sterling Heights offers plenty of attractions and entertainment options for visitors and residents alike. From museums and historical sites to golf courses, parks, and nature areas, Sterling Heights has something for everyone.

This article explores the top 12 attractions that make Sterling Heights, Michigan an appealing destination for tourists and locals. They range from educational and cultural sites like museums to outdoor recreational facilities like parks and golf courses.

1. Upton House and Gardens

Name and Location: Upton House and Gardens is a historical estate and public garden located at 48675 Van Dyke Avenue in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

History and Significance: Built in 1916 for businessman Charles Upton, this Georgian Revival house and nine acre estate feature rare trees and historically significant gardens now protected on the National Register of Historic Places. The Uptons hosted many Detroit elites there over the years.

What to Expect: Visitors can tour the historic home, view memorabilia from the Upton family’s travels, wander landscaped gardens, attend horticulture and culinary classes, enjoy seasonal teas, participate in educational events, or rent facilities.

Visitor Information: Upton House and Gardens is open year-round Tuesday-Sunday. An admission fee is charged for tours, classes, and events. Group tours, annual passes, and volunteer opportunities are available.

The Upton House and Gardens stands as a beautifully preserved historic farmstead from the 19th century set on 187 acres of rolling, wooded hills filled with unique gardens. The Upton family purchased the land in 1917 and maintained the property for over 65 years. The grounds contain multiple distinct gardens including vibrant rose gardens and tranquil wildflower meadow walks in addition to the historic home and outbuildings to explore.

Visitors can take guided tours, wander self-guided trails, attend seasonal events and exhibits, or rent facilities for weddings or private events. The Upton House and Gardens offers something for history buffs, garden enthusiasts, photographers, families, couples, and singles seeking a quiet natural respite. The well-maintained gardens provide scenic backdrops for photos any time of year, with different blooms continually cycling through spring, summer and fall.

2. Dodge Park

Name and Location: Dodge Park is a 204 acre park featuring wooded trails, streams, playgrounds, and athletic facilities located at 40600 Utica Road in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

History and Significance: Originally the 19th century farmstead of Stephen Dodge, this land was purchased by Sterling Heights in the 1980s for designation as a city park featuring natural areas amid suburban sprawl. Recent additions include a splash pad, skate plaza, fitness trail, and concert pavilion.

What to Expect: Visitors come to Dodge Park to walk or bike picturesque trails, play on modern playgrounds and courts, enjoy community concerts and events, celebrate at reservable shelters, cross country ski in winter, or explore natural habitats like wetland boardwalks year-round.

Visitor Information: Dodge Park is open daily from dawn to dusk with no entrance fees. Some amenities like shelters and courts require advanced reservations and permits. Schedules for concerts, races, and ski activities vary seasonally.

Nestled along the Clinton River, Dodge Park encompasses 92 acres of groomed trails, wooded wetlands, and river access ideal for hiking, cycling, cross country skiing and more throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy over 4 miles of paved trails that wind through the park as well as adjoining wood chip trails for hiking that allow you to get back into nature.

In addition to trails, Dodge Park also contains playground equipment, barbecue grills and picnic tables, fishing platforms on the river, a pet exercise area, and lavatory facilities. The park frequently hosts 5K runs and walks during warmer months. The versatile park with regular seasonal maintenance provides an ideal spot for fitness training, family gatherings, or simply escaping into scenic riverside nature without traveling far.

3. Community Center Park

Name and Location: Community Center Park is a 102 acre family activity park located at 40250 Dodge Park Road adjacent to the Sterling Heights City Hall Complex.

History and Significance: Originally part of Dodge Estate farmstead acquired in 1989 for development of city services, Community Center Park has evolved into a central public space hosting year-round community events and recreation anchored by the state-of-the-art Sterling Heights Community Center (opened 2009).

What to Expect: The park features walking paths, sports courts and fields, playgrounds, a splash playground and ice rink, community gardens, a farmers market pavilion, and an amphitheater hosting regular entertainment. Indoor recreation available at the Community Center with indoor track, gyms, and a cafe.

Visitor Information: Community Center Park is open daily from dawn to dusk, year-round with no entrance fee. Some amenities require reservations and fees. The Community Center has member cost options. Free visitor parking available.

The sprawling 206 acre Community Center Park lies conveniently near the heart of Sterling Heights. The park contains a popular recreation center along with numerous sports fields, courts and diamonds designated for baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, an inline hockey rink and a skate park.

In addition to plentiful options for active recreation and competitive sports, Community Center Park also provides a large playground, lakeside walking paths, fishing access, a petting farm and butterfly habitat, an amphitheater for concerts and performances, and a Veterans Memorial Garden honoring armed service members. Families, athletes, performers, veterans and nature lovers alike will find an engaging outlet for their pursuits with regular special events held here as well.

4. Sterling Heights Public Library

Name and Location: The Sterling Heights Public Library serves the community with two branch locations, including a renovated main branch at 40255 Dodge Park Road in the Sterling Heights Civic Center Complex.

History and Significance: Sterling Heights voters first approved creating a public library in the 1980s. Today, the modern 40,000 square foot main branch provides popular collections, resources, events and services to over 30,000 members, part of the Suburban Library Cooperative.

What to Expect: Patrons can browse over a million print and digital items including books, multimedia, technology, periodicals, local records and current popular titles. Services like computers, WiFi, printing, children’s programs, book clubs, cafes, and study spaces create an engaging user experience for all ages.

Visitor Information: The main public library is open six days weekly, closed Sundays. Residents can apply for a free membership card to access facilities, items, programs and resources in person or online. Some memberships allow for checkout privileges at other regional libraries.

Residents regard the Sterling Heights Public Library as a point of pride and reflection of the community’s values and spirit. The original library first established in 1966 holds over 225,000 items in its collection available for borrowing. However, it suffered extensive damage after flooding in 2014. In 2018, the newly constructed replacement public library opened, over twice as large as the original with enhanced services and frequently updated resources.

Today, the modern 51,000 square foot public library contains designated children’s areas, teen zones, a makerspace room, study rooms, a cafe and more along with robust digital offerings like eBooks, online media, and database access fully open for public use. The community utilizes this vibrant hub for accessing information, attending workshops or cultural programs, using meeting facilities, or simply gathering in a warm, welcoming environment made for lifelong learning and growth.

5. Sterling Heights Nature Center

Name and Location: The Sterling Heights Nature Center is located within Dodge Park at 40600 Utica Road, featuring indoor wildlife exhibits connected by interpretive wooded trails open year-round to the public.

History and Significance: First opened in 1996 to provide environmental education opportunities to the community, the Nature Center draws on Dodge Park’s diverse habitats including wetlands, prairies and forests to showcase Michigan ecology through hands-on dioramas, taxidermy displays, animal ambassadors and naturalist programs.

What to Expect: Guests can visit daily to view 3D wildlife exhibits, interact with turtles, snakes and frogs, observe honey bee hives, walk park trails to identify plants/wildlife signs, participate in interpretive workshops and family activities, join guided seasonal treks spotlighting facets of the natural world.

Visitor Information: The Nature Center’s wildlife displays are open Tuesday-Saturday year-round with no admission fee. Some special seasonal programs and group tours require registration and modest costs. Strollers accommodated, mobility rentals available.

For an educational dose of nature without leaving the suburbs, families should head to the Sterling Heights Nature Center situated on 22 acres of forests, meadows and wetlands bisected by an upper branch of the Clinton River. This nature sanctuary houses over 60 species of birds and 30 species of butterflies native to the area along a moderate mile-long looped trail network perfect for a short hike. The Nature Center itself features natural history exhibits, event spaces, and an observation beehive allowing for indoor nature interaction as well.

Seasonal guided hikes occur periodically while special events like Creatures of the Night or maple syruping workshops provide interactive, hands-on learning opportunities. The Nature Center also coordinates environmental volunteering efforts and houses classrooms supporting nature education programming for local schools. Visitors gain appreciation for Michigan ecosystems and critters during any stop by the Sterling Heights Nature Center.

6. Senior Citizen Center

Name and Location: The City of Sterling Heights Senior Citizen Center is located within the Sterling Heights Community Center at 40250 Dodge Park Road.

History and Significance: As greater numbers of Baby Boomers migrated to Sterling Heights in the 1990s, the city developed supportive senior services including this dedicated Center featuring programs, resources and amenities specifically tailored to adults aged 55 and older.

What to Expect: Seniors visiting this vibrant hub can socialize over cards/games, enjoy weekday lunch specials, access wellness resources, discounts and tax help, participate in engaging arts, fitness and enrichment classes, join day/overnight excursions or volunteer opportunities.

Visitor Information: The Senior Center operated by the Sterling Heights Parks & Recreation Department is open Monday-Friday year-round. Many free programs available to residents, nominal activity fees may apply. Visitor day passes can be purchased based on eligibility.

The Sterling Heights Senior Citizen Center provides welcoming facilities supporting overall wellness and an enriched quality of life specifically tailored for area residents aged 50 and over. The vibrant community center hosts a spectrum of social activities from live music to bingo along with amenities like billiards, shuffleboard, table tennis, computers, a fitness room and more. Health clinics, tax preparation help, legal aid services and additional assistance resources further support the 50+ population.

Signature programs consist of the daily congregate meal program providing nutritious lunches in good company and the essential transportation program offering curb-to-curb rides facilitating non-driver mobility and independence. Between the abundance of amenities and calendar of recreational, practical and helpful programming, the Senior Citizen Center promotes engagement and empowerment for Sterling Heights’ mature residents.

7. Lakeside Mall Shopping Center

Name and Location: Lakeside Mall is an enclosed super-regional shopping mall located at 14000 Lakeside Circle in the Lakeside district of Sterling Heights, Michigan.

History and Significance: Opened in 1976 with Hudson’s and Sears as flagship stores, Lakeside Mall has evolved into the premier retail destination for Metro Detroit’s northern suburbs. Anchored by Macy’s and JC Penney, over 100 stores attract shoppers and diners from across the region.

What to Expect: Retail options range from apparel to beauty, electronics, entertainment, home goods, and health. Mall walkers traverse over 1 mile indoors. Food choices include full-service restaurants, eateries and cafes. Seasonal promotions and family friendly events occur regularly.

Visitor Information: Lakeside Mall open extended weekday/weekend hours. Some restaurants and entertainment tenants may have differing schedules. Mall maps and visitor information are available at the Management Office and designated points.

As one of Michigan’s largest shopping malls, Lakeside Mall provides an expansive retail outlet in Sterling Heights and the surrounding metro area with nearly 150 stores represented on the premises along with eateries and entertainment. Shoppers can browse premium shops for fine apparel, home goods and electronics all under one climate controlled roof. Department store anchors include Macy’s, JCPenney and Von Maur. The mall also contains a children’s play area to occupy kids during shopping excursions along with charging stations and soft seating spaces for convenient respites.

Throughout the year, Lakeside Mall features seasonal events like photos with Santa and the Easter Bunny in addition to sales, vendor fairs, concerts and other lively promotions. The expansive mall with spacious parking right off the Hall Road exit of 59 highway makes Lakeside Mall a premier shopping destination in metro Detroit.

8. Nelson Park

Name and Location: Nelson Park is a 128 acre community park located north of the Clinton River spanning from Dequindre to Ryan Roads in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

History and Significance: Originally the family farm of early German settlers Peter and Catherine Nelson, the land was purchased by Sterling Heights in 1999 for conversion into a centrally located park with amenities like trails, gardens, playgrounds and athletic facilities as the area suburbanized.

What to Expect: Visitors come to walk/bike scenic trails, play disc golf, view community garden plots, enjoy concerts at the pavilion, celebrate at reservable shelters, play sports on recreational fields and paved courts, picnic in scenic areas, launch canoes into the river or ice skate in winter.

Visitor Information: Nelson Park open daily from dawn to dusk with no entrance fee. Some shelters, venues and activities require reservation and permit fees. Public parking available throughout the park.

For stirring lakefront vistas and abundant recreational opportunity within city limits, Nelson Park delivers on both fronts. Its 155 acres contain 4 softball fields, 10 soccer fields, 6 tennis courts, 2 picnic shelters, 2 sand volleyball courts, nearly 4 miles of multipurpose hiking and mountain bike trails, a universally accessible playground, lake access via its boat launch and fishing pier, and the scenic Lake St. Clair overlook along its shoreline.

The winding trails through restored wetland and wildflower meadow areas provide ample wildlife viewing for nature lovers. Calm bays and canals sheltered from open water create smooth settings for stand up paddleboarding and kayaking easily available from the launch area onto the 524 square mile freshwater St. Clair Lake, the largest lake contained wholly within the U.S. With regularly programmed activities plus sweeping pastoral lake views, Nelson Park promises dynamic waterfront recreation and relaxation.

9. Clinton River Park

Name and Location: Clinton River Park is a 240 acre park situated along nearly 2 miles of Clinton River shoreline with mixed recreational facilities and preserved natural areas, located west of Ryan Road crossing from 15 Mile to 16 Mile in Sterling Heights.

History and Significance: Designated parkland in the 1990s, dynamic Clinton River ecosystems like wetlands and bottomlands have been incorporated into trail networks interpreting their environmental significance, balancing active public recreation with protection of native species.

What to Expect: Bike winding trails, canoe or fish in the Clinton River, play disc golf, picnic in pavilions, cross country ski, enjoy archery and model airplane ranges, explore restored prairie wildflower areas rich in birds and butterflies, join naturalist programs or rent for events.

Visitor Information: Clinton River Park is open daily from dawn to dusk with no admission fee. Some activities require permits. Several access points with parking available off major roads. Riparian ecology is fragile, stay on paths.

As a designated “Michigan Silver Park” for 25+ years, Clinton River Park distinguishes itself as a longstanding jewel along the Clinton River watershed. Its 102 acres contain 3 picnic shelters, multiple playgrounds, 700 meters of groomed cross country ski trails come winter plus a sizable toboggan slide hill that transforms into a wildflower hillside with footpaths in the warmer seasons.

Visitors also enjoy access to river fishing, a boat launch area and 3 miles of paved cycling and hiking paths weaving throughout the park wetlands. Frisbee golf, sand volleyball courts, baseball diamonds and an 18 hole disc golf course round out the park’s numerous activity offerings set amid wetland forests with elevated footbridges granting treetop perspective over the ponds, marshland and river channel below. Families gather frequently for the amenities and natural beauty readily on display at Clinton River Park.

10. American Polish Cultural Center

Name and Location: The American Polish Cultural Center (APCC) is located at 2975 E. Maple Road in Troy, Michigan, just west of Dequindre Road near the Maple Road/I-75 interchange.

History and Significance: Founded in 1978 as a hub promoting awareness of Polish cultural heritage, the APCC moved to this expanded campus in 2006 including the traditional Polish cottage-inspired Cultural Center with banquet halls, museum, gift shop and replica kiosk on a 6 acre site.

What to Expect: Guests can shop for Polish imported goods, view displays interpreting the immigrant experience, tour Paderewski concert hall, research genealogy, attend cultural events and language classes, dine at the Polonia Restaurant, rent unique event space or stroll ornamental gardens.

Visitor Information: The APCC is open Tuesday through Sunday with some holiday closures. Admission is free to walk the grounds, browse the museum and shop. Fees vary for scheduled meals, programs, and facility rentals – reservations advised.

The American Polish Cultural Center strives to honor Polish heritage through imparting traditions, language, arts and history to members and the broader community. Their banquet and event complex with indoor and outdoor reception halls hosts Polish music, food, dance, crafts, festivals and exhibits like the annual Polish Country Fair. Participants enjoy famous Polish pottery and amber jewelry shopping here along with cultural keepsakes imported from Poland.

On site amenities feature a pub and ballroom accommodating over 1000 guests in addition to an art gallery, library, and convent chapel, making this a popular metro Detroit site for Polish weddings, business functions and parties. Founded in 1975 as a private club promoting Polish cultural identity, today the American Polish Cultural Center remains committed to perpetuating time-honored Polish customs through a vibrant community gathering place.

11. Maple Lane Golf Club

Name and Location: Maple Lane Golf Club is a public 18-hole championship golf course located at 14700 Maple Lane Drive near Hall Road (M-59) in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

History and Significance: Constructed in 1954 as a local Detroit-area golf destination and managed by the city since 2011, Maple Lane’s traditional layout mixes elevated tees, contoured fairways, mature trees and challenging risk-reward elements into an engaging golf experience.

What to Expect: This full service facility features an 18-hole course with range, practice area, pro shop stocked with equipment and apparel, lounge with full bar, casual grill restaurant, leagues and clinics tailored for all skill levels, outings and events managed by an experienced staff seeking to grow the game.

Visitor Information: Maple Lane Golf Club is open year round weather permitting. Players can book tee times online in advance or same day subject to availability. Fees vary by date, season and group size. Rental clubs available. Proper course etiquette is mandatory.

For avid golfers and those simply wanting to experience top tier course recreation, Sterling Heights’ own Maple Lane Golf Club raises the bar. This public yet championship caliber 18-hole course underwent complete redesign in 2016 by renowned golf architect Arthur Hills boasting upgraded play for all skill levels on meticulously manicured greens and challenging terrain. The revamped grounds provide new dynamically contoured holes accented with peaceful wetlands, mature trees and native wildflower landscaping.

Visitors access amenities like a pro shop stocking premium equipment brands along with lesson programs, league play and a full-service clubhouse restaurant. Friendly staff strives to make each visit exemplary while updated technologies enhance game metrics and the recently renovated banquet hall creates an upscale special event venue. For total golf enjoyment from first swing to nineteenth hole in bucolic settings, Maple Lane Golf Club delivers a premier metro Detroit destination.

12. Freedom Hill County Park

Name and Location: Freedom Hill County Park is a concert, recreation and event venue located on 95 acres at 14900 Metropolitan Parkway in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

History and Significance: Opened in 1984 as Macomb County’s centennial celebration memorial grounds honoring veterans and civil servants, Freedom Hill uniquely offers indoor and outdoor recreation coupled with a modern amphitheater hosting national acts alongside community activities.

What to Expect: Visitors can walk trails, play disc golf and sports, fish the pond, use playgrounds and waterpark, access indoor ice rinks, tennis, fitness center and courts. The concert venue hosts artists of all genres along with fireworks shows, food trucks and more.

Visitor Information: Freedom Hill County Park is open daily 8am-10pm in season with later concert hours. Some facilities require additional fees/memberships. Public welcome at most concerts, schedules and tickets available online in advance.

Though Freedom Hill County Park spans just 60 acres, it packs in some of Sterling Heights’ most popular attractions. Visitors come primarily for two key venues: the outdoor concert venue hosting live national music acts during summer months and the county park’s Amphitheater and Banquet Center available to rent for largescale community events. Recent improvement projects have enhanced accessibility and amenities to better serve guests.

Beyond event programming, Freedom Hill also provides a dog park, playground, hiking trail, fishing access, picnic grounds and sledding hill for year-round general recreation in scenic rolling parkland along the Clinton River. When no concerts or celebrations occupy the grounds, residents take full advantage of Freedom Hill’s outdoor offerings close to home. For entertainment, recreation and picturesque riverfront open space, Freedom Hill County Park delivers a valued community asset.


From historic homes to shopping malls, sports fields to concert venues, nature centers to golf links, Sterling Heights offers an array of attractions and recreational sites that appeal to a spectrum of visitors.

Museums and memorial gardens impart important history and pay tribute to the region’s heritage while expansive parks with diverse natural landscapes promote outdoor activity from biking to birdwatching and beyond through picturesque settings. Venues supporting recreation, culture, education and entertainment all thrive across the different parks and public properties showcased in this city.

With its central location in Metro Detroit and abundance of attractions plus amenities readily available to enjoy, Sterling Heights provides an ideal staycation spot in southeast Michigan delivering sites to see, things to do and plenty of year-round fun waiting within city limits.

Whether you crave culture, nature, shopping, sports or simple relaxation during leisure time, Sterling Heights supplies compelling options sure to engage and delight.

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