12 Things to Do in Warren, Michigan

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by Emily Johnson

12 Things to Do in Warren, Michigan

Warren is a city located just north of Detroit in Macomb County, Michigan. With a population of over 134,000, it is the third-largest city in Michigan. Warren has a lot to offer visitors.

ActivityDescription
Historic District ToursExplore local history.
Underground Mine ToursUnique geological exploration.
General Motors Tech CenterAutomotive innovation tour.
Stony Creek MetroparkOutdoor recreation.
Packard Proving GroundsHistoric automotive site.
Emerald TheatreLive entertainment.
Detroit Zoo Wild LightsSeasonal light display.
Warren Union DepotHistorical landmark.
DTE Energy Music TheatreConcerts and shows.
Alden B. Dow HouseArchitectural tour.
Downtown Shopping & DiningRetail and culinary experiences.
Warren Symphony OrchestraCultural music performances.

From museums and historical sites to parks and family activities, Warren provides plenty of fun things to see and do for people of all ages and interests. This article will cover 12 top attractions and activities in Warren that you should add to your Michigan itinerary.

Visit the Warren Historic District

Name and Location: The Warren Historic District encompasses historic structures and markers located downtown in Warren, Michigan.

History and Significance: Initially settled in 1830, Warren’s origins as an agricultural hub, later augmented by diversified small businesses, railroads, and the auto industry are commemorated through preserved buildings and storyboards creating an open-air museum downtown. Self-guided tours illuminate Warren’s evolution.

What to Expect: Interpretive plaques and signage identify over 30 historic structures and sites downtown from the 19th century school bell to Van Dyke’s first concrete mile marking early transportation advances. The Lone Ranger broadcast studio site conveys Warren’s mass media connections. Visitors drive or stroll past this living heritage.

Visitor Information: The Warren Historic District incorporates public markers across city blocks open daily year-round. Guided tours offered by appointment through the Warren Historical Society.

The Warren Historic District gives you a glimpse into the city’s past. This district features homes and commercial buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the highlights include the Daniel Yorkey House from 1858, the Bunert-Weier House from 1869, and the Physicians and Dentists Building constructed in 1928. Take a self-guided walking tour to view the preserved architecture. The District Interpretive Center also offers guided group tours with arrangements made in advance.

While in the Historic District, don’t miss the Immanuel Lutheran Church. This impressive brick church was built in 1899 in the Romanesque Revival style. Gaze up at the soaring 120-foot bell tower. The church also houses a restored 1889 pipe organ and beautiful stained glass windows.

Go Underground at the Laurium Manor Tourist Home Minev

Name and Location: The Laurium Manor Tourist Home Mine is located at 9 Mile Rd. and Dequindre in Laurium, Michigan about 20 miles south of Warren.

History and Significance: Part of Michigan’s Copper Country on the Keweenaw Peninsula, this historic mine first extracted copper in the 1800s before its vertical shaft was repurposed as a 1920s 3-story tourist home and bar. Today it offers underground mine tours.

What to Expect: Brave visitors don hardhats to descend 50 feet within the Laurium Mine for guided subterranean walking tours discussing copper mining history through artifacts like drilling tools. Displays at ground level further chronicle the region’s copper rush era and immigrant miners who fueled it.

Visitor Information: The Laurium Mine gives hourly public tours daily Memorial Day weekend through October aside from major holidays. Advance reservations recommended. Entry fees apply.

For a unique activity, head 290 feet underground to explore an old copper mine dug in the early 20th century. Knowledgeable guides lead groups through this historic mine while sharing stories about its past. See multiple 100-year old mine shafts, awaken your senses crawling through tight tunnels, and learn about early 20th century mining methods and technology.

Special theme tours are also offered focusing on the Prohibition era history of the mine. During prohibition, miners turned miners turned to smuggling Canadian whiskey through the tunnels under the Detroit River, secretly transporting liquor into speakeasies around Detroit. This storyline adds extra intrigue for adults along the tour.

Visit the General Motors Tech Center

Name and Location: The General Motors Technical Center campus spans 710 acres in Warren, Michigan focused on automotive design innovation.

History and Significance: Opened in 1956 by architect Eero Saarinen, GM’s Tech Center facilities revolutionized corporate campuses as a modernist hub advancing vehicle engineering, testing and futuristic development for the world’s largest automaker. The site continues driving innovation.

What to Expect: Visitors tour the milestone GM Design Auditorium with its pioneering stylistic details alongside exhibits profiling concept cars and production models. The raindrop-shaped “fishbowl” studio offers glimpses of designers at work via perimeter windows.

Visitor Information: General Motors Tech Center tours run select Fridays monthly by advance reservation only restricted to U.S. Citizens over age 18. Registration becomes available one week before each tour online.

Warren is home to the General Motors Tech Center, an important part of America’s automotive history. GM’s Research and Development teams have created iconic vehicles like the Chevy Corvette and Chevy Volt at this site over the past 65 years.

Sign up for the one-hour Insider’s Tour to walk through the modernistic campus, visit studios where designers create concept cars, and gain insider knowledge of GM’s latest innovations. Advanced reservations are required, so plan ahead for this popular tour opportunity.

Relax at Stony Creek Metropark

Name and Location: Stony Creek Metropark encompasses 4,461 acres spanning Shelby Township and Washington Township in Macomb County, Michigan under 25 minutes from Warren.

History and Significance: Developed by the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system, Stony Creek’s terrain mixes forests, wetlands and Stony Creek Lake for recreation including an 18-hole golf course, boat launch, swimming beach, fishing access and 15+ miles of trails.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy Stony Creek year-round hiking wooded trails, cross-country skiing in winter, boating or kayaking the lake, playing disc golf, geocaching, attending nature programs or observing wildlife like river otters and over 200 bird species inhabiting the dynamic ecosystems.

Visitor Information: Stony Creek Metropark is open daily sunrise to sunset across its multiple activity zones. A per-vehicle daily/annual Metroparks pass is required for entry and parking.

Southeast of the city you’ll find the 4,400 acres of Stony Creek Metropark. This lush park surrounds Stony Creek Lake, making it a scenic spot for outdoor recreation. Go fishing, boating, kayaking and swimming in the summer. Use the park trails for hiking, mountain biking or cross country skiing depending on the season.

The park offers picnic areas and playgrounds along with an 18-hole disc golf course. For overnight guests, the park features a campground and rustic cabins and yurts available to rent. Select weekends also provide fun special events like the astronomy program Star Parties.

Tour the Packard Proving Grounds

Name and Location: The historic Packard Proving Grounds test track is located at 49965 Van Dyke in Shelby Township bordering Warren, Michigan less than one mile north of Metro Parkway.

History and Significance: Constructed in 1928 as a secret site advancing new Packard models and technologies, the abandoned test course remains intact, including remnants of timing lines, observation towers and the 5-mile oval track itself overgrown after Packard’s 1958 demise yet retaining a ghostly aura.

What to Expect: From the outside looking in, visitors can view Packard ruins like cracked cement garages and an Art Deco water tower labeled “Packard” flanked by dilapidated bridges over the decaying test track that once evaluated the durability of some of America’s most prestigious vehicles.

Visitor Information: The Packard Proving Grounds no longer operates as an automotive test site, but the historic remnants still visible from the perimeter fence can be casually appreciated in passing by observers along Van Dyke Road near 26 Mile with ample shoulder parking.

Auto enthusiasts will love a visit to the Packard Proving Grounds. This historic site was originally built in 1926 as a test track for the Packard Motor Company. The site features remains of partially banked turns, old guardrails, and deteriorating concrete bridges.

Join one of the scheduled tours to walk around the grounds and hear the whole story of this property’s rise and fall along with Packard’s importance in early automotive history. Knowledgeable docents will take you to little-seen areas and share Packard folklore. Just use good walking shoes as much of the tour is on uneven ground.

See a Show at the Emerald Theatre

Name and Location: The Emerald Theatre is located at 31 N Walnut St in the heart of downtown Mount Clemens approximately 15 minutes south of Warren, MI.

History and Significance: Originally built as a vaudeville theater in 1920 now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Emerald spent its heyday hosting live performers before transitioning to a moviehouse then falling dormant for decades until a 2015 revival and restoration.

What to Expect: Following meticulous renovations to modernize amenities while respecting historical architectural flourishes, the 500-seat Emerald Theatre reopened hosting arts, music and children’s productions, classic films with occasional new indie flicks rounding out a diverse entertainment slate.

Visitor Information: The nonprofit Emerald Theatre shows first-run films on weekends supplemented by community theater performances and other public events select evenings year-round. Tickets and showtimes are listed online.

For performing arts, Warren has its own historic theater. The Emerald Theatre first opened in 1928 as a vaudeville house and movie palace. After deterioration, this architectural gem has undergone beautiful restoration.

The theater now hosts a variety of productions from comedy shows to musical theater to ballet performances. Occasional classic films are also screened in this opulent venue. Check the schedule online to see what entertainment might be available during your Warren visit.

Drive through the Detroit Zoo’s Wild Lights

Name and Location: Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo takes place annually each holiday season with festive displays visible throughout the 125-acre zoo grounds located at Woodward and 10 Mile Road intersection.

History and Significance: Beginning in 2016, the Detroit Zoo began stringing colorful animal silhouette light displays synchronized to music across trees and buildings throughout the park spaces initiating a celebrated tradition expanded yearly with additional figurines added ongoing to spread holiday cheer conveying fuzzy creatures frolicking.

What to Expect: Over 5 million LED lights beam welcoming warmth against winter’s chill blanketing the Detroit Zoo with glowing moose, dancing penguin families, swirling octopi plus model trains, snowmen and other scenes conveying Yuletide spirit while strolling the illuminated pathways or riding the Wildlife Express Train past sights.

Visitor Information: Detroit Zoo Wild Lights tickets should be purchased online in advance for timed entry amidst peak months with high attendance. Event occurs select November-December nights (closed Christmas) before the new year.

From November through early January, the nearby Detroit Zoo puts on a magical light display called Wild Lights. At sunset each evening, the zoo transforms into a twinkling winter wonderland. Over 5 million LED lights brighten trees, animal sculptures, tunnels and buildings throughout the front half of the zoo.

Bundle up and drive your car along a guided 1.5 mile route to see dazzling displays set to music. New themes and light creations emerge each holiday season. This family-oriented event makes for a festive winter’s night during your time in Metro Detroit.

Go Back in Time at the Warren Union Depot

Name and Location: The Warren Union Depot Museum is housed inside a restored 19th century train depot at 580 N. State Rd. in Warren, Michigan’s Civic Center historic district about one mile northeast of City Hall.

History and Significance: Serving rail passengers from 1872 into the Amtrak era, the Warren Union Depot witnessed the city’s founding and growth into what became centerpoint of America’s Arsenal of Democracy during World War II retooling Detroit’s automotive manufacturing capabilities driving the Allied war machine while welcoming newly-arrived laborers.

What to Expect: Saved from demolition by the Warren Historical Society in 1989, visitors now explore the Depot Museum through photo displays, railroad artifacts and recorded oral histories commemorating the depot’s role alongside other heritage sites across Warren as interpreters convey stories still resonating.

Visitor Information: The Warren Union Depot Museum allows drop-in tours Saturdays 10am-3pm with volunteers conveying transportation and community impacts. Appointments accommodated other days based on interpreter availability.

Railroad history comes alive at the Warren Union Depot. Originally built in 1890, this restored train station now serves as a railroad museum. Browse exhibits with historical artifacts, photos and model train displays depicting Warren’s rich rail history.

On select days from May through October, train rides are offered letting passengers relive vintage travel. The handcar allows you to pump your way down the track while specialty event trains feature vintage cabooses and even a 1920s era parlor car. Check their calendar for the schedule of nostalgic train rides.

Catch a Concert at the DTE Energy Music Theatre

Name and Location: The DTE Energy Music Theatre is a 15,000-seat outdoor concert amphitheater venue located at 33 Bob Seger Drive in Clarkston, MI approximately a half hour northwest of Warren.

History and Significance: Opening 1972 with additional pavilion seating later added, DTE Energy Music Theatre stands among the country’s highest-grossing seasonal venues hosting famous musicians ranging from Detroit stars like Bob Seger and Aretha Franklin to pop icons Jimmy Buffet or Paul McCartney each summer.

What to Expect: Live nation touring acts perform multi-night stands fueled by Detroit’s own active concertgoing culture with the covered open-air DTE Energy Music Theatre touting reserved tiered bench chairs gradually sloping towards the uncovered “lawn” seating spanning the back automobile accessible via Tunnel Gate.

Visitor Information: DTE Energy Music Theatre concert tickets are sold per paid performance through Ticketmaster outlets or the venue box office. Onsite parking fee extra. Attendees permitted to bring food and unopened drinks.

For big name entertainment, check out shows at the DTE Energy Music Theatre. This covered amphitheater seats 15,274 people in anticipation of concerts, comedy shows and other live performances by major touring acts.

The 2022 concert lineup included top stars like Elton John, Harry Styles, Dave Matthews Band and Pitbull. The venue generally hosts popular musicians, comedians and productions from May through September. Verify the calendar on their website if you’ll be visiting Warren during the typical concert season.

Tour the Alden B. Dow House

Name and Location: The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio built its Midcentury Modern architectural legacy at 525 W. University Drive in Midland, Michigan – about 100 miles northwest from Warren near Saginaw Bay.

History and Significance: Designed pioneering American architect Alden B. Dow from 1939-41 as his private residence fusing innovative aesthetics and organic functionality that embodied his “Modern Spirit” philosophies still inspiring Modernism disciples routinely after falling into disrepair prior to mid-1980s rescued renovations and landmark dedications.

What to Expect: Guided tours grant interior access room-to-room within Alden B. Dow’s light-filled open floor plan home intuitively laid out while minimizing segregated spaces at the continuum of indoor and outdoor living that exemplified Dow’s holistic principles of design fluidly merging artistic individualism with community belonging now restored for visitors witnessing 20th-century architecture history.

Visitor Information: The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio offers guided tours varying days/times annually April through November. Reservations encouraged for groups. Tour fees apply benefiting the site’s preservation.

Midcentury modern architecture stands on display at the Alden B. Dow House. Famous architect Alden Dow built this personal residence for his family in 1941. The home exemplifies his distinctive organic architectural style through curved walls, sheltered spaces, plateau floors and clerestory windows.

Guided tours allow visitors inside to view the innovative construction and appreciate Dow’s minimalist creative vision throughout the home’s design. Tour hours vary by season, so check their website before visiting. This National Historic Landmark makes for an architecturally impressive and intriguing attraction.

Shop and Dine Downtown

Name and Location: Downtown Warren encompasses a variety of shops, restaurants and businesses centered around Van Dyke Road between 13 Mile and 15 Mile Roads about two miles south of City Hall and the Civic Center district.

History and Significance: Warren’s traditional downtown or “Old Village” retains much of its 20th century small town character anchored by longtime community staples across varied storefronts despite past decades witnessing suburban malls and big box chains diverting economic activity away from traditional downtowns as habits shifted before renewed interest in supporting local enterprising revived many left behind central districts.

What to Expect: Visitors strolling Warren’s historic Van Dyke corridor soak up legacy sights like the iconic 1950s-era State Theater neon signage still shining brightly at night as patrons continue filing in for cinematic screenings or simply admire resilient mom and pop retailers committed serving their community amid an era emphasizing convenient cookie-cutter chains now getting outpaced by distinctive establishments.

Visitor Information: Downtown Warren’s walkable commercial stretch along Van Dyke Road offers free street parking. No restrictions prohibit casual visitors popping into Restaurant Row or boutique storefronts to sample Warren’s small town heartbeat.

Historic Old Town Warren offers a lovely downtown area to explore. Stroll along Van Dyke Street to find a variety of local businesses like antique stores, boutiques, hobby shops and jewelers. When you get hungry, the district provides multiple restaurant options as well including cozy cafes, fast casual eateries, pubs and upscale dining.

The downtown district also plans free community events throughout the year. Enjoy open air markets, art fairs, holiday parades, summer concerts and classic car shows coinciding with your visit.

Tour the Warren Symphony Orchestra

Name and Location: The Warren Symphony Orchestra is a civic ensemble supporting community theater based at Warren Community Center Auditorium (WACO) inside the Warren Municipal Campus at 5460 Arden Ave.

History and Significance: Founded in 1955 performing classical compositions, movie soundtracks, theatrical accompaniment and popular favorites as a cherished source of culture, lifelong learning opportunities plus talent development nurturing artistic passions for self-expression through melodic beauty and skill mastery under the guidance of seasoned experts conveying knowledge across generations united in purpose.

What to Expect: Concertgoers delight hearing Warren Symphony Orchestra’s 60 musicians manifest harmony delivering creative interpretations of humanity’s musical masterpieces during scheduled seasonal performances at the modern Warren Community Center Auditorium or special satellite venues chosen for occasion affirming music’s inspirational powers.

Visitor Information: The Warren Symphony Orchestra sells individual show tickets and subscription packages online and through the box office to support its mission sustaining resources rendering musical excellence for community benefit while delivering value against considerable behind-the-scenes artistic investments required.

To experience fine classical music, try attending a performance by the Warren Symphony Orchestra. This professional ensemble presents concerts showcasing renowned composers like Beethoven, Mozart and Strauss. Concerts take place either at Macomb Community College’s Macomb Center for the Performing Arts or Sterling Heights High School.

Guest artists also join the orchestra for solo performances. The 2023 season includes a classical guitarist, concert pianist and the winner of the annual Concerto Competition. Check their online calendar for the date of their next inspiring performance.

Conclusion

From historic sites to cultural attractions, Warren provides many interesting things for visitors to experience. Learn about early auto manufacturing, explore underground mine tunnels, or simply relax in beautiful parks. Families will appreciate interactive museums plus venues for theater and music.

Foodies can savor dining choices in the downtown district as well. Just an hour from Detroit, Warren, Michigan delivers plenty of activities for singles, couples or groups to enjoy.

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