Exploring The Motor City: 10 Unique Cool Things To Do In Detroit

Detroit, often known as the “Motor City,” is a vibrant metropolis with a rich tapestry of culture, history, and innovation. As you explore the city, you’ll find an array of attractions and activities that showcase its unique character, from musical heritage to stunning architecture. You will discover that Detroit offers an array of exciting experiences that cater to a variety of interests and preferences.

People enjoying live music at outdoor concerts in Detroit's bustling downtown district. Tall buildings and vibrant street art create a dynamic backdrop

Whether you’re a history buff, a music enthusiast, or someone who loves the arts, Detroit has something for everyone. The city’s dynamic atmosphere is reflected in its diverse culinary scene, bustling markets, and numerous cultural landmarks.

1) Visit the Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is one of the top cultural attractions in Detroit, offering a vast collection that spans centuries and continents.

Founded in 1885, the DIA boasts around 66,000 works and over 100 galleries. It is renowned for its diverse range of artworks, including pieces from ancient times to contemporary art.

When you visit, be sure to see Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals. These floor-to-ceiling frescoes, created in 1932-33, depict the industrial life of Detroit and are considered masterpieces.

Another highlight is Van Gogh’s 1887 self-portrait. This famous painting provides a glimpse into the artist’s visionary style and emotional depth.

The museum is located on Woodward Avenue in Detroit’s cultural corridor, making it easily accessible. The impressive architecture and beautifully curated exhibits make the DIA a must-visit.

Whether you are an art enthusiast or simply looking for an enriching experience, the DIA offers something for everyone. From its stunning collections to its educational programs, you will find many reasons to return.

2) Explore Belle Isle Park

Located along the Detroit River, Belle Isle Park is a 2.5-mile-long island offering an urban oasis. The park features 987 acres of natural beauty, including forested wetlands and several trails. It’s a perfect spot for a scenic walk or a relaxing picnic.

Belle Isle Aquarium is one of the island’s highlights. Opened in 1904, it’s the oldest aquarium in the United States. The aquarium’s historic building, designed by Albert Kahn, houses an impressive collection of aquatic life.

Another must-see is the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. This beautiful greenhouse showcases a variety of exotic plants and flowers. It’s an ideal place for plant enthusiasts and visitors looking to enjoy a quiet, green space.

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum offers a deep dive into maritime history. Located on the island, the museum provides fascinating exhibits about the Great Lakes and their significance. It’s a great educational stop for both adults and kids.

For some outdoor fun, try the giant slide, which opens from early June to Labor Day. It’s an exciting activity that brings out the kid in everyone. The slide operates from Wednesday to Sunday, ensuring ample opportunity for a thrilling ride.

3) Tour The Henry Ford Museum

Explore America’s rich history and innovation at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Located in Dearborn, just outside Detroit, this world-class museum offers unique experiences for visitors of all ages.

You can discover a wide array of exhibits, from historic automobiles to iconic artifacts. Notable exhibits include the Rosa Parks bus and the presidential limousine of John F. Kennedy.

The museum offers a range of special events throughout the year. For example, start your holiday season by visiting history’s greatest toymaker in late November. These events add an extra layer of excitement to your visit.

If you’re planning a trip in early July, don’t miss the Salute to America event in Greenfield Village, featuring a performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Check the museum’s schedule to align your visit with these unique experiences.

Enjoy authentic American food traditions at the museum’s eateries, and shop for inspired mementos in the various gift shops. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for an engaging day out, the Henry Ford Museum promises a captivating experience.

Remember to check for any special benefits if you’re visiting with a group of 15 or more.

4) Check out the Motown Museum

Experience the birthplace of the Motown Sound at the Motown Museum, located in Detroit.

This historic site, also known as Hitsville USA, was the original home and recording studio of Berry Gordy. Here, legendary artists like Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, and Stevie Wonder recorded their hits.

Wandering through the museum, you’ll see exhibits featuring iconic costumes, photos, and memorabilia. The museum consists of two buildings, one of which includes the actual recording studio used by Motown artists.

Open daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, the Motown Museum offers visitors a unique glimpse into music history. Guided tours provide in-depth stories and allow you to step into Studio A, where countless hits were produced.

Whether you’re a die-hard Motown fan or just curious about Detroit’s rich musical heritage, this museum is a must-visit.

5) Walk around the Detroit Riverwalk

Take a stroll along the Detroit Riverwalk to experience one of the city’s top attractions. Spanning more than three miles from Rosa Parks Blvd. to the Belle Isle Bridge, it offers picturesque views of the Detroit River and the Windsor skyline.

The Riverwalk includes dedicated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists. Enjoy landmarks such as GM Plaza, Hart Plaza, and Milliken State Park. Each offers unique sights and provides a great way to explore Detroit’s downtown.

Visit the Dequindre Cut Greenway, a paved path adorned with murals. Access ramps make it easy for everyone to navigate. Do not miss Gabriel Richard Park at the eastern end; it features a butterfly garden and a serene atmosphere.

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy provides various routes for walking or running. Choose from one-mile, 5k, or five-mile paths. There are maps available to guide your adventure.

Whether you prefer fishing, kayaking, or simply sitting on a bench and enjoying the view, the Detroit Riverwalk is perfect. The area is bustling yet serene, offering an excellent mix of activity and relaxation. This destination showcases the beauty and vibrant spirit of Detroit.

6) Catch a game at Comerica Park

Watching a Detroit Tigers baseball game at Comerica Park offers an exciting experience for sports enthusiasts. The stadium’s architecture and modern amenities make it a standout destination in Detroit. From the spacious seating to the large scoreboard, Comerica Park provides an immersive environment for fans.

Arriving early is recommended. This allows you to explore the park’s unique attractions, such as the Hi-Chew Carousel in the Comerica Bank Big Cat Court. The carousel, featuring decorative tigers, is a hit among children and adults alike.

Comerica Park’s pitcher-friendly dimensions include measurements of 345 feet to left field, 420 feet to center, and 330 feet to right field. These dimensions can lead to fascinating plays and close games.

The venue is also cashless, making transactions quick and convenient. For families, Sundays are especially enjoyable as children aged 14 and under can ride the carousel for free. This adds to the family-friendly atmosphere of the park.

Whether you’re a die-hard Tigers fan or just looking for a fun day out, Comerica Park is a must-visit in Detroit. Remember to enjoy the local food and drinks available throughout the stadium.

7) Experience Eastern Market

Eastern Market in Detroit is a historic and vibrant destination filled with a variety of activities. Established over 150 years ago, it spans over 4½ acres and features six large sheds where you can explore numerous vendor booths.

You can stock up on fresh produce, with local farmers offering a wide selection of fruits and vegetables. It’s a perfect spot for finding seasonal and organic options.

Besides produce, the market also offers an array of meats, cheeses, and specialty foods. Artisanal bread, fresh pastries, and handcrafted goods are also available, making it a food lover’s paradise.

On weekends, Eastern Market often hosts special events and street performances, adding to its lively atmosphere. These activities draw people from all over Detroit and help create a strong sense of community.

For first-time visitors, the Welcome Center between Sheds 2 and 3 is a useful stop. Here, you can get a map and additional information about the market. The Information Booth inside Shed 5 also provides helpful resources.

Make sure to explore the surrounding area for murals and local art installations. Eastern Market is renowned for its colorful street art, making it a great spot for photography and creativity.

8) Watch a show at the Fox Theatre

One of Detroit’s true gems is the Fox Theatre. This iconic venue is renowned for its stunning architecture and historic significance.

The Fox Theatre hosts an array of performances. You can catch award-winning Broadway musicals, beloved holiday shows, and concerts featuring big-name artists.

Attending a show here is more than just watching a performance. The theatre’s ornate interior, with its lavish decorations and grandiose design, enhances your overall experience.

The location is convenient, situated on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. It’s easily accessible from various parts of the city and nearby regions.

Consider premium seating options if you want an elevated experience. These options often come with perks such as reserved parking and prime seat locations.

Make sure to check the theatre’s schedule often. With its diverse lineup, there’s always something new and exciting happening at the Fox Theatre.

9) Dine at the Detroit Shipping Company

The Detroit Shipping Company offers a unique dining experience in Midtown. This food collective and beer garden is crafted from 21 refurbished shipping containers.

You’ll find six distinct restaurants here, offering a range of cuisines from Mexican to Caribbean and Nepalese. This variety ensures there’s something to tantalize every palate.

Beyond food, the Detroit Shipping Company also features two bars, an art gallery, and a rotating retail space. This mix makes it a vibrant cultural hub where you can dine, drink, and explore local arts and retail.

Don’t miss their weekly events. Karaoke night every Thursday brings a lively atmosphere, while comedy shows on Sundays offer a fun way to end your weekend.

Whether you’re looking for a casual meal or a night out with friends, the Detroit Shipping Company has you covered. This spot combines eclectic food choices, a creative setting, and engaging events, making it a must-visit in Detroit.

10) Visit the Detroit Historical Museum

Discover the rich history of Detroit at the Detroit Historical Museum. Located in Midtown, this museum is dedicated to chronicling the life and times of the Detroit region. You’ll find a wide range of exhibits that showcase Detroit’s automotive heritage, including the renowned Motor City Exhibition.

In the Motor City Exhibition, you can watch a simulated assembly of a Cadillac, highlighting Detroit’s legacy in the automotive industry. The museum also features displays about the city’s development, prominent events, and cultural milestones.

The Detroit Historical Museum offers interactive exhibits, making history accessible and engaging. It’s a great destination for families, providing educational programs and activities for children. Additionally, it often hosts special events, lectures, and temporary exhibits.

Parking is convenient, and the museum has consistent hours from Wednesday to Sunday, making it easy to plan your visit. Admission is free on certain days, providing an affordable and educational outing in Detroit.

Exploring the Detroit Historical Museum offers valuable insights into the city’s past. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about Detroit, this museum provides a comprehensive and engaging experience.

Historical Landmarks

Detroit offers an incredible array of historical landmarks, showcasing its rich cultural and architectural heritage. From world-renowned museums to iconic music history sites, these landmarks provide an insightful glimpse into the city’s storied past.

The Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) features one of the most diverse and significant art collections in the United States. Located in the cultural center of Detroit, this museum is famous for its extensive art holdings, which span from ancient Egyptian works to contemporary art.

The museum’s most renowned attraction is the Detroit Industry Murals created by Diego Rivera. These murals, considered his finest work, depict the city’s industrial life and are a must-see. Visitors can explore over 65,000 artworks, including pieces by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Matisse.

Besides the artworks, the DIA hosts various events and educational programs, making it a hub for cultural learning. Its architecture adds to the experience, blending Beaux-Arts and modern styles seamlessly.

Motown Museum

The Motown Museum, affectionately known as Hitsville U.S.A., is where Motown Records was founded by Berry Gordy in 1959. This small house on West Grand Boulevard became the birthplace of a musical revolution that blended soul, R&B, and pop.

You can tour the original recording studio where legends like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye recorded their hits. The memorabilia includes costumes, photos, and instruments, offering a tangible connection to Motown’s history.

The guided tours are particularly engaging, providing in-depth stories about Motown’s creation and its pivotal role in American music history. This landmark remains a testament to the creative spirit that defined an era and profoundly influenced music worldwide.

Cultural Experiences

Detroit offers a diverse range of cultural experiences that highlight its rich history and vibrant arts scene. From grand opera performances to in-depth explorations of African American history, you can immerse yourself in the city’s unique heritage.

Detroit Opera House

The Detroit Opera House is a cornerstone of the city’s cultural landscape. Known for its stunning architecture, it hosts many world-class performances throughout the year. You can enjoy operas, ballets, and concerts in a beautifully restored historic venue.

This opera house also offers guided tours, where you can learn about its history and details of its neoclassical design. Whether you are an opera aficionado or a casual visitor, the Detroit Opera House provides a captivating experience that combines architectural beauty with cultural enrichment.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is another must-visit destination. This museum houses one of the largest collections of African American artifacts in the world. Exhibits cover a wide range of topics, from the slave trade to the Civil Rights Movement.

Interactive displays and educational programs engage visitors of all ages. The museum prides itself on shedding light on the achievements and struggles of African Americans. As you walk through the exhibits, you gain a deeper understanding of the pivotal contributions made by African Americans throughout history.


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