15 Best Things to Do in Detroit, MI

Detroit, MI
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Interesting stories of innovation, diverse cultural scenes, architectural wonders, and spectacular parks—these are the things that make Detroit a dream destination for most travelers.

In fact, this seat of Wayne County in southeastern Michigan landed a spot in Time Magazine’s list of World's Greatest Places for 2022.

Michigan’s largest city is recognized as Motor City due to its rich historical automotive background.

But more than its nickname, Detroit has a multitude of exciting experiences to feed everyone’s adventurous spirit.

To help you build your itinerary, we’ve compiled the best things to do in Detroit, Michigan!

Wander around GM Renaissance Center

Exterior of the GM Renaissance Center
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There are so many things to discover at GM Renaissance Center, an iconic skyscraper and home to General Motors’ global headquarters.

Its history dates back to 1971 when Henry Ford II revealed plans for the Renaissance Center project, while it was in 1996 when General Motors purchased the site.

Located in Downtown Detroit, GM Renaissance Center encompasses 5.5 million square feet of space and interconnected towers that provide indoor recreation opportunities.

In GM World, you can view the company’s latest vehicles or catch its year-round auto show experience.

View of GM Renaissance Center's entrance
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Hotel rooms are available in the 70-floor Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, with easy access to shops and services.

Once you built up an appetite from all the walking and sightseeing, you can choose from over 25 restaurants that serve casual and fine dining with riverfront views.

GM Renaissance Center also provides access to three miles of pathways along the riverwalk if you plan to go on for more leisure strolls or go biking.

Interior of the GM Renaissance Center
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Sing and Dance at Motown Museum

Signage of Motown Museum
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Known as “Hitsville U.S.A.,” Motown Museum is a must-see for music and history enthusiasts or those who want to know about the city’s outstanding contribution to Michigan’s music scene.

Former Motown Records executive Esther Gordy Edwards established the museum in 1985, which was later declared a historic site in 1987.

Edwards was the sister of Berry Gordy, a gifted songwriter who established Motown Records in 1959 on West Grand Boulevard.

Exterior of Motown Museum
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Motown Museum will walk you through the authentic Motown story with its extensive collection of artifacts, costumes, and more memorabilia.

Inside Studio A, experience the actual place where several renowned artists and groups recorded their songs, which later on became fans’ favorites.

Motown Museum also hosts exciting events, such as galas and concert performances.

Buy Local at Eastern Market

Exterior of Eastern Market
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Fill your shopping bags at Eastern Market on Russell Street, a six-block outdoor market that began in the 1800s.

Head to the market early to buy local produce from farmers such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, or find items crafted by local and Michigan artisans.

You’ll see a variety of specialty shops here like Henry the Hatter, the oldest hat retailer in the United States.

Colorful mural of Eastern Market
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If you want to discover more about the Eastern Market, check out the available tours where you can enjoy a gastronomic journey, appreciate murals and street art, or revisit the market's history.

Eastern Market also hosts interesting events year-round, and offer special markets in November and December, making it a great shopping destination for your holiday needs.

Flowers for sale in Eastern Market
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Widen Your Perspective at Detroit Institute of Arts

Exterior of Detroit Institute of Arts
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Navigate through different artistic styles inside Detroit Institute of Arts, sprawling over 658,000 square feet along Woodward Avenue.

The museum was founded in 1885 and was originally established on Jefferson Avenue.

Through the years, Detroit Institute of Arts has evolved into a museum with more than 100 galleries, a state-of-the-art conservation services laboratory, and many other facilities.

Interior of Detroit Institute of Arts
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Recognized as one of the top museums in the United States, Detroit Institute of Arts boasts a diverse collection of 65,000 creative works from around the world that date back to earliest civilizations.

Some of the notable works of art you will see here include the Detroit Industry murals by Mexican artist Diego Rivera that were created from 1932 to 1933.

Exhibit in Detroit Institute of Arts
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Learn, Reflect, and Connect at Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum

Continue your art tour at Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum which highlights African material culture.

The museum spans almost an entire city block along Grand River Avenue, featuring 18 outdoor installations and the African Bead Gallery.

Olayami Dabls, the museum’s founder, envisioned the project to drive a vital conversation and use art for its original purpose in Africa, which is to stimulate emotional and cultural healing.

Stop and look closely at the installations that use iron, rocks, wood, and mirrors as subjects to tell stories.

Find out more inside the bead gallery of Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum, which presents a lot of hand-crafted, colorful beads from across Africa.

Have a Glimpse of the Aquatic World at Belle Isle Aquarium

Exterior of the Belle Isle Aquarium
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Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest aquarium in the country and a favorite attraction of families since 1904.

Detroit architect Albert Kahn designed this aquarium with Beaux Art-style entrance with an arch featuring two spitting dolphins and Detroit’s emblem.

Its ceiling is also a sight to behold, decorated with rare, green opaline glass tiles.

You'll be fascinated with Belle Isle Aquarium’s unique and rare fish collection.

You'll also encounter different aquatic ecosystems and environments as you roam inside the building.

Belle Isle Aquarium is part of the 982-acre Belle Isle Park, situated in Detroit River’s international waters.

Step Back in Time at Detroit Historical Museum

Exterior of Detroit Historical Museum
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Established in 1928, Detroit Historical Museum will educate you about the city’s rich history and more through informative and engaging exhibits.

From a one-room suite, it expanded to a 78,000-square-foot facility featuring permanent installations and new exhibitions year-round to celebrate the significant events in the city.

Some of Detroit Historical Museum’s signature exhibits include “America’s Motor City” and “The Glancy Trains” featuring historical and model trains.

Streets of old Detroit exhibit in Detroit Historical Museum
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Don’t miss the “Streets of Old Detroit” on the museum's lower level to rediscover the city in three time periods and learn how it evolved from a rural frontier town to an industrial giant.

Detroit Historical Society operates the Detroit Historical Museum located along Woodward Avenue.

Arsenal of democracy exhibit in Detroit Historical Museum
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Explore the Past at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Exterior of Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
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Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is another museum that will give you an opportunity to appreciate history and culture, this time focusing on African American.

Detroit-based obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Charles H. Wright founded this museum in 1965.

He envisioned a repository that preserves African American history and culture so generations of visitors can reflect upon and drew inspiration from their stories.

Welcome sign of Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
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The museum’s permanent exhibits highlight the resilience of African Americans and honor renowned figures in theater, dance, and music.

Deepen your knowledge about African Americans inside Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on East Warren Avenue, near Detroit Institute of Arts.

Interior of Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
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Fuel Your Curiosity at Michigan Science Center

Exterior of the Michigan Science Center
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Michigan Science Center will stimulate your mind with the world of science through several fun and learning activities for all ages.

Expand your understanding regarding a wide variety of science and technology topics in this hub featuring over 200 engaging exhibits.

Catch live and interactive shows on Michigan Science Center’s science stage, and marvel at the night sky inside the planetarium.

Entrance to the Michigan Science Center
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More immersive experiences await in its IMAX® Dome Theatre, a 4D theater, and an 8,700-square-foot special exhibit hall.

You will find the Michigan Science Center on the corner of Warren Avenue and John R Street.

Building sign of the Michigan Science Center
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Catch Show-Stopping Performances at Fox Theatre Detroit

Exterior of Fox Theatre Detroit
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With a capacity of over 5,000 seats, Fox Theatre Detroit on Woodward Avenue plays host to several events, from Broadways shows to musical events.

It was established in 1928 as Fox Theatre chain’s flagship movie palace, built by film pioneer William Fox and designed by famed architect Charles Howard Crane.

Stepping inside this theatre is an unforgettable experience on its own, with its sophisticated interior and majestic architectural features.

A concert in Fox Theatre Detroit
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Several famous actors, musicians, and comedians had set foot on its stage.

As the largest surviving movie palace of the 1920s,  Fox Theatre Detroit was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1988.

Interior of Fox Theatre Detroit
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Observe Plants and Animals at Belle Isle Nature Center

Also located at Belle Isle Park is Belle Isle Nature Center, where you can build a deeper connection with the environment and wildlife.

Detroit Zoological Society, which manages the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, oversees the Belle Isle Nature Center.

Get up close with the native reptiles and amphibians and don’t miss the chance to know more about the significance of honeybees from the center’s actual working hives.

There’s also an observation window for bird lovers who want to catch views of migratory birds.

Elevate your experience further at Belle Isle Nature Center by signing up for its outdoor programs, ranging from nature hikes, thematic family activities, and art sessions that make use of natural materials.

Take a Breather at William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor

Welcome sign of William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor
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For outdoor recreation and relaxing pastime, William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor is an excellent choice for families and groups.

This 31-acre green space is Michigan's first urban state park, located on Atwater Street east of downtown and along Detroit River.

Facilities are available on site so you can try a wide array of enjoyable activities here like picnicking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

At the harbor entrance, you can see the 63-foot lighthouse, a scaled down replica of Tawas Point Lighthouse.

Aerial view of William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor
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Tawas Point Lighthouse was built in 1876 and is now a popular tourist attraction in East Tawas, Michigan.

Don’t forget to check out the wetlands demonstration area at William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor.

You’ll learn something from the interpretative signs here that detail how wetlands perform as nature's water filtration system.

The waters of William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor
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Stay Active at Outdoor Adventure Center

Building of the Outdoor Adventure Center
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Across William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor is another urban hotspot where family and kids can explore, play, and learn.

Experience the great outdoors of Michigan at Outdoor Adventure Center which has more than 20 interactive and informative exhibits and different simulators.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources manages this center housed in the historic Globe Building along the east riverfront, at the intersection of Atwater Street and Dequindre Cut Trail.

As you tour the Outdoor Adventure Center, you’ll have a general idea of how the department oversees state parks, forests, wildlife, and fish.

You’ll discover a 35-foot-tall bur oak tree which will teach you about the significance of trees for wildlife and the economy.

There's also an indoor waterfall to simulate the feeling of visiting one of Michigan's many pristine waterfalls.

Other exhibits here provide adventures aboard an airplane or a fishing boat, an aquarium viewing opportunity, and an exploration of long miles of trails while riding a snowmobile or mountain bike simulator.

Want to try archery?

Outdoor Adventure Center also has a diverse range of archery programs where you can learn about the basics or have a more in-depth lessons to refine your skills.

Watch Action-Packed Games at Comerica Park

Exterior of Comerica Park
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Enjoy live entertainment at Comerica Park where ball games, concerts, and more exciting events take place.

Since 2000, it has served as home to Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers.

The ball park offers a stunning view of the Detroit skyline.

It also features comfortable seating areas, concession facilities, and a food court so fans can sit back and enjoy the games.

Aerial view of Comerica Park's field
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To further boost the viewing experience of every fan, Comerica Park has built unique structure like a carousel with tigers and a baseball-themed Ferris Wheel.

You'll be transported back in time as you navigate its main concourse, showcasing the baseball and lifestyle history decade by decade.

You can also spot a huge water feature in the center field called "Liquid Fireworks" that offers visitors additional delight and entertainment.

Crowd inside Comerica Park
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Hang out at Campus Martius Park

The grounds of Campus Martius Park
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Complete your Detroit experience by visiting Campus Martius Park, the city’s official gathering place that has been recognized several times for its remarkable public space design and operations.

Campus Martius Park was built in 2004 and spans over 2.5 acres in the heart of downtown along Woodward Avenue.

There's always something new to look forward to at this public space, which hosts various events, concerts, and activities for locals and visitors.

From May to November, you can enjoy lazy days in the park’s island oasis with colourful lounge chairs and sandy areas perfect for sandcastle building with the kids.

Restaurant at Campus Martius Park
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Campus Martius Park is lively, too during the colder months, where you can witness the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony.

Savor the festive mood with the presence of lighting attractions, horse-drawn carriage rides, and stalls for your holiday shopping.

Don’t miss the chance to step on the ice rink too and have a wonderful skating experience with family and friends.


There are food trucks and restaurants near the park should you need refreshments or tasty food to satisfy your cravings.

Beach sand at Campus Martius Park
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Final Thoughts

It takes more than a weekend to explore Detroit, Michigan, entirely for its wide array of natural wonders and classic attractions.

Whether you’re up for a food crawl, exciting adventures, recreational activities, or an educational tour of museums and landmarks, you’ll find something that will interest you in Motor City.

On your next trip, see for yourself what makes this city one of the greatest places in the world.

Maximize your vacation time by filling your itinerary with the best things to do in Detroit, Michigan!

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