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Best things to do in Detroit

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Where in the world: USA  /  Michigan  /  Detroit

Top 15 things to do in Detroit

1. Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Institute of Arts boasts more than 100 galleries containing some of the most significant works from around the world--including Diego Rivera's famous Detroit Industry frescoes. Since the museum's founding in 1883, its permanent collection of American art has remained one of its most impressive assets, with the addition of the General Motors Center for African American Art. However, the museum houses more than 65,000 diverse pieces, ranging from Egyptian mummies to French-Impressionist paintings. The museum is on the National Register of Historic Places and hosts a number of visiting exhibitions, concerts, and events year-round.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. The Henry Ford, Dearborn

The Henry Ford is a large indoor and outdoor museum complex featuring historical Americana. It is named after its founder, the automobile industrialist Henry Ford, who, in his own words, wanted to produce a record of "American life as lived." See John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine, a Wright flyer replica, the chair President Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated, the Rosa Parks bus, and more. Outside you can explore the Greenfield Village: over 100 historical buildings were moved here and arranged in a village setting to show how Americans have lived and worked since the founding of the country. Watch a craft demonstration, such as pottery or glassblowing. It is a good idea to buy tickets for the on-site IMAX theater in advance.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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3. Greenfield Village, Dearborn

Within the enormous Henry Ford museum complex, Greenfield Village is its own world. Learn how Americans have lived since the founding of the country as you wander through the historical buildings. You can visit Thomas Edison's laboratory, the Wright brothers' workshop, and more. In some of the 17th-century buildings, you can meet costumed "locals" in the midst of village tasks, such as farming, sewing, cooking, glass-blowing, and pottery. If you get hungry, try a typical 19th-century meal served by traditionally dressed restaurant staff at the Eagle Tavern, a restaurant that's been here since 1831. You can even ride a steam-engine train or a vintage car.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Greenfield Village
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4. Detroit RiverFront

Mingle with the locals, enjoy the views, and go for a stroll along Detroit RiverFront. This is one of the most popular hangout spots in the city, and you'll see many people fishing, jogging, and riding bikes next to the water. It's hard to beat this spot's views of Windsor, Ontario, on the Canadian side of the Detroit River. Choose a restaurant for a meal or a drink, or hop onto one of the boat tours if you're up for some sightseeing. The riverfront regularly hosts different events, celebrations, and music festivals. Check the events schedule online if you want to plan your visit accordingly, and join the party at the riverfront.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Motown Museum

To remember the period when Berry Gordy and an array of talented artists created the timeless Motown sound, visit Motown Museum. Known as Hitsville, USA, this humble building was once the headquarters and recording studio of the Motown record company and the birthplace of innumerable hits. Artists such as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye recorded songs here. You can visit the famous Studio A, see a collection of photos and artifacts, and stop by the upper-floor apartment where Berry Gordy and his family used to live. Berry's own stereo system and Michael Jackson's fedora hat and sequined glove are just a few of the treasures here. All tours are guided, and the building is fully accessible to people with special needs.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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6. Room Escape Games

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo

For a look at a world-renowned collection of glass art, sculptures, and paintings, stop by Toledo Museum of Art. Founded by glassmaker Edward Drummond Libbey in 1901, the museum features an extensive collection of glass art from the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum is also known for a large collection of European and American art, plus smaller exhibits featuring Renaissance, Greek, Roman, and Japanese art. A major work by Peter Paul Ruben, "The Crowning of Saint Catherine," is here, as well as several well-known smaller pieces by Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and other notable artists.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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8. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant

The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is a museum and former factory located within the Milwaukee Junction area of Detroit, Michigan, in the United States. Built in 1904, it was the second center of automobile production for the Ford Motor Company. The company assembled several car models at this factory, including the Ford Model T, which was created there and first produced there starting in 1908. Early experiments using a moving assembly line to make cars were also conducted there. It was also the first factory where more than 100 cars were assembled in one day. While it was based at the Piquette Avenue Plant, Ford Motor Company became the biggest US-based automaker, and it would remain so until the mid-1920s. The factory was used by the company until 1910, when its car production activity was relocated to the new, bigger Highland Park Ford Plant in Highland Park, Michigan.
The Piquette Avenue Plant was sold in 1911 to Studebaker, which used the factory to assemble cars until 1933. Studebaker sold the building in 1936, and the former car factory went through a series of owners for the remainder of the 20th century before becoming a museum in 2001.
The Piquette Avenue Plant is the oldest, purpose-built automotive factory building in the world open to the public. The museum, which was visited by 18,000 people in 2016, has exhibits that primarily focus on the early years of the United States automotive industry. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, became a Michigan State Historic Site in 2003, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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Tours including The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant:

9. The Guardian Building

The Guardian Building is a timeless depiction of creativity and accomplishment, it represents a past era enriched by people who believed in the success of Detroit and its many cultures. The building has been designated a National Historic Landmark, the highest honor given by the National Park Service.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Fisher Building

The Fisher Building is a landmark skyscraper located at 3011 West Grand Boulevard in the heart of the New Center area of Detroit, Michigan. The ornate 30-story building, completed in 1928, is one of the major works of architect Albert Kahn, and is designed in an Art Deco style, faced with limestone, granite, and several types of marble. The Fisher family financed the building with proceeds from the sale of Fisher Body to General Motors. It was designed to house office and retail space.
The building, which contains the elaborate 2,089-seat Fisher Theatre, was designated a National Historic Landmark on June 29, 1989. It also houses the headquarters for the Detroit Public Schools and the studios of radio stations WJR, WDVD, and WDRQ.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Detroit Historical Museum

The Detroit Historical Museum is located at 5401 Woodward Avenue in the city's Cultural Center Historic District in Midtown Detroit. It chronicles the history of the Detroit area from cobblestone streets, 19th century stores, the auto assembly line, toy trains, fur trading from the 18th century, and much more.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Belle Isle Park

Belle Isle, officially Belle Isle Park, is a 982acre island park in the Detroit River, between the United States mainland and Canada. Owned by the City of Detroit, it is managed as a state park by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources through a 30-year lease initiated in 2013. Belle Isle is the largest city-owned island park in the United States and is the third largest island in the Detroit River after Grosse Ile and Fighting Island. It is connected to mainland Detroit by the MacArthur Bridge.
The island is home to the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Belle Isle Conservatory, the Belle Isle Nature Zoo, the Detroit Yacht Club on an adjacent island, the James Scott Memorial Fountain, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, a Coast Guard station, a municipal golf course and numerous monuments. It also previously housed a Nature Center where visitors were able to traverse wooded trails and view wildlife natural habitats, a former Belle Isle Zoo, riding stables and the Detroit Boat Club. The island includes a half-mile (800 m) swimming beach.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, or The Wright, is located in Detroit, Michigan in the U.S.; inside the city's Midtown Cultural Center is one of the world's oldest independent African American museums.

Founded in 1965, The Wright museum holds the world's largest permanent collection of African-American culture. With a collection of more than 35,000 artifacts, The Wright's current 125,000-square-foot museum opened as the largest museum in the world dedicated to African American history.
The Wright, whose exhibits include Underground Railroad documents and letters from Malcolm X and Rosa Parks, also hosted memorial events for Parks and the "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin, who lay in state in the museum's rotunda in 2005 and 2018, respectively.

Notably, The Wright is the current home of The National Museum of the Tuskegee Airmen The Wright also produces one of the largest festivals dedicated to celebrating the food, fashion, music, and dance cultures of the diaspora -- African World Festival.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

14. GM Renaissance Center

The Renaissance Center (also known as the GM Renaissance Center and nicknamed the RenCen) is a group of seven connected skyscrapers in Downtown Detroit, Michigan, United States. The Renaissance Center complex is on the Detroit International Riverfront and is owned and used by General Motors as its world headquarters. The central tower has been the tallest building in Michigan since it was erected in 1977.

John Portman was the principal architect for the original design. The first phase consisted of a five-tower rosette rising from a common base. Four 39-story office towers surround the 73-story hotel rising from a square podium which includes a shopping center, restaurants, brokers, and banks. The first phase officially opened in March 1977. Portman's design brought renewed attention to city architecture, since it resulted in construction of the world's tallest hotel at the time. Two additional 21-story office towers (known as Tower 500 and Tower 600) opened in 1981. This type of complex has been termed a city within a city.

In 2004, General Motors completed a US$500 million renovation of the Class-A center as its world headquarters, which it had purchased in 1996. The renovation included the addition of the five-story Wintergarden atrium, which provides access to the International Riverfront. Architects for the renovation included Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Gensler, SmithGroup, and Ghafari Associates. Work continued in and around the complex until 2005. Renaissance Center totals 5,552,000 square feet (515,800 m2) making it one of the world's largest commercial complexes.
In July 2015, the complex was re-branded as "The GMRENCEN." Its logo was modernized and "Reflecting a New Detroit" was introduced as the new tagline. A photo-journalistic advertising campaign launched to "shine a spotlight on the people in Detroit who make remarkable contributions" to the city.

Despite the name, the hotel portion is not affiliated with the Renaissance Hotels chain, also owned by Marriott. An unrelated Renaissance Hotel does exist in the suburb of Novi however.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Pure Detroit

Pure Detroit New Center

Fisher Building Lobby

3011 W. Grand Blvd (north side of building @ 2nd & Lothrop)


Monday - Thursday / 9:30a - 6:00p

Friday - Sunday / 9:30a - 6:00p



Pure Detroit GM Collection

400 Renaissance Center


Monday - Friday / 9:30a - 6:00pm

Satrurday / 9:30am - 7:00pm

Sunday / 11:00am - 5:00pm


Pure Detroit Downtown

Guardian Building Lobby

500 Griswold


Monday - Friday / 9:0a - 6:00p

Saturday / 9:00a - 7:00p

Sunday / 11:00a - 5:00p


Pure Detroit - Island Outpost

Belle Isle Aquarium

Friday - Saturday / 10:00a - 4:00p

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Pure Detroit