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Best things to do in Southeast Michigan

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Where in the world: USA  /  Michigan  /  Southeast Michigan

Top 15 things to do in Southeast Michigan

1. Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit

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. Michigan State University, East Lansing

Michigan State University (Michigan State or MSU) is a public land-grant research university in East Lansing, Michigan. It was founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, the first of its kind in the United States. It is considered a Public Ivy, or a public institution which offers an academic experience similar to that of an Ivy League university.

After the introduction of the Morrill Act in 1862, the state designated the college a land-grant institution in 1863, making it the first of the land-grant colleges in the United States. The college became coeducational in 1870. In 1955, the state officially made the college a university, and the current name, Michigan State University, was adopted in 1964. Today, Michigan State has the largest undergraduate enrollment among Michigan's colleges and universities and approximately 634,300 living alums worldwide.
The university is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity". The university's campus houses the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, the Abrams Planetarium, the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, and the country's largest residence hall system.
The university's six professional schools include the College of Law (founded in Detroit, in 1891, as the Detroit College of Law and moved to East Lansing in 1995), Eli Broad College of Business; the College of Nursing, the College of Osteopathic Medicine (the world's first state-funded osteopathic college), the College of Human Medicine, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. The university pioneered the studies of music therapy, packaging, hospitality business, supply chain management, and communication sciences.

The Michigan State Spartans compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference. Michigan State Spartans football won the Rose Bowl Game in 1954, 1956, 1988, and 2014, and the university has won six national football championships. Spartans men's basketball won the NCAA National Championship in 1979 and 2000, and has reached the Final Four eight times since the 1998–1999 season. Spartans ice hockey won NCAA national titles in 1966, 1986, and 2007.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, Auburn Hills

Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, formerly Great Lakes Crossing, is a shopping mall in Auburn Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, United States. The site of the mall was originally to have been occupied by a different mall called Auburn Mills, which was never built due to financial issues of its intended developer, Western Development Corporation. Great Lakes Crossing was built on the site and opened in 1998. Constructed and owned by Taubman Centers, Great Lakes Crossing Outlets is the largest outlet mall in the state of Michigan. It features 185 stores, with anchor stores including Burlington, Bass Pro Shops, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls; other notable attractions include a 1,000-seat food court, a 25-screen AMC Star movie theater, Round1, Legoland Discovery Center, and Sea Life Michigan.

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. Detroit RiverFront, Detroit

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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7. Room Escape Games, Detroit

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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8. Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak

Meet 3,300 animals representing 280 species at Detroit Zoo, home of the world's largest Arctic exhibit that features polar bears, arctic foxes, and seals. Watch the arctic bears and seals swim above your head along a 21.3 m (70 ft) long underwater tunnel. Take a walk through an indoor jungle and surround yourself with kangaroos, macaws, wallabies, sloths, iguanas, birds, and butterflies at various cageless exhibits. Join in one of the animal education programs, feed giraffes, ride a miniature train, or watch a 4-D movie. At the interpretive gallery, you can also learn about the Earth using various displays and interactive tools.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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9. Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States, specializes in interactive exhibits with the goal of helping both children and adults discover the scientist within them by promoting science literacy through experimentation, exploration, and education.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. The Guardian Building, Detroit

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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13. Belle Isle Park, Detroit

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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14. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, Detroit

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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15. Motown Museum, Detroit

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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