13 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Detroit
Detroit, the largest city in the state of Michigan, lies on the northwest bank of the Detroit River and on Lake St Clair, between Lakes Huron and Erie.
The city has long been regarded as the "metropolis of the automobile". It is the country's busiest inland port and is accessible, since the construction of the St Lawrence Seaway, to ocean-going vessels of up to 25,000 tons.History
The city's name is derived from the French détroit (strait), referring to the narrow waterway between Lakes Huron and Erie. In 1701 Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac established a fort on the site of the present-day city. In 1760 this passed into British hands, and in 1796, after the American victory in the battle of Fallen Timber, was incorporated in the United States. After being incorporated as a town in 1802 and suffering great devastation in a fire in 1805, Detroit was from 1807 to 1847 capital of the state of Michigan. Its economic rise began in earnest with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the development of steamship traffic. This led to a rapid increase in population. The automobile industry, founded by Henry Ford around the turn of the 19th century, soon took the city's population above the million mark. By 1930 the population was 1.5 million. Following the financial crisis of 2008 the city's industry and population declined significantly.
See also: Where to Stay in Detroit
1 Detroit Institute of Arts
The Detroit Institute of Arts displays a representative cross-section of man's artistic creation from the earliest cultures to the present day. Its permanent collection includes art of Africa, Oceania and the Indigenous Americas; the art and culture of the Near East and classical antiquity; collections from medieval Europe; and American art and culture. The collection includes many masterpieces of European painting, including works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh (self-portrait), Matisse, and Picasso.
Address: 5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202-4094, United States
2 Comerica Park
Comerica Park is a combination ballpark, theme park, and baseball museum. A carousel, a ferris wheel, a huge water feature in center field and a museum of baseball history on the main concourse are some of the attractions. The park is most famous as the home of the Detroit Tigers baseball team.
Address: 2100 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-3470, United States
3 Henry Ford Estate
Located in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Fair Lane is the former home of automaker Henry Ford and his wife Clara. The Fords settled into their new home in 1915 and lived there until their deaths in 1947 and 1950. The grounds of Fair Lane include a powerhouse hydropower plant, which gave the estate the independence to produce its own power, heat and light.
The estate also included a summer house, man-made lake, staff cottages, gatehouse, pony barn, skating house, greenhouse, root cellar, vegetable garden, peony and gardens, a "Santa's workshop" and five hundred birdhouses.
The property is in the process of restoration.
4 GM Renaissance Center
Along the Detroit River are huge skyscraper complexes. Dominating them all is the Renaissance Center, with the 73-storey Mariott Hotel and six other towers containing offices, shops, theatres, restaurants, conference space, and public institutions. This is a central feature on the skyline.
Address: 100 Renaissance Center
5 Motown Museum
The Motown Museum is a small shingle-clad building that was occupied from 1957 to 1972 by the studio where records of the "Motown sound" were produced. Visitors can see the actual recording studio where Marvin Gaye and others produced hit songs. The museum chronicles the history of the recording studio and its founder.
Address: 2648 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48208-1237, United States
6 Pewabic Pottery
Pewabic Pottery was founded in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry Stratton and her partner, Horace Caulkins. The studio, operated by Stratton, continued until her death in 1961 and a few more years after that by her assistant. Today Pewabic Pottery operates the ceramics museum, gallery workshop and studio.
Address: 10125 East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, MI 48214, United States
7 Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History
The Museum of African-American History illustrates the historical role of blacks in the United States and their position in the city of Detroit. Exhibits deal with a variety of topics, including the "underground railway" that enabled slaves to flee from Michigan into Canada.
Address: 315 East Warren Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1443, United States
8 The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village
11 miles west of the city centre is the suburb of Dearborn, in which the automobile manufacturer Henry Ford was born. In 1929 he established two exhibition complexes as memorials to himself: the 12 acre Henry Ford Museum, and an open-air museum called Greenfield Village.
The Henry Ford Museum offers a general survey of the development of American life and technological advances from pioneering days to the present time. Among the most notable exhibits are George Stephenson's first steam locomotive (1829); some 200 automobiles, including the first Ford and the car in which John F. Kennedy was assassinated; the Fokker in which Admiral Byrd made the first flight over the North Pole in 1926; and the Junkers W 33 in which Hermann Kohl, Freiherr von Hanefeld and James Fitzmaurice made the first east-west crossing of the Atlantic in 1928.
Just north of the Henry Ford Museum is the entrance to Greenfield Village, an open-air museum with some 100 historic buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries from all over the United States. Among them are a school, a railroad station and other public buildings, the house in which Henry Ford was born, Edison's laboratory and the Wright brothers' bicycle factory. The numerous shops in the Village Craft Center sell the products of the various workshops in the village.
Address: 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, MI 48124-4088, United States
9 Detroit Historical Museum
Opposite the Institute of Arts is the Detroit Historical Museum, with reconstructions of old Detroit streets, model railways, dioramas and periodic special exhibitions on the history of the city. This is a great museum to gain a general overview of the city and the events that shaped it.
Address: 5401 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202-4097, United States
10 Historic Fort Wayne
Built in the 1840s, Fort Wayne includes the star-shaped fort, dry moat, tunnels, barracks, and garrison, an immense parade ground and the restored Commanding Officer's House. The fort hosts a number of events throughout the summer.
Address: 6325 West Jefferson
11 Detroit Public Library
The Detroit Public Library formally opened to the public on March 25, 1865. The initial collection included 5,000 books and was located in a room in the old Capitol High School. The library moved to its present location on March 21, 1921. There are currently 10 departments within the main library and 23 branches. The building itself is the main attraction and is Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Address: 5201 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202-4093, United States
12 Masonic Temple of Detroit
The Masonic Temple of Detroit is classical Gothic architecture built with Indiana limestone. The temple was dedicated in 1926 and is the largest temple of its kind in the world. The building has three major divisions: the ritualistic tower, the auditorium, and the Shrine Club. The facility hosts concerts and other events.
Address: 500 Temple Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-2693, United States
13 Belle Isle
Belle Isle is an island in the Detroit River. It is approximately 3 miles long and up to 1 mile wide, laid out with beautiful parkland, hiking trails, sports facilities. One of the primary features is the Belle Isle Conservatory. Also on the island are an aquarium, a and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, with numerous ship models and other exhibits illustrating the history of shipping on the Great Lakes.
Where to Stay in Detroit for Sightseeing
Most visitors to Detroit will want to stay downtown, near many of the key attractions and entertainment venues. The Detroit People Mover, operating in a 2.9-mile circuit, is an inexpensive and convenient way to get around the city center and explore the sights. Below is a list of highly-rated hotels in convenient locations:
- Luxury Hotels: Right downtown and near a People Mover stop, the Aloft Detroit at The David Whitney is housed in a fully restored 1915 Neo-Renaissance-style building with a spectacular four-story gold leaf atrium. The MGM Grand Hotel is a huge complex, with large rooms, great views of the city skyline, and a variety of on-site entertainment options. If you are in Detroit for a sporting event, the Westin Book Cadillac is in an ideal location, with all of the major stadiums less than a 15-minute walk from this hotel.
- Mid-Range Hotels: For something a little different, The Inn on Ferry Street is a beautifully restored, small hotel consisting of four Victorian homes and two carriage houses. Although it is a little outside the city center, it is close to the Detroit Institute of Art. The Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverfront is a tall, sleek, modern hotel near the Riverwalk area and just minutes from the People Mover. For families, the Doubletree Detroit Downtown - Fort Shelby is a good choice, with a variety of options, including large two-room suites.
- Budget Hotels: The Holiday Inn Express Detroit Downtown is an upper-end budget hotel in the downtown area, with a pool on the top floor, and a complimentary breakfast. To find better value budget options it's best to head outside of the city center. The Red Roof Inn Detroit Dearborn/Greenfield Village is 12 miles from downtown but only two miles from the Henry Ford Museum. The Comfort Inn Near Greenfield Village is in the same area and features an indoor pool and a free shuttle to anywhere within five miles of the hotel.