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20 Best Things to Do in Detroit in 2023

Detroit Michigan skyline - Things to do in Detroit Michigan

Best Things to Do in Detroit

Are you looking for some of the best things to do in energetic Detroit, MI?

You’re in luck: no matter what you like to do, chances are excellent that you’ll find it here.

The best things to do range from cheering on favorite sports teams to checking out museums; from taking in the amazing Detroit River vistas on Belle Isle to mingling with the crowds at Eastern Market, the largest open-air market in the country or taking in a play at the stunning Fox Theatre. And that’s not all.

There’s so much to do in Detroit. It’s a city that is rich with history and cultural diversity; unique and amazing architecture; and fabulous restaurants, too.

About Detroit, Michigan: Plan Your Visit

Whether you call it Motown, The Motor City, or simply Detroit, this Midwest city is experiencing a Renaissance.

There are a large number of museums, businesses, parks, and more, both old and new, that are contributing to Detroit’s resurgence, including landmark places like Campus Martius Park and the Renaissance Centre. Detroit’s rich and storied history combined with the resilience and ingenuity of its residents is quickly making the Motor City a more and more vibrant city worth visiting.

You can explore Detroit on your own, or try one of the popular walking tours covering the art museums, architecture and historical buildings, and even Campus Martius Park.

Read on for our list of top activities and the best things to do in Detroit Michigan. You can also scroll to the bottom for an interactive map of places to visit in Michigan.

Belle Isle Bridge in Detroit Michigan

Explore Belle Isle
99 Pleasure Dr, Detroit, MI 48207

Situated on the Detroit Riverfront, separating the US from Canada, Belle Isle Park is a green escape from the concrete jungle. Despite Belle Isle being a relatively small island at three miles long and just one mile wide, it’s packed to the brim with natural beauty and plenty of activities to enjoy.

Make use of the parkland and take a hike, bike, or run around the island, then visit one of the unique facilities on Belle Isle, such as the historic Belle Isle Aquarium, Great Lakes Museum, or the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory.

Get Hands-On at the DNR Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center
1801 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48207

You’ll find nature displays and exhibits, simulators, and hands-on activities at this newer, two-story Michigan museum. Located just one block from the Detroit River, visitors can do everything from peeking behind a waterfall to take a walk through a real airplane.

Pewabic Pottery - things to do in Detroit
Photo from Pewabic Pottery

Try Pewabic Pottery
10125 E Jefferson Ave. Detroit, MI

In 1903, Mary Chase Perry Stratton and her partner Horace Caulkins founded Pewabic Pottery, a studio for ceramics in the city of Detroit. Today, the studio is a National Historic Landmark where you can learn all about the history of ceramics in the city and view the gallery workshop, filled with impressive works of art.

You may even be able to try your hand at making your own piece of ceramic art through classes offered by the studio or purchase genuine Pewabic pottery to take home as a souvenir. With free admission to the museum, there’s really no excuse not to give this unique spot a look.

Get Immersed in History at Fort Wayne
6325 W Jefferson Ave. Detroit, MI

Dating back to 1840, Historic Fort Wayne features a five-pointed bastion fortress accessible to tourists looking to take a stroll through history. Tour the first floor, including the old military barracks, dry moat, and the former Commanding Officer;s House to get a sense of what it was like to be a soldier during the mid-1800s.

Check for events going on at Fort Wayne throughout the year, although especially in the summer months. Special tours are also available, such as nighttime ghost tours, which make a perfect Halloween activity on a cool autumn night.

Learn Something New at a Detroit Museum

Detroit has a rich history full of music, industry, and innovation. Whether you’re interested in art, music, history, or science, there are museums in and around Detroit to help you engage with your niche. Here are some of our favorites:

Detroit Institute of Art
5200 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI

One of the premier art museums in the country, you’ll know you are someplace special when you walk through doors into a massive mural by artist Diego Rivera that tells the story of a working Detroit. Spend a day browsing nearly 7,000 pieces of art from all over the world across more than 100 galleries. The DIA is home to many iconic and historic pieces of art, including Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait.

Motown Museum - things to do in Detroit Michigan
Photo from Motown Museum

Motown Museum
2648 W Grand Blvd. Detroit, MI

Hitsville USA, also known as Motown, is one of the must-visit spots on any Detroit travel bucket list. It’s here on famous West Grand Boulevard that Berry Gordy started Motown Records, bringing musical acts like Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and more.

Walk through the doors and walk back in time on a memorable Motor City musical journey that you’ll never forget. This historical site offers exhibits outlining the path to stardom for many of these famous musicians, and gives an in-depth look at the development of one of the most groundbreaking sounds in history.
PRO-TIP: Once you’ve finished your visit, head to Cliff Bells, a swanky, art deco jazz club for a bite to eat.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
315 Warren Ave. Detroit, MI

The largest museum of African American history can be found right here in Michigan. In Detroit, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History looks at the resilience of African Americans from Africa to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond to modern day in it’s anchor exhibit “And Still We Rise.” See this among the other rotating exhibits for a unique and educational visit every time.

Museum of Contemporary Art
4454 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is very well-curated, bringing top exhibitions and programs from the global art world to Detroit. You’ll find lectures, musical performances, films, literary readings, and educational activities for children at this sprawling, must-see museum in Midtown Detroit.

PRO-TIP: Combine your visit with brunch or lunch at the Dime Store, a hip, airy spot near Campus Martius.

Detroit Historical Museum
5401 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI

Explore exhibits that tell the history of the Detroit area from the time of 18th century fur trading, cobblestone streets and 19th century stores to the auto assembly line and beyond.

Michigan Science Center
5020 John R St. Detroit, MI

Science, technology, engineering and math come together at this fun and fascinating museums that is fun for all ages. You’ll find fun hands-on exhibits, programs and theater shows.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum
100 The Strand, Detroit, MI

people reading at Detroit public library - Things to do in Detroit

Read at Detroit Public Library
5201 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI

The Detroit Public Library, which was first opened in 1865 with a collection of 5,000 books stored away in a room at the old Capital High School building, now sits in the same place it has for about 100 years and is one of the prides of Detroit.

It has since been listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places and it’s clear to see why. Bookworms will love being surrounded by the millions of books in the library’s collection, but anyone can enjoy the library’s stunning construction, with an inside as beautiful as the outside is imposing.

Guide to Michigan sports teams

Attend a Sporting Event

In Detroit, sports are a big deal. Whether you’re loyal to the Lions or you root for the Red Wings, a Detroit sporting event will have you on the edge of your seat. Visit Little Caesars Arena to cheer on the Red Wings and the Pistons. Otherwise, see the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park or their neighbors, the Lions, at Ford Field.

While these venues are home to Detroit’s most notable sports teams, non-sports fans can still enjoy the spaces. Concerts and other shows of all kinds are often hosted at these stadiums during the off-seasons and days when there aren’t games scheduled.

Food in Mexicantown - things to Do in Detroit

Dine in Greektown & Mexicantown

The food scene in Detroit is getting better and better every year, but the diversity of Detroit’s palette in particular is one of its major strengths. In the city, two “towns” deserve mention: Greektown and Mexicantown.

As the names would suggest, Greektown is serving up some of the best Greek fare in Detroit, found in a lively and authentic neighborhood and Mexicantown has some of the best Mexican food you’ll find in the northern contiguous United States.

Find Hidden Treasure at John K. King Used and Rare Books
901 W Lafayette Blvd. Detroit, MI

“A Million Books in Stock” at John K. King Used and Rare Books in Detroit means you could spend hours and hours browsing the four expansive floors and still not see everything. For book lovers, this is a paradise of books in an unlikely place: an old glove factory.

Spend time wandering through the rows of books and marvel at the strange titles and rare editions of books in their stock. Some of the books are so rare, you need an appointment to even view them.

Detroit Princess cruise - things to do in detroit
Photo from the Detroit Princess Cruise

Set Sail on the Detroit Princess Riverboat Cruise

For those who love to be out on the water, the Detroit Princess Riverboat is a great option for you. The Detroit Princess is a massive five-story river cruise boat that holds up to 1,500 passengers for dinner cruises. Enjoy some unique and incredible views of the city along with a stellar meal and motown classics to groove to.

Prices and times vary throughout the season, but generally adult tickets cost around $50-$70 with the cruise lasting from 7-9:30PM. Lunch cruises are also available for lesser cost, but check the schedule first and always book tickets in advance.

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Watch a Show at Fox Theater
2211 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI

Built in 1928 on Woodward Avenue, the Fox Theater is the largest movie palace still standing from the roaring 20s. Over 5,000 seats accommodate guests for a variety of live productions and events, from concerts, standup comedy shows, plays, and children’s performances.

Today the building stands as a National Historic Landmark, which is the highest honor bestowed by the National Park Service. Take some time to tour the theater if you can’t catch a show while in Detroit.

Take in the Unique Architecture

In Detroit, the architecture is unlike any other. From roaring 20s art deco to sophisticated gothic, the blend of styles in the city is remarkable. Tour any number of unique and beautiful buildings in the city and be wowed by the architectural marvels housed in Detroit.

To see some famous art deco buildings, try the Guardian Building or the Fisher Building. You could also tour the Wayne State University campus and see four buildings by famed architect Minoru Yamasaki, architect of the World Trade Center. Otherwise, the Masonic Temple is one of the finest examples of American Gothic architecture, and the GM Renaissance Center’s modern style is imposing yet shiny and awe-inspiring.

Eastern Market- things to do in Detroit

Shop Around Eastern Market

Eastern Market is a huge marketplace filled with local foods, art, jewelry, and other crafts. Over 43 acres of Detroit are dedicated to Eastern Market, making it the largest historic public market district in the US, dating back over 150 years.

There are different market days during the week, but Saturdays are easily the busiest, since that’s when farmers tend to bring fresh goods to sell. Still, any of the other market days are plenty stocked and make for a fantastic experience.

Walk or Bike the Dequindre Cut

The Dequindre Cut Greenway stretches for two miles through the heart of Detroit providing an urban recreational path for pedestrians to move between popular destinations within the city, such as Eastern Market and the East Riverfront.

The path is decorated with all kinds of street art and performances in the warm months. Use the Dequindre cut as a place to walk, run, or bike through the city and explore sides of Detroit you may not have seen otherwise.

Check Out the Heidelberg Project

Out of all the Detroit attractions, there’s really nothing that compares to the Heidelberg Project’s uniqueness. After returning from army service and finding his neighborhood “looked like a bomb went off,” artist Tyree Guyton worked with his wife and grandpa to turn the blight into light with brightly colored dots on the houses and salvaged items turned into art Detroit could be proud of.

Today the houses and lots have been transformed into one big art project with a non-profit community center around it. Aside from the fascinating art and unique appearance of the Heidelberg Project, it’s a great cause to support and a must-do for any visitor in Detroit.

Tour the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
461 Piquette Ave. Detroit, MI

One of the best Detroit tours you can take is of the only “Brass Era” auto assembly plant in Detroit – the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant. This National Historic Landmark was built in 1904 and was the first factory owned by the Ford Motor Company. Here, see the Henry Ford experience as he designed the Model T and changed the course of history forever.

Explore the historic space and see the wear and tear on the walls and floors from years of production of various Ford models. You can even sit in one of the old models and feel as though you’ve stepped back in time to the era of automobile revolution. Even Ford’s own office has been preserved for public access.

Take on the Coney Dog Challenge: Lafayette or American?

One of Detroit’s most iconic foods is named for a place in New York. Coney Island hot dogs, or just coney dogs, are a classic Detroit diner food, but what exactly makes a coney dog different from any other hot dog? Well, a coney dog is a bee frankfurter in a natural casing, topped with all-meat chili, diced white onions, and classic yellow mustard.

So then what’s the challenge? Well, a pair of brothers from Greece immigrated to Detroit back in the early 20th century. They opened two Coney Island restaurants in Detroit situated right next to each other. They’re both still here, despite some ownership changes, and the challenge is simple – try both coney dogs and claim a favorite.

20 best things to do in michigan

Be a High Roller at the Casino

There are a handful of casino attractions in Detroit that invite you to escape the city and try to win big on their floors. Each casino offers a different style in a different area of Detroit. If you’re looking for luxury, try the first-of-its-kind MGM Grand Casino or the swanky MotorCity Casino. For something with a more laid-back casual atmosphere in the heart of the city, try Greektown Casino, a favorite for pre and post game crowds.

Otherwise, the Caesars Windsor Casino complex is massive and closeby. Just make sure to have your passport ready to cross the Detroit River into Canada for this uniquely Roman themed casino just minutes from downtown Detroit.

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Detroit Things to Do in Metro Detroit

Whether you’re visiting Detroit with kids, as a couple, or on your own, you’ll want to check out these fun things to do in the nearby Detroit city suburbs.

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation & Greenfield Village
20900 Oakwood Blvd. Dearborn, MI

Curated in part by Henry Ford himself, The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village make history come alive. Museum pieces educate about history, technology, and innovation. In the collection you can find the chair Lincoln was assassinated in, the bus Rosa Parks was on when she refused to give up her seat, among many other historic presidential vehicles.

In Greenfield Village, significant historical buildings line the streets, including homes, workshops, and labs belonging to inventors like Edison and the Wright Brothers.

Embrace Your Inner Kid at Morley Candy Factory
22800 Hall Rd. Clinton Twp, MI

If you know Detroit, you know Sanders Candy. This local brand has been satisfying the sweet tooths of Metro-Detroiters for nearly 150 years. Stop by the Morley Candy Factory in Clinton Township for a free factory tour, which includes a short film about the start of the company and a view of the candy making process.

Enjoy plenty of free candy samples, including some of the most iconic Sanders confectionaries like Pecan Torties and Coconut Clusters. Then stroll through the gift shop to get some to take home with you.

Detroit zoo guide

Get Wild at the Detroit Zoo
8450 W 10 Mile Rd. Royal Oak, MI

The Detroit Zoo has inspired wonder and captured the imaginations of visitors in the city for around 100 years and they show no signs of stopping. Over 100 acres of land have been transformed into natural habitats for unique and interesting animal residents and effective viewing space for guests.

Thanks to the large amount of space, the Detroit Zoo is home to more than 2,400 animals across 235 species in many different exhibits, including the Arctic Ring of Life, Polk Penguin Conservation Center, Australian Outback Adventure, and more.

See the Automotive Hall of Fame
21400 Oakwood St. Dearborn, MI

Detroit pioneered the automotive industry, which makes a trip to the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn a must-do when visiting. Watch as the story of motor vehicle development unfolds before your eyes and the innovators who made it happen inspire you.

From impressive interactive visual displays to historic artifacts from automotive history, any car lover or history buff will love what the Automotive Hall of Fame has to offer its visitors.

Map of Best Things to Do in Detroit

Map of 20+ things to do in Detroit

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Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.