As far as Michigan goes, there's more to do there than you might think. Detroit, in particular, has dozens of museums, art, and history than anywhere else in the Wolverine State. A mere lake-breadth away from Canada, Detroit has a rich history, from its ties to the automobile industry to being the birthplace of Motown. As well as Detroit's solid musical legacy that includes names such as Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, it's a city that's still ripe with its own unique sense of culture. You'll never run out of things to do in Detroit.
Since the disbanding of industry, some parts of Detroit have fallen into a state of disrepair. However, to judge a unique city by its past is to miss out on the sense of community, bringing it back together. The Heidelberg Project is an art project on the east side of Detroit. Created in 1986 by one man who saw beauty in the rundown neighborhood in which he grew up, this outdoor art installation covers an entire block.
In a city esteemed for its culture, there's one treasure trove of a bookstore that takes the crown. John K. King Used & Rare Books is an independent bookseller with over a million books in stock at all times. According to Salon magazine, the store has one of the biggest and strangest collections in the country. Whether you're keen on romantic novels, French philosophy, or art, John K. King has the book for you.
Did you know that you can see Canada from Detroit and Detroit from Canada? It's true, and not only that, but it also might be worth taking a day trip across or under Lake St. Clair. There are two ways to get to Ontario from Detroit, one of which is the almighty Ambassador Bridge. Your second choice is the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. There are plenty of reasons you might decide to get oot and aboot in the Great White North. Be it for Tim Horton's, an exceptional Canadian beer, or an adventure around Point Pelee National Park. Remember, however, to take your passport to cross the border.
For the birthplace of Motown not to have a thriving music scene would be ludicrous. Thankfully, the streets of Detroit are still alive with the sound of music. All kinds of music, even. As well as being home to the infamous Fillmore, there are hundreds of bars across town that have seen the likes of hometown heroes, The White Stripes, play their stages. From jazz to soul to the blues and rock 'n roll, music aficionados will be in heaven in Motor City.
If you're visiting Detroit for some time, you should absolutely head to the Eastern Market. People from all over the world visit the city just to experience one of the state's oldest urban farmer's markets. For more than 150 years, the Eastern Market has offered shoppers farm-to-table produce, blooming bouquets of flowers, live music, and, most importantly, community. The neighborhood around the market has also exploded with hip eateries and bars you don't want to miss.
Have you ever tasted mead? If not, Detroit is the perfect place to indulge in the sometimes sweet honey-tinged drink of the past. Oddly enough, Michigan's mead industry is booming. Where most cities in the US have their own craft and specialty beers, in Detroit, it's all about mead. In fact, Detroit is the premier region for mead, and there are dozens of meaderies just waiting to have their produce tried out. What are you waiting for?
Once known as the Belle Isle Conservatory, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory does a lot to live up to its former name. Located in a small island park of the same name, set on the Detroit River, the park exists to protect and preserve the unique character of Detroit's surrounding nature. While you might not immediately think of green spaces in the same breath as Detroit, this botanical garden and its greenhouse are a stunning reminder of the beauty of Michigan's land.
Those of us who like the truly unique might love the option provided by Detroit's Aura Aura. What started as an experimental photography project has now become one of the most sought-after things to do in Detroit for the influencer generation. As well as offering its patrons the chance to have a photograph taken of their aura, Aura Aura also sells vintage clothing, records, and more.
A lot of cities around the country will argue for the top spot when it comes to soul food. That being said, Detroit is up there with the best of them. Its streets are lined with incredible soul food restaurants that will have you wanting to eat nothing else. Soul food is, after all, one of the biggest parts of Detroit's food scene. You'd be depriving yourself if you didn't try Savannahblue or Sterling's at least once. Trust us.
Although it closed its doors in 1972, Detroit's Grande Ballroom is still a huge part of the city's history. In its time, Michigan's greatest rock venue saw the likes of Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin take to its stage amongst hundreds of others. The building is now in disrepair but has found a second life as a hotspot for urban explorers. One search for photographs of this stunning piece of architecture and you'll want to see it for yourself. Additionally, the venue recently passed restoration tests, meaning we might also get to see gigs there in our lifetime.
Belle Isle is minutes from downtown, but you'll feel all your anxiety dials turn down a notch on this park floating on the Detroit River. With 2.5 miles of woods to explore on foot or by bike and kayaking on the water, the outdoorsy will find much to love about this island sandwiched between the U.S. and Canada. But even if you're not all that active, there are many things to do, from the zoo, aquarium, and maritime museum to relaxing on the beach or near the gorgeous glass conservatory.
Street art has contributed to the revitalization of numerous Motor City buildings. The graffiti is intentional and broadcasts tremendous skill; creativity jumps from the walls and overpasses. The best way to see some of the older murals and new works and learn about the artists who've made a colorful wonderland of Detroit is to go on a street art tour. Guides provide insight into the nuances of the culture and sociopolitical messages that may go over the heads of out-of-towners. But if you want to go at it alone, Eastern Market and the 8 Mile Wall are great places to start.
Stars like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson started their musical careers at Motown Records. If you want to visit a museum that will have you tapping your toes and clicking your fingers, Hitsville U.S.A. is it. The recently-expanded museum is staffed with engaging tour guides that recount music history. You'll learn about Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, and more of the characters that passed through these legendary studios. The delightful tour ends with a bit of singing and dancing—highly recommended!
You'll find the Rust Belt market in a former Bbg box store in Ferndale. It's a collective of about 50 local makers whose artisanal wares include handmade soaps, jewelry, woodwork, clothing, and quirky novelties. This weekend market/hipster mall is also great for getting unique vintage items, plants, and gifts while supporting small businesses and indie creators.
The Riverwalk is a 3-mile stretch of public space downtown, and the Dequindre Cut Greenway bisects it en route to Eastern Market. This is prime real estate for cyclists, so if you like biking through a city, hire a bike and pedal away. You'll pass huge boats, parks, water features, and lots of the street art Motor City is famous for. You can also people-watch, stretch your legs, put little ones on the carousel, and absorb the views of the Ambassador Bridge and GM Renaissance Center—seating is abundant when you tire.
Opened in 1903, Pewabic Pottery gained recognition for its iridescent glazed ceramic vessels, lamps, and tiles. The Pottery's output exemplified the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts movement and would go on to grace the facades of numerous public structures across Detroit and the country. Today, the nonprofit studio continues to make ceramics and teaches pottery classes at the Tudor Revival building it's continuously operated out of. You can prep for your own Ghost pottery wheel scene parody, shop for a souvenir, or look out for the tiles at places like Belle Isle Aquarium.
Detroit is also known as Hockeytown, U.S.A., so that should tell you how important the sport is in these parts. Little Caesars Arena is a state-of-the-art arena that opened in 2017 and cost $862.9 million to make. It's a fitting sum for a premier venue and the home of the Red Wings, one of the NHL's most successful ice hockey teams. The arena is also home to the NBA's Detroit Pistons and hosts multiple concerts and events. It's been praised for its design, and you can check out the concourse even when there are no matches.
No place is more passionate about the coney than Detroit—the city and the hot dog go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you're wondering where to try one of these staples, the American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island restaurants downtown are local institutions and family rivals. They'll slather a beef sausage with savory sauce and chopped onion and stick it into a steamed bun.
Detroit-style pizza is another local food tradition you must try while in the city. The city's unique take on pie involves a generous topping of Wisconsin brick cheese on a rectangular deep-dish pizza. The cheese gives the pie a crisp caramelized edge, and the dough results in a Foccacia-like base. Yum!
The Detroit Institute of Arts has over 100 galleries and is one of the most significant collections of art in the U.S. Diego Rivera, AKA Frida Kahlo's husband, painted "Detroit Industry," and the colossal work shows visitors the true fabric of the city. P.S. You'll find Pewabic Pottery tile installations throughout the Detroit Institute of Arts.