Detroit, Michigan is one of the most exciting destinations in the US. As well as its famous musical connections, the city boasts the second biggest theater district in the US and the country’s most extensive range of pre-Depression era skyscrapers.
And if outstanding architecture isn’t enough, the city’s fabulous location on the shores of Lake Michigan and its spectacular skyline adds to its appeal.
Detroit is also known as an automobile center and many of the world’s most famous car brands started out here. It’s nickname ‘Motown’, an abbreviation of ‘motor town’ also gave Detroit’s most famous record label its name.
World class shopping and entertainment, important museums and galleries and winning sports teams, there is enough in Detroit to satisfy even the most demanding visitor.
Whether you’re a car enthusiast or a music lover, a sports fan or an avid shopper, there are lots of great reasons to plan a trip to Detroit.
The Renaissance Center is the most striking feature of the city’s skyline and home to the world headquarters of General Motors. The ‘RecCen’, as it’s known locally, is made up of seven interconnected skyscraper buildings where you can eat, drink, shop or see a movie.
Michigan is sure to be near the top when it comes to the best and most prolific brewing states in the US, and Detroit is home to dozens of breweries and micro-breweries. Sample craft beers at popular local breweries like Dragonmead, Atwater, B. Nektar Meadery and Motor City Brewing.
The Avenue of Fashion is an essential stop. Livernois Avenue was THE place to shop and be seen back before malls sprung up in every US city. Some of the street’s landmark establishments have been here for decades like Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, the world’s oldest jazz club and Jo’s Gallery, one of the city’s oldest and most famous art galleries.
This 2.5-acre public square is transformed into a sandy beach in the heart of the city each summer and an ice-rink in winter. There is free entertainment throughout the year and it’s a popular gathering place for locals and visitors.
The historic Eastern Market is laid out over six blocks and started over a century ago. Over 50,000 people come to this eclectic open-air market each Saturday, whatever the weather. There is a more intimate market on Tuesday and an artisan street market each Sunday. You’ll also find fun tailgating parties here before every Lions game.
Catch a football, hockey or baseball game, go boating or spend the night at a show in one of the city’s great music venues. There is so much to choose from in Detroit – but some attractions and landmarks should not be missed.
Spend a day at the Motown Museum or Hitsville U.S.A. You can stand in the studio where 11-year old Stevie Wonder was discovered by Berry Gordy or browse an extensive collection of memorabilia relating to legendary stars like Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and The Temptations
A unique gallery within a 10-storey parking garage, Z Garage features colorful murals created by 27 internationally-acclaimed artists.
Baseball fans can catch the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park while football fans should head to Ford Field for Detroit Lions games. If ice hockey is your thing, be sure to see the Red Wings at home at the Joe Louis Arena during the season.
Belle Isle in the middle of the Detroit River. This 1000 acres island is home to a zoo, a yacht club, a golf course, an aquarium, a conservatory and dozens of great places to walk, fish or stop for a picnic.
Hart Plaza is one of the most popular spaces in the city and its recognizable monuments include the Joe Louis Fist and the Dodge Fountain. The plaza is built on the spot where Detroit’s founder, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac landed in 1701. It’s also the venue for the Movement Electronic Dance Festival, the African World Festival and Detroit International Jazz Festival.
Pleasant weather and temperatures ranging from 40 to 55F make spring from April to May and fall from October to November the best times to visit Detroit. Events like the massive Movement electronic music festival in May and the Detroit River Days, Jazzin on Jefferson and Freedom Festival in June add to the city’s appeal during the spring months. Summer is warm and humid with temperatures above 70F for much of the peak period from June to September. Winter stretches from mid-December to March and can be severe with temperatures dropping to 20F. However, festive events over the Christmas and New Year period and the Auto Show in January ensure that there is still plenty to attract visitors.
Many people fly into Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport( DTW). The airport is 20 minutes west of Downtown in the suburb of Romulus. More commonly called Detroit Metro, the airport is a hub for Delta Airlines. Daily flights arrive from all over the US and from cities around the world like London, Amsterdam, Beijing and Sao Paulo. The fastest way to get to Downtown Detroit is by car and you can rent a car at the airport or take a taxi. Passengers can also reach Downtown on a local SMART bus (route 125) which leaves from the airport every 30 minutes.
Train passengers arrive at the Amtrak rail station in Baltimore Avenue in the New Center district of the city. Detroit Train Station is close to the lake and Downtown, and you’ll find taxis available nearby.
A number of interstates run through the city center including the I-75 from Toledo and the Upper Michigan Peninsula. I-94 or the Ford Freeway runs east to west via Chicago and Detroit and the I-96 East/West brings drivers from Lansing and beyond.
Several carriers offer bus services to Detroit from various parts of the country, including Greyhound, Megabus and Transit Windsor. Those arriving from Chicago, Toronto or Toledo by Greyhound bus will alight at the Howard Street bus terminal near Downtown. If you’re traveling with Megabus there are bus stops on Cass and Warren near Wayne State University and Detroit Train Station and at the Rosa Parks Transit Center (Cass and Michigan) close to Downtown. Local carrier Transit Windsor offers a daily service from Windsor that stops in and around the Downtown area.
Stay in an iconic hotel like the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, the Western Hemisphere’s third tallest all-hotel skyscraper or opt for friendly family establishments like the Corktown Inn. Whether you’re on a budget or splashing out you’re sure of finding accommodation in every district of Detroit.
Downtown – you’ll find most of the city’s famous skyscrapers in the city’s main business district. Downtown Detroit is also home to the second largest theater district in America and three of the city’s major league sporting venues. The MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown, and MotorCity casinos are also in Downtown.
Midtown/New Center – just to the north of Downtown, the Midtown/New Center district is where many of the city’s world-class galleries and museums are located.
Southwest side – visit the Southwest side and explore some of Detroit’s cultural districts like Mexicantown and Corktown. Lots of great local restaurants and unique one of a kind shops and boutiques.
Detroit has an excellent public transport system that includes buses and an elevated rail system. However, the city’s great roads and extensive freeway system make car rental an attractive option.
Bus services, operated by Detroit Department of Transportation, run to most parts of the city while the SMART bus system covers most suburban areas. Yellow or green DDOT buses cover 17 routes from their hub at the Rosa Parks Transit Center.
There are lots of taxi, limo and shuttle services to choose from in Detroit. Official taxis charge a base fare and then a set sum for each mile - excluding tips.
The People Mover elevated rail system covers a three-mile loop in Downtown and offers passengers exciting views of some of the city’s famous landmarks. There are 13 stops including at the Renaissance Center, the Joe Louis Arena where the Detroit Red Wings are based, the Cadillac Center for Campus Martius Park and Greektown.
Pick up a rental car and take advantage of one of the most modern freeway systems in America. Parking is plentiful and you’ll find garages and parking facilities in useful Downtown locations; Greektown Casino has a free 13-floor car park and there is a pay car park at the Renaissance Center.
You’ll be delighted to discover that Detroit isn’t a particularly expensive city. In fact, prices are about 25% lower than in New York and cheaper than the national average.
Shop for clothes and accessories in the retail stores close to the University Cultural Center and Troy. Music fans can try People’s Records on Woodward Avenue, Midtown for vinyl or Submerge Records on E Grand Blvd, New Center for Detroit techno and electronic music.
Detroit used to be famous for its lack of supermarket chains but today’s visitors can shop for food and essentials at Whole Foods Market in Midtown or at the city’s Aldi and Meijer stores. You’ll also find convenience stores like 7-11 scattered all over the city as well as drug store chains like Walgreens and CVS.
No visitor to Detroit should leave without trying a coney, a hot dog served with chili, mustard and freshly chopped onions. American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island are the city’s most famous coney restaurants and you’ll find them next door to each other in Downtown where they’ve been rivals since the 1920s.
Crispy deep dish Detroit-style pizza is another essential and Niki’s Pizza in Downtown is a good choice. Buddy’s Pizza serves the classic Detroit-style pie and the chain has several branches within a half hour drive of Downtown. Those looking for a more substantial meal can try delicious Greek cuisine in Greektown restaurants or tamales and tacos in Mexicantown.