Detroit, the famous Motor City, is not only the largest city in Michigan, it is a fantastic tourist destination.
With its strong car culture, history, music, sports and entertainment, the air of constant reinvention make this millions-strong metropolis a unique travel destination. On your trip to Michigan, explore Detroit’s many attractions.
Downtown Detroit, close to the huge towers of General Motors' headquarters, has a beautiful and well-kept riverfront promenade, where you’ll see coffee shops, fountains, carousels and people out for a stroll. Over the river, you can even see across to Canada.
One fun way to get to know the area is to take a cruise on the Detroit River. Diamond Jack's River Tours has two-hour narrated cruises during the warm summer months. From the interesting historical information to the wonderful views, the river tour is highly recommended.
Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit is the perfect place to keep the holiday tempo relaxed. This is a place of urban parks and open spaces, and there are many restaurants, coffee shops and upscale hotels nearby. There is always something going on here – concerts and volleyball in the summer, ice skating and holiday lights in the winter – making Campus Martius Park the place to be year-round.
The Ford Connection
Step back in time at the Henry Ford Museum, where the living heritage museum is not just a stop for car enthusiasts. Inside the big museum, see exhibits displaying Ford’s creation process and the subsequent evolution of various models of automobiles. Other than the vehicles, the museum also includes furniture, agricultural tools and vivid records of different periods of U.S. history. Outside, in Greenfield Village, step into a 32-hectare time machine. You’ll find 83 authentic historic structures, including Thomas Edison’s laboratory, the Wright Brothers’ workshop and the home where Henry Ford was born.
Another tour not to miss is the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. This facility is located in the Ford River Rouge Complex in Detroit's largest industrial area. In its heyday in the 1930s, more than 100,000 workers were employed there. On the guided tour, you will also see Ford’s largest product line in Detroit and one of the world's largest eco-roofs.
Motown Music History
If you are a music fan, you might have heard of Detroit as the famed birthplace of Motown Records. Take the short drive over to Hitsville U.S.A. and the Motown Museum to see where Berry Gordy started Motown Records in 1959. Walk into an actual recording studio and learn how Motown Records evolved from a small company into the world's largest independent record producer. There are also many precious collectibles from famous singers. In Studio A in 1964, The Supremes recorded “Baby Love” and The Marvelettes sang “Please Mr. Postman.” Stevie Wonder got his favorite Baby Ruth chocolate bars from the vending machine that is still located just outside the control room.
A Market, a Park and Arts
If you enjoy a good farmer’s market, Detroit's Eastern Market will boggle your mind. The market spans six blocks with more than 250 retailers selling a vast array of products. Shop the many stalls for locally raised meats, flowers, baked goods, pastries and produce; the options are practically endless. Best of all, unlike many markets, Eastern Market is open year-round.
Belle Isle is an island in the middle of the Detroit River between the U.S.-Canada border. Drive over the bridge to find activities such as a disc golf course, nature trails, driving range, small aquarium and the beautiful Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservancy. The conservancy is full of exotic flowers, trees and a striking glass dome modeled after Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The recently renovated Dossin Great Lakes Museum details the history of the Detroit River and the Great Lakes. Belle Isle is also a great place to take pictures. There’s a circa-1904 Beaux-Arts building used for events and great skyline views of Detroit and Windsor, Canada.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is a cultural gem that includes more than 100 galleries. Located on Woodward Avenue – which was the first road in the United States to be paved and the first to have a traffic light – the museum’s exhibits span from prehistory through the 21st century. Two of the most notable acquisitions are Mexican artist Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals and Vincent van Gogh’s "Self-Portrait."
For incredible shopping, drive 45 minutes to reach Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, Michigan’s largest outlet center. You’ll find 185 shops with fantastic prices in an inviting atmosphere.
In Detroit proper, discover several unique shops. John K. King Books is almost indescribable in its scale. With four stories, over a million books and a separate space for antique and rare editions, the store is practically an attraction in itself for bibliophiles.
In downtown Detroit, stop in to the flagship location of Shinola. The famous watch- and bicycle-maker always makes its products in the United States. The bicycles are actually assembled in the back of the store.
If you’ve ever wondered about visiting the Motor City, rest assured that it’s a fantastic holiday waiting to happen. Detroit is vibrant and full of surprises.