The Ultimate Guide To Detroit
Detroit is one of the oldest, largest, and most populous cities in Michigan and in the Midwest!
Detroit, located in southeast Michigan close to the US and Canada Border, is a metropolis featuring a diverse array of natural landscapes, cityscapes, and cultures!
Detroit, the birthplace of the US automobile industry, is better known as the “Motor City” and is home to the headquarters of three major automobile companies – Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. The auto industry and rapid industrialization during the late 19th century soon turned Detroit into a major commercial hub in the midwest, bringing settlers from all over the globe, making Detroit a fast-growing economy and a culturally diverse city!
However, in the late 20th century, due to industrial restructuring and major automakers moving out of Detroit to non-union areas in southern parts of the US, Canada, and Mexico, to avoid paying higher salaries, there was a massive turmoil in Detroit’s economy, which led the city to file bankruptcy. This led to an enormous decline in the city’s population and increased poverty and crime rates. However, Detroit officially exited bankruptcy by the end of 2014 and since then has been growing as a strong economy and popular tourist destination of the Midwest!
Michigan is a world of beautiful nature with gorgeous shorelines & several attractions, but a trip to Michigan is not complete without exploring the Motor City!
The city of Detroit offers an amalgam of historic sites and several modern-day architectures and family-friendly attractions, including world-class museums, sports venues, a wonderful waterfront, skyscrapers, beautiful gardens & parks, art deco architecture, several casinos, and the beloved Detroit Zoo. Undeniably, there are several other attractions in Michigan, but a trip to Michigan is really not complete without visiting Detroit and learning about the rich history behind the making of the Motor City!
Here is my ultimate guide to Detroit, featuring essential trip-planning information, major attractions, Detroit attractions map, things to do, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants in Detroit!
Planning Your Trip To Detroit
Visiting outside the winter & spring months, flying into Detroit, renting a car, and staying close to the Downtown is the best way to explore Detroit!
Best Time To Visit Detroit: Though the city of Detroit is accessible year-round, due to the long and brutal winters in Michigan, winter and spring are not the best time for sightseeing and outdoor activities in Detroit. Summer and fall with warm weather is the best time to explore Detroit. However, if you happen to be in Detroit during winter, you could still enjoy the great indoor museums of the city.
Time Required In Detroit: With several world-class museums, outdoor parks, gardens, and a gorgeous waterfront, I recommend spending a minimum of 2 days to see the major highlights of Detroit. However, Michigan has a lot more to offer, including several attractions along Lake Michigan’s shoreline in West Michigan and many natural wonders and islands in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I highly recommend visiting a few other places in West Michigan or Upper Michigan when visiting Detroit, which, for sure, will need more time, but it’s definitely worth it!
Getting To Detroit: The best and most convenient way to get to Detroit is by directly flying into Detroit International Airport, located pretty close to the city’s major attractions. Alternatively, you could also take a train or bus to Detroit, rent a car and then explore the city at your own pace.
- Flight: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Detroit, Michigan, about 20 miles from Downtown Detroit, is the closest major international airport to Detroit.
- Train: Detroit Amtrak Station, located less than 5 miles from Downtown Detroit, is the closest Amtrak station to Detroit.
- Bus: Greyhound offers bus services to Detroit, with the closet Greyhound bus stop located in Howard St, right in Downtown Detroit.
Parking & Transportation In Detroit: Most attractions and hotels in Detroit offer paid parking. The city of Detroit also provides metered roadside parking and quite a few public parking garages throughout the Downtown. The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) offers bus services serving downtown Detroit and nearby neighborhoods, but I highly recommend renting a car when visiting Detroit.
Lodging & Dining In Detroit: The Motor City offers a variety of accommodation and dining options, including luxury hotels, casinos, boutique hotels, and chain hotels. The city’s dining options can be overwhelming, as you will find several appetizing and flavorful cuisines from around the globe, including Arabic, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Mexican cuisines. To help you decide, I have narrowed down the list and reviewed the lodging and dining options in Detroit in detail in the later section of this post.
Things To Do In Detroit
Detroit Attractions Map
Most of the attractions in Detroit are located close to the Downtown, except a couple – the Detroit Zoo, which is located in Royal Oak about two miles north of Downtown Detroit, and the Henry Ford Museum, located approximately 10 miles west of Detroit in the city of Dearborn. Below, I have listed all the major family-friendly attractions in the city of Detroit, but the Motor City is also home to several casinos, theaters, and sports venues, which you can add to your Detroit itinerary based on the time you intend to spend in the city!
Here’re the must-see places on a trip to Detroit, listed south to north!
Henry Ford Museum
Henry Ford Museum
The Henry Ford Museum is a large indoor/outdoor museum featuring three attractions – Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory, and is a must-see in Michigan! Detroit is home to other museums – Motown Museum, Detroit Historical Museum, & Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
The Guardian Building, located in Downtown Detroit, built in the year 1929, is an Art-Deco building featuring exemplary craftsmanship and a designated National Historic Landmark. The building currently servers as the headquarters of Wayne County but can be explored on a self-guided tour or on a guided tour offered on the weekends.
GM Renaissance Center
GM Renaissance Center
GM Renaissance Center, located on the Detroit International Riverfront in Downtown Detroit, is a group of towering skyscraping buildings owned by General Motors and serves as its headquarters. The skyscrapers are also home to several tenants, including Marriott Hotel, several retail shops, a fitness center, banks, conference centers, & restaurants with great views.
Detroit Riverwalk, less than a mile from Renaissance Center in Downtown Detroit, is a riverfront park located on the Detroit International Riverfront. The Riverwalk features spectacular views of the Detroit River, offers a glimpse of skyscrapers on the other side of the border in Canada, a water fountain, walking trails, and seasonal events & concerts.
Belle Isle, located on an island in the Detroit River in Downtown Detroit, is a park and conservancy featuring Belle Isle Aquarium, Belle Isle Nature Center, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory – greenhouse and botanical garden, Dossin Great Lakes Museum – a historical maritime museum, and the iconic the James Scott Memorial Fountain.
Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit Institute of Arts is an institute & a museum popularly called “DIA” is located in midtown Detroit and is one of the Nationa’s most famous art museums featuring an extensive collection of artwork from all over the globe – African art, metalwork, wood & stone carving form North & South America, religious sculptures & paintings from Asia, and much more.
Detroit Zoo, located in Royal Oak, approximately 2 miles north of Downtown Detroit, is a vast zoo occupying more than 100 acres features several animals from all over the globe and several family-friendly fun activities, including a 4 D theater, animal encounters, a simulator ride, a carousel, a miniature railroad, and the iconic Rackham Memorial Fountain.
Lodging & Dining In Detroit
Home to several casinos, themed hotels, and featuring various cuisines, Detroit will worm its way into your heart!
Hotels In Detroit: Detroit features a wide range of lodging options ranging from luxury casinos to bread and breakfasts. However, staying in the Downtown area is a good choice for an authentic Detroit experience and access to most of the attractions. If you’re not a big fan of staying in the middle of bustling downtown areas, you could stay in the nearby cities of Dearborn, Royal Oak, and Southgate. Here’re my top picks for hotels in Detroit
- Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
- MGM Grand Detroit
- Shinola Hotel
- MotorCity Casino Hotel
- The Henry, Autograph Collection, Dearborn
Restaurants In Detroit: There’re several excellent dining options in Detroit, ranging from fine dining to casual eateries serving various cuisines from around the globe. Here’re my top picks for restaurants and cuisines you must try when in Detroit – Joe Muer Seafood at the Riverwalk, Highlands – a great steakhouse on the top floor of GM Renaissance Center with spectacular views, Al Ameer – one of the best Mediterranean restaurants in Detroit, and Shatila Bakery serving authentic Mediterranean pastries.
Other Michigan Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Detroit, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Detroit. You can find other Michigan attractions in my Michigan Travel Guide.
Happy feeding your soul!
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