Detroit has certainly seen better days, but in recent years, an influx of artists and young people have focused their efforts on revitalizing the Motor City. Vacant buildings and lots are being repurposed as art galleries, museums, and urban farms. The Detroit Riverfront has been transformed into a family-friendly riverwalk with splashing fountains, a carousel, and 5 miles of riverfront walking and biking trails. Detroit is a comeback city, and there is plenty to do if you’re willing to look.
- Detroit Institute of Arts: Located downtown, this complex houses 100 galleries, an auditorium, a lecture hall, and a reference library. Among its vast collection: a dragon-tile relief from the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh.
- The Heidelberg Project: Artist Tyree Guyton transformed two blocks into an open-air art installation, with colorful sculptures made out of discarded items including stuffed animals, vinyl records, old shoes, and scrap metal.
- Motown Museum: Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, and the Jackson 5 recorded some of their most enduring work at Hitsville, USA, the legendary Motown Records studio set in a modest two-story house. It’s now a museum open for tours.
Public Green Space
- Belle Isle Park: You can get views of the Detroit skyline and Windsor, Canada from the scenic trails and roadways on this island.
- Lake St. Clair Metropark: The park’s 1-mile shoreline is a nice place to swim and picnic. Elsewhere, you’ll find tennis and shuffleboard courts, an 18-hole miniature golf course, and wildlife-viewing areas.
- Eastern Market: Open since 1891, this six-block public market is the largest of its kind in the country. It features open-air stalls selling fresh fruits and veggies, grass-fed meats, and artisan foods.
- Greektown: Greek music plays outdoors next to themed eateries along Monroe Street, northeast of downtown; buildings pay tribute to the Parthenon and Hellenic mythical figures.
- Corktown: The oldest part of the city, west of downtown, founded by Irish immigrants in the 1830s. Today, it’s lined with beautifully restored Victorian-era row houses and boasts an entertainment district with hip restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
- Midtown: The Detroit Institute of Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art all live here, and it’s about to get even artsier—there are plans underway for an official arts district.
Where to Stay
- If you want historic charm: The Inn on Ferry Street is made up of four restored Victorian mansions and two carriage houses that contain 40 charming guest rooms. In the heart of Midtown.
- If you want casino gaming: The sprawling MGM Grand Detroit hotel & casino boasts 4,000 slot and video poker machines, 98 table games, and a non-smoking poker room.
- If you want to stay downtown: The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit recently underwent a $200 million renovation to restore its original splendor. The luxury hotel is located right downtown, a few blocks from the river.