Over the past few years, Detroit has been quietly reinventing itself. Nowhere is the gradual renaissance more evident than downtown. Far from the industrial wasteland most envision, Motor City’s downtown boasts tons of leisure opportunities. If you’re wondering what to do in Detroit during future visits, here are 10 excellent ideas to get you started.
The Detroit People Mover
If you’re going to be touring Detroit’s vibrant downtown for a few days, you need to become familiar with the Detroit People Mover. This 2.9-mile, single-track light rail train circles the downtown area and serves 13 stations. Taking a ride on the Detroit People Mover costs a mere $0.50.
The Fisher Building
Whether you’re a fan of Art Deco or just architecture in general, the Fisher Building should be right up your alley. This 1928 behemoth overlooks downtown Detroit and boasts the Fisher Theatre as well as an array of restaurants and stores. Arrive on a Saturday at 11 A.M. for a free tour.
Detroit Eastern Market
For die-hard foodies, the Detroit Eastern Market is a must. Held every Saturday, Detroit Eastern Market is mobbed by upwards of 50,000 citizens clambering for fresh produce provided by local farmers. While you’re there, you can visit venerable institutions like Bert’s Market Place and the Russell Street Deli.
Though you can’t technically or legally tour the inside of Michigan Central Station, the photo opportunity it presents is worth the trip. Opened in 1913, this sprawling edifice was once one of the largest train depots in the country. Its sheer size and stunning architecture must be seen to be believed.
Essentially a giant park located on an island in the middle of the Detroit River, Belle Isle is the city’s premier recreational locale. Designed in part by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1880s, the park boasts the Belle Isle Conservatory, the Belle Isle Nature Zoo and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.
Detroit Historical Museum
Few visitors to Detroit are fully aware of the city’s long, rich history. A trip to the Detroit Historical Museum should bring you up to speed. There are exhibits on everything from Detroit’s various music scenes throughout the years to the storied local automotive industry that made Detroit a manufacturing powerhouse.
GM Renaissance Center
An unmistakable feature of the Detroit skyline, the RenCen is one of the few buildings with its own zip code. While getting to the observation deck will cost you, free tours of the complex are given on business days. Grab a bite at the Coach Insignia Restaurant while you’re there.
One of the greatest recent civic triumphs for Detroit, the RiverWalk stretches 3.5 miles along the eastern edge of the river. Peppered with countless fountains, benches and lawns, it’s the perfect place to enjoy an extended stroll. Existing events like the RiverFront Run and River Days hint at a bright future for this growing attraction.
Easily one of the most bustling spots in all of downtown Detroit, Greektown benefits from its proximity to sports venues and the Greektown Casino Hotel. Check out the Mosaic Restaurant for a refined dining experience. If deli food is more your style, there are dozens of excellent mom-and-pop shops to choose from.
A popular entertainment complex in the heart of Detroit, the Majestic’s namesake Theatre has hosted musical acts since 1915. If you’re in the mood for some good, old-fashioned family fun, the Garden Bowl right next door offers a variety of bowling options. Check out the Majestic Cafe for a quick meal.
Has It All
Make no mistake, Detroit is one of the true cultural gems of the United States. Hopefully, this brief list has given you a good idea of what to do in Detroit should you make the trip. Poke around a bit and you’ll find many more opportunities for recreation.
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