30 Best Things To Do in Detroit, Michigan

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Discover the top things to do in Detroit when you visit the ‘Motor City.’ In a city where the old meets the new, where history and modern merge into an exciting Midwest destination, Detroit is full of beautiful places to go and see. Many of the top Detroit attractions connect tourists with the local culture and heritage to grow their appreciation for Detroit and its rich legacy that continues to blossom.

Tourists can look up to famous buildings like the RenCen and Fisher Buildings. Tour museums that explore impactful events that shaped Detroit and the region, world-class art, or public installations that make the city a living gallery. And finally, discover the many venues keeping Detroiters entertained, from Broadway plays at the Fox Theater to festivals held in Hart Plaza.

See what you should do the next time you visit Detroit!

Things To Do in Detroit

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1: Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Institute of Arts
Flickr/Cameron Norman

A famous mural entitled “Detroit Industry” greets viewers once inside the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). What started as a small gallery has expanded into one of the largest museums and art collections in the US.

The DIA is a cultural hub in Detroit for fine art, displaying over 65,000 works of art across 100 galleries.

Art ranges from ancient times to modern art, with famous works by Van Gogh, the first US museum to feature his art, Caravaggio, Henry Fuseli, and more.

There is art from around the world, and the exhibitions constantly change to create new art experiences for their visitors.

Browse the permanent and rotating galleries and admire the beautiful architecture of the building itself.

Address: 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

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2: Detroit Riverwalk

Detroit Riverwalk

A walk along the award-winning Detroit Riverwalk is one of the most popular things to do in Detroit. Extending for 3.5-miles along the Detroit River, this attraction is a must-visit for amazing views, recreation, or leisure.

The Detroit Riverwalk was established in 2007 and continues to evolve. It’s transformed the riverfront area into a place buzzing with activity all year.

Sightseeing along the Riverwalk lets you see some of Detroit’s most famous landmarks like the Rennaisance Center, the Ambassador Bridge, and Belle Isle in one location. And directly across the river, just a stone’s throw away, is Canada.

If you’re looking for recreation, the Detroit Riverwalk is an excellent destination. Join the many people as they walk, jog, or bike along the path. Then, end the route at the Rivard Plaza and enjoy a bite to eat in Rivard Plaza.

Address: Detroit Riverwalk, Detroit, MI 48243

3: Motown Museum

Motown Museum

Standing in Studio A, where some of the most famous musicians in history have recorded, including Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and The Supremes, is a surreal experience for many people who grew up to the sounds of Motown.

Discover the origin of the timeless music made famous in Detroit and touched the world.

Detroit’s Motown Museum was established in the former headquarters of Motown Records, founded by Berry Gordy.

Nicknamed ‘Hitsville USA,’ it lets visitors walk the same studios and halls by the legendary performers. In addition, it preserved archives of the label’s music, photos, costumes, and other memorabilia.

Visitors can take guided tours through the Motown Museum to learn about its history and how it preserves the legacy of one of Detroit’s defining icons.

Address: 2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208

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4: Belle Isle Park

Belle Isle Park
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

Straddling the Detroit River between the US and Canada is Belle Isle Park. This massive urban park is larger than Central Park, with 987 acres of land.

It’s a popular destination for tourists looking to escape to nature during their visit to Detroit.

Belle Isle Park is accessible for free via a bridge from Detroit. Once arriving on the island, you’ll drive along a loop road to be used for sightseeing or reaching one of the island attractions.

There are a lot of things to do on Belle Island. The Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and the Belle Isle Aquarium are notable venues showcasing diverse flora and marine life.

It’s also home to the only beach in Detroit. And Sunset Point is one of the best spots in Detroit to see the skyline.

Address: 99 Pleasure Dr, Detroit, MI 48207

5: Charles H Wright Museum of African American History

Charles H Wright Museum of African American History

The vision of physicist Charles H. Wright has expanded his small office gallery into one of the largest collections of African American art. See what thought-provoking exhibitions this museum will feature during your visit to Detroit.

The Charles H. Wright Museum is one of many must-visit venues in the Midtown Cultural Center. It has a collection of over 35,000 works, including everything from artifacts to works by black artists.

The museum has in-depth exhibitions detailing the events of the middle passage, the underground railroad, and the civil rights movement. The museum regularly shows rotating exhibits covering history themes or modern art.

During the summer, the Charles H. Wright Museum is one of the top places to visit in Detroit for the African World Festival. Detroit’s African Diaspora emerges in cultural fanfare with live performances, retail vendors, food, and more.

Address: 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

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6: Campus Martius Park

Campus Martius Park

Relaxing with your feet in the sand with ice cream dessert after a bistro meal doesn’t sound like Detroit, but it’s what makes Campus Martius Park so special.

Built in the heart of Downtown Detroit in 2004, this urban park has become of the top things to do in Detroit.

Detroit’s skyscrapers surround Campus Martius, offering superb views of the city while spending time in the park. This family-friendly park always has something going on for the entire family all year long.

Summer is a popular time to hang out on the artificial beach, grab drinks at the bar, or catch a live event like a summer movie in the park. But, of course, wintertime is just as fun with the famous Christmas tree lighting ceremony and ice skating rink.

Address: 800 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

7: Detroit Zoo

Detroit Zoo
Dreamstime/Matthew Steinman

The iconic water tower over the Detroit Zoo lets you know that you’ve arrived.

This popular Detroit attraction lets visitors see animals from around the world in one place. Paths (and a mini-railroad) wind around 125-acres to reach exhibitions of your favorite animals.

The Detroit Zoo has over 3,300 animals representing more than 200 species, including lions, tigers, rhinos, giraffes, penguins, and more.

Stopping at the Arctic Ring of Life lets you see polar bears playing. There’s even an underwater tunnel to see the bears swimming overhead.

Next, stop by the Great Apes of Harambee for various primate species. Finally, head to the Australian Outback Adventure to see animals from the ‘down under.’

Address: 8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067

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8: Historic Fort Wayne

Historic Fort Wayne

Although Fort Wayne was built in the mid-19th century, it still stands as one of the best historical destinations in Detroit.

Fort Wayne is a large fort covering 96-acres. Its strategic position on the Detroit River is a peaceful fort, yet held roles in several US military conflicts.

Today, tourists can walk the fort grounds to see the military artifacts and retell historical fort activities.

Original barracks remain in the fort, never having fired a shot. The fort was used alternatively as a training station and procurement center.

Tours of Fort Wayne help provide context about its history and the various objects you see within the walls.

Check the schedule to see live reenactments of military times by actors. It also hosts several other events and festivals throughout the year.

Address: 6325 W Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48209

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9: Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art

KAWS-style graffiti or “Everything is going to be alright” text blaring across the everchanging wall of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD) serve as previews of the collections held inside.

As Detroit’s leading museum for modern and contemporary art, it introduces new art concepts to the city.

All it takes is a small donation, and you'll be wandering through the galleries of the MOCAD, searching for meaning in each piece on display.

The museum features temporary exhibitions from famous artists of today, like KAWS, and more controversial topics that spark instant conversations by those who attend it.

The multi-media exhibitions allow you to experience the displays with different senses.

The MOCAD was established in former auto dealerships and maintained many original industrial aesthetics of the building.

Address: 4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

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10: Michigan Science Center

Michigan Science Center

Let your imagination run wild at the Michigan Science Center. Everyone will be entertained with more than 220 hands-on exhibits for all ages. It’s educational fun that you can spend hours enjoying.

The Michigan Science Center presents STEM topics in a simple, fun way that anyone can understand. You’ll barely realize you’re learning as you interact with exhibitions that test gravity, electricity, your skills with numbers, and more.

Innovative exhibitions are only the start of what there is to do in the museum. The facility also houses a 4D Theater with science-themed screenings and a planetarium to explore the reaches of the galaxy.

Be sure to check the schedule when you arrive to see what live shows are playing during your visit.

Address: 5020 John R St, Detroit, MI 48202

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11: Comerica Park

Comerica Park
Dreamstime/Steven Pepple

If you’re lucky enough to grab seats behind home plate in Comerica Park, you’ll have a sweeping view of Downtown Detroit while enjoying a great day to play ball. Comerica Park is home to the Detroit Tigers, a major league baseball team.

Comerica Park is an iconic building in Detroit. The giant tiger statue at the entrance welcomes fans into the ballpark to cheer on the Tigers.

Watch the tigers’ eyes in the outfield that light up with every home run. And stick around for the fireworks at the end to celebrate victories. Various food vendors are set up around the ballpark to get snacks between innings.

In addition to baseball games, Comerica Park also holds events and concerts.

The most famous attraction is the Milliken State Park Lighthouse. The 63-ft tall lighthouse is picturesque on the coast, with the boat sails in the backdrop. And there’s also a nice view of the Detroit skyline.

Address: 2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

12: Fox Theatre

Fox Theatre

As the lights dim on the elegant décor of the Fox Theatre, sounds from the stage ring throughout the auditorium in a theater experience reserved for the best of talent.

Audiences of over 5,000 people can pack the theater to see one of its shows.

The Fox Theatre is the largest in Detroit. The biggest touring artists in the country and internationally grace the stage of this famous venue. In addition, it hosts theatrical plays, concerts, comedians, and festivals.

Ever since the Fox Theatre opened in 1928, it’s earned a reputation as one of the great venues in Detroit.

See the names of the latest showbill on the vintage-style marquee hanging outside. Then, tour inside the art deco building, where you’ll see the backstage wall signed by hundreds of musicians who have played the venue.

Address: 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

13: Heidelberg Project

Heidelberg Project

Local artist, Tyree Guyton, created the Heidelberg Project in 1986. But this political message has evolved into one of the most famous attractions in Detroit.

The urban art installation continues to attract tourists from all over to see how art can transform any neighborhood.

The Heidelberg Project was a beautification project for the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood. It repurposed the abandoned homes into a public art installation, mainly using recycled objects to create unique artworks.

Drive along Heidelberg Street, and you’ll soon be met with houses decorated with large polka dots, a quirky collection of clocks, teddy bears artistically arranged, and other must-see art pieces. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet the artist onsite.

Other artists have joined in the project’s efforts and created other installations on the street.

Address: 3600 Heidelberg St, Detroit, MI 48207

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14: The Spirit of Detroit

The Spirit of Detroit

The iconic Spirit of Detroit is one of Detroit’s most famous public artworks. After it was commissioned in 1958, it’s become a pride of the city and representative of the local community.

The Spirit of Detroit statue is located in Downtown Detroit in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

The figure stands at 26-feet and is made of bronze. Elements of the statue represent Detroit—the seated man holds a family and a golden orb with rays representing divinity. Additionally, a large white marble wall behind the statue has an inscription.

Photos in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue are popular pictures taken by visitors to Detroit.

Address: 2 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

15: GM Renaissance Center

GM Renaissance Center
Dreamstime/Bryan Pollard

The GM Renaissance Center, or Ren Cen, is the crown jewel of the Detroit skyline. A seven-tower complex forms the tallest building in Michigan.

It towers 73-stories above the Detroit Riverwalk, offering panoramic views of the ‘Motor City.’

The Ren Cen is the world headquarters for General Motors and a Marriott hotel. Its height is the first thing you’ll notice, standing over 700-ft tall.

Enter inside the glass atrium, where scenic views of the Riverwalk accompany a GM concept car exhibition. Browse the shops or get something to eat.

Take the elevator to the 72nd floor to dine at the rotating restaurant, which takes one hour to complete a rotation. After dinner, check out the observation deck for views stretching for miles across the US and Canada.

Address: 400 Renaissance Ctr. Ste 2500 Detroit, MI 48243

16: The BELT

Flickr/Nate Burgos

The bright colors decorating the walls of the BELT contrast the historic buildings that it’s tucked between.

Located in Downtown Detroit, this reimagined alley is now a destination for art, photos, and nightlife.

The BELT is part of the former Garment District that’s now covered with murals designed by local artists and others. It frequently hosts art exhibitions and often displays new art designs.

During the day, pose against the colorful walls or stand in front of the car garage bridge decorated with graphics on each level.

Then, walk beneath the twinkling lights of the BELT in the evening as you hop between the two bars. And there’s even a place to dance.

The BELT is a hub for art and culture. It’s one of the best public art installations in Detroit.

Address: 1234 Library St, Detroit, MI 48226

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17: Detroit Princess Riverboat

Detroit Princess Riverboat

If you’re looking for the best view of Detroit, many would suggest that the river is the best place. So, take in the views while aboard the Detroit Princess Riverboat to see if you agree!

The Detroit Princess Riverboat is a cruise on the Detroit River. Guests climb aboard the shop for a tailored experience on the river with views of Detroit’s famous landmarks.

The ship sails around Belle Isle for a few hours to admire the lush green park scape and cruises beneath the Ambassador Bridge to see what’s holding up this international passageway.

Guests can book themed cruises aboard the Detroit Princess Riverboat. It has dinner or lunch cruises, beer cruises, and more.

Enjoy your meal in the dining room before sitting out on the deck to enjoy the beautiful sights of Detroit.

Address: 131 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48226

18: People Mover

People Mover

While locals use the People Mover transit system for commuters, it’s one of the things to do around Detroit when tourists can enjoy the experience of a guided sightseeing tour.

You’ll have views circling the Central Business District Downtown with an elevated platform.

The People Mover is a 2.94-mile loop track. Hop on at one of the 13 stops, at the Ren Cen, Joe Louis Arena, Greektown, Bricktown, etc., and ride it until you arrive back at your location.

What a unique way to experience Detroit than on the People Mover. Traditional subway carts are designed with large windows so that you can spend the entire ride peering out of them to enjoy the sights.

Be sure to have your camera ready while approaching one of the many Detroit attractions that cross its path.

19: Fisher Building

Fisher Building
Flickr/Ken Lund

The illuminated top of the Fisher Building is a beacon of light to the city of Detroit. Recognized as the “largest art object in Detroit,” you’ll be impressed by the elaborate design on the interior and exterior.

Look close to the details while touring inside to appreciate this architectural work of art.

Albert Kahn, a famous architect, designed this Art Deco building, which sits in the geographical center of Detroit. It opened in 1928 and was officially designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The Fisher Building is a popular stop on tours around Detroit, with guides showing the beauty of the halls filled with 40 types of marble and other materials.

There are retail stores on the ground floor and basement. It also houses the Fisher Theater, a popular venue to catch a comedy, music, or theater show.

Address: 3011 E Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202

20: Greenfild Village

Greenfild Village
Dreamstime/Jack Schultz

It can take an entire day to explore the seven historical districts of Greenfield Village, so plan accordingly!

This artificial village is part of the Henry Ford Museum, covering over 80 acres. Visitors take a ride through history while passing homes and workshops of some of America’s most famous figures.

Greenfield Village immerses visitors into three centuries of American history. Climb inside an original Ford Model T vehicle and ride around the village sights.

See the original bike shop where the Wright Brothers built the world’s first plane. Or ride past Thomas Edison’s lab, where he discovered electricity. Or see the animals grazing at the working farm.

Open from spring to fall, Greenfield Village is an intriguing Detroit attraction for history buffs.

Address: Dearborn, MI

21: Z Park Garage

Z Park Garage

Driving around looking for an open space in a parking garage doesn’t sound like fun during a vacation—unless you’re parking in Detroit’s Z Park Garage.

Get ready for a drive-through art experience as this decorative garage gives plenty to gawk at while making your way to the top.

Z Park Garage is located in Downtown Detroit, making it a popular place to park for people visiting Campus Martius.

It has over 1,200 spaces spread across ten levels. What makes the garage special is the artwork decorating the walls of the lot.

Twenty-seven artists from around the world created murals to bring a pop of color to every level.

Take time to drive to the rooftop Z Deck to see a panoramic view of Detroit.

Address: 1234 Library St, Detroit, MI 48226

22: Detroit Historical Museum

Detroit Historical Museum

See the city from the past comes to life inside the Detroit Historical Museum.

This immersive museum is one of the best places to visit in Detroit for a literal walk-through of the city’s history, exploring the biggest events that shaped Detroit into what it is today.

The Detroit Historical Museum is located in Midtown’s Cultural Center. It’s what to do in Detroit when you want to explore the city’s legacy through music, sports, automotive industry, social justice, and other themes.

Exhibitions are shown across four floors, so there’s something interesting for everybody.

First, circle the rotunda with a gallery featuring memorabilia from Detroit’s sports history. Next, explore a gallery dedicated to Detroit’s Motown music history. Or walk the streets of Old Detroit in a scale-sized recreated street.

Finally, see behind-the-scenes of how the auto assembly line worked.

Address: 5401 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

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23: Hart Plaza

Hart Plaza
Dreamstime/Christopher Smith

There's always something happening at Hart Plaza. It's one of the top things to do in Detroit year-round.

Hart Plaza is located on the riverfront of the Detroit River. The fun fact is that it marks the spot of the first settlement that would eventually become Detroit. And it continues to be a place where the public gathers.

Hart Plaza is one of the top outdoor venues in Detroit. It hosts cultural showcases, dances, concerts, music festivals, and other events.

Imagine an energy-pumping rave at Hart Plaza with skyline views in the background. Or the annual Jazz Festival to fill your day with melodic tunes.

Check the calendar when you arrive to see what event is happening in Hart Plaza. Or walk around it to see famous sculptures like the Joe Louis Fist and the Transcending Arch.

Address: 1 Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI 48226

24: Third Man Records

Third Man Records

Crate digging in Third Man Records while serenaded with music over the speakers is an experience many tourists look forward to having when visiting Detroit.

Founded in 2001, this independent record label has grown into a staple of Detroit’s modern music legacy.

Third Man Records preserves many purist music ideals into their company.

So, it’s not uncommon to walk in the store and see a local band rocking out on the sound stage or peering through the glass display to see a live vinyl production run which can mesmerize you for minutes. Or see the music-making process in the Third Man Records Mastering Studios.

Shop the shelves of Third Man Records. The black and yellow theme is consistent in the apparel and store design.

Address: 441 W Canfield St, Detroit, MI 48201

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25: Detroit Masonic Temple

Detroit Masonic Temple

There are nearly 5,000 soft, velvet red theater seats in the Masonic Temple Auditorium, but world-class performances in the theater keep audiences on their feet.

As a result, it’s one of Detroit’s most popular event venues. Check the event schedule to get tickets or take a building tour to learn more about this Detroit landmark.

The mammoth building catches your attention with Gothic Revival Architecture. It’s the largest masonic temple in the world with 14 floors, over 1,000 rooms, auditoriums, and offices of various masonic organizations.

Tourists baffle at the scale of the Masonic Temple. Guided tours of the temple provide lots of information about the building’s history. Don’t forget to walk the grassy park grounds opposite the theater.

Address: 500 Temple St, Detroit, MI 48201

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26: John K. King Used & Rare Books

John K. King Used & Rare Books

It’s always a surprise how the employees at John K. King Used & Rare Books know exactly where to find your book.

With over one million books, it’s the largest rare and used bookstore in Michigan and recognized nationally as a must-see in Detroit.

Wander four floors of John K. King Used & Rare Books to find everything from popular titles to books you may only find here.

Step inside the Rare Book Room and its collection of 25,000 books includes several rare editions and collectors editions.

The rarer the book, the more likely you’ll find it at John K. King Used & Rare Books. It sources books from around the world and always has something new to discover on its shelves.

Address: 901 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226

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27: “Reflector” Art Installation

“Reflector” Art Installation

There’s public art everywhere you look in Detroit—even beneath an underpass. Artists Becky Nix and Olek Zemplinski have transformed a dark passageway into an art piece illuminating the walkway.

“Reflector” was created by the artists in the Underpass of Cass Avenue railroad viaduct. It was part of a competition to reimagine an underpass and inspire more pedestrian walkway use.

The result is more than 7,500 reflectors arranged in the underpass that creates different experiences for the viewer based on how you look at it.

Light is a major component of the art installation that creates spectacular photos.

Its reputation is trending as one of the best photoshoot locations in Detroit. Walk the pathway beneath the underpass and admire the unique artwork.

Address: 6300 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

28: Eastern Market

Eastern Market

Walk the busy aisles of Eastern Market, where the historic walls of this indoor market have hosted chatter about the latest offerings of fresh produce, meats, and more for over 150 years.

Whether you plan to shop or enjoy the atmosphere of the market, it’s one of the top Detroit attractions to visit.

Housed in an enormous building covering six blocks, Eastern Market is one of the largest and oldest marketing in the US. It’s currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Shop market vendors to find fresh food, fruits, and spices. The market also has other retail vendors selling clothing, jewelry, and art.

When you’re finished shopping, listen up for the live music bellowing throughout the market for a live performance.

Address: 2934 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

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29: Dequindre Cut Greenway

Dequindre Cut Greenway
Dreamstime/Roman Halanski

Get out and stretch your legs on the Dequindre Greenway to enjoy one of the newest Detroit tourist attractions dedicated to nature and recreation.

Enjoy the scenery as you trek along this 1.6-mile long pedestrian path through Downtown Detroit.

The Dequindre Cut Greenway is a former railway part of the Grand Trunk Railroad line. After neglect, the route was transformed with a paved path lined with manicured lawns and other sights.

Hop on one of the city bikes or strap on your running shoes. The Dequindre Cut Greenway has dedicated lanes for walkers and cyclists.

It’s a popular place for recreation where you’ll find locals and tourists enjoying the exercise and sights. You might even catch people playing music beneath the underpasses as you pass by them.

Address: 1776 Woodbridge St. Detroit, MI 48207

30: Milliken State Park and Harbor

Milliken State Park and Harbor

Continue along the Detroit Riverwalk long enough, and eventually, you will run into the Milliken State Park and Harbor.

It’s located along the Detroit River riverfront providing a place for boats to dock and pedestrians to relax in a peaceful downtown setting.

Milliken State Park is an urban state park providing a contrast of green space to the industrial buildings nearby. Walk the docks on the marina to see boats up to 60-ft long.

The most famous attraction is the Milliken State Park Lighthouse. The 63-ft tall lighthouse is picturesque on the coast, with the boat sails in the backdrop. And there’s also a nice view of the Detroit skyline.

Address: 1900 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48207

Plan your trip to Detroit soon!

Detroit is a city full of culture, history, and entertainment. Downtown is where you’ll find many historic and landmark buildings, while Midtown is the hub for culture. And there are several other things to do in Detroit that are just a short drive outside the city center. Explore attractions in Detroit that showcase the city’s vibrant culture through art. Or dig deep into the historical attractions to see what shaped Detroit into what it is today. And there are plenty of events and activities for all ages.

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