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Detroit, Michigan

Great Destination:

Value for Money:

Total Stars:

Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • Ford Motor Company sold 15 million-plus Model Ts worldwide (1908 to 1927).
  • Windsor in Ontario, Canada, is south of Detroit.
  • The Ambassador Bridge on the Detroit River is the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing.
  • One mile of Detroit’s Woodward Avenue was the world’s first paved road (1908).
  • Berry Gordy, Jr., established Motown Records in 1959 with an $800 loan.

Comeback City

Detroit, best known as America’s Motor City and birthplace of the Motown sound, is billing itself as the Comeback City because of developments — pubic and private, beginning around 2010 — aimed squarely at rejuvenating the downtown. It’s a comeback worth a visit for those interested in destinations in the throes of change although revitalization has been bumpy, punctuated by Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy.

However, visitors can experience the positive side of this recovery. The most obvious changes are the redeveloped five-mile RiverWalk, the thriving Foxtown entertainment district and enriched restaurant choices, a completely renovated convention center and new hotels. The city’s visitors bureau urges tourists to come to town while “the comeback story is being written.”

Auto enthusiasts have choices, including a tour at the Ford River Rouge factory (Dearborn), the Gilmore Car Museum (Hickory Corners), an Oldsmobile museum (Lansing) and the auto display at GM headquarters at Renaissance Center (located downtown on the Detroit River with views of the Windsor, Ontario, skyline).

For current action, the area offers auto shows and a grand prix. But the gorilla on the auto circuit is The Henry Ford in Dearborn, a multifaceted facility and a must for any auto aficionado.

Music fans have their own list, beginning with the Motown Museum and extending to live music in nightclubs and concert halls, but which may extend to music festivals or, for the well-rounded enthusiast, Orchestra Hall.

Indeed, Detroit is known for a culture scene that includes theater (especially notable, Fisher Theater in the Art Deco Fisher Building and Fox Theatre), a fine symphony and the extensive Detroit Institute of Arts. It also is known for the popular street art display called the Heidelberg Project.

Detroit is a city for sports fans, too. Some say it is Hockeytown, but there are other professional teams (baseball, basketball and football). Or, for a fascinating switch, there are 19th century base ball (that’s right) games at The Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village on summer Saturdays.

Crime is a problem in some areas of Detroit. It’s best to take advice on when to visit attractions that are of interest and how to travel to them.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Make a daytime visit to the popular and ongoing Heidelberg Project, a two-block outdoor art display initiated in the 1980s with the goal of using art to restore a forgotten neighborhood.
  • Get charged up at the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, aka the Movement Festival, staged at the downtown Hart Plaza. Detroit was the birthplace in the 1980s of techno, a form of electronic dance music.
  • Compete in the Detroit Marathon, an October event. It takes you to Windsor, Ontario, and back. Runners have to carry a passport, passport card or enhanced drivers license.
  • Relish the backstories during a visit to the Motown Historical Museum, located in the small house that was the original headquarters for Motown Records.
  • Scope out the nightlife on Woodward Avenue and beyond. The city offers music in several genres (blues, folk, jazz, rock), dance hotspots, Irish pubs, casinos, even hip coffeehouses to tease the senses. Hamtramck is also known for its live music, from jazz to rock, garage and grunge. Take advice from someone who knows the scene — the concierge, maybe.
  • In this town where cars own the road, in every sense, attend the North American International Auto Show in winter. Or, in spring, focus on moving cars at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, at Belle Isle State Park in the Detroit River.

Things to do for Centrics

  • This may be Motor City, but it also is Hockeytown in certain circles. See the Detroit Red Wings play. Or, if you prefer, the Detroit Tigers for baseball.
  • Explore Greektown or, for the more adventurous, Hamtramck, areas that showcase the cultures of the city’s Greek and Polish immigrants.
  • Spend at least a day at Dearborn’s The Henry Ford, which encompasses the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.  The latter is a recreated auto-free 19th century village enhanced with historic buildings — such as the bicycle shop where the Wright brothers built their first airplane — that have been relocated from points across the U.S. Take the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, too.
  • Look for standout drama at the Plowshares Theatre Company, which specializes in the work of black American playwrights, and productions staged by the Wayne State University Theater Department at Hilberry Theatre.
  • Visit the Bat Zone, a habitat for nocturnal animals, at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills.
  • If you are a country music fan, consider the outdoor Detroit Downtown Hoedown, set in Hart Plaza in the spring.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Commune with the chimps, or other critters of your choice, at the Detroit Zoo.
  • Get tickets to a concert or show or whatever is on at the Fox Theatre and see the inside of this gorgeously restored 1928 movie palace, among movie palaces second only to New York’s Radio City for size.
  • Kick off summer at the Detroit River Days, which takes place on the Detroit RiverWalk. Features include fireworks, jet-ski demos, live music, riverboat tours and tall ships.
  • See some of the estates that car money bought: Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, home to Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of John Dodge, cofounder of the Dodge motor company, or the Eleanor and Edsel Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.
  • Take a narrated Detroit River tour. Or choose a lunch or dinner cruise.
  • Look at auto history beyond the Ford story. The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn features figures from around the world. See the GM World auto display at the Detroit Renaissance Center. (Auto collections at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum and the GM Heritage Center are only seen at special events.)

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.visitdetroit.com