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Best Things To Do in Detroit

Whether you're a sports fan, a foodie, an amateur historian or an architecture buff, you'll find something to capture your attention in The D. A stop at the Detroit Institute of Arts should be at the top of your list if you're a culture hound, and so should the ornately designed Fox Theatre. To learn more about the stories that shaped the city's present, swing by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Motown Museum – both are unique to Detroit and come highly recommended by recent visitors. Want to feel like a local? Spend your Saturday afternoon sampling the fresh produce found at Eastern Market. And when you're walking around downtown, don't forget to look up and admire some of the city's stunning architecture, especially the famous Guardian Building.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Detroit

Arguably one of the city's foremost cultural destinations, the Detroit Institute of Arts dates back to 1885, but the beaux-arts building (referred to as the "temple of art")  that it now resides in opened in 1927. The institute is huge, comprising more than 100 galleries, a 1,150-seat auditorium and a 380-seat lecture hall. And its permanent collection is extensive: On its walls are Diego Rivera's "Detroit Industry" fresco and Vincent Van Gogh's "Self Portrait" painting, among other works. The institute also hosts events like Friday Night Live! concerts and Art + Authors book discussions.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Detroit Institute of the Arts
Arguably one of the city's foremost cultural destinations, the Detroit Institute of Arts dates back to 1885, but the beaux-arts building (referred to as the "temple of art")  that it now resides in opened in 1927. The institute is huge, comprising more than 100 galleries, a 1,150-seat auditorium and a 380-seat lecture hall. And its permanent collection is extensive: On its walls are Diego Rivera's "Detroit Industry" fresco and Vincent Van Gogh's "Self Portrait" painting, among other works. The institute also hosts events like Friday Night Live! concerts and Art + Authors book discussions.
... more

#2

#2 in Detroit

An entire genre  or at least sound  was born in the space of this small Detroit home. A blue and white sign, reading "Hitsville U.S.A," hangs above the similarly painted building. And with gold records by the Supremes, the Temptations and the Jackson 5, this former Motown recording studio became a hit-making machine from 1959 to 1972. The interior has been left much the same from those magic music-making days, but there are also instruments, costumes and more on display.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Motown Museum
An entire genre  or at least sound  was born in the space of this small Detroit home. A blue and white sign, reading "Hitsville U.S.A," hangs above the similarly painted building. And with gold records by the Supremes, the Temptations and the Jackson 5, this former Motown recording studio became a hit-making machine from 1959 to 1972. The interior has been left much the same from those magic music-making days, but there are also instruments, costumes and more on display.
... more

#3

#3 in Detroit

This large museum, named for its founder Charles Wright, tells the story of the African American experience from the beginning of time to the presidency of Barack Obama. Opened in 1965, the museum welcomes guests to it 125,000 square feet of both permanent and rotating exhibits, as well as a library and theater.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
This large museum, named for its founder Charles Wright, tells the story of the African American experience from the beginning of time to the presidency of Barack Obama. Opened in 1965, the museum welcomes guests to it 125,000 square feet of both permanent and rotating exhibits, as well as a library and theater.
... more
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#4

#4 in Detroit

Free
Eastern Market draws history geeks and foodies alike. Open since 1891, this 43-acre district (six blocks of which are devoted to the public market) is the largest historic public market district in the United States. Still not impressed? In 1978, the Eastern Market Historic District was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Eastern Market
Eastern Market draws history geeks and foodies alike. Open since 1891, this 43-acre district (six blocks of which are devoted to the public market) is the largest historic public market district in the United States. Still not impressed? In 1978, the Eastern Market Historic District was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.
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#5

#5 in Detroit

If you're not much of a baseball fan, this ballpark – home field for the Detroit Tigers – is for you. While diehard fans are glued to their seats in hopes of catching a fly ball, casual onlookers can enjoy some of the park's more unusual attractions, including a carousel, a 50-foot Ferris wheel, a beer hall, a food court, plus a center field water feature that's synchronized to music. Perhaps it's these unique diversions that earned Detroit a spot on the list of 10 Best Cities for Baseball Fans to Visit.
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Sports Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Comerica Park
If you're not much of a baseball fan, this ballpark – home field for the Detroit Tigers – is for you. While diehard fans are glued to their seats in hopes of catching a fly ball, casual onlookers can enjoy some of the park's more unusual attractions, including a carousel, a 50-foot Ferris wheel, a beer hall, a food court, plus a center field water feature that's synchronized to music. Perhaps it's these unique diversions that earned Detroit a spot on the list of 10 Best Cities for Baseball Fans to Visit.
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#6

#6 in Detroit

If you're in town for any amount of time, catching a performance at this National Historic Landmark is almost required. Events range from Broadway musicals to performances by big name recording artists like Tony Bennett and Ringo Starr, but what truly makes this venue special is its jaw-dropping interior. The walls are plastered in gold leaf and colorful paintings of animals, people, flowers and more; the seats are upholstered in plush red velvet and there's even a giant elephant head sculpture. If the description seems gaudy, rest assured that it's not: spectators agree that the Fox Theatre drips with a classic decadence.
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Fox Theatre
If you're in town for any amount of time, catching a performance at this National Historic Landmark is almost required. Events range from Broadway musicals to performances by big name recording artists like Tony Bennett and Ringo Starr, but what truly makes this venue special is its jaw-dropping interior. The walls are plastered in gold leaf and colorful paintings of animals, people, flowers and more; the seats are upholstered in plush red velvet and there's even a giant elephant head sculpture. If the description seems gaudy, rest assured that it's not: spectators agree that the Fox Theatre drips with a classic decadence.
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#7

#7 in Detroit

Free
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, the art deco Guardian Building is a must-see for architecture buffs. Known as Detroit's Cathedral of Finance, the Guardian Building was completed in 1929 for the Union Trust Co. The exterior of this 40-story steel-framed building may not look like much, but once you pass through its interior, you'll understand why the building remains one of Detroit's most palatial skyscrapers.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Guardian Building
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, the art deco Guardian Building is a must-see for architecture buffs. Known as Detroit's Cathedral of Finance, the Guardian Building was completed in 1929 for the Union Trust Co. The exterior of this 40-story steel-framed building may not look like much, but once you pass through its interior, you'll understand why the building remains one of Detroit's most palatial skyscrapers.
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#8

#8 in Detroit

Many recent travelers called the Detroit Zoo one of the city's best family attractions. Spread out across 125 acres and boasting more than 2,400 animals, the zoo has a longstanding history in Detroit (it's been open since 1928). Of the zoo's 12 habitats, perhaps the most popular among recent visitors is the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, which debuted in 2016. This 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area allows zoo visitors to observe more than 80 penguins of four different species explore their habitat. Plus, thanks to an underwater gallery with two tunnels, visitors can see the birds above, around and below.
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Detroit Zoo
Many recent travelers called the Detroit Zoo one of the city's best family attractions. Spread out across 125 acres and boasting more than 2,400 animals, the zoo has a longstanding history in Detroit (it's been open since 1928). Of the zoo's 12 habitats, perhaps the most popular among recent visitors is the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, which debuted in 2016. This 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area allows zoo visitors to observe more than 80 penguins of four different species explore their habitat. Plus, thanks to an underwater gallery with two tunnels, visitors can see the birds above, around and below.
... more
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