Guardian Building

#7 in Best Things To Do in Detroit
Guardian Building picture
Angelo Mercado/Flickr

Key Info

500 Griswold St.

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Sightseeing, Tours, Free Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
3.9

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

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.

Among the interior's standout features: a 150-foot-long main lobby with a three-story vaulted ceiling, giant columns composed of Travertine marble imported from Italy, a Tiffany & Co. glass clock and an Ezra Winter mural. 

Recent visitors raved about the Guardian Building's extravagant interior, calling it "breathtaking." Reviewers said you can spend as little or as much time as you'd like inside; since it's open to the public (and free to enter during the building's business hours), you can meander at your leisure. But if you want a little guidance on the building's history and groundbreaking architectural elements, consider signing up for a tour (highly recommended by previous travelers). Pure Detroit offers free, public guided tours of the Guardian Building (as well as the city's other architectural marvel, the Fisher Building) on Saturdays and Sundays; check the Pure Detroit website to find tour dates and times.

You'll find the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit on Griswold Street. If you're not using your own two feet to get here, you can use the People Mover; the Financial District station is located across the street from the Guardian Building. To learn more about the building, visit its official website.

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Type
Time to Spend
#1 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.

For many visitors, a visit to the DIA was a highlight of their Detroit trip, with some calling it a "national gem." Though many were initially drawn because of the museum's Diego Rivera collection, reviewers said they were satisfied with every part of the DIA, especially the temporary exhibits. Visitors also praised the staff, which they said were friendly and helpful.

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Courtesy the Detroit Institute of Arts
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