How to Spend 24 Hours in Detroit

The Heidelberg Project
The Heidelberg Project | © soupstance / Flickr

You can barely scratch the surface of Detroit in 24 hours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have one hell of a day. There will be world famous art, music, architecture, food and drink along the way, so what’s not to love?

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Fuel up

There’s a lot to fit in, so get started early. And what better way to prepare for a big day than with a large breakfast? Head to The Hudson Cafe, which has got you covered. This famous breakfast joint opens at 8 am, serving up delicious sweet and savory options such as pancakes, waffles, French toast, and eggs benedict.

Explore downtown

Once you’re suitably full, take a stroll down Woodward Avenue to check out some of Detroit’s finest architecture. The Guardian Building and Penobscot Building are two of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in the world, and the former’s incredible Native American-influenced lobby has been amazingly preserved.

The Guardian Building’s famous lobby

Next, it’s time to jump on the People Mover, the city’s elevated light-rail system, for a quick zip around Downtown. There are 13 stops, and a ride only costs 75 cents, so it’s a good way to get a sense of Downtown.

Hear that Motown sound

Now it’s time to “Get Ready” as you’re going north to New Center to find out “What’s Going On” with a trip to Hitsville U.S.A., the museum dedicated to one of the world’s greatest record labels. A trip to the Motown Museum is a joyous journey around the building that was once the residence of Berry Gordy and Motown Records, housing the recording studios where some of the greatest music of all time was recorded. The energy and enthusiasm of the tour guides are infectious, and you’ll be “Dancing in the Street” by the time you leave.

Hitsville U.S.A.

It’s about time to eat again, so head down the Cass Corridor to Avalon International Breads, which bakes its own delicious bread and pastries using locally sourced, organic ingredients. As well as a tasty sandwich, salad or sweet treat, you’ll be contributing to the sustainable growth of the local community, of which Avalon is a key leader.

Appreciate the art

Spend the afternoon soaking up Detroit’s art scene with a visit to the Heidelberg Project, Tyree Guyton’s unique community art project, which makes art out of recycled materials and found objects recovered from the city’s streets in order to improve the fortunes of the neighborhood. Follow that by heading to the Detroit Institute of Arts, undoubtedly one of America’s great art museums, to see famous works including Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry fresco cycle and Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait. A good look around takes a few hours.

The Heidelberg Project

For dinner and drinks, experience the city’s great craft brewery scene at Batch Brewing Company, where the food is as highly rated as the beer. Try one of the bolillos and match it with your favorite style of beer from the 18 brews on tap.

Detroit Rock City

What better way to spend an evening in Detroit than with some live music. There are many great live music venues, and at opposite ends of the spectrum are the Old Miami and the Fox Theatre, one perhaps the most excellent dive bar in the city and the other a beautiful old theater dating back to the city’s golden age. Both have live music most nights, so check the listings before you go.

The Fox Theatre

The day may be over, but the night sure isn’t. Detroit is a late-night town, and it’s time to eat again. No night out in Detroit would be complete without a late-night Coney Island, the city’s signature chili dog. Head to Lafayette Boulevard where you can choose between the two oldest Coney joints in the city. Whether you choose Lafayette Coney Island or American Coney Island, you’ll be enjoying an authentic Detroit experience.

Still got some room? Dutch Girl Donuts is open 24 hours a day for a late-night sweet treat.

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