The Best Things to Do in Detroit

 A 1915 Ford Model T at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit
A 1915 Ford Model T at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit | © Tribune Content Agency LLC / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Frank Lopez
Writer31 July 2020

Music and art have always played a fundamental role in Detroit’s culture. From Motown to the Institute of Arts, you can spend days exploring everything that Michigan’s largest city has to offer. Whether you want to learn a little more about Detroit’s past, delve into its cultural scene, or just try its local cuisine, we have chosen some of our favorite local activities to shape your visit to this exciting city.

Motown Museum

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The Motown Museum, a recording studio from 1959-1972, Detroit, Michigan, USA
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
It is impossible to come to Detroit and not visit the Motown Museum, also known as Hitsville USA. Near the New Center area, it was Motown’s first headquarters and is now a museum and testament to African American culture. That one music label managed to conquer the airwaves is an incredible feat. Glory in the many gold discs on display here, including those of the Supremes, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson. Getting close to the recording equipment in the basement studios, where so many classics were recorded, is enough to blow any soul fan away.

Detroit Institute of Arts

Art Gallery, Museum
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Any art buff should visit the world-class Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) in Midtown Detroit, host to one of the largest and best art collections in the United States. From contemporary art to classical, and from the earliest civilizations to the present day, it’s all here. Don’t miss the stunning African American Art collection, hosting many pieces donated locally and the impressive Diego Rivera frescoes. Every Friday night there are free concerts held in the presence of these murals. From Motown covers to live world music, you will feel that Detroit vibe.

The Fisher Building

Architectural Landmark
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United States Of America Michigan Detroit Advertising 'Car Near The Fisher Building
© Universal Images Group North America LLC / DeAgostini / Alamy Stock Photo
For a classic example of a skyscraper from the roaring ’20s, this historic building in the heart of Detroit’s New Center is an iconic landmark and visible from a good distance around the city. Continuously making itself relevant by finding its place in modern cultural and community programming, the Fisher Building is an ongoing story as well as an icon of Detroit. Booking a tour is recommended to learn the history behind all the marble and bronze. You have the choice of many restaurants and bars to relax in afterwards.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Museum, University
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This enormous Midtown museum serves to represent the triumphs and struggles of African Americans in Detroit and the entire United States. No less than a national treasure, it is the perfect place to browse some of the many collected artifacts or to peruse the historic collections. Its mission is to help visitors gain an immersive understanding of African American history and slavery. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear stories that have been left out of the history books.

Slows Bar BQ

Bar, Restaurant, $$$
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A Pulled pork plate is seen at Slows Bar-B-Q in Detroit (Mi)
© The Michigan collection / Alamy Stock Photo
Detroit may not have its own official barbecue style, but there surely isn’t another city where grilling meat on charcoal is more rampant and adored. At Slows, on the edge of downtown, chances are that you will have to wait for a seat, but you certainly won’t leave disappointed. A taste of Southern food in modern surroundings is on offer, whether it be ribs, wings or Slows’ famous sandwiches. Easily considered the best in Detroit, this place has never rested on its laurels.

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant

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It is hard to think of Detroit without considering its history in the motor industry. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant has been preserved to serve as an education center and museum. It is the birthplace of the Ford Model T, which was the catalyst for America’s love relationship with cars. You don’t need to have a love for cars to enjoy the museum, only a desire to see a slice of Detroit’s history. Little has changed in this establishment since Henry Ford himself stood within its walls. The gleaming cars are no less than precious antiques.

These recommendations were updated on July 31, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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