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Discover Our Ultimate Detroit Travel Guide

Detroit today is nothing like it was 20 years ago. Chances are you, like many, have some preconceived notions about what the city of Detroit really is. Decades ago, downtown Detroit was considered an unsafe place. The Detroit of today, however, is a thriving city that’s full of life. In fact, Detroit was even named one of the world’s 50 greatest places to visit in 2022. Here you can expect to find the friendliest locals, a rich and deeply rooted music history, an amazing culinary and bar scene, and a whole lot of soul. We spent 4 days in Detroit exploring everything this vibrant city has to offer. After getting to experience it inside and out, we can’t recommend it enough. If you’re looking for a new city to explore, or for the perfect weekend destination, our Detroit travel guide.

We put together this Detroit travel guide to help you plan your next visit to a city that will surely both surprise and delight you. Here’s our guide to help you make the most of your visit to America’s Motor City.

See And Do

Few cities in the world match the musical heritage of Detroit. Everything from blues to soul and techno calls the Motor City home.

Detroit's Motown Museum
Detroit’s Motown Museum (Credit: Felicia Brown)

The best way to truly get a grasp of the importance of Detroit’s musical history is through a visit to the Motown Historical Museum. Here you can learn all about Detroit’s rich musical history, and stand in the exact spot where so many Motown hits were recorded. From The Supremes to Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder to the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, and so many more, this is where Motown was born.

Detroit Auto Show (Credit: Felicia Brown)
Detroit Auto Show (Credit: Felicia Brown)

Being the birthplace of the modern automobile is how the Motor City got its nickname, and automobile enthusiasts come from far and wide to get a taste of this important piece of history. While the North American International Auto Show is the creme de la creme for auto enthusiasts, there are lots of ways to experience Detroit’s auto history. Be sure to visit the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation to witness some of his (and others’) great car designs. Don’t forget to stop by Greenfield Village while you’re there to step back in time and discover some of America’s most important historical moments.

Henry Ford Museum Detroit Auto Show (Credit: Felicia Brown)
Henry Ford Museum Detroit Auto Show (Credit: Felicia Brown)

Detroit has some incredible Art Deco masterpieces and stunning architecture to explore. Notable buildings to visit include world-renowned skyscrapers like the Fisher and Guardian buildings which are two of Detroit’s premier historical landmarks. There is beautiful architecture to see throughout Detroit, particularly in its jaw-dropping Art Deco design.

Detroit's Architecture (Credit: Felicia Byron)
Detroit’s Architecture (Credit: Felicia Byron)

Fisher Building & Institute of Art (Credit: Felicia Byron)
Fisher Building & Institute of Art (Credit: Felicia Byron)

Beyond its museums and incredible Art Deco architecture, Detroit has a lot of things to see and do. Start by taking a stroll along the Detroit International RiverWalk which spans over three miles from Rosa Parks Blvd to Belle Isle Park, and enjoy the views of Windsor across the river. Up next, stop to admire some of Detroit’s historical monuments like the Spirit of Detroit, Joe Louis “The Fist” and The International Memorial to the Underground Railroad. Lastly, you won’t want to miss a visit to Eastern Market which is the largest historic public market district in the United States. While you’re there, be sure to head to Bert’s Marketplace for some soul food and true Detroit hospitality. We recommend the Aretha Franklin fried chicken!

Eat

One of the best parts of travelling and exploring a new city is experiencing the local culinary scene. The city of Detroit has no shortage of great restaurants that will satisfy your every gastronomical desire.

Highlands Detroit (Credit: Felicia Byron)
Highlands Detroit (Credit: Felicia Byron)

For dinner with a view, head to Highlands, a stunning restaurant located on the 71st and 72nd floors of Detroit’s most iconic landmark, the GM Renaissance Center. Here you can indulge in style while experiencing the best views the city has to offer. No Detroit travel guide would be complete without featuring Highlands.

For a truly unique and memorable evening, Cliff Bell’s is an absolute must. This swanky, restored art deco jazz supper club has been open in Detroit since 1935. Offering nightly entertainment and a menu of eclectic fare, Cliff Bell’s is a Detroit staple that can’t be missed.

Baobab Fare Detroit (Credit: Felicia Byron)
Baobab Fare Detroit (Credit: Felicia Byron)

The colourful Baobab Fare is another Detroit must. Owned and operated by a wife and husband who came to the US in 2014 as refugees from Burundi, this restaurant, market, and cafe delights with tantalizing East African cuisine. In fact, Baobab Fare won best new restaurant in Detroit in 2022, so you can expect to dine on top-notch cuisine.

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Detroit has one of the largest populations of Middle Eastern people in the United States, and unsurprisingly it has no shortage of incredible Middle Eastern restaurants. For a casual lunch that’s full of flavour, head to Anita’s Kitchen. Located in the heart of Detroit’s downtown business district, Anita’s Kitchen is a fast-casual restaurant that offers mouthwatering eats with an authentic Lebanese flair.

The Apparatus Room (Credit: Felicia Byron)
The Apparatus Room (Credit: Felicia Byron)

Finally, there’s the beautiful Apparatus Room. Located in an old fire hall that’s been converted into a restaurant and hotel, The Apparatus Room offers a bridge between historic and tastefully modern styles. Their menu features New American cuisine with Midwestern ingredients, with so many must-try dishes. Don’t pass up the crispy horseradish potatoes while you’re here!

Drink

You might be surprised to hear that Detroit has an incredible speakeasy scene, among a plethora of cocktail bars and watering holes. With over 15 speakeasies and hidden bars, there is no shortage of great spots to enjoy some carefully crafted libations.

Bad Luck Bar is an upscale speakeasy offering incredibly imaginative cocktails crafted with rare and unusual liquors. The posh and intimate surroundings make it the perfect date night spot, or destination to impress business clients.

Bad Luck Bar (Credit: Felicia Byron)
Bad Luck Bar (Credit: Felicia Byron)

Another great Detroit speakeasy is the colourful Candy Bar. Offering inventive cocktails and snacks in an intimate setting, Candy Bar will surely delight all senses. From the art deco and 1940s decor to the carefully crafted cocktails, a visit to Detroit is not complete without a visit to this stunning cocktail bar.

Fancy trying some local spirits? Located in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighbourhood, you’ll find Two James Spirits. Two James was the first licensed distillery in Detroit since Prohibition. Visit their tasting room to try some of their award-winning spirits and tour the distillery, or grab a seat and sip on some handmade cocktails featuring their wide selection of locally made spirits.

No matter your interests, it’s safe to say that the city of Detroit has a lot to explore. Whether visiting for business or pleasure, this lively city will delight you and have you planning your next visit before you know it.

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