Quantcast The Detroit Bucket List | Things To Do | visitdetroit.com - VisitDetroit.com

The Detroit Bucket List | Things To Do | visitdetroit.com

Article Index

Anna Scripps Belle Isle

Illustrations by Todd Detwiler

Bucket lists are pretty popular these days. Not sure why, but they are. You’ve got one for nearly every time of year and place you can think of, including destinations like The D.

Not wanting to be left out of the popular pastime, Visit Detroit staffers, colleagues, friends and acquaintances have put their thinking caps on to create our very own Detroit Bucket List. Nothing so monumental as falling in love or climbing a mountain appears on our list, but we’re still pretty darn proud of how easy it was to come up with a bunch of great things worth doing in metro Detroit during your lifetime. And this isn’t even all of ‘em. (P.S. There’s no particular order of importance here, and since this is from our Spring & Summer 2016 issue, we picked a lot of fairer weather to-dos to die for.)


1. Get in a car, drive across the Douglas MacArthur Bridge and ride around Belle Isle

On your roundabout, stop at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (pictured above), the Belle Isle Aquarium and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.

2. Explore Detroit’s Heidelberg Project

Spanning two city blocks on the lower east side, the art installation has been heralded as Detroit’s Ghetto Guggenheim. Search out the People’s House (aka Dotty Wotty House) and Noah’s Arc.

heidelberg project


3. Go to The Wright

Appreciate the city’s African-American heritage at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and then travel to the First Congregational Church of Detroit for the Underground Railroad Living Museum Tour.

4. Stand beneath the famous echo chamber in the second-level gallery of the Motown Museum

When you clap your hands, snap your fingers or sing your favorite Motown tune, you’ll hear Motown’s rich, soulful signature sound echo back.

motown museum


5. People watch at Movement (May 28-30)and the Detroit Jazz Festival (Sept. 2-5).


6. Walk downtown and look up at the architecture.

The Guardian, Fisher, GM Ren Cen and Penobscot buildings must be on your list.
Read the Brick by Brick feature for more details.

detroit skyscrapers


7. Coming to America Exhibit

Read the names of Arab immigrants under the photos showcased in the Coming to America exhibit at the Arab American National Museum. Real people with real stories of courage and hope.

8. Opening Day

Kick off spring by heading to downtown Detroit for the Tigers’ Opening Day. April 8 for 2016.

Detroit Tigers fans


9. DTE Energy Music Theatre

Take a picnic blanket and hit the grassy knoll of DTE Energy Music Theatre for a concert.

10. Soak in some rays at the beach at Campus Martius Park

Grab an ice cold something from the Beach Bar and Grille, sit down and dig your toes in the sand right in the middle of Detroit’s urban jungle.

11. Take a tour

Get more intimate with the city through a guided tour by car, bus, bike or even on foot. So many themes, so many options — from ghosts to architecture.

12. Experience the elegant lifestyle of a bygone era

Tour historic auto-baron homes — take your pick from Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Meadow Brook Hall or Fair Lane Estate (reopening in fall 2016).

13. Catch a giant muskie on Lake St. Clair.


14. Go bowling, sort of

Try fowling at the Fowling Warehouse in Hamtramck. Two teams, two lanes, 10 pins each and a couple of footballs. Or, feather bowl at Cadieux Cafe in Detroit. Two teams, a dirt lane, wooden balls that resemble a wheel of cheese and a feather.

fowling warehouse



15. Cruise or spectate at the Woodward Dream Cruise.(Aug. 20)


 Woodward Dream Cruise


16. Go to a Detroit dive bar

We’ve got a bunch of good ones to choose from: Old Miami, PJ’s Lager House, Two Way Inn, the Bronx Bar, Whiskey in the Jar. Basically, any bar in Hamtramck qualifies.

17. Eastern Market

See, smell and taste the Eastern Market.

eastern market beets


18. Sit on the historic Rosa Parks Bus in Henry Ford Museum.


19. Visit The Parade Company’s studio

New floats, old floats, big heads. Take a tour of where the papier-mâché props and floats of America’s Thanksgiving Parade come to life.

parade company


20. Take a tour of Cranbrook Art Museum’s funky Collections Wing

Every Friday at 1 p.m. The door to the vault is massive and eerie, and the flight down the stairs is all-the-way anticipatory. Be sure to seek out samples of iconic home furnishings of the 20th century from the likes of greats such as Eames and Saarinen.

cranbrook art museum


21. Fill your pockets with quarters and go to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills

An arcade out of a time warp, featuring thousands of coin-operated oddities, from fortune-telling automatons and vintage pinball games to its famous tic-tac-toe chicken.

marvins marvelous mechanical museum


22. Hike the Wild Wing Trail at Kensington Metropark

…and try and identify at least 10 of the more than 260 birds that have been spotted in the park.

kensington bird


23. Tour the Shinola factory

See one of their bikes being assembled and then buy one at the on-site store.

Shinola Detroit



24. Throw an octopus on the ice during a Red Wings playoff game at The Joe.*

*Doing said act could result in a fine and ejection from the game. You’ve been warned.

red wings octopus


25. Play disc golf on the championship course at Stony Creek Metropark.


26. Order a Detroit Dirty Martini and listen to jazz at Cliff Bell’s.


27. Go to the Detroit Institute of Arts and admire the Diego Rivera murals

On the south wall of the courtyard — one of two major panels that depict Ford Motor Co.’s Rouge plant in 1932 — find one tiny red finished car at the end of the assembly line.

28. Buy a bike or rent one and join the masses at a Monday night Slow Roll.


slow roll detroit


29. Ride your bike through the Dequindre Cut.

Seek out some space-themed graffiti, actually commissioned art from artist Fel3000ft, or the mural of a gas-masked man by street artists Hygienic Dress League.

30. Walk with the kangaroos at the Detroit Zoo

The roos are most active in the a.m. (Tip: If you take a trip to the zoo in the winter, make sure you pop into the Butterfly Garden — it’s nice and toasty.)

detroit zoo kangaroos


31. Detroit Casinos

Win big at the casino: Greektown, MotorCity, MGM Grand or maybe all three.

32. Michigan Renaissance Festival

Dig out your jester hat and tights and go to the Renaissance Festival. Eat a giant turkey leg.

michigan renaissance festival


33. Walk the worn floors of the Ford Piquette Plant

…where Henry Ford first tinkered with his auto assembly line and built Model T’s, and then ride in one at Greenfield Village.

model T the henry ford


34. See a show at the Fisher Theatre

Then check out the Wurlitzer organ in the auditorium. It’s the largest unaltered theater pipe organ around. Would make the Phantom of the Opera drool.

35. Take a spin on the walleye on the Cullen Family Carousel on the Detroit International RiverWalk.


36. Take a selfie-worthy photo

Then tag it #DepictTheD. The Fist, Spirit of Detroit and the giant tiger at Comerica Park are all top spots.


fist sculpture detroit



Dine + Drink Must-Dos

So we didn’t muddle things up too much on our big bucket list, we pulled out a few top-tier metro Detroit foodie-related musts not to be missed.

detroit city vodka

Drink a metro Detroit-distilled liquor at Detroit City Distillery or Valentine Distilling or a Detroit-brewed beer at Jolly Pumpkin, Atwater Brewery, Dragonmead, Kuhnhenn, Rochester Mills, etc.

better made chips

Eat a bag — a big bag — of the original Better Made potato chips.

buddys pizza

Eat a slice of deep-dish, brick-oven pizza at the original Buddy’s on Conant. Wash it down with a boomba of draft beer.

coney island hot dog

Eat a Coney dog at Lafeyette Coney Island and then immediately go next door to American Coney Island and eat another one.


Eat a shawarma sandwich in Dearborn or head to Bucharest Grill in Detroit.

Eat the famous Yardbird sandwich at Slows Bar BQ.

Eat in Mexicantown. (Enchiladas, tamales, botanas, tacos. Doesn’t matter. All so good.)

Eat surf and turf and then seek out the paranormal at The Whitney, a “haunted” 1894 mansion turned fine-dining establishment.

faygo rock & rye

Drink a bottle of Vernors ginger ale or any flavor of Faygo or Towne Club pops.

Eat a melt-in-your-mouth glazed doughnut from Dutch Girl Donuts. A Detroit institution since 1947.

Eat a lobster corn dog, sip a Coach White Sangria and take in a panoramic view of Detroit from 700 feet above ground at Coach Insignia in the Ren Cen. The elevator ride up 73 floors is part of the experience.

Eat a paczki in Hamtramck on Fat Tuesday.

achatz 4-berry pie

Eat a piece of the Michigan 4-Berry pie from Achatz Handmade Pie Co. This pie has been praised in the past by Bon Appetit.

bucket list Opa

Say OPA! with your waiter/waitress and eat some flaming kasseri cheese in Greektown.


Districts key



View The Detroit Bucket List in a larger map

Use our interactive map to find even more.


Travel Tip

"My favorite place to exercise is at the Dequindre cut bike trail. It stretches from Gratiot to the riverfront ... you can rent a bike for a few hours at the riverfront. Let the wind blow in your hair. ;)"
~Jay D. -Travel Mentor

Submit a travel tip!