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.)
On your roundabout, stop at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (pictured above), the Belle Isle Aquarium and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.
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.
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.
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.
The Guardian, Fisher, GM Ren Cen and Penobscot buildings must be on your list.
Read the Brick by Brick feature for more details.
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.
Kick off spring by heading to downtown Detroit for the Tigers’ Opening Day. April 8 for 2016.
Take a picnic blanket and hit the grassy knoll of DTE Energy Music Theatre for a concert.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See, smell and taste the Eastern Market.
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.
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.
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.
…and try and identify at least 10 of the more than 260 birds that have been spotted in the park.
See one of their bikes being assembled and then buy one at the on-site store.
*Doing said act could result in a fine and ejection from the game. You’ve been warned.
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.
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.
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.)
Dig out your jester hat and tights and go to the Renaissance Festival. Eat a giant turkey leg.
…where Henry Ford first tinkered with his auto assembly line and built Model T’s, and then ride in one at Greenfield Village.
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.
Then tag it #DepictTheD. The Fist, Spirit of Detroit and the giant tiger at Comerica Park are all top spots.
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.
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.
Eat a bag — a big bag — of the original Better Made potato chips.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Say OPA! with your waiter/waitress and eat some flaming kasseri cheese in Greektown.
View The Detroit Bucket List in a larger map
Use our interactive map to find even more.
“The wife and I love to hit Greektown casino and PizzaPapalis. Also, Jacoby's "Detroit's Oldest bar" is right around the corner.” – Brian K.
Book a dinner cruise or go for a late-night moonlight party aboard the Detroit Princess. The five-story riverboat is back in action for the season.
Fall is in full swing and that means Detroit Red Wings hockey at The Joe. No ticket? Cobo Joe's is a surefire hot spot on game days.
Watch Discover the D TV to learn all about the hidden gems and history that our city has to offer.