First Time in The D? Here are the Places to Hit

Modified: December 19, 2022 | Story by Stephanie Angelyn Casola | Photos by Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails, Bill Bowen

They don’t call us America’s Great Comeback City for nothing. Whether you’re visiting Detroit for one day or moving here to stay, the Motor City offers shopping, dining and experiences that are made to suit any interest. Detroit dishes out nightlife and dining you won’t soon forget. So for those D-Town rookies, we’ve got a list of must-see spots to make exploring Detroit that much simpler.

Getting around Detroit

Sure, the Motor City loves its cars, but there are other ways to get around the city too. From Midtown to Downtown, park and ride the QLine street car or hop on the People Mover. Try Mogo Bike Share and two-wheel it along the Dequindre Cut. Walking the Detroit International RiverWalk? We dare you to try and resist snapping a photo of the Ambassador Bridge and GM Renaissance Center as you go. Hit the water with a kayak on the Detroit River or scenic cruise on the Detroit Princess Riverboat.

Exploring Detroit

Start downtown at the very center of the city and find a relaxing spot on the lawn at Campus Martius Park overlooking the fountain, or sink into the sand at its urban beach during the summer. Need more greenery? Take the bridge over to Belle Isle Park and head directly to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory for look at all things lush and green. Sports fans should check schedules and grab a stadium seat at Comerica Park or Ford Field (and soon at Little Caesar’s Arena).

Love live theater? See a show at the historic Fox Theatre, or capture the art deco design at The Fisher Theatre. Movie-goers can take in a classic flick at the historic Redford Theatre, with its fully-restored pipe organ and décor that includes a starry night sky with floating clouds. Watch a current movie at Cinema Detroit, or in the open air when possible at New Center Park. Detroit’s rich musical history ranges from Motown to R&B, garage rock to techno. Find your groove at  Cliff Bell’s or Baker’s Keyboard Lounge for jazz fans, at El Club or UFO Factory for indie rock, or try Marble Bar or TV Lounge for electronic music.

Dining in Detroit

No matter what you’re craving, Detroiters will serve it up with style. Greektown gives way to Saganaki, AKA Greek flaming cheese, while Southwest Detroit has a wealth of Mexican choices to choose from and Polish delicacies like pierogi or Dill Pickle Soup reign supreme in nearby Hamtramck. Pasta fans can dive deep into Detroit history with Italian food at Andiamo Detroit Riverfront or Giovanni’s Ristorante. Farm-to-table and inventive fare can be found at Selden Standard or Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails.

Still, a few Detroit-only dishes need to make their way onto your must-eat list. Find out what all the fuss is about and bite in to Detroit-style pizza, in the place where it all began, Buddy’s Pizza. Take the Coney dog challenge and pick a side – at side-by-side rivals Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island. For dessert, indulge in chocolate creations by Bon Bon Bon. Dig into decadent dessert at Sister Pie or order up a classic hot fudge sundae topped with Sanders hot fudge.

Drinks in Detroit

Get your caffeine fix at a Detroit coffee spots like Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co., Astro Coffee or Red Hook. Or, say pop – not soda – when you order up a Faygo in your favorite flavor. May we suggest Red Pop?

For something stronger, don’t miss a chance to sample Michigan-made craft beer or spirits. Plan stops at Motor City Brewing Works, 8 Degrees Plato, Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery, HopCat or newcomers like Eastern Market Brewing Co. and find your new favorite beer. Sip a cocktail at Detroit City Distillery or hop to Ferndale’s award-winning Valentine Distilling Co.

Make it a Day at the Museum

Detroit’s premiere art museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts is a must-see from its outstanding permanent collection, special exhibitions to the architecture of the museum itself. Make a weekend of it by planning stops at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Historical Museum, The Henry Ford, and of course, the Motown Museum. Find modern and up-and-coming local artists featured at Red Bull House of Art or MOCAD.

Shopping Detroit

Detroit delivers when it comes to shopping options. Just pick a neighborhood. Go downtown for high-fashion finds at John Varvatos or Detroit is the New Black, and get sporty gear from Nike. In Midtown, don’t miss Nest or Hugh for home goods. In Corktown one-of-a-kind finds fill Eldorado General Store and only locally-made food and finds have a place at The Farmer’s Hand.

Don’t miss a visit to Eastern Market. From murals to shops like Signal Return, there’s more to this historic spot than just the mouth-watering array of vendors who serve up fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and more every Saturday. It’s also the place to wander for the latest street art, thanks to Murals in the Market.

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    Detroit People Mover (Detroit Transportation Corp.)
    535 Griswold St., Suite 400, Detroit, MI 48226
  2. 2
    Detroit International RiverWalk
    1340 Atwater St., Detroit, MI 48207
  3. 3
    Detroit Princess Riverboat
    1 Civic Center Drive, Detroit, MI 48226
  4. 4
    Campus Martius Park
    800 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  5. 5
    Belle Isle State Park
    99 Pleasure Drive, Detroit, MI 48207
  6. 6
    Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
    Belle Isle State Park, 900 Inselruhe Ave., Detroit, MI 48207
  7. 7
    Comerica Park
    2100 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  8. 8
    Ford Field
    2000 Brush St., Detroit, MI 48226
  9. 9
    Fox Theatre
    2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  10. 10
    Fisher Theatre
    3011 W. Grand Blvd., Fisher Bldg., Detroit, MI 48202
  11. 11
    The Marble Bar
    1501 Holden St., Detroit, MI 48208
  12. 12
    Andiamo Detroit Riverfront
    400 GM Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI 48243
  13. 13
    Selden Standard
    3921 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  14. 14
    Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails
    15 E. Kirby St., Suite D, Detroit, MI 48202
  15. 15
    Buddy's Pizza - Detroit
    17125 Conant St., Detroit, MI 48212
  16. 16
    American Coney Island
    114 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226
  17. 17
    Motor City Brewing Works
    470 W. Canfield St., Detroit, MI 48201
  18. 18
    8 Degrees Plato
    3409 Cass Ave., Detroit,
  19. 19
    Jolly Pumpkin
    441 W. Canfield St., Ste. 9, Detroit, MI 48201
  20. 20
    Detroit Institute of Arts
    5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
  21. 21
    Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
    315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  22. 22
    Detroit Historical Museum
    5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
  23. 23
    The Henry Ford
    20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, MI 48124
  24. 24
    Motown Museum
    2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48208
  25. 25
    Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)
    4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  26. 26
    John Varvatos
    1500 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  27. 27
    Detroit is the New Black
    1430 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  28. 28
    Eastern Market
    Russell Street between Mack Avenue and Gratiot Avenue, 2934 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207
  29. 29
    1345 Division St., #102, Detroit, MI 48207