Looking for things to do in Detroit? Well here’s your guide. From weekend and budget activities to Detroit festivals and Detroit nightlife, your time in The D will never be dull.
Take your kids around town, complete your touristy rounds at the Spirit of Detroit and Joe Louis fist, celebrate the seasons at summer and winter festivals, and get your game on at the Detroit International RiverWalk or any of our three arenas.
You’ve got a free weekend in Detroit and the possibilities seem endless. Are you looking for kid-friendly activities? Check out any of our museums, Campus Martius Park, or the RiverWalk. Are you on a date night or out with friends? We have romantic restaurants, casinos, and bars and clubs for every type of partier. And if it’s your first time in Detroit, you can’t miss out on some iconic Detroit things to do, like the Motown Museum and the Fox Theatre.
Things to Do with Kids in Detroit
Your little ones can be hard to entertain, but Detroit has your back. In the summer, take your kids to Campus Martius Park, where you’ll find a beach in the middle of the city. Kids can play in the sand while you enjoy a drink or two at the beachside bar. If it’s raining or you just feel like being inside, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Historical Museum and The Henry Ford all have workshops and activities for kids that blend learning, art and history. Legoland Discovery Center Michigan and Sea Life Michigan Aquarium have your family covered in the ‘burbs. And what kid doesn’t enjoy a carousel? Hopefully yours, because the Cullen Family Carousel on the Detroit International RiverWalk offers amazing views of Canada and the Detroit skyline. And we’ve never met a kid who doesn’t love a ride on the People Mover. Take a lap or two around and orient yourself with downtown Detroit.
Entertainment and Bars in Detroit
Your man or woman decides to take you out for a romantic night in Detroit, but where should you go? If you want to go all out, a dinner at The Whitney or the Apparatus Room will tickle your fancy (get it?). Roast, London Chop House or the brand new Prime + Proper in Capitol Park will exceed your meat-loving expectations. For a classic date night, you can’t go wrong with Italian food in Detroit. Ottava Via in Corktown, Mario’s in Midtown and Andiamo on the Detroit River will transport your taste buds to Italy.
If you’re in town for the night and are looking for music, dancing, and maybe a little clubbing, we don’t blame you. A night on the town never hurt anybody! Greektown has a few of your bases covered with a casino, Level Two Bar & Rooftop, Exodos Nightclub, and classic sports bars like Firebird Tavern and Old Shillelagh. If you’ve never been out in Detroit before, this is a good area to start. For dancing, you can’t beat salsa dancing and lessons at Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine. When you’re feeling jazzy, you MUST go to Cliff Bell’s for live jazz and fabulous drinks. And if you’ve had a long day and just want some drinks, hit up Sugar House or Two James Spirits in Corktown for craft cocktails and Bronx Bar or Motor City Brewing Works in Midtown for beer and a chill vibe.
Detroit’s casinos are world-class, so we sure to stop by them while you’re in town. Aside from all of the casino classics, check out top notch dining such as Iridescence at MotorCity Casino, Wolfgang Puck Steak at MGM Grand Detroit. And Greektown Casino is surrounded by authentic Greek cuisine and nightlife.
Iconic Detroit Hot Spots
None of us want to admit to it, but we all love a good touristy photo or attraction. They must be popular for a reason, right? Well we are proud of our iconic Detroit landmarks, like the Spirit of Detroit and the Joe Louis first, both located near the GM Renaissance Center (a Detroit landmark in its own right). No trip to Motown is complete without a visit to the Motown Museum. You can literally stand in the studio where legends like Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson got their start. And if you have time for a show, don’t miss out on a chance to see the inside of the Fox Theatre. The ceiling could bring you to tears.
2. Fun Things to Do in Detroit: Festivals & Events
Metro Detroit is literally bursting at the seams with events, and if you’re looking for events in Detroit today or this weekend, check out our full events calendar. But if you want to plan your visit to The D around some of our great year-round festivals, we don’t blame you. Explore by season, or see what all the hype is all about at some of Detroit’s major annual events.
Summer Festivals in Detroit
Summertime…and the living is easy in The D. Along the riverfront, you can watch our international Ford Fireworks display or celebrate GM River Days with food, carnival rides and live music. Speaking of music, put Detroit Music Weekend on your calendar to see some of Detroit’s finest come back to the city to perform. Detroit Jazz Festival will keep you grooving and Arts, Beats & Eats in Royal Oak always has big headliners. Both are on Labor Day weekend. And don’t count the suburbs out. Uncle Sam Jam in downriver, Sterlingfest in Sterling Heights and Armada Fair in Armada are all family-fun affairs.
Winter Festivals & Detroit Events
It gets cold in Detroit, we won’ lie to you. But we’re telling the truth when we say that doesn’t stop the fun. Meridian Winter Blast and the Plymouth Ice Festival truly embrace the season with ice carvings, hot chocolate, ice skating and fun in the snow. The annual Detroit Tree Lighting isn’t a festival, but it should be. Watch our giant tree light up in Campus Martius Park, warm up in our indoor biergarten and watch the skating rink come to life with Olympic figure skaters. Similar holiday spirit can be found at Midtown’s Noel Night.
Music Festivals in Detroit
Fun fact: Detroit is actually where techno got its start. So it only makes sense that we celebrate by hosting Movement Electronic Music Festival every Labor Day weekend. See some of techno’s biggest stars take the stage near the riverfront. If country is more your style, WYCD holds their annual Hoedown at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston. The Detroit Jazz Festival also takes place on Labor Day downtown, but be sure to check out the Ferndale Blues Festival, which usually takes place in February. And indie music lovers rejoice! Mo Pop Music Festival on the riverfront has brought the likes of Alt-J, Solange, Foster the People, Modest Mouse and Passion Pit to Detroit.
Major Events in Detroit
The Detroit Tree Lighting and America’s Thanksgiving Parade are staples of the holiday season in Detroit, but other major events bring people to metro Detroit year round. If sports are your thing, then you can’t miss Detroit Tigers Opening Day. It’s a Detroit-wide holiday. Rain, snow or shine, Tigers fans flock to downtown Detroit to tailgate and cheer on their team. If you’re a car enthusiast, the North American International Auto Show revs up TCF Center every January, and we finish out the summer with a ride down Woodward Avenue for the Woodward Dream Cruise. When flowers start to bloom in the spring, you better make your way to Eastern Market for their annual flower day. You won’t believe how many people (and flowers) you’ll see! Motor City Pride celebrates the LGBTQ community of Detroit, and the Michigan Renaissance Festival will have you talking in old English and eating turkey legs in no time.
3. Things to Do in Detroit: Outdoors, Sports & Seasonal Activities
Ahh, the great outdoors. It’s not something that you would immediately think about when you picture Detroit. But our metro area offers great hiking, boating and bike riding options for every traveler. Or if you want to get active (or watch people be active) we have loads of indoor and outdoor sports for you. Take your pick!
If you didn’t know, Detroit is the only city in the country with all four sports teams playing in the downtown core. And all three of our stadiums are within a few blocks of each other, so it’s a sports lover’s dream. Go to Ford Field for the Lions, Comerica Park for the Tigers, and Little Caesars Arena for the Red Wings and the Pistons. Go to any bar in the area even if you don’t have tickets for a rowdy atmosphere, drinks and food. You might be lucky enough to be in town when there are multiple games happening on the same day, and you’ll be able to walk between stadiums. Told you it was a sports lover’s dream.
It’s a rainy Detroit day but you’re still looking to get moving – have no fear. Check out our numerous bowling alleys, such as Thunderbowl Lanes, for a family fun activity. If you’re looking for an adult version of bowling, hit up Garden Bowl or Emagine Entertainment & Star Lanes for drinks on the side. If your group is adventurous, then you need to try out a Detroit original – fowling. It’s a combination of bowling and football, and it’s a wild time. And if you’re looking for a gym or fitness class while you’re in town, we have plenty of yoga studios (Essential, Citizen, Bikram, and Detroit Yoga Lab), Pilates studios and gyms to keep you busy.
We’re fortunate enough to be right on the water in metro Detroit, so take advantage of it while you’re here! Riverside Kayak Connection will get you on the water in no time. Detroit is also a very bike-friendly city. If you need to see for yourself, just participate in a Monday night Slow Roll, where thousands of bikers come to downtown Detroit to explore the city. If you’re in town for the day or the weekend, rent a bike from Wheelhouse Detroit, or pick up a bike from a MoGo stall if you need to get from point A to point B. If you’re bold, swing from the trees at the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield and Go Ape USA.
Visit any one of the area’s 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks for water front views, winding trails and crazy playscapes for the little ones. If you’re here in the fall, be sure to bring your camera for some awesome fall color shots. If you’re trying to stay downtown, head to the riverfront. William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, Chene Park or Belle Isle for gorgeous views of the skyline, water and Canada across the way. Bring a picnic or takeout and make it an afternoon outing.