What's Free in The D

Metro Detroit on a Budget

Stroll along the Detroit International RiverWalk
We all know there's fun in metro Detroit on a budget -- Tigers value packs, cheap lawn seats at DTE Energy Music Theatre or happy hour specials at favorites such as Roast, Cliff Bell's, Ottava Via and La Feria -- but what about those days when you want to do something, and you just don't feel like spending anything? No problem. Our Free in The D tips and to-dos let you leave your worries (and wallets) behind.
Take your time

Entertainment, Sports & Recreation


Detroit, Beyond Detroit, Oakland, Macomb



No trip to The D is complete without spending time at Eastern Market, where every Saturday (since 1891), thousands of people mingle amid six blocks of local goodness. With more than 250 independent vendors and merchants, you’ll find fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, flowers and more. Sometimes you might score a vendor sample or two.

Check out our feature story for more great things to do in Eastern Market.

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If art appreciation in the outdoors is your thing, Detroit has a great group of sculptures and unique art installations on street corners, in front of buildings and as focal points in urban parks. No cost for stopping, staring and admiring, of course. Some of the city’s most iconic must-sees:

  • The Memorial to Joe Louis (The Fist) on Jefferson Avenue
  • Spirit of Detroit on Woodward Avenue
  • Dodge Memorial Fountain in Hart Plaza
  • Larger-than-life tiger statue at Comerica Park
  • Giant Uniroyal Tire along I-94 expressway near Allen Park
  • Less than a buck: Ride the Detroit People Mover and catch the great art at each of the 13 stops. $0.75
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Sometimes you might need a seasonal or daily pass to enjoy a gorgeous metro Detroit park, but many of our recreational spaces don’t cost a dime to enter and enjoy. Pack a picnic lunch, throw the bikes on the back and you’ve got a day of memory making.

  • On the Detroit International RiverWalk, you can stroll or and enjoy water fountains, butterfly gardens, French bistros and a working carousel in warmer weather. Create a tranquil moment by watching the mega-sized freighters silently creep along the Detroit River.
  • At Veterans Memorial Park, you can barbecue on the shores of Lake St. Clair at this beautiful stop for east-siders. There’s a splash pad for the kids, beach access, volleyball nets, a playground, shuffleboard, horseshoes and bocce ball. You can also drop a line and go fishing off the pier.
  • Belle Isle Park in Detroit lets you look out over the Detroit River to Canada. There’s plenty of room for the whole family to bike, hike, barbecue and fish. Several park attractions offer free admission, including the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Nature Zoo, Aquarium and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. This is a Michigan State Park, so a state recreational pass is required.
  • Take the kids to this unique dinosaur preserve at the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve in Rochester, and walk through the surrounding wooded hills of the nature trail.
  • At Elizabeth Park in Trenton, bring your fishing pole or snack on a PBJ while you watch the boats pass by on 1,300 feet of Detroit River frontage. Elizabeth Park has bike and rollerblade paths, softball fields and hiking trails.
  • Fuerst Park in Novi has a 150-seat amphitheater to see a show. Or take a leisurely walk on the rolling hills.
  • Huron-Clinton Metroparks has 13 locations. Pack the bikes and a picnic lunch. Free beaches, lots of hiking trails and boat rentals at some of these locations. Day or seasonal pass required.
  • Campus Martius Park in Detroit is in the heart of downtown. This oasis has a beautiful water fountain, plush botanicals and even a sandy beach in the summertime, and an ice rink in the winter. Look for Detroit’s Point of Origin (from which all the “mile” roads are measured), near the bistro. One of the city’s brightest spots.
  • New Center Park has a free movie lineup every Wednesday and Friday night from June to August. There’s also live music at this Midtown gem.
  • Yeah, we know a shopping mall isn’t a park, but we felt compelled to mention The Mall at Partridge Creek. This outdoor, dog-friendly retail complex’s free musical acts every day in the plaza through Sept. at its Summer Sounds event.

Photo Credits: Eastern Market and Detroit International RiverWalk by Bill Bowen; Spirit of Detroit by Vito Palmisano

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    Eastern Market
    Russell Street between Mack Avenue and Gratiot Avenue, 2934 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207
  2. 2
    Comerica Park
    2100 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  3. 3
    Detroit People Mover (Detroit Transportation Corp.)
    535 Griswold St., Suite 400, Detroit, MI 48226
  4. 4
    Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
  5. 5
    Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
  6. 6
    1 Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI 48226
  7. 7
    Detroit International RiverWalk
    1340 Atwater St., Detroit, MI 48207
  8. 8
    Belle Isle State Park
    99 Pleasure Drive, Detroit, MI 48207
  9. 9
    Huron-Clinton Metroparks
    13000 High Ridge Drive, Brighton, MI 48114
  10. 10
    Campus Martius Park
    800 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  11. 11
    The Mall at Partridge Creek
    17420 Hall Road, Clinton Twp., MI 48038
  12. 12
    32400 Jefferson Ave, St Clair Shores, MI 48082
  13. 13
    Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve
    333 N Hill Cir, Rochester Hills, MI 48307
  14. 14
    4250 Elizabeth Dr, Trenton, MI 48183
  15. 15
    45325 W 10 Mile Rd, Novi, MI 48375
  16. 16
    2998 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202