Navigating Solo Travel in Detroit

Modified: May 08, 2023 | Story by Brittney Schering | Photos by Brittney Schering

Solo travel is especially liberating! Explore locally-sourced travel tips and recommendations for navigating the greatest adventures in Detroit. From day trips to nightlife, and everything else in between; whether you’re here for an afternoon, a weekend, or an extended trip. Gather these advantageous ways to maximize enjoyment while staying safe during your time here in Detroit.

The spectacle of solo travel unravels in a myriad of ways. Whether for business or leisure, it’s an independent getaway. Reasons can range from traveling to attend a global conference or an industry convention, to a must-see concert, jazz festival, sporting event, or wedding ceremony. Regardless, if “The D” is your destination, it’s a bright new experience when traveling solo dolo.

Gotta Get Away

Sometimes (and so often, the best times) solo travel is the result of a raw need for a fresh, new perspective. When you just crave some distance from your usual norm of existence – to be a bit far out from all things familiar – solo travel is a grand adventure, especially here in Detroit.

Something particularly unique happens with solo travel in Detroit and everywhere. You become your own “plus one” regardless of the reason for going it alone without the comfort of company. When you are your own “plus one,” you get to check in with yourself right away:

What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? What do I feel like eating right now?

Without worrying whether your friend or partner wants a vegan pizza as you crave a juicy steak, the world is your oyster. Solo travel is prime time to eat the cake! Do as you wish; go where you please – and do so with care. Mindful alertness is required when traveling solo anywhere.

Solo travel is especially liberating. It can be a bit daunting, too. What helps is having access to the best tips for navigating solo adventures in Detroit, from day trips to nightlife and everything in between. From where’s best to stay, what’s cool to do, and when’s best to wander, let’s have a look at the Detroit Solo Travel Guide to keep handy upon arrival here in The Motor City.

Welcome to Detroit!

Lookin’ Like A Local

This is go-to advice for everyone solo-venturing through anywhere brand new, be it Detroit or any other place imaginable. Make it a point to live like a local so you look like a local. See what the residents of an area are commonly up to, and simply mirror it as naturally as possible.

Solo Travel Tip #1: Live like a local.

This tip helps you stay less of a target for petty theft common with tourists who seem too preoccupied oo-ing, ahh-ing, and TikToking to notice their purse, wallet, or other personal belongings went missing. Simply avoid making a target out of yourself by blending in with the natural community flow wherever you go.

This is also the best way to get the full experience of somewhere new to you, from staying in a locally-owned Airbnb to catching the drift of a local Detroiter’s casual way of life. Doing so gives a more boots-on-the-ground experience beyond the rose-colored lens of a tourist.

Plus, when you look like a local, you usually wind up receiving exclusively local insights around the best food spots, exciting scenes, and areas to avoid if you’re not looking for trouble.

Dine at McShane’s Irish Pub

For a good taste of what living like a local looks like here in Detroit, grab a bite at the spacious and dimly lit McShane’s Irish Pub on Michigan Ave in Corktown. The massive menu is packed with a wild variety of cleverly named, mouthwatering meal options, making it hard to choose. I highly recommend the Stuffed Strawberry Stack with a side of Rosemary Roasted Red Skins.

Portions are beyond generous, as are the people. The service is so kind and genuine, you’ll feel like you’re right at home. McShane’s is the furthest thing from a pretentious place. It represents the true heart of Detroiters – down to earth, eclectic, friendly, warm and fun to be around.

After your meal at McShane’s, walk around to check out the many offerings of Corktown. This area is pretty picturesque with walkability fit for aimless wandering with great delight in what you’ll find. From a tattoo shop and neighboring apothecary to coffeehouses and even a prime place to get your tie dye on, Corktown is a cool area to kickstart your solo journey in Detroit. Fittingly, it is also the city’s oldest neighborhood.

The Ultimate Souvenir Strip

One way to put an official stamp of approval on a trip is with a new tattoo. If that’s your type of souvenir, you’re in luck! No better cherry on top than fresh ink, and the shop two doors down from McShane’s, Union 3 Tattoo could not be more inviting. Plus, they welcome walkins, so stop by if you feel the itch for a more permanently vivid memory. Plus, the pristine Corktown Apothecary (next to McShane’s) is conveniently right next door for your aftercare needs.

If you are looking for a fancy wardrobe refresh while in the D, stop into the ever-trendy George Gregory. This super-chic boutique is full of amazing, high-quality accessories, luxury lifestyle goods, and an impressive selection of dignified men’s clothing sure to make heads turn.

Solo Travel Tip #2: Book your stay somewhere central.

Detroit is in a stunning phase of steady reinvention right now, with so much to explore around the city. That said, there are still some areas in need of TLC (that will soon be revitalized thanks to the City’s dedicated Blight To Beauty mission so the whole of Detroit shines brightly anew).

The best places to stay are near the city center, which continues to grow. From downtown to Corktown and Greektown, the options are plenty rich and range from super affordable to moderate and luxury-style stays fit for your personal lodging desires.

Plus, staying central makes your location a super convenient commodity in Detroit or anywhere else. Ubers and Lyfts will be far less expensive when you stay central, unless you rent a car. Keep in mind, the available parking downtown can get tight and quite expensive, especially for major events. Sometimes it is best and most cost-effective to use a ride service. Contrary to common misunderstanding, Detroit is a massive city with ample opportunity for adventure.

If you enjoy the comfort of a stay with a known brand, hotel options for consideration include MGM Grand and the Marriott, which is located in the Renaissance Center on the Detroit River. The Renaissance Center, nicknamed Ren Cen, is home to the GM World Headquarters. Feast your eyes on the incredibly futuristic automobiles from yesteryear on a revolving display.

Fuell Up at the Ren Cen

The Renaissance Center is close to everything, and it is a must-see when in Detroit! Walking through the many levels is a completely free spectacle all its own, from incredible interior design to fine dining with a view at Fuell.

After you’ve Fuell’d up, be sure to indulge in the view of the Detroit River. Wave hello to our international neighbor, Canada, across the water! Bring your passport if you’d like to country-hop while here. The tunnel to Canada is conveniently located right next to the Ren Cen. You can also get there via the Ambassador Bridge, which is just a couple miles down Jefferson Avenue.

Latergram, Tweetheart

Perhaps the least-liked travel tip of all, especially when wandering solo, is to save the social media sharing until after your trip has wrapped up. This might not be a popular choice, but it is certainly the safest bet for keeping yourself secure while navigating solo travel in Detroit or anywhere else in the world.

Solo Travel Tip #3: Resist the urge to share in real-time on social media.

If we’ve learned anything fruitful from Kim Kardashian, it’s this travel tip right here. The moment you share your travel experience in real-time on social media, you’re revealing so much more to anyone, anywhere – including your location, making it quite easy to track where you are (and how to get there when you’re there).

No one wants unwanted, unwelcome visitors showing up at their hotel. Not even Kim K in Paris.

Plus, when you are using public wifi, nothing is secure, including what you post online despite the illusion of safety with a “private” social media account. Save your social sharing spree for when you have returned home. This gives you a chance to relive your adventure all over again!

Casinos, Arcardes & Rooftops, Oh My!

The nightlife scene in Detroit has something for everyone. From a handful of major, classic casinos on offer, to the super fun game bars like Barcade, enjoy old-fashioned video games in a retro arcade bar setting fit for the young at heart who love to play Super Mario and Pac-Man for hours on end.

The rooftop bar selection in Detroit is also constantly expanding. A few go-to local favorites that come to mind are the hip, chic and trendy Exodos Rooftop in the heart of Greektown, a festive area for nightlife in general, and 3Fifty Terrace, defined on Google as: “Swanky rooftop hot spot open seasonally featuring stylish decor, a granite bar & VIP table service.

For an unforgettably sophisticated, sensational nightlife experience, I recommend returning to the RenCen for an evening at Highlands Detroit. Perched at the very top of the tower, this 71st and 72nd floor restaurant is one with breathtaking views and a divine dining experience that you’ll look back on long after your stay in Detroit. Nothing compares to a night at the Highlands.

Bookworm’s Paradise

If you’ve made it this far, chances are you enjoy reading a good page-turner. If that is the case, then maybe you also love the distinct smell of a used bookstore – the scent of  ‘magic awaits.’ John K. King Used & Rare Books is the place to pop into and get lost for hours on end.

This world-famous bookstore is a four-story rabbit hole fit for book lovers to dive in and explore the many aisles of shelves stacked with pure magic across all the many types of books your heart can imagine, right before your eyes. It’s an experience worth checking out for anyone who enjoys the cozy, mysterious, adventurous setting of a phenomenally renowned bookstore.

This Milkshake Brings Everyone to the Yard

No one has mastered the art of the milkshake better than Mister Dips. Grab a classic burger or a vegan one – whichever your heart desires – and be sure to try the milkshake that brings everyone to the yard. Try it spiked for a buzz if you’re looking to get your drink on. This delicious day-drinking dessert will keep you cool while adventuring solo in Detroit. Located in a supremely walkable part of downtown, enjoy the surrounding artful alleyways and unique shops, as well.

Keep Pizza Weird with a Cool Cat

Perhaps the most unique pizza experience you’ll ever walk into awaits at Pizza Cat. From the menu of astoundingly creative, otherworldly pies that will have you salivating to the truly trendy and unique atmosphere, there’s no pizza quite like a Pizza Cat pizza. Not even close. This is a place of pie you won’t soon forget, and it’s arguably the best place to grab a slice during your solo adventure in Detroit!

Take a Hike (or two or three) for Vitamin D!

Options are endless for an afternoon stroll with a spectacular view here in Detroit. The international Detroit Riverwalk has just been named number one for the third year in a row! For a more urban setting with lots of art and greenery, try the Dequindre Cut. Then there is the beautiful dream that is Belle Isle Conservancy, and the newly opened Joe Louis Greenway walk and bike path. Enjoy the abundance of hikes on offer here for a luxurious walk, bike, or scooter ride as you take in the sights, sounds and Spirit of Detroit while getting that vitamin D!

Stock Up on Detroit Snacks

When you’re feeling snacky but not quite ready for a full meal just yet, head to the promising Rivertown Market for a full shop of Detroit options that make for delectable snacks. Keep it local when you check the shelves and notice how many local-to-Detroit brands this amazing Meijer market supports down every aisle, from pizza to salsa, honey, and hot sauce. If you’re looking for the best way to bring a delicious bite of Detroit back home with you, you’ll find it at Rivertown Market! Plus, the super central location is very close to the heart of downtown.

Most of all, please be safe and mindful as you enjoy your time well spent here in Detroit!

Was this article helpful?

Yes No