From the tip of its skyscrapers to its riverside green spaces, this major metro exudes energy. Connect to the spirit during rides on the People Mover, on Pure Detroit’s free walking tours or strolling along the RiverWalk. Check out our tips on what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

By The editors of
March 27, 2013

What to do

Belle Isle The 900-plus acre state park in the Detroit River delivers a lineup of next-to-nature moments. Its free aquarium features more than 1,000 fish, and the domed conservatory houses rare plants. Also explore a marble lighthouse, beach and maritime museum.

Campus Martius Park On downtown’s Woodward Avenue, a green spot with lawn, gardens and beach caters to picnics, skyscraper gazing and entertainment.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Exhibits cover 3.2 million years of African and African American history. A is for Africa introduces young visitors to the history and culture of Africa through 26 interactive stations.

Cranbrook Educational Community In suburban Bloomfield Hills, this campus of buildings and institutions includes 40 acres of lovely gardens, plus an art museum with works by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. The campus is a National Historic Landmark.

Detroit Historical Museum The Streets of Old Detroit provides a look at life in the 1840s, 1870s and 1900s. Visitors can also create music tracks at the energetic Kid Rock Music Lab.

Detroit Institute of Arts The 66,000-piece collection, one of the nation’s most significant, includes Diego Rivera’s 1932–33 Detroit Industry murals.

Detroit International RiverWalk More than 3 miles of riverfront link parks, gardens, a carousel and public spaces.

Detroit International RiverWalk

Eastern Market On Saturdays year-round, 225 vendors sell flowers, food and art. Seasonal Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday night markets feature crafts, music, demos and classes.

Eastern Market

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House Edsel Ford (the only child of Henry Ford) and his wife built this country manor in the 1920s. From its setting on Lake St. Clair to its artistic treasures, everything is first-class. Located in Grosse Pointe Shores, 15 miles northeast of Detroit.

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Tour the 1904 building where the legendary Model T was created and first produced.

The Henry Ford The pioneering automaker amassed an astonishing collection of Americana, including the bus that Rosa Parks rode and a camp bed used by George Washington. See the museum and adjoining Greenfield Village in Dearborn, about 20 minutes west of Detroit.

Motown Museum Explore label founder Berry Gordy’s home recording studio, with original instruments.

Outdoor Adventure Center Get a taste of wildlife, camping, mountain biking and other adventures through exhibits and simulators created by the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

The People Mover It costs just 75 cents to ride the elevated light rail cars, which run in a loop and stop close to Comerica Park, Greektown and the RiverWalk.

The People Mover

Sports Cheer on Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, or head to the $860 million Little Caesars Arena to see the National Hockey League’s Red Wings or the National Basketball Association’s Pistons. The National Football League’s Lions play at Ford Field.

Comerica Park

Walking tours Free guided tours of the 1929 Art Deco Guardian Building, the 1928 Fisher Building and the GM Renaissance Center begin at Pure Detroit shops inside each location.

Where to eat

Buddy's Pizza Locals have thronged to this former speakeasy for its signature Sicilian crust piled with fresh toppings and hand-grated cheese.

Cadieux Cafe Visit this former speakeasy for Belgian beer, mussel dinners and a round or two of a game you've probably never heard of: featherbowling, in which players roll 5-pound maple wood wheels down a clay lane toward a pigeon plume.

Gold Cash Gold Pickled-brined fried chicken, blackened jerk steak and other Southern-inspired food stars in a colorful reclaimed pawn shop near Corktown.

Grey Ghost Detroit Named for a rum-running pirate on the Detroit River, the Brush Park/Midtown spot delivers on cocktails with names like Monster Under the Bed (rum, kiwi, coconut). Pair your drinks with a cheeseburger.

La Lanterna Neopolitan-style pizza and classic Italian dishes draw a loyal following to this family-owned eatery in Capitol Park.

Lady of the House A two-time James Beard semifinalist, this Corktown small-plate spot dishes modern American fare such as lamb sausage with grapes.

Lumen Detroit Dine on crab cakes, Michigan pork chops and burgers in a glass-and-wood space overlooking Beacon Park.

Michael Symon's Roast The chef's restaurant in the Westin Book Cadillac promises paradise for meat-lovers. Come for dry-aged porterhouses larger than shoeboxes.

Pegasus Taverna It’s all about Greek faves (moussaka, pastitsio, gyros) at this Greektown spot.

Prime and Proper Steakhouse Top-notch service enhances dry-aged steak, chops and seafood in the 1912 Capitol Park Lofts building downtown.

Rattlesnake Club Whether you get dinner or just cocktails, plan to sit on the patio along the river.

Selden Standard Three-time James Beard semifinalist Andy Hollyday specializes in small plates with fun flavor combos, such as scallops with pomegranate seeds. Pair with small-batch beers and wines.

SheWolf Pastificio and Bar Contemporary Italian dishes (with pasta made from flour milled in-house) shine at the Midtown restaurant.

Slows Bar BQ Mammoth sandwiches such as the Yardbird—smoked chicken with mushrooms, cheese and applewood bacon—make the Corktown spot popular.

Slows Bar BQ

Toasted Oak Grill and Market In Novi's Baronette Hotel, the restaurant showcases regional foods by an award-winning chef.

Sister Pie Lisa Ludwinski’s West Village bakery turns out heavenly pies with buttery crusts and other from-scratch treats.

Where to stay

Aloft Detroit at The David Whitney A $92 million restoration preserved the 1915 building’s four-story marble and terra-cotta lobby while creating 136 thoroughly contemporary hotel rooms.

The Dearborn Inn, A Marriott Hotel Try The Henry Ford package: breakfast for two adults and two tickets to The Henry Ford.

Detroit Foundation Hotel Vintage and modern touches blend to create a stellar experience at the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters. The hotel boasts 100 rooms and the Apparatus Room restaurant.

Photo courtesy of Joe Vaughn/Detroit Foundation Hotel

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center The 70-story downtown hotel offers views of the city and beyond through floor-to-ceiling windows.

El Moore Guests find rooftop urban cabins, light-filled main-floor rooms and budget-friendly lower-level quarters in a renovated 1898 Midtown apartment building.

Greektown Casino-Hotel This stylish hotel, connected to the casino, makes a great base from which to explore downtown.

The Inn on Ferry Street Four Victorian homes and two carriage houses hold 40 rooms in Midtown, steps from some of the city's best museums and restaurants.

The Siren Hotel A $22 million renovation turned the decaying 1926 Wurlitzer Building into a 106-room boutique hotel. The Candy Bar lounge’s pink decor and sparkling disco ball reflect the hotel’s sexy appeal.

The Shinola Hotel The Detroit-based company known for leather watches and bags teamed with urban-revitalization master Bedrock to create a 129-room boutique hotel in Midtown.

The Westin Book Cadillac Though the exterior retains its Italian Renaissance styling, the guest rooms are modern.

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