Detroit Travel Guide 2021

2021 Detroit Visitors Guide

Despite its reputation for urban decay and neglect, the city of Detroit has made major efforts to reinvent and reinvigorate its tourism industry. Modern-day “Motor City” truly has something to offer everyone.

Home to legendary industrialist Henry Ford and several American auto conglomerates, in the early decades of the 20th Century Detroit drew masses of workers from every racial, ethnic and geographical background. At its height, life in Detroit was exciting and jobs were plenty. However, abusive policies set in place by industry leaders also lead to the creation of urban ghettos when foreign competition heated up and jobs became harder to find and keep. This blend of cultures combined with a legacy of both material excess and abject poverty give modern Detroit its truly unique flavor.

Detroit Fun Guide

Called “Motor City” because of its connection with the auto industry, Detroit is also associated with another famous moniker: Motown. The home of the “Motown Sound,” music lovers will be entranced by the understated Motown Museum. Restaurants and tours are also readily available in the city to give tourists that complete Motown experience.

Downtown Detroit

In the nearby suburb of Dearborn, Henry Ford founded a museum dedicated to the history of the Industrial Revolution that now bears his name. The Henry Ford Museum contains many unique pieces of history including John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine and the chair Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated.

The Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA) is one of the nation’s finest art museums. The DIA permanently houses more than 65,000 works that span both history and geography. The museum also houses a 1500 seat theater which makes it an ideal location for visiting artists and exhibitions.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History was opened in 1997 and contains the largest collection of African American historical artifacts in the world. In addition to housing several permanent exhibits, the museum also offers classrooms and a research library.

Sports fans can catch a game in downtown Detroit practically year-round. Completed in 2000, the Tigers now play in Comerica Park with Lions football fans congregating in the adjacent Ford Field. After the game, gastronomes can stroll down to Detroit’s famous Greektown with its casino, upscale dining locations, and wild nightlife.

Tourists with children and nature lovers will enjoy the Belle Isle Nature Zoo. Formerly called the Children’s Zoo, these 20 acres are a nature preserve in Detroit’s vast urban sprawl. Tourists can take long nature walks on well-maintained trails or stick to the zoo’s center and see exhibits containing exotic animals such as tigers, cheetahs, and kangaroos.

Detroit Downtown Hotels

Downtown Detroit has seen extensive renovations in the past 10-15 years. Besides, the modern high rises are buildings in good condition that were constructed at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s. While admiring the diverse architecture, visitors to the district will find attractions at the huge art and theater section and the International Riverfront with its plaza and promenade. Neighborhoods are interesting. In Greektown, Greek restaurants and casinos are popular. Some buildings in Greektown display ancient Greek-like architecture similar to the Parthenon.

Of course, Capital Park is fascinating with its history linked to the Underground Railroad of Civil War days. Some of the most famous buildings in Detroit are within or near Capital Park. Many events take place in or beside downtown Detroit. America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the most loved ones. Although televised, many citizens of the city and visitors show their city and holiday spirit by taking their stand along the parade route. The Jazz Festival, Winter Blast, and the North American International Auto Show are other popular local events. Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown Detroit that are quality hotels at an affordable price.

Detroit Weather

The southeastern region of Michigan, including Detroit, experiences what meteorologists call a “humid continental” climate. Distinguished by marked differences in seasonal temperatures (hot summers and frigid winters), Detroit is also famous for exhibiting rapid changes in weather that can occur within hours of each other. For example, a spring day may begin as sunny and in the low 50s but could very possibly be overcast and snowing by late afternoon.

Precipitation in Detroit is generally uniform year-round, with springtime being slightly more wet than other seasons. Heavy bursts of snow called “lake-effect” snow are possible due to the proximity of Lake Erie and may give the city a foot of snow in a short period. Freezing rain and sleet is also a frequent occurrence during winter and early spring, making driving and walking treacherous.

Detroit Weather Trivia
Average summer temperatures for Detroit range from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Average winter temperatures range from 25 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. In 1988, Detroit sweltered under its highest temperature ever recorded–103 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternately, the lowest temperature ever recorded occurred in 1994, when a cold snap forced thermometers to plunge 21 degrees below zero.

Normally, Detroit averages around 33 inches of rain and 42 inches of snow each year. Although thunderstorms are capable of torrential downpours and are a common occurrence during the late spring and summer, tornadoes are somewhat rare in Detroit as well as the rest of Michigan.

Lake-effect snow, which is snow generated when cold air blowing across warm water deposits frozen water vapor on land in the form of snow, has been known to create blizzard-like conditions across Detroit with little warning to its residents. For this reason, Detroit, Chicago and other places bordered by one or more the Great Lakes are often referred to as “snow belts”

What to Take When Traveling to Detroit
If you are going to be visiting Detroit during the winter, pack plenty of long-sleeve sweaters, appropriately heavy pants, thick socks, and warm pajamas. Boots, gloves, long scarves, and winter hats are highly recommended as well.

Staying comfortable in Detroit during the summer months means packing light-colored, light-weight shorts and shirts, sandals, sundresses and swimsuits if a trip to Lake Erie is on the itinerary. Because Detroit weather is so changeable in the spring and fall, packing a combination of one part winter and one part summer clothes are advisable when visiting during these months.

Detroit Transportation

Car

The best way to get around Detroit is by driving. The city suffers from the urban sprawl that characterizes most major cities in the United States, so the majority of visitors will find it most convenient to use a rental car while they are in Detroit. The best place to rent a car for visitors to Detroit is at the airport upon arrival. Most of the national car rental chains have outlets located at the airport.

The traffic in Detroit is not too difficult to navigate, but it can get a little congested around rush hour. Drivers will find that there is ample parking throughout the city. Most places downtown will require visitors to pay for parking. This will either be in the form of meters or at the many parking ramps that dot the downtown area. Drivers should keep plenty of change on hand to feed the meters. Be sure to always be prompt when feeding the meters as the cash-strapped city employs an army of parking enforcement officers to hand out as many parking tickets as possible.About Detroit

Walking

The sprawling nature of the city makes walking impractical in most areas, but the downtown offers travelers some very enjoyable walking opportunities. Be sure to be careful when walking at night due to crime concerns. Always stay in well-lit areas and avoid the more rundown parts of town.

Bicycling

Due to the population collapse in Detroit caused by its terrible economy, biking in the city is better here than in almost any other city in America. The streets are designed to handle many more cars than they see on a normal basis these days. This means bike riders will often find they have a whole lane to themselves when riding around Detroit’s city streets.

Bus

Visitors who want to use public transportation can use the Detroit Department of Transportation’s buses that service the entire city. These buses run on time for the most part, but they do take a while to roll around the city. The buses do go to all areas of the city, including the suburbs. Passengers should ask for a transfer upon boarding if they need one.

Taxis

Visitors in downtown Detroit shouldn’t have too much trouble flagging down a taxi no matter what time of the day or night. They are clean and comfortable for the most part, and the drivers are fairly friendly and offer decent customer service. Most visitors to Detroit will find that they need to call for a cab when they are outside of downtown as it will be nearly impossible to flag one down.

Detroit Attractions

Detroit, Michigan is home to a wide variety of different attractions and amenities for all types and ages of visitors. From beautiful historic theatres to sporting arenas and museums, Detroit will provide everyone with a unique experience tailored to their own interests.

>> Visit our Top Detroit Attractions Guide

Detroit Dining

Pizza Papalis

This is an Italian restaurant that is located in downtown Detroit. Chicken and broccoli alfredo, Mediterranean salad, deep-dish pizza, and Philly cheesesteak subs are some of the delicious foods that are served at Pizza Papalis. This restaurant also serves a number of delicious desserts, including cookie cheesecake and deep-dish chocolate cookie.

Detroit Dining

Bucharest Grill

This restaurant is located in downtown Detroit. Bucharest Grill serves Eastern and Middle Eastern Cuisine. Meatball salad, skinless sausage, gourmet hot dogs and the Bucharest fried egg cheeseburgers are some of the food choices featured on the menu. Apple pie and homemade crepes are some of the dessert choices that are on the menu.

Motown Café

This restaurant serves American food. It is located in downtown Detroit. Grilled cheese sandwiches, chili cheese fries, mozzarella cheese sticks, salads, hot dogs, sandwiches, subs and chicken wings are some of the great choices served at Motown Café.

Rub BBQ Pub

As the name suggests, this is a restaurant that serves barbecue. It is located in the downtown region of Detroit. Rub wings, southern-style whole wings, catfish nips and barbecue nachos are some of the mouth watering-foods served at Rub BBQ Pub. Not only does this restaurant serve great food, but it also offers a fine selection of beer, including Motorcity Pale Ale and Arcadia’s Angel Ale.

Greenroom Salads

This is a restaurant that serves soups, subs, salads, and sandwiches. It is located in Downtown Detroit. Greenroom Salads is a great choice for people who are trying to eat healthily.

Fishbone’s

This is a steakhouse that also serves Cajun cuisine. Baked artichoke with spinach dip, jumbo lump crab cakes, onion rings, zucchini sticks and New Orleans barbecue shrimp are some examples of things that you can order at this restaurant. Not only is Fishbone’s a great place to eat, but it is also a great place to get together with friends. Stand-up comedy and live music are featured on select nights of the week. This restaurant is located in downtown Detroit.

Wah-Hoo

This is a restaurant that serves a wide variety of Chinese food. Shrimp egg rolls, vegetable dumplings, vegetable lo mein and sweet and sour chicken are some of that you can select from on the menu. Wah-Hoo also has free Wi-Fi.

Rice Bowl Asian Kitchen

This is an Asian restaurant. General Tso’s chicken, fried dumplings and Japanese seaweed salad are some of the scrumptious foods served at Rice Bowl Asian Kitchen. This restaurant is located in downtown Detroit.

Detroit Events

Dally in the Alley

If you are looking for an event with great art, food, and music in Detroit, then it does not get any better than Dally in the Alley. Dally in the Alley is basically a large street fair that celebrates the people and culture of Detroit. Dally in Alley has been around since 1977, and it occurs every year on the first Saturday after Labor Day. There are currently four different music stages at the event that feature local bands from a variety of genres.

Detroit Events

Detroit Electronic Music Festival

The Detroit Electronic Music Festival has been taking place every May since 2000, and it currently receives over 100,000 visitors each year. The entire festival is dedicated to electronic music, and it is able to get some of the top DJs and musicians in the genre each year. Electronic music is one of the biggest growing music genres, and there is nowhere better to experience the unique music than at this event.

North American International Auto Show

Detroit is best known for being the home of several major car manufacturers, so it is no surprise to see one of the biggest car shows in the world being held in the city. The North American International Auto Show dates back to 1989, and it is currently held every January in the Cobo Center. Nearly one million people show up to the North American International Auto Show each year to see the latest advancements in the auto industry. There are dozens of brand new cars revealed every year at the North American International Auto Show.

Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival

This Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival is an event that is jointly organized by Detroit and Windsor, Canada to celebrate Canada Day and the Fourth of July. Since the event is held in both the United States and Canada, it is able to draw over three million people each year. The main draw of the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival is a joint fireworks display by both cities, which creates one of the largest fireworks display in North America.

Detroit International Jazz Festival

If you have a love for jazz music, then there are not many better places to experience the music than the Detroit International Jazz Festival. Jazz has a rich history in the city of Detroit, and the music is celebrated every Labor Day weekend. The Detroit International Jazz Festival has been around since 1980, and it is currently the largest free Jazz festival in the country. The event is headlined by some of the biggest names in jazz music each year.

Family Fun near Downtown Detroit

Detroit – it’s the home of great American history, culture, industry, and lots of interesting people and places. If you have never visited Detroit, this Michigan gem is whatever you make of it. If you like to mingle among the crowd and attend big events, Detroit is perfect for you. If you enjoy the outdoors and nature’s beauty, Detroit can gladly provide here as well.

Detroit Family FunFor these reasons, Detroit is a great place for family fun and amusement. Get ready, because we’re going on a trip through the great northern city in search of great family fun. Just keep the kids calm long enough to get there.

Go to a Sports Game

If you and the kids enjoy pro sports, Detroit has it all. Visit Ford Field, take a tour, watch a game, or attend other Detroit Lions football team events. The Detroit Tigers MLB team can be seen at their home, Comerica Park. Hockey lovers can head to the Joe Louis Arena where the Red Wings NHL hockey team resides. All of these venues are convenient for food, gas, and public transportation way-points, making your travels that much easier.

Segway Tour

Now that we’ve quenched the family’s thirst for sports, what better time to take in some more of the city itself? The average tour can often be a conflict of your child’s entertainment-interests. The remedy: take a family tour of Detroit by Segway. Visitors to Southeast Michigan Segway LLC are welcome to rent Segways, go on guided Segway-tours of the city and Riverwalk, or just learn more and simply be amused by this fun, new type of personal transportation.

Detroit Science Center

The Detroit Science Center is an entire day of family fun unto itself. Visitors can marvel at the amazing planetarium, feel their way through hands-on exhibits, or watch a film at the center’s very advanced Imax Dome Theater. Special events are always taking place and reservations of exclusive facility-use are available. It is ideal for visitors to the science center to call ahead for reservations when special events are the intended visit purpose.

Hamtramck Disneyland

Just off Gallagher Avenue in the city’s Hamtramck section, there exists a giant curiosity. Owned privately, yet open to the public, this destination is a wondrous combination of art and a loosely, Disney-themed theme-park. There are rockets and Ferris wheels, airplanes and outdoor art, Disney characters, and Christmas lights. No matter your age, you can’t help but to point and stare at just about everything here as you try to take it all in. The kids will forever curiously ask, “Remember that place?”

Dequindre Cut

To finish off our little family fun trip, we end up at Dequindre Cut – a taste of nature to wind things down. Dequindre Cut is an abandoned railway line from years ago that is now part of an amazing conservation area. Enjoy the trails along with the cut by bike, foot, or even Segway. Families particularly enjoy this relaxing walk through old-time America. And if you’re hungry afterward, the current title-holder of Detroit’s best pizza is nearby; Indulge at Supino Pizzeria.

Enjoy your time in Detroit. The family should have no difficulty in this at all.

Shopping near Downtown Detroit

Despite being impacted in a major way over the years by the unstable economy, Detroit continues to be a thriving city, as well as a frequently visited one. People from all over the country and even all over the world enjoy visiting Detroit, the Motor City. If you’re going to be visiting the Detroit, Michigan area soon, and you’re searching for the best places in which to shop, there are several great choices.

Great Lakes Crossing

If you’re looking for some great bargain shopping, you will definitely want to stop at this mall to check out all the many outlet stores they have available. This mall, located on Baldwin Road in Auburn Hills, which is about 35 minutes north of Detroit, features sought after stores like Coach Factory, Lord & Taylor Outlet, True Religion Brand Jeans Outlet and many more. In addition to an abundance of outlet stores, there are plenty of great restaurants to dine in as well. From Japanese to Chinese, to choices like the Rain Forest Café and even Taco Bell, there is a restaurant to satisfy everyone’s tastes and budget.

Fairlane Town Center

Located just ten minutes south of Detroit, in Dearborn, this mall is another great shopping center to shop at. Fairlane features various women’s boutiques where accessories, handbags and similar items can be purchased, as well as various other stores like DSW, G by Guess, The Body Shop and plenty more. There are also many choices of restaurants in which to dine at, something to satisfy everyone.

Various other malls

Great Lakes Crossing and Fairlane Town Center are only two of the many malls in the Detroit area. Depending on where you’re going to be traveling and what stores you’re interested in, there is Westland Mall, Lakeside Mall, Northland Mall, Somerset Mall, and several more. These various malls also offer some wonderful dining options, from fine dining to simple fast food, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

Shopping in the Detroit area can be very plentiful. If you hope to shop at all the various stores and malls that the Motor City has to offer, then you might need to extend your trip, especially if you plan to stay for only a couple of days. In addition to shopping, there are some must-see destinations. There are the casinos located in downtown Detroit, as well as the Detroit Institute of Arts, and much more.

Map of Hotels in Detroit

  1. Detroit Metro Airport – Find hotels near Romulus & Taylor.
  2. Detroit Downtown – Find hotels near Detroit Opera House & Corktown
  3. Wayne State University – Find hotels near Hilberry Theatre & Palmer Institute
  4. Detroit Inter Riverfront – Find hotels near Lafayette Park & Walkerville
  5. Detroit Ambassador Bridge – Find hotels near Hubbard Richard & Sutherland
  6. Detroit Zoo Park – Find hotels near Royal Oak & Huntington Woods
  7. Motown Historical Museum – Find hotels near Virginia Park & LaSalle Gardens
  8. Detroit Comerica Park – Find hotels near Fox Theatre & Wayne State University
  9. Detroit Institute of Arts – Find hotels near Palmer Institute & Detroit Science center
  10. Detroit Hart Plaza – Find hotels near Renaissance Center & Joe Louis Arena
Detroit Map Areas
Map of Hotels in Detroit by Attraction