10 Things to Do in Detroit for First-time Tourists

Detroit is generally not on many peoples’ bucket lists.

Things to Do in Detroit for First-time Tourists
Motor City has many charms, including a history going all the way back to the 18th century. It is also, of course, known as the home of both the automobile and Motown. Here are 10 things to do in Detroit for first-time tourists.

Despite an unfortunate reputation for poverty and crime, Motor City has many charms, including a history going all the way back to the 18th century. It is also, of course, known as the home of both the automobile and Motown.

1) Belle Isle Park

Jewel of Detroit

Belle Isle Park, or simply Belle Isle, is an island park located in the Detroit River between Ontario and Michigan. At 982 acres, Belle Park is the largest island park owned by a city in the US. The MacArthur Bridge connects the park to mainland Detroit.

Belle Isle Park is home to a number of attractions, including an aquarium, nature center, beach, municipal golf course, museum, and a variety of monuments.

2) Corktown Historic District

Detroit’s Oldest Neighborhood

Corktown, which dates back to the 1830s, is the oldest existing neighborhood in Detroit. It gets its name from County Cork in Ireland since many of the original settlers in the area came from there. Corktown is known for its many beautifully restored Victorian homes. It also boasts some parks and a variety of restaurants. One restaurant, Gold Cash Gold, owes its curious name to the fact that it had once been a pawn shop.

3) Commercia Park

Home of the Detroit Tigers

Located in the center of Detroit, Commercia Park is an open-air baseball stadium that has hosted the major league baseball team the Detroit Tigers since 2000. It boasts a variety of other attractions like a Ferris wheel, carousel, food court, and several gift shops.

Detroit is one of the few cities in the US that has four major league teams. The other three are the Detroit Lions (football), Pistons (basketball), and Red Wings (ice hockey). The Lions play at Force Field, while the other two teams share the Little Caesars Arena.

4) Detroit Zoo

Home of the Arctic Ring

Established in 1883, the Detroit Zoo is one of the ten oldest zoos in the United States. It is home to around 2000 animals representing 245 species. One of its best-known exhibits is the Arctic Ring of Life, one of the largest polar bear habitats in North America. It covers four acres and is also home to Arctic foxes, harbour seals, and grey seals. The zoo also boasts a butterfly garden, a reptile house, an aviary, and an amphibian conservation centre.

5) Eastern Market

Largest outdoor farmers’ market in the US

The Eastern Market, located on Russell Street between Gratiot and Mack Avenues, encompasses 43 acres. As it was established in 1841, it is also one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the country. It is held on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The Saturday Market is the largest, with 225 vendors, and the only one held all year long. The Thursday Market is the only held at night, and the Sunday Market sells goods made by local artisans, musicians, and artists.

6) Ford Piquette Avenue Plant

Where the Model T was born

The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant was built in 1904. Henry Ford used it to build early cars like the Model T. He also used it to experiment with using assembly lines, then a very new technique, to manufacture his cars. In 1911, Ford sold the building to Studebaker, who used it to manufacture his cars until the 1930s. The Plant became a museum in 2001 and is the oldest automotive factory that people may visit. The museum includes recreations of the “experimental room” where the Model T was developed and Ford’s office, plus a variety of antique cars.

7) Motown Museum

Hitsville, USA

Motown Museum is dedicated to both the Motown record company and its music. It was founded in 1985 by Esther Gordy Edwards, the older sister of Motown’s founder, Berry Gordy. The Motown Museum includes recreations of music studios that exhibit musical instruments and equipment dating from 1959 to 1972, along with memorabilia associated with musicians like Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, Lionel Richie, the Jackson Five, and the Four Tops.

8) Detroit Public Library

“Detroit’s Best Friend”

The Detroit Public Library began life during the Civil War as a single room in a school with a collection of 5,000 books. Since then, it has grown into the second-largest library system in the US with 23 branches and over 7.5 million books. The Main Branch, built in 1921, was designed by the architect Cass Gilbert and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of Detroit’s Cultural Center Historic District. The Maine Branch is famous for its architecture and artwork. Since 2013, the library has been offering free tours of the Main Branch.

9) Renaissance Center

A city within a city

The Renaissance Center is a group of seven skyscrapers on the International Riverfront. The oldest towers were erected in 1977. The tallest tower, which belongs to the Detroit Marriott, is not just the tallest building in Michigan; it’s also the second tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the entire Western Hemisphere. Said tower stands 727 feet high or 73 stories and has nearly 1300 rooms. The Renaissance Center is also home to 29 restaurants and a shopping mall. Visitors can also sign up for free tours.

10) Diamond Jack’s River Tours

Cruising along the Detroit River

Diamond Jack’s River Tours, which has been in business since 1991, offers two-hour long cruises of the Detroit River during which visitors can see such sights as the Renaissance Center and Belle Isle. A local guide will describe the points of interests. The company operates three “mini-ships” that can accommodate anywhere from 125 to 225 passengers. The boats also offer drinks and snacks.

Happy Birthday Detroit! 🤙🏼 (my photo)

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