Known for being the largest city in the state of Michigan, Detroit, also known as the “Motor City” and the birthplace of Motown Records, has faced financial challenges that few cities have had to deal with. The population has dropped substantially to just under 700,000 people and many businesses have closed in recent years but the city is on its way to recovery and healing.
There are still many wonderful things to see and do in Detroit, so don’t miss out. For the music aficionado, you can visit the Motown Historical Museum or if that doesn’t suit your fancy, visit Joe Louis Arena, Ford Field, Comerica Park, Detroit Institute of Arts, The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, or Greektown Casino Hotel for a wide variety of experiences just to name a few. And don’t forget to drive the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to punctuate the start and finish of your vacation adventure.
10. Detroit-Windsor Tunnel
The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is an underground highway tunnel connecting Detroit, Michigan, United States with Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Completed in 1930, it is the second busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing after the nearby Ambassador Bridge with about 13,000 cars a day making the crossing. The tunnel is jointly owned by the two cities and contributes to 150,000 jobs in the region and $13 billion in annual production.
The two lane tunnel is just under a mile long at 5,160 feet (1,573 m) and at its lowest point is 75 feet (23 m) below the surface of the river. It is the world’s third international underground tunnel and the first underground vehicle tunnel between two countries. The tunnel is constructed of immersed tube consisting of sections of steel tube in a trench in the bottom of the river. There are three levels, with the bottom level bringing fresh air in under pressure which is then forced to the second level where the traffic lanes are located and the third is where vehicle exhaust is vented at both ends of the tunnel. Driving through the tunnel is like entering another world and a fun experience for the family when entering and/or leaving Detroit.
9. Greektown Casino Hotel
Greektown Casino Hotel is located in Detroit’s Greektown Historic District and is one of three casino resort hotels in the city. Construction of the resort started in October 2006 and was completed in 2009. Greektown Superholdings Inc. and Greektown Newco Sub Inc. took over the casino hotel from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians after they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and in January 2013, Rock Gaming bought a majority stake in Greektown as part of the plan to revitalize downtown Detroit.
The hotel tower is 30 storeys high and stands 344 ft. (105 m). It also has a 13-story free parking garage, 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) of gaming space, VIP gaming area, poker room and convention center. Host to world-class performances by well-known artists, this is a great place to go and have a good time and if you’re lucky, not lose your shirt.
8. Dossin Great Lakes Museum
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Detroit’s Maritime museum is located on The Strand on Belle Isle Park on the Detroit River. It features one of the largest model ship exhibits in the world and demonstrates Detroit’s role in maritime history. It also houses the bow anchor of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald which sunk in Lake Superior in 1975.
Originally founded in 1949, the museum was closed in 1956 when it was aboard the J.T. Wing wooden schooner because of deterioration. With donations from Detroit’s Dossin family and subsidies from the city’s historical commission, the museum broke ground in 1959 and opened July 24, 1961. Permanent exhibits include The Miss Pepsi (one of the fastest hydroplane racing boats of all time), The SS William Clay Ford Pilot House (where visitors can be captain) and the SS City of Detroit III (restored smoking lounge). If ships and history of the Great Lakes interest you, this is a must-see museum.
7. GM Renaissance Center
The Renaissance Center or GM Renaissance Center (nicknamed RenCen) is one of a group of seven interconnecting skyscrapers located in downtown Detroit. The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center is the third tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere and houses the largest rooftop restaurant called Coach Insignia. The Renaissance Center is owned by General Motors and is home to their world headquarters.
When visiting Detroit, The Renaissance Center is the place to go to stay, eat, shop and play. There is a mix of specialty shops, services and places to dine in the GM RenCen, the Millender Center and the River East Center. Along with the Coach Insignia Steakhouse, the RenCen also houses Andiamo Detroit Riverfront for Italian cuisine and Joe Muer Seafood for premier seafood. If you prefer something a little more casual, you can eat at Potbelly Sandwich Works, Courtyard Cafe & Bar or have a quick bite at the food court.
6. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is located at 411 Piquette Avenue in Milwaukee Junction and was the second home to Ford Motor Company auto production and is best known as the birthplace of the Ford Model T. In 2006, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. While the Ford Automobile Production was located here from 1904 to 1910, Models B, C, F, N, R, S and T were manufactured.
The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is the oldest automobile plant open to the public, in the world and features Henry Ford’s early failures and many successes. Henry Ford’s office remains the same as it was when he used it back in 1908 at the height of his Milwaukee Junction which demonstrates the life and times while in production and being served by two railroad lines. You can also see some of the early competing auto manufacturers and find out what became of them. When going to visit this fascinating museum, don’t forget to stop by the gift shop for a unique gift before leaving.
5. Detroit Institute of Arts
The Detroit Institute of Arts is located in midtown Detroit and features one of the largest art collections in the United States. In a 2014 appraisal, the collection was declared to have a value of $8.1 billion. It has over 100 galleries ranking it the sixth largest art museum in the United States. The museum building itself is a sight to behold with the white marble exterior and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The museum was originally located on Jefferson Avenue but due to its rapid expansion, it was moved to Woodward Avenue in 1927.
The collection demonstrates human creativity from prehistory to the 21st century. Two of the most notable pieces are Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry fresco cycle and Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait, the first Van Gogh painting to be housed in a U.S. museum. The diversity of the collection will suit anyone’s taste, including contemporary, modern, American, European, African, Asian, Native American, and more. The museum boasts itself as the “Cultural Gem of Detroit” and is a wonderful place to visit when you have the time to enjoy all it has to offer.
4. Comerica Park
Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tiger Baseball team, is an open-air ballpark located in downtown Detroit. It replaced Tiger Stadium in 2000 and has a seating capacity of 41,681. The name Comerica comes from the name of Comerica Bank which was previously located in there. On October 1, 2006, Comerica Park hosted its first World Series Game.
More than just a ball field, the park features a beautiful ornate carousel, a Ferris wheel, sculptures and a huge water feature (called “liquid fireworks”) that can be choreographed to any music. There is also a “Walk of Fame” throughout the lower circumference of the park featuring many historical Tigers and baseball artifacts. For adults, there’s a Beer Hall which features international beers and tavern-style cuisine. On the upper deck is Mike’s Hard Lemonade Lounge with a bar and separate seating area for adults as well as restrooms. The area, which is open to the public, is heated and air conditioned. Along centerfield wall, are some beautiful sculptures featuring 6 of the Tigers’ all-time greatest players. It’s a great place to stop for some good clean fun and great sports action.
3. Ford Field
Just opened in 2002, Ford Field is the home of NFL team, the Detroit Lions. The field also hosts football and basketball games and seats up to 80,000 fans. Naming rights were purchased by the Ford Motor Company at a cost $40 million dollars and the Ford family also controls the Lions franchise. It is an indoor stadium with a large skylight and large glass windows that open at the corners allowing plenty of natural light to shine down on the turf without being a distraction to players on the field.
Though Ford Field is a great place for sports fans, it is also host to many other events to entertain and amaze the entire family. Hosted at the field are concerts, Monster truck shows and other events. Be sure to check their schedule and purchase tickets in advance so you don’t miss out. The concerts are magnificent as are all the sporting events. You can’t ask for a more exciting place to visit.
2. Joe Louis Arena
Home to the well-known NHL team, the Detroit Red Wings, Joe Louis Arena is a hockey arena seating up to 20,058 and is located in downtown Detroit. The arena, built in 1979, was named after the former boxing and heavyweight champion Joe Louis. A new $650 million arena is currently being built in downtown Detroit with plans for completion in 2017. Joe Louis Arena will be torn down upon completion of the new arena and the Detroit Red Wings’ will relocate to their new home.
Though the arena is well-known for hosting NHL games, it also hosts other events such as college hockey, ice shows, circuses and concerts, to name a few. Whether you are traveling in the winter or any other season, there is always something exciting happening at the Joe Louis Arena. Shows vary in their target audience…children, adults, sports fans, music fan, wrestling fans, etc., so be sure to schedule your visit around your interests. Their website lists all schedules and allows you to purchase advance tickets.
1. Motown Historical Museum
Motown Historical Museum is located in the Hitsville U.S.A. building on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit. This non-profit museum was founded in 1985 by Esther Gordy Edwards in honor of the Motown Record Company and the “Motown Sound” so well known all over the world. The purpose of the museum is to not only preserve the history of Motown Music Company, but also to educate and motivate young people who might be interested in building a future in the music business.
Motown Records was established by Berry Gordy in 1959 and started a whole new music movement. “Studio A” is the place where many popular artists and groups of the movement recorded their records. You can even try singing a few bars yourself while visiting. The restored upper area of the museum is where Barry Gordy lived with his family while the company was in its infancy. The museum is home to all kinds of photographs, memorabilia and artifacts relating to music and Motown Records. It’s a must-see for anyone who loves the music, the talent behind the music and just wants to enjoy some history with the family.