By Duante BeddingfieldSusan SelaskyJulie HindsBrian McCollumBrendel HightowerGreg Crawford Detroit Free Press

Click here to read the photo credits and captions.

So you’re looking to explore Detroit. You’ve heard about us. Bad things. Good things. You want to see for yourself.

Whether you’re visiting from out of town or seeking new experiences in your own backyard, the region has a lot to offer. Some of it is concentrated right in downtown Detroit, but most of it is not.

We’ve got world-class museums, historic landmarks, architectural gems — and some wonderfully weird destinations.

Here’s a sampling of favorites, compiled by Detroit Free Press entertainment writers:

Motown Museum

The Motown Museum in Detroit is undergoing a $65 million expansion.

The birthplace of Motown isn’t just one of Detroit’s most identifiable landmarks — it’s one of the most iconic music sites on the globe. Berry Gordy was confident and farsighted in 1959 when he named his home office and studio Hitsville, U.S.A., launching a musical empire that turned young homegrown talent into superstars: Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops, the Jackson 5 and many more. These days, the site at 2648 West Grand Blvd. is preserved in its ’60s charm as the Motown Museum, including the famed Studio A, where Motown’s artists and musicians made music that transformed American culture. Tickets often sell out well in advance, but even if you can’t book an official tour, a trip is worthwhile. Visitors descend daily onto the Hitsville grounds, where a new public plaza is part of the museum’s ongoing $65 million expansion. More at

Belle Isle State Park

James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle in Detroit on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

Belle Isle State Park, a 982-acre island park accessible via the MacArthur Bridge about 4 miles east of downtown Detroit, offers scenic views of the Detroit skyline and the Canadian city of Windsor across the Detroit River. The park is home to several attractions, including the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the James Scott Memorial Fountain, and the Belle Isle Nature Center. Visitors can also enjoy a golf course, picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing, birdwatching, playgrounds and a beach.


2015 Greektown at Sundown Event.

The lively Greektown Historic District on the eastern edge of downtown Detroit is a bustling hub of entertainment and culture. Its Victorian-era commercial streetscape is adorned with a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bakeries serving authentic Greek cuisine alongside other dining options. Greektown is known for its vibrant nightlife scene with numerous bars and clubs where people gather for live music, dancing and socializing. The neighborhood is also home to the Hollywood Casino at Greektown, adding to its allure as an entertainment destination. Greektown preserves its historic charm with historic buildings, churches, and landmarks that reflect the neighborhood’s rich past and architectural heritage. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.


Elton Monroy Duran, 45, walks past a mural he painted depicting Frida Kahlo on the wall of Xochj’s Mexican Imports in Mexicantown, Detroit on March 5, 2024.

Located in southwest Detroit near the Ambassador Bridge to Canada, Mexicantown is a lively neighborhood and business district known for its cuisine and tight-knit community spirit. Anchoring a vibrant Detroit Hispanic community, its primary strip of restaurants, bakeries, shops and cultural institutions along Bagley Street serves as a gateway into the broader southwest Detroit community, where authentic Mexican and Central American traditions, celebrations and cuisine abound.

Sanders Chocolate & Ice Cream Shop – Clinton Township

Sanders Bumpy Cake is one of the desserts available at Sanders Chocolate & Ice Cream Shop.

Experience a slice of Detroit’s history at this Michigan classic that will tantalize your taste buds with the sweet aroma of chocolate. This nostalgic haven filled with Sanders desserts will evoke memories of childhood days gone by. Indulge in Sanders’ iconic treats, including its traditional chocolate sauces, cookies, cakes and, of course, ice cream for those famous cream puffs. As you explore this nostalgic haven, stroll down a long hallway with a glass window where you can watch workers on the assembly line creating chocolate delights during select times. 23770 Hall Road in Clinton Township.

The Rosa Parks Bus

The bus Rosa Parks rode in when she refused to give up her seat to a white rider and helped spark the civil rights movement is shown on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., March 23, 2015.

The Henry Ford Museum, 20900 Oakwood Blvd. in Dearborn, is packed with exhibits and objects that bring history to life, but one acquisition stands out as a key moment in the life of the civil rights icon who spent her later years in the Motor City. The Rosa Parks Bus is the public transportation vehicle where Parks, a Black seamstress and dedicated activist, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on Dec. 1, 1955. The resulting Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama was a key successful effort in the movement to end the South’s segregation laws. Visitors can learn about the courage of Parks and sit inside the place where she became a global icon for freedom and equality.

Boston-Edison Historic District

A landmark mansion on a heavily landscaped 4 acres in Detroit's Boston Edison Historic District.

Once you’ve soaked up the architecture of downtown Detroit, take a drive to the 36 blocks and over 900 homes that make up one of the biggest residential historic districts in the nation. With its spacious boulevards and magnificent houses, many constructed a century or more ago, the Boston-Edison District has been home to some of the biggest names in the city’s history, from labor leader Walter Reuther to boxing champ Joe Louis and music mogul Berry Gordy Jr. Today, the neighborhood still represents the visual splendor and inclusivity of Detroit at its best.

Tour Detroit’s Eastern Market

Detroit's Eastern Market on Flower Day, 2022.

Detroit’s Eastern Market is the oldest farmers market in Michigan, dating to 1891. At the long-standing market, you can enjoy some of the season’s best fresh produce from area farmers and take in the many specialty shops and restaurants. Eastern Market is open Saturdays year-round, drawing large crowds for local produce and its annual Flower Day, which takes place in May. Be sure to check out DeVries & Co. 1887, a specialty cheese shop with plenty of other specialty food and retail items. From DeVries, you can buzz next door to Vivio’s and sip on one of its specialty Bloody Marys and order a dish of its famous mussels. For information, go to

Bar hop in Royal Oak

Ale Mary's Beer Hall at 316 S. Main in Royal Oak, next door to Tom's Oyster Bar.

Despite the traffic, despite the crowds, there’s a definite reason bar-hopping in suburban downtown Royal Oak remains popular, and it’s the number of superior bars and restaurants located along the celebrated Main Street drag. Tom’s Oyster Bar is a must, but don’t skip any of the spots along the path, on either side of the street. And don’t feel deterred if the crowd is much younger than you — Royal Oak tends to draw people in their 20s. Just vibe right alongside them.

Experience live jazz at Cliff Bell’s

The vintage Art Deco grandeur of Cliff Bell's jazz club in downtown Detroit.

Dating to the 1930s, legendary jazz club Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., has hosted many of the world’s most celebrated musicians, some even in the early phases of their careers. It now presents live music five nights a week in its gorgeous time capsule of an interior. A dedicated parking lot directly across the street makes for easy access, and no matter who’s playing, the music is always top-notch.

Get a drink at the Highlands

Inside of the Highlands on the 71st floor of the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Saturday Nov. 23, 2019.

Nestled on the 71st and 72nd floors of downtown Detroit’s iconic Renaissance Center is a bar that gives the best and most complete view of the region: The Highlands, 400 Renaissance Center. Make special plans and take a special elevator that goes all the way to the top of the RenCen for a glamorous evening with the glittering backdrops of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario for your cocktail experience. It’s an experience that must be had at least once.

Eat a coney dog downtown

Ali Alhalmi, manager of Lafayette Coney Island, works inside the Lafayette Coney Island restaurant in Detroit on Oct. 20, 2022.

One thing to know — Detroiters choose sides. Downtown, you’re either a Lafayette Coney Island fan, or an American Coney Island regular. (It’s made more confusing by the fact that they’re both on Lafayette Boulevard, next door to each other.) While there are many, many coney dog locations throughout the region, these are the two downtown staples that have weathered the years to serve millions. 114 and 118 W. Lafayette Blvd.

The Grosse Pointes and the Nautical Mile

Donald Cronkite, 55 of Allen Park, paints The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores on May 14, 2022.

A drive along Lake Shore Road from the War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms to the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores is the quintessential Grosse Pointe experience. Heading east, you’ll encounter spectacular views of Lake St. Clair to your right, stately homes and mansions to your left and, ahead in the distance, the bell tower of the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. Continue east past the Ford House and you’ll arrive in St. Clair Shores and its celebrated Nautical Mile, home to a bountiful catch of restaurants offering fish, seafood and tables overlooking the water.

Sindbad’s Restaurant and Marina

Sindbad's Restaurant and Marina, 100 St Clair St. in Detroit.

This family-owned establishment at 100 St. Clair St. in Detroit is more than just a restaurant and bar. It’s a mainstay of the city’s east side — launched by a pair of brothers-in-law in 1949 and still in the hands of founding family members. Adding to its appeal is its location just off Jefferson Avenue at the site of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. With the Detroit River lapping at its back door, Sindbad’s set out to be a spot for boaters to eat and drink while on the water, and it continues to live up to its founders’ vision. Parties of hungry sailors regularly stop by and make use of its boat wells and marina during outings on the river and Lake St. Clair. For 75 years, the restaurant has been making good on its commitment to serve “good, basic food in generous quantity” via a menu that includes, scallops, pickerel, Great Lakes perch, steaks and sandwiches.

4 teams, 3 stadiums, all downtown

Taleila Cooper, 35, and Ethan Clemons, 36, both of Detroit share a kiss while taking a selfie in front of the Tiger statue in downtown Detroit during the Detroit Tigers' Opening Day at Comerica Park in Detroit on Thursday, April 6, 2023

Detroit is the only city in the nation that has teams in all four major American sports that play within blocks of each other. The Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings keep sports fans engaged and cheering at Comerica Park, Ford Field and Little Caesars Arena, all downtown and all worth a visit whether or not a game is scheduled.

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Senior Editor, Digital Manager, Blogger, has been nominated for awards several times as Publisher and Author over the years. Has been with company for almost three years and is a current native St. Louisan.

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