Detroit earned the nicknames “Motown” and “Motor City” back when it was at the heart of a booming automotive industry. Over the years the city built a reputation as a cultural and manufacturing powerhouse. Its fortunes took a downward turn, but a powerful legacy remains and is now celebrated.
Spend time among the Detroit Institute of Art’s formidable collection. European and American masterpieces adorn its walls, and the collection of Asian and Middle Eastern artifacts will keep anthropology fans rapt. Admire the city’s architecture as you wander through the Eastern Market, the city’s artisan and farmers’ markets. Food lovers will enjoy the gourmet meats and fresh produce.
Leave the crowds behind and go to the 982-acre (397-hectare) Belle Isle park. There are sporting facilities, spaces for barbecues and picnics, and a number of stunning historic buildings. You’ll also get a great view of the downtown skyline, dominated by the GM Renaissance Center.
Brush up on your history at the Henry Ford Museum. Here you’ll see steam trains, historic buildings and important inventions. For a look at Detroit’s contribution to the music industry, visit the Motown Museum. It’ll take you back to the days when Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson were recording hits in the studio.
Kids will love the Michigan Science Center. With dozens of hands-on exhibits, an IMAX Theater and a planetarium, it’s a top spot to spend a day. At the Detroit Zoo see the largest polar bear exhibit in the country and pat red kangaroos.
For a night-time treat, go for a drink at the two-story restaurant atop the GM Renaissance Center, then take in a show at the Detroit Opera House. A masterfully refurbished old building, it hosts everything from Broadway productions to classical music concerts.
With a strong identity and the revival of its cultural and historic districts well underway, Detroit is well worth a visit.