Detroit Travel Guide

Get Your Bearings in Detroit


Where to Stay

Lodging in Detroit can be found in the downtown area of the city, though for more upscale accommodations, you'll want to head outside of the city center. Birmingham has a wide offering of mid to upper range options. For true luxury, head to Troy, where you'll find the Ritz-Carlton and the Hyatt.

Avoid: Avoid staying right by the stadium or casinos in the city center as they can be noisy and less desirable to stay in than other areas.


What to Eat

Detroit's best restaurant areas are spread around the Detroit metro area. Head to Ann Arbor for comfort food as well as cheap eats since it's a college town. The Birmingham and West Bloomfield neighborhoods have a wide range of restaurants to choose from. In addition, nearby Dearborn specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine. For upscale dining, head to Troy.

Avoid: National chains; try locally owned favorites instead.
Be Sure to Sample: Zingermans sandwiches in Ann Arbor, rumored to be the best sandwich in the state. (And some say the world.)


Things to See

Detroit has an array of attractions that are family-friendly. Head to the Detroit Zoo or the Henry Ford Museum to learn about wildlife and part of the nation's history. Lakes are also a huge draw, especially in the summer. A lovely one to visit is Lake St. Clair. Other popular attractions in Detroit are the city's casinos and Greenfield Village. 

Hot Tips: The inland lakes in Oakland County and Brighton area are great for water sports and boating.


Places to Party

The Royal Oak neighborhood has all sorts of nightlife close together from dive bars to dancing. For a more upscale atmosphere, head to Plymouth for some martinis. Ann Arbor is also good for a night out with local brews and cheap drinks. Downtown Detroit has been getting a facelift in recent years and new bars are popping up frequently as the city tries to refurbish the area. 

Hot Tips: Get to the most popular clubs early to avoid hour waits in line.


Where to Shop

Detroit has many shopping areas. Head to upscale Troy and hit high end brands that are at Somerset Collection shopping center, which is often considered to be the best mall in the area. In Auburn Hills, visit Great Lakes Crossing shopping center, which has outlets for many popular brands, plus restaurants. 

Avoid: Shopping downtown. You'll find a better variety of shopping in the suburbs.
Best Local Souvenir: A sport souvenir from the Detroit Lions.


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About Detroit

Ranking as Michigan's largest city and the Midwest's oldest city, Detroit is the historic home of both US automobile production — the legacy of Henry Ford — and the Motown sound, that unmistakable genre of music that came of age in the 1960s.

Founded in 1701, the port city takes its name from its original French moniker, Ville d'Etroit, which means City of the Strait and refers to the Detroit River's role as connector of (or strait between) Lakes Huron and Erie. Throughout its history, Detroit has been heavily involved in transportation, from waterborne shipping in the 19th century to automobile production in the 20th. The wealth that came with such endeavors led to the building of ornate mansions by the town's upper class and to the beautification of the city itself.

While such structures and efforts can still be seen today, Detroit is also saddled with the psychic and physical aftermath of 1943 and 1967's race-related riots, which helped exacerbate a shift in residency from the city to the suburbs. Widespread destruction, looting, and fear diminished the city's reputation and standing, and outlying areas gained prominence, rendering Detroit something of a loose conglomeration of communities rather than a...  Read more »