The TOP things you must do when visiting Detroit

Living in Chicago has a lot of pros and cons. One pro is being so close to other big cities by car or air. My husband and I decided to road trip to a city we have both never explored for his birthday and we chose Detroit. With only 4 hours of driving time between us and the “D” I knew we could make it an epic trip. We test drove the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek traveling there and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. For 3 days we experienced Detroit and all it had to offer. If you plan on visiting Detroit soon visit these places. You will have a good time…trust me!

Where to stay?

Okay so you made it to Detroit rather by flying, driving, or the train. Now where to stay? We wanted to be in the center of everything so we decided to stay by the Riverwalk which was a great choice. Our hotel pick was the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. This hotel has style and the River-view rooms are mind blowing!

Please keep in mind staying in the Downtown area is a little more expensive than the surrounding area hotel, but the perk to being in the center of the city is all the attractions and restaurants aren’t far and the most we spent driving from one destination to another is around 20 minutes. When staying Downtown you will have to pay for parking which isn’t cheap so make sure you add parking to your budget. They do have hotels that are in the burbs that have free parking, but you will have to drive further to get to the city. Since I’ve only stayed in one hotel in Detroit I can’t recommend any others, but my suggestion would be any River-view hotel with reasonable prices (free breakfast may be pushing it, but that would be awesome!)

must see museums

If you are a history buff like myself then museums are a must do. Detroit has a lot of different museums to visit and their admission prices are very reasonable ( I am all for balling on a budget!) Dennis and I both wanted to learn more about the City’s history and also how it was connected with the Underground railroad. When I tell you we left full of information and inspiration….trust me it was life changing.

  1. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History – My favorite exhibit was “And Still We Rise”, “Say It Loud”, and the whole reenactment of the slave ship and lifestyle of slaves once they made it to the USA. I literally cried when I saw the food servings, the way the slaves were brought over, and the way they were treated. It really made me tap into my roots and I will have to bring my kids soon to experience it. They also have an outside exhibit with quotes from some of the great black voices like James Baldwin. There is also a memorial of lights for those that lost their lives in the 1967 riot that took place in Detroit. So much KNOWLEDGE in one building this is a must see!
  2. MOTOWN Museum: Hitsville U.S.A – We did this our first full day in the “D” and it was such a great choice to start our trip off with this tour. It’s informative, funny, and full of so many magical memories. I grew up obsessing over movies like Sparkle, Dreamgirls, and the Fiveheart beats so to be in the actual place where movies like those got inspiration from was unbelievable. There was a strict no picture policy, but you can of course take pictures of the outside. One tip: this is a guided tour and tickets sell out fast get your tickets ahead of time. Parking right in front is tricky, but we found a spot on one of the side streets easily. You haven’t been to Detroit if you don’t experience Motown!
  3. The Henry Ford Museum – The Ford Museum was the furthest attraction from our hotel, but it was only 30 minutes away. It was fun seeing the scenic parts of Detroit and not just huge city buildings. The Ford Museum is HUGE and I mean this is a ALL DAY excursion. Please don’t rush this experience. There are several areas to explore even an outside “back in the old days” reenactment called the Greenfield village. History and car lovers will leave impressed and extremely happy. To see the actual car JFK was assassinated in and to sit in the same spot Rosa Parks refused to get up from gave my goosebumps. This compound is great for the whole family. Dennis was fascinated with the cars from the 50’s up until around the mid 80’s. He stood by each exhibit reading the information presented and taking pictures. I loved the Presidential car display it was so interesting seeing the evolution from Horse and carriage to the bulletproof “bat mobile” styled cars now. There is also the Ford Factory tour onsite ans so much more.

tasty food & RESTAURANTS

I am a huge foodie and my husband is a Chef at a huge Hotel chain in downtown Chicago so food is a huge part of our lives. So when we travel we love trying what the locals enjoy. Of course once we decided to visit Detroit I used my best friend…Google to help me find the best place to eat. I also asked a few of my girlfriends that lived in Detroit before for suggestions. They hooked us up!

  • Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles – Let’s just say if they had one in Chicago I would probably be their number 1 customer. I enjoyed everything and their signature Koolaid is a must. Our service was quick and it felt like home. Very clean and modern venue and the name of the food dishes are so creative and fun. I had enough food to take back to the hotel and trust me I finished later on that night in our hotel bed. 

  • American Coney Island – Everyone who I asked about dining in Detroit said get a “Coney dog”! Our first night in we had a Coney Dog. It was really tasty its basically a chill dog but the way they make their hot dogs is a little different. The fries were O.K. but the hot dogs and wings were really tasty. They are open 24 hours so you don’t have to worry about hours. 

the views

Detroit has a beautiful River-walk that showcases Canada’s bright lights and buildings that shimmer from across the River. Its beautiful and peaceful. It was freezing when we went, but I plan to come back when the weather is better and with the kids I am sure they will be impressed. Walk the Riverwalk you won’t regret it.

the entertainment

Motor City AKA Detroit is known for it’s music and cars as well. Even though we checked out the Motown Museum we still wanted more music so we boarded the Detroit Princess Riverboat for their Motown Dinner cruise! My goodness this boat is so much fun. It was our last night in Detroit so really wanted to close out with a bang.

The detroit princess riverboat

We rushed to board the boat because we didn’t want to get left on shore…once we got aboard I realized I had the times mixed up and we were early. That was a win! We were seated and invited to get in line for dinner. There was bread, salad, pasta, veggies. and varieties of meats. I filled up my plate and rushed to my seat. I was so hungry and the food smelled amazing. Dennis being a professional cook stayed and talked to the cooks that stood by the carving station I didn’t wait for him to start eating. LOL. The food was delicious and seasoned well. I had seconds. By the time I finished my second plate the boat started to  move. I said a silent prayer and sat back while the MC announced the entertainment for the night. Motown classics by the Prolifics. I’m a huge Motown fan so I knew a lot of the songs.

The band was impressive, they had the flashy suits, the dance moves, and the vocals! It was so fun seeing the couples getting up on the dance floor. I rocked in my seat and squealed in delight when they brought over our dessert. I mouthed the words to the the classic Motown hits and held the birthday boy’s hand.

On the brief intermission we ventured out to the deck of the boat and looked right over in Canada its so crazy to see another country right at your finger tips. I couldn’t stop snapping pictures it was so beautiful. Once we headed back inside the second part of the show started and the band started accepting request and shout outs. I put Dennis name on the list and they actually sang “Happy birthday” to him. It was super cute and just added a special touch to our trip. If you visit Detroit treat yourself to this experience. They also have lunch cruises and other different types of cruises during the week. Such an epic ending to our fabulous trip!

Overall Detroit was more refreshing to us than our trip to the Bahamas. The conversation and boding time was amazing and exploring a city with so much soul showed me that road tripping and staying local isn’t so bad. Go and visit Detroit…Thank me later.

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Huge thank you to the team at they kept our itinerary full our whole stay. And special thank you to the team over at Detroit Princess Riverboat for hosting us for such a fun experience. 


4 thoughts on “The TOP things you must do when visiting Detroit

  1. It sounds like you guys had a great time. I was looking for something to do this summer and I never thought about Detroit. I love a good road trip and I like the places you visited. Thanks for the idea!

    1. A Real Urban Mom says:

      Definitely check them out. You won’t regret it and the summer time would be perfect so you can sit out by the river and just relax. This trip went down in our hit our books for real.

      Thanks for reading! And if you decide to go keep me posted.

  2. Great recap! I’m so glad you and the hubs enjoy the great city of Detroit. Y’all hit all the spots in my city. I can’t wait to go back home this summer.

    1. A Real Urban Mom says:

      Thanks love! You definitely gave me some great recommendations. I appreciate it. I’m gonna visit again this summer but this time with the kiddos.

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