40 things to do in Detroit before you die

Detroit is iconic for so many reasons. It's the birthplace of techno, Motown, the assembly line, and the Big 3. We've got a historic farmers market, a stunning island park, and a zillion coney island restaurants. We're unique, resilient, and we're in the middle of a downtown renaissance.

Experiencing the Motor City can't be summed up in any list — big or small. But, we rounded up a cool 40 things you absolutely must do in Detroit before you die.

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1. Explore music history at the Motown Museum 
The birthplace of a musical genre, the Motown Museum is a true time capsule. Hitsville U.S.A. was once Berry Gordy’s recording studio, and the museum offers an all-encompassing look at the voices that shaped music history. 
Motown Museum is located at 2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-875-2264 
Photo via Flickr, quirkyjazz
1. Explore music history at the Motown Museum
The birthplace of a musical genre, the Motown Museum is a true time capsule. Hitsville U.S.A. was once Berry Gordy’s recording studio, and the museum offers an all-encompassing look at the voices that shaped music history.
Motown Museum is located at 2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-875-2264
Photo via Flickr, quirkyjazz
2. Visit Belle Isle
Detroit's 13-acre island park sits just north of downtown, floating in the Detroit River. Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of New York  City’s Central Park, partially designed this gem. A case could be made that with the enormous fountain, arts and crafts buildings, oldest continually operating public aquarium in the nation, historic boathouse, nature trails, petting zoo, lighthouse, Art Deco monuments, picnic areas, and stunning views the sunset behind downtown Detroit, Belle Isle is Olmsted’s superior work. 
Photo by Brian Day
2. Visit Belle Isle
Detroit's 13-acre island park sits just north of downtown, floating in the Detroit River. Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of New York City’s Central Park, partially designed this gem. A case could be made that with the enormous fountain, arts and crafts buildings, oldest continually operating public aquarium in the nation, historic boathouse, nature trails, petting zoo, lighthouse, Art Deco monuments, picnic areas, and stunning views the sunset behind downtown Detroit, Belle Isle is Olmsted’s superior work.
Photo by Brian Day
3. See a pro sports game downtown
There’s arguably never been a better time to be a Detroit sports fan. For the first time since 1974, the Motor City now hosts all four of its professional sports teams within city limits. 
The Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons play at Little Caesars Arena; 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; olympiaentertainment.com. The Detroit Tigers play at Comerica Park; 2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit; mlb.com/tigers. The Detroit Lions play at Ford Field; located at 2000 Brush St., Detroit; detroitlions.com.
Photo courtesy of the Detroit Pistons
3. See a pro sports game downtown
There’s arguably never been a better time to be a Detroit sports fan. For the first time since 1974, the Motor City now hosts all four of its professional sports teams within city limits.
The Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons play at Little Caesars Arena; 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; olympiaentertainment.com. The Detroit Tigers play at Comerica Park; 2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit; mlb.com/tigers. The Detroit Lions play at Ford Field; located at 2000 Brush St., Detroit; detroitlions.com.
Photo courtesy of the Detroit Pistons
4. Hang out at the Majestic Complex 
The Majestic Complex is your one-stop-shop for fun in Midtown area. Start with paid, guarded parking in the back, then head in for all manner of leisure, from billiards to bowling, from pizza to kebabs, indoors or outdoors, with live music in the massive Majestic Theatre or the also commodious Magic Stick.
4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit
313-833-9700
Photo via Flickr, Scott Smithson
5. Check out a jazz band at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge
Open since 1934, the historic Baker’s is among the oldest continuously operating jazz venues in the world. Walking inside is like being transported to another era, thanks to the lounge’s slick Art Deco design complete with a bar with a keyboard motif.
Baker’s Keyboard Lounge is located at 20510 Livernois Ave, Detroit; 313-345-6300; theofficialbakerskeyboardlounge.com.
MT file photo
5. Check out a jazz band at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge
Open since 1934, the historic Baker’s is among the oldest continuously operating jazz venues in the world. Walking inside is like being transported to another era, thanks to the lounge’s slick Art Deco design complete with a bar with a keyboard motif.
Baker’s Keyboard Lounge is located at 20510 Livernois Ave, Detroit; 313-345-6300; theofficialbakerskeyboardlounge.com.
MT file photo
6. Get lost at the Detroit Institute of Arts
No, really — with more than 6,000 works of art on view (and a collection of more than 66,000 works of art in total) and some 658,000 square feet to explore, you’ll never see everything at the DIA. But you can try.
The DIA is located at 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; dia.org; Admission is $14 for adults, $9 for seniors ages 62+, $8 for students, $6 for ages 6–17, and free for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb county residents and DIA members.
Courtesy photo
6. Get lost at the Detroit Institute of Arts
No, really — with more than 6,000 works of art on view (and a collection of more than 66,000 works of art in total) and some 658,000 square feet to explore, you’ll never see everything at the DIA. But you can try.
The DIA is located at 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; dia.org; Admission is $14 for adults, $9 for seniors ages 62+, $8 for students, $6 for ages 6–17, and free for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb county residents and DIA members.
Courtesy photo
7. Enjoy car culture
We’re called the Motor City for a reason, and there’s no shortage of events celebrating the automobile here — from the slick prototypes of the future at the North American International Auto Show, the scrappy hot rods of Autorama, and everything in between at the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.
The Woodward Dream Cruise is will be held Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. NAIAS is open to the public Jan. 19-27, 2019 at Cobo Center 1 Washington Blvd., Detroit; naias.com. Autorama is expected to be held in March, 2019 at Cobo Center; autorama.com.
Photo by Mike Pfeiffer
7. Enjoy car culture
We’re called the Motor City for a reason, and there’s no shortage of events celebrating the automobile here — from the slick prototypes of the future at the North American International Auto Show, the scrappy hot rods of Autorama, and everything in between at the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.
The Woodward Dream Cruise is will be held Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. NAIAS is open to the public Jan. 19-27, 2019 at Cobo Center 1 Washington Blvd., Detroit; naias.com. Autorama is expected to be held in March, 2019 at Cobo Center; autorama.com.
Photo by Mike Pfeiffer
8. Explore your dark side at Leland City Club
For more than 30 years, Leland City Club has served as a favorite haunt for all sorts of creatures of the night thanks to its cheap cover, 4 a.m. closing time, and eclectic soundtrack heavy on industrial, New Wave, and techno. Leather, latex, or lace, there is no dress code as long as it’s black.
Leland City Club is located at 400 Bagley Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2300; lelandcityclub.net
MT file photo
8. Explore your dark side at Leland City Club
For more than 30 years, Leland City Club has served as a favorite haunt for all sorts of creatures of the night thanks to its cheap cover, 4 a.m. closing time, and eclectic soundtrack heavy on industrial, New Wave, and techno. Leather, latex, or lace, there is no dress code as long as it’s black.
Leland City Club is located at 400 Bagley Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2300; lelandcityclub.net
MT file photo
9. Be titillated at the Dirty Show 
Dirty Show impresario Jerry Vile’s annual ode to all things erotic features burlesque performers, a Cinerotic Film Festival, along with dozens of photographs, paintings, sculpture, and more. The art is only rivaled by the people-watching — at the Dirty Show, people let it all hang out.
The Dirty Show will be held in February, 2019 at the Russell Industrial Center; dirtydetroit.com
Photo by Jeannette Fleury
9. Be titillated at the Dirty Show
Dirty Show impresario Jerry Vile’s annual ode to all things erotic features burlesque performers, a Cinerotic Film Festival, along with dozens of photographs, paintings, sculpture, and more. The art is only rivaled by the people-watching — at the Dirty Show, people let it all hang out.
The Dirty Show will be held in February, 2019 at the Russell Industrial Center; dirtydetroit.com
Photo by Jeannette Fleury
10. Enjoy the last bash inspired by hippies in the old Cass Corridor
What began as an informal hippie party on Prentis Street in the late 1960s has become much more organized, but it’s still fondly called by the same name: The Dally in the Alley. The food is better, and the production values are sky-high compared to the old days, and though the festival is better managed, it still doesn’t have the kind of heavy-handed corporate sponsorship other festivals do. And so what was once a street party for artists, radical activists, musicians, and burnouts living in the Cass Corridor has become a party with attendees from all over metro Detroit, a sort of “open house” for what’s now almost universally known as “Midtown.”
Dally in the Alley is Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 (rain date Sept. 9) between Second, Third, Hancock and Forest streets, Detroit.
MT File photo
10. Enjoy the last bash inspired by hippies in the old Cass Corridor
What began as an informal hippie party on Prentis Street in the late 1960s has become much more organized, but it’s still fondly called by the same name: The Dally in the Alley. The food is better, and the production values are sky-high compared to the old days, and though the festival is better managed, it still doesn’t have the kind of heavy-handed corporate sponsorship other festivals do. And so what was once a street party for artists, radical activists, musicians, and burnouts living in the Cass Corridor has become a party with attendees from all over metro Detroit, a sort of “open house” for what’s now almost universally known as “Midtown.”
Dally in the Alley is Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 (rain date Sept. 9) between Second, Third, Hancock and Forest streets, Detroit.
MT File photo