5 Fun Things to Do in Detroit

Detroit State Seal With a Detroit Attractions Background

While Chicago may get all the credit for being the largest metropolitan area in the Midwest, Detroit is right behind them in population. It has three fantastic casinos you can find while you’re on vacation, and its other destinations deserve just as much attention.

Metro Detroit is home to 4.3 million people and has many cultural, musical, and technological traditions. A 1996 ordinance specified that only three casinos could be built in the city and so businesses had a chance to send in casino plans to the mayor’s office for approval.

The three Detroit casinos—MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel, and Greektown Casino-Hotel—all offer tremendous experiences for gambling in Michigan.

MGM Grand Detroit is fully loaded and has all the gambling excitement you’ve come to expect, like slots, poker, and table games.

On this page, we’ll be telling you about five exhilarating things to do in Detroit

A Brief History on Detroit

Whether you’re planning to gamble for five days of a week-long trip, or you want to spend three days in Detroit and just spend half a day at a casino, the city has enough gambling and more than enough history to give you the experience of a lifetime.

Music is a huge part of Detroit’s history, and two major American musical traditions—Motown and techno—both hail from Detroit. In addition, the music styles of jazz, hip-hop, punk, and rock have all been shaped in some part by the iconic cultural influences of the Motor City.

The city is also chock-full of unique architectural monuments thanks to the rapid boom its economy experienced in the early part of the 20th century. The architectural movements in Detroit have lent the city one of the most recognizable skylines in the world.

Ford, one of the most influential industrial companies in American history, still has its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The company, founded by Henry Ford in 1903, sells cars under the Ford and Lincoln brands and is not only a part of Detroit’s history but also a significant part of American history as well.

Ford helped pioneer the modernization of assembly lines. Their methods were so revolutionary that by 1914, their process was known as “Fordism.” Fordism is a manufacturing system that synergizes unskilled labor with advanced technology to allow the laborers to buy the very same products they create. An essential tenet of Fordism is that workers must be paid high enough wages to buy what they create, helping Detroit become what it is today.

However, music, innovative architecture, and revolutionary economic systems just scratch the surface of all Detroit has to offer. While the city has suffered economically in recent years as more manufacturing jobs move overseas, it’s still full of attractions that can supplement your gambling trip to Detroit.

1 – Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

If you drive a car for work, school, or if your whole trip was planned around driving the family on a long road trip, you owe it to yourself to check out the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

American cars wouldn’t be where they are today without the contributions from Henry Ford to both the design of vehicles and the manufacturing system required to make them.

The museum has a huge collection of artifacts that show off the American ingenuity that made Ford one of the most successful car companies ever. The McCoy Lubricator is on display and was invented to serve as an automatic lubricator for steam engines and ships.

Steam Locomotive in the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit

In fact, the phrase “The Real McCoy,” meaning “the real thing” has been incorrectly attributed to the lubricator’s inventor, Elijah McCoy.

The museum also has a presidential exhibit of former US president’s cars, featuring SS-100-X, the US Secret Service name for the presidential limousine originally used by John F. Kennedy, which he was in when tragically assassinated with his wife by his side as they were driven through Dallas, Texas.

The first vehicle ever developed by Henry Ford, the Ford Quadricycle, is also on display here. The vehicle was simple enough. It was pretty much just a frame with four bicycle wheels and a mounted gas engine, but it helped Ford get his start inventing vehicles and becoming one of the world’s richest men.

2 – Motown Museum (Home of Hitsville U.S.A.)

Two of Detroit’s most popular nicknames, “Motown” and “Motor City,” show the influence music has had on the great city. Motor City had long been the nickname of Detroit when Motown was coined as a portmanteau of “motor” and “town.”

In the same way that Motown was the result of two words being fused together, it was also the result of racial divides being crossed in America. Motown was a Black-owned record label that achieved crossover success when it was rare to do so.

Exterior of Motown Museum in Detroit

The Motown record label was so successful and unique that it led to its own sound, aptly named the Motown Sound. The Motown Sound was a successful combination of soul music with pop music that had mainstream appeal.

The success of the label, as well as its long and storied history, can all be seen at the Motown Museum. Motown Records’ first headquarters, also known as Hitsville U.S.A., is the birthplace of Motown sound and needs to be the #1 stop on your list if you’re planning a casino trip to Detroit.

3 – Detroit Institute of Arts

Featuring one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) should be a definite part of your Detroit trip.

The art collection here is valued at $8.1 billion. The collection is regarded as one of the top six of its kind in all of the United States and represents a sightseeing opportunity you will not want to miss.

Detroit Institute of Arts Entrance

If walking through one of the most important art collections isn’t enough for you, the Detroit Film Theater located inside the DIA shows some great historical pieces of cinema.

Rembrandt is currently on display as well. This featured exhibition contains 70 different pieces of his work on paper, as well as examples from various 16th century Flemish and Dutch artists.

4 – Detroit Historical Museum

Located in Detroit’s cultural center on Woodward Avenue, the Detroit Historical Museum is a great follow-up to the Detroit Institute of Arts visit. You can soak in all the culture you can take in one day by planning a trip to both in between your time gambling at the casinos.

Signature exhibitions draw from the rich history of Detroit itself. If you’re in Detroit, you’d do well to take in these unique exhibits that you won’t have access to anywhere else.

Interior of Detroit Historical Museum

Since it’s called Motor City, and one of its claims to fame is its impact on the automobile industry, Detroit is obviously chock-full of exhibits showing off antique cars.

Presented by Warner Norcross + Judd, the Automotive Showplace is essential if you’re a car collector or just interested in vintage cars.

5 – Belle Isle Park

If you’re feeling like you want to take a break from all the car and manufacturing-related exhibits, you can get some fresh air at Belle Isle Park.

Located at the Detroit River, the 1.5-square mile park has moved from city park status to state park and rests on the third largest island in the Detroit River. In addition to hiking, the park also features a greenhouse and botanical garden known as the Belle Isle Conservatory.

Aerial View of Belle Isle Park

The oldest conservatory in the United States was designed and built along with the rest of the park by the noted architectural firm of Mason and Kahn between 1902 and 1904. It’s modeled after the Crystal Palace, a building once located in Hyde Park, London, that tragically burned down in 1936.

In addition to the outdoor beauty you’ll be greeted with, you can also find some solace in the Belle Isle Aquarium, which combines aquatic life from all over the world with the renowned Albert Kahn architecture featured throughout Belle Isle Park.

The aquarium was the oldest operating aquarium in America when it closed in 2005, but luckily, the fish habitat has since reopened in 2012, so you can check out one of America’s best marine venues.

The 10,000-square-foot building features an arched ceiling covered with green glass to evoke the feeling of being in an aquarium. The aquarium is currently being run by volunteers and doesn’t have the splendor it once did. But the architecture alone makes it a worthwhile trip if you’re already visiting Belle Isle Park.

Conclusion

Are there other great things to see in Detroit? What’s your favorite activity in Detroit? Let us know in the comments.