Detroit, MI

Destination Location


Detroit, Michigan is a city of many names. Some call it the Motor City, home of the American automobile industry. Still an important transportation hub of the United States, Detroit offers visitors a glimpse of its proud history. Visit the Metro Detroit, known to some as the MotorCities National Heritage Area. It's here you'll find the Automotive Hall of Fame and the Walter P. Chrysler Museum - filled with antique, classic and concept vehicles. The Detroit Historical Museum celebrates the early years of the auto industry and its impact on the world. On the Detroit River, the GM Showroom features specialty cars and production models. You can also visit the homes of Detroit's biggest auto barons. Tour the estates of Meadow Brook Hall that Dodge pioneer John Dodge called home or visit the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, the home where auto legend Henry Ford II was raised.

Speaking of Henry Ford, car enthusiasts shouldn't miss The Henry Ford. Celebrated as the number one cultural tourism destination in Michigan, the Henry Ford Museum displays the automobile's past, present and future with interactive exhibits, an assembly line and auto plant tour, car displays over the last century and informative IMAX shows.

Detroit is also called Motown, named for the record label founded in 1960 by Barry Gordy, Jr. right in the heart of Detroit. The label brought Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and The Miracles to radios across the U.S., helping African American artists to change not only the face of music but history and racial tolerance as well. You can still experience a little Motown of your own in Detroit's lively nightlife. Check out the Jazz Café in Music Hall, a prominent fixture in the area.

Detroit has also come to be known as the City of Champions, a title in homage to the success and popularity of its sports teams. Side-by-side baseball and football stadiums, both new in the last decade, create a lively neighbourhood filled with fans and fun sports bars. Grab a ticket for a Tigers baseball game at Comerica Park or a Lions football game next door at Ford Field. If you're visiting the area in the fall and winter, take in a Detroit Red Wings game and see one of the best teams in the NHL enjoy another victory on the ice.

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Airport served by: Detroit (Metro Wayne County), MI (DTW)

Destination basics

It's Detroit's proximity to the great lakes that largely influences its weather patterns. You're going to need a great winter jacket if you plan to visit the area between November and February. With temperatures dropping to -18 C at night, winters are cold. Snowfall averages 110 com (43 inches) per season.

Summers are warm to hot with temperatures exceeding 32 C (90 F) as least 15 days per year – usually in July and August. Spring, summer and early fall temperatures average 23 C (73.5 F) during the day.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Detroit, MI

Los Angeles may have perfected urban sprawl, but Detroit invented it. Although the landscape is mostly flat, recreational opportunities abound, most of them centered around water. To the northeast of the city sprawls Lake St. Clair, a shallow but broad lake popular for boating and fishing. The Detroit River is a resource that the city has never fully exploited though a system of parks and greenways is now gradually taking shape.

Downtown The old downtown of grand movie houses and department stores is all but vanished, but lively areas have sprung up around the perimeter of the aging banking-and-commerce center. The north end of downtown is the latest hot spot. Comerica Park, a new baseball stadium for the Detroit Tigers, opened in 2000. The National Football League Detroit Lions, who abandoned downtown in the 1970s for suburban Pontiac, have since returned to Ford Field, which was built adjacent to Comerica Park. Nearby is the glamorous Fox Theatre, the renovated crown jewel of the city's opulent movie houses, as well as the aptly-named Gem Theatre, the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, and an assortment of restaurants and bars.

On the eastern edge of downtown is Greektown. What was once just a block of Greek restaurants has now become the center for Detroit nightlife, with its many eateries, bistros and clubs. One of Detroit's three temporary casinos is drawing additional people to the area. Adjacent is the restaurant-and bar area known as Bricktown, and near that is the towering Renaissance Center. East of the Renaissance Center, along Jefferson Avenue, new housing and retail developments are taking shape beyond the restaurants and clubs of the warehouse district known as Rivertown.

Other pockets of activity include the Cobo Convention Center and the Joe Louis Arena, home to the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings, and the western outskirts, where two more temporary casinos have opened. Most of downtown's sites are linked by the People Mover elevated train system.

Cultural Center/New Center
Detroit's Cultural Center is situated between Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center, an impressive complex of hospitals and research facilities. The Detroit Institute of Arts is famed for its Diego Rivera murals, which chronicle history through the eyes of laborers, and Auguste Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker". Nearby is the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the largest museum of its kind in the United States. Families can also enjoy the Detroit Science Center and the Detroit Historical Museum.

Farther north, the New Center Area boasts the ornate, golden-towered Fisher Building and its Fisher Theatre, home to touring Broadway shows, as well as the General Motors Building and Henry Ford Hospital.

South of the Cultural Center, a major renovation effort is underway to preserve the acoustically rich Orchestra Hall.

The West Side
Near the Ambassador Bridge is Mexicantown, the heart of Detroit's growing Hispanic community, with dozens of great restaurants. Dearborn is home to the Ford Motor Company world headquarters, the Fairlane Town Center, and the area's foremost attraction, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, where the intertwining history of America and the automobile are chronicled. With a large Arabic population, Dearborn also has an intoxicating array of authentic Middle Eastern restaurants.

Farther west is the bustling Metropolitan Airport, which is undergoing a major expansion to handle increasing traffic. A new trade center is taking shape in nearby Romulus. Livonia has Laurel Park Place, a major shopping and entertainment area.

Oakland County
Oakland County is vast and diverse. It is one of the nation's wealthiest counties, and the site of the world's first enclosed shopping mall (the Northland Center). Many other shopping opportunities abound, including the upscale Somerset Collection and new Great Lakes Crossing.

In the southern part of the county, a vibrant restaurant and nightclub scene has sprung up in once-stodgy Royal Oak. North along Woodward Avenue, Birmingham's thriving downtown features upscale shops of taste and variety.

In the northeastern part of the county, Auburn Hills is home to the Palace of Auburn Hills, the home of the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons. It also has the new Chrysler Technology Center. Nearby in Rochester are Oakland University and its acclaimed Meadow Brook Theatre. In West Bloomfield Township is the deeply moving Holocaust Memorial Center.

Each August, the Woodward strip from Ferndale to Pontiac hosts the Woodward Dream Cruise, the world's largest rolling participatory auto show and the ultimate 1950s and 1960s nostalgia trip.

The East Side and Macomb County
Go east from downtown along Jefferson Avenue parallel to the Detroit River and you will pass the bridge to Belle Isle, one of the world's great urban parks. The Grosse Pointe area boasts mansions of auto executives and scenic Lakeshore Drive. The nondescript suburbs of Macomb County include some items of interest: The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, the General Motors Tech Center in Warren, and Metropolitan Beach on Lake St. Clair.

One of the few places in the United States where one can travel south into Canada is from downtown Detroit. By way of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel or by bridge, it's easy to reach Windsor, Ontario, whose clubs and restaurants are an integral part of the metro Detroit entertainment scene. The popular Windsor Casino served as the impetus for Detroit to start building its own casinos.

With its rich history of musical innovation and a booming automotive industry, it is little wonder that Detroit entertainment choices should revolve around cars and concerts. The Motor City is also one of the world's most sports-crazy cities.

Theater and Cinema
With the advent of a genuine if rudimentary theater district and the blossoming of Greektown into a center of nightlife, at least part of downtown has become an entertainment mecca. The magnificent, restored Fox Theatre is at the center of the action, and it's worth visiting just to see the building, no matter what's on stage. The smaller, exquisitely decorated Gem Theatre is also a must-see. The nearby Fillmore Detroit is operating again after years of being shut down.

The Cass Corridor and Wayne State University have spawned a vital and varied nightlife scene, so choices are plentiful. Wayne State's Hilberry and Bonstelle theaters are first-class venues with uniformly good productions of student-staffed plays.

The Detroit Film Theatre attracts big crowds every weekend for non-mainstream movies in its auditorium at the rear of the Detroit Institute of Arts. In the New Center Area, the sedate, elegant Fisher Theatre hosts touring Broadway shows. It is worth the trip just to see the building's spectacular golden lobby and the ornate theater.

Nearby, the Detroit Opera House boasts a huge orchestra pit and excellent acoustics. The Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts is one of the nation's premier venues for dance, drama and jazz.

Parking can get tricky around Greektown, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. There are a good number of small venues for jazz, rock and other nightlife. The grungy St. Andrew's Hall features alternative rock, while other small clubs abound. For fans of jazz, Baker's Keyboard Lounge is a must-see for good eats and great live music.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs in the acoustically near-perfect, wonderfully restored Orchestra Hall between downtown and the Medical Center. The huge, ornate Masonic Temple—the largest in the world—often hosts concerts. The Union Street Saloon is usually jammed with drinkers and diners. Across the street from it, the Majestic Theatre, the site of magician Harry Houdini's last performance, is a venue for alternative rock shows and poetry readings.

Sports and Festivals
The Joe Louis Arena is home to the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings. The Wings attract large crowds, which mostly disperse afterwards by car to various far-flung bars.

During summer months, Hart Plaza hosts ethnic festivals and concerts nearly every weekend. The Labor Day Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend is one of the nation's premier musical attractions.

The Palace of Auburn Hills, home of the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons, and occasionally at the Silverdome in Pontiac, where the National Football League's Detroit Lions used to play. The Palace is also home to the the Detroit Rockers of the National Professional Soccer League (indoor soccer), and the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League. Hazel Park Raceway hosts harness racing each year from April through October, with Northville Downs handling the ponies the remaining months. Both tracks now have simulcasting of races around the country.

Few people know it, but Detroit is one of the best places for eating out in the United States. The great restaurants are not concentrated in a few spots, but are found throughout the metropolitan region. Getting off the beaten track and finding these places is worth the extra effort, particularly if your taste runs to the adventurous.

During the lean years in the 1970s and '80s, Greektown's single block of Athenian restaurants, known for their saganaki, or flaming cheese, kept downtown from going completely dark at night. Now Greektown has grown and prospered. Carrying on the Greektown tradition are places like the New Parthenon and the New Hellas Café. Nearby can be found the Cajun excitement of Fishbone's Rhythm Kitchen Café.

A little further east, the warehouse district known as Rivertown offers several American restaurants, including the trendy Rattlesnake Club. On downtown's north end, in the new theater district, are the elegant Century Grille, filled with old-world charm, and the bustling Hockeytown Café.

Mexicantown, which starts about a mile west of downtown, is the port of entry to the city's large Hispanic section on the southwest side. The revival of this vibrant neighborhood has been heralded by restaurants such as Xochimilco and other innovators. The farther west you go along Bagley or Vernor avenues, the cheaper and more authentic the food.

Cultural Center/New Center
The eclectic fare that can be found in and around the Wayne State University area includes the unique Whitney, located in an elegant old mansion; the local favorite Traffic Jam & Snug; the Majestic Cafe for Middle-Eastern fare; and two of the city's oldest traditional Italian restaurants: Mario's, and, farther east in the Eastern Market area, the Roma Café.

The West Side
Detroit has the largest Arabic population of any American city, and it is concentrated in the eastern end of Dearborn. Here, along Michigan and Warren avenues, is an unmatched assortment of Middle Eastern restaurants. La Shish, one of the first, is the most well-known, but there are myriad other good choices, all offering nutritious, tasty food at remarkable prices.

The food gets blander as you travel farther into the suburbs, but there are plenty of neighborhood bars and family restaurants along streets like Telegraph Avenue.

Northville, a quaint village in the northwestern corner of Wayne County, offers several upscale dining options which are worth the trek, including Genitti's Hole-in-the-Wall, a reservation-only Italian restaurant which serves traditional seven-course wedding-feast meals.

Oakland County
An unlikely transformation in the late 1980s and early '90s turned the aging downtown of an unremarkable suburb into Detroit's trendiest evening destination, and downtown Royal Oak remains the closest thing Michigan has to a New York or San Francisco experience. The punk and resale clothing shops still exist, along with jam-packed eateries and a few clubs. This scene generated the unique BD's Mongolian Barbeque, where you make your own stir-fry and watch chefs grill it using big sticks; the place is so popular it has become a multi-outlet franchise.

The rest of the county has restaurants of great variety flung far and wide. Birmingham and Troy offer more staid, upscale options, such as the Capital Grille in the Somerset Collection. In Farmington Hills and to the north and west, an amazing array of ethnic restaurants hide in strip malls along Orchard Lake Road, Haggerty Road, and around Novi Town Center in Novi, with more places opening around Auburn Hills and Pontiac.

The East Side and Macomb County
Along East Jefferson Avenue, across from Belle Isle, is the urban hideaway known as Indian Village, where you will find many hidden gems. Along Lake St. Clair, from the Grosse Pointes to Mount Clemens, seafood is king, and fresh lake perch or pickerel can be found on the menus. For the complete Great Lakes experience, spend the time to go all the way out to Sindbad's, a marina resort along Anchor Bay.



Country: United States

Detroit by the Numbers
Population: 677,116 (city); 4,292,060 (metropolitan area)
Elevation: 600 feet / 200 meters
Average Annual Rainfall: 33.5 inches / 85.1 centimeters
Average Annual Snowfall: 42.5 inches / 108 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 25.6°F / -3.6°C
Average July Temperature: 73.6°F / 23.1°C

Quick Facts
Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, standard two pin plugs

Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (EST); GMT-05:00 (summer GMT-04:00)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 313

Did You Know?
The world’s only floating post office can be found in Detroit.

The world’s first stretch of paved highway, Woodward Avenue, is in Detroit.

Detroit is located on the coast of Lake Erie across from the Canadian border; the city is about 81 miles (131 kilometers) southeast of Lansing.

Detroit was founded in 1701 by the French explorer and fur trapper Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. He established a European settlement called Fort Pontchartrain, named after a French count. It was located along the strait, detroit in French, which is now known as the Detroit River, and which connects Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. The settlement was a fur-trading outpost, and fell to the British in 1760.

After American independence, Detroit became part of the Northwest Territory and was incorporated as a town in 1802. A fire in 1805 destroyed 299 of the town's 300 buildings. Territorial Governor Judge Augustus Woodward laid out a plan to rebuild the city, featuring public squares and circular parks based on the model of Washington D.C. The British reoccupied the city for a year during the War of 1812. Woodward established a state university, the University of Michigan, in 1817 in Detroit.

Detroit served as state capital for the first ten years after Michigan became a state in 1837. In the 1850s, Detroit began building railroad cars, ships and stoves, and major industries were established that exploited Michigan's vast resources of iron ore, copper and water. The population surged from 2,222 in 1830 to 79,577 in 1870.

When the first automobiles were seen on city streets in the late 1890s, Detroit's main industry was stove making, but Michigan was a leading producer of carriages, buggies, wheels and bicycles, and Detroit was already making marine gas engines. Its access to water gave it an industrial advantage because freighters could ship raw materials such as iron ore from northern areas. Still, the automobile made little impact on the city at first, as most people believed it would never replace the horse or the bicycle.

In 1908, however, Henry Ford built the first Model T, and cars quickly became popular. In 1914, Ford ran the first assembly line, at his factory in Highland Park, offering the unheard-of wage of $5 a day for eight hours' work. By 1921 Ford had produced more than 5 million cars. The city's population more than doubled from 1910 to 1920, reaching nearly a million people, as workers from the South and across the country and the world came for jobs in the automobile plants.

The 1920s were a time of unprecedented prosperity for Detroit. The booming city was a metaphor for American opportunity. For decades, it enjoyed the highest percentage of home ownership in the nation. Huge, ornate theaters were built downtown for movies and stage shows. The J.L. Hudson department store was one of the world's biggest and most famous. The city developed a superb system of streetcars and trolleys. Belle Isle became one of the most beautiful urban parks in the nation. The Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel were built to link Detroit to Canada. Navin Field (later known as Briggs Stadium and then Tiger Stadium) became one of the nation's most acclaimed sporting venues.

During the Prohibition Era, a thriving underground business developed as mobsters shipped liquor across the waters from Canada. The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Detroit hard initially, but the automobile industry survived. The modern movement for labor unions began with a famous battle between organizers and police at the Ford River Rouge plant in 1937. Led by Walter Reuther, the United Auto Workers survived and grew during sit-down strikes and organizing drives.

During World War II the auto companies converted their factories in short order to production of planes and tanks. The war effort was centered around Willow Run Airport, and the Edsel Ford Expressway was built between downtown Detroit and the airport to facilitate that work. It was the nation's first great freeway—but a smaller example had opened a few years previously, the Davison, in Detroit and Highland Park.

Major shifts occurred in Detroit's demographics after World War II. The post-war economic boom was accompanied by the construction of a network of freeways that decimated Detroit's old neighborhoods while making possible the exponential growth of suburbs. For a while downtown Detroit remained the thriving center of the metropolitan area, and its population peaked at 2.1 million in the late 1950s. In the 1960s it became a cultural center for the nation, exporting the most popular music of the era, the catchy rhythm-and-blues known as the Motown sound.

But as more prosperous people fled the city and left poorer ones behind, racial tensions heightened. They exploded in the infamous 1967 riots, which left dozens dead and hastened white flight. The city plunged into a long decline, as key components of business, industry and culture shifted to the suburbs. Even football's Detroit Lions left Tiger Stadium to move to a new stadium in Pontiac.

Civic leaders made efforts to turn things around, starting with the building of the Renaissance Center office-hotel-retail complex in 1973. But for years, the Renaissance Center remained an isolated fortress with little effect on surrounding areas. The city kept losing people and money, and its fine housing stock suffered from neglect and abandonment. The automobile industry was hit hard by a severe recession caused by rising oil prices and competition from Japanese imports. Factories in the city closed and thousands of good-paying jobs for unskilled workers disappeared, never to return.

But the metropolitan area continued to grow and thrive, and downtown's resurgence took halting steps. In the 1980s, Joe Louis Arena was constructed as the home of the Detroit Red Wings. The Millender Center opened near the Renaissance Center. Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch saved the Fox Theater, and its revival began a genuine downtown resurgence in the 1990s. Through that decade, Detroiters debated the merits of casinos and a new baseball stadium, finally approving both ideas. During the 1990s, the city's population finally stabilized at around a million people, and business investment began returning to the city.

The growth of the suburbs has permanently changed the city's landscape. Most jobs, hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and entertainment facilities are now outside the city limits, creating a sprawling metropolitan area that remains heavily dependent on the automobile. Yet a more unified approach to the area's problems and prospects has civic leaders optimistic. Detroit retains its rich cultural treasures, its vibrant entertainment and dining scene, and above all its strength as a genuine melting pot, with immigrants from around the world bringing their own cuisine and traditions and religions. It has proven to be a resilient place and one of America's greatest cities.

Points of interest in Detroit, MI

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