Top 17 Things Detroit Is Famous For

things detroit is famous for
Contributing Writer
| 6 min read

The city of Detroit may not be one of the top travel destinations in the United States but is lively with lots of positive energy, and some hidden gems that not so many people know or talk about. If you know what to look for and where to look, your experience of Detroit will be different from what you have been hearing from those who have no experience of the city. If you thought there is nothing to this city, other than it being the largest city in the state of Michigan, then here is a look at some of the things Detroit is famous for. They will likely change your perception of the city. Make your Detroit trip the most memorable one yet, and stay at the top riverfront hotels and Airbnb vacation rentals in the city. Keep a list handy of the top things Detroit is famous for.

1. Techno Music

Los Hermanos Live in Detroit
Source: Photo by Flickr user Angie Linder used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Techno Music has been a popular music genre in Detroit for decades to the point that an entirely new type of techno music emerged from the city. This new type of techno music is called Detroit Techno and was first created by local artists in the 1980s and grew larger in the 1990s.

Early adopters of Detroit Techno used science fiction to articulate their visions of a transformed society. There are also artists that have used Afrofuturism in their Detroit Techno works to appeal to a more marginalized audience.

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2. Vernor's Ginger Ale

Vernor's Ginger Ale
Source: Photo by Flickr user rulenumberone2 used under CC BY 2.0

Vernor’s Ginger Ale is one of the oldest ginger ale brands in the United States. This long-standing brand was first created in 1880 by James Vernor who opened a drugstore in Detroit. Initially, Vernor’s formula was only sold in soda fountains but as the years went on, the brand would slowly grow and Vernor would later sell bottling franchises in other cities under the condition that these franchises strictly follow his recipe.

Thanks to its history, this brand has become tied to Detroit as it was the city where it all began. It even came to the point that the advertising slogan used in the early 1900s was “Detroit’s Drink”.

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3. Fox Theatre

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Describing itself as the crown jewel and one of the most famous places in Detroit, this historical landmark is one of the city’s most iconic theaters, music venues, and performing arts centers. It showcases a plethora of award-winning shows and events that have captured the hearts of thousands if not millions and serves as a great date-night idea for couples.

These shows include Broadway musicals, National Hockey League matches, basketball competitions, concerts, and interactive stage plays. With over 5,000 seats, Fox Theater is the largest surviving movie palace in the city since it opened its doors in 1928.

Fox Theatre

Address: 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201, United States

Website: Fox Theatre

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4. Comerica Park

Comerica Park & Detroit
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ben+Sam used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’re a sports fan coming to Detroit, this attraction is a must-visit. Comerica Park is an open-air baseball park in downtown Detroit and is home to the Major League Baseball team Detroit Tigers. It opened to the public in April 2000 and is named after Comerica Bank, a Detroit-founded financial services company. It is built on the original site of the Detroit College of Law. Comerica Park’s seating capacity is 41,083 and its main use is, of course, for baseball matches, but it has also seen a few concerts, Hockeytown Winter Festivals, and a soccer game.

Comerica Park

Address: 2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201, United States

Website: Comerica Park

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5. Guardian Building

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Funnyhat used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

One of beautiful buildings that make up Detroit’s spectacular skyline is the Guardian Building on Griswold Street in the Financial District. It is a landmark structure that is recognized as a class-A building. It features an Art Deco and Mayan Revival architecture and was built in 1929. Initially, it was named the Union Trust Building, after it was built by Detroit-founded Union Trust Company and was designed by Wirt Rowland. It is now a building owned by Wayne County, for which it serves as the headquarters.

Guardian Building

Address: 500 Griswold St STE 1600, Detroit, MI 48226, United States

Website: Guardian Building

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6. The Riverwalk

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Posted by Detroit Riverfront on Friday, 15 March 2019

What is Detroit known for, you ask? The Detroit Riverwalk goes for nearly 3 miles (4.8 km) starting from Rose Parks Blvd up to the Belle Isle Bridge. This spectacular stretch comes with breathtaking views, especially when you make the visit at dusk when the city lights are just coming to life. The beauty of the stretch is comparable to none, and it is one of the few places in the state where you can lazy around and feel happy that you are doing nothing. There are restaurants and cafes as you enjoy your walk, jog, run, or bike ride.

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7. Museums

Posted by Motown Museum on Monday, 5 March 2012

If you are wondering about what Detroit is famous for, it has to be the museums here. Detroit is not short of museums with various historical importance to the state and the nation as a whole. There are certain things in the United States whose roots are unique to Detroit and there is no better way to learn and know more about them than visiting the myriad of museums within the city. If you love music, then you can check out the Motown Museum to see the actual recording studios where Marvin Gaye & Co produced their songs. You can also check out the Ford Piquet Avenue Plant which was the production site of Ford’s famous Model T trucks. You can also check out the Detroit Historical Museum, and Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History to increase your knowledge of the city’s history and that of the United States.

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8. Eastern Market

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Posted by Eastern Market Corporation on Friday, 2 March 2018

This is a historic commercial market in Detroit and it is worth visiting for the history and also to sample the various merchandise on sale by the vendors. On Saturday, vendors fill this market to sell everything ranging from fresh produce to tacos. On Sundays, it transforms into a jewelry market where local jewelers and artists sell their assorted crafts. There are cafes that serve the classic Coney Island hot dogs amongst other foods that are native to Detroit.

Eastern Market

Address: 2934 Russell St., Detroit, Michigan

Website: Eastern Market

Opening hours: Sat: 6am - 6pm; Sun: 7am - 5pm (closed from Mon - Fri)

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9. Belle Isle Aquarium

Photo taken by Grow Detroit's Young Talent intern, Xavier Paige

Posted by Belle Isle Conservancy on Friday, 3 August 2018

You will find this public aquarium in Belle Isle Park. Its design was the work of George D Mason and Albert Khan – notable architects of the 19th century. The aquarium was opened in 1904, and until its closure in 2005, it had a reputation of being the oldest continuously operating public aquarium in the United States. Though there isn’t a lot to do in this thing Detroit is known for, you can visit for the history and have a glimpse of what the magnificent public aquarium looked like during its glorious days.

Belle Isle Aquarium

Address: 3, Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207, USA

Website: Belle Isle Aquarium

Opening hours: Fri - Sun: 10am - 4pm (closed from Mon - Thu)

Price: Under 10 USD

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10. Auto industry

'57 Nash Metropolitan Coupe (Auto classique St. Lazare '10)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bull-Doser used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Detroit will forever remain in US history books as the cradle of the auto industry, and there are so many exciting places you can visit to see just how Detroit is rich in the auto industry. To begin with, it is the home of the Henry Ford Museum. The museum is a hotbed of the United States automotive history with highly cherished artifacts such as lots of presidential limousines and the bus used by Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat for a white man. You can also check out the General Motors Renaissance Center, Ford Rouge Factory, and the Automotive Hall of Fame to understand the full depth of Detroit’s automotive history.

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11. Vernors

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Vernors is a popular ginger ale brand with deep roots in the city. Vernors was first introduced in Detroit in 1866 by James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist. It quickly gained popularity and became a beloved local beverage.

Vernors is known for its distinctive flavor, combining a bold ginger taste with hints of vanilla and other secret ingredients. The brand has become an iconic symbol of Detroit’s history and culture, with strong ties to the city’s automotive industry and blue-collar heritage. Many Detroiters have fond childhood memories of sipping Vernors, and it remains a nostalgic and beloved beverage in the region. Detroit celebrates its connection to Vernors through events like the Vernors Ginger Ale Salute, and the brand has become a cultural icon representing the city’s spirit and resilience.

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12. The Heidelberg Project

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Heidelberg Project is an internationally acclaimed outdoor art installation that has become a symbol of creativity, community, and urban revitalization. The Heidelberg Project was initiated in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton in response to the deterioration and blight in his childhood neighborhood on Heidelberg Street.

Guyton transformed abandoned houses and vacant lots into vibrant art displays using found objects, colorful paint, and creative installations. The project aims to promote social change and inspire dialogue about urban issues, racism, and the power of art. Over the years, The Heidelberg Project has evolved into a sprawling open-air museum that attracts visitors worldwide. It has become an emblem of Detroit’s resilience, serving as a testament to the transformative power of art in revitalizing communities.

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13. Greenfield Village

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Posted by The Henry Ford on Saturday, 20 April 2019

The Greenfield Village brings you face to face with sounds, sights, and sensations of the ingenuity and the resourcefulness of some of America’s greatest. The village is over 80 acres (32.4 hectares) and where nearly 300 years of America’s perseverance in trying to make the world a better place is preserved. Some of the fascinating attractions that await you here include the lab there Thomas Edison has his lightbulb moment, the workshop where the Wright Brothers made their breakthroughs in conquering the skies, and the Henry Ford Museum with the real legendary Model T truck amongst others.

Greenfield Village

Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, Michigan 48124

Opening hours: 9:30am - 5pm (daily)

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14. Detroit Arts Institute

Posted by Detroit Institute of Arts on Friday, 24 August 2012

In this place, you will find collections of man’s artistic creations that dates back to the very earliest cultures. The collection features more than 65,000 works of art residing in over 100 galleries. The collections came from far and wide, including Near East, Africa, Oceania, Medieval Europe, and the Indigenous Americas. You will find paintings by artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt, amongst others. The history housed in this institute is simply stunning and will make you appreciate the strides made by mankind.

Detroit Arts Institute

Address: 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, USA

Website: Detroit Arts Institute

Opening hours: Tue - Thu: 9am - 4pm; Fri: 9am - 10pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)

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15. Fowling

Posted by Fowling Warehouse on Monday, 8 October 2018

Detroit is the home to the very first fowling warehouse, and this is a place you may want to visit, especially if you love bowling. You can see and experience bowling in any of the available warehouses. You may also sample some of the fowling merchandise as a souvenir for your trip.

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16. People Mover

Photo: Alanna St. Laurent

Posted by Detroit People Mover on Thursday, 19 April 2018

This is a unique public transit service, an automatic transportation system that operates on a single track and moves around the entire Downtown Detroit. It gives you a chance to enjoy an elevated ride through the city, and appreciate how technology and automation can be used to improve the public transport system. This unique concept is not available in most states of the United States and countries around the world, Detroit may present you with the only chance to check it out and experience its operation.

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17. Corktown (from USD 27.0)

things detroit is famous for | corktown

This is a two-hour tour that will take you through a tour of the Corktown neighborhood. With it comes a rich history of the once-Irish neighborhood, a tour of some of the region’s best culinary joints, as well as a visit to the ruins of the once vibrant Michigan Railroad Station. The tour will also take you to some of the most vibrant parts of the city, while you enjoy an assortment of snacks such as hot dogs, bagels, and a variety of local brews. It is an exciting tour for anyone who wants to learn more about Detroit’s history and culture, as well as some of the less-mentioned facts about the city.

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Corktown Tour: Historic Landmarks, Local Haunts and Pubs

Detroit has more gems than you could imagine

Evidently, you need to dig deeper to uncover the depth of the famous things that have a permanent home in Detroit. If you are passionate about history, especially the history of inventions that changed the world and the auto industry, then Detroit will be an exciting destination for you. With the above, we have just scratched the surface about some of the famous things to do in Detroit. Check them out and appreciate how Detroit is truly blessed with attractions.

Frequently asked questions about things Detroit is famous for

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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