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Exploring Detroit with Young Adventurers

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Ahoy, intrepid families! If you're seeking an unforgettable escapade with your young explorers, look no further than the dynamic city of Detroit! As the birthplace of Motown music and the automotive industry, Detroit boasts a fascinating history that will ignite the imagination of both kids and adults alike.

Last month, my family and I embarked on a short trip to Detroit, and it was an absolute delight to revisit some of the places we enjoyed during our previous visits. We had an incredible time exploring the Motown Museum , where the rhythm and soul of legendary musicians resonated with us once again. Showing the city to my kid and reminiscing about our own time living there filled us with a sense of nostalgia and excitement to create new memories together.

Now, let's set sail on a thrilling voyage through Detroit's captivating past and discover the must-see gems that will leave your little adventurers wide-eyed with wonder!

Unraveling Detroit's Rich History: A Journey Back in Time

As we anchor in Detroit's historical harbor, let's delve into the tales of the past that shaped this incredible city. Founded in 1701, Detroit's heritage is a captivating blend of Native American roots, French and British colonial influences, and the booming automotive era.

The excitement is palpable as we introduce our kids to the vibrant history that thrives within the streets of Detroit. From the iconic architecture to the tales of innovation and progress, every corner of the city carries a story waiting to be unveiled.

And so, with anticipation in our hearts and curiosity lighting up our young ones' eyes, we embark on this unforgettable journey through Detroit—a city that echoes with the sounds of the past and embraces families with open arms.

Join us as we embark on this family-friendly adventure, exploring the wonders of Detroit together!

9 Unmissable Sites for a Family Adventure in Detroit: Unveiling the City's Rich Heritage

The Detroit Historical Museum stands as a time capsule, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the city's captivating past. Founded in 1928, this iconic museum showcases Detroit's evolution from its Native American roots and early French explorations to its role as the cradle of the automotive industry. Through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and engaging displays, families can journey through time, witnessing pivotal moments in the city's history, such as the Great Fire of 1805 and the industrial boom of the 20th century. From the early days of fur trading to the rise of Motown music, the Detroit Historical Museum unveils the heart and soul of the Motor City's rich heritage.

  • Location: 5401 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

  • Cost: Free admission, donations welcome

  • Getting there: Easily accessible by car or public transportation. Parking available nearby.

Paying homage to the visionary genius of Henry Ford, the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is a wonderland of technological marvels and historical milestones. Established in 1929 by Ford himself, this awe-inspiring museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts that shaped American culture and society. Families can marvel at the Wright Brothers' plane, the Rosa Parks Bus, and an incredible assortment of vintage vehicles, from iconic Model T's to futuristic concept cars. With a focus on innovation, the museum celebrates America's ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit, leaving visitors in awe of the transformative power of human creativity.

Great Museum ! the entire family will love it. Don't miss the chance to explore Greenfield Village too. Plan a full day for the village and another for the Henry Ford Museum for an unforgettable journey.

  • Location: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124

  • Cost: Ticket prices vary; check the museum website for updated rates. Kids under 5 get free admission.

  • Getting there: A short drive from Detroit's city center or easily accessible by ride-share services.

My daughter Loreva @ The Motown Museum

A harmonious time capsule of musical brilliance, the Motown Museum, or Hitsville U.S.A., is a pilgrimage site for music enthusiasts young and old. Founded by Berry Gordy in 1959, this modest two-story house on West Grand Boulevard became the birthplace of the Motown Sound. As families step into the iconic studio where legends like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Diana Ross recorded their chart-topping hits, they'll be immersed in the soul-stirring melodies that changed the face of music forever. The Motown Museum pays tribute to the talents and tenacity of these trailblazing artists, leaving an indelible mark on Detroit's cultural legacy. We highly recommend to visit the Motown museum.

  • Location: 2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208

  • Cost: Ticket prices vary; it's best to book online in advance to secure your visit.

  • Getting there: Convenient parking available. Alternatively, consider using the city's expanding public transportation options.

Nestled in the heart of the Detroit River, Belle Isle Park has a storied past dating back to the 19th century. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the mastermind behind New York City's Central Park, Belle Isle exudes natural beauty and tranquility. Originally a hunting ground for Native American tribes, this idyllic island was later transformed into a public park, enchanting visitors with its lush landscapes, blooming gardens, and picturesque views of the Detroit skyline. Today, families can escape the urban hustle to enjoy picnics, playtime at the sprawling playgrounds, and encounters with wildlife at the Belle Isle Nature Center, making it a beloved oasis for generations of Detroiters.

  • Location: Belle Isle, Detroit, MI 48207

  • Cost: Free admission to the park; some attractions may have nominal fees.

  • Getting there: Easily accessible by car, bike, or on foot. Parking available on the island..

Reconnecting the city with its waterfront heritage, the Detroit RiverWalk stretches along the scenic Detroit River, once a bustling hub of maritime commerce. This revitalized pedestrian path invites families to stroll or bike along the river's edge, offering breathtaking panoramas of the Ambassador Bridge and Belle Isle. The RiverWalk is a vibrant tapestry of public spaces, showcasing outdoor art installations, splash pads, and recreational activities. As the city continues its efforts to enhance this walkable urban treasure, it becomes an ideal destination for families to revel in the splendor of the Detroit River's majestic allure.

  • Location: Detroit Riverfront, Detroit, MI 48243

  • Cost: Free to walk along the riverfront and enjoy the public spaces.

  • Getting there: Walkable from downtown hotels or use the city's QLINE streetcar to access various points along the RiverWalk.

Rooted in Detroit's tradition of innovation, the Michigan Science Center engages young minds with a thrilling blend of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Housed in the former Detroit Science Center, this interactive haven sparks curiosity and fosters a love for learning through hands-on exhibits and captivating demonstrations. As families explore the mysteries of space at the planetarium, conduct electrifying experiments, and engage with live science shows, the Michigan Science Center ignites a passion for discovery and empowers the next generation of young thinkers and innovators.

  • Location: 5020 John R St, Detroit, MI 48202

  • Cost: Admission fees vary based on age; children under 2 get free entry.

  • Getting there: Easily accessible by car or public transportation.

Unity Bell @ Eastern Market

Nestled in the heart of Detroit, Eastern Market stands as a culinary haven and a testament to the city's vibrant spirit. Established in 1891, this iconic farmers' market has been a bustling hub of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and community gatherings for over a century. With its roots deeply intertwined in Detroit's history, Eastern Market has played a pivotal role in supporting local farmers and nourishing the city's residents. Today, families can savor the sights, sounds, and scents of this thriving marketplace as they peruse rows of stalls offering a colorful array of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and handcrafted wares. The market's commitment to sustainability and community engagement continues to make it an essential pillar of Detroit's cultural heritage.

  • Location: Eastern Market, Detroit, MI 48207

  • Cost: Free admission; some attractions may have fees

  • Getting there: it is located northeast of downtown Detroit, making it easily accessible by car, public transportation, or even on foot for those staying nearby. The market operates on Saturdays, with additional market days on Tuesdays and Sundays during peak seasons.

As one of the most distinguished art museums in the United States, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) showcases a vast collection spanning over 65,000 artworks from diverse cultures and periods. Established in 1885, the DIA has been a beacon of artistic inspiration for generations of Detroiters. From its extensive exhibits of European and American masterpieces to its renowned African, Asian, and Islamic art galleries, the museum offers an enriching experience for families seeking to discover the beauty and significance of the world's artistic heritage. The DIA's crown jewel is undoubtedly the stunning Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera, a breathtaking series of frescoes that capture the city's industrial spirit and social history. This world-class institution continues to be a symbol of Detroit's enduring appreciation for art, creativity, and cultural expression.

  • Location: 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

  • Cost: Ticket prices vary; kids under 6 enter free

  • Getting there : It is situated on Woodward Avenue, within the city's cultural center. Families can conveniently reach the museum by car, or they can use the city's efficient public transportation system. The museum's proximity to other cultural institutions like the Michigan Science Center and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History makes it an ideal stop on a day of cultural exploration in the city.

A Beacon of Cultural Heritage. Nestled in the heart of Detroit, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History stands as a powerful testament to the African American community's rich heritage and contributions. Established in 1965, this world-renowned institution was named after Dr. Charles H. Wright, a prominent Detroit physician, and philanthropist. With a mission to celebrate the history and achievements of African Americans, the museum offers a compelling journey through time, showcasing the struggles and triumphs of the African American experience. Families can immerse themselves in immersive exhibits, awe-inspiring artifacts, and thought-provoking displays that highlight the African American journey from enslavement to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. From the Great Migration to the impact of African American culture on the world stage, each gallery invites visitors to connect with the stories that have shaped America's cultural landscape.

  • Location: 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

  • Cost: Admission fees apply; discounts available

  • Getting there: It is centrally located near Detroit's bustling cultural district. Families can easily access the museum by car or use the city's public transportation system, which connects various neighborhoods and attractions. The museum is situated on East Warren Avenue, making it easily accessible for travelers staying in downtown Detroit or surrounding areas.

These nine sites represent the heart and soul of Detroit's rich heritage, transforming the city from a manufacturing powerhouse into a cultural and artistic hub. Each site is not only important for their historical significance but also plays a vital role in shaping Detroit's vibrant identity and inspiring future generations to cherish and carry forward the city's legacy.

10 Iconic Buildings of Detroit: A Tapestry of Architectural Marvels

Families, as you explore the city of Detroit, you will marvel at the breathtaking architecture that surrounds you. Detroit's buildings hold within them a tale of history, innovation, and resilience that has shaped this city into what it is today. Here are 10 iconic buildings you must see while visiting the city. Each is a unique piece of this architectural tapestry, contributing to Detroit's identity and cultural significance.

  1. The Guardian Building: Located at 500 Griswold Street, this stunning Art Deco skyscraper was completed in 1929. It boasts a dazzling array of intricate designs and vibrant mosaics, earning it the title "Cathedral of Finance." The Guardian Building stands as a beacon of Detroit's financial heritage.

  2. The Fisher Building: Rising majestically in the New Center area, this historic landmark was constructed in 1928. Its ornate architecture is a marvel of artistry and craftsmanship, reflecting Detroit's golden era of industry and design.

  3. The Detroit Institute of Arts: Established in 1885, this cultural cornerstone houses a vast collection of art from various centuries and cultures. Its iconic Diego Rivera murals celebrate the city's artistic legacy. You can find it at 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202.

  4. The Fox Theatre: Standing tall on Woodward Avenue, the Fox Theatre's opulent design harks back to the golden age of cinema and entertainment. Opened in 1928, this grand theatre continues to host world-class performances and events. It's located at 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201.

  5. Comerica Park: This modern sports complex has been the home of the Detroit Tigers since its opening in 2000. Families can catch a game and bask in the lively atmosphere of baseball in the heart of the city. You can find it at 2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201.

  6. Ford Field: Serving as the home stadium for the Detroit Lions, Ford Field is a state-of-the-art facility completed in 2002. It draws crowds for NFL games and major events and is located at 2000 Brush St, Detroit, MI 48226.

  7. One Detroit Center: Rising 43 stories above the skyline, this contemporary architectural marvel was completed in 1993. Its modern touch adds to the city's diverse architectural tapestry. You can find it at 500 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226.

  8. The David Stott Building: Completed in 1929, this iconic Art Deco skyscraper showcases stunning limestone details. It remains a symbol of Detroit's architectural heritage and can be found at 1150 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226.

  9. The Book Tower: This historic gem, erected in 1926, features a Gothic-inspired design. It has become a beloved fixture on Washington Boulevard and is located at 1265 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226.

  10. The Renaissance Center: Often called the RenCen, this impressive complex of seven interconnected skyscrapers stands along the Detroit River. Completed in 1977, it serves as the global headquarters of General Motors and is an iconic symbol of Detroit's revitalization efforts. You can find it at 400 Renaissance Dr W, Detroit, MI 48243.

To explore the iconic buildings of Detroit, I suggest that you create your own self-guided architectural tour by walking or driving through the city. Many of these landmarks are clustered in the downtown area and are easily accessible by public transportation or ride-share services. For a comprehensive cultural experience, you and your family can take the QLINE streetcar along Woodward Avenue, which connects key attractions like the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Guardian Building.

From its vibrant markets and iconic buildings to its world-class art and cultural institutions, Detroit offers an extraordinary blend of history, creativity, and innovation. As you and your family explore the city's rich heritage, you will be enchanted by the stories that shaped Detroit into the dynamic and resilient city it is today. Whether savoring fresh produce at Eastern Market or marveling at the grandeur of the Guardian Building, each experience is a testament to the enduring spirit and cultural significance of the Motor City.

Local food to Try:

  • Coney Island Hot Dogs: A Detroit classic, head to American Coney Island or Lafayette Coney Island for a taste of these delicious chili-topped dogs.

  • Detroit-Style Pizza: Visit Buddy's Pizza for their famous square-shaped, deep-dish pizza, topped with cheese all the way to the crust.

  • Soul Food: For a taste of Southern comfort, try Beans & Cornbread or Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles for mouthwatering soul food dishes.

Transportation and City Safety:

Detroit is making strides to improve its transportation system to be more walkable and safe for residents and visitors. The QLINE streetcar runs along Woodward Avenue, connecting downtown Detroit with Midtown, making it easy to access key attractions. Additionally, the city is investing in bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure to encourage alternative transportation. When exploring the city, exercise standard safety precautions as you would in any metropolitan area and stick to well-lit areas at night.

The Detroit People Mover, often referred to as the "subway of Detroit in the air," is a convenient and fun way for travelers with kids to explore downtown. This automated light rail system runs on an elevated track, offering panoramic views of the city's bustling streets below. The People Mover loops around downtown Detroit, making stops at key attractions such as the Renaissance Center, Greektown, and Comerica Park. The best part? It's affordable, with a low fare of only $0.75 per ride. The People Mover was built in 1987 to provide easy access for commuters and visitors to downtown destinations. Families can hop on at any of the 13 stations and enjoy a quick, safe, and efficient ride to experience the vibrant heart of Detroit.

The People Mover

5 Amazing Facts about Detroit

  1. The Motor City: Detroit earned the nickname "Motor City" due to its historical significance in the automotive industry. It was home to Henry Ford's first automobile factory and played a pivotal role in shaping the global automotive landscape.

  2. Underground Railroad Hub: Detroit played a significant role in the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses that helped enslaved African Americans escape to freedom during the 19th century. The city's location along the Detroit River made it a crucial stop on the journey to Canada.

  3. Green Spaces Galore: Despite being an urban metropolis, Detroit boasts an impressive number of green spaces. Belle Isle Park, a scenic island park in the Detroit River, is larger than Central Park in New York City and offers a peaceful oasis for locals and visitors alike.

  4. Tall Skyscrapers: Detroit has a remarkable collection of skyscrapers, many of which were built in the early 20th century. The city was once home to the tallest hotel in the world, the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, which was completed in 1977.

  5. Cultural Landmarks: Detroit is home to the nation's oldest museum of African American history, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. It showcases the achievements and contributions of African Americans throughout history and serves as a cultural beacon for the community.

Exploring Detroit's Most Instagram-Worthy Spots

Detroit is a treasure trove of picturesque and Instagram-worthy locations, perfect for capturing memorable moments. Here are five of the city's most "instagrable" places that promise to add a touch of magic to your travel album:

  1. The Belt Alley: Located in the heart of downtown Detroit, The Belt Alley is an artistic haven adorned with captivating street art and murals. This vibrant pedestrian walkway provides a dynamic backdrop for unique and creative photos. Whether you're a street art enthusiast or simply seeking colorful and eye-catching shots, The Belt Alley won't disappoint.

    • Address: Between Broadway St and Library St, Detroit, MI 48226

    • How to Get There: Easily accessible by car or public transportation, take the QLINE streetcar and get off at the Grand Circus Park or Broadway stations, both within walking distance.

2. Guardian Building: A masterpiece of Art Deco architecture, the Guardian Building boasts intricate designs and vibrant mosaics, earning it the title of the "Cathedral of Finance." Step inside to be mesmerized by its breathtaking interior, making it an ideal spot for capturing timeless and elegant shots.

  • Address: 500 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226

  • How to Get There: Situated in downtown Detroit, there are parking lots and garages nearby for drivers. Public transportation users can conveniently reach it by using the QLINE, with the Cadillac Center station just a short walk away.

It is the one on the left :)

3. Belle Isle Park: Nestled in the Detroit River, Belle Isle Park offers a myriad of Instagram- worthy spots. From the historic Belle Isle Conservatory to picturesque views of the Detroit skyline, this lush green oasis provides ample opportunities for nature-inspired photography.

  • Address: Belle Isle, Detroit, MI 48207

  • How to Get There: Accessible by car, bike, or on foot, Belle Isle is connected to the mainland via a bridge. Enjoy free parking available on the island, making it an easy and delightful destination.

4. The Heidelberg Project: This outdoor art installation in a Detroit neighborhood showcases an array of colorful and whimsical sculptures made from reclaimed materials. It's a unique and thought-provoking place to capture eye-catching and captivating images.

  • Address: 3600 Heidelberg St, Detroit, MI 48207

  • How to Get There: Located in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood, visitors can find limited street parking in the area. For convenience, consider using a ride-share service or public transportation to reach this captivating art space.

5. The Z Lot: Transformed into an "art park," The Z Lot is an unconventional urban parking structure adorned with striking murals and graffiti art. Its edgy and modern vibe offers a cool backdrop for contemporary photography.

  • Address: 1234 Library St, Detroit, MI 48226

  • How to Get There: Situated in downtown Detroit, various parking options are available nearby for drivers. Public transit users can hop on the QLINE streetcar and get off at the Grand Circus Park station, a short walk away from The Z Lot.

Get ready to capture Detroit's unique charm and creative spirit at these Instagram-worthy spots. Share your travel adventures with the world and let the city's vibrancy shine through your photos

Detroit welcomes families with open arms, providing a blend of history, innovation, and excitementFrom the historical corridors of the Detroit Historical Museum to the harmonies of Hitsville U.S.A., each place in Detroit has a unique story to tell, immersing families in the city's rich heritage and fostering a sense of wonder. Embark on this extraordinary journey with your young adventurers, as they are transported through time and space, discovering the essence of Detroit's vibrant past. So, set forth on your voyage of enchantment and create cherished memories in the marvelous Detroit! Bon voyage! 🚗🏙️🌭

Do you have a favorite place to explore in Detroit,Michigan? Please share in the comments below and spread the Traveler Butterfly love !


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