Newcomers to Detroit will never be bored. Fondly known as the Motor City and birthplace of Henry Ford, Detroit is predictably home to plenty of attractions for car aficionados, but the city doesn't only cater for petrol heads. It boasts a number of galleries, museums and wonderful green spaces, not to mention the many landmarks that pay homage to the city's musical Motown past.

Recommended attractions in Detroit

Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts is home to an impressive 65,000 works of art displayed in more than 100 galleries. The permanent collection includes works from America, Indigenous Americas, Africa, Oceania, Asia and medieval Europe. It even includes some masters such as Picasso, Van Gogh and Matisse. The museum also houses a performance art section.

Motown Museum

A must for newcomers to the city, the Motown Museum chronicles Detroit’s rise to fame as the birthplace of many music legends. Occupied from 1957 to 1972 by the studio where the ‘Motown Sound’ was produced, the museum allows visitors a look at the recording studio where Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5 and others produced hits, and also the apartment where Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. lived. 

The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant

A National Historic Landmark, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is where Henry Ford birthed the famous Ford Model T that shaped the future of personal automotive transportation. Visitors can walk through the plant and see it exactly how it was when it was functional, including machinery, tools, drafting tables and beautifully maintained early model vehicles.

Belle Isle

One for the outdoorsy types, Belle Isle is a large, wonderfully green island in the Detroit River with lush parks, gorgeous hiking trails and even lakes. It’s a welcome getaway from the city’s buzz. The island boasts a zoo, an aquarium, a beautiful conservatory opened in 1904 that contains all sorts of interesting flora, and a museum on the history of shipping on the Great Lakes. There are also a number of sport facilities, including a driving range, bicycle and boat rentals and several swimming spots.

GM Renaissance Center

Newcomers to the Motor City need to put this at the top of their sightseeing list. The Renaissance Center dominates the Detroit skyline, and the seven-tower complex houses a slew of hotels, offices, restaurants and an observation deck on the 72nd floor, all connected by a colossal network of escalators and walkways. Of course, the centre’s most popular sight is GM’s enormous showroom, which includes a range of the company’s earliest cars all the way to its latest models.

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