Top 16 Outdoor Activities in Detroit
Man walking dog
Explore Nature in the Great Lakes State

The city is known for its music scene, historical sites, architectural feats, and entertainment venues and it was named a UNESCO City of Design in 2015.

If you're planning a trip to Detroit, there are loads of activities to enjoy outdoors. Whether you're looking to take the kids somewhere fun or enjoy a fun night out with your friends, here are Red Roof's top outdoor activities in Detroit.

belle isle
Explore the amazing Belle Isle

With its ample green spaces, playgrounds, and family-friendly aquarium, this island oasis straddling the Detroit River between Canada and the United States serves as a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

Its chief attraction, the Belle Isle Aquarium, is the country's oldest aquarium, and it is home to over 1,000 swimming critters from all over. Step outside and walk through the trails to find the James Scott Memorial Fountain and the William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse. In addition to the numerous picnic spots and viewpoints, make time to visit the free Dossin Great Lakes Museum, which features an impressive maritime exhibition commemorating the geography and history of the Great Lakes.

ambassador bridge
Go over the Ambassador Bridge

The Ambassador Bridge connects the automotive mecca of Detroit with Windsor, Ontario — and, by extension, Canada — and is one of the busiest crossings in North America, as well as a quick way to cross the border into the Great White North. 

Built in 1929, with appearances in famous films such as Gross Point Blank, 8 Mile, and Four Brothers, the 7,500-foot-long bridge remains the world's largest international suspension bridge! Make your way over the bridge and enjoy some poutine on the other side!

william g milliken state park
Visit the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor

Tired of the crowds and the hustle and bustle? Then head over to William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, a lovely grassy waterfront spot ideal for escaping the city — even if only for an hour!

The area, which connects to the West RiverWalk, is rich in wetlands and nature and it also has a marina where you can stroll around at your leisure, admiring the luxury boats as they bob up and down on the water. Don't forget to check out the lighthouse and the Steel Modern Art Man.

Detroit Riverwalk
Stroll the Scenic Detroit Riverwalk

The Riverfront neighborhood in Detroit is quickly becoming a well-liked destination for year-round strolls and activities. From Belle Isle to Rosa Parks Boulevard, it spans more than three miles, and there are plans to extend it two more miles along the waterfront in the west. 

Special activities are held at various locations along the Riverwalk, such as free concerts and holiday celebrations. The Riverwalk starts at Mt. Elliot Park, a freshly renovated park with completely accessible features like kid-friendly water play areas, a café, bathrooms, and a fishing pier. The wide route continues west along the water's edge after crossing Harbortown Marina and has numerous benches sheltered by trees.

detroit princess boat
Take a cruise on the Detroit Princess Riverboat

The Detroit Princess is a five-story, 1500-passenger vessel docked near the GM Renaissance Center at Hart Plaza on the Detroit Riverwalk. Passengers on two- to three-hour sightseeing cruises get a different perspective of the city, providing opportunities for great photos.

Tickets include either lunch or dinner, and during the summer, there are sunset dinner cruises available multiple nights per week. The Princess also hosts themed events such as big band night, Motown Memories as well as New Year's Eve parties and other holiday celebrations. for smaller events.

heidelberg project
Discover the Heidelberg Project

While Downtown and the Riverwalk get the most attention, Detroit's suburbs are just as diverse, with outdoor sculpture, murals, and a variety of local hidden gems. The eccentric Heidelberg Project in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood is one such attraction. 

Tyree Guyton began the project in 1986 as a series of outdoor art installations on empty lots and houses, using everyday objects such as tires, shoes, televisions, and clothes to create an ever-changing display. The result is eye-opening, thought-provoking, and frequently amusing — ideal for taking some interesting social media photos!

Dequindre Cut Greenway
Stroll down the Dequindre Cut Greenway

The Dequindre Cut Greenway is one of Detroit's best-kept secrets when it comes to hidden gems. This 2-mile stretch of former railway track has been transformed into a thriving green space, connecting the Riverfront to the Eastern Market. With its 20-foot-wide paved footpath, this two-mile greenway, which was first made public in 2009, displays stunning instances of urban graffiti and artwork. It was once a Grand Trunk Railroad line. 

This pathway's ability to provide access to various residential districts while also providing a pedestrian link between the East Riverfront and Eastern Market is another fantastic feature. The Dequindre Cut goes alongside the water and offers stunning views of both the East and West Riverfronts in addition to its views of public art in the city. The greenway is walked by over three million people each year, and there are many attractions along the way. Cullen Plaza, Gabriel Richard Park, and Harbortown are just a few of the places you may go from Dequindre Cut.

grand circus park
Stop at the Grand Circus Park

Grand Circus Park, located in the heart of downtown Detroit, is a slice of calm surrounded by one of the city's busiest areas. It is a stone's throw from famous landmarks such as Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, and the Detroit Opera House. 

This 5-acre sliver of urban greenery known as Central Park is topped with an elaborate fountain and offers plenty of seating for those who need a break from their days of sightseeing strolling. It also has a dog park for your four-legged friends and, in the winter, a charming, illuminated art installation.

Ann Arbor
Discover Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, located one hour from Detroit, is known for its beautiful tree-lined streets and is also home to the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor was established in the 1820s and named for the founders' wives, both of whom conveniently went by the name Ann. 

This artsy city is a delight to explore and a welcome respite from Detroit. Come here to experience college culture, and walk around downtown, which is filled with free-trade coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants and art galleries. There are also numerous craft breweries for beer enthusiasts.

taking selfie
Check Out "The Fist"

The imposing sculpture known as "The Fist" was built in tribute to Detroit-born and -raised heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. It is over 27 feet tall and weighs more than 8,000 pounds. 

Its location in the heart of Hart Square makes it a popular and common spot for passersby to take a selfie and add a bit of Detroit pop culture to their social media.

friends drinking beer
Go on a pedal bar experience

The pedal bars in Detroit open the door for a seriously enjoyable afternoon in the sun and the opportunity to meet a ton of other thirsty travelers. 

Pick from businesses like The HandleBar Detroit and Detroit Rolling Pub, which both provide a three-hour tour (of various routes) that will take you to some of the city's most well-known landmarks while you and your friends pedal and drink along the way!

eastern market
Discover the famous Eastern Market

The Eastern Market is another fantastic outdoor spot in Detroit. The Eastern Market offers a wide range of excellent products, from baked goods to fresh produce and meat, but it offers much more. The market is open on three different days, each with its own distinct vibe. 

The Saturday market at Eastern Market may be the most well-known, with over 225 market vendors and up to 40,000 visitors in a single day. The Saturday market is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has been a Detroit tradition for more than 125 years. 

The Sunday Eastern Market is a little different in that it also features local artists, jewelers, cooks, musicians, and other vendors. From June to September, the market is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays and hosts a variety of fun events. 

The Tuesday Market, which is open from June to September, is a scaled-down version of the weekend market with additional free offerings such as Zumba and Yoga classes for attendees.

detroit zoo
Spend the day at the Detroit Zoo

Who doesn't enjoy taking their friends and family to a great city zoo to learn and discover about wildlife and animals? Detroit Zoo, which is situated in Royal Oak, has been operating since 1928. 

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is located at the Detroit Zoo and is one of the most extraordinary penguin conservation centers in the world. This $32 million penguin center, which opened in 2016, is home to more than 75 penguins. 

If penguins aren't your thing, the Detroit Zoo also has over 2,000 animals from over 200 different species, ranging from the polar bears to European legless lizards, with many more in between.

henry ford greenfield village
Discover Greenfield Village

If you are familiar with Detroit, you are probably aware that it is also known as the "Motor City." The father of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, was born in the nearby Greenfield Township on a farm. Ransom Olds was raised nearby in Lansing and is credited with designing the first steam-powered automobile in 1884, the first gasoline-powered automobile in 1896, and the founding of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in 1897. 

Although Greenfield Village honors these great inventors with enjoyable activities like riding in a Model-T or boarding a genuine steam-powered locomotive, it also emphasizes other innovators and their work. Visitors can tour a replica of Thomas Edison's laboratory or the Wright brothers' actual residence and bicycle shop. Greenfield Village is a unique place to visit for anyone interested in Michigan history.

family biking
Go for a Bike Ride

Although it is still known as the Motor City, Detroit is also a fairly bike-friendly city. Every year, more bike lanes are being added to the city as riding gains popularity as a mode of transportation. The RiverWalk in Detroit is an excellent spot to ride a bike. At the several MoGo stations located throughout the city, you may hire bicycles. A day pass with unlimited travels of 30 minutes costs $8. It costs an extra $4 for every additional 30 minutes you use the bike. 

Cycling is a good choice if you don't feel like purchasing a car permit to visit Belle Isle. A bright sunny day is the best time to take a leisurely bike ride around the island. Join the Slow Roll to truly experience cycling in Detroit Rock City. Numerous folks get out for this weekly bike ride around the streets of Motown. Thousands of people attend, many riding bikes that are wonderfully customized.

Catch a Local Festival

When traveling, attending a local festival is always enjoyable. Throughout the year, Motown hosts a variety of festivals of various sizes. The North American International Auto Show takes over Detroit every January. The Detroit Grand Prix and the Woodward Dream Cruise are two other car-related events.

In terms of music, the city that invented techno hosts one of the world's best electronic music festivals. Every Memorial Day weekend, Movement takes over downtown's Hart Plaza and features an incredible lineup of international artists. Country fans should attend the Downtown Hoedown, while jazz fans should visit in September for the Detroit Jazz Fest. With over 120 bands, the latter is the largest free music event in North America.

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