Detroit, Michigan

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Detroit: A bounce-back story

Hello explorers! You’ve taken the first step—deciding to take a trip to Detroit and experience Motown music, rock 'n' roll vibe, and legendary sports figures - that have improved the tarnished image of the city since the turn of the new millennium. Detroit has bounced back - and bounced hard!

To get the most out of your adventure, please make sure to read this itinerary from front-to-back. It is sectioned into three parts: prep, daily itineraries, and an appendix identifying everything you need to print (lodging, train tickets, etc). 

This is an interactive PDF, which allows you to add your own notes in the text boxes provided and check the boxes as you complete tasks. All the links are active, so all you have to do is click!

Unforgettable Moments (Highlights)

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Magnificent architecture and legendary musicians are some of the highlights of Detroit, an industrial city that enjoys a well-deserved renaissance. Spend some time among the formidable collection of the Art Institute of Detroit. Leave the crowds behind and visit the 397-acre (982-acre) park of Belle Isle. Motown Museum will take you back to the days when Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson recorded success after success in the studio.

Day by Day breakdown (overview)

Day 1 

ARRIVAL

Located 20 miles southwest of Downtown, Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) is the main entry point for travelers to Detroit. It is well connected to major domestic and international destinations. Airport buses leave the airport at regular intervals and are the cheapest means to get to Downtown. Taxi is the fastest option.

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MORNING



GET SETTLED



After arriving in Detroit, you'll want to check into your hotel and freshen up. Go ahead and stow those bags too—we've got a lot of walking to do.



Motown's earliest history was made on its waterfront, so a tour is a fitting start to any exploration of the city.

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MORNING

GET SETTLED

After arriving in Detroit, you'll want to check into your hotel and freshen up. Go ahead and stow those bags too—we've got a lot of walking to do.

Motown's earliest history was made on its waterfront, so a tour is a fitting start to any exploration of the city.







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AFTERNOON


ON THE WATERFRONT


If it's a sunny day, stroll the boardwalk near Hart Plaza and watch for one of the thousands of hulking freighters that traverse the Detroit River annually. Once, the waterfront, with its active port, was the city's livelihood. You can enjoy a three-mile stretch of the riverwalk and places like William G. Milliken State Park. Another key landmark in Hart Plaza is the Gateway to Freedom International Memorial to the Underground Railroad.


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EVENING

NIGHT OUT AT REN CEN

Next to Hart Plaza is the gleaming GM Renaissance Center, known to Detroiters as Ren Cen. Soaring high into the sky, this fortress-like complex dominates the Detroit skyline, with seven steel towers containing more than 5.5 million square feet of space, including a 1,300-room Marriott hotel, two foreign consulates, a fitness center, a four-screen movie theater, and dozens of restaurants and stores.


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Day 2 


MORNING & AFTERNOON


DOWNTOWN DETROIT 


Woodward Avenue marks the entrance to the city's official downtown business district. This area may be quiet after business hours, but during the day, it hops with office workers who toil in the banks, insurance companies, and other corporations. The first stop on any architectural tour is the Wayne County Building on the cast end of Cadillac Square, an early example of the Roman Baroque Revival style in Michigan. Built from 1897 to 1902, it's one of the oldest buildings in the city.


For a terrific view of Detroit's skyline, consider taking a ride on the Detroit River, the world's busiest international waterway. There are two departure points for these informative tours: Detroit's Rivard Plaza and Bishop Park. Be advised, however, that tours are available on a first-come, first served basis.


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EVENING


MUSIC NIGHT


If you’re a music lover, you will love the Orchestra Hall, which, since 2003, has housed The Music Box, a 450-seat performance hall, as well as the acoustically perfect Orchestra Hall. It has long been home to the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra. After the performance, head to ‘The Whitney’, an upscale restaurant housed in an iconic mansion, just a short walk away.

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Day 3 

MORNING

Start your day in Greektown, once a pioneer farm and now one of the city's best-known ethnic areas. At the core of it all is a Greek neighborhood that dates back to 1915. Although most of the original residents have moved to the suburbs and the majority of restaurants and bakeries have gone upscale, you'll still find a few coffeehouses where old-timers gather to drink strong coffee or sip sweet retsina and play cards.


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AFTERNOON


Stop by two of Detroit's most notable churches. One is Old St. Mary's Church, one of the city's most beautiful Roman Catholic structures, which serves as Detroit's third-oldest Catholic parish and first German church. Meanwhile, the Second Baptist Church of Detroit was established in 1836 by several former slaves who had left the First Baptist Church due to discrimination against African Americans.


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EVENING

Those who enjoy rolling the dice and spend the evening in MGM Grand Detroit, a flashy, art-deco casino that draws its inspiration from the Hollywood of the yesteryear. It offers over 4,000 slot and video poker machines and roughly 100 table games. Beyond gaming activities, MGM also features a full-service hotel, pubs and bars, restaurants, a pulsating nightclub and plenty of live performances.


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Day 4 - Day Trip

Today is a great day to hop onto a bus or hire a car and embark on a picturesque journey to Ann Arbor. The city is home to the University of Michigan and is packed with cultural offerings. The Downtown, which is loaded with trendy coffee shops, pubs, and bookstores and brewpubs, is best explored on foot.

MORNING

OUT OF TOWN

Fuel up at Honest John's with a filling American breakfast before setting off to hire a car. Along the way, you may want to stop at Ford Rouge Factory Tour and Belleville. More than 120,000 people live in Ann Arbor, with surroundings that add to the charms of this beautiful town. 


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AFTERNOON

THE SCENIC DRIVE

If you're passionate about history, you'll love what Ann Arbor has in store for you. Two irrefutable proofs of the richness of the area are Cobblestone Farm and Ypsilanti Water Tower. Another piece of history is hidden in Kempf House. With an impressive offer of high schools, it is not surprising that this area is a great attraction for academics. Check for guided tours at the University of Michigan and tour the halls of this campus along with University of Michigan Museum of Art. If you still have not had enough, there is also the possibility of discovering Eastern Michigan University.

Stop for a vegan lunch at the chic Lunch Room which locally sources its ingredients. After the lunch, take a break from human-made attractions and head to the botanical garden to see exotic plants in their natural habitat. You can also visit the Nichols Arboretum, which is probably one of the quietest places to have a picnic in the city.


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EVENING

WATCH A SHOW

After a pleasant walk through the wonderful streets of Ann Arbor, head to Hill Auditorium in the University of Michigan campus. It has hosted stars from Leonard Bernstein and Bob Marley to Cecilia Bartoli and Joni Mitchell If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a pulsating event in this 100-year-old auditorium. Be sure to check and buy the tickets well in advance.


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Day 5 

MORNING

CULTURAL CENTER

Head north along Woodward Avenue from downtown, and you'll run right into the Cultural Center, part of Midtown Detroit. Bordered by bustling Wayne State University to the west and the Detroit Medical Center to the cast, this is where you'll find a plethora of art galleries, performance venues, shops, and restaurants, plus most of the city's art and civic museums.


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AFTERNOON

A PEEK INTO HISTORY

It's also home to the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, which, besides offering citizenship classes and other educational programs, presents the inexpensive International Cafe, and the International Doll Collection, supposedly the world's largest collection of dolls dressed in native costumes. Roughly a block away from the International Institute, you'll also encounter the main branch of the Detroit Public Library features E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, which encompasses rare books, manuscripts, photographs, recordings, and sheet music that explore everything from early 19th-century plantation life.

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EVENING

CLASSIC MOVIE

If you're visiting on a weekend, stick around long enough to take in a movie at the museum's acclaimed Detroit Film Theatre, which offers important premieres by new and established directors and is one of the few venues in the city to show restored, rarely seen classics in their correct aspect ratios. Variety called it "the best buy for cineastes in America."


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Day 6 

MORNING

Start your day with a delicious brunch at the Dime Store in Downtown. Art lovers will also enjoy the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. It’s a cavernous museum that, in addition to presenting fascinating exhibitions, offers a unique gift shop, a small cafe, and assorted lectures, concerts, films, and literary readings.


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AFTERNOON

Science Center, located in The Cultural Center, includes a digital planetarium, two theaters, one science stage, the state's only IMAX dome theater, and areas devoted to motion, life sciences, matter, energy, waves, and vibration. History buffs, meanwhile, may relish a chance to visit the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. It hosts the annual African World Festival and serves as the world's largest institution devoted to exploring the African American experience. 

EVENING

Relax and rest your feet with a cup of java or something stronger in the Kresge Court, a soaring green and light-filled space modeled after Florence's Bargello Palace, or enjoy soups, salads, sandwiches, and other treats in CaféDIA.


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Day 7 

One last photo-op

Getting an evening flight out of Detroit is ideal so you can soak up every bit of the city on your last day. 

Was there something you read about that didn’t have time to do or see? Get out there and do it! For a different aspect of Detroit's history, head to the Hellenic Museum of Michigan, which opened in 2010 in the hopes of becoming a modern-day version of the "Mouscion" (House of the Muses) of ancient Alexandria. The museum, through the use of artifacts, photographs, oral histories, and personal documents, presents the numerous artistic and intellectual achievements of Hellenic culture from ancient times to the present. It also aims to chronicle the considerable struggles, triumphs, and contributions of the Greek immigrants that settled throughout Michigan, including Detroit. During the summer months, the museum presents traditional Greek music, dancing, and cuisine during their weekly Kefi Nights, which usually take place on Thursdays.


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The Black Experience

Ellis Island Tropical Tea is a flavorful hibiscus tea, made with 100 percent natural extracts, a unique kick of citrus and refreshing, tropical flavor.

GO! Smoothies is part of GO! Beyond Ventures, “a wellness movement,” aimed at providing holistic education and experience for a healthy balance of mind, body, and spirit

Source Booksellers is a bookstore that also hosts Mind/Body/Spirit classes as well as Book/Author Talks, Local Plays, Poetry Talks and more.

Detroit Vegan Soul is Detroit’s first 100% vegan soul food restaurant. Fresh, mostly organic and completely plant based food.

Detroit Seafood Market provides modern booths with mood lighting & live jazz lend this seafood spot & lounge an intimate vibe.

The Block is a contemporary restaurant serving global-inspired dishes for lunch & dinner, plus Sunday brunch.

Central Kitchen and Bar is an Industrial-chic hot spot offering creative American comfort food, plus weekend brunch & happy hours.

Good Cakes and Bakes specialize in vegan and organic made-to-order treats. They use only organic and local products.

Luxury Hotels & Villas List 

Trip Prep 

FLIGHTS / BUS / TICKETS

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Oh, logistics!

Flight costs are annoyingly unpredictable. You’ll save the most money if you book 3-6 months out. The streets of Detroit were built to accommodate a lot of cars. But as the city goes through another renaissance, the opportunity to better plan for public transportation.Hiring a car can provide you with the much-needed flexibility to travel at your own pace and wander off to offbeat places.

RESERVATIONS

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Call ahead

Detroit has hundreds of amazing culinary and cultural experiences to enjoy - it would be a shame to miss out. It’s best to book your outings and tables in advance as a steady mix of tourists and locals make this city a busy one. Heard of a must-try Michelin-star restaurant in downtown? Call ahead to avoid super long waiting times - trust us. 

INSURANCE

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Better safe than sorry

While Detroit is not as unsafe as it once used to be, it’s always safer to travel with insurance. Not only does it protect personal belongings, but ensures access to expensive medical treatment should the worst happen. If you think you might take part in adventure sports make sure to check whether these are covered too.

PASSPORT

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Visa on arrival

Nationals from 37 countries, including Canada, Australia, and European Union members, are eligible to apply for Visa Waiver before 72 hours from arrival into the US. If your ESTA Application is rejected, you need to apply for a B-1 Visitor Visa or B-2 Tourist Visa. Try to ensure you're traveling on a passport with over six months' validity and check with the US Embassy in your respective countries.

Booking Checklist 

FLIGHT

For this itinerary, allow 6 nights, 7 days.

ARRIVE: Detroit (DTW) in the morning of DAY 1

DEPART: Detroit (DTW) in the evening of DAY 7

LODGING

There are plenty of lodging options available—hotels, B&Bs, hostels—just be sure to secure your accommodation in advance. Airbnb is a great option if you are traveling as a group. (See next page for recommendations.)

Detroit, USA | DAY 1 - 7, 6 nights

RESERVATIONS

Some tickets and reservations can be made 1-2 months in advance.

Transfer from Detroit Airport to Lodging | DAY 1

The Whitney | Dinner DAY 2

Car hire from Detroit to Ann Arbor | DAY 4

Auditorium Hill | DAY 4

Detroit Film Theater | DAY 6

Transfer from Lodging to Airport | DAY 7

Recommended Airlines & Routes 

North America: Las Vegas, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando, Atlanta, Miami, Washington D.C., Boston, Toronto, Nashville, Seattle

Europe: Zurich, Dublin, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Vienna, Manchester

Asia: Shanghai, Tokyo, Istanbul, Seoul, Beijing, Amman, Nagoya, Beirut, New Delhi, Singapore

Malé, Manila

Africa/Middle East: Doha, Dubai, Johannesburg, Cairo, Accra, Cape Town, Nairobi, Casablanca, Marrakesh, Mauritius Island

Australia and Oceania: Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Cairns, Uluru

South America: Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Cartagena, Quito, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Havana, São Paulo, Lima, Medellín, Santiago

Alaska Airlines has constantly been voted as the best airlines to travel in the US with a high customer satisfaction due to entertainment options, leg room, and complimentary refreshments. Spirit and Frontier offer the most economical options. American Airlines has the best connectivity with international destinations from Detroit.

Apps, Transportation & The ‘Gram 

APPS

Splitwise | eliminates the headache of bill splitting & a must for group travel

Tripadvisor | a favorite resource for finding off-the-beaten-path restaurants and things to do. However, all reviews are subjective, so don’t obsess over scores

Whatsapp | free text messaging to other Whatsapp users

NobelApp | make cheap calls locally and back home

TRANSIT BOOKING SITES

skyscanner.com | easy to use the website for finding low airfares

google.com/flights | helpful fare prediction technology

 https://www.metroairport.com/| for metro timetables and hours 

https://www.amtrak.com/stations/det| Regional train timings and tickets

https://www.uber.com/en-CA/cities/detroit/ | Uber is a popular mode of transportation in Detroit.

INSTAGRAM THIS

For re-posts of your shots, @tag and use the following hashtags:

Detroit | @_Detroit_city #detroit #detroittrip #detroitnightlife

USA | @usatodaytravel #ustrip #usatravel

Ann Arbor | @Ann_Arbor #annarbor #annarbormichigan #annarboreats

Travel Noire | @travelnoire #travelnoire

Destination Facts 

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DETROIT FACTS

  • In 1879, it became the first city to assign individual phone numbers, making the party line outdated

  • 673,104,

DETROIT RESIDENTS

  • AIRPORT CODE: DTW

  • Detroit is home to America’s oldest ginger ale brand, Vernors Ginger Ale. It was created by a Detroit pharmacist named James Vernor in the late 1870s.

  • 12:00 - 2:30 PM LUNCH

  • 7:00 - 11 PM DINNER

  • 20 MILLION 

VISITORS TO DETROIT IN 2017.

  • The city is home to the only floating post office in the United States, the J.W. Westcott II.

  • TIME ZONE: EDT (GMT-4)

  • 140+ Resident Nationalities |157+ Languages Spoken

  • Detroit is known as the Potato Chip Capital. On average, Detroiters eat 7 pounds of potato chips a year while the rest of the country consume about 4 pounds annually.

  • Nicknames

America's Comeback City.

Arsenal of Democracy.

City of Trees.

City of the Straits.

  • Detroit’s theater district is the second largest in the country, second only to New York City.

  • TIPPING RULE OF THUMB

Restaurants | Tipping is a part of the culture in the US. Tip 15%-20% of the bill.

Cabs | Leaving 15%-20% of the total amount is the general practice.

Appendix 

SEE YOU, DETROIT!

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DEPARTURE

You’re going to take home some fantastic memories. To ensure you’re journey doesn’t turn sour at the last minute make sure you’ve planned how to get to the airport. Public bus is cheap and is generally reliable but take a taxi if you don’t want to take chances.

Shenae Curry