24 Hours in Detroit

With an estimated population of 677,116, Detroit is the largest city in the state of Michigan and the second largest city in the Midwest. It is also the largest city that lies on the US-Canada border, and the headquarters for many auto manufacturers, such as Chrysler, General Motors and Ford. Founded in 1701 by French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, it quickly became the most significant industrial center of the Great Lakes area by the 19th century. With the growth of the automobile industry in the 20th century, the city had become the 4th largest one in the nation.

Must Experience

Start your day by driving to Belle Isle. This 983-acre island park is located on the Detroit River in between the United States and Canada. From there, you can wtiness some magnificent views of the Detroit skyline. The park has many walking trails as well as playgrounds, a nature center, beaches, fishing areas, picnic areas, tennis courts and even a waterslide. You can walk or drive through the park, which is connected to the city by a bridge. This park is the perfect place for a picnic or any other type of outdoor recreation activity.

Belle Isle Park
Belle Isle Park

Afterwards, go for a walk in Midtown, and admire the mix of historic and modern architecture blended together. West Canfield offers meticulous Victorian houses and cobblestoned streets. The Guardian Building offers splendid mosaics inside the building, decorated in an Art Deco type of architecture.  The Native American color theme of this 40 story building that was designed by C. Wirt Rowland is absolutely stunning, and a one of a kind experience.

Must Visit

Visit the Eastern Market to shop for some delicious fresh items or to explore the street murals that surround it. Local farmers take over the market to sell fresh produce from across the Midwest. It is one of the last big historic outdoor urban markets in the country, so totally worth a visit. And the murals surrounding it are spectacular, artistic and often express a strong social or political message.


Finish your day by visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts, which opened its doors back in 1927. It is considered to be Detroit’s crown jewel, and the Beaux Arts building is colossal. Inside, there are over a 100 galleries with an extensive collection of over 60,000 works. The Institute of Arts is located at 5200 Woodward Avenue, and is open every day except Mondays. Entrance is 14$ for adults, 8$ for students and free for children under the age of 5.

Must Watch

If you like sports, Detroit won’t let you down. Home to the Detroit Tigers (MLB), the Detroit Lions (NFL) and the Detroit Red Wings (NHL), there are games to watch for everyone. The Detroit Tigers, who won the World Series four times, play at the Comerica Park. At the Joe Louis Arena you will find the Detroit Red Wings, who won 11 Stanley Cups. The Detroit Lions, who won 4 NFL titles, play at the Ford Field.

Must Eat

In Detroit, it is crucial to try the famous Coney Dog, a hot dog with mustard, chili and fresh onions. You can find them mostly anywhere in the city, although the most famous restaurants to try them at are Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island, which are located in downtown Detroit (right next to each other).

For breakfast or brunch, stop at the Dimestore. This American brunch bar is located in downtown Detroit, on 719 Griswold Street, and is considered to have one of the best brunches in the city (and I agree). The waiting time for a spot can be lengthy at times, but there are plenty of surrounding areas to explore while you wait. The chef’s specials are very good, and I highly recommend their omelets and French toast!

Downtown Detroit
Downtown Detroit

Must Drink

Into carbonated beverages? Well then Detroit is your spot. Vernors Giner Ale was the first soda pop to ever be made domestically and is still a very popular beverage today. It was created by pharmacist James Vernor a 140 years ago. Today, Detroiters love to have a ‘Boston Cooler’, an ice cream topped with Vernors. Another famous “pop” (this is how Detroiters call soda) flavor is Red Pop and Rock’n’Rye from the Faygo brand, which taste like cake.

When to go

The most popular time to visit Detroit and the state of Michigan is from late spring to early fall. This is when the weather is at its best, and most city attractions take place. The weather is pretty harsh in the winter, with snowstorms and ice storms happening regularly.

Getting there

Plane – The Detroit Metro Airport is located 20 minutes west of the city
Bus – Greyhound and Megabus
Train – The Amtrak station, located at 11 W Baltimore Ave, provides service to and from Chicago.
Car –

  • I-75 North and South to Toledo/ Upper Michigan Peninsula
  • I-94 West and East to Chicago/ Sarnia
  • I-96 West and East to Lansing MI
  • I-696 to suburbs to Southfield
  • I-275
Belle Isle
Belle Isle

Getting Around

It is helpful to have a car when visiting Detroit. The city spread over a large area and the region is extremely auto-friendly. The best is to drive from one area to the other, park, and do the rest by foot. Another option is to rent a bike (Wheelhouse Detroit is a good place to start), or to use the public bike shares (called MoGo).

Detroit also has the People Mover, an elevated rail network that runs in downtown Detroit in a 3-mile loop. You can take a round trip to explore the view of most of the city’s landmarks, which takes approximately 20 minutes. Fares are 0.75$ and the loop covers 13 stations. Available also in Detroit are the DDOT buses, which serve 17 routes and have a $1.50 fare. The buses are green and yellow and the main terminal is at Cass Street/Michigan Avenue in downtown Detroit.

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  • Medha Verma Bector

    Are 24 hours enough in Detroit? It seems like Belle Isle itself has so much to do, it can keep one occupied for the whole day! A great list though, thanks for sharing. x

    • Wallis

      I did everything in 24 hours, but indeed, it’s always better to stay longer ! Belle Isle is so big you can definitely spend an afternoon there. But if you are only in Detroit for a short amount of time, I hope this list can help with picking out the best things to do !

  • Becca Talbot

    I’ve never been to Detroit, but it looks like a pretty cool city! I especially like the street art that you’ve snapped here – it’s one of my favourite things to hunt out in any new city 🙂 If I were to hours, as iink I’d have to stay longer than 24 hours, as it’s quite a long way to come from the UK 😉 x

    • Wallis

      Haha yes you would definitely need to stay longer than 24 hours, coming from that far 😀 Or you could get on a road trip and visit other cities in the Midwest too!
      And yes, Detroit is FULL of street art, I was so impressed by the quantity of murals in the city 😮

  • foreverroamingtheworld

    Detroit is on my list of cities for my USA road trip that I will eventually get round to doing (so many places to see in the world 😀 ) Will be keeping this page bookmarked and Belle Island in mind.

  • Miranda Knudtson

    I love Detroit! It’s definitely a fun city in Michigan, and there are other lovely cities nearby perfect for day trips. But… being from Wisconsin and a fan of the Greenbay Packers (rival to the Detroit Lions) anyone visiting is better off watching their hockey or baseball teams, because their football team sucks haha (Okay sorry rivalry talk over!)

  • Especially Bell Isle seems like a great place. As a European Detroit is not one of the first things you think about, but it seems like a nice place.

    • Wallis

      It was definitely a very pleasant surprise for me as well! 🙂

  • Suman Doogar

    Its difficult to see a place in 24 hours but you have beautifully captured the vibe of the place. Sometomes ppl r short on time and this post will definitely help them

    • Wallis

      Yes exactly! I want to make sure that people can catch the best of a city if they don’t have much time to visit it! 🙂

  • Marina

    Cool street art! Love those 24 hours trip, shows you always have time for travel. You can see and do pretty much in 24 h! Nice work

    • Wallis

      Thank you! Yes, exactly! I created this series to 1: show you always have time to travel and 2: to give you the “must-dos” if you dont have much time in a city! Glad you like it!

  • Katherine Beveridge

    I love the look of the street art! Is Detroit a dangerous city? I’ve heard that about it, but I know that it might just be negative stereotypes.

  • Lisa Rivera

    Never been to Detroit, but it looks interesting! The Coney Dog sounds yum! Will remember this for when I visit.